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So We'll Go No More A-Roving, for Fear of Furry Monsters

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by newsmanfan, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Ginger snapped? Better call those pun police to lock up the rowdy redhead.
    Hello Ms. In, Mr. Starving, Mr. I Give Up, you're all welcome to join this party.
    *Uses triple-spouted kettle to serve them their cups at the same time. That reminds me... Move down!
    *Checks to have enough mind control cards in the hatband to help rescue Uncle D from his containment bubble.
    *Excited to read what Kris may have for the big 4-0 for this fabu fanfic.
    newsmanfan likes this.
  2. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Part Forty

    Scooter sighed, and shuffled through the pile of papers clipped in his notebook yet again. “I’m sorry, boss, but I just don’t see how we can manage the pyrotechnics and all the location set-ups! Even if Crazy Harry gets released by Homeland Security anytime this century, we still don’t have the budget to film the cabin blowing up at the end...”

    Kermit shook his head. “What...what if we used CGI? I mean, I hate doing that, but everyone says it’s cheaper than real effects...”

    Scooter grimaced. “No can do, boss. Still too pricey...and anyway, I hate that stuff, don’t you? It never looks as real as the real thing!”

    Kermit gave him a wry half-smile. “Huh...I would’ve thought our resident technogeek would embrace digital technology!”

    Scooter shrugged. “Eh, I guess I still am old-school about some things.” Kermit chuckled, then resumed pondering their finance problem. Having decided which of the outdoor locations best represented what they wanted the derelict cabin in the spooky woods to look like, they’d assigned the various locales to the necessary exterior shots in the script during a long afternoon of detailed discussion. Now the executive production team of frog and gofer were trying to hammer out what they’d have to cut in order to come in under the amount allotted by the studio. It proved a very difficult process, and Kermit was almost relieved to glance at the clock and see it would be time to head for the theatre in another couple of hours to prepare for tonight’s show. Speaking of... “Y’know, maybe we should table this, and talk about tonight’s lineup,” Kermit suggested, telling himself the acts really did need to be discussed, and that he shouldn’t feel guilty about postponing the difficult budget talk.

    “You just wanna put off the budget talk,” Scooter said, grinning, and Kermit scrunched his face briefly. “Hey, ya never know: maybe when they see the enthusiastic response to the charity walk publicity Monday night, they’ll raise our limit!”

    “Maybe,” Kermit said. “Are we all set up to go on that?”

    “Got the shirts in this morning.” Scooter rummaged in his knapsack, bringing out a black t-shirt with the words HAM IN A CABIN: HALLOWEEN 2012 silkscreened on the front in bright orange. The illustration on the back of the shirt, a line sketch of Fozzie, Kermit, and Gonzo’s heads all with evil grins surrounding a wary-looking Piggy, and the catchphrase Be very afraid, made Kermit smile despite his headache.

    “Cute. Cute shirt. Now put it away before Piggy sees it and complains that the drawing makes her look too...”

    “Gotcha,” Scooter grinned. “Okay, Chief...so. What are we going with tonight?” Kermit shook his head wearily as his able assistant smoothly switched gears from movie-work to stage-work mode, closing the thick production notebook and bringing out his battered clipboard instead. Suddenly Kermit realized he didn’t really want to deal with this, either.

    He looked up hopefully as Piggy swirled through the room, several hangers full of opulent gowns draped over either arm and her personal wardrobe assistant trailing after, nearly buried beneath more dresses. “Honey? Any chance there are any of those oatmeal cookies left?” he asked his wife.

    “Kermie, dear, what do you – what? Cookies? Oh, ummm...no, I think they may all have been...uh...eaten already.” Ignoring her frog’s grimace, she launched into the purpose of her visit to the dining room, where papers littered the table and Important Production Decisions were being hashed out. “Kermie, I have narrowed down my choice of outfits tonight to only four, and I wanted your opinion!”

    Kermit sighed. “Piggy, honey, you look good in everything...wear whatever you want.”

    “Ah ha ha! Mon Capitan is too kind,” Piggy simpered, holding up two gowns in each hand. “But seriously, which do you think suits me best: the light orange cream chiffon, the little black number with the beaded bodice, the gold silk, or the fluttery leaf thing?”

    “Oh, I think they’re all swell!” Scooter piped up. Miss Piggy shot him an annoyed glance.

    “Kermie? What do vous think?”

    Feeling too stressed to care, Kermit took a breath, considered how his wife tended to react to a declaration of indifference, and randomly pointed. “Uh...that one. The gold. That’d be great.”

    “Really?” Piggy looked askance at it. “I thought the slit up the thigh was a little too Angelina.”

    Exasperated, Kermit waved his hands. “Piggy, just – I don’t care! Whatever you choose will be fine! I have to focus right now, okay?” The pig’s snout suddenly shoved into his nose, and Kermit flinched. “Eep...”

    “Kermie...it is not as though I am asking for a bigger allowance for my costumes in the new film. I just want to know which dress looks best on me, frog!”

    “Well, that’s good,” Scooter muttered, “’cause we don’t have the money for more costumes.”

    Piggy’s head jerked up, ears aquiver. “What?”

    Kermit grabbed the fluttery dress of overlapping gauze leaves in various autumn colors. “This one! This one, okay? It’s beautiful, you’re beautiful, now can I please just get back to figuring out the acts for tonight already?” he yelled.

    Piggy gave him a kiss. “Merci, Mon Capitan. Enjoy your meeting...” About to flounce off to choose the right eyeliner to go with the dress, she paused. “Just don’t forget: I’m doing ‘Autumn in New York’ with Rowlf and Zoot all this weekend as my spotlight piece!”

    How could I forget, she’s been singing it all week, Kermit thought. Sighing, he nodded, and Piggy left, gesturing imperiously. “Come along, Jeanette! Those dresses aren’t going to re-hang themselves, ya know!”

    Scooter gave his boss a sympathetic pat on the back. “Don’t worry, boss: we’ll figure out the budget somehow. Maybe...maybe we can cut the scene with the ghost chipmunk?”

    “No, we’ve already contracted with the chipmunk’s rep,” Kermit said. “Scooter, I don’t want to talk about that any more today! Let’s just...just focus on the show, okay?”

    “Okay, Chief. Uh...would coffee help?”

    “A budget of more than five hundred dollars is what would help,” Kermit groaned.

    “Cup a’joe, comin’ right up,” Scooter agreed, hustling to the kitchen of the Chelsea townhouse.

    Resigned, Kermit called after him, “And some grub-bars, if Robin left me any!” Although he enjoyed having his nephew here for the school year, he’d quickly discovered that teenage frogs could consume more in a day than he’d thought amphibiously possible, and was forever restocking his own special snacks after Robin’s ‘fridge and pantry raids.

    The doorbell rang. Kermit started to ask Scooter to get it, then realized even his skilled gofer couldn’t be in two places at once, and the kitchen was in the back of the house. He rose and went to the foyer, the interruption only adding to his annoyance...until he swung the door open and a chorus yelled, “Trick or treat!”

    Startled, Kermit stared at the myriad of smiling, costumed youngsters on his stoop. “Uh...hi! I...I thought Halloween wasn’t until Monday?” Good grief, was he that discombobulated?

    “Hi, Kermit!” A familiar voice came from an orange Muppet in a pirate captain’s outfit. The boy lifted his eyepatch, and merry dark eyes gleamed. “It’s me, Ernie!”

    “Ernie!” Now Kermit recognized almost all of the creatures standing outside his door. “Bert! Big Bird! Count?” The Transylvanian-born nobleman bowed, smiling, his usual cape and monocle exchanged for a ten-pint hat and a knotted bandana. “What are you guys...” Then he remembered his conversation with Grover. “Oh...no...”

    “Helloooo Froggiebaby!” the blue monster cried, waving eagerly. He was dressed in a black shirt with a big felt moon glued to the front, a black cap with stars on long boingy springs, and a large black cape resembling giant wings. “I am the Dark Night! Trick or treat!”

    “Oh boy,” Kermit muttered. “Uh...guys...look, I...I’m really sorry but, uh, the invitation was for you all to come by the theatre! I wasn’t really expecting any trick-or-treaters yet, and I don’t have any candy...”

    “Ohhh,” the collective sigh went up. Then a small red-furred monster under a white sheet, with his eyeballs sticking up on top, offered brightly, “That’s okay, Mister the Frog! We can still have a good party without the candy, right everyone?”



    “Uh...if no candy...got any cookies?”

    Kermit tried again. “Uh...look...guys...it’s great to see you here, but I wasn’t really ready for –“

    “What a charming house you have,” the Count offered, peering inside. “May we come in?” He looked behind Kermit, eyes lighting up and a toothy smile broadening his broad mouth. “Ahh! And such a beautiful lady of the house!”

    “Merci beaucoup,” Piggy replied, then grabbed Kermit’s collar, dragging him off to the side. “Kermie? Vous did not tell moi that vous had invited guests!”

    “Eep,” Kermit gulped. “Well, uh, that’s because I didn’t! I invited them to the theatre, not here! Grover got it all wr—“

    “I’m not even dressed for company!” Piggy complained. Kermit looked her quickly up and down, baffled; the scarlet blouse with long ruffled princess sleeves, curve-hugging cream-hued pants, and three-inch heeled boots certainly didn’t seem much like a robe and slippers to him.

    “Oh, boy! Mister the Frog has a very pretty house!” Elmo exclaimed, trotting through the open door. The rest of the children followed, though the big yellow bird had to duck through the doorway. “Elmo is very happy to come to a party in such a nice house!”

    “Wow, Bert, get a load of that chandelier! I bet that would be great to swing from, huh? Huh Bert?”

    “Ernie, don’t even think about it... H-hello, Miss Piggy. You look lovely!”

    “Golly, I can stand all the way up in here! What a great room! Gee, those stairs are big; do big people live here too, Kermit?”

    Kermit winced, helpless to stop the stream of Muppets now flooding his foyer. He gave Piggy an apologetic look. “I—I’m sorry, honey; look, this is all a big misunderstanding! I’ll round them all up and – and take them to the theatre, or something...”

    Piggy looked at him a moment, her expression fathomless, then at the youngsters exclaiming at all the antiques and objets d’art she’d painstakingly hired a decorator to place in the more public rooms of their home. Suddenly she straightened her shoulders, put on her sweetest smile, and addressed the room loudly enough to get everyone’s attention. “Welcome, everyone! Welcome to my home...and the frog’s. I am so sorry, you have caught me a little off guard, ah ha ha...but if you will all come sit in the family room for a few minutes, I will get everything ready for you!”


