This page last viewed: 2017-12-11 and has been viewed 678 times

Vacuumland II: Lettuce Prey 1-4

 Vacuumland II : Lettuce Prey
Authors: Lonely Walker and Captain Marina

 

The citadel sounded like a place where, several years ago, there had been a kind of awed silence which had never been broken. By now, of course, the city was getting pretty fed up with that idea and was just waiting for someone - anyone - to clear their throat and say something. Ever happy to oblige, fate sent them someone with the required vocal chords...

"Do you think this is a good idea?" A voice came from around a distant corner.

Silence.

"Huh?" Another replied.

"Do you think this is a good idea?" The first voice repeated, with the kind of tone that spoke volumes. The volumes read 'If you don't start paying attention, I'm going to do something that will be censored out of this PG-rated story'.

"No, of course not." The second replied, and went back to humming the first few bars of a curiously familiar song.

"Well *that*'s inspiring." The first muttered, as if he was quite aware that no one was listening.

Ten seconds later, the two disappeared with the kind of BANG!!!! that usually accompanies symphony orchestras. The citadel was pleased.

"Murdock's rule no.1: Thou shalt never go Christmas shopping with an international terrorist and a conman." Murdock yawned and looked at his watch. "It's impossible to get refunds."

"So what do you think, Murdock?" Richie Bancroft presented the two items he had picked out as potential Christmas presents: a Bon Jovi greatest hits CD and a Cabbage Patch doll.

"Umm, Rich, Tanya's only a baby." Murdock kindly pointed out to his friend.

Richie nodded. "Okay, I'll go with the Bon Jovi CD then. Means that I get to play it for the next ten years without her caring."

"I thought you Catholics were supposed to give rather than receive." Jonathan Jackson grinned, stepping up to his fellow shoppers.

"Well, I'm giving *and* receiving." Richie shrugged. "Who can argue with that? What do you want for Christmas, anyway?"

"Either a stealth bomber or a sub-machine gun. I don't care which." Jackson said, perfectly straight-faced. "Oooh! Remote-controlled planes!" He bounded off in the direction of a group of excited kids, leaving Murdock and Richie all alone at the dolls' shelf.

Murdock shook his head. "You know, I worry about you two. In a relationship - you're supposed to have at least one stable personality."

Richie grinned. "We haven't blown up yet. You want this?" He handed Murdock the doll and wandered off to where Jackson was executing singularly dangerous manoevres with a saucer-shaped UFO.

"I wonder if...YEOUCH!!!" Murdock dropped the doll and made a great show of jumping up and down, holding his thumb. "It bit me!!!"

"Are you okay, sir?" A shop assistant handed him the doll back and looked him up and down, trying to determine whether he had just escaped from a lunatic asylum or not.

"Umm, yeah... I'm fine..." Murdock nodded, glaring at the doll. Seeing that Jackson and Richie were having their own kind of fun, mentally scarring kids for life, he wandered off to find a counter to pay for the doll and walked into a huge, hard, Furby.

While lying on the floor after having been attacked by a children's toy, certain thoughts usually go through your head. Thoughts like "Did anyone see me?" "How will I live this down?" and "Where are my legs?". Captain HM Murdock being Captain HM Murdock, though, he managed to have a vision. Murdock had had quite a few visions before, although generally as a result of electric shock therapy or too many popsicles. None had been quite like this - two immaculately dressed women were staring down at him.

"Can you see us?" A voice came from somewhere.

"Uh huh." Murdock answered. "Hang on, I've seen you somewhere before..." Yeah, pal, in your dreams, he thought.

One of the women grinned. "Great! That saves having to explain the whole thing to you again. We thought you might have lost your memories of the time you spent in our land. I am, of course, the Goddess Walker. And, oh, this is Goddess Marina."

Marina smiled on cue.

"Anyway, we've got a bit of a problem here, Captain, so if you could get back here as soon as possible, it would be a good idea. You're the only person from the outside world we know." Goddess Walker explained.

"Uh huh." Murdock said. "But, um, I'm not in the A-Team anymore. Maybe you should call the cops if you've got a problem."

"This is no use, Walker!" Marina stomped her foot. "He doesn't know anything about Vacuumland!"

"Vacuumland?" Murdock repeated, some deep and dark past memory dawning on him. "Oh no..."

"Ah ha! See, he does remember!" Walker grinned triumphantly. "Oh, darnit, the batteries on my astral projection thingy are getting low. Just get back here ASAP and bring some teabags if you can - we're running short!"

The image faded back into normality as Murdock muttered "Teabags, right." under his breath.

"Richie, I know I'm a stranger to your ways and everything, but he's talking to a Furby. Shouldn't we be concerned in the slightest?" Jackson frowned.

"It depends on whether you're counting Murdock as a normal person or not." Richie replied. "But either way, I wouldn't worry. Are you okay, Murdock?"

Murdock got to his feet and brushed himself down. "I'm fine. But I have to get back home. Got some things to do. Umm, Richie, can you buy this for me, please? Watch out - it bites!" He hurried out of the store, hardly looking where he was going.

Watching him go, Jackson opened his mouth, but Richie held up a warning finger. "Don't ask!"

"You know, Fate, you could give me a break, you know!" Murdock declared to the room as he dug around under his bed for his old trunk. "I've been tortured, kidnapped and half-killed in the last few years and *now* I have to go and save Vacuumland *again*!!! If it really does exist, that is... But it has to, otherwise where did this come from?" He took out what was potentially a sacred Vacuumian object and glared at it. "Can't those people deal with their own problems for once?"

Sighing, the pilot quickly dressed himself in his kilt from Vacuumland, dashed into the kitchen and stuffed his sporran full of teabags. "I mean, honestly! Teabags! If this is all they want, they've got something coming!"

Opening the cupboard door, Murdock jammed his baseball cap on his head and took a deep breath. "Okay, kilt, here goes nothing. This sucks, doesn't it?"

Murdock and the vacuum cleaner stared at each other for a long time before he realised that nothing had happened.

"Hmm...looks like this is going to be harder then I thought," Murdock said out loud as he wondered how he was going to get back to Vacuumland. "Why am I going back to Vacuumland anyway? Whose brilliant idea was this? And why the heck am I standing here in a kilt talking to a vacuum cleaner? And do chickens have lips? And what is the meaning of life?" *So many questions, so little time,* he thought to himself as he looked again at the machine in front of him.

 

"Murdock, why are you standing in the dark talking to the sewing machine?" Richie asked. (OK, sorry folks, the author of this part of the story can not continue to call Face, Richie.)

"What?"

"Yeah, Murdock, you are talking to the sewing machine," Face said as he raised one eyebrow at Murdock.

"No way!" Murdock took out a box of matches from his jacket and lit one, sure enough he was talking to the sewing machine. "Well, that's why it wouldn't work!" he declared as he shook his head.

"What wouldn't work?" Jackson queried as he looked at Face.

"Ummm...well it's a long story," Murdock replied.

"Murdock, come out of the closet this instant and let's go talk about it. Oh, and here is that Furby you wanted," Face said as he grabbed Murdock by the arm dragging him out of the closet.

Jackson went into the kitchen and poured everyone a glass of Shandy. He handed one to Murdock and Murdock took it and said thank you, even though he had no idea what Shandy was.

"Do you have any toothpicks, Jackson?"

"Why?"

"Because I want to feed my Furby and he likes toothpicks," Murdock said seriously.

"Murdock! Would you knock it off and tell us what you are up to?"

"OK, Richie, Face, whatever name it is you go by these days, remember when we went on that mission for Jackson to assassinate the president?"

"Yeah."

"Well, I made this bad pun and I got transported into a place called Vacuumland where I had to deal with some pretty heavy stuff. Anyway, all you guys came to help me later. You, Hannibal, and BA, got sucked through and enormous vacuum cleaner that was created by this evil Teddy bear named Rufus. We all covered ourselves with dust bunnies and pink paint to fool the Lord High Pink Bunny and his army of Barneys....and...we,"

Murdock stopped talking when he realized Jackson and Face were staring at him with this 'OK, let's call the guys with the white coats to come take this lunatic back to the asylum where he belongs' look.

"Ah, Richie, I think I am going to go take a ride around the block and clear my head. Where are the keys to the viper?"

"No way, Jack, if I have to listen to him, so do you. Relationships are 50/50, remember?" Face smiled.

"But your the one who said he could stay with us for awhile while he recovered from his injuries," Jackson retorted.

"Well, I can't help it if Amy had to go out of the country on assignment. We couldn't just leave the man to fend for himself. Now could we?" Face asked.

"But..."

