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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. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Oh. I'm so sorry to see that Ethel passed away. I thought she might come out of this story still kicking. At least Gina is coming to comfort him. Newsie--so sorry for your loss, Sweetie.

    I've worked with a lot of lawyers over the years, but allow me to say that the "Bland of Brothers" gives me the total creeps.

    Um, there was a stray thought out in the alley, and you know how I like to feed hungry critters...anyway, it followed me home and here it is. Wouldn't Gonzo be considered an honorary monster? I mean, he's very clearly never actually aligned with the monsters, or considered himself to be very monsterish, but still...weird nose, blue fur, strange eating habits? Shouldn't he get a pass on ascension night?

    Pleeeeassssse let something bad happen to Van Neuter. I don't like him at all.

    More, please!
  2. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    *Stage whispering: :concern: will get a pass to Ascention Night, that's what winning the Underthing's favor got him. But we can't let on the competition's rigged for his weirdo's success, oh no.
    And Van Neuter's in character... That's why I loved his sketches on Muppets Tonight, though there weren't enough for my liking, making a suitable parodical monster scientist horror host. Besides, he did make friends with the lab rats in MFS, getting them marshmallows for the big bonfire on the beaches of Cape Doom helping light the way for Ubergonzo's ship to land safely. But you've got your own opinion and we welcomely talk it out here Aunt Ru.
    *Dispenses with a pecan muffin in hopes of getting some fic before booking for the night.
    Fragglemuppet likes this.
  3. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    ------------
    I personally find Van Neuter to be laughable and tend to write him as such...hard to be scared by someone so utterly doomed to failure. But yes, he does have even nastier tricks up his filthy coat (when was that thing last dry-cleaned, anyway?)...

    "Bland of Brothers"...LOL. Nicely coined!
    :( Coins? Nifty. Though not as cool as my bottlecap collection.

    I had to make a decision on Ethel. Her loss will not be pointless; much will come of things she set in motion. Especially her connection to the Yipyips. Hope I do it right; all of you throw stones if I mess it up, okay? :eek:

    As always...critiques much appreciated! The next few chapters are going to be very tricky for me. Let me know what you think...
    -------------
  4. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Oh noes! :eek:

    Finally finished and now I'm on pins and needles. It all comes together - the monsters, the studio, the missing, and the Muppets! Dun dun DUUUUUNNNNN!

    Actually, Count, I thought Gonzo's prize for winning would be his sacrifice to the uber monster god at the alter. Which of course, makes me worried; now that Gonzo's figured out what Camilla wanted, he needs to figure out that he's in danger. Hopefully, he'll run across Uncle D sometime soon.

    So awesomes this is!
    Fragglemuppet and newsmanfan like this.
  5. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Ha, yes, awesomes this is. But have you read up on the other stories that build up to this one? *Goes into fan-mode. Eagerly waits for next chapter, whenever Kris can post due to her schedule. :zany:
  6. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    -------------
    Geez, you guys are turning the yellow felt tomato red...thank you!! :news:

    My house is currently something in Afghanistan. Or maybe Bosnia in the '90s. ALL the 60-year-old-plumbing has finally been completely ripped out and replaced and up to code...which involved pretty much destroying the master bath. Guess where *I* sleep? And am allergic to dust? And get heatsick easily and it was over 100 this weekend?... Will TRY to write tonight while on a supervisory work shift with a sleeping client...I hope. *fuzzy fingers crossed*

    Oh, I have...plans...for Gonzo. Oh yes we does. Plannsssss...
    ----------------
    Fragglemuppet likes this.
  7. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Part Thirty-Four (I)

    Only after threatening to actually talk to the boss was Snookie allowed to hit the showers. He had no idea what time of day it might be outside; the glow-worms in all the hallways seemed to have no internal clock of their own, and radiated cold gloomy illumination all the time, as far as he’d been able to observe. All he knew was that he’d done nearly thirty show tapings and commercial spots today, and he was tired, ragged, and covered in some kind of mushroom sauce. (That fifteen-second spot promoting Flukeman’s Fabulous Fungus Funporium really stank...in every sense.) He’d yelled hoarsely at the blugh-speaking monster trailing after him all day until he was brought a clean towel and shorts and an undershirt which actually still appeared white instead of yellow or grey; realizing this was the most luxury he’d experienced in months gave Snookie no great feeling of satisfaction.

    He trudged into the shower room, snarling at Blugh: “I don’t need you in here! Leave me alone for five minutes – unless you want me to tell everyone you have a Muppet fetish!” Abashed, Blugh hastily ducked back outside, and Snookie sat down on one of the cracked wooden benches just outside the actual stalls. Ye frogs, my kingdom for a private shower. Sighing deeply, he curled his knees to his chest, laying his head on them a long moment, eyes closed, just taking in the relative silence of the room. A dripping faucet kept him company, but that was fine. Just a day, one whole day, to sleep...alone...that’s all I ask anymore, he thought.

    His mind wandered back to the message he’d been given earlier that day – was it only today? Seemed like a week already, but who knew, down here... My cousin’s coming to rescue me. Yeah. Right. These freaks get one look at him, he’ll be sharing a cell with me, I bet. Or he’ll go straight down Carl’s gullet. What an idiot. He really thinks he can just come find me and all will be well? Not froggy likely. If he only found out about me recently, where’s he been all this time? I was famous, d—it! Well...for a while, I was... Depressed, he turned his thoughts away from the bleak timeline of his rise and sudden fall in show business. History now. Unable to quell the uneasiness the strange message had brought up, he glanced around once, then extracted the small photo from the inside of his trouser-leg hem. The yellow-felted Muppet pictured had deep lines around his squinting eyes, but his smile seemed genuine, and the way he held, and was held by, the nonfelted girl spoke eloquently of the kind of partnership Snookie himself had only halfheartedly considered. He’s free, and he has someone, Snookie thought. Must be awash in bliss twenty-four-seven.

    The door to the shower room banged open, startling Snookie, who fumbled in trying to stuff the picture back into the safety of its hiding-place. A blue Whatever covered in yellowish goop and eggshells bounced in, followed closely but with far less energy by a pinkish-furred monster with three tired eyes, similarly coated in what looked like Easter gone horribly wrong. “But that was just a practice run!” Gonzo exclaimed. “Of course I won’t drop the whole carton next time – I just got distracted when you set off the sparklers early! You have to wait until I say, ‘Then the nest is full of marvels!’” Suddenly noticing the game-show host, Gonzo smiled. “Oh – hi! Long day for you too, huh?” He sniffed. “Hey, smells good. What was that, stroganoff?”

    Snookie glanced up at the mushroom sauce slowly sliding from his hair down his large rounded nose. He was frozen with the photo still in one hand and his leg absurdly stuck out. Easing into a more natural pose, he tried to pretend he hadn’t been doing anything questionable, eyeing the fluff-headed pink monster with some anxiety. “Uh, heh heh, I guess so. Does it normally smell like month-old gym socks?”

    “When it’s done right,” Gonzo said affably. “Uh, did you want to go first?” He gestured at the shower stalls.

    “No...you go ahead. You look like you both need it worse,” Snookie said, thinking if they busied themselves with that he’d have a better chance of concealing the photo; he lowered his hand to his lap, covering the small picture with his fingers, and gestured broadly at the daredevil with his other hand, a classic misdirection he’d learned from hosting Three-Yard Monty! about a decade back. “You two look like you’ve been working on your next act for tomorrow, huh?”

    “I’m going to be saving three dozen eggs of various sizes and densities from certain extermination-by-garden-tool, while reciting a paraphrased version of Billy Collins’ ‘Picnic, Lightning’,” Gonzo explained. He indicated his monster assistant. “Rosie’s throwing the eggs.”

    “Ebba,” Rosie muttered, seeming far less enthused than Gonzo. He began to slouch toward the nearest shower stall, but paused when Gonzo stepped toward Snookie and grabbed the photo before Snookie could completely hide it.

    “Hey, cool! Did Newsie send you that?” Gonzo asked.

    “It’s a token of appreciation from a fa—who?” Snookie gulped, his glib explanation cut short in confusion. He stared at the friendly Whatever. “You...what did you call him?”

    “Oh, uh, sorry; I know he used to get a little huffy about his nickname. The Muppet Newsman. I work with him. Well, you know, not with him, technically; I did offer to let him hold the target up for my motorcycle jump once, but he said he was busy all week,” Gonzo said, but the look on Snookie’s face made him pause. “Oh, er...you don’t actually know him?”

    Snookie darted a furtive glance at Rosie, unsure how much to say. “Uh...he...he’s my cousin. You work with him? And he’s in the news?” Snookie frowned. “What is he, your publicist?”

    Gonzo laughed, and grinned at Rosie. “As if any of those philistines would support a genuine artiste! No, no...he works at the Muppet Theatre.”

    “It’s still running?” Snookie wondered, amazed. He could recall hearing of the place as a young man; he hadn’t thought a venue devoted to silly things like singing and dancing and corny jokes would ever last long...certainly, not long enough for any of the performers to make a living at it.

    “Well, yeah!” Gonzo chuckled. “Geez...how long have you been down here, anyway?”

    Snookie’s expression darkened at once. “Heh, heh... A long time.”

