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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

    (Hopes that *Boom, crack* wasn't the sound of another finger breaking....)
  2. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    {extra bonus pumpkin spice cookies to anyone who can identify EVERY cameo in this chapter...and yes, some of the monsters were ones I created, just to mix it up a bit!}

    Part Six

    Gonzo squinted in the morning sun angling past the dilapidated buildings, trying to read the addresses on the tenement porticos. He’d been decidedly lost already twice this morning, starting when he took the wrong subway train and ended up wandering among the crowds camped in the financial district. Much as he would have loved to stay with the Occupy Wall Street folks, maybe do a little impromptu protest performance art, he really wanted to make this audition. Sure, the ad had said to be there by five p.m., and it was only ten-twenty a.m., but Gonzo took pride in being a professional, and pros always showed up early.

    “789 in the ‘Bloody Angle,’” he murmured aloud, comparing the actual street addresses to the one in the ad. “I guess this is the place…” He studied the building uncertainly. Sure, every devotee of gruesome history knew that tiny Doyers Street had been the site of spectacular ambushes by rival gangs in the roaring ‘20s (hence the nickname), but he perked up upon realizing that unless other prospective contestants could also read Mandarin lettering, they wouldn’t be able to locate the exact building here on the edge of Chinatown. The only other problem was that although he saw numerous rusty fire escape stairs running up the buildings, so far he didn’t see any means of going under them… With a determined step, he marched up to the stoop of the boarded-over former hotel. Although the door had crisscrossing CRIME SCENE DO NOT ENTER tape and a heavy-looking padlock, when he knocked, the tape fluttered down and the padlock fell open, apparently broken. Slowly the front door creaked inward. “Cool,” Gonzo muttered, arching one eyelid. He entered carefully, blinking in the sudden darkness after the crisp bright morning light in the street.

    A grand stairway coated in dust curled upward from a spacious lobby. Undeterred by the disintegrating cobwebs and holes in the floorboards, Gonzo trotted over to a broad desk and tapped the hotel bell upon it; with a sickened dink, the desk section crumbled and the bell fell through it. A bizarre purple thing popped up behind the desk, three eyes glaring at Gonzo. “Thhhabazza va?” it demanded. Stirred-up dust settled on the monster’s green feathery hair and golden horns.

    “Oh, uh, hi,” Gonzo said. “I’m looking for the Ars Moribunda Studios. Am I in the right building?”

    “Gazabba fragga ba!” The monster rasped.

    “Oh, I’m sorry, I never learned Szechuan, only a little Mandarin,” Gonzo apologized. He showed the ad to the creature. “The daredevil contest show! Auditions today! Uh…do you understand?”

    “Ah! Frabba bagga fuh zazza!” the monster said, its protruding tongue scattering spittle everywhere while it nodded vigorously. Gonzo leaned back, not wanting monster spit on his best hound’s-tooth wool coat.

    “Uh…great. Which way do I go?”

    “Frazza,” the monster said, coming through the desk with a slam of the folding section of the countertop. It beckoned at him, heading for a more narrow set of stairs half-hidden behind the main one. Gonzo hefted his trunk, following the monster eagerly. Down they went, the walls surrounding the stairs turning from water-stained, once-grand wood paneling to brick, and finally to moist, rough-hewn grey rock; Gonzo realized they’d penetrated the bedrock of lower Manhattan. The air chilled, the stairs became slippery, and by the time they reached the bottom of the steps, he was grateful he’d put on his long undies beneath his performing outfit today. The monster ducked through a low overhang into a long corridor. A giant blue scowling thing abruptly stepped in front of Gonzo, and he jumped.

    “Hey! Where do ya think you’re goin’?” it growled. Before Gonzo could reply, the purple-and-green monster intervened with a paw on the blue thing’s hefty arm.

    “Zazabba magga! Frabba za,” it explained, and the square-headed blue monster shuffled back a step.

    “Oh, that’s cool. Hey, I’ll be one of the judges for that! Nice ta meet you. Call me B.D,” it rumbled, sticking out a hand. Relieved, Gonzo shook it.

    “Cool! I’m the Great Gonzo. Where’s the studio?”

    “I’ll walk ya down there,” B.D. offered. He waved off the three-eyed thing. “I got this, McGurk. You go back up.”

    “Garagga zazzo,” the other monster agreed, and hastened back the way they’d come. Gonzo shook his head.

    “Uh, no offense, but has he ever thought about getting onto a dental plan?” Gonzo whispered to the tall blue monster. “That’s a pretty bad overbite. Makes it really hard to understand him.”

    B.D. chuckled. “Huh! You should hear him when he’s got a mouthful of peanut butter fraggle chips! Come on, I’ll show ya ‘round.”

    “Thanks!” Gonzo had a better look at his guide when they both passed beneath a strange glowing worm on the ceiling. “Hey, your fur is the same as mine!”

    B.D. grunted. “Well, don’t think that buys you any points in my book! The last guy I met what had fur like me, I had to eat, and boy, was he terrible!”

    “You didn’t like his act?”

    “No idea. We didn’t get that far. But he really needed some garlic salt.”

    They wound through a maze of corridors, passing what seemed like an endless line of doors: behind some, flashing lights and screams; canned laughter and applause seeped underneath the jambs of others; still more had only darkness behind frosted glass windows. “Wow,” Gonzo murmured. “What a great studio! How many shows do you film down here? Is it cheaper than an above-street space?”

    “Eh…it’s what the boss wanted, the network honcho. Says it makes him feel more at home.” B.D. scratched his flat head. “I guess we do forty or fifty shows a day, but they’re pretty cheap to put on. Mostly game shows and reality stuff.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder at a closed door as they went by. “F’r instance, Monster Big Brother filmed in there last week.”

    “Wow, really?” Gonzo’s eyes widened. “Hey, I missed last week’s episode! Who got thrown out of the cave?”

    “Nobody. But Peavey Heap got put into the trash compactor for breaking three cave rules.”

    “You mean –“

    “Yep. They flattened him. Now he has to spend all of next week as a throw rug in the bathroom.” B.D. snorted a laugh. “He’s Gorgon’s big brother, too! Just goes ta prove, ain’t no favoritism no matter who you’re related to on that show! Har har har!” He banged a fist on another door, which swung open to reveal a cavernous space hung with stage lighting trusses; a wide stage took up most of the room. “Here ya go. Audition’s not actually ‘til this afternoon but ya can go ahead and sign in if ya want.” He gestured to a flimsy buffet table strewn with papers off to the side of the stage. “Ya gotta pass through the vetting committee first anyway. Speaking of passing…’scuse me. My walrus had a little too much olive oil. See ya later.”

    Gonzo returned the monster’s wave, then looked slowly up and around. Hmm…should be enough overhead room for the motorbike rocket, he mused. But the stage floor doesn’t look particularly flammable…maybe I could pour hydrazine on it, and get a really good blaze going before I try to shoot the hoops with the super-nitro-pogo-stick? Decisions, decisions… As he approached the table, he noticed squelching noises and flying pieces of trash just beyond it. The filth seemed to be coming out of a battered metal trash can. Gonzo peered inside cautiously. “Uh…hello?” he called down.

    Two Grouches popped up, scraggy black eyebrows scowling at him. “What’s the big idea? Can’t you see we’re busy?” complained one with dull orange fur and wispy grey hair. He wiped ketchup onto his red-striped power tie with a look of annoyance.

    “Uh, sorry. It’s just that I was told to come sign in here for the daredevil contest show…”

    “Grrrr!” snarled the other Grouch, grey all over down to his fluffy mustache and hair sticking out from the sides of his head.

    “Now see? You’ve upset my colleague! We’re distinguished journalists! You think we want to be here? I’d rather not be! So leave us alone!” snapped the first Grouch.

    “Uh, sure,” Gonzo said, backing off. He didn’t want garbage on his outfit just yet; he was saving that for the finale. Plopping his heavy trunk next to the table, he sat down upon it, since no other seats were in evidence, and picked up one of the sheets of paper. No sooner had he begun to read it when the grey Grouch snatched it away.

    “Grrrrr!”

    “Whaddaya think you’re doing?” demanded the orange one.

    Gonzo blinked at him. “Signing in?”

    “Wait yer turn!”

    Gonzo slowly looked around the room. Absolutely no one was here besides himself and the two grouchy guys in moldy suits. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were auditioning too.”

    “Audition! I’d rather not!” snorted the orange Grouch.

    “Grrr!” agreed his colleague.

    “Then why are you –“

    “We’re supposed to be vetting the applicants!”

    “Oh…kay,” Gonzo said. “Uh, well, here I am!”

    The orange Grouch stared at him. “So? Am I supposed to be impressed?”

    “All right. Want to see my act?” Gonzo offered.

    “Grrrrr!” yelled the grey Grouch.

    “No, I’d rather not!” The Grouches both simply stood there, fingers tapping the tabletop, waiting. Uncertainly Gonzo unbuttoned his coat to show them the spangly pink bodysuit and powder blue underwear. He drew his fuchsia cape from a coat pocket and fastened it around his neck.

    “So. Ummm…I’m the Great Gonzo, I’m a former plumber, current star of the Muppet Show; uh, I will now juggle twenty moon jellyfish while dancing on a monofilament tightrope thirty feet above the floor!” Getting into the spirit of it, Gonzo threw open the trunk and began digging out the spool of fishing line, but the Grouches shook their heads.

    “What the heck are you doing?” the orange one asked.

    “I thought you needed to see my audition piece?”

    “I’d rather not!”

    “Grrrraaarrrrr!”

    Frustrated, Gonzo gestured at the stage. “Well how the heck are you going to know if I’m right for the show if you don’t know what it is I do?”

    “We don’t care what you do! Right, Walt?” The grey Grouch growled an apparent agreement, and the orange one continued, “Do you mind if you have to live at the studio?”

    “Uh…well, yeah, I mean, I have a lot of friends, and I wouldn’t want to leave them behind, but sure, I guess, if that’s the way it’s set up…” Gonzo said, startled by the question.

    “Friends! Who cares! Is your life insurance paid up?”

    “I think so…”

    “Fine. Whatever.” The Grouches abruptly turned away, going back to their trash-sorting. Or trash-spreading. Or whatever that was.

    “Don’t I have to sign a form or something?” Gonzo’s gaze wandered over the multitude of disclaimers and legal negations of participants’ rights scattered across the table.

    “Grrrr!”

    “You said it,” the other agreed.

    Annoyed, Gonzo furrowed his brow at them. The door banged open again and an enormous, round-headed, dirty tan monster wearing ragged workpants stomped in. A tiny, purple creature with a red fur collar skittered in behind it, keeping well out of range of the huge flat feet. “Change of plan!” the tan-furred thing bellowed. “Auditions are now!” It plunked itself down on the lid of the trash can, drawing glares from the Grouches.

    “Oh, wonderful!” Gonzo exclaimed, bringing out the fishing line and looking around for a good post to tie the ends up.

    “B-b-but Hemmy…uh…uh…aren’t we waiting for B.D?” the shivering little monster asked, casting a wide-eyed gaze around the room as if expecting something awful to jump out any second.

    “Will you stop calling me that? It really gets under my skin,” the tan thing grumped, crossing one thick leg over the other. “No, let’s do it without him! That way I get to pick the acts I like! Now get up here, Sanchez!”

    Reluctantly, the shivering little creature clambered onto the table. “Wh-wh-where’s Cecil?” it asked. “We c-c-can’t do the show without h-h-him! He’d get m-m-mad!”

    “Hey, are you guys the judges?” Gonzo asked, eager to make a good impression.

    The tan thing swung around to stare at him with large round eyes. Everything about the monster, Gonzo noticed, was rounded: its head, its eyes, its wide mouth, and the fat teeth scattered within. “Judges and producers! Who wants to know?”

    “I’m the Great Gonzo! I’ve prepared an audition piece for you so amazing, so original, you’ll need a belt to hold your jaws up off the floor when I’m done!” Gonzo bragged, tossing his cape back with a flourish. “Just let me rig up the high wire…”

    “Who said you were going first?” the orange Grouch snapped.

    Gonzo looked around. “There’s no one else here!”

    “Well I’m sure there will be!” the Grouch chortled unpleasantly.

    The tan monster drummed its fat round fingers on the table loudly. “Well? You gonna audition or what? It’s almost lunch!”

    “P-p-please audition! Please!” the smaller monster begged Gonzo, trembling violently.

    “Actually…I could go for a snack,” the tan monster mused, eyeing the small one speculatively. He reached for a salt shaker on the table.

    “Aaaagh!” the shaky creature yelped as the tan one grabbed it.

    “Oh, quit complaining! It’s sea salt!” the tan thing grumbled, sprinkling coarse crystals over the small thing in its grip.

    “Er…okay…I call this act the ‘Tribute to Cousteau!’” Gonzo announced, tying off the fishing line on one lighting truss and scrambling across the stage lights to tie the other end around another pole thirty feet distant. He dropped to the floor and quickly fetched the sloshing suitcase of jellyfish from his steamer trunk.

    The door banged open. B.D. ambled in, dragging a large insect in a white jumpsuit with him. “Found this guy in the hallway. He wants to audition too. Hey – were you guys trying to start without me?” B.D demanded angrily.

    The bug twitched its antennae, shaking its head so that the oversized motorcycle helmet it wore banged back and forth. “Uh, y’know, I changed my mind! I –I think I left the stove on! I should really gah—“ The tall blue monster swung the bug towards the stage.

    “Go on, get on up there and let’s see whatcha got!” Turning to growl at the tan monster slurping and gulping the kicking feet of the protesting purple creature, B.D. shook his head. “That’s a really dirty trick, Hem! C’mon, I would’ve waited for you!”

    “Sorry. I just…urpp…really wanted to get the auditions over with.”

    “Who cares about the auditions? I meant lunch!” B.D. dragged Gonzo’s trunk closer to the table and plunked his bottom onto it.

    “Can w-we just d-do this, please?” came a muffled voice from inside Hem’s throat.

    “Almost ready!” Gonzo called, balancing several of the unhappy, clear jellyfish along his arms and his nose.

    “Nah, the bug goes first!” the orange Grouch snarled. He rolled a small motorbike over to the shivering bug. The jumpsuited insect looked worriedly back toward the door, clearly calculating its chances at making a scramble for it. “Get up there! We ain’t got all day!”

    “Uh, I was first,” Gonzo said, surprised.

    “Well, we say the bug goes first! Heh heh heh,” the orange Grouch grinned at him.

    “Grrr!” his companion agreed, nodding.

    “Okay, whatever,” Gonzo grumbled, climbing down, doing his best to keep the slippery jellies from squelching down onto the stage. “Whoops…sorry, Francine…” Cradling all the shifting, pulsing invertebrates in his arms, Gonzo settled into a folding chair which he was sure hadn’t been there a few minutes ago. Must have some very quick stagehands here, he thought.

    “I...uh…I didn’t realize the judges would be monsters…” the insect stammered uncertainly, touching the handlebars of the motorbike as if reluctant to trust it.

    “You some kinda bigot?” Hem roared, startling Gonzo.

    Hoo, boy! I can tell which one is the token ‘cranky guy,’ he thought. Maybe I should sing ‘Down by the Sea’ instead of ‘Under the Sea’? Yeah, an oldie might be the better choice. He deeply wished Camilla was here for him to consult; her musical taste was very shrewd when it came to intuiting what any particular audience would most find favor hearing. Wonder if they’re filming this? Will she see it? Looking around hopefully, he did indeed see a green Frackle tiredly manning a camera pointed vaguely at the stage. “Oh, great,” he muttered. “Hope he knows enough to aim that thing up for my act!”

    “He weel,” a scratchy voice right at Gonzo’s shoulder startled him. Looking back, he saw a figure hunched over, seeming to be mostly bristly snout and a draping of overlapping rags, with dark sunglasses hiding its eyes. The creature shook a warped wooden cane toward the judges’ table. “He bettair, eef he knows what ees good far heem!”

    “Uh, hi,” Gonzo said, tuning out the argument over monsterphobic prejudice going on loudly at the table. “I’m the Great Gonzo, Performance Artiste of the Deadly, the Daring, and the Developmentally Arrested! And you would be…?”

    “Ah am zee deerector! Cecil de Blind Pew, af course! Hey you! You eediot operator of zee camera! Point eet at zee artist, not zee floor!”

    “Uh,” Gonzo gently adjusted the angle the director was pointing. “He’s over there…”

    “Ah know zat! Do you seenk ah am an eediot? Do you seenk ah haff not been a deerector for all mah life? Hmf!” Insulted, the director swished his raggy cloak, retying it at his scrawny neck. “You do your job, an do not tell me how to do mahne!”

    “Sorry,” Gonzo said. Good grief, everyone around here seemed so touchy. Well, maybe the fast production schedule B.D. had mentioned was making them all cranky; he could understand that. Keeping up with the Muppet Show and trying to film movies on the side often brought out the grouchy aspect of Kermit as well as everyone else involved after too many hectic days in a row. “I, uh, I understand you guys film a lot of game shows down here?”

    “Oui, oui. Eet is vairy busy, no?” Pew said, slightly mollified. “A lessair man would be a bundle of nairves by now, no? But you see how well ah maintain mah professionalism!” He suddenly picked up an empty sardine can, shaking it in the air. “Hey! You Grouches! Stop leetering mah studio!” He flung the can hard and directly at the tall tan monster. When it bonked his head, both monsters swung around to stare at the ranting ragged person. The Grouches snickered.

    “So, uh, uh, my name is Weevil Kneivel,” the insect said, nervously stroking the side of the bike. “I, uh, I do stunt jumps.”

    “Kinda figured,” Hem rumbled.

    “So whaddaya gonna do for us today, Weevil?” B.D. asked, settling down.

    The bug took a deep breath, adjusted his helmet, which had slid over his eyes again, and explained, “So, uh…today, I will ride my bike up that ramp, jump across that pit full of venomous and tumor-causing eels, go through the tunnel of radioactive ooze, around the double-corkscrew loop, up to that platform guarded by a rare white mountain gorilla, and then dive from it, landing safely in that Jell-o mold of Mickey Mouse’s head!”

    “Oh, geez,” Gonzo muttered. “How unoriginal! If that’s all he’s got, I’m a shoe-in for this thing!”

    While Weevil warmed up his bike and walked it into position at the start of the eighty-degree-ramp, Gonzo turned to the director. “So, do you work on other shows besides this?”

    “Waaaiilll…I haff done some episodes af ‘America’s Least Wanted,’” Pew said modestly. “And just last week, ah was asked to take ovair zee post-production edeeting af ‘Who Wants to Bee a Millipede?’ Eet ees not as glamorous as zis show, af course, but ah belieeve een widening one’s résumé, no?”

    “Have you done a lot of editing before?” Gonzo asked curiously. Pew seemed to be having trouble orienting on him; he kept addressing the post just to Gonzo’s right. Onstage, the motorbike roared as Weevil gunned it up the ramp and into the jump, screaming.

    “OhfrogIforgottofixthesteeeriiiing!”

    “He’s gonna miss the eels,” Hem complained.

    “I h-hope so,” the smaller monster gurbled, his head sticking out of Hem’s wide mouth before being shoved back down inside.

    “Nope, he got ‘em,” B.D. observed, over the shrieks of the eels and a frantically sputtering engine.

    “Af course! What doo you take me far? Ah was zee preencipal edeetor on zee ‘Blind Weetch Project’ years ago! Deed you not see mah amazeeng jump cuts?” Pew sniffed. “You zhould be counteeng your blessings to be working weeth a deerector of mah genius!”

    “Sorry, of course,” Gonzo agreed. Personally, he’d thought the whole “Blind Witch” phenomenon to be vastly overrated, more hype than horror, and the camerawork…well, this explained a lot. “Uh, just curious: was the cinematographer related to you?”

    “He was mah couseen,” Pew nodded. “Ah! You noteeced zee art runs in mah family, no?”

    The motorbike fought free of the eels finally, though Weevil struggled one-handed to pull one of them off his helmet, which was blocking the visor with its mouth. Large welts were beginning to swell on his shoulders and back where the eels had torn through the flimsy glittered polyester. “Get off! Get off! Waaaaaaaaaahhh!” The insect daredevil zoomed wildly through the clear plastic tube of glowing pink ooze, the front wheel skidding horribly and suddenly popping loose. “Oh nooooooo!”

    “A wheelie into the corkscrew!” Hem said, impressed.

    B.D. snorted. “He’ll never make the jump like that.”

    “Nah, look – the gorilla is waiting to catch him.”

    “So, what about you?” Pew asked Gonzo, warming to him. “Haff you been doing televeesion long?”

    “Oh, a few years,” Gonzo understated. “But never anything this cool! I’m really looking forward to performing some of my most dangerous stunts ever!”

    “Zat ees good,” Pew nodded. “Zeez judges, zey like zings dangerous! Ah haff seen some of zee competition already, and ah must tell you, you weel need all zee guts you can mustair for zis!” He chuckled and patted the empty seatback next to Gonzo. “Ah hope you brought your best treecks today!” He frowned lightly. “You are strangely skeeny for a darer af zee deveel…do you take vitameens? You zhould conzider doing so…”

    “Maaaannn,” Hem complained over the gurgling cry onstage. “Didn’t even make it to the Jell-o!”

    “You know, I’m r-really getting t-tired of all the indiscriminate eating of people around here,” the small monster complained from Hem’s collarbone.

    “Well, I’ll have the Jell-o then, as long as it’s not strawberry. I hate strawberry,” B.D. said, stretching his arms above his head and resettling himself on the trunk.

    Gonzo suddenly saw someone heading onstage at a steady, determined pace. “Hey,” he told Pew, “I thought I was next! That guy in the black hooded shroud is…is…” He blinked, eyes widening.

    “Oh, pay no attention to heem,” Pew assured him. “Zat’s just our…our…stage manageer. He…ahh…lahkes to dress Goth. Heh heh. Brake a laig, Gorgonzola!”

    “Gonzo,” Gonzo muttered. “It’s the Great Gonzo.”

    “Whatevair! Go do what you do!” Pew waved him off airily, then turned to yell at one of the grouches trying to sneak out the door. “Hey! Ah zee you! What do you zink you are doing, sneaking aff wizout refilling mah coffee, ah?”