"Look, guys, can you have your lover's spat another time we have to deal with this. I swear, I'm telling you the truth. The goddesses of Vacuumland, who are ravishingly gorgeous, if I do say so myself, appeared to me in the toy store and said that Vacuumland is in serious trouble. They want me to come back to help them and bring them some teabags," Murdock said as he showed Face the contents of his sporran.

"Murdock I think you need to go lie down and take a nap. Hopefully, everything will look better after you have rested," Face said as he practically picked Murdock up off the couch and led him to his room. He tucked Murdock into bed and patted his head.

"But Face..."

"No buts, Murdock, get some sleep," Face ordered and turned off the lights.

"I just got to convince them that I am telling the truth and I gotta find out where the heck Jackson keeps his vacuum cleaner," Murdock said to the Furby who was staring at him.

Murdock was just about to give up on finding his way back to Vacuumland, mainly because he didn't really want to go there in the first place and secondly because in the morning it would probably all turn out to be a dream, when there was a crunching sound of splitting metal from outside the apartment building. Murdock stayed where he was for exactly as long as it took him to figure out that sounds like that probably weren't the norm around Richie and Jack's place and then hopped over to the nearest window.

Outside was a sight that could either be taken as good or bad. It was good in that it meant that Murdock wasn't going crazy again. It was bad in that it probably meant that he would have to get to Vacuumland pretty soon.

What was actually happening was difficult to make out, but it looked like a horde of ravaging lettuces were eating a Volkswagen.

"Murdock!" Jackson hurried in from the other room. "What's going on?"

"I'm not sure, but I'd say that there are some ravaging lettuces eating a Volkswagen." Murdock replied, looking wildly about the room.

Jackson took a look out of the window himself and solemnly nodded. "Okay, yeah. I'd agree with that."

"You would?" Murdock froze. "Why?"

Jackson shrugged. "Well either there really are ravaging lettuces out there in which case I'd better believe it, or there aren't, in which case I'm dreaming. So I'd better believe you, just in case."

"Okay..." Murdock said, going back through the living room and to the door of the flat. "Hiya Face." He said absent-mindedly, opening the door and quickly slamming it shut. "Uh, guys, I think going out would be a really bad idea right now!"

"Uh, Murdock, I thought I told you to get some sleep?" Richie stood up. "Jack, what's...?"

"We're being attacked by hundreds of ravaging lettuces." Murdock explained calmly. "They want to stop me getting to Vacuumland to help out the amazingly lovely Goddesses. Or maybe they just don't like teabags. I don't know - but we should get out of here quickly. Where's your vacuum cleaner?"

"Murdock..." Richie started, in his best psychiatrist voice. "I think maybe you should go back to bed."

"We don't have a vacuum cleaner." Jackson ignored him. "BA came over yesterday and borrowed it. I don't expect to see it ever again."

"Great, then we're doomed!" Murdock howled.

"Guys, was there something in that Shandy you had, cause..." Richie jumped at the sudden noise of something beginning to eat through his door. "Why has someone taken a buzzsaw to our door?"

"I suppose bullets aren't going to hurt them?" Jackson took out his gun, just in case.

"Jack, how to you propose killing a lettuce?" Murdock asked him.

"I guess you're right." Jackson replied as a small hole opened up in the door and one of the smaller lettuces jumped through and attacked Richie's foot.

"Ow! Murdock, get it off me!"

Murdock quickly picked up a nearby fly-swatter and began to play baseball with the next few lettuces that came through the door. As they sailed neatly through the window that Jackson, always thinking ahead, had opened, they landed on top of the decimated Volkswagen outside. Richie kicked the lettuce that was attacking him away and looked around despairingly. "What do we do now?"

A loud BANG!!! that momentarily stopped all action in the flat hailed the arrival of an extra cupboard, placed right in the middle of the room. Murdock, Richie, Jackson and all of the lettuces stared at it for a few seconds before resuming their battle.

"Hey, Murdock!" A small teddy bear in Russian national dress stuck his head out of the cupboard door. "Uh, Murdock!"

Murdock belted another lettuce out of the window and looked around. "Rudolf?"

Rudolf Gruphov of Computerland grinned. "Hey, good, you remember! Um, you better come with us in here!"

"What is it?" Murdock yelled back.

"It's a time machine, of course!" Rudolf said as a lettuce latched onto his nose. "Ow! Ow! Ow!"

Murdock gave a shrug to reality and hurried over to the time machine. "Richie! Jack! Come on!" He grabbed the lettuce and sent it flying as he, Richie, Jack and Rudolf fell to the floor on top of each other inside the cupboard. Richie, the last man in, slammed the door shut with his foot, stopping dozens of lettuces in their tracks.

"Hi there!" Robin, the karma chameleon, sat on a specially elevated seat in the time machine, which looked almost exactly like a cupboard. There was even a friendly-looking vacuum inside.

"Are you people *never* on time?" Murdock asked, jamming his fly swatter in his belt. "Um, Richie, Jack, these guys are Robin from Vacuumland and Rudolf from Computerland."

"Nice to meet you." Rudolf took off his hat and bowed stiffly.

"Uh, yeah, look, Murdock, this isn't really happening, is it?" Richie asked.

"Well, yes and no." Murdock explained.

"Best answer I've had all day!" Jack grinned. "Are we going to get out of here? Those lettuces could get in any second!"

"Oh, sure." Robin said. "Rudolf - the crayons, please!"

"Crayons?" Murdock, Richie and Jack said in unison.

"Yeah, Vacuumland's a bit behind the times." Rudolf said, slightly embarrassed. "Instead of the latest computer technology, we had to make do with a colour-by-numbers book."

"Okay, I think I'll just go and bang my head off the wall for a while." Richie said, and did so.

The time machine shuddered to a halt in space-time and Robin declared that it might be safe to op;en the door. Murdock did so, with Rudolf in close pursuit. He was just about to step out when he realised that there was in fact nothing but ocean between him and the horizon. "Yikes!" Murdock backtracked. "Uh, guys, are you sure this is the right place?"

"Uh oh, I think I coloured in a blue square red." Robin shrugged. "Sorry, guys!"

"It is not his fault." A nearby dolphin called up to Murdock.

"Pardon?" Murdock said.

"I am a representation of the Goddess Marina. Did you bring the teabags?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Good. We will see you soon, then." The dolphin dived back under the waves.

"Well, guys, it looks like we're in Vacuumland." Murdock turned back. "The question is - where?"

"I absolutely refuse to say that line," the brightly colored monarch butterfly, wearing black gloves, said as it threw the script down on to the floor and began pacing back and forth.

"But Johnny, baby, sweetheart, this picture is costing us lots of dough to make. We already gave our last batch of chocolate chip cookie batter to the extras. You have to do it the way the directors want it or it's bye bye to 'The Chess Champion Monarch Butterfly Who Ate Candleland,'

Brian the wet/dry vacuum said as he looked nervously at the butterfly.

"Look, pal, moths are the ones who are drawn to flames and stuff, not butterflies. Didn't your research department study insects thoroughly before writing this part?" Johnny asked as he took off his chess club badge and put his cigar in his mouth.

"Sure they did, but the writers thought it would be more dramatic this way."

"I swear, no one has any respect for serious actors anymore," Johnny stated and stormed off towards his trailer. "And have the caterers send me up some chicken kebobs for lunch. I'm starved!" he shouted.

"Actors!" Brian threw his arms up in disgust and headed off to the catering truck.

****

"Ah, Murdock what do you suggest we do now?" Face asked as he looked around at all the water.

"Swim?" Murdock grinned.

"Insane people!" Face threw his arms up in disgust and headed for the back of the closet.

"Listen, everyone, if all goes well, our rescue should be arriving at any moment," Rudolf commented and began counting down the seconds on his watch...5, 4, 3, 2, 1..."

"Ahoy! Mateys," Columbus shouted from the bridge of the Santa Maria.

"Chris? Chris, you son of a gun. How ya been, pal?" Murdock shouted from the cupboard that was starting to leak.

"Murdock, my friend! I've been well! Discovered some interesting things. Oh, how I have missed you," Chris shouted back.

"Ah, Murdock, you can continue with this little reunion later. Could you tell him to get us the hell out of this damn closet," Jackson stated emphatically.

"Oh, yeah, right. Hey, Chris, can you give us a hand?" Murdock asked.

"Oh, sure thing," Columbus replied and began ordering his crew to throw the life boats overboard and retrieve the stranded travelers. Once onboard the ship Murdock hugged Chris tightly which of course made him throw up.

"Ah, sorry, Chris," Murdock said and cringed.