    Gonzo handed the photo back, feeling sheepish. “Oh, uh...sorry. I didn’t realize. Um. Well, yeah, the theatre’s still going...and we shot a movie recently in Hollywood...and they’re gearing up for a spooky one to start shooting soon. Hey, would you like to come aboard? I mean, we already have an emcee, of course; but, uh, you know, maybe you could do a game-show sketch? Kermit and I go way back, and I’d be happy to put in a good word for you...”

    “No thank you,” Snookie said, shuddering at the thought of ever doing another game show again. If he were out there again, free again, he’d never be caught in front of a microphone or a fake audience! Not ever! Not even working with other Muppets... Overcome by a wellspring of unusual thoughts, he paused, then asked softly, “What...what is this Newsman like? What’s it like...working with Muppets?”

    “Oh, well, uh...it’s great, although Kermit won’t let me do all the stuff I really want to. That’s why I’m here.” Taken aback by the odd questions, and by how desperate the cynical host suddenly seemed, Gonzo took a seat next to him on the bench. Rosie hovered nearby a moment, impatient to wash the egg off his face, then shrugged and chose a stall. He flung his towel over the swinging door; a moment later, the sound of running water was accompanied by scrubbing, humming sounds, and then a cleanly-rinsed coat of short pink fur landed over the stall door to drip-dry. Snookie stared at that a second, decided he didn’t want to even think about a naked monster using the soap-on-a-rope, and returned his attention to Gonzo. “Well, umm...Newsie’s a good guy. Y’know, a little, uh, conventional...not the artistic type at all. He used to be really uptight, but that lady of his has definitely changed him for the better! I’ve actually seen him smile a couple of times this past year...”

    “But he...he works with you, you said?”

    “Oh. I should’ve explained that better. I mean he works at the theatre, but he also has a regular news gig. He’s an anchor or something now, I think,” Gonzo said. “That’s so cool that he’s your cousin and he sent you fan mail! Hey – maybe we could get him to cover me in the winner’s circle at the last show!” He grinned. “Or did that sound overconfident? Ahh, dream big, win big! Hey, would it be prejudicial for you to tell me who you think my strongest competition will be?”

    Snookie tried to digest all this. “Has he...said anything to you about visiting down here?”

    “No...but I haven’t seen him in weeks,” Gonzo reminded the host. “They keep us contestants kinda secluded. I guess they don’t want us stealing ideas from the mainstream entertainment media. Hey, why don’t you invite him to the next show? He doesn’t normally do showbiz news, but I’m sure since you’re his cousin he’d do you a favor. He’s a nice guy...just a little dry, that’s all.”

    “Uh...sure. I’ll do that,” Snookie muttered. He tucked the photo away. “Speaking of dry, you should go wash those yolks off. Otherwise you’ll be scratching yellow dander for days.”

    “Good point,” Gonzo agreed. “Nice talking with you. See you tomorrow night! It’s gonna be fantastic!” Beaming, he snatched up his own towel and went dashing into the free stall. “Hey Rosie, toss me some of that lava shampoo!”

    Snookie was too caught up in his own thoughts to notice the splash-fight over the three-quarter stall walls which ensued behind him. My cousin goes by ‘Newsie’? How quaint. And he’s a no-nonsense reporter type...great. No way can he have any idea what’s going on down here. He’ll be walking right into the monster’s den. Poor schmuck is doomed already. He shook his head. Man, I wish I COULD send him a note – I’d tell him to run the other way! Save himself! Coming after me isn’t wonderful, it’s suicide! Depressed again, he slumped on the bench, the mushroom gravy plopping off his nose barely a nuisance next to the black shade of his train of thought. But what if he does come down here? What then? What can I do? He scowled. Nothing! Nothing I CAN do! That idiot’s on his own! I can’t be responsible for anyone trying to rescue...me... He gulped, abruptly feeling guilty. It was not a sensation he was accustomed to, and he struggled with it. I didn’t ask him to come find me! I didn’t want anyone to...to... Bullcrap. Yes I did. I just didn’t think anyone would REMEMBER me, much less want to get me out of here... He wiped away an unexpected tear. Man, that lava shampoo is pungent. Hope they finish soon so I can wash up.

    He repeatedly steered his mind away from any further thought of his cousin’s misplaced heroism, waiting until the water stopped and two laughing, soaked creatures emerged with towels around their waists. As they dried themselves, chatting about shovels, rakes, and ellipsoidal weight distribution midair, Snookie slipped the photo into his clean underwear and folded it with the undershirt on a shelf high inside one of the shower stalls, where the water splashing would be minimal and he could keep an eye on it. He heard the snap of a wet towel and a monsterish yelp, followed by Gonzo’s laughter cut short: “Oh! Uh...sorry... Rosie, put your fur on, for crying out loud...”

    “I see machismo runs rampant even down here,” griped a strident voice. Startled, Snookie looked over to see the pink-spattered blue Whatnot girl standing just inside the room, glaring at everyone. A sheepish Rosie finished shrugging into his fur, hastily smacking closed the Velcro tabs up his belly. Gonzo wrapped an egg-print robe over himself without removing his towel, and nodded apologetically at the girl. “Look, if the bathroom has to be co-ed, can you jokers at least give me some privacy?” Stinkbomb complained; Gonzo and Rosie hurriedly left. She turned to Snookie, eyes narrowing as she recognized him. “Nice. Not only co-ed, but co-monster-and-Muppet. So much for respecting our felted rights.”

    “You’re lucky they even let you get a shower,” Snookie retorted. “What’d you do, gripe until they couldn’t take it anymore?”

    “Yeah...and then some big ugly shark-mouthed groundhog ate me. Again,” the girl snarled. “What kinda crazy joint is this place, anyway? I’ve never seen so many monsters disrespectful of basic Muppet rights! What makes them think they can just –“

    “Because they can,” Snookie interrupted. “You just don’t get it, do you, kid? They run this place. They own us – you and me and every sucker who gets tricked down here.” He gave her a sour look. “Lemme guess: they hooked you with the promise of a soapbox to stand on.”

    “Nobody hooked me, they grabbed me!” Stinkbomb argued. “They grabbed me right off the street! Dragged me through the sewers! Pure anti-Muppet kidnapping! When I get out of here, they better –“

    “You’re not getting out,” Snookie corrected, stepping closer to glare at her eye-to-eye. Well, almost; she was slightly shorter than him. “Hasn’t the reality of all this sunk into your fuzzy little brain yet? None of us get out! Up there, kid, maybe you were some hotshot young rabble-rouser, but down here, you’re...you’re...a slave.” He paused, swallowing hard as he realized that really was the perfect word for it. “All of us, everyone except the monsters; we’re slaves... Well, maybe them too, under that big scary boss they’re always whispering about. Who knows? Point is...there is no escape. Nobody’s going to find us, nobody’s going to save us, and anyone that tries will...will be gobbled up just the same.” He stopped, waiting for her next outburst, but she was surprisingly silent. She stared at him, round eyes turning moist, and Snookie fought down the urge to sympathize. He’d tried making allies before, and what had come of that? Betrayal...or else the painful loss of a friend. He wondered how poor Geoff was doing...whether he’d become one of them, as he’d seemed to be heading for the last time Snookie had laid eyes on him.

    Finally the girl said quietly, “You’ve been down here years, haven’t you.”

    Snookie nodded, his throat feeling too thick to talk.

    The girl swallowed as well, looking him over, seeming to at last notice the scum in his hair, the bedraggled clothing, the weariness in his face. She asked, “Will you...will you tell me what to do?”

    Boggled, Snookie stared at her. She added quickly, “I mean, to get by. To not make them mad. To not get...get...again.” She trembled a little, just once, but Snookie felt a tremor of empathy go through him. He couldn’t say a word. He simply nodded again, and the girl relaxed a notch. “Cool. Great. So...uh...which of these two mold-covered cesspools is the better shower?”

    “That one,” Snookie said, indicating the stall he knew had the stronger water pressure. He removed his own clothing from the shelf there, and stood back to allow her to go first. “Uh...do you...did they give you any clothes?”

    Stinkbomb looked down at herself; her once-stylish jean jacket was covered in digestive slime. “Uh...no...I thought maybe I could...could wash this in there...”

    Snookie held out his clean undershirt to her. She looked askance at it. “It might be a little big for you, but it’s clean,” he said sharply. She looked into his eyes again, and without a word accepted the shirt. She stepped into the stall, and Snookie sank onto the bench again, wondering at himself. How could he possibly help this kid? Sure, he could tell her what subjects to avoid mentioning around certain of the touchier monsters, but there was no way he could stop any of them from gulping her down, or subjecting her to game-show participation, or from tossing her into the Big Monster house with its invasive cameras and attention-hungry roommates....

    “You better not be peeking, you perv,” she called over the sound of water.

    Snookie, startled, realized the thought hadn’t even occurred to him. It really had been a long time since his frat-boy days... He began to chuckle, and suddenly he was laughing strongly, really laughing. It took him a few minutes to wrest himself under control. The girl, puzzled, asked, “What, you think I’m ugly? You think heck no, you’d never even want to look at someone with two-tone felt? At a girl with a disfigurement, huh? Too ugly for you, with your sleek hair and your cute nose and your – your – manly chest, or something, is that it?”

    Snookie blinked. “I...uh...no! No, I...you...” Well, what the heck. “No, you’re actually...very pretty...uh, kid.”

    There was a long pause. Only the running water echoed in the moldy-tiled room. Then he heard her say quietly, “I’m not a kid.”