    “Oh, gee, thanks, Miss Piggy! Say – is the ceiling this high in there too?”

    “Hey Bert! Look! They have a closet without any junk in it!”

    “ER-nie! It’s not nice to look in other people’s closets! Put that back!”

    “Roosevelt Franklin is immmpressed, lady! You have one righteous pad here!”

    Scooter entered from the dining room, looking confused, as Piggy herded the children toward the back end of the long townhouse where the kitchen and family room lay. “Uh, boss?”

    Kermit shook his head. “I guess we’ll have to wait on that act schedule, Scooter. Look – just throw something together, and we can iron it out last-minute at the theatre later, okay?”

    “You mean like we usually do?” the gofer quipped.

    Piggy returned swiftly; her all-business glare and purposeful tread had Kermit unconsciously backing against the foyer wall before he knew it. His wife leaned over to glare at him eye-to-eye. “All right, frog – here’s what you’re going to do. Call Martha and tell her we have a kid-party emergency and to send her best guy over pronto! I’ll handle the caterers. And if you ever pull a stunt like this again –“

    “Piggy – I didn’t tell them to come here! This is all Grover’s fault!”

    “Well, I wasn’t planning on company today, much less throwing a party for two dozen kids on a moment’s notice, but...” Her gaze softened briefly. “They don’t understand that; they’re just kids...and it is almost Halloween.” Kermit blinked at her, thunderstruck. She turned growly again immediately: “And if there’s one thing I am expert at besides being moi, it is how to throw the best darned party anyone has ever seen! Now move it, frog!”

    “Y-yes ma’am!” Kermit gulped, hurrying to his study.

    “I didn’t know you and Martha were on a first-name basis,” Scooter murmured. “I would’ve thought, after that branded-poncho dispute a few years ago –“

    “Scooter! Get in here!” Kermit snapped, grabbing his assistant’s jacket collar and dragging him off to help find the right phone numbers.

    Piggy sighed, smoothing back her hair. Robin shut the front door behind him, eyes wide as he heard the happy commotion coming from the back of the house. “Huh...do we have company, Aunt Piggy?”

    “Only about a houseful,” Piggy grumbled. “Listen, kiddo, I need you to step up here. Your uncle screwed up again, and now I have to entertain a bunch of little ones expecting a Halloween party!”

    “We’re throwing a Halloween party? Cool!”

    “Can you just go back there and start them playing Twenty Questions or something?” Piggy sighed. “Make the answers about pumpkins and ghosts or whatever. I need a minute to get changed.”

    “Oh, you bet, Aunt Piggy!” Eagerly, Robin slung his school book satchel onto the ornate bench by the door, and hopped off to the family room. “Hey! Hi, guys! Elmo, Abby, long time no see!” A chorus of happy voices greeted him. Shaking her head, Piggy hurried upstairs to pick an outfit which would say ‘hostess’ without implying ‘June Cleaver,’ and to call one of the sweets-on-short-notice caterers she knew in town. She was confident Martha would come through for her on the decorations front; after all, their little spat over poncho design was really just for the tabloids, for fun...but she wasn’t going to tell anyone that.

    She smiled, hearing a joyful burble of noise downstairs. She really didn’t mind a houseful of children, either...but she wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to make Kermit scramble to please her.

    Let ‘em all wonder.

    Gina stood on the loading dock of the Muppet Theatre with her nervous Newsman. “So I thought...uh...maybe...maybe if everyone went in a group...” he ventured, giving her a shyly hopeful look above his thick-framed glasses.

    Gina frowned. “Newsie...I don’t think that’s a good idea. You said yourself the whole place is crawling with monsters! It’s just too risky – for you and your friends. What if one of them was hurt? What would’ve happened if you hadn’t been able to get Rhonda to the hospital in time?” She crouched to gently caress his cheek, her gray eyes grave. “It’s too dangerous! Keep trying to get the Mayor involved – or if he won’t listen, go to our Congressional reps. Or the Chief of Police. Maybe your detective contact can get you an interview?”

    Newsie scowled deeply. “Nobody’s listening to me! I can’t get any of them to take it seriously! And – and the forecast for tomorrow is rain! What if that’s the storm Aunt Ethel warned me about?”

    Gina gave him a dubious look, though she continued stroking his long cheek. “Sweetie...did you see any evidence that she’d actually captured a monster for this supposed information?”

    “No, but...”

    “Look...maybe she was right. But rain in the forecast is hardly a terrible storm, and anyway, how could monsters affect the weather? Are there lightning trolls or something? Hail ogres?”

    “I don’t think so,” Newsie admitted grudgingly. “But...”

    “My Concerned Public Outcrier,” Gina murmured, drawing him close, “I adore you, and you have every reason to try and warn people...but you are not the Army, the Marines, or the Muppet Force, and taking out a nest of bad guys is not your job, okay?” She sighed, seeing his deeply unhappy expression. Fozzie, Link, and Strangepork climbed the stairs to the back door, waving as they passed; Gina gave them a smile in reply. Newsie was too depressed to even nod at them. “Please just let it go for now. The city is supposed to break down that wall to the underground stairway at the snack company in just a few days, right?”

    “So they say,” Newsie grunted. “We are talking about local bureaucracy, remember.”

    “True enough. Look...what you need is a legitimate news outlet backing you up again. I’m going to talk to that law firm about moving their discrimination case forward; they really seem to be dragging their feet. Has that Bland guy even called you back? His partner claimed not to know a thing!”

    “His secretary says he hasn’t been in,” Newsie replied. Worried, he asked, “What if...what if something happened to him? His name was on the motion we sent to KRAK...Nofrisko owns the station...what if they got to him? What if he’s –“

    “Newsie! This is not ‘Three Days of the Monster,’ okay? Look...soon as we can get you reinstated, you can present your report from a respectable news source, and people will take it seriously then!”

    “Maybe,” Newsie mumbled, thinking of Blanke’s parting jab at him when he’d been tossed out of KRAK.

    Gina coaxed him into a kiss. “Sweetie...we’ll try to get someone to pay attention who can actually go in there with enough clout to chase them all out, okay? But I do not want you chancing it again! Please,” she said, with another soft kiss, and Newsie’s shoulders slumped in resignation.

    “I feel so...powerless,” he muttered. With a sigh, he embraced her. “Why won’t anyone believe me?”

    Thinking of her conversation with Scott not so long ago, Gina suggested, “Well...um...until I started coming here to watch your show, I didn’t think monsters were real. I guess most people still think that way.”

    “What?” Surprised, his eyes widened. “How could anyone deny the existence of things that creep and crawl and eat people? Didn’t we all have things under the bed as children?”

    “Um,” Gina said, unsure how to answer.

    Newsie gestured at Sweetums, who had lumbered out to the loading dock to muscle the dumpster out of the way for a delivery truck pulling in. “How could you take one look at – at things like him – and not give any credence to my report?”

    Gina turned to watch the troll helping to unload jugs of water for the cooler; where a couple of Whatnots strained to lift even one of the ten-gallon jugs, Sweetums hoisted an entire pallet of them over his shoulder and strolled back into the theatre, singing wordlessly: “Dum de dum da dum-be-dum...”

    Brushing her bangs out of her face, Gina tried to explain, “Well...Newsie...I’m not sure how to say this, but...um...most people have never seen a monster up close like this.”

    He stared at her. “Really?”

    She had to keep a smile from her lips. “Really. Most of us...uh, nonfelted people...don’t get the opportunity to be around furry things that actually talk. You grew up more...um...privileged than you realize.”


    “So to speak.”

    “Gina,” he huffed, “being around monsters is hardly an enviable state of affairs!”

    He appeared so indignant that she couldn’t contain a giggle. Newsie looked hurt; immediately Gina sobered. “Sorry! Sweetie...please...just trust me on this. Let’s focus on getting you a legitimate platform to speak from again, and the rest should follow, okay?” He frowned; she took his jaw in both hands so he had to look into her eyes. “No underground expeditions. Please.”

    Reluctantly, Newsie shrugged, saying nothing. Gina stood, patting his shoulder. “Come on. It’s almost time for you to check in. Let’s get you backstage so Scooter knows you’re here.”

    He went with her inside, barely acknowledging the greetings directed his way. The above-average noise level should have warned him...but he tromped down the stairs lost in thought, and was unprepared for the sudden burst of orange-and-black confetti which exploded just above him. With a choked cry, he instinctively hit the deck – and almost tumbled down the stairs, Gina’s quick grab on his arm the only thing preventing a painful fall.

    “Ernie! You’re not supposed to aim those at people! You could poke an eye out!”

    A young orange Muppet in a pirate outfit ran up to Newsie, patting his shoulders, his arms, his face. “Gosh, I’m sorry, mister! Are you okay?”

    “Fine,” Newsie muttered, taken aback. He shrugged free of the concerned pat-down, and looked in astonishment at the chaos reigning in the green room. Costumed youngsters romped among the regular Muppet cast, who seemed delighted at the company. “What...what’s going on?” He’d thought bring-your-fuzzie-to-work-day was sometime in the spring, and at any rate, this was a larger number of kids than he could recall seeing here at one time before...

    “Hey, looks like the party pooper just met the party popper!” chortled Floyd. He grinned at Newsie’s scowl. “Come on, man, lighten up. Grab a party cracker. These things are too cool!”

    “Pop-per! Pop-per!” Animal yelled, two English-style party crackers held above his head in both hands and another loosely rolling around in his mouth. “Aaaaaarrr!” He yanked the ends of the crackers and bit down at the same time; more confetti and some small hard candies scattered with a loud pop. A skinny red monster dressed as a ghost laughed, and gathered up the candy into his plastic pumpkin. Newsie stared around the room: everywhere he looked, children were playing with the adults, who seemed all too happy to abandon their last-minute rehearsals to join in. How is the show going to go off tonight with all this? Newsie wondered.

    By the canteen, Gladys was fighting a losing battle trying to keep a cookie jar away from a round blue monster costumed as a baker; the Swedish Chef, thinking the creature actually was a fellow cook, was trying to discuss turducken deep-frying methods. “Soo yoo stuffen der duckie into der gobble-obble wit poorsley, ur coomin?”

    Ahhhhmm nom nom nom nom! – Sorry, me didn’t catch that last part...”

    Link had ensconced himself at a table nearby, expounding on his act for the weekend in an effort to impress the fairy children gathered there. “Well, the number does have other pigs in it; as the star, you see, children, it is only fitting and generous of me to share the stage with some of them sometimes! Remember that, when you grow up, if you should happen to ever become half as famous as me: always be nice to those beneath you...”