"Oh, no problem, ol' buddy. You know, I really should have my stomach looked at. I don't think all this throwing up is normal," Chris said concerned.

"You're right. I would have a doctor look at that right away," Murdock replied. "It could be a sign of a serious medical condition and..."

"Hello, sorry, I don't mean to interrupt your discussion about his gastro-intestinal problems, but Murdock what the heck is going on?" Face queried annoyed

"Oh sorry, where are my manners? Face, Jackson...I would like you to meet Christopher Columbus, or Chris as he is known to his friends,"

Murdock grinned as Columbus took off his hat and bowed to Jackson and Richie.

"Hey, you gotta new hat," Murdock said and patted Columbus' new felt cap.

"Yeah, it's better then the one the windmill took,' Columbus grinned.

"Hi," Jackson and Face said in unison and smiled at the explorer.

"Ok, everyone, we don't have time for small talk. The world is in jeporady and we need your help," Robin stated bringing everyone back to the business at hand.

"Yeah, so, what's up with the lettuces?" Murdock asked Robin.

"Please, Murdock, don't call them that. They are cabbages, please, if they hear you call them lettuces...oh, dear, what they will do?" Robin scolded.

"Cabbages, lettuces, it's all the same thing...rabbit food," Murdock replied passively.

"Ah, so, then you know that the cabbages have come from the evil garden of the Lord High Pink Bunny?" Rudolf asked.

"Well, no I didn't, but I'm not surprised," Murdock grinned."So, I take it he is back in Bunnyland?"

"No, and that is the problem," Rudolf replied.

Richie and Jackson looked at each other and shook their heads. "I wish Hannibal was still alive," Face said exasperated. "He'd know what to do about all this."

"Oh, but your Colonel is alive and well," Rudolf smiled.

"Hannibal? Is alive?" Murdock and Face shouted confused.

"Oh, yes, most definitly," Rudolf replied.

"Well, then what are we waiting for? Let's go find him," Murdock shouted excitedly.

****

Back on the movie set the crew was setting up the big climax of the picture when all of a sudden they were overrun by a horde of ravenous cabbages. Murdock, Jackson, Rudolf, Columbus, Face and Robin were just arriving when they noticed all this commotion going on.

"Hey, guys! Long time no see!" Hannibal said and smiled at his team.

"Hannibal? Is that you?" Face asked.

"Yup, the one and only. What's the matter, Lieutenant? Forgotten what I look like?" Hannibal asked.

Face just stood there stunned.

"But, sir...your a..ahh... umm...butterfly," Murdock replied as he dropped kicked a cabbage through a fake window.

"Oh, yeah, guess I've changed a bit, since you last saw me,' Hannibal grinned.

"Ah, well, that's an understatement," Jackson replied. "Care to tell us how you managed to get here to Vacuumland and are now a butterfly?"

 

"Wahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!" A very definitely evil laugh eminated from the top room in a dark tower in what was usually a quiet citadel. "I have them now!!!! The Goddesses have been forced to bring in the Murdock and his friends. When I destroy him, they shall have no one else to call on!!! Wahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!"

This done, he went back to pushing his rubber duck around in the bubble bath.

"No time for explanations, kid, we've got some problems here." Hannibal the butterfly pointed a wing at the advancing armies of cabbages. "And what are you doing here, anyway?"

Jackson stared at Richie for inspiration, who opened his mouth as if to start a long-winded explantion, but came out with: "Tell you later."

Murdock, in a display of characteristic insanity, took up his flyswatter and screamed at the cabbages: "Oi!!! Lettuces!!!!"

Everyone, to a cabbage, turned and looked at him.

"Yeah, you!!!" Murdock hollered.

They continued to stare.

"Ummm... doing anything Tuesday night?" Murdock asked as the first few lines of cabbages jumped at him. At that instant, a pillar of fire shot out at the armies of cabbages, incinerating them all. "YEOUCH!!!" Murdock dropped to the ground and rolled around to put the fire out of his kilt. "What are you looking at?" He asked his friends and the movie crew, who were uniformly laughing at him. All apart from Robin and Rudolf, who had disappeared. "Hey, where did Robin and Rudolf go?" Murdock asked.

"They must have been captured by the cabbages." A nun stepped forward, armed with a flame thrower. "There's nothing we can do to help them, but I suggest we figure out what to do before the cabbages come back."

"Whaddya mean there's nothing we can do to help them?" Murdock asked. "They're my friends!"

"Yes, and if you helped them now, they could not have saved you earlier." Sister Mary Patrick stated.

Richie, Jackson and Chris looked at each other and uttered a loud "Huh?"

Several minutes later, the film crew had cleared away the burnt wreckage of cabbages and a council had been formed on the beach of Murdock, Chris, Richie, Jackson, Brian and Sister Mary Patrick. The film crew were now exploring Chris' boat, so there were many shouts of "Yep, I think we could definitely do something with this!" in the background.

"So what's going on, Sister?" Murdock asked. "Why are the cabbages attacking Vacuumland? Why can't we help Robin and Rudolf? Why is Chris still here? Why is Hannibal a butterfly? Why is Dilbert's tie always at a forty-five degree angle?"

"Maybe I should start." Hannibal said. "You may remember that I died on a film set. Well, it happened that at the moment of my death I said a really bad pun - one that I can't repeat right now - and there was a vacuum cleaner nearby. I was sucked into Vacuumland, but since my body was dead, it was only my soul that came here."

"Let me guess - a butterfly died here at exactly the same instant as you arrived?" Jackson said. "Yeah, I saw that Outer Limits episode too."

"Well, that's great, Hannibal, but it doesn't explain any of the really *big* whys. You know, I put them first for a reason!" Murdock replied.

"We can't help Robin and Rudolf because when they are captured, they go and build a time machine that saves you in the future." Sister Mary Patrick explained. "Guys, I'm afraid that Robin's calculations were more off than he thought they were - you've been taken several years into the past!"

"Why does this not surprise me?" Richie wailed.

"Ummm, how do you know all this, then?" Murdock said. "Since you haven't been to the future and all?"

"But we have." Sister Mary Patrick explained. "Robin, Rudolf and myself are a special commando team sent from the future to stop the cabbage threat in the past. To avoid the attention of the cabbages - we pretended to be part of Brian's film crew. Fortunately, Hannibal here has had some experience of war before!"

"Too right I have!" Hannibal said, enthusiastically punching a stray bit of cabbage.

"The problem is, Murdock, although we've found out what's going on, we don't know how to stop it!" Brian said.

"Okay, so would someone like to tell us what's going on?" Jackson asked.

"With the Lord High Bunny in Washington, the evil fluff garden was taken over by well-meaning Vacuumians. However, they mistook the cabbages for lettuces, sending them into an unstoppable rage. They're now trying to kill us all!" Brian shivered.

"So why don't we just incinerate them?" Murdock suggested.

"Because however many we incinerate, there are always more. The problem is more deep-rooted than that, Murdock. The real problem is Great Jon!!!!"

The naked man on a black horse eating marshmallow fluff sighed and played his answering machine messages over again:

"Mark? It's your mother. I'm worried that you're not eating enough... And you should wrap up warmly on these winter nights..." Mark irritatedly pressed the fast-forward button.

"Mark, hi, it's Christina. Look, Louie and I are having suck a great time here that you're just going to have to stand in for me for a few more days. Are they paying you enough peanut butter? See you soon!" Mark yawned and patted his horse, Nikki.

"Mark? This is King Thurm. You're wanted at the cupboard immediately! We may be having a new arrival!"

The messages ended. Mark, Nikki and a generous supply of marshmallows headed off to the cupboard.

Vacuumland II Lettuce Prey part 2    

Once the awed silence had finished, Murdock said what they were all thinking. "Who's Great Jon?"

"How can you not know who Great Jon is?" Sister Mary Patrick. "You are the Murdock! The greatest hero Vacuumland has ever seen!"

"Well, I've been on holiday from the hero business for a while, OK? I've got a wife and daughter. I'm supposed to be being sane! You people should appreciate that I've lost my mind just for you!" Murdock pointed out.

"Yeah, but who's Great Jon?" Richie looked pointedly at Jackson.

"Hey, don't look at me!" Jackson froze. "I just got here!"

"Then I shall explain..." Sister Mary Patrick said, taking out her Slinky.

Back in the tower in the citadel, Great Jon's porcelain was getting all pruney from the bubble bath. So he called for Charmane to fetch him hisrobe and slippers.

"Coming, boss," the roll of double-ply, cottony soft, lightly flora lscented, toilet paper said as he hurriedly brought Great Jon therequested items.