    She went back to washing, soft splashing noises oddly comforting to Snookie. He sat there, astounded at himself, not yet reminding himself this girl was destined for bad things as much as he was. Not yet. For just this moment...he was going to think about a young woman of felt, not three feet from him, who would shortly be wearing his long shirt...and possibly nothing else.

    For just this moment, he was going to think about that. Not how little sleep or food or sunlight he’d had, not Carl’s obscenely pro-monster show, not the insane schedule he’d be forced back into in probably only a few hours...for now, just that. Just her.

    He’d never felt protective over anyone before. It was, he decided, kind of...interesting.


    ------------------
    The blue raggy thing couldn’t bear to look at the still form under the sheet. With lower jaw drawn over googly eyes, it wrapped half its tentacles around its head for good measure, keening. “Aaaaaoooogie! Aaaaoooogieeeee!”

    Its pink twin shook its head, sighing as well: “Ooogieeeee...” Mournfully, it tapped the edge of the padded gurney the small body lay upon. “Eth-el...”

    “Bad cow got Eth-el,” Blue groaned, but Pink comforted him, five tentacles wrapping around his companion.

    “Nooooope. Nope nope nope. No bad cow. Was...” he paused, searching for a word which had no equivalent in their own language. “Ack-see-dent. Ackseedent. Yip. Yip yip yip yip.”

    “Aaawww?” Blue asked, puzzled.

    “Yip yip,” Pink assured him. “Eth-el fall down... Awww. Fall, mm.”

    “Why?” Blue demanded, gesturing wildly at the covered body of the Muppet they’d both adored. “Not right! Not fair! Uh-uh! Uh-uh!”

    “Not fair,” Pink agreed, and with another sigh offered the wisdom of his somewhat greater timecycles: “Just way is. Awww. Just way.”

    Blue stared widely at him a moment. Abruptly he hauled several tentacles back and thwopped Pink hard enough to send him tumbling jelly-over-eyeballs. “Not funny! Noooope! Nopenopenopenope!”

    “Not try funny!” Pink protested. “Way is here!”

    Blue turned away, gazing up at the gurney. “Aaaaooooooogie,” he wailed.

    Pink rejoined him, staring up as well, but silent. After a few more minutes of Blue’s mournful keening, Pink’s wide jaw slowly raised, tightening into a straight, determined line. He poked Blue, startling the grieving monster. “Ooog?” Blue grunted.

    “Big boss go down.” For once, the strange harsh voice was quiet. Pink’s eyes narrowed to catlike slits, though they went horizontal instead of vertical. Blue looked uncertainly at him; he’d never seen his friend in this mood. Pink’s tentacles vibrated, sending a ripple up his wobbly body until his antennae quivered. He glared at Blue. “Big boss go down now.”

    “Mm. Down. Down now,” Blue said slowly, beginning to bounce lightly in solidarity with Pink. “Mm. Down. Awwwww yip yip yip. Down! Uh-huh! Uh-huh!”

    Each of them, quivering, humming softly and tonelessly, hovered a moment above the still, sheeted form. Gently they brushed their soft tentacle-tips across the covered face of the late Ethel Muppman before wavering in the air and vanishing, and the nurse technician who entered the room a moment later only thought he saw an odd ripple in the air, and shrugged it off as fatigue. The gurney wheels squeaked as he took the body from the room.

    At the elevator down the hall, Gina heard the sound of the wheels, and looked back; she saw the gurney slowly being taken away. At least whomever had been honking that ooga-horn had finally stopped; the noise had disturbed them, seeming badly inappropriate for such a sober time. Her Muppet clung to her, his face buried in her coat. She clasped him tighter, hoping he wouldn’t turn around. The elevator softly chimed, the doors opened, and Gina walked her Aloysius inside, sparing him the last sad sight. She saved that for herself, and before the doors shut, thought, Goodbye, Ethel. Thank you for loving my Newsie...he won’t forget you. She stroked Newsie’s hair, and he did his best to hold back a sob, pulling his useless glasses off his face. I’ll be his family for you. She bent over to kiss his forehead. “I love you.”

    “Love you,” Newsie replied, his voice hoarse. “We...I need... I need to go to the theatre.”

    “Sweetie, no. Kermit won’t insist you work tonight, I promise. Let’s go home...”

    “No, not yet,” Newsie said gruffly. He wiped his face with his coatsleeve, and turned hard eyes up to his beloved. “She knew about the monsters. That’s why they tried to kill her. I have to get that report out. Right now. Rhonda just needs me to deliver a voiceover...I need to do that. Now.”

    Gina felt both a surge of pride and a deep uneasiness about his determination; she could see it plainly in his gaze, in the set of his jaw, in the tenseness of his whole posture. Reluctantly she nodded. “All right. I’ll go with you.” She kept her arm around his shoulders, and after a moment, he took her hand in his, and held it through the whole cab ride back to the Muppet Theatre.
    ---------------


    The Count likes this.
  8. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Part Thirty-Four (II)


    Rhonda threw her hands up in exasperation. “There you are! Where the heck have you --“

    “My aunt’s dead,” Newsie snapped, and the rat froze, mouth still open. “Those raggy things are responsible, Rhonda. They must have made her fall, and the fall caused a lot of damage, she was so – so frail...” He choked back his grief, forcing himself to Muppet up. “We have a lot of work to do. Is the footage all compiled?”

    “Well, kinda. I wasn’t completely sure what order you wanted to tell the story in; I went with the slug-thing as a teaser intro –“ Rhonda grabbed his hand. “Newsie, I am...I’m so sorry...”

    “We have to get this report out,” Newsie said curtly. “People have to be warned! We’ve delayed this far too long already! Ethel confirmed the monsters are kidnapping people; the ones we saw on the hidden camera were there against their will!”

    “But why? Why would they do that? I mean, okay, I know their appetites are...disgusting, truly, but...”

    “She said something about thirty-one lives, about the monsters needing so many for some...some big plan. I don’t know enough yet.” Newsie paced angrily, the rat watching him with worried eyes. “Let me see what you’ve edited.”

    Rhonda turned the laptop toward him, cueing up the report footage. Newsie played it, watching carefully, unconsciously chewing on his fingertips. Gina slipped into the room, and Rhonda went to her. “I am so sorry,” Rhonda murmured. “He didn’t have to come to work after that!”

    “He’s not going to be working. I just spoke with Kermit, and he said Newsie can take as much time as he needs. I think...I think Ethel’s grandson is handling the arrangements, so we don’t know yet about a funeral.” Gina shook her head softly, seeing her Muppet intensely staring at the laptop screen. “He insisted on doing this report tonight. Please, just...help him with it. I’m not going to be able to get him home until he’s satisfied with this.”

    “You bet,” Rhonda agreed. “Uh...could be a while.”

    “Yeah, I figured. I’m going to go get us all some coffee.” Gina touched Newsie’s shoulder; he glanced up at her, clearly irritated at being interrupted, but then reined himself in when she bent to kiss him. “Aloysius...do what you need to do. I love you. I’ll be right back, I’m just going to fetch coffee, okay?”

    “Okay,” he said, and then gave in to a hug. “Thank you.”

    Gina paused, unsure what else to say; he obviously wanted badly to work on this report. She wasn’t sure whether this was a good thing, throwing himself so fully into it immediately after the shock of the afternoon. Muppets were beginning to fill the green room, some of them throwing curious looks their way; some greeted Newsie, and he barely acknowledged them. She stroked his hair once. “I love you. Are you going to be able to work here? Maybe it would be better if we went back to the apartment...”

    “Everything’s set up already. I just want to do this. Please.”

    “Okay, all right...I love you.”

    “Love you,” he said, and promptly returned his attention to the screen.

    Gina shook her head again, concerned, and told Rhonda as she left: “Keep an eye on him, please.”

    The rat wasn’t sure what she could do if her reporter decided to run after another lead right now, but she nodded, and climbed atop the bench next to the laptop. “So, whaddaya think? Can you work up something tonight so we can maybe tape it tomorrow, and –“

    “I’m ready,” Newsie said, brushing down the front of his coat, tucking his tie in smartly. “Start recording.”

    “Uh...you don’t even have a script, Goldie. Look, I understand; why doncha go home and see what you can –“

    “No. Start recording. I need to do this,” Newsie barked at her. Rhonda flinched.

    “Uh...okay then. Lemme mic you, and set up the audio; hold on.”

    Newsie waited, fidgeting impatiently, while Rhonda clipped a mic to his lapel, running a wire straight into her computer and creating a new audio file in her editing software. “The clarity on this should be okay, ‘long as there’s not too much background noise,” Rhonda told him, looking around once at the Muppets milling around downstairs. The Chef was singing at his grill, Link and Strangepork were arguing over whether Link’s fingernails and hooves being trimmed and polished weekly qualified him as a metrosexual hog, the chickens were practicing their version of “Gypsy Moon” in one corner while Rowlf rehearsed “Maple Leaf Rag” at his slightly out-of-tune piano in another...and it wasn’t even time for the house to open yet. “Y’know, maybe we should go up to the flyloft or...”

    “Everyone please be quiet!” Newsie yelled, startling the room. Numerous eyes stared, and more than a few jaws went slack. “This is a very important report I have to record right now! This needs to air immediately! So all of you just shut up for five minutes, if that’s not too much to ask!”

    “Uh...anything you say, Newsman,” Rowlf offered. “Is...is something wrong?”

    “Uh...his aunt died today,” Rhonda explained apologetically, and after a stunned pause, an outpouring of sympathetic words came from all over the room, but Newsie shook his head, holding up both hands.