    “I’m not your p.a!” the orange grouch snapped back.

    “Like zee heck you air not! Now feel zees up!” Pew thrust a battered tin cup at no one in particular.

    “I’d rather not,” the grouch smirked, leaving the studio.

    “Grrr!” his colleague echoed. The door thumped closed behind them.

    Gonzo hurried up to the eels still squirming restlessly in their pit onstage. “Psst! Hey, uh, since you guys are out of a job now, wanna do a gig with me?” He listened to the shrill noises they made in reply, and broke into a smile. “Great! Uh – can any of you play accordion? No? Okay…then here’s what we’ll do…”

    “Can we move this along? It’s past lunch now,” Hem yelled.

    B.D. started back, scowling at the other large monster. “Hey! Don’t look at me!”

    “Serves me right for picking a critter from around here,” Hem said, wrestling the small purple thing back down his throat. “Eat one, and an hour later you’re still hungry!” The monsters rumbled belly laughs.

    “Can you hike up the trusses higher? Great, thanks,” Gonzo said to the Frackle technicians hanging off the lighting truss. As they grudgingly obeyed, Gonzo leaped onto the stage and spread both arms wide. “Hello! Today, I, the Great Gonzo, will perform the most death-defying rendition of the classic song ‘Down by the Sea’ ever attempted, so hold onto your seats and keep the popcorn handy! Guys? Hit it!”

    A chorus of eels began humming the old lounge standby. Gonzo sang, doing the most melodic crooning he could manage: “Somewhere…down by the sea…my lover stands on golden saaaaaannnds…” Quickly he climbed up the handholds of the truss support nearby to the thin line of monofilament while he sang, and stepped out onto the string. “And watches the ships…that go saaaaiiiiling!” Throwing all the wobbly transparent creatures high into the air, he jumped off the line, hands outspread, his nose hooking the line as he came down. The line bounced him a bit, but Gonzo didn’t flinch, and as the jellies came raining down he expertly caught each of them in his hands, along his arms and shoulders and head, and with his upturned toes. “Thank you!—One day, I’ll sail away…” As he began the next verse, the eels thrumming harmonically below him (and eagerly looking up to see if he’d fall into their drooling jaws), Gonzo juggled the jellyfish, touching each one only lightly, feeling their slime brushing his fingers as he flicked them into the air in an intricate pattern over and over, not dropping a single one.

    That’s it, he encouraged himself. Left, right, over, under, across…that’s it…gee, those eels hum well, wonder if they’d make this a regular partnership? Just for the show, at least. Okay…now start bouncing… Gently at first, he wiggled his nose up and down until the fishing line began to wobble; as he went into the musical bridge, his eyes tracking the flying jellyfish carefully, the whole line began to sway up and down, higher, lower, higher, lower still. Yes! Big finish! Adrenaline rushed through him, he forgot about the judges and the eels and the shrouded technician who seemed to be intently watching him from just offstage, and just enjoyed the breeze made by his own gyrations, the feel of utter recklessness buoying him higher than the flimsy fishline could.

    Tossing all the jellies up at once, he flipped himself over in midair and snagged the line with his toes; the jellies smacked one after another into his outstretched palms and he flung them up again before reversing the jump. Toes, nose, toes, nose, juggle, juggle, yeah that’s it! Oh, Camilla, sweetie, this is for you, for you! I hope you’re watching when this airs! Elated, he shouted the last verse while continuing to flip himself into the air and onto the fishing line, not missing a catch anywhere: “…and my love and I, we’ll – go – saaaaaiiling!”

    “He’s in,” Hem decided.

    “H-he’s very brave,” the shaky thing burbled from deep inside Hem’s guts.

    “Eh, seen better, but okay,” B.D. sighed. “Is it lunch yet?”

    ----------------------
    A dark figure slumped in an enormous chair before a wall of television screens, each one tuned to a different studio in the vast complex. No lights picked out the details of the black room; the numerous shifting, flickering images from the TVs were illumination enough for the network head as his small eyes slid from one screen to the next, lips pursed, overseeing all, no action anywhere onscreen escaping his notice. He watched Gonzo performing his act finale, and fleshy lips curved into a smile.

    “Eustace,” he murmured. His personal assistant, a scaly monster with a shaggy dark green head and long back-curving horns, crept forward at once, cringing at his side.

    “Yess, your sssliminesss?” Eustace asked, nervously smoothing his front claws over his horns as if slicking back a hairdo.

    One pointed fingertip jutted at Gonzo onscreen. “I like him.”

    The flunky glanced at the indicated show. “He’sss interesssting, to be ssssure. You’re ssssuch a good judge of talent, your sssslipperinesss.”

    “I know.” The boss shifted complacently on his throne. He tapped a thoughtful finger against his wide chin. “Make sure he makes it to the finals.”

    “I’ll inform the judgesssss at onsssse,” Eustace assured his lord and master.

    “Excellent.” The head of the network lapsed back into silence. With a low bow, Eustace shuffled backward out of the Presence, about to run down to studio Zag-three to inform the judges whom they should favor, when a finger crooked at him. “Oh, and Eustace?” Expectantly, the scaled doglizard perked his long ears. The boss didn’t bother to look around, knowing his servant was listening. “Tell Blyer he’s hosting that one, too.”

    “Er,” the flunky said, squirming. “I…I think he isss not yet out of the bunny, my lord sssslimy.”

    “Ah. Well, when he’s done with Carl, have him get cleaned up. He should do an intro for the auditions so we can air them tomorrow night, and then we’ll start filming live on Saturday. Make the arrangements.” The beady eyes remained fixed on the screen, where Gonzo bowed to the judges, and they began offering their critiques. “Pity he wasn’t there today. I’d like an interview of that performer. Rig up an after-show session with the two of them.”

    “Yesss, your dark overlordinessss,” the flunky agreed at once. He backed away, opening the door to the control center as quietly as possible (he oiled the hinges nightly, just to make sure no untoward squeaking disturbed the boss; the boss hated squeaking things), relieved to be dismissed even for a few minutes. No one could ever question his loyalty to their master, but all the same, Eustace didn’t like the chill in the air in the master’s presence. He had to take Thera-Grue every night just to keep from catching a cold down here, more accustomed to sunny climes. Turning to exit, he drew up short upon seeing a pinkish, stringy thing and a blue one suddenly materializing right outside. Whispering a curse, Eustace shut the door, gulped, and tentatively reapproached his lord.

    Those cold eyes flicked directly at him in annoyance. “What is it? Was I not clear?”

    “Oh yesss, your ssslithering sssumptuousnesss…ah…er…”

    “Well?”

    Never knowing how his boss would receive an interruption, Eustace swallowed down his fear. “The…the Martiansss are here to report sssomething, ssssir.”

    “Ah!” Bulk shifted; the eyes relaxed. Eustace’s heart slowed from a pizzicato to a tremolo. “Send them in.”

    “At onsssse,” Eustace said, hurrying to open the door, but before he reached it, the odd monsters wobbled right through it, jerking around and ogling everything.

    “Mm! Show. Show. Yip yip yip.”

    “Show, good? yip yip yip yip?”

    Eustace grimaced as the two bizarre things scuttled around the control center, touching levers, peering at screens, and yipping monotonously. These creatures baffled him; didn’t they understand they were dealing with the supreme head of the entire network? The person in charge of all the monsters here, who ruled by might and darkness? Didn’t they have any respect for—

    “Flun-ky,” one of the creatures said, shoving its goggle-eyes right in Eustace’s snout; he jumped back, startled. “Mn. Flun-ky go. Go. Yip yip yip yip yip go. Uh-huh.”

    “Hello, my darling little yarn-bags,” the boss murmured, stroking the head of the blue one; it pushed upwards against his palm happily. “What have you to tell me?”

    “Bad man,” the blue thing said. “Bad man see too much. Mn. Too much. Yip yip yip.”

    “News,” the pink one said, perking up, slithering randomly over the long console of switches and dials before the boss’s chair. “News. Too much. Yip yip yip yip yip!”

    “Uh-huh,” the other agreed.

    The boss turned his head slightly, the profile of his bulbous nose caught in the glow of five dozen plasma screens. “Eustace? You still here?” The voice was low, quiet.

    “I go at onssse, my lord,” the flunky croaked, stumbling out the door and shutting it swiftly. Outside, he held onto the doorhandle a moment, panting silently. He had no idea what the Martians did for the boss; he had no idea if they were really even from Mars. They were hardly ever down here, and that was all he knew. Then again, if the boss had them on some secret assignment, it was probably better that Eustace not know the details. He had heard that his predecessor, a pink Frackle with webbed wings and ingrown toeclaws named Ted, had been curious about the boss’ private business.

    Curious. And one day…gone. No one would say where or how, but when Eustace had asked other monsters about the fate of the previous personal assistant, giant fanged beasts and slavering trolls had all suddenly clammed up and remembered they had urgent things to attend elsewhere. No…it wasn’t a good idea to ask too many questions down here.

    Eustace could recall the time before he came here. Ah, how carefree he had been, eating lost hikers in the Yucatan! But then he’d responded to that want ad in the paper… “Come to the Big Apple! Monsters urgently needed for malevolent operations! Great food! All vacations paid! Low-copay HMO!” Oh, sure, it had all sounded so great…until you found out you couldn’t leave without the boss’ say-so. The doglizard shivered. Oh, how he hated the chill down here! And the walls always dripping, and the giant spiders…ugh! Shaking himself out of his unhappy reverie, the monster reminded himself the boss didn’t tolerate laggards, and hurried up from the bowels of the network studios to go check on other bowels, hoping whatever shape the in-demand game show host was in, he’d be presentable by five o’clock so they could shoot the mock interview with the weird-beaked blue guy who’d just earned himself a spot on the talent show. Eustace sighed.

    The worst part was, he’d always hated reality TV…
    -------------------------------
  3. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Monster at the hotel desk: Thudge McGerk.
    Square-headed blue monster: Beautiful Day Monster.
    Grouch Judges: Walter Cranky and Dan Rather-Not, not sure which is which color.
    Tan Monster: Behemoth.
    Purple Monster in Red Furry Collar: Shaky Sanchez.
    Camerafrackle: Gloat.
    Creature with Wooden Cane: Blind Pew!
    The Martians: Blue and Pink/Fuschia,, both males.

    OC's:
    Weevil Kneevil, Inscet Stunt Biker.
    Eustace, is he meant to be like one of the versions of the Chupacabra? It certainly helps with the visualization, the more common type is kind of like a scraggly-furred coyote with panther head and snake fangs and tongue. At least that's what I've found from researching the cryptid.

    I have a guess for the Head of the Network, but I'd rather let you develop the story and reveal when good and ready.

    Now if only I could get some inspiration for the last hundred creatures to add to my haunted haul. :sigh:
    Thanks for the update, it certainly perked up this dark October night.
  4. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    -----------------------
    *hands over basket of fresh pumpkin-spice cookies* We have a winnuh! Though I would have been surprised if the Master of Muppet Trivia didn't catch my references!!

    The Grouches: Dan Rather-Not is orange. Walter Cranky is grey.

    Eustace I picture as being rather like Uncle Deadly, but more doggish in the face, and with a fur mane, some on his belly, and fur "cuffs" around all four paws. Like a large scaly Fraggle victim of alien genetic manipulation! Though relating him to the Chupacabra would be funny as heck. Thanks Ed!

    You will NEVER guess the head of the network. Heh heh heh.

    Thanks to all reading! I'm pushing myself to try and finish this BEFORE Halloween -- yes THIS year. Here goes...:news:
    --------------------------
  5. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Part Seven

    Gina gazed fondly at her Newsman in the mirror as they stood side-by-side at the bathroom counter, both putting finishing touches on their looks for the day ahead. “See? Told you the conditioner would solve the dry-hair problem.”

    Newsie nodded, and even chuckled when she suddenly reached over to muss the clean, curving part he’d just combed into his short auburn waves. Fixing it again, he smiled at her while she put in beautiful blown-glass earrings to match the necklaces of glittery red-and-gold glass beads draped in several lengths over her long black sweater-dress. She smiled back wistfully. “I wish you could come with us today. It’s going to be amazing.”

    “It sounds…interesting. But I have to remain impartial,” he reminded her. Gina was going to stand with some of her theatre friends on Wall Street today; she’d designed and helped to paint the banner they’d be holding up denouncing corporate tax breaks. The Newsman spoke of his own political views to no one but his beloved, strongly standing on principle: journalists reporting events ought to remain separate from those events, not allowing their own opinions to color their story coverage. The “fair and balanced” misstatement another network so loudly proclaimed, while repeatedly painting the protests with a broad brush of mockery, disgusted him; he for one was determined that the ideals of journalism would not be compromised so long as he was on the air!

    “You could come join us when you’ve finished your report,” Gina suggested, but Newsie shook his head.

    “Sorry…no. Every amateur with a cameraphone will be down there, and if footage of me standing with you got out…”

    “People might see your heart’s in the right place?” Gina smiled. Newsie blushed a little. Sighing, she agreed, “I know, I know. I get it. What if you and Rhonda joined us for lunch, at least? You could pretend to be interviewing us.”

    “Maybe,” Newsie hedged. “I do want to talk to as many groups as possible, get a clearer picture of exactly who is involved. The unions are down there now, which gives it more legitimacy in the public eye.”

    “Already working on your lead-in, hmm?” she teased him, bending down to offer a kiss, which he gladly and actively participated in. “Um…did you still want me to go talk to the donation folks?”

    “Uh. Yes. I…I can’t…”

    Gina stroked his cheek. “Newsie. I really do understand, okay? Relax.” He nodded, embarrassed. Last night when they’d discussed the day’s plans, he’d surprised her by tentatively suggesting she take a large sum of cash down to the charity organizers who were making sure everyone camped on the street had water and hot food and first aid available. Gina had happily shown him how proud she was of him for wanting to do something helpful even indirectly…very proud, he reflected with another blush, certain images of his evening popping pleasantly into his thoughts. He knotted his tie, judging his appearance low-key enough to make sure the focus was on the more colorful protesters; he doubted any of them would be also wearing tan-and-brown plaid coats with dark brown ties. Gina grinned at him, watching him tweak his cuffs and his shirtcollar.

    “Today, I will let you wear that without comment,” she said.

    “Isn’t that a comment?” he returned.

    She caught him in a long, deep kiss. When he wavered on his feet, staring breathlessly up at her, she giggled. “That was given with the understanding it is in spite of the outfit, dear Impartially Bland Journalist.”

    “I’ll…I’ll consider that a compliment,” he gulped, trying to regain his equilibrium.

    She held out one hand, grinning. “Ready to show those talking heads how it’s done?”

    He couldn’t help but smile in reply, and together they went downstairs and out onto the street.

    Once downtown, Gina separated from her determined Muppet with a kiss and went to find her friends; Newsie headed for the fountain in Bowling Green park, where Rhonda and the camerasloth were just setting up and dozens of protesters had gathered as a spillover site a few blocks from Wall Street. “Oh, look, Tommy,” Rhonda cracked, “it’s the Spirit of ’76 – 1976, to be exact!”

    “Cute,” Newsie grumbled. “Let’s start with the group here and just interview as we go.”

    “Talk now, edit later, works for me,” Rhonda agreed, beckoning to the sloth to hoist the camera as they walked toward one clump of people having coffee in the chilly morning air, signs propped against the fountain rim behind them. “So, did you find out when your cousin’s game show went off the air?”

    “I found out that the rights to it were bought by another network back in ’98, but after that the records get sketchy…but the show was in syndication for a while, and KRAK was one of the stations which carried it. I’m hoping somewhere in accounting, someone can dredge up the business address of the studio where the show was filmed, or at least the address of the producers,” Newsie explained.

    Rhonda gave him a startled look. “Seriously? You expect answers from Accounting anytime this century?”

    “I did tell them in my email it was a matter of some importance,” Newsie said uncertainly.

    “Oh fer cryin’ out…Goldie. Sweetheart. Ya know I like ya but sometimes you are so naive!”

    “I couldn’t find out any current information on my cousin!” Newsie said, annoyed. “I looked all over the Internet last night! Other than a few unhelpful reviews that barely even mentioned him, there was nothing! I can’t even tell if he’s…” He stopped, unable to voice his worry. Seeing the look on his face, Rhonda sighed.

    “Okay…well…good thought, tracking down the production company for the show, but expecting the bean-counters to supply you with anything helpful is like waiting for Godot! You gotta take this into your own fuzzy hands, do some real investigating!” Rhonda paused. “Uh, you know that’s a play, right? These two guys spend the whole thing waiting around…”

    “Gina has a copy of the script,” Newsie snapped, affronted.

    “She’s good for you. You needed some culture.”

    “Can we just focus on this right now?” he asked, gesturing toward the little group of protesters beginning to gather up their signs and Thermoses.

    Rhonda shrugged, and Tommy began filming as Newsie approached the people to ask them what they hoped would happen as a result of their demonstrations.

    The morning passed swiftly. Newsie roamed the entire financial district, interviewing anyone who would stop to speak with him for a moment, from irritated bankers, to kids wearing “anarchy” T-shirts, to costumed protesters playacting the tarring and feathering of a corporate CEO (at least, Newsie hoped they were all actors), to cops watching the proceedings dryly from the sidelines. Everyone had an angle, everyone had something to vent, and as noon arrived, the Newsman felt he’d at least begun to put together a fairly comprehensive look at the phenomenon.

    A familiar face approached as Newsie stopped in front of the NYSE building. “Hey, Newsman! Good to see you out here! You need a sign? We brought extras,” Scooter said, indicating a small group of Muppets hanging out at the foot of the stairs. Newsie recognized Rizzo, Pepe, and that monkey that always seemed to follow Johnny Fiama everywhere, as well as the theatre gofer.

    The Newsman gestured at his news crew. “Uh, I’m here to report on the protests, Scooter. I can’t really favor one side or another, sorry.”

    Scooter grinned. “Hey, no problem! Ya know, it’s really a shame you never hooked up with those MacNeil-Lehrer guys. They’d like you.” Feeling complimented, Newsie cleared his throat and adjusted his tie to draw attention away from the blush he felt touching his cheeks. “Well, we’re supposed to be meeting this activist group here, and—“

    “Oh, good! The media! About time!” exclaimed a blue-skinned Whatnot girl in a denim jacket covered with patches and political pins. She solemnly shook Scooter’s hand and extended her fingers to Newsie as well, but he politely declined. Frowning at him, she tossed back her long purple hair and started barking orders: “So what are you guys waiting for? Lift those signs! Show some energy! Let’s tell these fat cats we’re not gonna take it any more!”

    “Excuse me, but whom do you represent?” Newsie wondered. Rhonda nudged the sloth to roll tape.

    The girl pointed her tiny round nose in the air. “Well, obviously, we’re with MADL! We want the corporate heads to wake up and start hiring more—“

    “Mabel? She’s here?” Rizzo asked excitedly, trying to peer around the crowds thronging the sidewalk.

    “Sí, sí, we could really use her cooking!” Pepe chimed in. The two of them jumped onto a safety railing next to the stairs and scanned eagerly in all directions.

    “Meddle?” Newsie repeated uncertainly. “I don’t believe I’ve heard of—“

    “No! MADL! The Muppet Anti-Discrimination League!” the girl snapped. She gave Scooter an incredulous look. “I thought you said you were bringing some real activists? These guys don’t even know what they’re here for!”

    “They were the only ones hanging around looking for a free lunch,” Scooter explained sheepishly.

    “Uh, I support da cause,” Sal spoke up. The Whatnot girl’s smile at him soured when he continued, “Dis is about making IRA portfolios payable in bananas, right?”

    “What exactly are you hoping to change today?” Newsie asked, offering her his microphone.

    She grabbed it, speaking directly to the camera, ignoring him. “We are outraged that major corporations refuse to hire more Muppets! There is today not one single example of a Muppet working within a Fortune 500 company anywhere past the ground level! This is blatant Antimuppetism and we will camp right here at the stock exchange until something is done to correct this unacceptable situation!”

    Rhonda hooked a thumb at her journalist. “Hey, sister. Aren’t you forgetting the one whose microphone you’re hogging? We work for KRAK News!”

    “Really? I’ve never seen him,” the Whatnot sniffed.

    Irritated, the Newsman grabbed his mike back, but just then an orange Whatnot with a fringe of blue hair and heavy-lidded eyes even more weary-seeming than Newsie’s smoothly intervened. “Now, Constanza, let’s not antagonize the media! They can be useful tools—er, that is, they may sympathize with our cause!” He smiled thinly at Newsie. “I see by your felt, sir, you clearly must favor the Muppet side in this action!”

    “I told you to call me ‘Stinkbomb,’” the girl complained under her breath.

    Newsie studied the Whatnot warily. “I’m only an impartial observer, sir. The Newsman, for KRAK. So your organization is protesting a lack of Muppets in corporate offices?”

    “Precisely. We at Bland and Blander founded our law firm expressly to combat the rampant discrimination we discovered among other firms! But unfair hiring practices don’t end at the courtroom! No, we have done our homework, and you may be fascinated to know that less than one per cent of the nation’s most successful companies employ Muppets!”

    “Er…have there been many reported cases of Muppets being turned down for jobs due to their felt or fur?” Newsie wondered.

    “Don’t forget the feathery ones,” Rizzo pointed out.

    “Sí sí, and the scales and fins too, amigo!”

    “There is ample implied evidence of discrimination!” the laywer proclaimed, shaking a fuzzy finger at the camera. He held onto his coat lapels precisely as Newsie imagined a nineteenth-century politician would do, stumping on the steps of city hall. Wouldn’t surprise me if he runs for office soon, the Newsman thought.

    “Can you give us concrete examples of this discrimination?” Newsie asked.

    “What’s your problem anyway? Oh, I get it, you have a cushy job with the non-felted, so why should you care what happens to the rest of us, huh?” the girl known as Stinkbomb sneered at him.

    Taken aback, Newsie stared at her, but once again the lawyer passed a hand between them as if calming the waters. “Now, now, Constanza…”

    “Stinkbomb!”

    “Surely you recognize this Muppet. Earlier this year he was in the Daily Scandal for dating a young lady with, ahem, no felt,” the lawyer continued, ignoring the girl’s outburst. “He’s quite the groundbreaker! We should be welcoming him into the fold of our cause, not making snide comments!”