"Ahhhhh...you know, Charmane today is such a great day for a killing," Great Jon said as he flushed one time and then expertly placed an air freshner into his bowl. "Ah, I just love those cherry-scented airfreshners, don't you, Charmane?"

"Well, sir, I actually like the lemon ones myself, but cherry seems to fit your personality more," Charmane said as he looked at the giant toilet in front of him.

"Lemon, cherry, fruit is fruit. I just don't want to offend anyone, you know. Toilet bowl odor can be so embarrassing," Great Jon commented.

"Has any news come in from the Rabbit?"

"No, sir. I have not heard a word from the Lord High Pink Bunny," Charmane replied.

"Damn that Rabbit! You know, I should have never agreed to let him help me take over the world. So, I guess he hasn't a clue about what to do with those troublesome lettuces then?"

"Please, sir, they are cabbages. Don't call them lettuces that is what started this whole mess in the first place," Charmane commented.

"Cabbages, Lettuces, who cares? All I wanted to do is form an evil plot to take over the world and it goes and gets messed up by some pissed off cole slaw. Oh well, such is the life of a evil villain type dude, like myself. Phone the Bunny and tell him to hop his fuzzy pink butt on over here. We need to discuss what to do about the cabbages and then reinstate my original plans to take over the entire universe, including the alternate realities such as Vacuumland," Great Jon ordered.

"Right away, your tolietship," Charmane replied and bowed before leaving.

****

Back in Vacuumland Sister Mary Patrick had finished explaining to the group that Great Jon had been the ruler of the Vacuumland raw sewage treatment facility and was excellent at his job. "Everyone loved him, until one day he accidentally fell in some raw sewage that had seeped in from the state of New Jersey and was suddenly transformed into this rotten, mean, bad guy. He tried many times to take over the world and almost came close with his killer mutant slugs plan. With the help of

Rufus' giant vacuum we successfully managed to transport him from Vacuumland."

"Well, Sister, if Great Jon is no longer in Vacuumland then why is he a threat?" Murdock asked.

"Well, Murdock, the thing is, he has now joined forces with the Lord High Pink Bunny and is coming up with a plot to overthrow life as we know it!!" On cue the giant flying record players flew across the orange sky and played suspense theme type music to go along with her words. Everyone gasped in horror at the thought of a giant toilet and fuzzy pink bunny rabbit planning to take over the universe. Nothing could be worse.

"Oh, and one more thing, Great Jon's army consists of thousands of IRS agents and Teletubbies," Sister Patrick added with a fearful tone.

"But, Sister...if you have been to the future, then why can't you just tell us what his evil plan is and then we could stop it?" Murdock asked.

"Well, you see, HM....ummm, just when we were about to find out what his plan was, Robin accidentally colored in the wrong square and transported us to Jupiter. with the planet's great gravitational pull, that particular coloring book got sucked out and now we can't get back to the moment in time when Great Jon's plan is revealed. So, I'm afraid I can not tell you his plan, that is something we must find out for ourselves."

"Shit..."Jackson and Face exclaimed in unison, finding all this still hard to believe.

"Really, you two ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Such nice young men shouldn't use such filthy language," Sister Patrick exclaimed with a tone that only nuns seemed to have. She reached inside her habit and pulled out a long, thick ruler. Face and Jackson gulped nervously as they eyed the piece of wood.

****

Meanwhile, back at the Palace King Thurm and Queen Rachel were practicing their country line dancing when all of a sudden there was a loud bang, quite like a sonic boom. The Personal Management Books ran outside followed closely by the King and Queen. They all gasp at the sight that sat before them.

"Where the heck am I?" the man commented as he climbed out of the space ship and looked around at the unusual surroundings. "None of the pictures of the moon, that I saw, ever looked like this," Neil Armstrong said and continued to look around.

"Hello," King Thurm enthused as he reached out a claw to greet the

"Houston, we have a problem," Armstrong commented frantically into his radio, but was met only with static.

"Ow!!!!" From the meeting circle, still framed by charred cabbage leaves on the beach, came the sound of Jonathan Jackson getting his knuckles rapped by a ruler.

Richie 'Face' Bancroft shook his head as he trudged along in the sand rubbing his own red hands with Hannibal 'the butterfly' Smith flapped along beside him. "Lemme get this straight." Hannibal said. "You're going out with *him*?"

"Yup." Richie grinned.

Hannibal formed an expression which Richie had never seen on a butterfly before. "*Jackson*?"

"Yup."

"*Jonathan* Jackson? International terrorist and guy who has tried to kill us on more than one occasion!!!" Hannibal squeaked. "Face, that's like me going out with Decker!"

"Boy, that's an image that's going to stick in my mind all day." Murdock muttered from a few feet behind them.

"I don't see why you're so concerned about me and Jack, Hannibal. In case you hadn't noticed, you've been reincarnated as a butterfly in an alternate reality that's about to be taken over by cabbages, Teletubbies, IRS officials, a large pink bunny and a toilet!!!" Face exploded.

"Well, yeah." Hannibal replied. "But you gotta put things in perspective."

"Sorry, y'all." Nikki galloped up to where Neil Armstrong, his spaceship and several astonished line-dancers were gathered. "We went to the wrong place. How was I to know he wasn't going to use the cupboard!!!"

"I... I come in peace." Armstrong held up an empty hand.

"Well I bloody well don't!" Mark muttered. "I was only supposed to be doing this for a couple of weeks! 'Easy job!' she said. 'Half the time off and then it's only standing in a cupboard for half an hour' she said. She freakin' well *didn't* say that certain visitors just decide to abolish protocol and arrive any old way! I'm not getting paid for this! In fact, I'm not being paid for anything! I have to work part-time at the peanut-butter factory to make ends meet! I tell ya, any ore of this and I'm going back home to Logarithmland!"

"Now, now, Mark." King Thurm patted him on the knee. "I know you're depressed, but I'm sure that Christina and that nice Mr. Beethoven will be back soon, so I don't really see why you have such a bad attitude to this prestigious job!"

"You're naked!" said Neil, who was a bit slow on the uptake.

Mark glared at him. "That's one of the reasons! What do you want me to do with him, then? We having another trial?"

"Trial! Trial! Trial!" The line dancers chanted.

King Thurm shook his head. "It just won't be the same without Murdock being here..."

The commando squad of Murdock, Brian, Richie, Hannibal, Sister Mary Patrick and Jackson, who was staying as far away from the nun as possible, continued their travels along the shoreline in their attempt to discover Great Jon's evil plan.

"Where do these bad guys get their evil plans from, anyway?" Murdock asked. "I mean, it isn't as if you can go into a shop and say 'I'd like a plan that would let me take over the world with some Teletubbies and IRS officials, please' and the guy behind the counter says 'Arright, mate' and hands you one for a grossly exaggerated fee."

"Murdock, that's a really stupid idea." Richie replied.

Murdock shrugged. "This is Vacuumland, pal, anything can happen. I wonder what a shop like that would look like?"

"Like that, I would imagine." Hannibal pointed a wing at the nearby shop that had a sign that said "Evil plans to buy or rent".

"Well, whaddya know." Murdock grinned and went in.

Ludwig van Beethoven dodged a frisbee thrown by some over-enthusiastic children and handed a glass of orange juice to his new wife, Christina Nakedladyonahorse-Beethoven. "I checked our messages. That Mark phoned again. Says they're having a trial and you'd better get back quickly, cause he's leaving for Logarithmland tonight."

"Ohhh, Louie, do we have to?" Christina said, from where she was lying on a sunbed fully dressed.

Beethoven nodded grimly. "We have a duty to Vacuumland, my dear. Besides, who else can play the Vacuumian national anthem?"

"Oh, okay." Christina got up and stripped off her clothes before going over to where Mikey and Gary were happily sucking on peanut butter cocktails. "Duty calls, guys. Holiday's over!"

"Aww..." Mikey said, but then brightened up. "Does this mean that we get to visit the peanut butter factory again? Cool!"

To celebrate, he caught the hula hoop the industrious children had thrown at him around his neck. "Yeah!" He grinned. "The boys are back in town!"

"Hey, dudes!" A cucumber, who was wearing a namepin saying 'Hi, my name is CARTER' and some very dark sunglasses, waved at the commando death squad as they entered his shop.

"Hi there!" Murdock grinned. "This your shop?"

"It sure is!" Carter beamed. "Death, destruction and mayhem - all at a reduced price! Evil plans a speciality!"

As Murdock went to talk to Carter the cucumber, the others surveyed the collection of weapons displayed on the walls. "Man." Jackson said, looking at a state-of-the-art sub-machine-gun. "*That* is what I want for Christmas!"