    “Beneath you? Can you actually fly with no wings?” wondered a stout little fairy boy dressed as an alligator, with floppy felt teeth surrounding his own large mouth.

    Discomfited, Link said, “Well...uh...of course I can! I got my spaceship pilot’s license years ago, and it only took me thirty-eight tries!”

    “Don’t listen to him,” Dr Strangepork advised the youngsters. “You kids understand the difference between real and make-believe, don’t you?”

    “Oh, sure! Make-believe is when you pretend something that can’t really happen!”

    “Goot, goot,” Strangepork sighed. “Now vill you please explain to this bratvurst-brain dat conzept?”

    Gina hugged Newsie. “Looks like it’ll be a busy night. You have fun, sweetie; I’ll go grab a soda and find a seat. See you after the show.” She bent to leave a kiss on his nose. “I wish you a night free from falling cows. Love you.”

    “Love you,” Newsie muttered back, and tried to make his way to his dressing-closet without being accosted by any more partiers. How was he going to have a serious discussion about distracting the monster guards in this environment? He’d brought the potential plan-of-infiltration he and Rhonda had drawn up today along, but – He winced. Gina didn’t want him going back down there. Anxious, he stopped in the middle of the chaos, his thoughts warring.

    She’s worried for you, and rightly so! How can you even think of going behind her back?

    But this is important! Deathly important! Every day that passes, those creeps are building their forces, plotting their plots, working to undermine the whole city...they have to be stopped!

    Maybe the lawyers will have this settled in a day or two... Maybe the SWAT team can get into the tunnels on Tuesday, and bust all those monsters back to the beds they came out from under! Wait...maybe that’s not such a good idea either...

    You can’t wait until Tuesday, he argued with himself. There’s something big coming, something horrible, and no one will listen, and the only way to uncover the whole plot is to get down there and see for yourself! How can you possibly pass up a story of this import?

    But Gina...

    You didn’t promise her you wouldn’t go, he thought. He began pacing, unconsciously rubbing the woven string-and-hair bracelet always on his left wrist, his protection charm from his beloved. No – that would still be unfair, to venture down there after she’s told you how worried she is! –But someone has to, and no one else is stepping up!

    Dismayed, he looked around again. Happy, screeching children ran around the room, the Chef talked loudly with the monster eating everything off the grill, and Scooter tried to yell above the din for the band to take their places in the orchestra pit since the house would be opening in just a minute. Newsie frowned at the monsters, even though they all looked too young to be truly threatening, and all were dressed innocently as pirates or cowboys or ninja amphibians or something. (He wasn’t sure what the dark-caped blue guy with the moon on his chest was supposed to – wait, wasn’t that the lockmonster?) Oh, good grief...

    The band filed past, laughing; Dr Teeth seemed content to allow the streamers trailing off his hat to remain there, giving him an even more wildly festive look than usual. On impulse, Newsie put a hand out to stop the bassist. “Floyd! I – uh – I need to talk to you about...about Animal.”

    “About Animal?” Floyd Pepper blinked in surprise. “What did you need him for, to catch a falling stock price?” He rasped his typical laugh.

    “No...to cause a distraction for some monsters,” Newsie replied. Floyd stared at him, unsure, and Newsie hurriedly continued, “There are monsters planning something awful in a secret base under the city! I have to find out what they’re doing, but it’s too heavily guarded for me to get in there without help...but if Animal could keep them busy, just for a few minutes –“

    “Far out,” Janice murmured. “Like, totally double-oh-Muppet! Since when did you start a spy gig, Newsie?”

    “Someone has to find out what they’re up to,” Newsie said, blushing; he shouldn’t even be talking about this...Gina would be very unhappy with him...

    Floyd laughed again. “So you’re gonna sneak into the sewers and psych ‘em out with your dazzling personality?”

    Annoyed, Newsie corrected, “No! I don’t want them to even know I’m there! Please, Floyd – can you just bring Animal to the old Statler Hotel tomor—“

    “Statler!” Floyd cackled. “Man, last time Animal went anywhere near those old geezers, they dang near swallowed their dentures!”

    “Hey, guys, upstairs! You need to be in the pit now!” Scooter ordered. Chuckling, the musicians headed up, ignoring Newsie’s anxious stammering.

    “No – wait – I – I can’t –“

    “Newsman, nice to see you back, but you know you didn’t have to be here,” Scooter said, clasping the taller Muppet’s shoulder a moment. “We’re all real sorry for your loss. Just try to take it easy, okay? We’re all here for you if you need us.”

    “I...thank you,” Newsie said, swallowing back his fear enough to try again. “Actually, Scooter, there is something I –“

    “Chickens! Chickens, you’re up first tonight! Sorry, Newsie, I gotta go check on the stagepigs and make sure they have the right set behind the curtain – last time I said falling leaves, they thought I said falling sheaves, and Sam’s Aesop story had corn piled all over it.” With an apologetic grimace, the gofer ran upstairs, leaving a very nervous Newsman fumbling for words among the rumpus.

    How can I do this? This isn’t right – you shouldn’t even bring this stuff up! Gina’s right; what if anyone else gets hurt?

    But if I don’t do this –EVERYONE might be hurt! Eaten! Frog knows what else!

    No! It’s too dangerous to go back down there!

    Seeing Kermit coming through, smiling at everyone but clearly in a hurry to grab a cup of water from the cooler and get back upstairs, Newsie pushed through the crowd to fall in step with his boss. “Kermit! I...I need to talk to you about –“

    “Newsman! Hey, you know you didn’t have to come back to work yet. Are you all right?”

    “Er...I’m all right. Um, I know you’re busy, but I really –“

    “Look, if you don’t feel up to it yet, I completely understand,” Kermit said, putting his hand briefly on Newsie’s arm. “Piggy and I would like to send some flowers to the service, if that’s all right, on behalf of the theatre for you and your family...just let Scooter know when and where, okay?”

    “Thank you,” Newsie said, touched, falling back a step, then hurriedly caught up as Kermit reached the stairs. “Kermit, about the monsters in the tunnels –“

    “I saw your report. Listen, I really...I really hope there’s some other explanation, Newsman. But you keep investigating and let me know what you find, okay? I trust you,” Kermit said, giving Newsie a serious look, and then a smile. “Sorry about all the chaos tonight. We’ll let you know when there’s a News Flash; meanwhile, why not just try to relax, okay?”

    “But...” Left behind as the frog took the stairs in three long hops, Newsie stared after him in dismay. “But...to keep investigating...I need your help...”

    Nobody heard him. Everyone was too busy playing.

    Grimly, he looked around once more. A large, very furry blueish monster with thick black eyebrows was laughing as he taunted a tiny lamb with a caramel apple on a stick, encouraging the young sheep in a genie costume to jump up for the treat. Innocent enough at a glance...but Newsie stared at that wide, seemingly black and endless mouth when the monster child laughed, and shuddered. If the monsters did overrun the city, what then? What of impressionable young critters then? Would they continue to sport with other Muppets freely and unthreateningly...or would something much darker be taught them?

    Anxious, he felt around in his coat pocket until he found the small bottle Dr Honeydew and Beaker had given him. He hastened to his tiny dressing-room, ashamed to be seen popping pills, but once the door was shut behind him he swallowed three of them. Closing his eyes, leaning against the plain wooden wall, Newsie shivered. Going back underground was extraordinarily dangerous. Gina was right. Rhonda was right.

    But letting the monsters go unchecked...that was even more dangerous, for everyone.

    Unfortunately, everyone was too busy to listen to him. He crossed his arms tightly against his chest, frightened, waiting desperately for the pills to take effect. He heard the hairy blue monster boy chortling just outside his closet, and shuddered all over uncontrollably. Without the sight of playing children before him, the sound, reaching him isolated here in the dim little room, seemed ominous...like a deep, chill voice on the phone...laughing at him, laughing at his lack of influence, his lack of importance.

    Newsie felt very small, very alone, and very threatened.

    Nobody is going to help me, and Gina will be hurt...and I have to do this anyway.

    He held in the sound of fear his tongue wanted to make, and squeezed his eyes shut, and waited, wishing for bravery.
  3. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Very nice look at several backstages! Of course I love seeing Piggy in diva mode--especially fashion-conscious, party-throwing diva mode--and it was fun to see Kermit try to appease Piggy, and Scooter try to please Kermit and Robin try to pitch in and help.

    I really feel for Newsie, though, because even those closest to him don't really understand or believe him, and yet he is so determined to be heroic. I like the set-up for the DOOM that is to come...duhn duhn Duhn!

    Keep writing, chica--we'll keep reading!
  4. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Thanks! Yeah, you are the Grand Master of Diva Fic, but I am dabbling a bit, I hope successfully...

    More postings soon. I am gonna write every night this week! Woo hoo!
  5. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Write every night!
    :oops: Did she get something wrong during the day?
    ;) That's just a figure of speech.
    :oops:, squints, Riiiight.
    ;:D Exactly.
    :attitude: You are all weirdos!
    :D And proud of it too, Sam.
  6. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    How and why did I miss this!?

    A plan of action and with Animal, no doubt! So, Boss Frog, Boss Hog, and the Google go-fer still have no clue that our blue furry weirdo is in a den of monsters? And has no one noticed the disappearance of poor Uncle D?

    The case is still afoot, as is everything else! Something is definitely cooking with some crisco!
  7. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    That is the second time I've seen mention of the Land Shark and while I wasn't born during the first seasons, when I was allowed (rarely), I did get to stay up on Saturdays and sometimes, I even saw the Tonight Show.

    I mean the real one, with Carson. And I don't mean Daily.

    I think my favorite was the James Brown skit; my friends and I still do the 'too hot in the hot tub!' whenever we are in a hot tub.
    newsmanfan likes this.
  8. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Part Forty-One (I)

    The doglizard, despite the bone-numbing chill of the deepest part of the studio caverns, was beginning to sweat. It had taken far too long for him to find a couple of the mole-people with claws big enough to dig around the immovable chunk of melted metal fused into the walls and floor of the passage to the control hub...and then longer still to figure out whether they understood him or not. Finally he’d managed to squeeze through the new tunnel, coughing and sneezing as he was pattered with loosened dirt, only to encounter a brooding underlord who was not at all pleased by the various delays. His crest smarting and tail so bent he was positive it was broken, Eustace cowered in the corner of the control room nearest the door while his lord and master raged.

    “I cannot abide this degree of absolute incompetence! How dare you even approach my presence again after all this! You’ve compromised the security of this center with your silly mole-tunneling, you can’t find the strike team, and you can’t even count right!” the underlord roared; Eustace cringed as another server rack, squealing its battery-disconnect alarm, barely missed his nose and crashed into the door, putting yet another dent in the reinforced steel plates. “How dare you even consider yourself part of the Glorious Monster Race! You imbecile, you reject, you walking accidental hatchling!”