    “Er…my wife isn’t…” Scooter began, exchanging a puzzled glance with Newsie, but the blue girl shouted him down, shoving her tiny nose directly in front of Newsie’s long pointed one.

    “You’re dating one of them? What, was a Muppet girl not good enough for you? Hah! Well I’ll have you know, you traitor, that none of us would want you anyway!”

    Newsie started back a step, then scowled deeply. Rhonda tugged at his jacket sleeve. “Hey, uh, c’mon. I think we have all we need from this bunch.”

    Scooter was glaring coldly at the girl as well. “Hey, guys? Anyone else feel like a triple cream soda on the rocks?”

    “Ain’t it a little early for dat?” Sal wondered, looking at his watchless hairy wrist, but Rizzo smacked him disgustedly.

    “Yeah, Scooter. I t’ink a drink sounds good right about now,” the rat growled.

    “Can we go to ‘Rise’? They has amazing tapas…and even more amazing ladies in the short skirts and looong jackets, if you are catching my drift, heh heh,” Pepe suggested suggestively.

    As the Muppets left the MADL representatives behind, Rizzo grumped at the king prawn, “Haven’t you learned your lesson about banker ladies by now?”

    “Hey, they cannot all be evil power-brokers out to rob us blind and leave us in the dumpsters where Ricky Martin will never ever invite us to his parties again already, okay?”

    The lawyer firmly pushed the angry Whatnot out of the way, chuckling. “Now, now, we’re all Muppets here, right? Newsman, wasn’t it? I don’t recall seeing your name in the lists for the charity walk. Would you care to sign up today?”

    Trying to regain his composure, Newsie still frowned at him. “What charity walk?”

    “Why, the walk on the thirty-first to benefit the Muppet Anti-Discrimination League. I’m sure a journalist of your caliber would have no trouble finding sponsors, and, as I’m sure you realize, your public support would be a tremendous asset to our cause…”

    Newsie edged away, holding his mike defensively. “Er, no, I have to decline, sir. As a journalist I have to maintain an absolutely unbiased perspective. All I can promise you is the chance to air your grievances on tonight’s newscast, since we’ve filmed you here today.”

    “But you’re clearly a Muppet,” the lawyer wheedled. “Surely you must wish to see more success for us all in their world as well as ours? At least spend that evening giving us full coverage! We’ll be at the condemned hotel in Doyers Street that night from—“

    “Isn’t that the rep from Manhattan over there?” Rhonda pointed out loudly. Shooting her a grateful look, Newsie broke away from the lawyer.

    “Excuse me... Congresswoman Minnelli! May I have a word?” Newsie called, running for the street where a handful of protesters were talking with the representative.

    “Ah, well,” the lawyer sighed.

    The blue girl tossed her hair defiantly. “What a sellout! Come on, Blandie, let’s make some noise!”

    “Good grief, no, I can’t be seen rabble-rousing! What do you think I hired you for?”

    The interview with the Congresswoman, though short, made for some decent soundbites, and Rhonda was pleased at how Newsie tried his best to pin her down as to whether she agreed with the Occupy Wall Street movement or not, even though the politician’s comments could be viewed either way. Well, she didn’t keep her post this long without being all things to all New Yorkers, Rhonda thought in grudging admiration. They continued along the street, but when she noticed the camerasloth starting to eye some of the saplings planted along the walkway, Rhonda tapped her reporter’s elbow.

    “Hey, Jennings. You gonna stand out here all day getting every single viewpoint, or can we break for lunch already?” When the Newsman glared at her, she continued before he could come up with a retort: “Look, we have hours of footage. Why don’t we grab a bite and then check out the soapbox in front of the stock exchange one more time before running this stuff in for edits?”

    Newsie glanced at his watch. “All right,” he agreed gruffly, then noticed a group of rats carrying signs. “Wait…that’s new. Do rats invest in the market? Why would they be out here?”

    Rhonda sighed. “Well this rat is here because her supposedly star reporter insists on asking every single schmoe what he thinks of the whole thing! Newsie! We’re hungry already! We can come back after, okay?”

    Newsie watched the rats as they marched in a small circle, each carrying a tiny picket sign, though he couldn’t read what they said from here. “Rhonda…it’s lunchtime, right?”

    “Oh my frog! Do you need a hearing aid?”

    Giving her a brief scowl, he pointed out what she’d missed: “Rats love to eat. It’s lunchtime. Why are those rats more intent on protesting than stealing from the street vendors?”

    Rhonda opened her jaw, stopped, thought, shut it. She snapped at the camerasloth, “Come on, Tommy. We’ll go eat in just a sec, okay?” The trio headed over to the marching rats.

    “Heck, no! We won’t go! Heck, no! We won’t go!” the rats chanted as they tromped in a circle, largely ignored by the other protesters and passersby.

    “Uh, excuse me, what are you demonstrating against?” Newsie asked.

    A nervous-seeming rat stepped forward to answer him; the sloth had some difficulty keeping him in focus as he shifted from paw to paw. “Our home’s been taken away from us!”

    “Oh…you were caught up in the real estate foreclosures by the banks?”

    “What? No!” The rat pointed a shaking finger at a nearby storm drain. “Dere’s t’ings in da sewers! We can’t go back down dere until da aut’orities roust ‘em out!”

    “City Hall hates rats!” another rat yelled.

    “Heard that before,” Rhonda muttered.

    “Er…I see. What sort of things exactly?” Newsie asked, intrigued.

    “I…uh…I can’t say,” the rat mumbled, suddenly rejoining the tiny picket line. Newsie persisted, falling in step with the rodent.

    “Were you evicted from the sewers? Is this a gang thing? Or…or have you seen unspeakable slimy things crawling through the ooze down there?” Newsie asked, growing anxious.

    The rat stared straight ahead, chanting along with his fellows. “What exactly drove you out of your home, and what do you want the authorities to do about it?” Newsie continued, easily keeping up with the rat though the rodent tried to sidestep him.

    “Look, pal, it ain’t any of your business, so why doncha stick yer big nose someplace else?” another rat complained.

    Newsie stopped, perplexed. “But…you’re out here protesting publicly! Don’t you want people to know why?”

    “Honestly, mac, we just wanted ta blend in and get some chow,” the second rat said.

    “Plus, dose t’ings would chow on us if we told ya,” another muttered.

    Newsie quickly put the mike in front of that one. “Things? What things?”

    “I didn’t say nuttin’!” the rat squeaked, frightened. “Murray! The press is harassin’ me!”

    A burly rat with shaggy fur who stood as tall as Newsie’s chest got in his way. “You messin’ wit’ my girl, CNN?”

    “Er…KRAK,” the Newsman corrected.

    “Whatevuh. We don’t wanna talk to youse. So scram!”

    Deciding the long yellow teeth were a good enough reason to back away, the Newsman retreated to a bench where a couple in suits sat chatting over their bagged lunches. The grey-suited woman gave him a quizzical glance.

    “Um, Parker? Isn’t this the designated capitalist side of the street today?”

    “What?” The blue-suited man turned to look at Newsie; he blinked up at them, baffled. The man turned to his companion dismissively. “Oh, it’s all right, Chandra. He’s wearing a tie. He’s on our side.”

    “Oh, good. I wasn’t sure, with that…er…fuzz.”

    “Press,” Newsie muttered, digging out his laminated NYC press badge. “Uh…how do you two feel about the protests going on?”

    The woman looked at her friend. “Parker? Do we want to talk to the press?”

    “Are you with Fox News?” the man asked eagerly.

    “Er…no. The Muppet Newsman, KRAK. How do you view the—“

    “Muppets!” the woman laughed derisively.

    “Come on, our lunch-ten is almost up anyway,” the man sighed, and the two of them abruptly left. Newsie stood there, feeling confused and insulted, but Rhonda poked him in the ribs.

    “Forget them, Captain Impartiality. Let’s go take an expenses-paid leisurely lunch the likes a’which those corporate slaves can only dream about! Now call your beautifully non-felted chickie and let’s go hobnob at Delmonico’s. If you call it an exclusive interview the station’ll pay!”

    “Rhonda…that’s cheating,” he grumbled. He rummaged through his pockets, then grew embarrassed. “Uh…besides…I forgot my phone…”

    “Of course you did. Allow me.” Rhonda whipped out her cell and punched a number from the speed-dial list. “Françoise, sweetie! Do you have a table for four? Something by the window? Wonderful! See you in ten minutes!” She shut the phone, and grinned at her scowling reporter. “I keep telling you, Goldie: it’s who ya know, not what ya do. Now come on. I am dying for a porterhouse bone to gnaw on!”

    ------------------------
    Slicking his still-damp hair into place, Snookie walked into the largest of the underground complex’s many studios. He wrinkled his nose; the cleaning crew still hadn’t quite removed the smell after the last of the auditions. Good grief, what IS that, burnt fur? I don’t WANT to know… After surviving his own unfortunate adventure in creative cuisine, he really had no curiosity for exploring the source of other smells around here. The only upside to having to clean up and do a late sit-down with some new reality-show schmuck whom the monsters wanted to make into their new star was that he’d been relieved of further cooking-contest obligations. Carl hadn’t been at all pleased when told that the head honcho had decreed this new daredevil show would supersede any monster-only shows.

    “A month? I have to wait a month before I can dish you up to the ‘Sewer’s Kitchen’ judge?” Carl had snarled at Snookie a few minutes ago. “I wanted to go outside! This is all your fault, and don’t think I’m gonna forget it!”

    “I didn’t do anything!” Snookie argued. “You heard them – this is an order from the boss! Nothing either of us can do about it!”

    “Oh, there’s something I can do,” Carl the Big Mean Perfectionist growled low, leaning over the nervous host. “I got a lot of taste-testing to do still!”

    “Heh, heh, can you not drool on my jacket? I just got it back from drycleaning,” Snookie said, easing out of bite range. “Gotta run!”

    “I know where you sleep, Snookums!” the monster had shouted after him.

    Trying to compose himself now, Snookie peered around the nearly-deserted stage area, unsure whom he was supposed to be interviewing. A rounded grey beak of a nose jutted into his face, startling him. “Hey! Where haff you been? I asked far more café au lait over one hour ago! Zees is intolerableness!”

    “Heh, heh, I think you’ve got me confused with someone else, buddy! I’m Snookie Blyer, and I’ll be hosting this—“

    “I do not confuse anyzing!” the creature shouted, waving his twisted cane wildly overhead; Snookie ducked out of the way quickly. “Do you zink I became zee deerector because I was confused? No! Now go get me mah coffee!”

    Snookie tiptoed around the director as he continued to rant at the air. One of the camerafrackles saw him and wearily powered up his equipment; another trudged over to clip a mike to his coat lapel. “Where’s the guy I’m supposed to be talking to?” Snookie asked, and they pointed out a short blue Muppet with a strangely crooked nose in pink spangled Spandex, chained to a table by one wrist. The Muppet’s eyes brightened as Snookie walked over.

    “Hey, finally! Oh, cool, you’re Snookie Blyer! I remember you from ‘Name That Fruit: Extreme Muppet Edition’!” the odd-looking creature spoke up, his voice scratchy but enthusiastic.

    Snookie gamely put on his best oh-how-nice-a-fan smile. “That’s right, I am! So, look…I know your stunt thing was earlier, but we’d like to film this as though you just came offstage after it, okay? It’ll be more exciting that way when it airs tomorrow.”

    “Uh…but I’m still on the stage.”

    “Don’t worry. They’re going to put some explosions behind you in post, or something. So!” Snookie grinned for the camera as the techies moved in to start filming. He glanced at the cue card the producers had grudgingly given him. “Well, Mr the Great! That was an astounding spectacle! You’ve earned yourself a spot in the competition! Tell us how you feel right now!”

    “You can call me Gonzo, Snookie,” the creature replied. “And right now I just feel kinda hungry…”

    “Hungry for stardom, I’ll bet! Ha ha! So Gonzo. That was an amazing audition piece – what do you plan to do to follow it up for the first actual competition show?”

    “Well,” Gonzo said, warming to the discussion, “I have a lot of things planned, Snookie! I’ve thought about jugging chainsaws with live grenades, you know, alternating them before the trigger goes off; or I might –“

    “That’s absolutely wonderful!” Snookie cried, nodding to the absent audience which he knew would be sound-tracked in as though this were all live before an actual crowd of cheering fans. “I know you have some tough competition, though! What do you think your chances really are?”

    “Uh, well…I’m not sure who’s still competing. I mean, that last guy did okay up until he tripped over his clown boots and fell into the boiling—“

    “Well, I know you’re bound to surprise us, Gonzo! Good luck moving forward, and hey everyone, be sure to tune in tomorrow night to see our very first daredevil competition live here on MMN! ‘Til then, this is Snookie Blyer saying – we hope they all break a leg! Good night!” When the bright studio lights shut down again and the camera turned off, Snookie’s shoulders dropped and he abandoned his wide smile. “Well, nice knowing you. Enjoy the first-class accommodations.” He unclipped his mike and tossed it to the soundfrackle, looking around for his escort back to his cell. “Hey, is there any swill left? I missed dinner! Can I get a crumb or a bone or something at least?”

    Unhappily, he strode from the room, yanking out his hankie to try and clear his nose of the lingering stink of Carl. Cooking shows, stunt shows, reality TV…frog, all I want is a good night’s sleep and some real food! Can’t I at least have that? Is that really too much to ask if I’m in such demand around here? Dark thoughts swarming around him like a cloud of choking gnats, Snookie stalked along the corridors with a monster pacing behind him all the way to his dank cell; he was disgruntled enough to whirl on it once, snapping, “Could you at least not breathe on me? You smell like toasted rat!”

    “It was Creole-blackened,” the monster protested meekly, trailing the show host, worrying its claws together and reminding itself it wasn’t permitted to bite him.

    In the studio, another monster with pink eyeballs and a mane of feathers gestured to Gonzo. “Rabba frabba. Bagga boo!”

    Gonzo looked at the manacle chaining his left wrist to the table. “Uh…did you bring the key?”

    “Bagga!” the monster groaned, slapping a paw to its forehead. At least, Gonzo was pretty sure that bumpy surface was what served it as a forehead. It turned to another monster, a giant birdlike thing with a toothy beak. “Ma gabba frabba zabba!” It complained to the bird-thing.

    “Fraw!” the bird-thing replied, patting its sides with clawed wings as if searching pockets. It shook its head. “Caw! Baw naw!”

    Gonzo slid his hand out of the cuff easily. “Eh, it’s okay. So, do I get my own room, or do I have to share with the other contestants? ‘Cause I’d really prefer they not have the chance to steal my ideas…” The monsters looked at one another, startled, but Gonzo, oblivious, picked up his trunk and headed for the door. “Can I get one of those little mints on my pillow? But not regular mint. I like the marshmallow-chocolate-haggis ones. Can you put that in my contract? Haggis mints only, okay?” He beamed at the feather-maned thing as it tried to keep up with him along the corridor. “This is so great! Boy, I can’t wait to see the actual competition! Hey, when does this air? I gotta call my girlfriend…” he sighed. “Well, okay, so she’s not really my girlfriend anymore, but I’m hoping she’ll see what she’s been missing, you know? Hey, do you have a girlfriend?”

    The monster shook its head sheepishly. “Bagabba boo frabba.” It sighed deeply, exhaling fiery breath which singed the back of Gonzo’s trunk as they walked, and shrugged. “Gamabba frob, magga?”

    “…And can’t live without ‘em,” Gonzo finished, smiling. The monster coughed out a raspy laugh, and clapped the shorter Whatever on the shoulder as they headed for the cell block.

    ----------------------------------
    The dim light drew her to the living room. “Newsie?” Gina called softly. As she came through the squared archways into the comfortable front room, she found his laptop still on, the glow from the screen just enough illumination for her to see the compact form curled on the sofa. “Newsie?”

    He didn’t answer; coming closer, Gina realized her exhausted Muppet had fallen asleep still trying to do research. She smiled at his nose half-buried in the soft throw pillow, then turned the laptop around on the coffee table to view the screen. An open document he’d created was titled “Disappearances and Unexplained Events in Sewers;” the multitude of open browser windows piled on the desktop of the little PowerBook all seemed to be reports or allegations or tabloid articles concerning people hearing things belowground in the city over the past year. Two articles simply stated that a ConEd worker and a homeless person had been reported as missing by various associates who claimed the people had gone into the sewers and not returned. Shaking her head, Gina carefully saved every one of the open programs and shut down the laptop. Gently, she stroked Newsie’s soft hair.

    “Hey, cutie?”

    “Mmm?” he mumbled, eyes remaining closed.

    “You coming back to bed?”

    “Mmm hmmm,” Newsie sighed. Gina waited. He shifted around, turning his head so that his nose was plunged even deeper into the squishy pillow, and relaxed once more. In a few seconds he was snoring. Gina gazed at him a long while, considering the notion of snapping a photo of him like that.

    In the end, she took his glasses off, snuggled herself in behind and around his shorter frame, and pulled a plush throw blanket over them both. When her arms went around him, he sighed happily again, and his snoring ceased…fortunately for Gina.

    Much as she loved him, she’d discovered there was nothing quite as sleep-disturbing as snoring from a guy with eight-inch sinuses.
    --------------------------
  6. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Mmm... Fic update, my favorite.

    *Laughs at the reaction by :shifty: and :rolleyes: at thinking the group they're protesting for was their old culinary cronie from Sin City.
    *Enjoyed the interview between Snookie and Gonzo.
    MNN! Yes! That makes sooo much sense. So are the logo monsters going to appear? *Fondly remembers that New Year special and how I just happened to catch it without any previous knowledge of it back in '93.
    Were the monsters that came to retrieve Gonzo two of the Fazoobs?
    <333 at the end scene with Gina and :news:, they make such a cute couple despite what Constanza 'Stinkbomb' may think about it.

    And thanks for the cookies.
    :insatiable:'s googly eyes pop up from beneath, Huh?
    Here buddy. *Hands him a pumpkin cookie.
    *Googly eyes pop back down munching thankfully.
    More fic when you can get it posted please.
  7. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Part Eight

    Kermit scanned the list of acts for the night, doing his best to ignore the chaos behind and around him with the curtain set to open in ten minutes.

    “Hey, has anybody seen the galoshes for my rubber chicken?”

    “Boss, the band is refusing to play the Barry Manilow song for the intermezzo piece; they want to substitute a jazz version of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ instead…”

    “—and stay away from my feather boa rack, you mutt! Those are not de-boned chew toys!” (slam!)

    “Horn der sween du bork du zuppa!”

    “Gobble-obble-obble!”

    Kermit looked up briefly, noted that Muppy had escaped from Piggy’s dressing room more or less unkicked; Fozzie had enlisted Beau’s help in searching for the rubber chicken’s rubber rainboots; the penguins were enthusiastically tossing sandbags to persuade Scooter to allow the musical change by the band while Floyd and Dr Teeth waited, chortling; and the turkey fleeing for its neck from the Chef did not, in fact, appear contagious. Just another Friday night. Hunching over his desk, he sighed and massaged his temples briefly. “Scooter!” he yelled, and within seconds his trusty second materialized at his elbow.

    “Yeah, Chief? What do you want me to tell the band?”

    Kermit waved a flipper absently. “Whatever, as long as it doesn’t mean a scenery change from what we already had for the song! Have you seen Gonzo? He’s supposed to be singing in the opening number!”

    “Uh, remember Gonzo told us about that reality show he was auditioning for?” Scooter reminded Kermit, and gave a discreet thumbs-up to the band; Floyd and Dr Teeth grinned at one another and laid some felt on the penguins with jive handshakes.

    Kermit scrunched his face a moment. “Well, can you find out when he intends to rejoin us, if not tonight? Who’m I going to put in his place?” Frustrated, he flipped through the various papers on his desk; the night’s sign-in roster was in here somewhere, he was almost positive…

    “Hmm,” Scooter mused, quickly glancing over the exact sheet Kermit was looking for. “That song really needs a bass to round it out…what if Fozzie and I took the back-up parts, and the Newsman takes lead?”

    “What?” Kermit stared at his theatrical lieutenant as if the younger Muppet had just said Why NOT let the aliens suck our brains out through a straw? The frog’s brain took a precious few seconds to find where exactly the gear was which had slipped and start the wheels rolling again. “He can sing?”

    “Better than you’d think,” Scooter nodded. “I, uh, overheard him in his dressing-room earlier this week. He knows the words.”

    “If you think it’ll work,” Kermit said, shrugging. “Sheesh.” He met Scooter’s amused gaze, and broke into a chuckle. “I guess domestic life agrees with all of us former bachelors.”

    “No argument here,” Scooter grinned, and ran to find the Newsman.

    Camilla was only vaguely listening to, and barely participating in, a discussion among the chorus girls, pigs, and chickens about what they wanted to dress up as for Fozzie’s Halloween party. She blinked slowly at her image in the ladies’ dressing-room mirror, patted the glittery earrings clipped to her feathers to make sure they wouldn’t come loose while she was dancing, and sighed. Gonzo hadn’t shown up again tonight; she hoped that meant his audition had gone well. She’d checked her voicemail twice already. Nothing…not a peep from her estranged performance artiste.

    Not that she was worried. He could handle himself. Why, he did outrageously dangerous, ridiculous, slim-chance-of-surviving-without-at-least-losing-a-limb acts all the time here…as much as Kermit would allow, anyway…

    Camilla dug her purse from her locker and checked her phone just once more.

    The Newsman blinked at Scooter several times, one hand clinging to the doorframe of his tiny closet of a dressing-room. “You want…me…opening…sing?” he gulped.

    Scooter grinned. “Careful, you’re starting to sound like a monster with that grammar! Come on, get one of those old fedoras from the costume rack and get up there! It’s only a minute to opening!”

    Both terrified and elated, Newsie sprang up the stairs, hustling to wardrobe to grab the first dark fedora he could find; luckily he was already clothed in a dark brown gabardine suit tonight. Even more luckily, the suit had been only minimally stained by the result of his earlier Muppet News report at KRAK, when several gallons of fairly hot black tea had rained down on him after he mentioned alleged Antimuppetist comments made by one of the Presidential hopefuls aligned with the Tea Party. His closing remark, that the politician in question “would neither confirm nor deny having made any such comments,” seemed somewhat ironic to him while he was wringing the liquid from his coat on-camera.