"Now, now, boys." Sister Mary Patrick prodded Jackson in the spine with her ruler. "Perhaps you should leave those for more mature, experienced and psychotic adults, hmmm?"

"I am mature, experienced and psychotic." Jackson turned his cold blue gaze on her. "I have a diploma in it."

Where that would have made any other person bolt and run, Sister Mary Patrick merely jabbed him in the ribs and headed off to find some fuel for her flame-thrower. Richie shrugged. "I think she's got the hots for you, Jack."

"Oh, yeah." Jackson said, keeping a good distance away from a dangerous-looking pitchfork.

Elsewhere in the shop, Hannibal was spilling out all his traumas to Brian the director. "Look at them - I can't believe my Lieutenant turned out to be gay! I can't believe they're going out together!"

"Yeah." Brian moped. "Two good looking guys like that accounted for - it's a tragedy!"

Hannibal carefully edged away from him.

"Guys! Guys! Quickly!" Murdock raced towards the centre of the shop. "I've got it!" He wielded the piece of paper. "Here is Great Jon's plan to take over the world!!!"

The goddess Marina was very tired of swimming around in the ocean and decided that now was the time to change her appearance. Being the mischievous goddess that she is and seeing as the goddess Walker was off at Ernie's chariots checking out the new models, Marina decided to have a little fun. Just as Murdock was about to unravel the scroll with Great Jon's plans to take over the world, goddess Marina froze time and instantly everyone was turned into living statues.

*Hmmm, now this could be fun,* she grinned. Quickly, she changed

herself back into the stunning creature that she is, dried herself off and went up to Captain Murdock. She took off Murdock's baseball cap and placed it on her head. She ran her fingers threw his hair, over the gorgeous pilots face and down his arms, finally coming to a stop on the front of his kilt. *Oooohh, what a nice big bulge,* she thought to herself.

****

"Listen, Bunny, if we are going to take over the world. We have to come up with a way to stop those damn lettuces," Great Jon declared to the Lord High Pink Bunny who was busy chomping on a carrot.

"They are cabbages, toilethead," the Bunny said as he turned to one of his Barneys and ordered him to bring him a drink.

"Don't call me Toilethead, you over stuffed pink piece of fluff," Great

Jon snapped back. "I'll turn you into a chocolate bunny and you'll find yourself in some kid's Easter Basket having your ears eaten first, then your tail."

"Go, suck on a toilet brush!" the Lord High Pink Bunny replied angrily.

Great Jon was about to get up and flush the Rabbit down his bowl when Charmane interuppted." Please, sirs, we have to stop all this unnecessary arguing and come up with a way to stop the cabbages."

"The Toiletpaper is right. We have to put our differences aside long enough to get rid of this cabbage menace," Great Jon stated knowing that Charmane had a good point.

An overjoyed IRS agent, happy that the two commanders were no longer fighting, came up and picked up Charmane. From out of nowhere, a nerdy looking man wearing a grocery store clerks uniform yelled,"Please

Madame, don't squeeze the Charmane." Embarrassed, the woman put down the roll of toilet paper and went off to have a stimulating philosophical conversation with a Teletubby.

"OK, well how about weed killer?" Jon asked.

"Naahhh, they are immune to poisons."

"Hmmmmmmmmmmmm..."the two of them said in unison and placed their head in their hands.

****

Back in the store, Marina was fondling Murdock's bulge happily.

"Goddess Marina what do you think you are doing?" Goddess Walker said and tapped her foot on the floor.

"Err...umm...I was just checking Murdock for the teabags," Marina replied and handed goddess Walker the teabags that Murdock had in his sporran.

"Boy, he certainly brought a lot of teabags, made that sporran bulge out a whole lot," Marina smiled innocently.

"I leave you alone to run a few errands and I come back to find you fondling teabag bulges and freezing time. Can't you stay out of trouble for five minutes?" Walker inquired pointing her finger at Marina.

"Oh, yes, did you find a chariot?" Marina asked trying to change the subject.

"Oh, I found this darling little number. I didn't like the color, though. So, Ernie said he was going to have it repainted and ready for me by the weekend," Goddess Walker replied smiling.

"Oh, that's great maybe we could take the chariots on a little drive through the country," Marina suggested.

"Yes, yes, that would be a splendid idea...hey, hold on...nice try, Marina, but you are still not off the hook...unfreeze time and give Murdock back his baseball cap," Walker instructed.

"Awww, man, do I have to?" Marina whined.

"Yes!"

"Okay!!!" Marina replied dejectedly and put Murdock's cap back on his head, sneaking in a kiss on his lips when goddess Walker wasn't looking. The two goddesses then floated back up to the heavens and Marina unfroze time.

The inhabitants of the store returned to normal, not realizing what had just happened. Murdock looked down to his sporran "Hey, where are my teabags?"

"What?" Hannibal asked.

"Oh, never mind," Murdock replied and opened the scroll of paper.

"HANG ON A MINUTE!!!!" Goddess Walker peered over a cloud at the many lands below. "Was that just a cunning trick of yours to postpone the telling of this story, when I've cleverly set up so many little plot strands?"

Goddess Marina took a quick step backwards. "Um, well, I guess you could say that, Walker. But it isn't as if I haven't done you a favour - we've got some teabags now, right?"

"Hmmm..." Walker replied suspiciously. "All right, then, but you put the kettle on."

"Well?" A chorus of commandos graced the air. "What does it say?"

"Ummm... y over x equals the sum of the log to the base e of... Oh, I don't know!" Murdock handed Richie the scroll. "Look for yourselves!"

"Well, either I've gone illiterate or this is written in some kind of mathematical code." Richie said. "Anyone actually pay attention in maths class at school?"

There was much humming and hawing before everyone admitted that they had been off that day, or had been too busy studying the physics of paper aeroplanes. "Doesn't *he* know what it means?" Jackson pointed at Carter the Cool Cucumber, who was sitting behind his desk eating a lukewarm slice of pizza.

"Yeah, don't you know what this means?" Murdock pointed his fly swatter at Carter.

"No way, man." Carter replied. "I only tell this what's wanted, and it prints out the code." He patted a microwave. "And it makes good pizza, too!"

"That's a microwave." Brian the director said.

"Yes, but it's also a highly evolved mathematical computer." Carter grinned, showing uncannily white teeth.

"Does it talk as well?" Richie asked.

Everyone stared at him. "Don't be stupid." Hannibal the butterfly rolled his eyes. "Where did you get this machine?"

"Oh, I got it from Logarithmland." Carter grinned.

"Logarithmland?" Everyone but Richie replied. Richie was too busy banging his head against a nearby wall.

"Yeah." Carter stood up and unhooked his surfboard from where it was hung up on the wall. "I'll take you there if you like - doesn't seem like there's going to be much business in the evil plan industry for a few days and I wanna catch some waves!"

"Great!" Murdock smiled. "Things are finally looking up! Okay, everyone - let's roll those wagons!"

The makeshift commando team, followed by Carter, his surfboard and a small jar of mayonnaise, headed out in the direction of Logarithmland. "Who's he?" Murdock asked Carter, pointing back at where the mayonnaise was hopping along in the sunshine.

"He's Off." Carter explained.

"Yeah, I thought there was some kind of smell." Richie sniffed.

Carter thumped him over the head with the edge of his surfboard. "No, man. The dude's *name* is Off. We escaped from a potato salad together. I owe him my life, man."

"Well, glad to have you guys with us." Murdock grinned. "The more the merrier, right?"

"I hate I hate I HATE these effing cabbages!" The Lord High Pink Bunny hopped up and down in anger. "Not only do they keep going and going and going and going and going and going and going and going and going..."

"Yes, I think I've got the message." Great Jon yawned.

"But while our Barneys, Bunnies, Teletubbies and IRS officials are out there fighting them, we have to eat cabbage soup the whole time! It's enough to make you go crazy!!!"

"Go crazy?" Great Jon asked.

"Well, all right then. Go crazy if you weren't already. The thing is, Jon, me old mate, the problem seems to be bigger than we first thought - someone must be mass-producing these cabbages! They can't all be coming from your garden!!!"

"You mean..." Jon started.

"Yes." The Lord High Pink Bunny nodded gravely. "Someone else is trying to take over the world."

Taking a break from his gruelling schedule at the peanut butter factory, Rufus Gruff - formerly owner of a certain giant celery stick and now lowly worker - poked his head out of the factory door and was nearly run over by a piggy bank. "Arrrrrggggghhhh!!!! He screamed, before realising that his attacker was Gary. "Oh, it's you. What do you want?"