    “Please! Not now!” He realized finally how he must sound, and tried to soften his voice: “Sorry. Thank you, all of you, but I...I really need to take care of this right this minute. Just...please. Please give me some quiet.”

    Nods, murmurs. Rhonda gave him a worried look. “Newsie, hon...I don’t think this is the best time for you to deal with this, okay? Look, we can do this tomorrow, it’s not that –“

    “It is that urgent!” Newsie insisted. “Is the recorder ready?”

    “Yes, but –“

    “Then start rolling.” His narrowed eyes and thinly-set mouth made Rhonda simply nod, and press start. She gave him a finger-count silently: three, two, one...go.

    Newsie took a deep breath, hit replay on the footage Rhonda had spliced, and began speaking, clearly and firmly. “This is a Muppet News Special Report. The film you are seeing is not a horror movie or an internet prank: this is actual footage shot beneath the streets of the Bowery near Chinatown, in a secret tunnel connected to the corporate office of Nofrisko, makers of sugary snack cakes. On Sunday, October twenty-third, this reporter entered the tunnel seeking answers to a rash of disappearances throughout the city, previously reported on KRAK Big Apple News. The horror you see is what we found.” He paused as the scene changed to a shot of the Nofrisko building exterior, with the SWAT vehicle parked out front. “On Monday morning, a joint investigation by the city police and the Centers for Disease Control attempted to gain access, only to find the building deserted and the tunnel walled up. Efforts to get into the tunnel have been forestalled by an apparent lack of any sense of urgency by city officials; a demolition crew is scheduled to break the wall down next week. Meanwhile, in the basement of the Nofrisko offices, a hidden chemistry lab was discovered. A mysterious substance there was analyzed by Muppet Labs and found to be a concentrated fear-inducing drug – which Nofrisko may have contaminated their own snack cakes with. Why? It seems to have something to do with these.”

    The film ran of the slug-thing and the centipede-thing chasing them. Newsie let it proceed a moment in silence, then said, “We do not yet know what these creatures are or how they came to be underneath the city, but these aren’t the only ones! Our sources confirm many, many more strange, bizarre, and menacing things are living in underground tunnels and caverns beneath Chinatown – perhaps all over the city!” Some of the footage Sweetums had managed to film came next, showing dark rocky corridors with monsters hurrying about. “There is a monstrous conspiracy underfoot, literally! Hundreds of these horrible creatures are operating a television studio underneath lower Manhattan, which broadcasts under the station name MMN. I have already linked them to fraud, and to attempted murder of a woman named Ethel Muppman; she died a short while ago today, apparently of injuries which may have been caused by two of these monsters. Further investigation on that story will be brought to you as information is uncovered.” Rhonda gave him an incredulous look; Newsie didn’t care. He was sure the link was there, and once he found it, he’d tell the world...but for now, even a vague warning was better than silence on the matter!

    He paused to think a moment as the footage continued, showing monsters running by with armfuls of camera equipment, or hustling along bound and unhappy pigs. “This secret-camera footage obtained by our exclusive source earlier today clearly shows that the monsters are indeed keeping individuals against their will in this hidden base – for what purpose? We do not yet know. We do know that many recent missing persons were last seen in or near tunnels, such as subway platforms, aqueducts, or utilities-access passages beneath the streets. I urge you all to stay away from any underground entrance until this matter is fully investigated! If you must ride the subway, go in groups; never get on an empty train or platform or ride the last train of the night. Board up any outside access in your cellars; beware of sewer or drainage tunnels! Whatever these people are being kidnapped for, no reports of ransom have yet been received, and no one has been returned!” He swallowed dryly, watching the footage of the lab beneath Nofrisko. The deep claw-marks on the wall stood out starkly against the white tiles. “An expert chemist from Muppet Labs speculates that the drug Nofrisko was making, which contained numerous non-FDA-approved ingredients, was for the purpose of aiding the monsters by inducing an extreme fear reaction in consumers; monsters apparently enjoy eating prey that tastes more terrified! This revelation is especially disturbing in light of the missing persons.”

    The scene shifted to the abandoned subway tracks. “An entrance to this secret compound was discovered leading from the disused subway tunnel next to the J line. We urge city officials to take this threat with the same seriousness as any terrorist activity! Whatever these monsters are planning, it is clearly inimical to the people of this city! Please find these furry terrorizers, and shut them down!” He paused, looking at Rhonda. “Can you give me a video feed for the exit?”

    “Uh...sure. Hang on.” Rhonda grabbed their small videocamera, quickly setting it up on a short tripod, gesturing for Newsie to stand closer to a section of blank wall (the only bit not covered by old promo posters for various theatre acts). When she signaled him again, he took only a second to clear his thoughts before finishing the report on-camera.

    “This is a sincere appeal to all citizens to be on alert for these furry menaces, to stay away from any underground access which the fiends might use! And for our law enforcement to realize they have a serious problem, and must immediately root out this hidden nest of horror underneath us! For Muppet News and the city of New York, this is your Muppet Newsman.” He didn’t have to tell Rhonda to cut; she stopped the camera, shaking her head.

    “Holy monster movies, Newsie. Didja really have to throw in the speculative stuff? I mean, we don’t know for sure that monsters tried to kill your aunt, or –“

    “They did!” Newsie snapped. “What else could it have been? She was fine! Maybe a little disoriented, but fine! And –and she told me she caught one of them and made him talk! It just keeps getting worse, Rhonda,” he said, trying not to shout. “Worse and worse. She told me they needed thirty-one lives, that’s why people have been kidnapped, some sort of plot...and that they’re planning on unleashing the worst of it in a storm.”

    “A storm?” Rhonda asked. “Uh, Newsie, I don’t think we even have rain in the forecast all week. And how could monsters make it storm? Or are they just waiting for one? Why would they need a storm for anything? They’re already kidnapping people and attacking anyone non-monstrous who goes down there – and we still don’t know what was up with that leaky wall! Are they planning on flooding the city?”

    “I don’t know,” he growled, tearing off the mic so he could pace. “I don’t know! But whatever it is, it’s going to be horrible! We have to stop them!” He whirled, glaring at her. “Just get that report posted right now! We have to stop anyone else from being hurt!”

    “Newsman?” Scooter called; Newsie turned to see him, Kermit, and even Miss Piggy coming downstairs, all looking worried. “Geez, I am so sorry. Is there anything at all we can do?”

    “Board up the prop room,” Newsie replied. At Scooter’s confused expression, he explained, “Those things could get in here! Board up every possible portal to the sewers, the drains, the whole underground system! And...and ban the monsters!”

    “Ban the monsters? Why?” Kermit wondered. Piggy, holding his arm, stared uncertainly at Newsie.

    She demurred, “I’ll grant you, their fur sheds all over the place, and some of ‘em need air fresheners hanging off their noses permanently...but why would we ban them from the theatre? Monsters have always been part of the show!”

    Gina returned, handing a small moccaccino to Rhonda. “You have to talk to him, he’s gone completely overboard,” the rat hissed. “He just threw stuff into his report we can’t even prove yet! I have never seen him treat speculation as actual newsworthy material!”

    Newsie gestured at the room at large. “Where are they tonight? Did you notice that except for Sweetums, not one monster is here?”

    “I thought some of them were on vacation,” Kermit said, startled, looking at Scooter. His second-in-command nodded.

    “Well, yeah! The Mutations said they had a concert gig on a cruise line all this week; Carl called in sick; Big Mama hasn’t checked in; uh, I saw Thog upstairs napping, so he’s certainly not involved in anything bad –“

    “Oh come on!” Newsie yelled. Gina startled him when she touched his shoulder; he untensed enough to accept the coffee she offered, but then continued to argue: “A cruise? Sick leave? When have any of them ever called in with excuses like that? They’re always here! And now suddenly they’re not! They’re all in league, all underground planning something horrible! Kermit, they’re kidnapping pigs!”

    “What?” Piggy and Kermit exclaimed. Piggy growled, “Oh I don’t think so.”

    “It’s true,” Rhonda muttered reluctantly. She cued up the footage Sweetums shot. “They don’t look glad to be there to me...”

    Piggy’s fingers clenched; with some difficulty, Kermit pulled his loose from her grip. “What...hey, that’s Doglion! Where...what is this?” he asked.

    “A secret base of monsters, underground,” Newsie said grimly. “Watch the footage. Judge for yourselves. But if we don’t take steps to protect ourselves...those things will be after us next.” He turned back to Rhonda. “Get that online. Please. Right now.”

    “Um, sure you don’t wanna edit out the –“

    “No edits! Just paste it together and post it!”

    “Ooookay,” Rhonda sighed, shaking her head at Gina.

    Kermit, Scooter, and Piggy continued to watch the hidden-camera film. “I...I don’t understand,” Kermit muttered. “What the hey is going on here? Are you sure this isn’t just a Halloween prank, Newsman?”

    “I would never –“

    “By the monsters,” Scooter amended. “Maybe...maybe this is all just some big monster party, ya know? They do things a little differently.”

    “That pig was squealing,” Piggy protested. “And not in a happy way!”

    “Look, let’s...let’s think this through,” Kermit said, scrunching his mouth. “Why would monsters want to hurt anyone?”