    Eustace resented the implication that his mother had hatched him, instead of burying him under a smoldering mound of burning garbage as was customary for all doglizard eggs, but he kept silent. The boss yelled and threw a few more things. Eustace angrily reflected that he could too count: thus far, by his estimate, the underlord had wreaked approximately sixty thousand dollars’ worth of damage in the past five minutes. And who would be expected to clean it all up? Me again. He flinched when a meaty, clawed hand grabbed a power cable at the foot of the throne, relaxed as he realized the boss wasn’t reaching for him, and then barked in surprise when the underlord looped the cable like a lasso, caught Eustace’s head in it, and yanked him close enough to choke personally. “No more excuses!” the boss shouted, and the glass in some of the older monitors shuddered.

    “Ergh...glug...your...agh...your awfulnessss...”

    “What? What are you saying, you useless cur?”

    Struggling to loosen the cable around his scrawny neck, Eustace choked out, “There...there issss ssssome good newsss, m-my liege...”

    “Really?” Disgusted, the boss let go of the cable, and Eustace dropped, gasping, to the hard floor. Red eyes narrowed. “Do tell.”

    Understanding quite well that his next few words ought to be very carefully parsed, Eustace stammered between heaving breaths: “The...the tally...for the prissssonersss hasss reached thirty-one, your frighteningnesss...”

    But the underlord only snorted. “Useless. You are useless. Perhaps you’d make a decent footstool. Or a lampshade, if I stretched your skin tight enough.”

    “My lord!” Desperately, Eustace fetched the clipboard he’d brought, and offered it in trembling claws. “S-ssssseee for yourssself! I verified the count persssonally!”

    “And had you answered my summons five hours ago, you would have learned that I no longer wish a mixed group of sacrifices!” the underlord roared, the wind flattening Eustace’s whiskers against his jaw.

    “No longer...?” the doglizard gulped, shaking. “B-but my liege! You sssaid –“

    “Muppets! I want only Muppets!” The dark lord fell back in his massive chair, strong hands squeezing the armrests so hard they began to creak. “The staff can eat the rest of the prisoners after the Grand Ascension if they like, but for the thirty-one sacrifices, let me have only those of felt and foam! Have you seen how those fools aboveground dote on them, how they chatter endlessly, mindlessly about them? Talk shows! Late-night hosts! Movie critics! Twittering birdbrains! All they blather about is Muppets!” The underlord quieted, scowling, and Eustace was deeply glad he’d never actually seen the master’s face in good lighting; lesser monsters had fainted dead away at the image, ‘twas said, and the effect was twenty times as bad when that horrible face frowned. “I wish my first act as overlord of this city to be to see them all extinguished!” To illustrate, a jet of flame suddenly shot out of some concealed lighter in the master’s chair, setting Eustace’s tailtip afire. He yelped, but before he could react further, the underlord jerked him into the air by his tail, and with bulbous dark fingers squished the fire out.

    “That will be wondrousss marvelousss, my liege,” Eustace offered, struggling not to pass out as all the blood rushed to his hard-boned head.

    “It will be glorious, Eustace. It will show the sniveling little ants crawling on the surface just how powerful I am, how utterly merciless...how contemptuous of their precious optimists. Their world is all bread and circuses, Eustace.” The low voice paused; Eustace froze midway up in his attempt to grab his tail and hold himself in a circle, which would at least have righted his poor head. “Do you understand what that means?”


    “Idiot,” the boss rumbled, but before he opened his hand to drop his underling to the floor again, the doglizard spoke up.

    “It isss a referensssse to the lasssst daysss of the great Empire, when the Romansss paid more heed to their gladiatorsss and their fasssshionsss than to the corruption and decay inherent in their political processs...um...yesss, my Caligulanesss?” The underlord yanked Eustace closer, and the doglizard shut his eyes, clenching his whole body against the beating sure to follow for his impertinence. “Eep!”

    After a long, tense moment, the underlord murmured, “Perhaps there is a sliver of potential left in you, worm. Perhaps there is after all.” Abruptly, he released his flunky, who crashed to the floor in a tangle of tail-coils and bent whiskers, shakily relieved. “Do you comprehend now why it is better for me to focus my wrath upon those who are most beloved in the eye of that simpering, television-sucking populace? I must have thirty-one Muppets, all killed right at the moment of my transformation, to ensure the greatest possible negative effect on the drooling cowards above! We will sacrifice them all, right there before the cameras, right there for all the world to see – and to watch in horror as their new lord and master begins the true Age of Monsters upon this world!”

    “Hail, the underlord!” Eustace whimpered, still trying not to faint. He tucked his snout under his tail and tried a few deep breaths, his cold heart pounding erratically.

    “Hail, indeed,” the underlord growled. “We shall fall upon them like a storm of hail – like a plague of locusts, devouring all in our path! We shall rip them arm from leg and taste the sweet blood in their pathetic foam!”

    “Ripping, devouring,” Eustace moaned, slowly rocking back and forth. “Yesss, my liege...”

    The underlord sighed, calming slowly. He regarded his flunky with disgusted amusement. “How many Muppets will we have within our grip on Halloween night?”

    The doglizard fumbled for the clipboard, and peered one way and then another at it, trying to get at least one of his eyes to focus. “Er...ahh...I sssee twenty of them are on the final lissst for the charity event...”

    The boss steepled his fingers, musing. “And you said those two lab-coated fools will be there as well, running the silly horror-house gags? Twenty-two...we already have Blyer, and I am told another felted creature has been assisting Carl in his culinary attempts...twenty-four...”

    “Sssshall we sssacrifice the vet, my dark sssslobberinesss?”

    The underlord considered it. “No, not yet...we may require him if his serum does not perform as it should...which reminds me.” Touching his Gruetooth headset, then one of the controls on the board of myriad buttons and sliders before him, the boss snarled, “Van Neuter. Your time is past. Stand before me and be judged.”

    A hurried knock at the control room door made Eustace jump, and even the boss’s head jerked in that direction. A muffled voice chirped from the other side, “Right here! I’ve been waiting – you sounded a little busy! Didn’t want to be rude, heh heh!”

    Irritated, the underlord waved a hand at the door, and Eustace scurried to open it. The tall-headed, oddly bandaged veterinarian popped inside, grinning like a fool and waving a large syringe much too cavalierly for Eustace’s comfort. “Here it is! Here it is! Oh, your dark panties in the bottom of the sock drawer won’t have to be in a twist any longer, sir! The effects are wonderful! The last beneficiary of the serum burst out in rows and rows of wriggling little legs like a caterpillar on Xanax, all happy-crawly! And the fur! Oh, you won’t be disappointed, your creepiness!”

    “I am relieved to hear it,” the underlord growled, taking the syringe from Van Neuter and studying the gleam off its tube in the myriad tiny red lights of the control center. “You had me convinced I would have to eat you organ by organ to teach you not to disappoint me, Van Neuter.”

    “Er...uh, no, no! You can always count on me for all your bizarre transmogrification needs, sir!” The vet beamed, then noticed Eustace. “Oh, hello! Say, your whiskers look a little out of whack...want me to fix those for you?”

    “No, no!” Eustace exclaimed, backing away.

    “Stay a moment, Eustace,” the underlord rumbled, and the doglizard froze, wincing. Those red glowing eyes turned back to Van Neuter, who seemed a little discomfited by the stare despite his habitual obliviousness. “Doctor, do you think you could make this wretch break out in festering boils?”

    “Oh, certainly, your growliness! And...um...you might want to grab a cough drop or something, the chill down here is awful and your throat really sounds—“

    “There have been no side effects to the serum?”

    “Er...n-no! None at all! Everything’s perfectly splendiferous! You’ll love how crawly it makes you feel, I promise!” Van Neuter assured his boss, his head bobbing nervously on his skinny neck.

    “Very well. You may go.”

    Van Neuter looked disappointed. “Oh. You’re...you’re not going to...I, um, I really wanted to watch...”

    The boss rumbled, then chuckled, then broke into a chortle so hideous that Eustace clutched his own tail in abject fear. “Well then! As you wish, Doctor...you may join me to witness the Grand Ascension on Halloween night. We shall hold it in the ballroom of the hotel above the studios. It will be precisely at 10:31...do not be late.” The underlord laughed again. “I shall make certain a seat front and center is reserved for you!”

    “Why thank you very much, your generousness,” Van Neuter said. He elbowed Eustace smugly on his way out. “See? Some people appreciate my work!” The vet tromped down the tunnel, whistling La belle dame sans merci.

    Eustace stared after him, incredulous. “Eustace...” The flunky cringed, immediately drawing his tail and head in. But his master only growled, “If this formula works as it should, I will make certain the masses know that idiot helped bring it about...and then turn him loose on the surface to fend for himself among them. However...should he have failed me...he will be the first one I consume.”

    “Y-yessss, my liege,” Eustace muttered. He ventured a hopeful fact: “It...it appearsss from our sssstudio rosssster and the MADL event that we are quite clossse to having enough Muppetsss to sssacrifissse, your sssscarinesss...”

    “How many?”

    “Twenty-nine...if you are including that daredevil sssshow imbesssile.”

    “Ahhh yes. I had almost forgotten him. Yessss...” The underlord’s hiss turned into a chuckle. “How delightful. Make sure he is brought to the room at the correct time.”

    “But...but what if he doesss not ssssurvive the lassst contessst, my lord?”

    The underlord considered it. “Then use the fungus. But Eustace...I am holding you personally responsible for Gonzo the Great winning the contest. Should he die before the Grand Ascension...I will enjoy watching your scales bubble and fill with painful pus. Do you understand me?”

    “Yessss my lord! Absssolutely my lord!”

    Before Eustace could back out of the room, a low, ominous chime sounded. The boss turned his chair to face one of the screens on the wall above, and typed quickly on a keypad. All of the screens switched to a view of the local weather radar; heavy clouds covered the map. “Ahhhh! At last! Ah, I knew my pet had predicted correctly! Observe, wretch!” Confused, Eustace stared up at one screen, then another.

    “Er...rain, your globbery wetnessss?”

    “Not rain, you imbecile...snow! SNOW! Ahhh hahahahahaha!” The doglizard watched in absolute bafflement as the underlord’s heavy hands swept across master controls. Chirruping smugly, the fat, venomous wooly caterpillar crawled into the underlord’s lap, purring as he stroked it roughly. “Yes, yes, my pet! Good girl! She knew, Eustace! She knew right when the first snow of the year would arrive! Ah ha ha ha ha! It begins at last!” Punching an intercom button, the dark lord roared, “Open the storm door! Release the humbling signal!”