    He skidded to a halt just offstage right, where Scooter and Fozzie were waiting, already in costume as Gilded Age paperboys. As the main theme ended and the curtains opened to respectable applause, Newsie swallowed as much of his fear as he could stomach and hurried onstage.

    Scooter ran ahead of him in knickers and a round cap, waving a newspaper at the audience. “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”

    Newsie remembered noticing in the rehearsal earlier in the week that the performers had decided not to do the entire song; he hoped he wouldn’t be expected to dance. He’d seen the film often enough to know the choreography by heart…he just didn’t believe he could do it. Oh, good grief! There she is! His eyes immediately found Gina in the audience, and saw hers widen in astonishment…but then she smiled, and he gulped again, and took his cue from Fozzie’s line: “Dere ain’t nothin’ exciting enough to sell papers today! Nobody’s gonna wanna read this boring stuff!”

    Singing slowly and roughly at first, then smoothing out a little as the words all popped into his head, Newsie responded, “We need a good assassin-ation!.. We need an earthquake or a war!”

    “How ‘bout a crooked politician?” Scooter piped up, playing the minor of the paperboy trio for the song.

    Fozzie and Newsie turned on him in scorn: “Hey stupid, THAT ain’t news no more!” The audience laughed. Blushing, glancing out into the house again, Newsie saw Gina smiling broadly. She nodded proudly at him, and he swallowed hard and continued solo a couple of lines: “Uptown to Grand Central Station…down to City Hall…we improves the circulation…”

    Fozzie and Scooter stepped up to him on either side, linking arms briefly and shouting with him for the next line: “Walkin’ til we fall!”

    Newsie sang through the chorus and the second verse, more than content to stay mostly center stage and let the other two do some fancy footwork around and in front of him. He’d been a chorus member on rare occasions in the show or in the movies, but he’d never, ever had a prominent piece like this. By the end of the song, the bear and the gofer had forcibly persuaded him to dance in step with them before the music faded, and then one by one they wandered offstage, stacks of papers in their arms, looking dejected. On impulse, Newsie paused at the edge of the stage at the last possible instant, and hopefully offered a paper to a couple in the front row: “Hey, wanna buy a copy? It’s an exclusive!”

    The curtain dropped to much applause. Flushed, the Newsman barely noticed as the stagepigs jostled him aside, hurrying to move in the scenery for Piggy’s ingénue act with Rowlf. He stood alone backstage, panting, dazed until Kermit clapped him on the shoulder. “Nice job!”

    “Er…thanks,” Newsie gulped. He reluctantly removed the fedora. “I…I guess I should get this back to wardrobe…”

    His boss smiled. “You know what? Keep it. It suits you.”

    “R-really? Thanks!” As Newsie wandered off, still looking winded and astonished, Kermit stopped Scooter, running by on his way to change out of his costume.

    “Good call there; I would never have guessed he knew any musical numbers at all!”

    Scooter laughed. “Well, I wasn’t surprised he knew that one! It’s from ‘Newsies!’”

    Kermit did a double-take, then began snickering. Maybe tonight will be one of the good ones, he thought hopefully.

    Then came the sounds of Piggy exclaiming in dismay and growing fury from onstage, followed by bucketfuls of Key limes bouncing all over the place, followed by an angry diva in a green-stained low-cut dress storming off to her dressing-room, followed by the puzzled janitor apologizing to Kermit, explaining he could have sworn the song was “as limes go by…”

    “Oh,” Beauregard mumbled when told the actual title of the classic tune. “Uh, should I have dropped a bunch of clocks on her instead?”

    Sighing, Kermit turned over the stage manager’s desk to Fozzie and went to calm down Piggy.

    Camilla walked listlessly through the green room, reminding herself to keep her head up; her earrings jingled softly, the delicate feather headdress rising above her red comb floated divinely, and every time she happened to catch her reflection in a mirror she could see she’d put her eyeshadow and mascara on perfectly, but she didn’t feel like much of a pro tonight. Nonsense, she thought; it certainly made no difference at all that Gonzo wasn’t here to see her. None whatsoever.

    Theme music blared out of the little TV Beau had somehow rigged in a corner of the room. Annoyed, Camilla wondered why anyone would have what sounded like a talent show playing right now, when they were all preparing to go onstage themselves. Maybe some of her castmates actually still had so much stage fright that watching total amateurs fumble their way through a performance gave them courage? Shaking her head, she was about to trot upstairs where if there was noise and chaos, at least it was their noise and chaos, not someone else’s…when the other chickens all began clucking and crying out.

    Gonzo? What? She hurried to the corner and stuck her beak up to the flickering screen. “Baawwwwkk!” she gasped.

    Resplendent in the pink jumpsuit Camilla loved, there on the TV a blue Muppet daredevil bounced upon an invisible high wire, juggling wobbling handfuls of tiny jellyfish. An announcer shouted over the music: “And here’s the most death-defying version of ‘Down by the Sea’ we’ve ever witnessed! I was astounded that anyone remembered the actual words to that old classic anymore!” While an off-screen crowd roared and clapped and held their breaths, Gonzo seemed about to tip into the swaying mass of eels below him, then regained his balance, never pausing in his throwing rhythm. The screen cut to a shot of the judges’ panel: two large monsters stared up slack-jawed in admiration. A smaller monster poked his head out of the tan one’s mouth, his own tiny jaw open wide as well. “Well, he certainly seems to be impressing the judges! Let’s see if he can make it through his entire act – unlike the unfortunate motorcyclist earlier! Some people just aren’t cut out for superstardom, I guess, but hey, those are the breaks! This is Snookie Blyer; come back after the break to see if the Great Gonzo makes it onto the show! We’ll be right back!” From a brief image of a smiling, yellow-felted Muppet in a bad sports coat, the station changed to a commercial.

    “I’m William Conrad for First Alert! Has this ever happened to you? You stash your entire Thanksgiving dinner in the ’fridge and leave just to run down to the liquor store…and then!” A large purple-furred monster with big yellow eyes and ears reminding Camilla of a Mr Potatohead broke into the spokeman’s ’fridge and eagerly began gulping down everything inside it. “Don’t let ravenous monsters happen to you! With First Alert’s new ‘Monster Alert’ service, any kitchen can go from a gorgon-attracting heap to a safe, secure, sandwich-friendly environment!” Suddenly, an alarm sounded, and lasers fried the purple monster. In an instant, a blackened, smoking pile of ashes with wide yellow eyes blinked astonished at the camera. “Call First Alert right away…smack, slurp…and you too…gobble, gulp…ca’ haff uh frish all moo urfelf!” The spokesman waved a turkey leg at the camera, his arms and mouth full of the rescued food.

    Impatiently Camilla waited through another two ads and a station logo flash for MMN before the program resumed. “Welcome back to ‘Break a Leg,’ America’s most dangerous talent show, where auditions are going on for the most daring, most original, least safety-conscious performers still alive! Right now, former Muppet Show actor, singer, and all-around daredevil the Great Gonzo is strutting his stuff for our expert panel…or maybe that should be bouncing his stuff! Just take a look at this!” Camilla stared in utter terror as Gonzo, onscreen, began leaping into the air, catching the wire with his toes as he fell, then immediately bouncing back up and flipping himself midair to hook the wire with his nose again…over and over…while still juggling…and singing the last line with enormous gusto: “Aaaand my love and I…we’ll…go…saaaaiilling!” When he finished, the jellies plopping onto his head one after another like a series of caps, the host looked to the monsters seated at the long table, which seemed now to be draped with colorful banners.

    “Amazing! Well, let’s hear from the judges! Hem Sterling! Will the Great Gonzo be making the audition cut?”

    The tan-furred monster with the round teeth tapped a wide finger against his lower jaw, thinking, brows furrowed. “Hmm. Well, I think this is really one of the best acts we’ve seen all night, Snookie, so – yeah! I vote claws up!”

    “Fantastic! Now to B.D. Cooper. B.D., will Gonzo be earning your vote for a competition spot as well?”

    “Ahhh, I guess so,” grumbled the flat-headed blue monster, shrugging. “Frankly, I think he needs better song choices, if he’s gonna make singing a part of his act. I really liked the bug guy better.”

    “Well, Weevil Kneivel was impressive, but he disqualified himself by perishing before completing his stunt!” Snookie laughed. “So let’s turn to the last judge, Shakey Sanchez-Campbell! Shakey, were you as awestruck as I was by –“ Snookie paused, seeing the tan monster wiping his lips. “Uh, Hem, doesn’t Shakey get a vote?”

    “Oh, I can speak for him,” Hem assured the host.

    “Don’t count on it!” a muffled high voice came from within Hem’s throat. The monster slapped his windpipe and belched.

    “He votes claws up,” Hem said.

    “I don’t even have claws!” protested the swallowed creature.

    Snookie turned back to the camera, chuckling. “Well, it seems like our judges want to see more of the blue barnstormer’s antics! Let’s see what Gonzo has to say!”

    “Hey chickens! Chickens, you’re on!” Scooter yelled.

    Reluctantly, Camilla turned from the screen with her fellow dancers, but she looked over her wing as she left the green room, watching Gonzo talking with the loud host. One of the other chickens clucked impatiently at her, and she finally blew out a breath and hurried up to the stage to strut through the “White Feather Rag” which the Mayhem turned from a simple, Joplinesque piece into a full-blown “Nola” orgy of wailing sax and blaring trumpet. Though Camilla knew she and the girls were there for eye candy, she still found it difficult to focus on the steps they’d learned, and twice almost tripped Mitzi Clucker. She knew the girls were wondering what had come over her, but she wasn’t willing to bawk about it yet. Not yet. She had too many thoughts cluttering her head, like a granary full of yellow and blue corn all jumbled together…

    Fozzie yanked Scooter’s jacket sleeve. “Hey, Scooter, look! Isn’t dat Gonzo?”

    “Huh! Yeah, guess so! Wow, he’s really making the big time,” Scooter remarked, looking at the TV only a few seconds before he had to corral a handful of odd creatures raptly watching the Chef cooking octopus pancakes on the griddle. Every time he flipped a tentacled flapjack, one of the feathery, red-scaled little creatures would gurble happily and dart forward to catch it and devour it before it hit the hot pan again.

    “Heey! Stoppen der chompy-chompen un my ooctocaken!”

    “Fazoobs! Fazoobs up next for the Koozebane trick-or-treat number!” Scooter announced.

    “Dey ulreddy habben der trick und der treetens!” Chef complained.

    Fozzie watched the end of the interview with Gonzo. He saw how the Whatever’s eyes lit up when the host asked what other acts he had planned. “Oh, Gonzo,” Fozzie muttered. “I guess dis is better for you after all.” He started to lift a paw to the screen, but when it cut back to the host saying goodnight, the bear’s hand dropped again, dispirited. He heaved a low sigh, and trudged off to find his rubber chicken, now that he’d located the boots for it.

    Behind him, Clifford plunked himself down on a beat-up sofa, and glared at the commercials filling the TV screen. “Aw, man, why do we have to put up with this jive nonsense here? Seems like every place you go these days, you get ads thrown at you!” he complained to Rizzo.

    “Eh, I know whatcha mean,” Rizzo said, and found the remote. He flicked through the channels until he located the Flimsy Negligee Mystery network. “Hey! Dat’s ‘Panty Death Raid’! I missed da end of dat last time dey showed it!”

    “Yo, turn the sound down, bro,” Clifford advised, glancing around the now mostly-empty green room. “It’s more cultural that way.”

    “Oh yeah,” Rizzo snickered, muting the sound.

    Sam the Eagle poked his head around the corner. “What? Did I hear something about actual cultural films being shown?”

    “Uh…sure, Baldy,” Clifford said, beginning to grin. “Have a seat, take a load off the talons.”

    “Thank you, that’s very kind,” Sam muttered, settling himself on the sofa. He frowned at the TV. “Uh…how exactly is this morally enlightening?” he asked, as two girls on the screen engaged in a pillowfight in their underwear while a masked killer crept through the hall past their dorm room.

    “Can’tcha see the stars on her panties, and the stripes on da other one’s?” Rizzo demanded. “It’s, ah, like a metaphor or somethin’…”

    “The eternal struggle of war-guilt versus peace-love in our national consciousness,” Clifford supplied blithely, and Rizzo stifled a chortle.

    “Oh, yes! Yes, I see! Mm. Of course,” Sam exclaimed, and watched the silly movie in silence a minute longer. He blinked, startled. “Uh…what does the chocolate pudding represent?”

    Rizzo fumbled, at a loss, but Clifford didn’t miss a beat. With a savvy nod at Sam, he murmured, “Man, that’s the dark side of the collective unconsciousness!... Haven’t you ever read Jung?”

    -------------------------------
    Beaker scanned the front of the crumbling edifice nervously. So far, the quiet beeps of the mobile psychokinetic energy detector hadn’t indicated anything supernatural in the old hotel past the normal background levels common to any large city. However, he was keyed up enough to leap six inches into the air when Bunsen touched his elbow.

    “Meeeep!”

    “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Beaker! It isn’t really haunted, you know!”

    “Mee meep?” Beaker wondered, his head swiveling to read a KEEP OUT CONDEMNED BUILDING FORMER MASS MURDER SITE sign posted on the front door as Bunsen pushed it open and trotted right in, oblivious.

    “Of course not, you sillyfoam! The organizers just thought it would be more fun to have the walk in an old, spooky building on Halloween! It will surely draw lots of viewers – and lots of sponsors!” Smiling, Honeydew looked around the lobby of the once-grand hotel, now home to massive spiderwebs and peeling wallpaper. “They certainly picked a good site to film in, don’t you think?” Beaker shrugged nervously, peering around but sticking close to his lab partner as they moved farther into the room. He jumped again at the slam of the door.

    “Mee! Mee mee mee meep mee!” he pointed shakily at the closed door in the darkened lobby. Bunsen shook and snapped a glo-stick into eerie green light and handed it to him.

    “Just the wind! Now come on! Let’s see where we should set up the command post for the surveillance equipment and the broadcast servers, shall we?” Undaunted by the gloom and the layers of dust, Bunsen snapped a glo-stick of his own and moved around curiously, shining the stick into the high corners of the place; the light didn’t travel very far up the curving, unsafe-looking staircase. Shaking his head, Beaker sighed, and slowly walked through the lobby, avoiding the largest webs. A spider dropped abruptly from one of them, and Beaker shrieked, dropping his glo-stick.

    Bunsen snapped over his shoulder, “Beaker! Stop scaring the spiders! We’ll need them to stick around for the charity walk – they’re wonderful window dressing!”

    Beaker stared at him, then at the green-furred spider glaring at him. Muttering curses, it climbed back up into its web spanning the entry to the old dining room. Catching his breath, Beaker bent to pick up the glo-stick, and saw footprints in the dust. Some of them had claws and more than four toes, and the tracks seemed to go every which way. One set of prints had been made by small shoes. Perplexed, Beaker looked at the size of the shoeprints, comparing them to his own size nines. Then he set his foot next to one of the clawed, splay-toed tracks, and noticed how much bigger the other tracks were… “Mee! Meep mee mee!”

    “Tracks? Well, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if this old hotel had a few nonpaying rodent guests still hanging around – tsst, tsst! Not to worry, Beakie; all part of the spoooooky atmosphere!” Honeydew proclaimed, wiggling his fingers in the air before Beaker’s nose. Beaker tried to draw Bunsen’s attention to the prints in the thick dust, but the scientist pointed at the crumbling staircase. “Let’s go upstairs and see if there’s a room available which will hold all our equipment, shall we? Go on, Beaker! Make sure the stairs will hold the weight of the network servers!”

    Reluctantly, Beaker placed a foot on the bottom step of the formerly-elegant wooden staircase. It creaked terribly, but held. Carefully grabbing hold of the railing, then muttering under his breath and wiping his cobweb-coated fingers on his orange windbreaker, Beaker advanced up the stairs. Although they groaned and shifted worrisomely, he reached the first landing without incident. Turning to call back to Bunsen, he gestured up, about to inform his colleague of the rather large and sticky web right ahead of him blocking further progress. “Meep meep—“

    The landing completely collapsed with a sickening crunch. Squealing, Beaker windmilled his arms and grabbed hold of the banister, which prevented his fall. Panting, he wiped the dust from his forehead and leaned to peer into the hole. The banister creaked loudly and suddenly fell in the opposite direction, taking a startled Beaker with it. Approaching his partner, Honeydew shook his head, frowning. “Beaker! Don’t you know this is an historic landmark? Chinese gangsters used to have wars over their opium trade in the street right outside! There’s a secret tunnel that used to be used for smuggling under the building! We were only granted access because of the charity cause, so don’t go around destroying any more architectural artifacts!”

    Coughing, covered in dust and dustier spiderwebs, Beaker tried to pick himself off the floor next to the stairs. Eight yellow eyes blinked down at him just behind him as an enormous shadow rose out of the darkness behind the staircase.

    “I thought I heard company!” Phil Van Neuter exclaimed, bobbing out of the dining room and throwing his arms wide for Bunsen. “Bunnie! So glad you could make it!”

    “Oh, Dr Van Neuter! Yes, we’re here! Beaker, you remember our biologist comrade, don’t you?” Sighing, Beaker halfheartedly waved, still brushing grey plaster from his jacket. A shifting, scratching sound right behind him made him freeze.

    “I keep telling you, just Phil, please! We’re all mad scientists here!” Van Neuter chuckled, warmly embracing a somewhat discomfited Bunsen Honeydew. “So! What technological wonders did you bring us?”

    “Oh, well, Beaker and I have been working on a supradermal tracking system, which works on the principle that frightened people tend to put out more heat.” Bunsen fished a prototype tracker out of a pocket; it appeared to be a tiny metal and plastic spider. “We’ll issue one of these to every participant, and when your ‘haunted house’ really gets cracking, voila! Body heat goes up, and the actual fear levels can be tracked in realtime by our custom-designed software and, by use of our specially configured servers, streamed live to the walk’s sponsors and the entire webcast audience!”

    Beaker turned around slowly, shaking, to see a spider taller and fatter by far than Sweetums rising up on eight thick furry legs, disturbed by the crash of the stair-landing and clearly not at all happy. “Mee…meep?” Beaker asked it timidly. It leaned over, opening jaws full of slavering fangs, breathing a foul air down in his face. Beaker gulped, and offered it his glo-stick with trembling fingers. “Muh…meep?”

    “Oh, that sounds positively spiffy, Bunnie! How soon can you have it in place for a test run?” Van Neuter asked eagerly, dancing in place with excitement.

    Beaker screamed, fleeing through the lobby into the decrepit dining room, the giant spider lolloping along the ceiling after him, snarling and spitting, claws scrabbling loudly along the damaged woodwork.

    “Well, as soon as we can get our equipment set up – Beaker! That china cabinet is probably an antique!”

    CRASH. CRUNCH. Tinkle tink.

    “Meeeeeeeee!”

    “Oh, of course! Why don’t you two set up in the old manager’s office? It should be big enough for all that, and there’s a little less dust,” Van Neuter offered, showing Bunsen the papered-over panel hiding the door to the old office. “See? It’s already kind of hidden, so you should be able to monitor the walk from in there without anyone disturbing you!”

    “Oh, yes! This should be more than adequate!” Bunsen beamed, looking into the office; a roost of sleepy bats began blinking at him from the low-ceiling rafters. Beaker ran shrieking past them, the monstrous spider bounding after him, taking swipes with its forelegs which Beaker ducked by yanking his head into his collar. Bunsen shook his head and planted his fists on his waist. “Honestly, Beaker! Save that silliness for Halloween night! We have work to do!”

    “Well, have to get back to my own preparations, but it’s so nice working with you again! Toodles!” Van Neuter chirped, waving happily before trotting back behind the staircase. He almost tripped over Thatch McGurk, who’d been eavesdropping. “What are you doing up here? Get back downstairs!” Van Neuter snapped crossly.

    “Garabba frazza buh!” the monster said, gesturing over at Bunsen, who was rummaging in his coat pockets for something.

    “They’re supposed to be here! Didn’t you read the last memo? Oh, honestly, you’re the worst receptionist I’ve ever had, and that is saying a lot! Now get back down there and let them work in peace!” Grumbling, McGurk trudged belowstairs. Shaking his head, Van Neuter followed. “Isn’t it just like Mulch to win the lottery and take off for Jamaica right when I need a professional flunky! Honestly!” He sniffled briefly. “And…and Composta at least could have stayed with me for the holiday instead of insisting on taking cliffdiving lessons in the Shetland Islands…”

    McGurk patted his arm sympathetically. “Awwwr. Bagaagga zab.”

    Jerking away huffily, Van Neuter snapped, “No I do not need a fluffy stinkbug! I gave up sleeping with stuffies when I was twenty! Uh…now…now you just get back to work, and don’t let me hear any more nonsense about intruders!”

    “Huhf!” McGurk snorted, turned his back, and stomped through the underground corridor. It was nearly time for second suppers, anyway.

    “Aha! Found it!” Bunsen exclaimed. When Beaker came ducking and hurtling through the lobby once more, Bunsen sprayed him and the spider both in day-glo orange sticky string.

    “Meeep!” Beaker cried, tripping as his limbs became entangled in the fast-hardening string. The spider halted as though poleaxed, blinked at the orange strands lacing its face, shook its head, sneezed, and disgustedly retreated to the top of the stairs, where it cast a sulky look back at them before melting into the shadows. Bunsen sighed.

    “If you’re done playing around, would you go fetch the server racks?” He turned away, not noticing Beaker’s struggles to stand upright with the cocoon of silly string wrapped completely around him. “Now, I think we should be able to receive the tracker signals all over the hotel from this room…it seems to have a vent going up through the ceiling, which should facilitate the satellite bounce…”

    Beaker stumbled into the cleverly hidden office, straining to pull the string off his arms and hands. He stumbled right into the nest of bats just as Bunsen turned away, musing thoughtfully at the staircase: “And perhaps we ought to mount a signal booster at the far end of the third- or fourth-floor hall, just to make absolutely certain the signals are free and unencumbered!”