    Newsie shook his head. “Watch my report, Kermit. Horrible things will happen unless those creatures are stopped now! Just...just see for yourself. Ask Sweetums; we sent him in to shoot this because they would have eaten us if we’d tried! What do you think attacked Rhonda? Why do you think the theatre monsters are all suddenly away? They’re all in on it! We can’t trust any of them!” Upset, he paced the room. Gina joined him, casting a frown at him when he pulled out another anti-monsterphobia pill to try and quell his trembling at the thought of what might happen if the monsters returned here en masse. “Barricades,” he muttered darkly, “weapons...we need defenses...”

    “We need to go home now,” Gina said firmly. She took his shoulders in her hands so that he was forced to stop and look at her. “You need rest.” When he began to argue, she pointed out loudly: “You can’t fight off a monster invasion if you’re so stressed and exhausted you drop in your tracks!”

    Newsie considered it, finally nodding. Gina guided him up the stairs and toward the exit. Several Muppets offered condolences on the way out; he only gave small nods to each of them, feeling tense and overcome. In the cab home, he couldn’t stop more tears from flowing, but his Gypsy girl held him, and sang softly, a whisper of a tune, an old song about loss from her grandmama’s heritage. Gradually he fell silent and held her, listening, soothed by the music though he couldn’t comprehend the Romany words.

    At the theatre, Kermit stopped the playback, frowning. “Rhonda? Is this all true?”

    “I sure as heck hope not,” the rat sighed. She met worried looks with one of her own. “But...paranoid he may be, crazed by grief he may be, but I have to admit...he’s been right on everything we’ve found so far.”

    Silence fell in their corner. Scooter cleared his throat. “Uhm. So. Round up Beau and the stagepigs and get some boards?”

    Kermit nodded slowly. “Maybe...that would be a good idea. Just as a precaution. I’m sure this is all overblown. But...yeah. Do that.”

    “Mon capitan,” Piggy whispered, “what do we do if the monsters walk back in? Can we trust them?”

    “Sweetums!” Kermit bellowed, and in a few seconds the shaggy troll lumbered over, blinking curiously. “Guard the back door. Tell Thog to guard the front. Until we get this sorted out...no monsters allowed back in. They’re all on leave as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure this is a big misunderstanding, but...”

    “Hoo boy. They’re not gonna be happy...” Scooter said.

    “Either way, a week without that dirty fur smell sounds delightful,” Piggy said. “And if they get past those guys...they’ll answer to moi!”

    “I hope pork’s not on their menu tonight,” Rhonda muttered; fortunately Piggy didn’t hear her. As the others went their way, getting the theatre ready for the show with more worries than usual on their minds, Rhonda began digitally splicing audio with video. “I wonder if Goldie’s realized this’ll make him a target, if he wasn’t already?” she sighed. “Eh, knowing him, he’s already putting extra locks on the door...hope Gina can handle him.” Another fact struck her, and she stopped, paws on hips, annoyed. “Oh, gawd. This means I have to go back to my place tonight. Oh, man, I swear, first little pinkie that shrieks tonight is going right into the breadbox and staying there!”
    ----------------
    The Count and WebMistressGina like this.
  9. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    *:insatiable: is patting his stomach after another helping heaping of newsmanfan's fic.

    Glad that :concern: showed up to talk to Snookie about who his cousin is.
    *Sniggers at the thought of Rosie having to take off his fur and then velcro it back up. Reminds me of that monster from Doug that scared him for the whole weekend until he saw the zipper of the costume.
    Snookie being a gentleman for Stinkbo, er Constanza? The entire play between the two of them as she wisened up as to her new imprisonment was very endearing.

    The entire segment with the Martians mourning over Ethyl's departure made me smile. Doing their voices while reading, trying to give each line the deserved pathos/entonation, then realizing what Pink proposed to Blue. Go get him boys. But please remember to free Deadly, he'll help you if you lend a tentacle or twenty-three.

    :news: has started to show the rigors of such a heavy-duty reportage into the underrealm's underhanded undoings. Sweetums and Thog should make valiant bouncers... And I rully like Rhonda's attempts to keep the reportage's posting on the straight and narrow. But things are going downhill to heck and a handbasket quickly. The only thing you can hope for is to head for higher ground, surviving the coming Muppapocalypse.

    Thank you for posting. *Disappears into the shadows once more.
    newsmanfan likes this.
  10. WebMistressGina

    WebMistressGina Well-Known Member

    Alright! Everything's falling into places, as in may not be what they seem.

    Of course as I'm reading this, my question is - when will the Muppets at the theatre realize that Monster ground zero is the same place Gonzo is? I'm hoping that Rizzo will cotton on, but something tells me that Pepe, in his own special way, will glade by and say, "Dat's de place where Gonzo is, hokay? he went there for his crazy stunts. What? Jus didn't know dis? Unbelievable, hokay?"

    :rolleyes:

    don't look at me like that! You have a hard accent to write. Why you don't get a little hooked on Phonics, huh?

    :rolleyes: Why? Did it work fer ju?

    I feel like shrimp. Who's with me?
  11. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    To quote Aunt Ru from Pepe's earliest appearance in KG...
    "Oo Pepe, ju sais to jourself, dis womans, she is more interested in de cocktail than cocktails okay. So ju is having to get jourself out there and mail jourself to da bear. Well, not da bear okay, but da Muppins in Vegas okay, where ju can shake jour bonbons in Kermin's Vegas show for da celeries okay."

    Yeah, he's crazy like that. *Passes popcorn to WMG.
  12. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    -------------
    I thought he only worked for cash monies okay?

    Next up...the next extermination round of... BREAK A LEG!

    ------------
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Shh, all he knows is he gets da greens if ju know what we means okay.
    :shifty: We'll take cash.
    :rolleyes: Credit cards.
    :shifty: Personal checks.
    :rolleyes: Belgian waffles.

    Also interested in what Constanza disclosed of herself. Is the two-tonedness because of her violet hair and blue felt? No, I'm not taking into account the pink splattering from the hogwash the monsters forced her to go through.

    Please, post more? :halo:
  14. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Yep...that would be the spraypaint which isn't washing out. Felt stains easily, ya know.

    Post more? I gotta WRITE more...and Gonzo's acts are getting increasingly complex and ridiculous...give me a few days!

    Where's YOUR entry for May, huh? Huh?
    -----------------
  15. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    You cut me to the quick. Dunno, maybe next week since it's more of a motherly scene in the Grosse family garden I've planned. I've gotten distracted with some good fics at Fanfiction.net. If only you could stay logged in as permanently and post/upload stories as easily as we can here. Le sigh.

    If you need help, you know where to reach me. Unless you get a prerecorded holographic version of me that knows how to answer your questions as if I myself were there at that time, like what Gonzo did on JHH.
  16. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    I managed to read this today but didn't have a mo to post until now. There were some things to love. The yips getting all indignant and wanting to take down the BEO (Big Evil One) was super. The way that ush-gush--the need for human attraction and affectionate contact--can surface in any situation. Newsie finding his reporting center in the midst of great sadness and concern. Gonzo's sanguinity (is that even a real word?) in the weirdest of situations. Kermit and Piggy and Scooter and everybody showing solidarity with the cause.
    Can't wait to see what happens next!
  17. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    ------------
    Thanks Ru...and don't be afraid to post your private critiques here; your notes are ALWAYS helpful!!

    That goes for anyone: I do really welcome feedback. Helps me fine-tune. More soon as I'm able...:news:
    -------------
  18. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    (Author's Note: okay, so I was amiss in announcing 'Break a Leg' yet...there was more, I realized, which needed attention first! Stay tuned NEXT time for the most devastatingly dumb stunts on the planet, so amazingly suicidal they make the idiots over at 'Jackdonkey' jealous! Now for this week's feature. Please use your headphones so the creatures around you will not be disturbed any more than they already are. There is a paper sack located in the pocket of the seat in front of you in the event of monster-food stomach turbulence. Enjoy your movie.)

    Part Thirty-Five

    Wednesday dawned crisp and cool; by late morning the sky was that special shade of cerulean reserved for brisk autumn days, cloudless, with the fire of trees throughout the city creating the kind of bright, wondrous contrast which made people gaze up in startled contentment, no matter how harried their life. It was the kind of day made for going out and flying a dragon kite, or raking leaves and jumping into them in a schoolyard, or suddenly needing another pumpkin for the front stoop.

    Gina stole a quick glance at the still figure in the windowseat of the living room, then spoke softly over the phone in the kitchen. “Thanks, Mike. I’ll make it up this weekend...yeah, please do. Tell him all my plots are on top of the gel storage cabinet in the booth. He knows what I’m going for. Yeah, well...just tell him what’s going on, but sure, I can owe him a coffee. Okay. I hope so too... Thanks.” She hung up, took another look at her beloved, and sighed to herself. He hadn’t moved in three hours, after losing the argument to march right over to City Hall and demand to see the Mayor. She poured a cup of fresh pumpkin-spice coffee, hesitated, then added a couple of ounces of similarly flavored liqueur before bringing it out to her Newsman. “Sweetie? Here...”

    He accepted the mug without a word, sniffed it, and took a long gulp. As an afterthought, he handed her the cold mug which had been sitting on the ledge of the windowseat for quite some time, largely untouched. “Thanks,” he mumbled, setting the fresh mug in the old one’s place and proceeding to ignore it, returning his attention to the pile of papers in his lap. He didn’t think anything truly useful would come of these alleged leads, but it was his duty as an investigative reporter to leave no grimy, distasteful city stone unturned...

    Gina stroked a hand down his arm; he barely glanced at her. “Drink your coffee,” she urged. “It’ll help.”