    He continued laughing, caught up in horrible mirth which shook the whole room. Squealing in terror, Eustace gave up all pretense of submission, and fled for his life along the rough-dirt tunnel.

    “Hey, Gina,” Alan called from the green room.

    Intent on adjusting the shutters on a large Fresnel hanging from the catwalk, Gina only grunted. She took a better grip on the rusty equipment and tried again, finally succeeding in bending one shutter inwards an eighth of an inch. “Grrrraaaaahh! D—it!” Angrily, she plopped from a crouch to a sitting position on the grid, brushing sweat from her forehead.


    Annoyed, she yelled down, “What?”

    “You need to come see this!”

    “What, did Mike show up to help after all?” Gina had spent all this Saturday morning finishing the lighting hang and checking the instruments which would be used tonight for the MADL award ceremony, rough-focusing them at the platform in the center of the black-box theatre space and down at the various floor areas where the tables would be set up. She’d insisted on running the light booth tonight, since that would at least keep her isolated from the lawyers and other riffraff. Of a scheduled crew of three other people, only Alan had shown up, the others having claimed the weather looked bad or they suddenly had family problems. Gina was not a happy camper.

    “Just...come look!”

    “Alan, I really don’t have time for this,” Gina yelled back. “I have a dozen more lights to rough-focus and shutter down before those guys get here...and it’s already...” She checked her watch. “Twelve-thirty! D--, have I been here that long?” She cast a dismayed look around at the various other lighting instruments she still had to adjust.

    The young man with chestnut hair spiked every which way and thin round glasses popped into the theatre space from the doorway to the green room. “No, seriously! We might not even have to do the stupid show tonight! Come look!”

    Groaning, her legs stiff, Gina rose and trudged along the catwalk to the lighting booth, then downstairs to the house entrance, then across the painted floor to Alan waiting, grinning inexplicably, by the exit. “Check it out! This is so cool!” he exclaimed.

    She followed him through the green room to the back door. “Geez, that’s cold, Alan! Don’t leave the door open – our heating bills are high enough as it is, and I don’t need another lecture from Mr Stingyfingers about keeping costs...” She trailed off, struck silent by the view outside.

    Alan giggled at their pet name for the Sosilly’s owner, and gestured out the open door into the courtyard formed by the surrounding buildings. “Snow!”

    “Yeah, I know what it is, Alan,” Gina muttered, then simply studied the thick, wet flakes shooting down. A strong gust battered the trees in the courtyard, making Gina draw back and shut the door. She continued to peer out the small window set in the top of the door, thinking. Holy cow, that’s a lot of snow! It’s nearly a blizzard! Already, the small trees had a coating of thick whiteness on their still-leafy branches. As the two techies watched, an overloaded branch cracked off the ginkgo and tumbled to the paving. Gina shook her head. “This isn’t good.”

    “Are you nuts? This is great! No way will they do that stupid awards thing tonight in all this!” Alan argued. “Who the heck is gonna want to come out in this storm just to hear some boring speeches and eat spaghetti? We can go home!”

    Gina shook her head. “Don’t count your chickens yet. Hang on.” Retreating to the now-chilly lounge area of the green room, she pulled out her cell phone and the slim wallet hooked by a chain to her black jeans. She found the lawyer’s card, and dialed the number. “Hello, I need to speak to...oh, it is you, Mr Bland. This is Gina Broucek, at the Sosilly Theatre. Yes, we’re...we’re looking forward to it as well. Uh, Mr Bland, have you looked out your window?” The sky was so dark, the wind so fierce, she was certain this snowstorm must cover the entire city...probably all five boroughs and into Jersey and Pennsylvania.

    The lawyer replied, in a tone of annoyance, “Yes...is there some problem?”

    “I...I just wondered if you were going to call off the awards ceremony tonight. I mean, with weather like this, there’s no way anyone is going to want to –“

    “Miss Broucek,” Bland said firmly, “I am quite sure all of our distinguished donors are eager to attend tonight, and a little wet stuff is certainly not going to deter them!”

    Astounded, Gina looked back out the window again. The snow blew nearly sideways, and the howl of the wind was deep and strong around the building. “Mr Bland, I really don’t –“

    “Miss Broucek. I understand, the nonfelted may be put off by a little precipitation, but I assure you: the awards will go on as planned, and you will be impressed at the level of dedication we all give toward the cause of better Muppet representation in all levels of society! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have much to do before tonight. Oh—where’d I put the number for those table supply people again?...Excuse me, won’t you? Good-bye.”

    Gina stared at the phone a moment, then frowned and put it back in her pocket. Alan’s face fell at her expression. “They’re not...they’re not canceling? Or...or rescheduling? They’re really gonna do their dumb ceremony tonight?”

    “Yep,” Gina said shortly. “Now get back to work on those platforms. Try to tape down all the dropcloth edges so nobody trips, and then start on the sound cables. These are lawyers, so make sure everything is up to OSHA specs.”

    “Maaaannn,” Alan complained, shoulders dropping.

    Gina sighed, and went to the ‘fridge for the bottle of water she’d stashed there earlier. She shivered as she drank, and decided coffee was a better choice. The green room only had an old drip maker, but she started a pot in it anyway, then thought of Newsie. He’d been so disappointed last night; after the show, he’d been largely uncommunicative, and Gina knew it wasn’t just because of the headache he’d suffered when that hail of rubber bouncy skulls had fallen on him during the News Flash. (Personally, she thought the line “the school superintendent said he will make no bones about denying the allegations of improper use of biology lab property” had been fairly innocuous, but a hundred hard rubber skulls proved that nothing was off-limits for a journalistic catastrophe in her poor Newsie’s case.) She knew how much he wanted to investigate the sewer monsters...but the thought of something worse happening to him...

    Shaking off a chill, Gina called home while waiting on the coffee to brew. A very reluctant-sounding Newsman answered. “Hello.”

    “Sweetie, it’s me.” She paused; she could hear his unhappiness in the silence. She sighed. “Cutie, listen, that ridiculous lawyer says the show is still on for tonight...so it looks like it’s going to be a really long day here. It’s just me and Alan, and we have to strike and re-set all the stuff these guys are using after their thing, so I don’t know how late I’m going to be. How...how are you doing there?”

    “Fine,” Newsie replied dully.

    “Pretty hard snow, huh? And it’s not even winter yet,” Gina said.

    Uneasily, Newsie said, “Gina...it’s a white storm.”

    “It definitely is! Make sure you stay warm, okay? As long as the power stays on, we should be fine here –“

    “No, Gina...it’s a white storm. A freak snowstorm, out of season! Just like Ethel said!”

    Gina paled. Oh frog. She hadn’t even thought about that. “Have you...have you tried the Mayor’s office?”

    “All the lines are busy! He must be flooded with calls about the storm,” Newsie said disgustedly. “No one’s paying attention! She said it would start in a white storm! Whatever those horrible things are planning, this is the start of it! We have to do something!”

    “No,” Gina said firmly. “Newsie, no. Do not go down there! Look, I...I know you asked your friends for help last night.”

    “You...you do?”

    “Yes. Rizzo mentioned it while he was stealing some of my popcorn. He said you asked Floyd for Animal’s help with something.”

    At the apartment, Newsie closed his eyes in a scowl, sinking onto the bed. He’d come in to figure out a better way to secure the bedroom window without nailing up boards. Gina hadn’t given any indication last night that she knew he was trying to rally more Muppets for a reconnaissance into the tunnels. Why hadn’t she said anything? Answering his unspoken question, Gina spoke softly, “Well, it...it was clear they said no, because you didn’t say anything about it to me, and I know you would’ve argued for it if you thought you had enough backup to try again.” She sighed. “Aloysius...please don’t. Don’t let it drive you crazy like this. You are not the defender of the city, you know; you’re just...um...”

    “Just a stupid little reporter who doesn’t even have a microphone to call my own anymore,” Newsie snapped. “Just a helpless...powerless...” He choked up.

    Gina winced. “Sweetie, no! Don’t do that to yourself! Please...you’re my hero, my love; don’t feel like you have to take this all on by yourself!”

    “Nobody else is doing anything!” Newsie shouted, then felt ashamed. “I’m...I’m sorry,” he muttered.

    Worried, Gina paced the green room, glancing out at the thick sheet of snow blurring the scenery. “Newsie...my love...please. Please calm down. Yes, this is serious, but working yourself into a frenzy isn’t going to solve anything, okay?” She waited, hearing him sigh, and tried to think of the words which might comfort him. “Aloysius...I love you. I love you more than anything. And if you went down there, and never came back...I...I can’t even contemplate that, okay?” She brushed back the tears trying to form, angrily glaring at the snow. “Just...don’t. Promise me you won’t. Look, what if...” she took a deep breath, regretting it already, but spoke her thought aloud: “What if I came with you? Tonight?”

    “You – what?” Startled, Newsie shook his head vehemently, forgetting she wouldn’t see it over a phone. “Gina, no! Absolutely not! I don’t want you hurt!”

    “And I don’t want you hurt. Understand?”

    “Well, but...but...”

    “And I love that cute fuzzy butt, very much. So wait for me. When I get home tonight, we will gear up, and...and see what we can find out. Together.” Gina sighed. “Okay?”

    Newsie began sniffling. Trying to keep it out of his voice, his throat thick, he muttered, “I love you.”

    “And I you, my Aloysius. More than anything.”

    Wresting his emotion under control, Newsie picked one of the thoughts racing at random through his brain. “Uh...won’t we need spelunking equipment or something?”

    Gina couldn’t help a chuckle at that. “Hall closet, top shelf, in the back.”

    He was astonished. “You have caving equipment?”

    “Well, I have some old camping gear, from when Grandmama Angie would take me to Gypsy festivals upstate. We usually roughed it. I got rid of the tent years ago, but I think I still have Coleman lanterns and rope and iron tent stakes. Who knows what we’ll run into down there. Um...grab the mousetraps, too.”

    Newsie’s jaw dropped. “Gina! Mousetraps?”

    “I know, I know, I should’ve just thrown them out...don’t tell Rhonda, please,” Gina sighed. “But who knows? They might come in handy.”

    “Gina, I...thank you,” Newsie murmured, suffused with warmth.

    “I love you, my brave Newsman,” she replied, smiling finally. “Look...it’s going to be a while. You just prep the stuff and sit tight. Are you going to your theatre tonight?”

    “I...I don’t know...I should call Scooter, and see if we’re still doing a show.”