"Hi there, Rufus!" Christina and Beethoven jumped down from Mikey's back and shook his sticky paw. "How're things?"

"Oh, very bad, very bad." Rufus shook his head miserably. "I wish I'd never laid eyes on that giant vacuum - we're still sweeping up all that pink fluff. And that young man you asked to temp for you, Miss Christina, he just wasn't the right material. He had entirely the wrong attitude towards his job."

"But how are you, Rufus?" Christina asked. "You're not in charge anymore!"

"No... Well, we have some big plans to make a hot fudge factory - we have some financial backers in Computerland lined up. Rudolf's been a big help." Rufus nodded. "But they say there's a crisis! An astronaut from the Outside! What are we going to do! Another trial could cause chaos!"

"I expect it'll be a bit of fun, that's all." Beethoven smiled. "After all, there isn't a Lord High Pink Bunny trying to take over the world, is there?"

"I guess not." Rufus suddenly jumped a foot in the air. "That pig! He'll eat all my peanut butter!!!" He raced off into the factory as fast as his legs would take him.

Christina and Beethoven were still laughing at him when a cold voice said behind them: "Don't move - I've got a gun!!"

They slowly turned around to see Neil Armstrong pointing a revolver at them.

Mark Nakedmanonahorse and his faithful horse, Nikki, crossed the border and were back home in Logarithmland. The country was amazingly beautiful, but existed for the sole purpose of housing strange and increasingly demented mathematicians. Mark's own mother was a crazed mathematician, while his father had come to Logarithmland in search of people to sell nail polish to and had never left. Career opportunities being practically non-existent in Logarithmland if you weren't a mathematical genius or a nail-polish salesman, Mark had elected to become a cupboard guardian, even if it did mean sitting around all day on a horse with no clothes on. Several miles into Logarithland, Nikki suddenly stopped, throwing Mark over her head and to his knees in the mud. Picking himself up, he looked around.

"Oh my logarithm." He whispered under his breath.

Mark stood stock still for a few moments not being able to believe his eyes. There in front of him was an enormous blackboard about 30 feet high and 15 feet across. Written on it was e=mc2/.126571791879-

A2+b2+C2-38446529(y-x/ x-y)*123839839880380238203802380238038023803+

y=mx+b-12388300009-183+873837*292929209290>1.2*50%-76%+2525726762681234526547387564839875645373783837287282726383928292929292927846585858585685485858340478484892302990092094028484300298548934098320843039858659047297197297197391797391797397197391732979172197!

39792791723648263863978207103692642963916931060163016316391639136764648264868263919729173297777190764964964964964962946928649863962916291629126918639164962936054358085+x=a+b

+(a+b)+(a-b)*.6729282928928298928982982982982 -12x+4y=24 solve for X *

748370474074070273237-3-2-8-8-838028920-2+820380283203828/87%-78%+

X+618716393696391639163916319639163193691361936198639846304709570297027540937407-90950-945-095-459-59-49950495-59-495-92=0=29023094039/8989898-97973927927392739237923792379273927392783498739823700129830128+829829289828192812+09873918273730137237023702370237023702373702370237023702730237027344792790837037019280/9030239023903920+(768928192)*(7197192719271)-[7291791729127]-091019/820018012{7197917}+!7987392879237923792837283729329379237801872091873098201982098840934780198209883-1083139-193-198-193-193-93390284-1093+9302903902390239203920302390293203750/(778-78)+89829912891280209201921029+A/B-C+0=.

Down below this extremely complicated mathematical equation was a flurry of activity. Many smart looking people, in white lab coats, were busy with pencils trying to figure out the problem.

Vacuumland II Lettuce Prey part 3     

In the distance he noticed his mother looking very sad. "Mom!" Mark called out and ran towards his mother.

"Mark Anthony Romeo, where are your clothes, young man?" "I left them at my apartment. I didn't have time to go back home and

change before I left," Mark stuttered.

"Mama Mia! I didn't think I would raise my son to prance around naked, showing his tooshie to every pretty girl in town. Oh! the shame you bring to this family," she sighed out loud and raised her hands to the heavens.

"Mama, please, would you keep your voice down," Mark pleaded as everyone had stopped working on the math problem and was now staring at them.

"But you have to put some clothes on. I don't want everyone staring at my precious little bambino's wee-wee," Mrs. Romeo replied, which made everyone snicker.

"OK, mother, OK, just please be quiet," Mark conceded grabbing a lab coat that was hanging on a nearby clothes rack.

"Oh, you are such a good boy, Markie, always listening to your mama," she said and pinched his cheeks.

"What's the matter, Ma,? You're upset about something, I can see it."

Oh, Markie, it is horrible, just horrible. You see your father was out hiking through the woods last week and he lost his compass veered off course, tripped over a rusty radiator, fell, and broke his arm," she said and began to cry.

"Calm down, mama. It will heal in about six weeks," Mark said trying to assuage his mother's frazzled mood.

"But Markie, it is his nail painting hand. How is he going to sell nail polish if he can't demonstrate the colors?" she started to sob again.

"Mama, look, Christina is back in Vacuumland, so I can help Pop out until his arm heals," Mark smiled.

"Oh, thank the goddesses above. You make me so proud," she replied and pinched his cheeks again.

"Mama, really, you are embarrassing me," he commented as everyone was staring at them. "I thought you were upset about that gigantic math problem. It seems to have everyone in a huff," he remarked as he watched the smart looking people get back to working on the equation.

"Oh that, oh, well, we just have to solve it so the Giant Man Eating Red Cabbage from the planet Coleslawus will stop sending his armies of ravaging cabbages to the earth to destroy it," she said passively.

"Oh, I see....WHAT?" Mark did a double take realizing what his mother had just said.

"Yes, the Giant Man Eating Red Cabbage, from the planet Coleslawus, is taking this really hard math course in college. He is trying to get his degree in Sociology and he can't figure out this problem. So, when he asked Logarithmland to help and when we couldn't, he made all the cabbages, here on earth, supersensitive to being mistaken for lettuces.

Hoping maybe that would get us to think more. When that wasn't enough he began mass producing them on his own planet and is threatening to take over the world if we don't solve his math problem for him."

"Well, that problem looks a little complicated," Mark commented as he looked once more at the enormous chalkboard.

"Oh, it is, Markie. We have been working on it night and day for weeks and we just can't get it," Mrs. Romeo remarked and shook her head in despair.

*****

Meanwhile back at the peanut butter factory, Beethoven was overjoyed that Neil had found the gun to his lost in space action figures that he had lost before Christina and him had went on their honeymoon. "Thank you, where did you find it? I have been looking all over for that," he asked the confused astronaut. Neil looked at him and realizing it wasn't a real gun he began to cry.

"I just wanted to see the moon, is this the moon? I don't think it is the moon. It doesn't look like the moon. Who is that big lobster and why is everyone naked? I'm so confused and nobody will tell me anything. I can't reach Houston and I think there is a talking blue steering wheel following me," he said as he looked nervously around.

"Vern? Vern you little devil are you here?" Christina called out.

"Peek-a-boo!" Vern teased and rolled out from behind a nearby grove of gumdrop flowers.

"Vern!!!!!!" Christina and Beethoven shouted happily, running up to the steering wheel and giving him a hug.

Armstrong just looked at Mikey who gave him a huge smile. "How do you do?" Miky queried and put out a hoof to the stunned astronaut.

Neil fainted.

"Hey guys, I have to go we are about to have an arrival," Christina said and quickly jumped on Mikey.

****

Meanwhile back in the real world BA was busy tinkering around on

Jackson's vacuum cleaner. A surge of electricity ran through the machine and it began dancing around on the carpet. "Hey, man, you really know how to cut a rug," BA joked and immediately he found himself being transported through the space-time continuum. The cupboard door opened and BA stepped out slowly.

"Hi, I'm Christina," the naked woman smiled and held out her hand to greet BA.

****

"Well, you know, toilethead, we can't just sit around here all day long complaining about these cabbages. Let's say you and I get ourselves back to Bunnyland. We can set up headquarters there and see if we can figure out what is going on," the Lord High Pink Bunny said and began gathering up his carrots.

"Good idea!" Great Jon replied. "Should we take the old-fashioned route or just unzip the space-time continuum and step in to Bunnyland?"

"You decide, toilethead!"

"Ok and stop calling me toilethead, Carrotbreath!"

***

Murdock, and the death squad commando team had jumped on board the Santa Maria and Columbus set sail for Logarithmland.

"What do you think will happen when we get there?" Hannibal asked.

"Don't know," Murdock replied "But, hey, at least this little adventure seems to be moving right along."