    “Coffee won’t stop anything,” he said, bloodshot eyes locked on the page before him. Gina, worried, sat down on the sofa, watching him. Twice last night he’d bolted awake with a shout, wracked by nightmares; he’d barely slept. They’d had a terrible start to the day, with much shouting, when she’d refused to let him go running after city officials to demand they press into the subway tunnels in search of monsters. She’d had to beg before he gave in and unhappily agreed to stay home today. Now he was curled into a compact bundle of washed-out-looking felt, a heavy robe, and a throw blanket at one edge of the windowseat, unaffected by the wondrous day outside. If anything, the blue sea of sky above the gray buildings seemed to anger him whenever he glanced out at it, but mostly he’d focused on these papers, a stack of tips from the news station he’d yet to wade through completely.

    Gina noticed he’d stared at one for several minutes. “Does that one look like a good lead?” she asked.

    He glanced at her with a mild frown. “No...it’s just as inane as the rest of them.”

    “Well, does staring at it for an hour make it any better?”

    Disgusted, he tossed it away; it drifted to the carpet. “No.” He glared out the window. A pair of small birds flitted by; he watched them resentfully. Two million people and change out there, all having a normal day. None of them suspect the horror beneath their feet. None of them! “Can I please check the video now?” he asked, his voice a barely controlled growl.

    Gina regarded him a long moment. “Deal – if you finish that cup of coffee.”

    He sighed. “Fine.” He took another gulp of it, fingers brushing back and forth along the edges of the paper pile. “These people are fools. Isn’t there even one person in this city besides me who knows what the hey is really going on?”

    “Sorry, didn’t realize I didn’t count.”

    He looked up at that, chagrined enough to amend his tone. “I...of course you do. I know you do.” He paused, swallowing back mingled guilt and frustration. “I know you do.”

    She sighed again, and fetched his Powerbook for him. As she settled it in his lap, helping him move the papers, she leaned over to kiss his forehead. “Got your back, you know.”

    He nodded, and after a minute added, quietly, “Thank you.”

    While he navigated through the Times website, Gina thumbed through the stack of printed emails. “Man. This guy thinks Bigfoot is living in the park...well, guess that’s not so far off,” she mumbled, thinking of Sweetums’ cousin with a shiver. “Here’s one that says they saw Elvis partying on the subway at one in the morning. Right...the King is back, and kidnapping nubile young women for his secret love nest.”

    Newsie snorted. He continued to search the news site for the video Rhonda was supposed to have posted last night. “She said it would be linked to the ‘Around Town’ page...and there’s nothing here! What the heck!”

    “You know she wouldn’t have blown it off,” Gina chided him. “Maybe the editor decided not to link to it.”

    “We have to get that information out! Who knows how many people they’re snatching every night!” Angrily, Newsie clicked on link after link, searching the entire site section by section. He swore loudly. “Where the frog is it?”

    “Calm down,” Gina said. “Look, go check your email. Maybe Rhonda wasn’t able to post your warning at the Times; if they killed it you know it’s not her fault! Maybe she’s left you a note about it.”

    Trying to calm himself, Newsie nodded, took another sip of the coffee, and set about logging in to his email; he’d begun changing the password frequently since this investigation had begun, and it took his sleep-deprived brain a moment to recall what he’d used this time. Gina held up a sheet of paper with a half-smile. “Giant spiders nesting in the head of Lady Liberty.”

    “Not likely,” Newsie shot back. “I think they’re all under Chinatown.”

    “What’s up with the location, anyway?” Gina wondered. “This is like ‘Big Trouble in Little Muppettown’ or something. Do you think they started with Nofrisko and moved underground, or took over the company because it was close to their lair already?”

    “Who knows?” He knocked back a deep drink of the coffee, then sniffed at it again, curiosity roused just enough to comment. “Uh...whatever you did to this, it’s good. Thank you.”

    “Extra-strength brew,” Gina said, hoping he’d eventually forgive her the small deception. “I thought you really needed it after last night.”

    Newsie nodded again, then set aside the mug as his email loaded. “You’re right. She emailed me. She says...” He scowled. “She...she was rejected by the Lifestyle editor at the Times, so she posted it...she posted it on MuppTube?” Bewildered, he clicked on the link the resourceful rat had sent.

    “I thought that was all bad singers trying to lip-synch in their underwear, and kitties playing with gerbils in plastic rolly balls,” Gina said, rising to peer over his shoulder at the screen. The video, when it finally buffered and played, looked exactly as Newsie had narrated it last night. Gina pointed to a corner of the screen. “Look, sweetie! It already has over a thousand hits!”

    “Great,” Newsie muttered. “So less than one per cent of the population has seen it...assuming they’re even all from this city!” Disgusted, he closed the site, reading the rest of Rhonda’s note. He sputtered. “Blanke – that – that – no!”

    “What is it?”

    His glower deepened the shadows around his eyes. “She says Blanke called her asking her to turn in her press ID until the hearing. The hearing. As if it’s even going to be close to a fair trial! He’ll...he’ll fill the bench with so-called ‘adjudicators’ on his station payroll – or Nofrisko’s! With those creeps actually in charge of things, how can we get anything like a fair shake?”

    “Is he expecting you to send in yours as well?”

    Newsie unconsciously pulled his robe tighter around himself, although the badge in question was in his wallet in the bedroom. “He can have my badge when he pries it from my cold, still foam!”

    “Well...I won’t let it come to that,” Gina promised, wrapping her arms around him. Though tense, he gave in just enough to touch her skin briefly before pulling away. It was more affection than he’d demonstrated since their fight earlier, however, so Gina accepted it silently as progress. She sat back down, and with a sigh resumed reading through the ‘leads.’

    “Uhm. Is there...could I...could I have a little more coffee?” Newsie asked gruffly. When Gina met his gaze, he appeared contrite. He held out the empty mug. “You’re...you’re right. It is helping a little.”

    “Told you,” Gina said, relieved. “Nice warm drink on a cool, depressing day.” He didn’t pull back when she kissed him, and he slumped with a sigh as she took the mug.

    “Look at it out there,” he said, his voice so quiet for once that Gina had to stop and listen carefully to hear him. “The sky’s so...blue.”

    He continued to stare out at it as if seeing it for the first time. Gina refilled his mug, again adding a little of something guaranteed to calm him whether he wanted to relax or not. She brought it back to him, and relaxed more herself as she watched him absently sip it, still gazing up at the brilliant, arching expanse of pure blue. “It’s...” he hesitated, seeking words, then finished, “It’s...nice out.”

    She nodded, and folded herself onto the seat beside him. “You’d never know bad things were happening under something that pretty.”

    “Why...why is it like this?” Newsie asked, suddenly turning weary eyes up to her. “Why are they doing this? Not that I ever thought they were choirboys, of course, but...why this? Why now?”

    “My sweet journalist, I don’t know,” Gina murmured, taking his free hand in hers. His soft fingers brushed against hers, seeking reassurance in a touch; Gina held his hand firmly, and gave it a gentle squeeze. “The monsters at the Muppet Theatre never kidnapped anyone before now, right?”

    “Right. They...well, I remember a skit where Gorgon Heap ate Wayne...and those weird, violent Hugga Wugga things always made me uneasy...things like that were pretty commonplace, but nobody was hurt,” Newsie said slowly, thinking about it. “I don’t know how long any of this other stuff has actually been going on! It...it seems very...planned, doesn’t it?”

    “Organized,” Gina agreed, considering. “It does.”

    They gave the matter some thought in silence. Newsie finished most of his second spiked cup. “Somebody is guiding them,” he decided aloud. “Someone’s ordering them around. They’re way too chaotic to have done all this on their own. A TV studio? Alliances with major corporations? It’s too conspiratorial...frankly, they’re not that bright.”

    “Um...I think Sweetums is more childlike gentle giant than village idiot, and that’s a good thing in my book.”

    “I wish he had more to say about what he saw down there,” Newsie muttered. “It was all just a big fun fair to him!”

    “And it’s that very innocence which keeps him safe,” Gina pointed out.

    Newsie nodded, reflecting that the troll was definitely an asset on their side against so many fiends. Gina broached a sore subject carefully. “Hopefully...the Mayor and the cops and everyone else will see your report today. Maybe by tonight all this will be over.”

    “I hope so,” he muttered. He stared out at a breeze shaking the leaf garlands on the flowerboxes; the golden mums Gina had planted last month looked a little worse for wear, and would no doubt be dying back soon. He tried to view that as a metaphor for the underground threat.

    She waited, still holding his hand. “It looks really nice out...we could go for a walk, if you want. I have the day off. Scott’s going to help with the build today, and hang lights tomorrow for me.”

    He felt guilty again. “You didn’t have to stay home for me.”

    She held back the many tart comments about rushing into disaster which sprang to mind; he’d calmed, and she felt reasonably secure he wouldn’t do anything embarrassing like call the FBI crying monster. Instead, she lifted his fingers to her lips, and kissed his felt. He met her eyes, appearing so sorrowful she melted at once. “I love you,” she said. “Look, Newsie...maybe we should go for a walk. It’ll be too cold to really go outside and play soon enough; let’s take advantage of it while we can. We can go by that newsstand you like on Forty-ninth,” she suggested.

    He shook his head slowly. “No...I think...I think I just want to stay here a while.”

    “Okay,” Gina replied. He closed his laptop, setting it aside, and gazed out the window with nearly-closed eyes. “Want me to keep looking through those leads with you?”