    “Do that. And then stay calm. We will figure all this out...together.”

    “Together,” he agreed, smiling faintly. He hung up after she did, and looked out at the snow. I have the best girl in the world, he thought proudly. Still feeling anxious, he opened the Anti-Monsterphobia pill bottle and downed a couple of them. So far, he hadn’t noticed any disturbing side effects, and they did seem to calm him a little. He trotted back to the living room and looked at the gridded map of the tunnel system, the closest thing to a layout he had for determining the best place to infiltrate MMN. Studying the paw-drawn lines, he suddenly realized there was one other person who might go along with them, and hunted down his phone.

    At the Sosilly, Gina poured a tall mug of the harsh coffee, wrinkling her nose at the first sip, then stirring in way too much sugar and fake-vanilla-creamer to disguise the burnt taste of it. She’d need the caffeine and the warmth. Maybe later, the caterers would bring something more drinkable? Assuming they even show up, she realized. With a deep sigh, she walked all the way back up to the grid. At least he won’t run off and do anything stupid without me, she mused, shaking her head. Yeah – it’s so much better to do stupidly dangerous things together as a couple. Yay for romance.

    Trying to ignore the unease rumbling within her, she told herself it was just the bad coffee, and bent to the task of focusing the lights again.
  9. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Part Forty-One (II)

    Rhonda shivered violently, wishing her fur would hurry up and grow back already; not only was the ginger-fuzz all over her body embarrassing, but it was no help at all on a day like this. “This had better freaking be end-of-the-world level important,” she muttered to herself as she jumped lightly up and down in the elevator to keep warm. The inside of the old Gothic-revival residence tower seemed little warmer than the freezing street; the lack of a wet, cold wind was the only advantage she could see. Clutching her thick quilted Eddie Bauer coat tighter around herself, Rhonda wondered if her job would be reinstated in time for her to afford a new coat soon...after all, cute as this one was, it was so last year. Feeling highly disgruntled, she pounded on the apartment door, smiling grimly at the crash she heard inside. “Yeah, you better jump,” she growled.

    The Newsman called through the door, “Who is it?”

    “Meredith Viera,” Rhonda shouted back.

    A pause. “Really?”

    “Would ya just open the danged door already?”

    He did, and Rhonda stalked inside with her nose in the air. Her attitude was cut short when she saw the pile of things in the living room. “What the...Goldie, you plannin’ on a Goodwill run for food money, or burning this stuff to keep warm?”

    He scowled at her, bolting the door shut again. “This is...for the next expedition.” He gazed hard at her. “Tonight.”

    Rhonda blinked at him, then backed away a step, raising her paws. “Oh...oh no. No no no! You’re crazy if you think I’d even consider –“

    Newsie flapped the map she’d drawn yesterday at her. “But we know where to go! We only have to get past the guards on three levels, and get down to that office, and see if—“

    “What part of you are out of your foambrained little head is not sufficiently clear to you?” Rhonda yelled. “Is Animal gonna distract the guards? No! Are any of the other guys coming along to make some noise? No! Do we have any backup in case we get captured, strung on barbeque skewers and roasted alive as we most certainly will? No!”

    “Gina’s coming with us,” Newsie said.

    The rat stopped, mouth slack, eyes wide, whiskers sticking straight out. “She...what?” Recovering, Rhonda shook her head. “Oh my frog. I knew it would happen one’a these days...you finally did it. You made her as obsessed with monsters as you are!”

    “I’m not obsessed!” Newsie barked. He strode back to the sofa, and gestured at the notes spread on the coffee table over the stack of maps to the subways, the power conduit tunnels, the drainage system for the whole city. “Rhonda, in case you were too caught up in your own little rat world to notice, it is snowing outside!”

    She regarded him sourly. “You’re right. What rat would ever notice a blinding, howling, fiercely wet hurricane-force gale blowing them across the street.”

    “Snow! A white storm! A freak, white storm! Don’t you get it?” Newsie cried. “That’s the sign my aunt warned us about! That’s the sign that the monsters are starting their takeover!”

    Sighing, Rhonda unwrapped her coat and scarf, pulled off her cute red galoshes and hopped onto the sofa by the nice warm heating grille. “Newsie, I hadda walk over here for over a block from the subway, and I promise you I saw no monsters anywhere.”

    He stared at her, shocked. “You took the subway?”

    “Before they made noises about shutting down the train, yeah! Look, Goldie, even if your aunt was right, what’s so special about a snowstorm? Is their grand plan to take out all the trees in Central Park? ‘Cause that’s about the worst of it from what I could see...unless you count the poor schmuck I saw slippin’ in the slush at the curb. Are wet cold bottoms part of the master plan?”


    The rat shivered once all over, her body adjusting to the cozy temperature inside the apartment. “Okay, okay, can the outrage, Sunshine. Pour me a cuppa and let’s look at this nonsense again.” Still scowling, the Newsman fetched her an espresso shot from the kitchen. Rhonda took it in one paw absently, sipping as she studied the map. She frowned abruptly.

    “If we...if we can just figure out a way past the guard at the abandoned-subway-tunnel entrance, maybe we can use this side passage to find a shortcut to that lower level,” Newsie suggested, tracing the possible route with a fuzzy yellow finger. He noticed Rhonda glaring at him, and stopped. “What?”

    “You too cheap for whippy cream? I expect whippy cream.”

    “Rhonda – for crying out –“ Exasperated, Newsie stood, wanting to fling his tie; he grabbed his glasses and cleaned them furiously with his clean hankie.

    The rat, unmoved, held out her cup. “A big dollop. With some a’ those cute little sugar-leaf sprinkles. Or no talk.”

    Grumbling under his breath, Newsie fixed the rat’s coffee the way she preferred. When he returned and thrust the cup at her, she took it slowly and with grave dignity. “Thank you. Manners will get you more places than frumpy attitudes.”

    “So will you come with us or not?” Newsie demanded.

    Rhonda slurped her coffee, set the cup down reluctantly, and sighed. “Look, Goldie...it’s like this. Much as I have always admired your go-getter, All-the-POTUS’-men outlook on journalism, this is just way too risky. What were you thinking, talking your girl into going on this suicide mission? There is no way you two will be able to get in there without being spotted – and once they spot you, you’re in for it! Didja ask Sweetums? Maybe Sweetums could run interference?”

    “Kermit has him assigned to guarding the theatre,” Newsie complained. “He said something about making sure the roof didn’t get toilet-papered like last year...but I didn’t talk Gina into coming! She volunteered!”

    “Lemme guess, only because she knew you were so gung-ho you’d try to do it anyway?” The rat’s shrewd little eyes stared him down; Newsie’s gaze dropped, and he fought back a blush. “Listen, sweetheart...I hear ya. I really do. I agree, bad stuff is gonna happen unless someone does something about it...”

    “Finally!” Newsie muttered, but she held up a shushing paw.

    “However...that someone just can’t be you. You’re a Muppet!” He glared at her. She gestured at him exasperatedly. “Look at you! You’re three feet tall! You got no muscles, no firepower, no secret superweapon!”

    “Three-foot-six,” he muttered.

    Ignoring the interruption, Rhonda went on. “These guys are huge! They got teeth, they got claws, they got nasty little bug-legs that make ‘em crawl on the ceiling...” She shivered. “Ugh. Look...I’m not putting you down. Far from it. I’m saying, be realistic! Scary as this sounds, there is nothing we can do! Not without a lotta help, and you tried, and nobody is gonna troop down there with you!”

    “Gina will,” Newsie protested. “And...and I thought...someone as small as a rat...could scout around corners...and help. A lot.”

    “Goldie...ya know I love ya like a brother. Truly I do. But I...but they...” She swallowed thickly, and turned frightened eyes up to him. “They were gonna eat me. And since I saw that footage, and saw just how freakin’ many of ‘em there are down there...I...I can’t. I’m sorry.”

    They fell silent. Newsie stared at the floor, ashamed. How could I have expected her to put herself in danger again, after all that? She’s right. There are a LOT of scary things down there. Maybe some we don’t even know about yet. Rhonda sighed, sipped more coffee, licked the whipped cream from her whiskers, and turned on the TV. “Look, I’ll...I’ll keep ya company. Why don’t we check out that creepy channel? If they film everything down there, maybe...maybe some of the backgrounds on these shows will give us a clue. Maybe you can figure out where exactly they’ve got your cousin, okay?”

    Newsie nodded, depressed. “Do you...do you think we can rescue him?”

    Rhonda shrugged. “I don’t know, Goldie. I honestly do not know. I think you’ll be insanely lucky to get in and get out without being caught.” The image flicked from the end of a spot for Happy Harvey’s to a promo, with the MMN logo prominently featured.

    “Tonight on MMN!” an announcer snarled. “You’ve rooted for them all season, you’ve seen their ups and downs and expensively painful crashes...now watch the final showdown! Gonzo the Great takes on the Finnish Fungus, Mungus Mumfrey, for the title of Most Stupendously Bonecrushing, Brainsmushing Act of All Time, right here, on the final challenge of Break a Leg!” A clip of Gonzo howling as he plummeted toward a stage full of pointy rakes and shovels played, then a shot of a fungus squeezing itself around a hail of sharp objects. A split-screen depicted Gonzo juggling jellyfish on the left, and a disturbingly shifting glob of whitish stuff flinging itself around atop a tank of floating fish bones on the right. “Your votes have brought them both this far; who will come out on top, and who will never come out alive? Tune in tonight at seven eastern for the championship bout of Break a Leg, on your favorite channel for all the best bloodletting and foamshredding, MMN!”

    “Gonzo’s still down there,” Newsie pointed out, excited. “Maybe he could help us! I bet he knows ways around the monsters! He’s good at getting out of danger!”

    “Danger he throws himself in the way of first and only survives ‘cause Death has a sense of humor,” Rhonda muttered. “Do ya think they see him as another monster?”

    “I don’t know,” Newsie mused. “He...he is a little Fracklish, I’ve always thought...”

    “Maybe if you could locate him, he could get you past the guards,” Rhonda said thoughtfully. She reached for her coffee once more as a game show seeming to involve trivia for fish inside an enormous water-tank came back from commercial, when suddenly she clapped her hands to her ears and shrieked. “Aaaaagh what the frog is that!”

    Startled, Newsie’s eyes shot all around, but he saw nothing out of place in the room. “What? What is it?”

    “That sound! Aaaaaagh! Turn it off! Turn it off!”

    Newsie hit the mute button on the TV remote, and grabbed Rhonda’s arms, concerned. “Rhonda? What noise? What is it?”