    The bats squeaked and fluttered, Beaker screamed, several of them snagged in the sticky string in Beaker’s upstanding hair and tried to tug themselves loose by flapping wildly, and when he staggered half-blind around the room and accidentally tripped into the old fireplace with its cracked air-flue, the panicked bats tried to pull him up it with them. “Meee! Meeeeeeeee!”

    Honeydew turned around to find his assistant halfway up the rusted flue, his skinny legs kicking, hands braced against the bottom edge of the flue, head stuck inside so that his cries echoed and shook down dust. “Beaker! Those bats are a protected species! Leave them alone and come help me with the server racks! You know I can’t carry them myself!”
    --------------------------
  8. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Oh, this chapter is magnificent. Will come back later with some thoughts.
  9. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    --------------------
    ?? Honestly I felt it was the weakest...hemmed and hawed about editing more. Please tell me WHY you think it works? I viewed it as necessary plot expo tempered by silliness to make it palatable... But I'm happy you're happy! Anyone else who wants to pitch in here, please do so. ALL writing is a learning experience...:news:
    ------------------
  10. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Since you asked... And brotha, sistah, whatever.
    :concern: You called?
    I thought you were in lockdown at the MMN studios?
    :concern: Yeah, about that, I still haven't gotten those haggas mints.

    Here's an overdue and first truly MC fic review.


    Posted by Kris: "Part Eight"
    Oh I love eight, yes eight is great, eight is the number I do not...
    Wait! We've got a whole chapter to start on.

    Posted by :news: "Kermit scanned the list of acts for the night, doing his best to ignore the chaos behind and around him with the curtain set to open in ten minutes.

    “Hey, has anybody seen the galoshes for my rubber chicken?”

    “Boss, the band is refusing to play the Barry Manilow song for the intermezzo piece; they want to substitute a jazz version of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ instead…”

    “—and stay away from my feather boa rack, you mutt! Those are not de-boned chew toys!” (slam!)

    “Horn der sween du bork du zuppa!”

    “Gobble-obble-obble!”

    Kermit looked up briefly, noted that Muppy had escaped from Piggy’s dressing room more or less unkicked; Fozzie had enlisted Beau’s help in searching for the rubber chicken’s rubber rainboots; the penguins were enthusiastically tossing sandbags to persuade Scooter to allow the musical change by the band while Floyd and Dr. Teeth waited, chortling; and the turkey fleeing for its neck from the Chef did not, in fact, appear contagious. Just another Friday night."
    Ah, Muppety chaos prepping for another episode of the Muppet Show! Yayyyy!

    Posted by Man: "Hunching over his desk, he sighed and massaged his temples briefly. “Scooter!” he yelled, and within seconds his trusty second materialized at his elbow. “Yeah, Chief? What do you want me to tell the band?" Kermit waved a flipper absently. “Whatever, as long as it doesn’t mean a scenery change from what we already had for the song!"
    Scooter's ever-present diligence shines through yet again.

    Posted by Fan: "Have you seen Gonzo? He’s supposed to be singing in the opening number!" “Uh, remember Gonzo told us about that reality show he was auditioning for?” Scooter reminded Kermit, and gave a discreet thumbs-up to the band; Floyd and Dr. Teeth grinned at one another and laid some felt on the penguins with jive handshakes. Kermit scrunched his face a moment. “Well, can you find out when he intends to rejoin us, if not tonight? Who’m I going to put in his place?” Frustrated, he flipped through the various papers on his desk; the night’s sign-in roster was in here somewhere, he was almost positive…"
    Yeah, about that Kermit... Like I think that reality show's got somewhat of a temporary relocation claim on your resident—if he can be called that for much longer—daredevil.

    Posted by Fan of Man of News: "Hmm,” Scooter mused, quickly glancing over the exact sheet Kermit was looking for. “That song really needs a bass to round it out…what if Fozzie and I took the back-up parts, and the Newsman takes lead?” “What?” Kermit stared at his theatrical lieutenant as if the younger Muppet had just said Why NOT let the aliens suck our brains out through a straw? The frog’s brain took a precious few seconds to find where exactly the gear was which had slipped and start the wheels rolling again. “He can sing?”
    Mmm... You get points for the reference to a Grim Adventures classic about the alien sucking our brains out through a straw.
    *Cues Voltaire's song sung by the Brain-Eating Meteor.
    *BTW: I need an MP3 of that if anyone has it.

    Posted by :news:, a Fan of Man: “Better than you’d think,” Scooter nodded. “I, uh, overheard him in his dressing-room earlier this week. He knows the words." “If you think it’ll work,” Kermit said, shrugging. “Sheesh.” He met Scooter’s amused gaze, and broke into a chuckle. “I guess domestic life agrees with all of us former bachelors.” “No argument here,” Scooter grinned, and ran to find the Newsman.
    Hee, nice subtle reference to Newsie's current sitch developed in your fic series, as well as the hint to Kermit's and Scooter's lives in our fave aunt's ongoing opus.

    Posted by :cluck:?: "Camilla was only vaguely listening to, and barely participating in, a discussion among the chorus girls, pigs, and chickens about what they wanted to dress up as for Fozzie’s Halloween party. She blinked slowly at her image in the ladies’ dressing-room mirror, patted the glittery earrings clipped to her feathers to make sure they wouldn’t come loose while she was dancing, and sighed. Gonzo hadn’t shown up again tonight; she hoped that meant his audition had gone well. She’d checked her voicemail twice already. Nothing…not a peep from her estranged performance artiste. Not that she was worried. He could handle himself. Why, he did outrageously dangerous, ridiculous, slim-chance-of-surviving-without-at-least-losing-a-limb acts all the time here…as much as Kermit would allow, anyway… Camilla dug her purse from her locker and checked her phone just once more."
    :D, you remembered the rhinestone bunny ears for the chickens' act that Liberaci was going to add to his own Vegas show.
    And aw, I'm glad you included a showing of true worry from this little henny-penny.

    Posted by Fan of the Newsman: "The Newsman blinked at Scooter several times, one hand clinging to the doorframe of his tiny closet of a dressing-room. “You want…me…opening…sing?” he gulped. Scooter grinned. “Careful, you’re starting to sound like a monster with that grammar! Come on, get one of those old fedoras from the costume rack and get up there! It’s only a minute to opening!” Both terrified and elated, Newsie sprang up the stairs, hustling to wardrobe to grab the first dark fedora he could find; luckily he was already clothed in a dark brown gabardine suit tonight. Even more luckily, the suit had been only minimally stained by the result of his earlier Muppet News report at KRAK, when several gallons of fairly hot black tea had rained down on him after he mentioned alleged Antimuppetist comments made by one of the Presidential hopefuls aligned with the Tea Party. His closing remark, that the politician in question “would neither confirm nor deny having made any such comments,” seemed somewhat ironic to him while he was wringing the liquid from his coat on-camera."
    Somehow that joke with the tea could've gone over better.
    But hey, Newsie, you're gonna get your big brake soon! And it's even bigger than the fact you showed up in the Mindset's detailed review of the new movie's second trailer sporting a snazzy new scarf.

    Posted by Gypsy Lover: "He skidded to a halt just offstage right, where Scooter and Fozzie were waiting, already in costume as Gilded Age paperboys. As the main theme ended and the curtains opened to respectable applause, Newsie swallowed as much of his fear as he could stomach and hurried onstage. Scooter ran ahead of him in knickers and a round cap, waving a newspaper at the audience. “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” Newsie remembered noticing in the rehearsal earlier in the week that the performers had decided not to do the entire song; he hoped he wouldn’t be expected to dance. He’d seen the film often enough to know the choreography by heart…he just didn’t believe he could do it. Oh, good grief! There she is! His eyes immediately found Gina in the audience, and saw hers widen in astonishment…but then she smiled, and he gulped again, and took his cue from Fozzie’s line: “Dere ain’t nothin’ exciting enough to sell papers today! Nobody’s gonna wanna read this boring stuff!”
    :) at Gina being able to snag a ticket for herself to attend this latest performance. Methinks she'll get her money's worth. And Newsie will probably benefit from it later as well.
    Also, you get a second point for using the iconic image of Scooter as a paperboy with his doughboy cap. I say it's "iconic" beceause there's a real-life story of Richard Hunt being a paperboy when he was young that everyone in or associated with the RHLC knows about. Ask Muppet Newsgirl about it, she'd probably give you a better account of it than I can at the moment.
    :grr: holds up cue card with RHLC! ! ! on it.

    Posted by :news: :news: "Singing slowly and roughly at first, then smoothing out a little as the words all popped into his head, Newsie responded, “We need a good assassin-ation!..
    We need an earthquake or a war!”
    “How ‘bout a crooked politician?” Scooter piped up, playing the minor of the paperboy trio for the song.
    Fozzie and Newsie turned on him in scorn: “Hey stupid, THAT ain’t news no more!”
    The audience laughed. Blushing, glancing out into the house again, Newsie saw Gina smiling broadly. She nodded proudly at him, and he swallowed hard and continued solo a couple of lines.
    “Uptown to Grand Central Station…down to City Hall.
    We improves the circulation…”
    Fozzie and Scooter stepped up to him on either side, linking arms briefly and shouting with him for the next line: “Walkin’ til we fall!”
    Newsie sang through the chorus and the second verse, more than content to stay mostly center stage and let the other two do some fancy footwork around and in front of him. He’d been a chorus member on rare occasions in the show or in the movies, but he’d never, ever had a prominent piece like this. By the end of the song, the bear and the gofer had forcibly persuaded him to dance in step with them before the music faded, and then one by one they wandered offstage, stacks of papers in their arms, looking dejected. On impulse, Newsie paused at the edge of the stage at the last possible instant, and hopefully offered a paper to a couple in the front row: “Hey, wanna buy a copy? It’s an exclusive!”

    The curtain dropped to much applause. Flushed, the Newsman barely noticed as the stagepigs jostled him aside, hurrying to move in the scenery for Piggy’s
    ingénue act with Rowlf. He stood alone backstage, panting, dazed until Kermit clapped him on the shoulder. “Nice job!” “Er…thanks,” Newsie gulped. He reluctantly removed the fedora. “I…I guess I should get this back to wardrobe…” His boss smiled. “You know what? Keep it. It suits you.” “R-really? Thanks!” As Newsie wandered off, still looking winded and astonished, Kermit stopped Scooter, running by on his way to change out of his costume. “Good call there; I would never have guessed he knew any musical numbers at all!” Scooter laughed. “Well, I wasn’t surprised he knew that one! It’s from ‘Newsies!’”
    *Applauds at Newsie's first good musical act on the show. Thought you would have gone with "Zeros" from You're Fired/Hired Part 1, but this suited our journalist much better since it deals directly with the promotion of periodical papers.
    And hey, he even got to take home a fedora from wardrobe! That'll certainly help should he decide to go undercover whenever the time comes that he finds out about his cousin's whereabouts and has to manage a personal rescue mission.

    Posted by This is a Muppet News Flash!: "Kermit did a double-take, then began snickering. Maybe tonight will be one of the good ones, he thought hopefully."
    There's always a first time for everything frog.

    Posted by These stories get more ridiculous every day: "Then came the sounds of Piggy exclaiming in dismay and growing fury from onstage, followed by bucketfuls of Key limes bouncing all over the place, followed by an angry diva in a green-stained low-cut dress storming off to her dressing-room, followed by the puzzled janitor apologizing to Kermit, explaining he could have sworn the song was “as limes go by…” “Oh,” Beauregard mumbled when told the actual title of the classic tune. “Uh, should I have dropped a bunch of clocks on her instead?” Sighing, Kermit turned over the stage manager’s desk to Fozzie and went to calm down Piggy."
    Now this was a more cleverly executed joke what with Cyndi Lauper's hit single.

    Posted by Art's boss: "Camilla walked listlessly through the green room, reminding herself to keep her head up; her earrings jingled softly, the delicate feather headdress rising above her red comb floated divinely, and every time she happened to catch her reflection in a mirror she could see she’d put her eyeshadow and mascara on perfectly, but she didn’t feel like much of a pro tonight. Nonsense, she thought; it certainly made no difference at all that Gonzo wasn’t here to see her. None whatsoever. Theme music blared out of the little TV Beau had somehow rigged in a corner of the room. Annoyed, Camilla wondered why anyone would have what sounded like a talent show playing right now, when they were all preparing to go onstage themselves. Maybe some of her castmates actually still had so much stage fright that watching total amateurs fumble their way through a performance gave them courage? Shaking her head, she was about to trot upstairs where if there was noise and chaos, at least it was their noise and chaos, not someone else’s…when the other chickens all began clucking and crying out. Gonzo? What? She hurried to the corner and stuck her beak up to the flickering screen. “Baawwwwkk!” she gasped. Resplendent in the pink jumpsuit Camilla loved, there on the TV a blue Muppet daredevil bounced upon an invisible high wire, juggling wobbling handfuls of tiny jellyfish. An announcer shouted over the music: “And here’s the most death-defying version of ‘Down by the Sea’ we’ve ever witnessed! I was astounded that anyone remembered the actual words to that old classic anymore!” While an off-screen crowd roared and clapped and held their breaths, Gonzo seemed about to tip into the swaying mass of eels below him, then regained his balance, never pausing in his throwing rhythm. The screen cut to a shot of the judges’ panel: two large monsters stared up slack-jawed in admiration. A smaller monster poked his head out of the tan one’s mouth, his own tiny jaw open wide as well. “Well, he certainly seems to be impressing the judges! Let’s see if he can make it through his entire act – unlike the unfortunate motorcyclist earlier! Some people just aren’t cut out for superstardom, I guess, but hey, those are the breaks! This is Snookie Blyer; come back after the break to see if the Great Gonzo makes it onto the show! We’ll be right back!” From a brief image of a smiling, yellow-felted Muppet in a bad sportscoat, the station changed to a commercial."
    Oh... We finally get a glimpse of Gonzo's act all put together. Well, his opening audition act anyway. At least it's better than having those talentless hacks on another variety contest show mangle your favorite song. Yeah, I'm looking at you Kelly Clarkson!
    :concern: Who's Kelly Clarkson?
    Exactly.

    Posted by And now you vill listen to a word from our sponsor: "I’m William Conrad for First Alert! Has this ever happened to you? You stash your entire Thanksgiving dinner in the ’fridge and leave just to run down to the liquor store…and then!” A large purple-furred monster with big yellow eyes and ears reminding Camilla of a Mr Potatohead broke into the spokeman’s ’fridge and eagerly began gulping down everything inside it. “Don’t let ravenous monsters happen to you! With First Alert’s new ‘Monster Alert’ service, any kitchen can go from a gorgon-attracting heap to a safe, secure, sandwich-friendly environment!” Suddenly, an alarm sounde , and lasers fried the purple monster. In an instant, a blackened, smoking pile of ashes with wide yellow eyes blinked astonished at the camera. “Call First Alert right away…smack, slurp…and you too…gobble, gulp…ca’ haff uh frish all moo urfelf!” The spokesman waved a turkey leg at the camera, his arms and mouth full of the rescued food."
    *Insert :laugh: here. *Happy for an excuse to get a monster blown up, now that's good ol' fashioned comedy.
    Sorry Gorgon Heap, looks like it's time for your bath, it is Saturday night after all.
    *Leaves undead rubber duckie we got from Halloween Town for Christmas last year.

    Posted by All the :news: that's fit to print: "Impatiently Camilla waited through another two ads and a station logo flash for MMN before the program resumed. “Welcome back to ‘Break a Leg,’ America’s most dangerous talent show, where auditions are going on for the most daring, most original, least safety-conscious performers still alive! Right now, former Muppet Show actor, singer, and all around daredevil the Great Gonzo is strutting his stuff for our expert panel…or maybe that should be bouncing his stuff! Just take a look at this!” Camilla stared in utter terror as Gonzo, onscreen, began leaping into the air, catching the wire with his toes as he fell, then immediately bouncing back up and flipping himself midair to hook the wire with his nose again…over and over…while still juggling…and singing the last line with enormous gusto: “Aaaand my love and I…we’ll…go…saaaaiilling!” When he finished, the jellies plopping onto his head one after another like a series of caps, the host looked to the monsters seated at the long table, which seemed now to be draped with colorful banners."
    *Cues circus calliope music underscoring the lunacy of Gonzo's act. Better this than head bowling huh?

    Posted by Yes all you cats and kitties!: “Amazing! Well, let’s hear from the judges! Hem Sterling! Will the Great Gonzo be making the audition cut?” The tan-furred monster with the round teeth tapped a wide finger against his lower jaw, thinking, brows furrowed. “Hmm. Well, I think this is really one of the best acts we’ve seen all night, Snookie, so – yeah! I vote claws up!” “Fantastic! Now to B.D. Cooper. B.D., will Gonzo be earning your vote for a competition spot as well?” “Ahhh, I guess so,” grumbled the flat-headed blue monster, shrugging. “Frankly, I think he needs better song choices, if he’s gonna make singing a part of his act. I really liked the bug guy better.” “Well, Weevil Kneivel was impressive, but he disqualified himself by perishing before completing his stunt!” Snookie laughed. “So let’s turn to the last judge, Shakey Sanchez-Campbell! Shakey, were you as awestruck as I was by –“ Snookie paused, seeing the tan monster wiping his lips. “Uh, Hem, doesn’t Shakey get a vote?” “Oh, I can speak for him,” Hem assured the host. “Don’t count on it!” a muffled high voice came from within Hem’s throat. The monster slapped his windpipe and belched. “He votes claws up,” Hem said. “I don’t even have claws!” protested the swallowed creature. Snookie turned back to the camera, chuckling. “Well, it seems like our judges want to see more of the blue barnstormer’s antics! Let’s see what Gonzo has to say!”
    Yay, the blue whatever's into the competition! *Like we didn't know that already from the previous chapters what with the network head's schemings.

    Posted by Check out the fabulous 15!: “Hey chickens! Chickens, you’re on!” Scooter yelled. Reluctantly, Camilla turned from the screen with her fellow dancers, but she looked over her wing as she left the green room, watching Gonzo talking with the loud host. One of the other chickens clucked impatiently at her, and she finally blew out a breath and hurried up to the stage to strut through the “White Feather Rag” which the Mayhem turned from a simple, Joplinesque piece into a full-blown “Nola” orgy of wailing sax and blaring trumpet. Though Camilla knew she and the girls were there for eye candy, she still found it difficult to focus on the steps they’d learned, and twice almost tripped Mitzi Clucker. She knew the girls were wondering what had come over her, but she wasn’t willing to bawk about it yet. Not yet. She had too many thoughts cluttering her head, like a granary full of yellow and blue corn all jumbled together…"
    And just like that you show you've learned aat the foot of other authors' postings in how to pull a reader's heartstrings. Poor Camilla, not wanting to talk about it, but needing to talk about it to sort out that pile of cornmeal in her head.

    Posted by No news tonight...: "Fozzie yanked Scooter’s jacket sleeve. “Hey, Scooter, look! Isn’t dat Gonzo?” “Huh! Yeah, guess so! Wow, he’s really making the big time,” Scooter remarked, looking at the TV only a few seconds before he had to corral a handful of odd creatures raptly watching the Chef cooking octopus pancakes on the griddle. Every time he flipped a tentacled flapjack, one of the feathery, red-scaled little creatures would gurble happily and dart forward to catch it and devour it before it hit the hot pan again. “Heey! Stoppen der chompy-chompen un my ooctocaken!” “Fazoobs! Fazoobs up next for the Koozebane trick-or-treat number!” Scooter announced. “Dey ulreddy habben der trick und der treetens!” Chef complained. Fozzie watched the end of the interview with Gonzo. He saw how the Whatever’s eyes lit up when the host asked what other acts he had planned. “Oh, Gonzo,” Fozzie muttered. “I guess dis is better for you after all.” He started to lift a paw to the screen, but when it cut back to the host saying goodnight, the bear’s hand dropped again, dispirited. He heaved a low sigh, and trudged off to find his rubber chicken, now that he’d located the boots for it."
    Mmm, octocakes. Hopefully they actually turn out better than the guy who attempted it on Chopped the other day. If there are any octocakes left from the Fazoob feeding frenzy. Still not sure if I'll end up adding them to my own haul, I kinda know how to label each of them, but I wonder what Fazoob was which Mopatop character since the Muppet Wiki isn't exactly clear on that.

    Posted by And now a :news: flash, as the reporter reaches up to Gina's jacket before she slaps his hand away and the Benny Hill chase music ensues: "Behind him, Clifford plunked himself down on a beat-up sofa, and glared at the commercials filling the TV screen. “Aw, man, why do we have to put up with this jive nonsense here? Seems like every place you go these days, you get ads thrown at you!” he complained to Rizzo. “Eh, I know whatcha mean,” Rizzo said, and found the remote. He flicked through the channels until he located the Flimsy Negligee Mystery network. “Hey! Dat’s ‘Panty Death Raid’! I missed da end of dat last time dey showed it!” “Yo, turn the sound down, bro,” Clifford advised, glancing around the now mostly-empty green room. “It’s more cultural that way.” “Oh yeah,” Rizzo snickered, muting the sound. Sam the Eagle poked his head around the corner. “What? Did I hear something about actual cultural films being shown?” “Uh…sure, Baldy,” Clifford said, beginning to grin. “Have a seat, take a load off the talons.” “Thank you, that’s very kind,” Sam muttered, settling himself on the sofa. He frowned at the TV. “Uh…how exactly is this morally enlightening?” he asked, as two girls on the screen engaged in a pillowfight in their underwear while a masked killer crept through the hall past their dorm room. “Can’tcha see the stars on her panties, and the stripes on da other one’s?” Rizzo demanded. “It’s, ah, like a metaphor or somethin’…” “The eternal struggle of war-guilt versus peace-love in our national consciousness,” Clifford supplied blithely, and Rizzo stifled a chortle. “Oh, yes! Yes, I see! Mm. Of course,” Sam exclaimed, and watched the silly movie in silence a minute longer. He blinked, startled. “Uh…what does the chocolate pudding represent?” Rizzo fumbled, at a loss, but Clifford didn’t miss a beat. With a savvy nod at Sam, he murmured, “Man, that’s the dark side of the collective unconsciousness!... Haven’t you ever read Jung?”
    Thank you and good night! Is very much reminded of when :D had to explain the lyrics of Mack the Knife to :attitude:
    Sam: "I don't fully grasp it, but I'm sure it's a lovely sentiment."