    He shrugged. “Maybe you’ll have more luck...my eyes hurt.”

    She nodded, stroking his fingers; this time, he held on. Giving him a gentle smile, Gina picked up the paper stack again. She read through another few unhelpful ‘tips.’ At her sudden snort of amusement, he turned those tired eyes back to her, curious. She held up the information of note. “This person believes the old hotel on Doyers Street is haunted. Says she’s heard moans and cries there late at night.”

    “Right,” Newsie grunted. “More likely addicts crashing in a condemned building than spirits back from the dead.”

    “No doubt,” she agreed. Newsie released a deep sigh that seemed to take all the remaining strength from his body. “We’ll check the video again in a couple hours, okay? See if it’s circulated enough, or if we should try and push it at other sites?”

    “Rhonda’s probably already doing that,” Newsie said. He moved everything away from him except her, and lay down along the windowseat, resting his head in her lap. She tucked the Muppet-sized blanket around him, and he sighed once more. “Ghosts,” he said simply.

    “Do you...do you want me to try to...”

    “No,” he mumbled, eyes closing; wearily he pulled off his glasses, and Gina set them on the bookshelf. “No. Let her go. She’s probably happier now.” He shifted, getting more comfortable. “Besides...even if there were ghosts at some decrepit old wreck in this town...they wouldn’t be able to tell me why a bunch of monsters have suddenly gone postal.”

    “I don’t think they let monsters work at the post office,” Gina said, ruffling his hair.

    “Hmf,” he grunted, just conscious enough to be dryly amused...and then his breathing slowed, and she knew he was fast asleep, finally. Gina leaned back, getting as comfortable as she could, resolved to let him sleep that way as long as possible. Maybe in a while he would be settled enough to remain asleep if she took him to bed. Maybe later her efforts to soothe him would actually work. Exhausted herself, Gina allowed her eyes to close.

    Soon there were two redheads, one felted and one not, fast asleep in the glorious dappled light of a wide window on a fall afternoon.


    ----------------
    Beaker approached Bunsen armed with real facts this time. This time, he would make his comrade-in-science listen when he voiced his concerns about things in this creepy old building! Honeydew turned from calibrating the transmitter which would send all the equipment signals out in a web-TV simulcast Halloween night. “Isn’t it wonderful they already had a digital transmitter up and running for us, Beaker? Our little scare project will broadcast to the five boroughs and beyond! Isn’t that exciting?”

    “Mee mo moo moo mee meemee,” Beaker said, brushing aside Bunsen’s dreams of fame.

    Bunsen frowned. “Really, Beakie? You’re going to bring up that nonsense about haunted hotels again?” Beaker shoved a thick paperback book under Bunsen’s nose. “What’s this? – ‘Rick Steves’ Top Ten Places He Had His Bad Hair Scared Right Off His Head’? Oh, honestly, now! Did you get even one twitch of the needle on the PKE meter last time? No! There are no ghosts in this place, unless you count old memories...which I’m sure any hotel this old and storied must carry in its crumbling walls.” With a sigh, he looked at the page Beaker opened the book to and thrust at him. Bunsen adjusted his glasses. “Hmm. ‘The Chinatown district of lower Manhattan is home to many gruesome tales, stories of revenge and bloody opium wars and clashes between street gangs with names like the Dead Rabbits, but perhaps the most haunted locale in this part of the city is the old Happy Lotus Hotel on Doyers Street. Although the tiny, crooked street outside was the grim setting for so many gang ambushes and assassinations in broad daylight that it was known decades ago as the “Bloody Angle,” inside the once-beautiful lobby of the hotel, you get a chill simply walking on the dusty marble floors and looking up the formerly grand stairway to the guest rooms. I wouldn’t recommend trying the stairs, however, as all of the floors above the ground level have been condemned by the city as dangerous since an inspector fell through a wall in Nineteen-seventy-eight.’” Bunsen handed the book back to a wide-eyed, expectant Beaker. “Well, it is always nice to know a little local history! Thank you, Beaker. Now, shall we go get the third floor hooked up?”

    Astounded, Beaker gaped at him. Recovering his voice finally, he protested, “Mee meep mo meepie!”

    Honeydew shook his head, annoyed. “I don’t believe ‘creepy’ is a scientifically valid quantification! Now come along, grab a few of these infrared camera packs and motion trippers and let’s get them in position and online, shall we?”

    Grumbling, Beaker tossed away the guide book and began shoving equipment in a battered canvas satchel for lugging upstairs. “Oh, careful, Beaker. Remember we don’t have the budget to replace any of this! Wasn’t it generous of Nofrisko to fund our tech needs? Ah, so nice to finally encounter a company which actually respects and advances progress!”

    “Meep,” Beaker muttered; he wasn’t certain what they were doing here actually counted as progress. He reached the grand landing with its ungracefully-shored-up balustrade, and realized he was alone. Looking back quickly, he saw Bunsen rummaging through boxes of brand-new computer monitors and external hard drives in the center of the lobby. “Mee! Mee meep meep me mo mee?”

    “No, you go on ahead. I’ll get all the monitors set up and interfaced,” Honeydew said with an airy wave in Beaker’s direction.

    Beaker stared at him, then looked with a shiver up the turn of the stairs. The second floor had been bad enough, with its meandering corridors and tiny, cobweb-filled rooms, but the third floor seemed even darker...and then there was the attic... Gulping so hard his head bobbed down into his collar, Beaker reluctantly trudged up the creaky stairs. He remembered to avoid the loose board on the eighth step up (two nasty tumbles after having it skitter out from under his foot had implanted the location of the hazard firmly in his brain), but nearly fell when he placed a hand on the railing from the second landing to the third flight of steps and it collapsed. “Meeeeep!”

    “Careful, Beaker! Try not to damage the fixtures! Remember, we can’t replace history!”

    Thinking they might well make history here, for the most injuries suffered in a condemned building during a Muppet production, Beaker regained his footing and cautiously advanced upward, shining a thin beam of greenish light around. He wished he’d thought to bring more glow-sticks to leave as a trail to light the way back. That might not work anyway, however: the ones he’d laid down at each turn of the hallway on the second floor earlier this week had seemed to vanish minutes later when he returned seeking his way out... He peeked over the steps at the third-level landing. The doors seemed farther spaced apart, and the hall quickly branched to left and right, so it was impossible to discern much. Shaking, he advanced slowly, glowstick brandished like a lightsaber, clutching his satchel tightly. Tiny swirls of dust puffed up at his every step, which upon reflection reassured him somewhat: it certainly indicated no one had tread up here in years.

    Then again, ghosts wouldn’t leave footprints.

    He wondered if the PKE meter could possibly have malfunctioned. Didn’t it seem colder up here? Shivering again, he scrunched his flat chin against the warm striped muffler around his shoulders. Was that a skittery sound off to the left? Stifling a yelp, he whirled, eyes wide, searching the dark hallway. A door gaped blackly farther down, torn or fallen off its hinges long ago. A window-shutter slapped the wall outside; Beaker jumped, and tried to peer in every direction at once. He moved back toward the stairs. Something smacked his leg. “Meeee!”

    It was only his satchel. Realizing he’d never hear the end of it if he bolted downstairs with a full bag, Beaker shook his head and looked around with an eye more to judging the best places to set up the motion detectors and cameras. Perhaps if he moved quickly, and didn’t venture too far from the stairs, he could hurry back down and truthfully claim to have put them all in place? That sounded like a plan. He pulled a motion-trigger from his bag, yanked a screwdriver from the toolbelt just under his lab coat, and fastened the sensor to a crumbling newel post. As he installed the camera and made sure fresh batteries went into everything, he had to turn his back on the hall with the open doorway.

    The small, batlike thing with a tooth-overfilled mouth flinched as a huge droplet smacked its head. It glared up at the gigantic orange-furred spider clinging upside-down to the doorframe. “Quit droolin’ on me!” the bat-thing hissed. Annoyed at the reprimand, the spider drew back a little into the shadow of the once-luxurious Princess Crane Suite, its preferred lair on the upper floor for its spaciousness and disintegrating bedlinens. “You can’t eat ‘im yet! We needsh ‘em for the big night, bosh says,” the bat-thing reminded the much bigger spider.

    “But me so huuuungry,” the spider whined. Another twelve-ounce drop of drool plashed into the dust of the doorway.

    “Shtop that! You wanna make the plaish look too clean?” the bat-thing scolded. It crawled back into the suite, dragging itself along by the wicked claws tipping its wings.

    “You gets eats,” the spider complained, eyeing the bat-thing grumpily. “You fat!”

    “I am not!” Drawing itself up haughtily, the bat-thing waggled wings far too tiny for its round body. “I’m...big-furred. Now...shtay out of shight!” He waddled over to the circular bed and crawled into his nest in the half-collapsed box springs. “We hash to have firty-one, and bosh shays the more Muppesh, the better, sho no shnacking, Shteve! Clawsh off til the big night!” The bat fussed with the bedcover. “Eew! You been nibbling thish again!”

    “Uhn-uhh,” the spider denied.

    “Hash too. Look, I can shee the fringe ish all chewed!” Disgusted, the bat shoved it away from his nest.

    Giving up, Steve the giant spider sighed, casting a longing look at the doorway. In the corridor outside they could hear the skinny, flame-haired Muppet tinkering with his electronics. “What all that for anyway?”