    She panted, eyes wide, shaking all over. “Oh frog...oh frog...”

    He shook her gently. “Rhonda! There’s no noise! Rhonda!”

    She stared up at him, shivers coursing through her still. “You...you didn’t hear it?”

    Newsie frowned. “I...I heard a second of some kind of signal...like that emergency-alert system beeping.” He looked at the television; a shark was angrily shouting at someone who looked a lot like a very soaked Lew Zealand. Bizarre...but not really scary, as long as one wasn’t within biting range of that shark.

    “Turn it...turn it on again...” Rhonda said, and covered her ears, cringing.

    “But –“

    “Do it. You’ll hear it then!”

    Baffled, Newsie turned the sound back on. The angry Great White was yelling, “I’m winning this game, you scrawny plaid appetizer. Get that?” at a yellow Muppet in a flimsy inflatable lifeboat.

    “Hey – that’s Chester! Chester’s on this show!” Newsie said, leaning closer for a better look; though wet and frightened, that was definitely recognizable as his cousin. “At...at least he’s still alive...” He noticed a thin, high-pitched sound, like microphone feedback but fainter, behind the yelling and splashing onscreen. He looked back at the sofa to see his reports producer writhing in pain; she began moaning, her paws pressing her ears so tightly they were flattened into her mussed blond hair. “Rhonda?”

    “...off...” she gasped. Newsie immediately clicked the sound off again. Eyes shut, Rhonda collapsed into the cushions, drawing ragged breaths.

    “I...I don’t understand,” he said. “Is it some kind of high-frequency signal? Like those roach-control things they advertise?”

    “Do I look like a froggin’ roach to you?” the rat demanded. Slowly she sat up, still looking dazed. “Oh my frog, you really didn’t hear that?”

    “I heard some kind of whine, like feedback, in the background,” Newsie said, confused. “It...it was a little irritating, but...”

    “That is...the scariest noise...I have ever heard,” Rhonda gasped. “Took all I had not to run screaming and hide under the bed! How is that not affecting you?”

    “Maybe it’s a rat thing?”

    In the hall outside, a low groan built into a lung-breaking scream; startled, Newsie hurried to the door and fumbled for the key to the speakeasy-window the lockmonster had installed. Flinging the tiny window open, he saw one of his neighbors, a portly retiree clad only in tighty whiteys and an open bathrobe, fleeing past; the man ran smack into the closed elevator doors, slumping with a groan. Worried, Newsie opened the apartment door, checking up and down the hallway, but saw nothing out of place. An open door at the far end blared out what sounded like more of the game show; Newsie heard the shark and Lew yelling. “Um...hello? Are you all right, sir?” Newsie asked, cautiously approaching the downed man. After a moment of frantic thought he recalled the neighbor’s name. “Er...Mr Bender? Is something wrong?”

    The man’s head jerked around so fast he must have suffered whiplash, and his eyes were wide behind bifocals knocked askew. “Get away! Get away from me! Aaaaaaah!” he shrieked. The elevator door dinged open, and Bender fell into the car. He staggered to his feet and began hitting every button on the wall. “They’re coming! They’re coming! Aaaaaaaagh!”

    The elevator closed, transporting the manic pensioner to several other floors. Stunned, Newsie looked back at the man’s abandoned apartment. Checking the hall once more and finding all else quiet and normal again, he padded in his slippers down to the open apartment and gently shut the door. When he returned, Rhonda had vanished. “Rhonda? Rhonda, I’m not sure what’s going on, but that man...Rhonda?”

    After a few minutes of searching, he found the rat wedged into one of the storage drawers built under the platform bed. “Rhonda, it was just one of the neighbors...he seemed a little crazed, but not dangerous. Are you okay?”

    She refused at first to be helped out of the drawer, bundling herself in one of Gina’s cashmere sweaters. “N-no! Go away! It’s coming! Save yourself!”

    Realizing that his neighbor’s TV had indeed been tuned to MMN, Newsie asked, “Why aren’t I affected? What is the sound? Does it sound like monsters to you?”

    “It’s...it’s...I can’t explain it,” Rhonda muttered, blinking hard to clear her vision, reluctantly climbing from the drawer. She brought the sweater with her, wrapping it around herself so that only her eyes and shivering nose showed. “It made me feel...terrified! Like...like my only chance at survival was to run...and run...and run...”

    “MMN is broadcasting some kind of terror sound,” Newsie guessed. “Something that makes people so afraid they can’t defend themselves! This has to be what Ethel meant – this must be the start of it!” He shook his head, frustrated. “But why isn’t it affecting me?”

    Rhonda glared at him, walking very slowly back to the living room with him. “Got me, Goldie...if anyone should be freaking out here, it oughta be you! Makes zero sense to me!” She stared at the muted TV.

    Newsie slumped on the sofa, trying to puzzle it through. “So...the monsters are sending out a fear signal through that station...kind of like the fear additive in the snack cakes! They must want everyone who hears it to be so paralyzed they can gobble them up without resistance! I...I did hear a sound...but...” He shook his head. “It’s not making me scared!” Although if they have the technology to do that...they could broadcast it at will...and if the signal reached enough people, the city would be defenseless! Now that thought did frighten him. Newsie pulled out the pill bottle and twisted off the cap, shaking another capsule into his palm.

    “What are you, House all of a sudden?” Rhonda demanded. Then her whiskers twitched. “Newsie! That’s the stuff the lab boys gave you?”

    “Yes,” Newsie replied, giving her a perplexed look.

    She snapped her fingers. “That’s it! How many a’ those you taken today?”

    “Er...this makes five,” he admitted. Defensively, he tucked the bottle away again, curling his fingers over the pill. “You’re the one who told me to load up on them!”

    “Duh!” Rhonda smacked his arm. “That’s it! It’s a monster-fearing signal! You’re taking anti-monster-fear drugs! You’re immune!”

    “I’m...” His eyes brightened.

    She smacked his elbow again. “Newsie! You’ve conquered your monsterphobia!”

    He frowned at the pill. “I guess so...but what happens when I run out of these?”

    “Get Melonhead to make you more. Go on, take that thing. And give me one.”


    “Well, if I’m gonna dig my own grave, I may as well whistle while I do it.”

    “Dig your own...”

    “Just gimme a pill, Sunshine. And a coffee refill. Oh, and ya might wanna grab some spot cleaner for your rug over here. I kinda spilled some.”

    Newsie fumbled another pill out for her, then sat staring at the TV, not daring to turn the sound back up. On the screen, Snookie Blyer was fighting free of a shark attack in a crowd full of rowdy sea monsters. Newsie shuddered. “At least...at least he’s still alive...”

    “Nah, seen this one, it’s a rerun.”

    He stared at her. “What? You watch this stuff?”

    “I told you that a week ago, genius. Brain like a loofa.”

    “So...so he might...” Newsie gulped. Rhonda patted his hand.

    “Focus, Goldie, focus. C’mon, we gotta have this layout memorized so we don’t get lost down there. We gotta find Gonzo if we want any kind of safe passage.”

    Newsie stared at her in stunned silence a long while. Ignoring him, she slupped coffee, unwinding the sweater from her shoulders. Another game show, some sort of “Bachelor”-type dating contest, came on; Rhonda glanced at it, noted a glass door in the background, and began skimming through the footage on Newsie’s laptop, certain she’d seen that exact door from the other side while Sweetums was touring the studios. Newsie blinked, trying to regroup. Finally he asked, “Rhonda...doing anything tonight?”

    She snorted. “Same thing we do every night, Goldie...try to stop the monsters from taking over the world.” She glared at his tentative smile, and held out a paw. “I don’t feel nearly brave enough yet. Gimme another fear-popper.”

    In a drainage tunnel beneath Bowery, two burly, thick-furred monsters checked the worm: it was still shrieking, but seemed to be tiring. Malf sighed, adjusting his earmuffs better around his long bullish horns. “This thing’s gotta shut up soon,” he shouted. “It must be freezing to death by now!” Clasping his arms around his barrel chest, he shivered. “Know I am, anyway. Brrrr!”

    “What?” yelled his compatriot, a green-furred thing resembling a cross between a pit bull and a horned gopher, with an underbite so large it engulfed his nose.

    Malf leaned closer, careful not to touch the giant centipede still thrashing in its chains, held close to the surface where the snow blew in on it through a sewer opening. He’d been told the prickle of spikes all over the creature’s body were poisonous. Enraged by the cold, the monstrous insect screamed and writhed. “I said, this thing must be gettin’ tired! Hope it shuts up soon so we can go back down and grab some coffee!”

    “Yeah, the tape’s still rolling,” Flurg grunted, checking the reel-to-reel as well as the live feed, a wireless mic’s light blinking as it transmitted the supersonic screech of the tortured monster back to the control hub. He clamped his paws together, rubbing the pads roughly. “Sure is cold. Don’t blame the durn thing for hating it.”

    “What?” Malf shouted, trying to hear anything past the muffled scream; his earmuffs protected him from the worst effects, but he still felt uneasy, moreso than the cold would explain. Irritated, Flurg waved him off, and knelt in the dirty snowmelt coating the tunnel to check the input level of the mic, making sure the highest-hertz notes were being recorded. His own taste ran more to adult contemporary, but if the boss wanted a recording of the centipede song, a recording of the centipede song he would get. The grumpy monster sighed, and wiped a paw over his chin, unable to reach his sniffly nostrils. Blugh. When this is done, I’m goin’ back to my cell and enjoying a hot cuppa Joe and puttin’ on that new Wayne and Wanda LP. Day like this, ya oughta stay comfy indoors.

    They stood, shuffling from foot to foot in the biting wet cold, waiting for the centipede to shut up, as it continued to wriggle and snap and scream, and scream, and scream.

    Alone in his control room, the underlord noted the peaks and valleys of the sonogram tracking the creature’s agony, and smiled. He leaned back in his enormous chair, stroking his sleepy caterpillar, and felt a rising glee at the thought that at this very minute, the signal was going out all over the city, perhaps farther, and anyone tuned in to their favorite MMN daytime programming would be overcome with horror—helpless-- hopeless. He made a mental note to check the statistics for a jump in suicide rates at the hospitals tonight. Tonight, he thought in grim pleasure, they will finally discover the meaning of this studio, this company of fiends...and they will at last know the power of the Malevolent Monster Network!

    His laugh disturbed his pet; she bit his finger hard, injecting more venom. He laughed all the harder, hissing in delight at the pain and the numbness flowing up his arm. Disgusted, the giant caterpillar resettled and went back to her nap. She loved her master, but he could be so danged moody sometimes.