    Posted by Who You Gonna' Call!: "Beaker scanned the front of the crumbling edifice nervously. So far, the quiet beeps of the mobile psychokinetic energy detector hadn’t indicated anything supernatural in the old hotel past the normal background levels common to any large city. However, he was keyed up enough to leap six inches into the air when Bunsen touched his elbow. “Meeeep!” “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Beaker! It isn’t really haunted, you know!”
    For shame Bunsen... Of corpse it's really haunted. Why else did you insist on bringing the PKE meter? Oh, and the ecto-goggles.

    Posted by 1, a nice house, that's haunted so there's lots of company: “Mee meep?” Beaker wondered, his head swiveling to read a KEEP OUT CONDEMNED BUILDING FORMER MASS MURDER SITE sign posted on the front door as Bunsen pushed it open and trotted right in, oblivious. “Of course not, you sillyfoam! The organizers just thought it would be more fun to have the walk in an old, spooky building on Halloween! It will surely draw lots of viewers – and lots of sponsors!” Smiling, Honeydew looked around the lobby of the once-grand hotel, now home to massive spiderwebs and peeling wallpaper. “They certainly picked a good site to film in, don’t you think?” Beaker shrugged nervously, peering around but sticking close to his lab partner as they moved farther into the room. He jumped again at the slam of the door."
    Now why couldn't we have filmed the Happiness Hotel scenes here?
    :boo: What a dump!
    :o: If that's the Happiness Hotel, I'd hate to see the sad one.

    Posted by 2, a nice ghost who's friendly and can come to tea: “Mee! Mee mee mee meep mee!” he pointed shakily at the closed door in the darkened lobby. Bunsen shook and snapped a glo-stick into eerie green light and handed it to him. “Just the wind! Now come on! Let’s see where we should set up the command post for the surveillance equipment and the broadcast servers, shall we?” Undaunted by the gloom and the layers of dust, Bunsen snapped a glo-stick of his own and moved around curiously, shining the stick into the high corners of the place; the light didn’t travel very far up the curving, unsafe-looking staircase. Shaking his head, Beaker sighed, and slowly walked through the lobby, avoiding the largest webs. A spider dropped abruptly from one of them, and Beaker shrieked, dropping his glo stick."
    Did you hear something shriek just now? Must have been nothing.

    Posted by 3, a fat spider spinning in the gloom: "Bunsen snapped over his shoulder, “Beaker! Stop scaring the spiders! We’ll need them to stick around for the charity walk – they’re wonderful window dressing!” Beaker stared at him, then at the green-furred spider glaring at him. Muttering curses, it climbed back up into its web spanning the entry to the old dining room."
    Spiders... Yep, the first line of defense found within This Old Haunted House.

    Posted by 4, a lovely cobweb to decorate the room: "Catching his breath, Beaker bent to pick up the glo-stick, and saw footprints in the dust. Some of them had claws and more than four toes, and the tracks seemed to go every which way. One set of prints had been made by small shoes. Perplexed, Beaker looked at the size of the shoeprints, comparing them to his own size nines. Then he set his foot next to one of the clawed, splay-toed tracks, and noticed how much bigger the other tracks were… “Mee! Meep mee mee!” “Tracks? Well, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if this old hotel had a few nonpaying rodent guests still hanging around – tsst, tsst! Not to worry, Beakie; all part of the spoooooky atmosphere!” Honeydew proclaimed, wiggling his fingers in the air before Beaker’s nose. Beaker tried to draw Bunsen’s attention to the prints in the thick dust, but the scientist pointed at the crumbling staircase. “Let’s go upstairs and see if there’s a room available which will hold all our equipment, shall we? Go on, Beaker! Make sure the stairs will hold the weight of the network servers!”
    *Finds it comically cute to have Bunsen do the "spoooky" finger-waggling gesture. Now c'mon Beaker, we're moving past the lobby and upstairs to the next floor.

    Posted by 5, a flight of stairs that creak in the night, even when there's noone going up and down: "Reluctantly, Beaker placed a foot on the bottom step of the formerly-elegant wooden staircase. It creaked terribly, but held. Carefully grabbing hold of the railing, then muttering under his breath and wiping his cobweb-coated fingers on his orange windbreaker, Beaker advanced up the stairs. Although they groaned and shifted worrisomely, he reached the first landing without incident. Turning to call back to Bunsen, he gestured up, about to inform his colleague of the rather large and sticky web right ahead of him blocking further progress. “Meep meep—“ The landing completely collapsed with a sickening crunch. Squealing, Beaker windmilled his arms and grabbed hold of the banister, which prevented his fall. Panting, he wiped the dust from his forehead and leaned to peer into the hole. The banister creaked loudly and suddenly fell in the opposite direction, taking a startled Beaker with it. Approaching his partner, Honeydew shook his head, frowning. “Beaker! Don’t you know this is an historic landmark? Chinese gangsters used to have wars over their opium trade in the street right outside! There’s a secret tunnel that used to be used for smuggling under the building! We were only granted access because of the charity cause, so don’t go around destroying any more architectural artifacts!”
    And here we have to give a third point. Sure, you could have easily employed the signature gag about the stairs flattening against themselves, causing Beaker to slide back down to the main floor, only to pop back out afterwards... But this sets up for an even better encounter with another Muppet critter.
    Also... So that's how to access the entrance to MMN, via the underground tunnel originally built by the gangsters who used this hotel for their hideout. *Makes note of that for future Bugs Bunnyish tactics in spooking the spooks that Newsie might find useful.

    Posted by 6, a quiet castle on a rainy night, when there's noone else around: "Coughing, covered in dust and dustier spiderwebs, Beaker tried to pick himself off the floor next to the stairs. Eight yellow eyes blinked down at him just behind him as an enormous shadow rose out of the darkness behind the staircase. “I thought I heard company!” Phil Van Neuter exclaimed, bobbing out of the dining room and throwing his arms wide for Bunsen. “Bunnie! So glad you could make it!” “Oh, Dr. Van Neuter! Yes, we’re here! Beaker, you remember our biologist comrade, don’t you?” Sighing, Beaker halfheartedly waved, still brushing grey plaster from his jacket. A shifting, scratching sound right behind him made him freeze. “I keep telling you, just Phil, please! We’re all mad scientists here!” Van Neuter chuckled, warmly embracing a somewhat discomfited Bunsen Honeydew. “So! What technological wonders did you bring us?” “Oh, well, Beaker and I have been working on a supradermal tracking system, which works on the principle that frightened people tend to put out more heat.” Bunsen fished a prototype tracker out of a pocket; it appeared to be a tiny metal and plastic spider. “We’ll issue one of these to every participant, and when your ‘haunted house’ really gets cracking, voila! Body heat goes up, and the actual fear levels can be tracked in realtime by our custom-designed software and, by use of our specially configured servers, streamed live to the walk’s sponsors and the entire webcast audience!” Beaker turned around slowly, shaking, to see a spider taller and fatter by far than Sweetums rising up on eight thick furry legs, disturbed by the crash of the stair-landing and clearly not at all happy. “Mee…meep?” Beaker asked it timidly. It leaned over, opening jaws full of slavering fangs, breathing a foul air down in his face. Beaker gulped, and offered it his glo-stick with trembling fingers. “Muh…meep?”
    And here's that critter I was spooking of. The Giant Spider from the song "Baby It's Me" from the Racquel Welch episode of The Muppet Show!
    Aw, and Beaker's making the opening move of offering it a glo-stick treat, how lovely. Now play nice you two. *Goes off to continue reviewing.

    Posted by 7, a doggie howling at the yellow moon: “Oh, that sounds positively spiffy, Bunnie! How soon can you have it in place for a test run?” Van Neuter asked eagerly, dancing in place with excitement. Beaker screamed, fleeing through the lobby into the decrepit dining room, the giant spider lolloping along the ceiling after him, snarling and spitting, claws scrabbling loudly along the damaged woodwork. “Well, as soon as we can get our equipment set up – Beaker! That china cabinet is probably an antique!” CRASH. CRUNCH. Tinkle tink. “Meeeeeeeee!” “Oh, of course! Why don’t you two set up in the old manager’s office? It should be big enough for all that, and there’s a little less dust,” Van Neuter offered, showing Bunsen the papered-over panel hiding the door to the old office. “See? It’s already kind of hidden, so you should be able to monitor the walk from in there without anyone disturbing you!” “Oh, yes! This should be more than adequate!” Bunsen beamed, looking into the office; a roost of sleepy bats began blinking at him from the low-ceiling rafters. Beaker ran shrieking past them, the monstrous spider bounding after him, taking swipes with its forelegs which Beaker ducked by yanking his head into his collar. Bunsen shook his head and planted his fists on his waist. “Honestly, Beaker! Save that silliness for Halloween night! We have work to do!”
    You know, I agree with Bunsen. But seeing as how that giant spider's more of a general housepet, he's often left off of his leash. Still, a little romp would do before getting ready for the scares on Halloween night.

    Posted by 8, cold shivers on a sunny summer afternoon: “Well, have to get back to my own preparations, but it’s so nice working with you again! Toodles!” Van Neuter chirped, waving happily before trotting back behind the staircase. He almost tripped over Thatch McGurk, who’d been eavesdropping. “What are you doing up here? Get back downstairs!” Van Neuter snapped crossly. “Garabba frazza buh!” the monster said, gesturing over at Bunsen, who was rummaging in his coat pockets for something. “They’re supposed to be here! Didn’t you read the last memo? Oh, honestly, you’re the worst receptionist I’ve ever had, and that is saying a lot! Now get back down there and let them work in peace!” Grumbling, McGurk trudged belowstairs. Shaking his head, Van Neuter followed. “Isn’t it just like Mulch to win the lottery and take off for Jamaica right when I need a professional flunky! Honestly!” He sniffled briefly. “And…and Composta at least could have stayed with me for the holiday instead of insisting on taking cliffdiving lessons in the Shetland Islands…” McGurk patted his arm sympathetically. “Awwwr. Bagaagga zab.” Jerking away huffily, Van Neuter snapped, “No I do not need a fluffy stinkbug! I gave up sleeping with stuffies when I was twenty! Uh…now…now you just get back to work, and don’t let me hear any more nonsense about intruders!” “Huhf!” McGurk snorted, turned his back, and stomped through the underground corridor. It was nearly time for second suppers, anyway.
    Okay, fourth point of the evening awarded for showing Phil's tender side, pining for Composta. Besides, don't knock sleeping with a plushie—which he probably does still do though he wants noone to know about it—they work like dream dolls. Or worry men. It depends on which version of that concept from Batman you run with.

    Posted by 9 black bats hanging on the door: “Aha! Found it!” Bunsen exclaimed. When Beaker came ducking and hurtling through the lobby once more, Bunsen sprayed him and the spider both in day-glo orange sticky string. “Meeep!” Beaker cried, tripping as his limbs became entangled in the fast-hardening string. The spider halted as though poleaxed, blinked at the orange strands lacing its face, shook its head, sneezed, and disgustedly retreated to the top of the stairs, where it cast a sulky look back at them before melting into the shadows. Bunsen sighed. “If you’re done playing around, would you go fetch the server racks?” He turned away, not noticing Beaker’s struggles to stand upright with the cocoon of silly string wrapped completely around him. “Now, I think we should be able to receive the tracker signals all over the hotel from this room…it seems to have a vent going up through the ceiling, which should facilitate the satellite bounce…” Beaker stumbled into the cleverly hidden office, straining to pull the string off his arms and hands. He stumbled right into the nest of bats just as Bunsen turned away, musing thoughtfully at the staircase: “And perhaps we ought to mount a signal booster at the far end of the third- or fourth-floor hall, just to make absolutely certain the signals are free and unencumbered!”
    *Loves the nest of bats in the manager's office.

    Posted by 10 hobgoblins, pussycats, and more...: "The bats squeaked and fluttered, Beaker screamed, several of them snagged in the sticky string in Beaker’s upstanding hair and tried to tug themselves loose by flapping wildly, and when he staggered half-blind around the room and accidentally tripped into the old fireplace with its cracked air-flue, the panicked bats tried to pull him up it with them. “Meee! Meeeeeeeee!”
    Oh Beaker, if you wanted to keep playing with our pets all you had to do was say so. But please, no roughhousing, I tend to think a bit highly of the bats.

    Posted by And that's what counts to The Count when I count!: "Honeydew turned around to find his assistant halfway up the rusted flue, his skinny legs kicking, hands braced against the bottom edge of the flue, head stuck inside so that his cries echoed and shook down dust. “Beaker! Those bats are a protected species! Leave them alone and come help me with the server racks! You know I can’t carry them myself!”
    Vonderful!

    And there you have it... The tradition continues.
    Hope this helps and have a pleasant fright. :batty:
  11. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    ----------------
    Ed...I am laughing my felted yellow butt off right now! THANK you so much! What a treat! (Hey, I'd actually forgotten the Raquel Welch spider...good call. I had sort of a Muppety Agrajag in mind but that works even better!)

    "sucking brains out through a straw" was actually a line from a Weird Al song, "Slime Creatures from Outer Space" -- I didn't know of other references. Ha!

    Thankee for the rubber duckie! But...Ed...you didn't catch the MST joke here? (There are two of them in this chapter.) The William Conrad Fridge Alert, from the Kiel-tastic "Human Duplicators" -- one of the Mads' sillier Invention Exchanges!

    I am rather disturbed by the fact someone has actually made octocakes.
    :crazy: Weren't you disturbed before that? Heeheehee hee hee hee!

    The Benny Hill reference you made is indeed appropriate. Yeesh... The second MST joke involves the end credits of "Outlaw" when the guys come up with all those fabulous fake movie titles shown on the Flimsy Negligee Mys--er, I mean USA Network. I just liked the idea of "Panty Death Raid." Uh-- as a JOKE -- not as a personal adventure! :o

    Hmm, This Old Haunted House has possibilities... "Hey, that sounded like Norm Abrams, getting killed!"

    I'm not knocking sleeping with stuffies OR plushies. Or...um...felties...ahem.

    Wrote all afternoon and will continue tonight, hopefully posting tomorrow. Going to check out Prawnie's review...and then take a flashdrive to a filmwise buddy to snag me a copy of the new trailer for my very ownself. I MUST have the scarf pic!

    Anyone else want to sound off here? Good OR bad? suggestions? stuff you think I MUST put in? Open to comments...

    *listens to crickets*
    *listens to crickets some more*
    *gets irritated and shuts the window*

    sigh... more soon. :news:
    ------------------------------------
  12. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Ru: Aack! Stop posting more chapters of this wonderful stor---wait. That's not right. Hmmm. Let me go out and come in again.
    Aack! I'm behind! Stop writing so fast!
    Gonzo: Try reading faster.
    Ru: Aw, who asked you! (Reads faster....) I WILL post when I am caught up!
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Oye, who's the funny monster that ate my post last night?

    Moving on...
    The William Conrad bit, I thought you got inspired by another source.
    The Usa Network gag... The only one I remember, from one of the many Gamera movies was:
    Crow: "Tonight, on the Yuasa Network, a very special episode of Swamp Thing."
    Tom, as Swampy: "Do not bring your evil into my swamp!"
    Octocakes are good okay. The concept is making crabcakes, just with octopus meat instead of crab. Then again, maybe I'm not that weirded out by it because I like octopus meat.
    Felties... Yes, those you can cuddle with. Just be gentle with Sunny, she might still be traumatized from her ordeal.
    Feel free to use whatever inspires you to post more story.

    BTW: When's a good time to chat? Got some doubts floating through the ether of my nagging noggin that could use some consultation.
    Thanks, look forward to what's next.
    newsmanfan likes this.
  14. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Clifford: Watcha doin', Ru?
    Ru: Catching up on Newsie's latest story.
    Clifford: Yeah, um, reading. I've been meaning to do more of, um, that. Maybe you could just tell me about it....
    Ru: It's got muppets and monsters and chaos and technical malfunctions. There are rats, bats, glamorous chickens, indegestible edibles, pyrotechnics and a visit from the Grim Reaper. Also, manacles, jellyfish, true romance, limes, inter-species dating and a giant spider. And fur and feathers and slime and goo.
    Clifford: So...the typical, right?
    Ru: Well, the usual. Not so typical....here--start with chapter 1.
    Clifford: Aw, man. Can't I wait till the movie comes out?
    Ru: Read.
    Clifford: Got any popcorn?
    Ru: Here! Now READ!
    Clifford: Reading already....
  15. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Part Nine

    Saturday morning, Gina was up before her Newsman, peering at her laptop with a mug of coffee in hand, going over her painted mock-ups of the lighting design for “The Homecoming.” Although she loved having the opportunity to design both set and lights, it was a lot of brainwork; she’d do her best to keep it from being a lot of gruntwork, too. She’d submitted her scenic ideas a couple of weeks ago, and the director had readily approved it since it would largely use platforms and flats the theatre already had in stock; all that would need doing would be some wallpapering and set dressing, and the set itself could be easily assembled in a day or two at most, once the current productions of puppet slams alternating with concerts ended. Rubbing a hand across her tired eyes, she sat back and drank more coffee, trying to rouse herself fully.

    A bleary-eyed, sans-glasses, ruffled-hair Muppet shuffled into the kitchen and wavered on his feet, trying to orient on her. He looked so sleepily baffled that Gina laughed, and pulled him in for a kiss. “Hey there handsome! You, uh, forget something?”

    Newsie squinted at her, confused, not fully awake. “Uh…did I?”

    Gina stroked a finger down his nose from dark furry brows to sharp, pointed tip. “Could be. I see you remembered to put on your robe and slippers, though.”

    “It was chilly,” Newsie muttered, still puzzled. He leaned closer, unable to make out her features clearly. “You’re all blurry. What time is it?”

    Gina giggled, sat him in the other chair, and shortly had fresh pumpkin coffee steaming in his Halloween mug in front of him. Gratefully Newsie sipped it, relaxing. He noticed her doing something with her computer on the kitchen table. “Er…checking email so early?”

    “No, cutie. Today’s my production meeting, remember? I have to present the lighting design to Dr Rob! I’m just making sure all the renderings look clear enough. He’s a decent director but…um…not very visually-oriented, so I have to make sure my ideas are obvious.”

    “Ah,” Newsie said, nodding. “Tailor your work to your audience.”

    “You got it. Want breakfast?”

    “You’re busy,” he protested, staggering to his feet. “I’ll fix it. Uh…” He peered uncertainly at the dishwasher. “Did we move the granola?”

    “Aloysius…”

    “Yes?”

    “Put your glasses on.”

    She softened his embarrassment when he returned to the kitchen, able to see finally, by wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders and kissing his nose. He fixed one of her autumn specialties she’d taught him, ginger granola mixed with apple cobbler yogurt all warmed up, and brought her a large bowlful, settling into his own place with a smaller helping. She rewarded him with another kiss, finally coaxing a smile out of him. “You going to the happy home today?” she asked in between spoonfuls.

    Newsie nodded. “I should return Aunt Ethel’s scrapbook. I finished scanning all the articles.”

    “Looks nice out there. Why don’t you see if you can push her around the garden?”

    “That’s a good idea.” Newsie beamed at his girl. “I love you.”

    Gina paused in her perusing of the art on her screen to give him a deep kiss. “And I you, my devoted journalist. Would you rather meet up for lunch or dinner? I think I’m going to wear the skull outfit, if that influences your decision.” She grinned at his discomfited expression; his own tastes were so naturally old-fashioned that she’d learned to warn him if she planned to appear at all outré.

    “Er…the skulls? Is that…really appropriate for a meeting about a Thanksgiving show?”

    Gina laughed. “It’s Pinter. Twisted is entirely appropriate.” She gave him a wicked smile. “You haven’t read the script yet!”

    Newsie shifted around on his chair. “Er…uh…I assumed it had something to do with college athletics…”

    It took Gina several minutes to catch her breath after that; meanwhile her poor Muppet blinked at her in total incomprehension. “Do you know how much I adore you?” she asked finally, wiping the tears of hilarity from her eyes.

    “Uhm,” Newsie mumbled, still unsure what to make of her reaction.

    “Read the play. Trust me, it is not a warm happy fuzzy, and there will be no cheerleaders or jocks in it anywhere.” She kissed him once more, then stood. “I need to go get ready. Feel like helping me wash?”

    He certainly wasn’t going to object.

    Later, Gina returned to the bathroom to use its better lighting for aid in hooking her dangling silver skeleton earrings in properly, and found Newsie with a foamy toothbrush, diligently scrubbing. She smiled at him, but didn’t comment; he’d verbally ducked and sidestepped every time she’d prodded him about the fact he didn’t actually have teeth to brush…or stubble to shave, for that matter. She was just happy to see the fuzz back on his face finally: a month ago, fresh from a shower and without his glasses, he’d mistaken her bikini cream for sunscreen, and for a while afterward had been forced to live with extra-shiny-smooth felt across his nose and cheeks.

    Mouth rinsed and dabbed dry, he watched her fuss with her jewelry and hair, doing his best not to appear uncomfortable with her outfit today: a black crepe skirt above black hose with tiny skulls like polka-dots all over, low boots with silver buckles in various impractical places, a long black cardigan wrapped over a satin chemise, a scarf matching the hose tying up her startlingly red hair, the earrings, and a more colorful, enameled Day of the Dead skull pendant dangling grinning from her neck. “Um…given any thought as to what you’ll wear to Fozzie’s Halloween party?” Newsie asked hesitantly; if it was only the fifteenth and she was draped in this stuff, what might she do for the actual holiday?

    “I was thinking I could be a medieval falconer, and you could go as my hawk,” Gina teased, saw him grimace, and laughed. “Kidding! I don’t know yet. What about you?”

    “Er…me? In costume?”

    “Did I mishear? I thought you said it was a costume party.”

    “Oh. Uh…yes.” Outside of the very, very occasionally nontraditional garb he’d donned for the Muppet Show (the “Robin Hood” show immediately, and uncomfortably, sprang to mind), Newsie didn’t do costumes. Gina stroked his cheek fondly.

    “What about when you were a kid? Didn’t you go trick-or-treating?”