***

Back up in the heavens Marina grabbed the tea pot off the stove and poured a cup of tea for goddess Walker.

"Aren't you having any?" Walker asked.

"Naaahhh, none of that wimpy stuff for me. I was born in the heavens

over America. Give me a beer!" goddess Marina grinned and grabbed a Ice cold Budweiser from the frige. "Let's see if there are any baseball games on the tube. Oh, maybe the Phillies are playing," Marina through the channels. "Buuuuuuurrrrrppppp....excuse me," Marina giggled.

Goddess Walker just put her head in her hands and sighed. "Why me?"

"Hey, Chris!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Murdock yelled from where he was perched in the crow's nest. "LAND!!!!!"

"Isn't he just supposed to say 'Land Ho!!!'?" A nearby sailor asked Jackson nervously. "I'm sure it says that in the rulebook and if he just brazenly ignores the rules, well, well he's giving us all a bad name!"

"I'm sure he doesn't mean it." Jackson patted the sailor on the shoulder before hurrying away to stand next to Richie, who was watching Chris be seasick. "Ummm, Richie, do you get the impression that this ship really shuldn't be in the water?"

"Whatever gave you that idea?" Richie yawned. "Besides, if this really is Vacuumland and not a dream - people always act like this. It's just how the world works. I guess if they came back to LA, they'd think that we were weird because everything worked fairly rationally."

"Rationally?" Jackson raised his eyebrows in disbelief. "Have you looked at your life recently?"

"I *said* 'fairly'!"

"Um, guys!!" Murdock hollered. "Could someone get me down from here? Please?"

"Halt!" A large onion held up a hand at the arrival of one of the Santa Maria's lifeboats on the sandy shore of Logarithmland. "Before you enter this country, you must go through the port customs!"

"Oh, great..." Murdock groaned. "Why is nothing in this world ever simple?"

"Relax, Murdock." Chris smiled. "I know these people. This is Trade Onion." He pointed out the onion who had spoken. "And this is Soviet Onion." He gestured to the only other onion on the beach. "Where's Partofthe Onion, boys?"

"Aw, he's off talking to some strawberries about a business deal." Trade Onion shrugged. "Now, if you could all step out of the boat and say if you have anything to declare."

With a sickening squelch, the boat capsized.

"What's goin' on here?" BA growled. "This one o' Murdock's pranks?"

"Oh, you know Murdock?" Christina brightened. "Well, then, the forces of Vacuumland justice might go easy on you then. Although with such a serious pun, you might still have to spend some time in our cells. But I wouldn't worry, we have another very nice young man there right now. Mr. Armstrong. He even found one of Louie's guns for him. Wasn't that nice?"

At this point, BA keeled over.

"Well, isn't this nice?" The Lord High Pink Bunny settled himself down in a pile of pink fluff. "Home sweet home."

Great Jon shifted around irritably. "It's a bit...pink."

"Well, obviously!" The Bunny replied. "But at least we haven't got bits of cabbage all over the place!"

"I thought they were lettuces?" Great Jon asked.

"No, they're cabbages. I told you they're cabbages! It's a xenophobic attitude like yours that's caused all of this mess!!!" The Lord High Pink Bunny mused. "Well, okay, maybe not all of it, because my agents have discovered that the person behind all of this is the Giant Man Eating Red Cabbage from the Planet Coleslawus!!!"

"Oh, Manny? Great!" Great Jon grinned.

"Uh, you know him?" The Bunny asked, annoyed.

"Yeah - we were in the same maths class at Bad Guys Grammar School. It came right before a double period on Taking Over The World." Great Jon sighed. "Those were the days."

"Oh." The Bunny yawned as a series of beeps emanated throughout the room. "Ah! My highly sensitive computer has picked up cabbage movements!!! Shall we go and take a look?"

"Okay, Mr. Jackson." Soviet Onion smiled. "Just stand still while we run this highly sensitive detection device over you."

"It's a snail." Jackson pointed out.

Soviet Onion loked at it. "Well, I didn't say it was going to be quick, did I?"

In the queue behind Jackson stood Murdock, Richie, Sister Mary Patrick, Carter the Cool Cucumber, Off the mayonnaise jar, Brian the director, Hannibal the butterfly and Chris, who had left his first mate in charge of the ship. Suddenly, the snail started beeping. Soviet Onion frowned. "Please empty out your pockets, Mr. Jackson."

Jackson did so - putting all the gadgets he had picked up over the last few years in the sand before Trade Onion. "CHEWING GUM!!!!!" A shocked onion was heard to exclaim. "You dared to try and bring chewing gum into our country!!!" A collective gasp went up around the beach. "Get him, Soviet!"

Soviet Onion jumped at Jackson's head, knocking him over. "Ouch!" Jackson yelled. "Hey, what did I do?"

"Yours is an unspeakable crime!" Trade Onion gasped.

"But you were speaking about it a minute ago!" Hannibal pointed out.

"Ah, well... that didn't count." Trade Onion muttered. "Anyway, take him away, guards!"

A herd of Maths textbooks grabbed Jackson and took him away, much to the distress of both Richie and Sister Mary Patrick. "Murdock! You gotta do something!" Richie shouted.

Murdock shrugged. "I don't have any authority here, Richie..."

Suddenly, a young man clad only in a lab coat hurried over the sand dunes. "Murdock! Murdock!"

"Uh, do you know him?" Richie asked. "And does Amy know about this?"

"Hi, my name's Mark..." Mark frantically shook Murdock's hand. "We need your help - the cabbages are attacking!!!!"

"Okay, people." Murdock decided. "We're going in. Sorry, onions, it's been nice meeting you."

With that, Murdock and his team of commandos raced towards the great equation, where a battle was going on between the cabbages and the mathematicians of Logarithmland. Murdock took out his fly swatter and charged at them, while Sister Mary Patrick utilised her flame thrower. Hannibal, Off and Brian decided to hide in a clothes hamper, since they could do nothing to help the battle.

Suddenly there was the unmistakable sound of an Apache 64 helicopter. "Hey, it's an Apache 64 helicopter!" Murdock yelled.

The chopper landed and the two occupants darted out, only to freeze when they saw Murdock.

"You!!!" The Lord High Pink Bunny said, pointing at Murdock.

"You!!!" Great Jon said, pointing at Murdock.

"Ewe!!!" Murdock said, pointing at a nearby sheep.

It was at this point that the huge equation began slowly to topple...

"HOLD IT!!!!" A thunderous voice called out from the heavens.

Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to see the stunning woman coming to the earth in a shimmering golden chariot drawn by six white horses.

"Goddess Marina..."Murdock addressed the beautiful woman and offered his

hand to help her from the carriage. "What brings you to the earth?"

"Well, Murdock...you see, being a goddess can sometimes be so boring. I mean, you just sit up in the heavens all day long and watch adventures go on below you. The goddess rule book says that we aren't suppose to get involved with the happenings of the people. Some silly non-interference clause," Marina stated.

"Oh, sort of like the prime directive?" Murdock asked.

"Yes, Yes exactly!'' Marina smiled.

"Well, then why are you here? Not that I mind," Murdock smiled mischievously at the goddess.

"Well, you see Captain, I have been up in the heavens watching this little story and I think that it is unfolding way too rationally for a Vacuumland tale....so, I have come to spice things up a bit," Marina grinned.

"But what about the non-interference rule?" Jackson asked.

"Rules???? Rules? You are talking to Marina, pal...I thumb my nose at the rules," Marina said and stomped her foot. "Rules are for nerds!"

"But, rules are a good thing, young lady..." Sister Mary Patrick said and waved her ruler at the goddess. Jackson and Richie immediately stepped away from the ruler wielding nun.

"Umm...well..." Marina stuttered.

"Rules are set up to benefit all concerned," Sister Patrick stated seriously. "Without rules there would be anarchy. Isn't that true?" she asked everyone.

"Yes, ma'am," chorused the whole group, even Great Jon and The Lord High

Pink Bunny, nobody wanted to go up against Sister Mary Patrick. Suddenly Marina waved her arms and turned Sister Patrick into a hamster.

"Goddess Marina, are you insane?" Face declared. "She will have our heads!"

"Well, I had to do something. I want to have some fun and she was cramping my style," Marina commented. "Besides, I have always wanted to turn a nun into something. It has been a dream of mine...left over fantasy from my days spent in Catholic school. Just call it revenge for all those hours I spent clapping erasers, praying for forgiveness, and such."

"Turn her back!" Face yelled.

"I will, I will...but not now. Let's have some fun first!" Marina grinned and snapped her fingers.