    In the gusts of white wetness, a bus wheezed into the Greyghoul Station depot next to the Port Authority, depositing three unhappy creatures among the snowy benches and dirty ashtrays before heading off to Brooklyn on its limited route. The goblin picked himself out of the slushpile he’d landed in, grumbling as he wiped off his bare arms. The wolfish thing looked up at the completely overcast sky, shivering. Only Slurg seemed intent on their mission, casting shifty eyes about until he figured out what direction they ought to travel. He gestured uptown. “Come on, you laggards! Move it!”

    “But Slurg...”

    “Captain Slurg!”

    The other two groaned. The goblin asked, “Look, c’mon, do we really have to walk in this? Why don’t we catch a cab, grab a bite, and then head over?”

    Slurg’s piranha-like teeth showed when he curled his lip in disgust. “We don’t have the money for a cab, much less a nice little luncheon, you simpleton! We have an assignment still to accomplish here!”

    The goblin rolled his eyes, shivering; he plucked a crumpled newspaper from a trash can and tried to wrap it around himself for warmth. “Who needs money? I said catch a cab and grab a bite!”

    Burt Wolf-thing shook his head. “Cabbies in midtown don’t taste as juicy as the ones on Staten Island...”

    “Well, they gotta be tastier than the hicks in the sticks! That trucker in Poughkeepsie was awful! And he drove badly, too!”

    “Agents!” Slurg barked. “Enough! Nobody eats and nobody rests until we get that d—d girl, get me? Now double-time, maaaarch! That way! And you, Andy – get on the radio. Tell ‘em we need...The Bug.”

    “But Slurg –“ the goblin whined.

    “Captain Slurg d—it! What is it?!”

    “Burt ate the radio. I think that was back in Tarrytown.”

    Slurg gnashed his multiple rows of teeth. “I was hungry,” Burt growled.

    Slurg waved his claws irritably. “Fine! Fine! Then first we have to go get another radio! Sniff me out a pawnshop, you glutton! It’s about time we employed some special tactics...and got this crackerjack assignment done for good!”

    Burt perked. “Ooh. I likes Crackerjacks!”

    “Slap him, or I will,” Slurg ordered Andy. He turned and headed toward a likely-looking street of storefronts, only moderately pleased by the slap and yelp behind him. His disgruntled field agents fell in step, and the trio of grumbling monsters trudged through the thick slush in the gutter along the street, invisible in the blanket of windblown snow still pouring from gloomy skies.
  10. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Finally, the evil master plan is coming together and everyone and their moms are in trouble. I'm on the edge of my seat, Newsie!
  11. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Wow! A double-dipper! I actually beginning to feel something for Eustace--mostly revulsion--but still, something....

    And the big boss in YOUR story is tres creepy! Maybe we should introduce YOUR big ugly boss to Scribbler's boss, unless, of course, they happen to be the same person.... Wonders about that....

    I like Rhonda's insistence on manners in the face of adversity, and even more that she used the word "dollop." Such a fun word. Dollop, dollop, dollop. Cavort...cavort...cavor--where was I?

    Oh. Oh! The number of people watching MNN. That fascinates and baffles me, that people would actually watch that by choice, but then, people watch reality television by choice, too, so there's no accounting for tastes.

    I like the irony that Gina is going below while they are going above to look for her, and I appreciated your grim little word play about "catching the cab." (Stay away from Moishe!)

    I was wondering--if the monsters are going to start eating everyone, could they start with the irritatingly smug lawyers that are renting out the theater? Just saying.... I don't have anything against lawyers, per se--some of them are wondermous--but that whole group just strikes me as needed to be taken down a notch or two, and I understand being partially digested and then, er, eliminated is pretty effective. Oh! And if we're voting, I'm still voting for Van Neuter to be the appetizer. Nasty little cretin....

    I am still hoping that all formerly consumed people and muppets and, yes, even other contestants are somehow, magically, um, reconstituted (It's that easy! Just add water!) at the end.

    Oh--and I loved YOUR little nod to Pinky and the Brain. So nice to have another grown-up who was around back in the heyday of subversive cartoons!

    Keep going! You're almost there! (And please don't let Piggy wear her good feather boa when the monster's attack--it is sooooo hard to clean....)
    Fragglemuppet and newsmanfan like this.
  12. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Hey! We watch MMN, and it's got some good shows on. Mostly. Okay, I share Rhonda's sentiment, reruns just eat up your time when you've got nothing else to watch.
    Van Neuter's not so bad... I'd suggest you read a sweet ficlet by BeakerSqueedom titled Happy Anniversary, Beautiful! in her entries in the FLI.
    Should note that I find elements from different baddies being used for the Underlord, which only adds to the suspense of when he makes his grand ascent. But I have to say... Targeting Muppets specifically to make 31 of them be the ritual-required sacrifices to demoralize the public? That's Mistake #2. Yes, some of us will grieve over the losses (knows the Muppets will pull through somehow and it won't come to that), and then there's the other group of people who will demonstrate their determination by hunting down the Underlord and executing him with extreme prejudice for such atrocities. Let's roll!

    You get points for the line referant to classic animation Dame Ru mentioned above. But I vonder if either of you remember the villainous hamster Snowball? Or the fact that the labmice ended up moving into a spinoff with Elmyra?

    BTW: Who's Jeanette, the assistant Piggy has?
    That's another nice little detail. Thanks for making me add such a detail for my planned July ficlet.

    Thoroughly enjoyed and laughed and applauded the SST gang showing up at froggy babbeee's house.
    *Concerned with how Newsie's plight seems to mount what with most of the Muppet crew not believing him or caught up in their own hubbub.

    So John Lamb got eliminated for the finale. Too baaaaaaad.
    C'mon, you know I had to use that joke, the bear gave it to me. Maybe I can throw it away? Nah, it'd just come back to me. :fishy:

    Captain Slurg, piranha creature.
    Burt Wolf-Thing, expert sniffer.
    Andy Goblin, second in command.
    If they're going to grab a bite, can they grab Seymour? After all, he's the one supposed to feed them...

    The creature carrying out the caterpillar shrieking, is that the second Susan from I Married a Monster!?
    *Voice: She's not Susan!

    A white storm, and so it begins.
    31 sacrifices.
    Round and round.
    At the pumpkin hour.
    Shall loosen the demon' underground.
    (Yes, I caught the detail of the time at which the event has been scheduled to take place).

    *Wonders if Uncle D can generate enough of his blue lightning to cause the force bubble to implode on itself granting him his freedom.
    *Wonders where our blue and pink interstellar associates got too, I've noticed their absence here and abroad.

    Okay, I think that's everything from these past chapters. Thanks and hope to read more when you can post it.
    You too Dame Ru, update please?
    newsmanfan likes this.
  13. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    I fully admit to be a fan of the Anna Nicole Show back in the day. My friend and I were obsessed; we don't know why, it just one of those shows that you couldn't NOT watch, even when you knew you shouldn't.

    That was high school for me; in fact, every Wednesday afternoon before band practice, we had our cartoon block with Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and Batman: The Animated Series. Am I the only one who remembers what I called the Steven Spielberg block on Saturdays on what used to be the WB?

    TT, Animaniacs, Pinky & the Brain (sometimes), Freakazoid, and Road Rovers (no one ever remembers RR :( )

    So I think I just muffined this. So very sorry. I again wonder about Uncle D, who was so rudely, yet valliantly captured chapters ago.
    The Count likes this.
  14. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Wait... Road Rovers was a Spielberg creation? Guess it fits.
    *Walks away trying to identify the species of monster by the smell.
    Aardvark, no. Abominable, no. Acromantula, no...
    That's a reference to an episode, so that should make you happy WMG.

    TTA, Animaniacs, BTAS+Superman TAS, DTA, that was my high school watching too.
    Then they added Pinky and The Brain, Freakazoid and Hysteria!, along with Toonsylvania which was vastly under-explored.
    Of course, I benefitted from the fact that Fox Kids' Golden Age was in 1992 when I started high school and still had good sight. I got cartoon crushes from some of those shows. :flirt:
  15. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Embarrassing story: I did not have children of my own so I had to subscribe to the local WB Kids newsletter for my niece. (I don't have any nieces.)

    (And would anyone here like to start/participate in a thread about the AWESOME voice casting for Batman: The Animated Series. There were some WONDERFUL funny castings, as well as some dead-clever dialogue and some great visual puns. I ADORED Harvey putting half-and-half in his coffee....)
  16. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Since you mentioned Harvey, I have to give you 2, 2 quotes! :batty:

    From Second Chance.
    Penguin: If I were to settle my business with him, I'd do it face to face, to face, so to speak.

    From the poker game episode.
    Harvey: Half of me wants to strangle that pretty little neck of yours.
    Poison Ivy: And what does the other half want to do?
    Harvey: Run you over with a steamroller.
    Poison Ivy, to the table: We used to date.
  17. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    That last quote was from, "Almost Got Him," which was one of the best episodes. Another favorite of mine was, 'The Gray Ghost" (Parts 1 & 2). Can you guess why I like that ep so much? (We should really start a thread....)

    I had a sudden inspiration about "Roving" last night (while I was up finishing a paper). Newmanfan, sweetie, why don't you give Van Neuter one of those little caterpillar thingys as a present?
    The Count likes this.
  18. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, and there are details of things I used to watch that I'd completely miss now, like for example... At the very end of that episode, when Selena muses on how she almost got the bat, we see he put her in heart-shaped handcuffs.
    There happen to be dueling 90's cartoon threads in the General Discussion section, maybe we should table this talk over there.
    :excited: And I'll be the chair, and :dreamy: can be the chandelier!
    *Leaves cinnamon pecan muffin for Kris.
  19. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Muffins! NOM nom nom nom nom nom...

    :insatiable: Hey! You eat all the cookies??

    Uh...no. Actually, I made pumpkin scones last night. Here...have one...*yanks fingers out of the way*

    Uncle who? Yip who? No idea whom you guys refer to... *looks at ceiling innocently, whistles*

    The pumpkin hour. I like that. I'm using that, Ed. :)

    More soon...still wrangling my way through plot notes...this is where things get really, REALLY hairy...

    Herry Monster: Uh -- hi! Did you call me?

    NO. And Ru and I already did that joke this morning. Shoo.
    Fragglemuppet and Ruahnna like this.
  20. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Well, you may have gotten Herry Monster in on that joke... But did you also mean to get Hairy Monster in on it too?
    :batty: Who?
    You know... The shaggy monster from the disco, who had trouble with the In Door and the Out Door?
    :batty: Ah yes, now I remember him.

    BTW: Did you know Behemoth's name is Gene? Bill named him that in honor of his brother.

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