    He couldn’t meet her gaze. “Er…no. Mother wouldn’t allow it. She thought it was immoral to beg for candy. I, uh…I did go with her to a costume party once at the DAR…”

    “Oooh, bet that was thrilling,” Gina quipped. “What did you go as?”

    Now why had he even mentioned that? A mental image of himself in that scratchy, wooly lamb get-up, while his mother paraded around as Little Bo-Peep, made him turn bright crimson. “Uh. Um. I –I don’t recall. It was a long time ago. Do we have to be in full costume? Couldn’t we just put on masks?”

    “You’d have a hard time seeing without your glasses…and I don’t know of too many commedia del’arte masks that include spectacles,” Gina pointed out, biting her lip to keep from smiling. “Look, why don’t we go shopping together Monday night, as soon as your news gig is over? We can see what’s available and pick something out, okay?”

    “Okay,” he agreed at once, relieved. He pulled her down for a kiss. “Good luck at your production meeting!”

    “And you have a good time with your aunt,” she replied, hugging him tight. “Mmm. So…lunch or dinner?”

    He drew back, studying her clothing. “Uh…what if we met for dinner at that tavern you like?”

    “Scarth’s Chemistry Pub? Sure! I thought it was too noisy for you there.”

    “Well, that may have been due to the grad students last time. I’m willing to give it another shot.” He’d liked the food at the casual tavern, but a raucous group of students doing something with acid titrations and beer bongs over in a corner had been a little too much chaos for him to put up with during dinner. He smiled at Gina, and she gave him a deeper kiss.

    “Bravo, you! Seven o’clock, after your news? Will you try the ‘KOH Sammich’ this time? It’d go good with their pumpkin ale, and that’s in season now.”

    “I’ll try,” he promised. When she left the apartment without her cylindrical case of drafted drawings, he hurried after to hand it to her before the elevator closed. The smile, blown kiss, and playful wave she gave him promised him an excellent reward later for his thoughtfulness, and it was with a cheerful heart that Newsie buttoned his coat and headed out himself a few minutes later.

    The weather proved brisk and clear enough for him to walk a few blocks to the Times Square station. He stayed on the edge of the crowd of demonstrators, not wanting to be jostled; all too often, people failed to notice him, short as he was, and he didn’t want anything to get spilled on his new autumn overcoat. He felt in too good a mood…a state which still seemed alien enough to him to want to savor thoroughly. He purchased a paper cup of hot cider from a vendor obviously supporting the occupiers, and waved off his change, pointing instead to the donation box, but felt a little too embarrassed to return the young man’s “Dude, right on!” or fistbump. Walking slowly along the sidewalk, he read some of the cardboard signs lined up for blocks, his thoughts turning to the accusations that girl with MADL had thrown at him. Of course I’m for equal rights…for everyone, Muppet or not! I’m just not a commentator. I’m a journalist. The two should never mix. He wondered if Muppets really were being discriminated against, as the activists claimed. Well, there was something involving the ACLU when the station hired me back…maybe that’s worth a look. He wanted first, however, to get to the bottom of these alleged underground disappearances and vague claims of monsters. THAT is a pressing concern, if it’s true! The public needs to be warned, if horrible hungry Things are moving in right under our feet! Uneasily he glanced into a black storm drain as he passed it, and unconsciously edged away with each step. He still hadn’t been able to locate the two ConEd workers who’d filed a police report claiming to have seen something down there…they hadn’t shown up for work in days. Maybe…maybe he could ask to see where they were working? Would the city, or ConEd, or whomever had the right to those particular tunnels grant him permission to go look for himself? He shivered, and drank more of the cinnamon-warm cider. That might be the only way to find out…

    He doubted Rhonda would come with him. Whom else could he recruit? He really, really didn’t like the idea of going down there…alone…

    The train to Queens wasn’t too crowded, the morning commute already passed, and he trotted up the long drive to the asylum with legs that felt sprightly. Gina had him eating healthy and going on walks with her often, and though he hadn’t quite dared to try her Wii Fit routine alongside her yet (convinced he would appear foolish if he attempted some of those yoga poses), he could tell he was in better shape than ever. Healthy foam, healthy mind, he told himself, pleased with the entire day already. He stopped at the main desk, waiting for the receptionist to return so he could sign in and see Aunt Ethel, his gaze turning to the beautiful garden in red and yellow flowers right outside, buoyed by the notion of taking his aunt for a leisurely stroll there. Even in a wheelchair, she would surely enjoy the colors and the wonderful scent of the autumn air. He beamed at the uniformed lady who finally came to see what he wanted at the desk. “Hi! Aloysius Crimp, to see Ethel Muppman, please.”

    The receptionist checked through her record log, and looked up with a sympathetic frown. “I’m sorry, sir. Mrs Muppman isn’t here.”

    “She—what?”

    “Are you family?”

    “Yes, I’m her nephew! Why isn’t she here?” His aunt, he knew, had been deemed too dangerous to herself to be allowed on the monthly field trips some other patients enjoyed. It saddened him, but he understood the reasoning. “She left the home?”

    “Er…yes. She’s at Blucher Memorial, just up the road. She fell, and sustained some injuries…”

    Angrily, Newsie sputtered, “What? When? Why wasn’t I informed? How badly was she injured?”

    The somber woman checked her notes again. “Two days ago. Um…it does say we called you then, and I see here a note that you asked at that time to be informed by the hospital if anything changed…”

    “Nobody called me,” Newsie exclaimed, incredulous. “Nobody spoke to me! This is the first I’ve heard about it!”

    “We had instructions to notify her nephew Aloysius if anything like this happened,” the woman said sharply. “We did so. Can I see some ID, sir?”

    Furious, confused, the Newsman set aside the scrapbook long enough to dig every form of ID he had out of his wallet; most of them, unfortunately, simply had “The Newsman” printed for his name, since he’d changed it decades ago from what his mother had named him at birth. At last he showed her his Muppet Security card, and she seemed convinced. “Well, I’m sorry, Mr Crimp, but it does show that we did contact you when she went into the hospital! Could someone else at your residence have—“

    “No,” he growled. Gina would never have failed to inform him of something so important! “How badly is she hurt?”

    “Well, she may have hit her head; we’re not sure. She’s been mostly unresponsive, the hospital said. The doctors—“

    Newsie didn’t wait. Upset and angry, he strode out of the building, breaking into a jog as he headed directly up the road in the direction the receptionist had indicated. His aunt was supposed to have an attendant of some kind with her around the clock! Had the asylum’s negligence led to her falling? He burst into the lobby of the sedate hospital, still clutching the scrapbook. “Ethel Muppman! What room?”

    “Are you family?” the nurse behind the desk asked, scowling.

    A few outraged, worried minutes later, he finally stood beside his aunt’s bed, clasping her worn gray fingers between his own, staring down at her in concern. “Aunt Ethel? Auntie, it’s me, Aloysius!”

    Her eyes were slightly open, but they tracked right past him, unfocused. Newsie glared up at the doctor. “How much morphine is she on?” he demanded. “How bad are her injuries?”

    The doctor shook his head gently. “A very low dose. She’s been like this since we revived her. Sometimes this happens…very frequently, a fall is the beginning of a downward slide, at this age.”

    “Revived her?” Newsie was aghast.

    “She was experiencing arrhythmia when they brought her in, and her heart did stop briefly while we were trying to stabilize her. She had to be shocked back into a normal rhythm. We’ve done a CAT scan, but what with her already advanced dementia, it’s a little hard to tell how much damage the fall actually did to her brain.”

    Newsie sank into a chair next to the railed bed. “She might go on for months yet,” the doctor told him. “We’ve immobilized her shoulder and her left wrist, but the breakage seems minor. Unfortunately there’s no way to predict whether she’ll regain much awareness.”

    The Newsman blinked back imminent tears. So, for all purposes, Ethel may simply already be…gone. Here, but gone. Trying to master his voice, he asked roughly, “How did this happen? She was supposed to have someone with her!”

    The doctor shook his head again. “You’ll have to talk to the people at the care facility about that. All I know is that she was found on the floor of her room, and since then she hasn’t moved or spoken. We’ve had to force-feed her.”

    Newsie choked. How could this have happened? He stroked Ethel’s hand, hoping somewhere in there she might be conscious enough, here enough to register it. “Could I…could I just have a minute?” he asked. The doctor nodded, and quietly shut the door behind him as he left. Newsie gazed at his aunt a long while in silence. She didn’t seem to know anyone was there, not reacting even when he squeezed her hand or spoke her name. He’d known she would eventually slow down, a clock too old to be wound again…but his memories of a youthful, energetic, laughing woman, the one who tousled his hair instead of slapping the top of his head, who snuck him bits of fruit and cheese when his mother had sent him to bed supperless even at Ethel and Joe’s vacation cabin, all bore no more resemblance to this frail, broken creature than to any stranger on the street. Less, probably.

    A soft sound interrupted his despairing thoughts. He listened, feeling uneasily as though he wasn’t alone in the room. A glance at the tiny, high window revealed no birds or tree branches which might’ve knocked against it, but he could’ve sworn he heard a small thud. Then a scraping noise came from under the bed.

    Newsie stood on the chair so quickly he felt dizzy. More unnerving sounds, scratches and thumps and a low muttering, made his heart stutter. He gulped, and did his best not to allow any fear into his voice: “Wh-who’s there? This is supposed to be a private room!”

    “Mm. Pri-vate. Mm. Yip yip.”

    What! Outraged, Newsie jumped to the floor, yanking up the plain dustruffle covering the storage shelf below the bed. Clumped on the shelf like used mops, a pink thing and a blue thing stared at him, eyes huge, mouths trembling. “Awwww! Yip! Yip! Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip awwww!”

    “Get out of here!” Newsie yelled. The monsters shifted and squirmed, not retreating, eyeballing him. Furious, he cast about for something to poke them with. In a narrow standing wardrobe, a couple of wire hangers dangled empty; grabbing one, he twisted it into a poker of sorts and jabbed it under the bed. “Get out! Leave her alone!”

    “Mn. Bad. Bad news. Yip,” the pink one muttered, slithering out of Newsie’s reach.

    “Yip yip. Bad. Eth-el bad. Mm, yip yip yip yip.”

    Suddenly a new scenario sprang into the Newsman’s mind: Ethel alone with these things. What if she’d reached for something, been just a little off-balance, and… He knew firsthand how strong those strange raggy bodies actually were. “Did you hurt her?” he shouted at them. “Did you make her fall?”

    “News bad,” the pink one insisted, dodging his next attempt to thwack it, scooting across the floor and suddenly rising a few inches above it. “Bad! Mad! Yip yip yip yip!”

    “Eth-el bad,” the blue one chimed in, shuffling closer to the oblivious occupant of the bed. With a strangled cry, Newsie leaped at it, swinging the wire, but it ducked and zipped out of the way.

    “Bad, sad,” the pink one said. Both of the monsters were very agitated now, zipping all over the room with bizarre contortions. They went into a maddening chorus of yipping.

    “Get out!” Newsie yelled, driving them away from the bed with wild swings. “Get away from her! Get out!”

    A voice from the doorway made him jump. “What in the name of sainted Frau Blucher is going on in here? What’s all the yelling?”

    He spun around, wire upraised, to see a nurse glaring at him. She put her strong-looking hands on wide hips and loomed over him as she advanced. “You’re scaring the other patients! Heck, you’d be scaring this poor lady too, if she knew what was going on around her!”

    “Those monsters--!” Newsie cried, pointing a shaking hand at the offenders. “I think they’re the ones who hurt my aunt!”

    The nurse gave him an odd look. “What monsters?”

    “Those ones, obviously, right th—“ Newsie suddenly saw the room was empty save for his quiet, unreacting aunt. He looked under the bed, in the wardrobe, in the small powder room. Nothing. “They were here…” he insisted, but the stern expression the nurse wore said she clearly didn’t buy it.

    “You need to leave now, sir. We don’t permit that kind of crazy yelling here.”

    “Do you permit monsters in the patients’ rooms? I…I demand that anti-monster measures be immediately enacted around this room!” Newsie said, retreating a step when the nurse came closer.

    “What we do not permit,” she threatened, “is anyone disturbing these poor people’s peace! Now are you gonna leave, or do I need to call Bellevue?”

    “Bell…” He realized, with a sickening despair, what she meant. “I’m not crazy! There were monsters here, threatening my aunt!”

    “You need to go. Now. Before I call ‘em anyway.”

    Upset, the Newsman took Ethel’s scrapbook and reluctantly left the room, the hall, and the hospital. I should call someone…set up protection for her…maybe Detective Pendziwater? His police contact, though, had often sounded skeptical about things such as monsters or decent recipes being made from Spam. Newsie wasn’t certain the cop would help him. What about someone at the theatre? Even those stupid penguins might be able to act as watchdogs. Maybe. He had no idea whom to call, who would be willing to stand guard here…assuming anyone even could, with those strict and disbelieving nurses prowling the halls. They called her ‘bad.’ Why? What could those crazy rag-things have against her? He hadn’t cared much for them when he’d first encountered them at the asylum, hanging around his aunt…but they’d seemed harmless enough. Weird, but harmless. Never trust a monster, he thought grimly. Never! They never lose the feral nature!

    At the edge of the gutter in the street in front of the hospital, the Martians paused to confer in low voices. “Eth-el bad sad. Hurt sad. Yip.”

    The blue one shook itself in all-over unhappiness. “Hurt sad, yip yip.” It drew itself up taller, indignant. “News bad! Bad make us go! No go! Nope nope nopenopenope!”

    “Nopenopenope!” the pink one agreed, shoving its face against its companion’s for better echo effect. It peered over to view the Newsman slowly walking away, lost in unpleasant thoughts, and shook itself jerkily. “News bad! Re-port! Yip yip yip yip!”

    “Mn. Re-port. Yip yip,” the other agreed.

    A flash of pink motion caught Newsie’s peripheral vision, never terribly reliable; as jumpy as he felt right now, he swung around immediately to investigate. The monsters! They saw him staring at them, looked at one another, and began emitting some sort of strange humming noise. Before he could react, the two monsters simply…melted. Their shapeless bodies seemed to waver and dissolve, and they swept right down the storm drain next to the curb…into the wastewater channels…into the sewers.

    Chilled, Newsie stared at that a long moment, not daring to run over and inspect it too closely. The sewers! Monsters! Oh my frog it’s TRUE!

    But…but why Ethel? Why turn on her? Had she…had she found out something dire about her little pets? Some shady aspect they hadn’t wanted to reveal? He couldn’t imagine a good reason they’d harm his harmless old aunt, unless it was to silence her! Frightened, Newsie backed well away from the drains. Good grief, he’d never noticed before just how many points of access there were to the sewers! Did these here in Queens connect with the ones in Manhattan? Did they flow into the East River, or was there some sort of central treatment plant to filter it all? Why had the monsters followed Ethel to the hospital – if not to finish the job!

    Shaking, he searched his pockets, inexpressibly relieved when he found his cell phone. Gina must have put it in my coat! Oh Gina, I love you! Gratefully, he punched in his police contact’s number, but reached only the man’s voicemail. Impatiently he waited for the beep. “Detective! It’s the Newsman. I need to request police protection for…for my aunt! I have strong reason to believe she’s in danger! She’s at Blucher Memorial Hospital, room 67. Please, please send someone to keep watch for her as soon as possible! I think she was attacked by…by…hostile persons. Um. Look, I’ll explain it all to you when I see you, but please, I need this. My aunt needs this!”

    He stood a long while, uncertain, torn between wanting to go back in and wait until the cops showed up, and hostile nurses be dratted; or hurrying to the library or the city archives – wherever he could find plans for the dizzying network of tunnels undermining the city. If he had to go down there, he was not going in ignorant!

    The urge to research was too strong to resist. When he saw a police car pull up to the hospital shortly, he offered silent thanks to his friend on the force, and hastened off to the nearest subway station…and then reconsidered. What if those things could infiltrate the train system? On second thought… Newsie opened his phone and called a cab.

    In the hospital lobby, the tired officer strolled up to the admissions desk. “Hey, we gotta call from one’a your nurses about some crazy harassing patients,” he told the nurse on duty.

    “Oh…yes. Some guy was in here yelling about monsters a little while ago, but I think he left.”

    “Ah…you want me to just take a look around outside, make sure he’s gone?”

    “Sure. Thanks.”

    “Don’t mention it.” The cop shook his head, pulling out his nightstick and tapping it lightly against his hand as he headed outside. “Monsters!” he chuckled.

    “Ever since they built up that d—d contemporary art place, all the crazies migrate over through the tunnel,” his partner snorted.

    “Tell me about it! Well, come on. Let’s walk around the building once. Don’t want the patients gettin’ all upset by some maniac runnin’ in here yellin’ crazy stuff…”

    The second cop shivered, looking up at the square corners and soulless architecture of the midcentury pile. “Man, hospitals give me the creeps… People die in ‘em, ya know?”

    Staring out at the river as his cab crossed the Queensboro Bridge (not the most direct route back, but above ground), the Newsman imagined dark things moving in the water, swimming between the boroughs, bent on malevolent errands. All under the surface, under everyone’s feet, popping in and out of drains – who knew how wide the threat might be? He fought down the urge to go straight on camera and cry havoc against this insidious threat. The city hadn’t been the same since the Twin Towers. No point in starting a panic, or encouraging species profiling…after all, many of the Muppets might be mistaken for monsters. Well…some of them were monsters. He felt cold. Could any of their cast or crew be cohorts of the horrible things menacing his aunt? Uncle Deadly? Sweetums? Robin played with that enormous troll, for frog’s sake! No, no…Sweetums couldn’t possibly be connected with this! But…but we do have monsters…what if they know something about it? What if some evil monsterist cell approached them, tried to recruit them? He would have to ask. Newsie nodded to himself, frightened, watching the water below for any sign of…of…well, he wasn’t sure what.

    One thing he was absolutely certain of: his city had just become a great deal more scary.
    ---------------------------
  16. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    Part Ten

    “Tonight! The most amazingly dangerous competition under the face of the earth begins! With death-defying acts gathered from around the globe for your heart-stopping enjoyment! So grab your pacemaker, have a friend standing by with epinephrine, because here we are with the very first night of live incredibly microcephalic stunts on…Break a Leg!”

    Snookie beamed widely as the lights burst into brilliance upon the stage, simulated fireworks filling the big screen behind him. “Aaaaaand here are our monstrously popular judges! From the Bronx, New York: Beautiful Day Cooper!”

    The shot cut to B.D., nodding and scowling at the long table draped in edible bunting.

    “From San Francisco, foggy California: Behemoth Sterling!”

    Hem laughed and waved enthusiastically for the camera.

    “And also joining us until he gets mistaken for a tasty appetizer yet again, from Peoria, Illinois, Shakey Sanchez-Campbell! And of course me, your cheerful host, Snookie Blyer!”

    The audience full of monsters hooted and clapped. Snookie’s smile didn’t alter, knowing at least one camera was trained on him. Shakey, atop the judges’ table, shivered and eyed first Hem, then B.D., trying to figure out which of them was more likely to grab him. For the moment, both of them seemed intent on playing their roles in time-honored talent show tradition: B.D sat back in a white t-shirt with his furry arms crossed, looking smug, and Hem was being overly jolly for the camera and blowing kisses at the audience. “Let’s meet tonight’s contestants! Each of them has been selected by our judges from hordes of eager but none-too-wise applicants for their originality, their wide array of talents, and of course, their willingness to die for their art!” The all-monster crowd roared its approval, and Snookie wondered how on earth that would play to the couch potatoes tuned in to MMN because they couldn’t reach their remotes. Or were in comas, or stuck at the DMV or airport lounges.

    “Ever think about rollerskating naked through the crosswalk in Times Square? Hey, who hasn’t?” Snookie chuckled. “Our first contestant did exactly that, and drew a raving crowd! Of course, since he had a belt of sausages slung around his waist, his adoring fans were all ravenous dogs! Please welcome – Artemis Kookulboofer, from Down Under!” The audience applauded as an orange kangaroo bounced out onstage, producing a variety of sharp objects from his pouch and proceeding to juggle them. When one of the female audience members whistled at him, he paused to wave at her, and a cleaver narrowly missed his ear as it dropped. “Oo-kay! Save the blood for your act, Artemis! Ha ha ha.”

    Sweet Merv Griffin, I wish I was back in my cell, Snookie thought wearily. He hated late tapings. Although this was being billed as “live,” it actually had a delay time of a few minutes; he imagined the producers wanted to allow for cleanup time if anyone expired messily onstage. Snookie had already presided over five shows today, including a pilot for “Monsters Tonight,” which he was only serving as sidekick for (Carl had demanded the host slot as compensation for having to put off the “Sewer’s Kitchen” cooking contest), and he was exhausted, hungry, and disgusted with the whole premise for this show. His smile was frozen…not that anyone would notice. Or care. Earlier, he’d glimpsed the time on the director’s watch. Pew had been wearing it upside-down. Snookie estimated he’d been working around ten hours even before this thing started taping at six o’clock…assuming, of course, the director had the correct time. Snookie kept grinning like a fool, and introduced the next idio—er, contestant. “Wonderful! Up after Artemis will be the former star of the ‘Muppet Show,’ the Great Gonzo!”

    Gonzo gunned his motorbike up a ramp, riding upside-down on the handlebars while controlling the pedals with rods clamped in his mouth. He spun it out center stage, and with a flourish of his satin cape, flipped himself upright – with the bike balanced on his nose. Briefly. The monster crowd laughed and clapped loudly.

    “Frooooomm the D.C. Beltway, Sylvester Stoatlone, master of wild beasts!” Snookie reminded himself to keep his mike well away from this shady, slinky character; the weasel looked like the type to walk off with it and try to resell it to him at a 150% markup. Bowing and grinning with sharp little teeth, Stoatlone cracked a whip, and four enormous dogs rushed onto the stage, baying and snapping; the animal tamer leaped onto the back of one, ducked as the others tried to tackle him, and emerged from the ensuing dustup standing triumphantly atop a pile of confused canines all tangled together with the whip and tied in a pretty bow.