    “The shurveillansh? Ish sho the bosh can make the whole world shee ush eat Muppesh!” The bat cackled, then remembered to silence himself. In the hallway, Beaker froze, looked around anxiously, and decided maybe the third floor only needed a couple of cameras, after all. Whispering, the bat continued, “Halloween night, they’ll all be trompin’ froo here, and when ish time, we grab ‘em all and rip ‘em apart and ish all gonna be on TV!”

    “Oooo,” Steve murmured, impressed. Then all eight eyes narrowed. “Wait...can’ts me wrap ‘em up for later?”

    “No! Bosh shays they all gotta be killed wifin, like, sheconds for his big ashenshion thingy to work – and then we take over the shi—“ Catching himself with a scowl, the bat reworded, “We takesh over the whole town!”

    “Neat,” said Steve.

    “Yep.”

    “But...uh...” The bat-thing sighed, eyes rolling, as his larger but not smarter friend puzzled it out. “Wait. If we rips ‘em up...all the good stuff fall out.” Plaintively he whined, “Me likes the insides!”

    “Well, then, shuck on the legsh if you want! But all firty-one needsh to be dead at the right minute or bosh won’t ashend, and he’ll be mad at ush! You don’t want to make bosh mad, right?”

    “No no no,” Steve murmured, drawing his legs in, cowed. “Uh...maybe they be extra tasties can save for later?”

    “I dunno. I shaw the lisht today. Sho far they only got eighteen Muppesh shay they gonna be here. Dunno how many other peoplesh that weird doc got down below. May need to kill all of ‘em jusht to make quota.” The bat sighed. “Ish a hard world, Shteve.”

    “Yuh...” Silence fell in the hall; apparently the scientist had gone back downstairs. Just as well. Neither monster particularly wanted to rouse themselves since morning nappies was commencing. “Hey, Clarence?”

    “What?”

    “We can has cookie after nappies?”

    The bat-thing sighed again. “Shure, cookiesh. Where the heck am I gonna find you cookiesh?”

    “Uhhh...” The spider shuffled six of his feet, abashed. “I got some from doc. Wait! I show you!” He rambled over to a large web filling what had been the bathroom of the suite, and brought back a struggling shelled thing. “Crunchy kind, with jelly in middle!”

    Clarence stared at the snapping thing trying to free itself of its webbed cocoon. “You idiot! Thash a clam!”

    “Who you callin’ a clam, you fat-bellied orthodontist’s worst nightmare?” yelled the mussel. “Lemme outta here! My union rep is gonna sue you guys’ butts inta the middle’a next month!”

    Clarence stared at it, then looked up at the hopeful expression on the spider’s face. “Never mind. Enjoy your cookie.”

    “Goodie!” Clapping, Steve tucked the still-protesting clam away for later. He snuggled atop the decrepit bed. After another long silence during which Clarence nearly fell asleep, Steve mumbled, “Uhhh...me can has binkie?”

    “Oh for cryin’ out...fine! Take it! You’ve eaten half of it already anyway,” Clarence groaned, tossing the remnants of the silk coverlet up at the spider. A few seconds later, the sound of slurping came from the bed, as the spider curled up with a corner of the blanket in its mandibles, acidic drool slowly wearing a hole in the fabric as he sucked it contentedly. “Sheesh...all the monshtersh in the joint and I gets shtuck wif the biggesht baby of ‘em all,” Clarence grumbled, but quietly. After all, he had no wish for his perpetually-hungry companion to start looking at him as a potential cookie.


    -------------------
    “No I do not want a cookie!”

    The purple furry thing with heavy black eyebrows cringed back, nearly spilling the tray of gerbil meltaways he’d brought as timid tribute to the underlord. Eustace motioned him away from the door to the control hub, and the monster scurried off. The underlord fumed, glaring at one of the multitude of screens filling the curved wall before his throne. “Who? Who took this footage?” the dark boss roared. One of the flickering monitors shorted out.

    “It...it appearsss no one the culprit sspoke to had any inkling they were being filmed, your awfulnesss,” Eustace ventured, but flinched when a heavy hand nearly collided with the doglizard’s crested head.

    “I can see that, you microcephalic! How! How did a camera get past the guards?” The angry boss pointed at a large, scaly blue thing with pink tusks greeting the cameraman briefly, just inside the subway tunnel entrance. “That one. Bring him to me. He shall be made an example of, for allowing this to happen!”

    Eustace agreed: “Er...sssshe alwaysss ssseemed a bit too friendly to me, my lord.”

    A pause. “In any case...bring her to me then, Eustace. This sort of laxity cannot go unremarked when we are so close to the Dark Ascension!”

    “At onsssse, my liege,” the doglizard promised, turning to go, but an enormous thumb and finger hooked one of his whiskers. Eustace yelped, and immediately silenced himself, waiting, trembling, for further instructions.

    “That reporter. He posted this. All this is his work,” the boss snarled, his red eyes pinpricks of light as he glared at the screen, where a short yellow Muppet was speaking urgently and earnestly about the monsters underfoot.

    “Sssshall we...ssshall we find him and kill him, my lord?”

    The dark underlord rewound the clip, and listened carefully to the little nuisance Muppet’s voiceover while shots of those cute little bug-things skittered past. “Hundreds of these horrible creatures are operating a television studio underneath lower Manhattan, which broadcasts under the station name MMN. I have already linked them to fraud, and to attempted murder of a woman named Ethel Muppman; she died a short while ago today, apparently of injuries which may have been caused by two of these monsters...” said the Muppet reporter. The boss paused the playback, one clawed finger thoughtfully tapping a massive lip, seen only in silhouette by Eustace against the dim lights of the many screens and equipment pilot lights.

    “There’s one piece of good news, at least,” the boss growled. “It sounds as though our stringy friends finally remembered their jobs! I see I won’t have to punish them for insubordination after all.”

    Eustace reflected that the Martians probably couldn’t even grasp the concept of obedience, much less disobedience; they simply did whatever they felt like from moment to moment. He was relieved they hadn’t been around for days, and hoped they wouldn’t return anytime soon. Those things gave him the creeps: too many tentacles... He swallowed back an uneasy twinge in his belly, and asked: “He namesss the ssstation, my huge monsstrossity! What do we do about that?”

    The boss noticed a large white centipede with purple fangs waiting uncertainly at his feet, and thumped his broad lap for the thing to crawl up and be petted. “Look at that, Eustace. My pet wishes to comfort me. She knows I’m upset. Isn’t that sweet?” Eustace nodded, hoping this didn’t mean the boss wished to pet him too. “Loyalty, Eustace! This is what we demand; our enterprise will not succeed without structure, without obedience! Someone out there who looks like one of us and yet is not with us has betrayed us.” Eustace squirmed, consciously banishing all thoughts of disgruntlement just in case the boss could read his mind. One never knew... Finally the dark lord said, “Send out the strike team. Tell them to get it right this time.”

    “Er...um...”

    “What is the problem, Eustace?”

    “Well...my...my liege...you know we’ve had him under obsservation sssome time... and...and...well...er...he ssseems to alwaysss have sssome defenssse near him, my lord. Either that dimwit Thog or the little fool troll at that Muppet Theatre are alwaysss around, and the abductorsss have not been able to gain easssy accessss to him there...”

    The boss snarled. “Why do you tell me of this continual failure, you useless twit? So find where he lives, and capture him there!”

    “M-my liege,” the doglizard gulped, “the ssspiesss report that at his home, he isss alwaysss with the sssame woman who aided in the defeat of the Muppasssaursss and the great undead ssshaman thisss sssummer...and who once threw another Muppet into a gaping maelssstrom...”

    “Are you telling me,” the underlord asked, his voice dangerously quiet, “that my subjects...my monsters...are afraid of a single human woman?”

    “N-no! Sssertainly not...they never...” Seeing those fierce glowing eyes fixed upon him, the doglizard cowered. “Yesss.”

    That great hand hovered over him; Eustace shut his eyes, bracing himself for the pounding...but instead, he felt the boss patting his crest and horns. “I see. Well then, my faithful underling, tell them to bring her here. We can always use another life for the grand sacrifice, and perhaps she could be used as leverage to silence the little nuisance with a microphone. Leverage...or bait.” The underlord chuckled; cautiously, Eustace joined in. Suddenly he was jerked aloft by the neck, choking, gurgling. “See to it the strike team succeeds this time, or I shall have to replace you with someone able to command the cowards, you sniveling worm!” the boss roared. He flung the squirming reptilian creature out. The door slammed shut behind him.

    Eustace drew ragged breaths, slowly climbing to his feet in the antechamber, humiliated and frightened. Bring her here? The one who was rumored to have some sort of Gypsy secrets? Who banished a ghost, if the stories could be believed? A movement in his peripheral vision made him flinch.

    The purple-furred monster offered a tray of mostly crumbs, with a few shattered bits of treats left. Apparently the rejected monster had been consoling itself out here. “Uh...cookie?” it suggested.

    With a snarl, Eustace knocked the tray aside, and stalked off with a cold heart and an aching windpipe to find the strike team.
    -----------------
    WebMistressGina likes this.
  19. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    There's much in this chapter to like and reply to, be assured I will do so when I'm able to find some time.

    *Cue creepy organ music as it segways into a medly of At the Movies with Oscar and Telly.
  20. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    --------------
    *ducks popcorn and...stuff...thrown from trashcan to screen*

    What? I'm WORKIN' on it!!

    --------------


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