    “Last but not least in this round, from Finland, Mungus Mumfrey, the world’s only stunt-performing fungus!” Snookie blinked at his cue card. Yep. It said fungus. He edged away from the stage as…something…wobbled and wiggled and shuffled out of the wing. One appendage surged up from the mass, wielding a small blowtorch; it shot fire at itself, and more tentacle-esque, frothing “arms” swung up and smothered it out. Repeatedly. The fungus pumped the blowtorch in the air in an unmistakable victory gesture. “Ooookay,” Snookie gulped, slicking back his hair nervously. “Well! There are your competitors for the night – and you’re welcome to ‘em, ha ha ha! Who has the gazongas to go all the way? Who will explode in a fiery ball of failure? Stick around and find out on…Break a Leg!”

    Gonzo took his place at the back of the stage in some kind of chainlink-fenced holding area with the other performers. As the kangaroo began setting up his act and the cameras cut for a commercial, Gonzo stood on tiptoe, peering around the support beams for the lighting trusses. “Uh, hey!” he called to the director standing just off stage right. “Could I have a seat in the audience? I can’t see anything from here!”

    “Zis iss for your protection, le wit du nit! Zhust stay back here! Aftair all, we would not weesh you to…ah…be lost!” Pew explained, waving his cane vaguely at some of the camerafrackles, who all promptly ducked just in case.

    Gonzo raised one eyelid, puzzled. “How would I lose my way back to the stage from the audience?”

    “Ah deed not say you would lose your way! Ah said you would be lost! Some of zee audience, zey haff not been fed yet!”

    “Oh,” Gonzo said, eyes widening as he stared across into the risers of goggly-eyed, thick-furred, scaled, horned, and otherwise unfriendly looking creatures. “Uh…why don’t you provide free popcorn? Maybe then they could focus on the show better.”

    “Do you seenk ah am made of money?” Pew snorted. “Besides! You can always watch zee show on zee big screen!” He gestured behind him and upwards. Gonzo stared at the rusting steel girders holding up the roof a moment before he noticed the projection screen hanging above and behind the stage floor…which was angled away from the holding area he stood in.

    “Uh…big screen. Check.” With a sigh, he leaned on the fence, waiting for his turn to go on, listening to the yells and howls of the audience as the kangaroo sent daggers and mountain-climbing spikes higher and higher into the air over his head. Boy, I wonder if he does chain-saws too? I don’t want to look repetitive…

    ----------------------------
    Backstage at the Muppet Theatre, Camilla clucked angrily at anyone trying to change the channel of the grainy-screened television. She could see, barely, the ghost of a logo at the bottom right corner, MMN, and knew she had the correct station; she just wasn’t sure what time the show would air, and pecking through the yellowed guide someone had left back here proved to be no help at all. Cindi Cornish grumbled something to Mitzi Clucker behind Camilla; whirling, the impatient hen gave her a piece of her mind. “Buh-kawk bu-bawk bawk buhhhh-kawk!” Cheekfeathers reddening, Cindi made herself scarce.

    “Sheesh, what’s wit’ da boids tonight?” Rizzo wondered, munching on a stale apple fritter he’d looted from the dumpster of the bakery up the street.

    Pepe shrugged. “Who knows, amigo? Perhaps they are having…ah…egg troubles?”

    “Buk!” Mitzi sniffed, tossing her floppy red wattles as she trotted past the somewhat-less-than-chicken-sized pair.

    “Yeah, same ta you, toots!” Rizzo snorted.

    “Are jou going to give me a bite of that or what already?”

    “Yeah, sure. Plenty more stashed in my locker,” Rizzo shrugged, stifling a belch.

    “Gracias,” Pepe murmured, then started. “Jou has a locker?”

    “Keep it down! None’a da other rats know about it yet, and I don’t want ‘em stealing my snacks!”

    “Oy,” Pepe said, but ate his share of the fritter as the two of them found a haven on an unoccupied loveseat with broken springs. “So, aren’t jou going to ask me about my stupendously unbelievable act tonight already?”

    Rizzo eyed the prawn suspiciously. “You have an act?”

    “Sí sí, I am in the show tonight. Kermins was so happy to have me fill in, he says to me, ‘Pepe, my very dear friend,’ he says –“

    “Oh, yeah, right!” Rizzo scoffed. “Fill in? For what? Did Lew Zealand’s fish all come down sick or somethin’?”

    “Jou are not as funny as jou think jou are. No!” Pepe tossed his antennae back proudly. “I am going to sing a song with the band okay? Unacancion de amor!”

    “Cancer da armor? Huh?”

    “No, no! Cancion de amor! A love song already okay!”

    “Who was you plannin’ on singin’ dis love song for, pray tell?”

    “For all the beautiful womens of the world, okay?” Pepe smoothed down his white dinner jacket and black tie.

    “Oh, bruddah. I wondered why you looked like da entrée on a cruise ship tonight!”

    “What? What are jou saying to me?”

    “Hey, you two,” Clifford rumbled, silencing both of them, “keep it down. You wanna talk love? Because that, my little serial bachelors, that right there is the real deal.”

    The three of them looked to the table in front of the television; Camilla huddled upon it close to the set, making barely audible clucks as Gonzo’s moving image filled the screen. Rizzo blinked and pointed.

    “Hey! Dere’s Gonzo! What da heck!”

    They watched in silence, astounded to see their daredevil friend on the gaudily lit set of some other show, the sequins on his bodysuit sparkling as he raised his hands to the audience. “Tonight, I will attempt a stunt which has never been successfully completed before without dire maiming! A stunt so incredible it has repeatedly been listed in the Guinness Book of Records as ‘Most Wildly Improbable Use of Seaweed Ever’ multiple times! A stunt, in short, called…the Triple Lindy Sushi Roll!”

    “Bawwwwwwk!” Camilla groaned, nearly fainting.

    “I take this specimen of Pacific Ocean Giant Kelp,” Gonzo continued, producing a seemingly endless rope of slimy dark green plant material, “and wrap myself tightly in it…ungh…ergh…excuse me, uh, Snookie? Can you tie this off for me? That’s it…make it good and tight…right!” Gonzo beamed at the camera, trussed like an armless mummy in the kelp. “And now I will hop to the top of this thirty-foot high dive…maestro, if you will?”

    While Gonzo struggled to pull himself by his chin or his nose up each rung of the very tall, wobbling ladder, a band struck up “Auld Lang Syne.” Rizzo, Pepe and Clifford stared in shocked silence as the yellow-felted host smoothed back his dark hair and smiled at the camera. “Well! This has to be an obscure cable channel broadcast first! The original Triple Lindy, as I’m sure you all recall if you haven’t been stuck under concrete bunkers for the last thirty years, was first successfully performed by the stunt diver the Amazing Melloni, but no one has ever attempted to do the nail-bitingly difficult dive while encumbered by seaweed!” The view cut to the judges’ table. A blue-furred, flat-headed monster scowled up at Gonzo, tapping his fingers on the shoulder of his plain white t-shirt.

    “Is that the snooty British pende—“

    “No,” Rizzo butted in quickly. “He’s got a fatter head. I dunno who dis guy is. Shut up an’ let Gonzo do his trick.”

    A tan-furred creature who resembled a push-up pop with eyebrows stared overhead at the high-dive, where Gonzo had somehow managed to drag himself to the edge of the diving board. “Geez, I hope he doesn’t wipe out early,” the monster muttered. “The boss really wanted him to—“

    “Heh heh, and it looks like the Great Gonzo is in place to attempt this ridiculously pointless maneuver! Let’s watch,” Snookie said. A hush fell over the audience, and a low, ominous drumroll rumbled across the stage.

    Camilla shook her head, her heart sinking. Oh, no! Not the Sushi Roll! What on earth was her crazy blue whatever thinking? She fanned her face with a wing, feeling ill.

    “Aaaand…one! Two!” Gonzo bounced upon the diving board, looking completely unbalanced. “Threeeeeee!”

    The Muppets stared wide-eyed at the screen, collective breaths held. Gonzo sprang into the air, and for a long, stomach-wrenching moment, the camera pulled back to show just how many seconds of freefall he hurtled down…and down…and landed, incredibly, on a second diving board several feet down and to the left of the first one. The audience cheered. Gonzo, grinning madly, bounced off that diving board as well, doing a somersault in midair as he traveled over and down again… down… down… smacked headfirst onto the third diving board! The audience was on its feet, roaring, pounding seat-backs in time with the kettledrummer still sending a roll through the cavernous room. “Buh-kawww!” Camilla gasped, feeling as though a large kernel was stuck in her craw; she could barely breathe.

    “OhmyfrogIcan’tbelievehedidthat,” Rizzo gulped.

    “Holy hot tamoles!” Clifford cried; they kept watching, astounded, when Gonzo did yet another somersault, bouncing off the last board, plunging nose-first into a tiny, open barrel of water. The splash covered much of the stage floor.

    “Eek! I can’t look! Is he d-dead?” Shakey Sanchez-Campbell stammered.

    “Tah-dahhhh!” Gonzo yelled, popping up in the mouth of a gigantic yellowfin tuna. The fish waved its fins, splashing the show’s host, who appeared briefly annoyed before reverting to his wide smile. The audience cheered and stomped. The chorus of relieved exhalations in the theatre green room could be heard across the room in the canteen; the Chef poked his head out from the grill, curious, and missed the caramelizing point of his candied gnats. The smoke attracted everyone’s attention.

    “Boorn de bork a Kermeefroggen!” the Chef huffed, irritated.

    “Well if it’s dat distractin’, try not lookin’ at it!” Rizzo snapped in reply, and the disgruntled cook glumly scraped the ruined treat out of his saucepan, shaking his head.

    “Man, I can not believe he pulled that off,” Clifford laughed, readjusting his shades.

    “Unbelievable!” Pepe agreed, forgetting he wasn’t supposed to be impressed by anything not tall, sultry, and of the opposite gender. “That dive is the most outrageous thing I have ever seen on the bra box!”

    “Da what?” Rizzo asked.

    Clifford chuckled. “I think he means the boob-tube.”

    “Whatevers. It was amazing, okay?” Pepe’s gaze narrowed thoughtfully at the screen, where a bowing Gonzo was beaming at the audience’s very vocal approval. “Hey, now that he is a big star and everything, do jou think he needs an agent? I think he must get an agent.”

    “Hey! I knew him way before you showed up!” Rizzo said, whiskers bristling.

    Camilla slumped into a pile of feathers, panting. He did it! He actually did it! Why had Gonzo even gone for something that risky? Why was he undertaking this whole mad venture? She shook her head, feeling dazed. She ought to call him, tell him she thought this new show was a mistake, tell him…what? Dismayed, she realized if she asked him to come back, he’d get the wrong message. Of course. He never did really understand what I needed…that I just wanted him at home, protecting the nest…that he didn’t need to impress me anymore…that I already… The chicken swallowed dryly.

    Everyone looked at her curiously when she hopped down from the table and ran from the room, scattering feathers as she crashed into Binkie Bantam, Black Bart’s wife. Much clucking and screeching and battering of wings followed, but eventually Camilla broke free and ran for her dressing-room upstairs…the one she used to share with Gonzo, her dear Gonzo, who simply couldn’t understand.

    “Okay, true love or not, jou cannot tell me that is not a bad case of monthly eggs already,” Pepe grumbled.

    ----------------------------
    Gonzo wriggled free of the seaweed; the tuna gulped it down happily. He climbed out of the near-empty barrel. Snookie took a hasty step back when Gonzo flung his sopping arms wide and took another bow. “Wow! Amazing! Let’s see what the judges think!” Snookie offered, turning to the monsters.

    All three monsters stuck their thumbs in the air. “And the Great Gonzo earns three claws-up from our panel, beating out Artemis Kookulboofer with only two! Nice work Gonzo! How do you rate your own performance?”

    “You know, Snookie, I was a little worried at the second somersault, because I realized I had miscalculated the windspeed-to-kelp ratio, but I was able to—“

    “That’s just fantastic!” Snookie broke in, grinning. “Up after this break, our next contestant – and some very wild beasts! Stay with us!” He stalked offstage immediately when the camera light went to standby. “Wardrobe! Can I get a jacket not drenched in salt water? I can feel this thing shrinking as we speak!”

    “That was a dirty trick,” someone hissed at Gonzo; surprised, he turned around to find Stoatlone the weasel glowering at him from under his battered fedora. Behind them both, stagemonsters grudgingly mopped up the slippery floor. “Didn’t ya hear, bub? Animal-taming is my gig!”

    Gonzo looked from him to the tuna. “What, you mean the fish? Oh, believe me, it’s not tame! But hey, I wasn’t trying to steal your act. Break a leg, okay?”

    “Funny,” the weasel sneered. “Real funny. Hey, get this overgrown minnow off the stage! I got real wild animals coming on here!”

    The tuna rolled a speculative eye at the weasel while he barked out instructions to the ferrets trying to restrain a rocking crateful of something. Suddenly the fish leaped from the barrel, engulfing the weasel down to his waist in its wide mouth. “Grrrggh!” Sylvester cried, flailing with his whip at the stubbornly swallowing tuna. “Geff iff hoff me! Gaaaahhh!”

    “Sheesh,” Gonzo muttered, leaving the stage, wringing out his cape as he went. “Some people are such poor sports…”

    -----------------------------
    With her dressing-hutch door locked, Camilla paced to and fro, wringing her wingtips. That idiot! That…that ridiculous, adrenaline-junkie, foamheaded man! How could he be doing this? Why would he think she would approve? Yes, she’d always supported his dreams, from plumbing to Bollywood, but…but…but! The Triple Lindy Sushi Roll! That was one of those “oh one day, oh if only” stunts! If this is the first night of the competition, and he did THAT? – what could be next? What could be worse? Oh! Shaking, the chicken flopped into her nest bunk, trembling all over.

    She checked over her shoulder to make sure she was indeed alone in the room; around here, one never knew – she’d been caught crooning over her recurring egg-hatching fantasy once by a very lively Muppet ottoman, and had to peck it into promising never to speak of what it had overheard. (In her dreams, the little hatchlings all had curving orange-purple beaks and made the cutest coos.) She scratched in the loose straw under the bunk until she found what she’d hidden there, and pulled it out. The framed photo of Gonzo smiled lopsidedly at her in that endearing way he had, usually when somehow making losing a limb sound romantic. Camilla sighed softly. Those days were over. She was no spring chicken anymore, and the innocent young fledgling who’d followed the whatever around so adoringly had grown up and learned that dating a daredevil meant enduring nervewracking performances month after month, year after year…until she could no longer bear having to peck at bits of valerian just to calm down every night. She’d reached the point where every time Gonzo had eagerly begun to explain to her why the cannon-pasta routine would work this time, she’d held up a frustrated wing and told him smartly to bawk to the feather.

    Why is he so set on this? Why can’t he just settle down? He could still do an act, just…just not one that might leave the chicks fatherless… She frowned. As if there would ever be chicks! Gonzo had changed the subject, visibly nervous, every time she’d cooed about eggs. She’d even left issues of The Nest laying around to encourage him to think about it, all to no avail…and so, though it broke her heart to do so, she’d finally had to tell him she needed some space to roost on her own. Sighing, she stroked the photograph with her feathertips. She didn’t know if he’d ever give up a life of danger…even just a little. Even for her.

    Depressing though that still was this many months later, Camilla realized, more than anything right now…she felt worried. Very worried.

    When Scooter rapped on her door, yelling “Camilla! Curtain in two!”, she dried her eyes, tucked the photo away safely again, and fluffed her feathers. Scooter went on down the row of dressing-rooms, banging on doors and giving the two-minute warning. Camilla touched up her mascara in the mirror, sighed, and hoped her eyes didn’t appear too puffy. The show had to go on, of course. She understood and accepted that perfectly…the difference was, for her, the show need not involve the probability of serious injury to be a success.

    She tugged down the spangled corset she wore tonight, applied some combspray to the wattle atop her head so it would stick straight up, and headed out to the stage, ignoring the stares of the other birds. When a penguin tried to give her some saucy beak, she backwinged it off the landing without even looking back.

    Miss Piggy noticed. My goodness, she thought, watching the chicken holding her head high as she fluttered down the stairs. Does someone need a good sit-down and a cup of tea? I think so. Nodding to herself, she made a mental note to arrange a chat with the chicken very soon…not that she objected to the penguin-slapdown. Biting back a smile as the wounded bird staggered to its flippers, clearly woozy, Piggy decided she liked Camilla’s style. She sashayed downstairs, carefully lifting her dress hem so nothing would snag. The dizzy penguin looked up at her as she passed it. “Gwawk?” it wondered.

    Piggy snorted. “Serves you right. One should never impugn the reputation of a lady.” Behind her, low snorks informed Piggy the penguin had not learned its lesson.

    She strode off a second later with her snout in the air, satisfied that the aquatic bird would take feminine graces more seriously in the future…assuming it ever emerged from the coma.

    ---------------------------------
    “Zat was vairy…messy,” Pew told Gonzo when the whatever rejoined the director backstage. “Next tahme please conzidair zee cleaning zupplies budget! Ah haff to steal zem all from zee infomercials next door, and when zey come ovair wanting to know why all zee Deoxy-clean is missing, ah weel tell zem it was all your fault!”

    “Okay, sorry,” Gonzo said, surprised. He noticed a small TV monitor in a corner, where a large-mouthed brown monster with huge rabbity ears glared at the ongoing show while it – she?—fussed with her tutu, before running out to turn cartwheels as the theme music swelled and subsided and Snookie introduced the next contestant. “Hey, cool! That Stoatlone guy is using Transylvanian Weregophers!”

    “Oh, zat is just great!” Pew grumped, swinging his cane; a passing short furry goblin squeaked, batted back down the stairs it had just climbed up with a full cup of coffee. Pew seemed oblivious to the pained shrieking from the stairwell. “Where are mah cleaners? Cleanaaaiiiirrrss!”

    A weak voice from the bottom of the stairs whimpered, “No…not the cleaners!”

    Discomfited, Gonzo looked back at the screen; Snookie had yielded the stage floor, and the weasel was cracking his whip, urging a dozen coarse-furred, heavy-jawed creatures through a series of hoops. “Uh…do the gophers typically make a mess?”

    “Deed zat eediot not haff a feesh on his head a moment ago?” Pew demanded.

    “Well, technically, I think it was more like over his head…and his arms…and his chest…”

    “Transylvanian Weregophers hate feesh! Zey attack whenevair zey smell it!” Pew complained, waving his cane around; Gonzo ducked, and the cane whacked a camera being moved into position for a side angle shot. The camera spun, in turn thwacking one of the lighting frackles tying down a long loop of electrical cable. Yelping, the frackle tripped backwards over the cable, his ankle snagging in a loose loop which immediately tightened with the weight of the huge light on the other end, yanked free of its clamp on the truss high above. The light fell with a crashing thud, the frackle’s head met the truss with a loud bonnnngg, and Pew shouted angrily, “Quiet! Quiet! Ah cannot hear myzelf theenk with all thees racket!”

    The audience roared and laughed over the disturbing noise of howling gophers and a protesting and then screaming Sylvester: “AhhhWOOOO! Snork snork ahhhWOOOO!”

    “Hey! Get off me! Hey! Back! Down! No! Sit! Staaaaayyy! Aaaaaaaaaaahhh!”

    Perturbed, Gonzo stared at the little TV. A figure in a tattered, hooded black shroud slowly advanced across the glistening floor of the stage, and then the camera cut to the judges’ table. Hem was thoughtfully chewing on a strip of red fur, and Shakey was nowhere to be seen; B.D. shook his head and gave a claws-down sign. “Uh…your stage manager seems to be coming up to take care of it…” Gonzo told the director.

    “Cleeeennaaaairs!” Pew bellowed.

    “We’ll be right back after this word from the good folks at Deoxy-clean!” Snookie proclaimed, smiling broadly for his closeup.
    ------------------------
  17. WhiteRabbit

    WhiteRabbit Well-Known Member

    EEP! O.O I feel bad I didn't read this sooner because it's a really fun and well-written fic. You nail all the character's voices and personalities (Pew as the director XDD He fails at life) and I like the original characters too. I tend to get annoyed by most O.C.s but yours fit in well and they didn't overshadow everyone else. Kudos, cherie. I'm psyched for the next part! :halo::halo::halo:
    The Count and newsmanfan like this.
  18. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Aw, it cut off for commercials before we got to say the line for the final contestant.
    UD: What line?

    Say it with me...
    Ed, Ud, and :batty: There's a fungus... Among us! Mumfrey!

    *Is worried for :cluck: and her ongoing dread at :concern:'s sheer lunacy.
    Is far too many lines to comment on okay.

    Rully like how Rizzo and Pepe are added conversationally. Hopefully the duo gets to Gonzo to become his agents before Morty and Phil are summoned up.

    :batty: Transylwanian veregophers?
    *Shakes head, he must've gotten them from those idiot Belmonts, always tracing into the castle, whip snapping at whatever creatures of the night pop up.

    BTW: Newsie's caught up in traffic right? Seems a shame he keeps missing the MMN broadcasts.

    Thank you sir or madam or whatever the case may be.
    *That dissembodied hand tosses baggy of Oreos over to Kris.
  19. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    ----------------------
    Oh thankyou! Uh...they ARE Halloween Oreos right? With the orange filling? Nom nom nom nom!

    Thanks for commenting WhiteRabbit! I do my best to keep everyone in character, even the obscure ones. Much of the Muppets' humor is based on the bizarre interactions between characters, so I feel their personalities should be the basis for anything even I as a fan write with them. Fun to do. :news:

    If anyone has suggestions...I need a few more (disposable) stunt performers :concern: to round out the show's parade of them, a' la Americans Idle, Dumbing Down with the Stars or any other unintelligibly popular show you can think of...I'm winging a lot of this, and all suggestions will be seriously considered!

    I will likely NOT be finished with this tale before Halloween...but eh. It's fun, right?

    Extra points for ANYONE who knows what movie the "Triple Lindy" is from -- no peeking at IMDB! ;)

    ------------------------------
  20. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Weeelll... Found one of my guys I could suggest. Alexander Nitrokoff, the guy seen standing on top of the powder keg in one of the Stretching Room portraits, who ends up doing the ol' Daffy Duck trick of swallowing all the contents necessary to blow himself up. It's the kind of trick you can only do once. :crazy:
    newsmanfan likes this.


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