Everyone found themselves being transported into the air. Colors racing past at alarming rates. Murdock grabbed Sister Mary Patrick who was tumbling head over paws and put her in his sporran.

 

****

Meanwhile back at the cupboard, Christina was trying to rouse BA. When suddenly she found herself being lifted up and floating aimlessly in a vortex of colors.

"Hey, wait a minute! This is not suppose to be happening to me. I'm the one who is in charge of making vortexes of color," Christina declared as she watched the colors continue to swirl past her.

BA woke up. " Not again!!!" he shouted and immediately fainted.

****

The inhabitants of the palace also found themselves in much the same predicament.

Suddenly, there was a big bang and everything went black.

***

A few minutes later everyone woke up to find themselves in a dusty dark cavern. They were all dazed and confused and quietly began milling about, trying to figure out where they were.

"Anyone got a light?" Hannibal asked as he stretched his crumpled wings.

"Here ya, go!" Carter said and handed the Colonel a lite beer.

"Ummm...not that kinda light Carter. I mean a flashlight," Hannibal sighed.

Suddenly a flying light bulb appeared above the crowd.

"BOB!" Murdock shouted. "I was wondering when you were going to show up?" he grinned.

"Get off me, sucka!" BA shouted to Armstrong who was laying on top of him. Armstrong got up and turned around to find himself with a facefull of pink fluff.

"Hey, spaceboy, watch the fur!" the Lord High Pink Bunny commented as he shoved Neil into the corner.

Neil just stood there stunned, not knowing what to do.

"Murdock!"

"B-man!" Murdock and Beethoven ran to each other and hugged. "Long time no see, How's married life?"

"Oh it's wonderful!" Beethoven grinned.

"Help! Help!" came a muffled shout from inside Great Jon's bowl, interupting their reunion.

Murdock ran over to great Jon and lifted his lid to find one soaking wet

Teddy bear. "Ruffy!!!!" he yelled and help Rufus out of the bowl.

"It is Rufus, Mr. Murdock please. But it is nice to see you again," he grinned at the pilot.

"OK, guys, listen up?" Hannibal ordered and immediately everyone gave their attention to the Colonel. "Anyone have any idea where we are?"

"Ummmmmmmmmm....." was the response.

****

"Marina, How could you?" goddess Walker yelled as she came into the living room and threw down her Walkman. The sounds of Culture Club echoing out of the headphones.

"I...ummm...just wanted to have some fun!" Marina stuttered.

"I can't believe you did this. I mean freezing time and helping out a little here and there is one thing, but this?! What about the non-interference rule. Hmmmmmmm?"

"Ah, come on Walker....lighten up...I mean we're goddesses, aren't we entitled to have some fun? Besides, who is going to find out what I did?" Marina laughed.

"Marina!" a booming voice came from behind the two lovely goddesses.

"Mother Nature!" Marina smiled. "What a pleasant surprise?"

"Can it with the conjob, goddess Marina. You're in enough trouble."

"Yes, ma'am," Marina replied and went to hide behind goddess Walker.

"Goddess Walker we sent you here to make sure that goddess Marina stays out of trouble," Mother Nature said and raised one eyebrow at Walker.

"But Mother, I try...really I do, but Marina is impossible," Lonely replied. "She can't seem to stay out of trouble for more then five minutes," Lonely said as she tried to get Marina out from behind her.

"Well, I must say, Father Time and I are not pleased at this recent turn of events. Unfortunately, the non-interference rule prevents us from changing things. The humans and the Vacuumians must find a way out of their situation...WITHOUT...any further interference from the gods. Is that clear?" Mother Nature instructed and pointed a finger at the two cowering goddesses.

"Yes, ma'am," they both replied in unison.

"Marina, Father time and I will talk to you about this in greater detail after this fiasco comes to an end," Mother Nature commented and looked sternly at the goddess Marina. "Really, turning a nun into a hamster, blasphemous, I tell you!"

"Yes, ma'am," Marina gulped nervously and smiled at Mother Nature as she disappeared into the clouds.

"Smooth move, Exlax, now Mother and Father are furious. They'll

probably make us goddesses of someplace like New Jersey," Walker declared and stormed off. Marina cringed as she heard Walker slam the door to her room shut. It shook the heavens.

"All I wanted to do was have a little fun," Marina sighed to the six white horses, but they just neighed at her and left.

 

****

Meanwhile, back in the cavern, Bob had lit the place up enough so everyone could see where they were. Drawings of ancient cabbages adorned the walls. Much like the Egyptian hieroglyphics and cave paintings on earth.

"Ummm....I think we are on the planet Coleslawus," Mark's mom replied as she spied one drawing of a giant red cabbage in a chariot taking over what looked to be a planet of some sort.

"Where?" came the confused replies of half the inhabitants of the cave.

"Oh, that's right, not everyone knows the whole plot," Mark said and

began explaining the story to the crowd.

Mark's mother, Mrs. Nailpolishsalesman'swifeo, stood in the middle of a strangely deserted Logarithmland and prodded the huge equation board with her foot. The fallen board had caused a sandstorm over the whole country and had sent all of the mathematicians and nail polish sellers into hiding. Even the surfers on the sine waves had taken cover. Now, without an equation to solve, the whole land was certain to be destroyed by the Giant Man Eating Red Cabbage.

Mrs. Nailpolishsalesman'swifeo sighed. "This is what happens when your son starts riding around naked..."

Back in the cave on Planet Coleslawus, Murdock was trying to get the introductions done. "Okay, uh, BA... Guys, this is BA - he's a friend. Umm, BA, you know Richie and Jackson..."

Richie and Jackson waved from the corner where they were standing. BA growled at them.

"Umm, and these are B-Man and Christina... Rufus Gruff and Rudolf Gruphov... Bob the lightbulb, The Lord High Pink Bunny, Great Jon, Robin the karma chameleon, Chris Columbus..."

Chris had taken that moment to throw up into Great Jon's bowl.

"Carter the Cool Cucumber and Off. Brian the vacuum, Sister Mary Patrick the hamster, Hannibal the butterfly, Mikey the horse, Gary the piggy bank, King Thurm, Queen Rocky and, um, who were you again?" Murdock asked Mark, Neil and Nikki.

Nikki smiled shyly. "I'm Nikki Horse, sir. Oh, and this is Mark." She gave Mark a kick in the shin.

"Owww!! Yes, um, nice to meet you, sir." Mark said, hopping around holding his leg.

"Where am I? I wanna go to the moon!!" Neil descended into tears in the corner.

Christina patted his shoulder. "I'm sure you'll get there. Murdock, this is Neil Armstrong. We think he committed a punnus baddus."

"A WHAT?" Practically everyone asked, led by BA.

Murdock shook his head. "Never mind. Right, I suggest that we try to get out of these caves - it's getting pretty cramped in here."

"That might not be so easy..." King Thurm looked up from the inscriptions on the wall. "I've studied the ancient languages of Vacuumland and they seem to correspond to this. It's worse than we thought - we're in a labyrinth!"

"Ummm, that isn't one of those nasty things with death traps and spikes, is it?" Rufus asked.

"Thanks for reminding us, Rufus." Rudolf slapped him across the nose.

"Okay, people, well we'd better split up and look for a way out." Murdock said.

"Murdock, if we split up, we'll never be able to find each other again!" Richie whined.

"That isn't important, Face. The important thing is that some of us get out to prevent the Giant Man Eating Red Cabbage from destroying Logarithmland!!!" Murdock said.

"Uh, Murdock, I think that's taking chivalry to extremes." Jackson groaned.

"Well, you got a better idea?" Murdock asked. "Okay, there are twenty-five of us, I think, so we'll split up into teams of five. Team leaders are me, Rudolf, Beethoven, Chris and Christina. Sorry, B-Man, but I need people I can trust around here." Murdock glared at the Lord High Pink Bunny and Great Jon. "I'll take Sister Mary Patrick, Robin, Great Jon and Rufus. The rest of you get into teams and be careful!"

Alpha team headed off down one of the five corridors leading away from the cavern. Christina took Mikey, Gary, Jackson and the Lord High Pink Bunny, who followed two paces behind them, chewing a fluffy carrot.

Gamma team soon followed, comprising Rudolf, BA, Bob, King Thurm and queen Rocky. Once Delta team (Beethoven, Carter, Off, Mark and Nikki) had gone, the remaining five people were left in the cavern. Chris looked around. "Okay, people, anchor up and all that - we have to go."

Richie, with Hannibal flapping around his ear, dragged Neil up from the ground and pulled him along after Chris and Brian. "Why did I ever say we would take Murdock in?" He asked.

Alpha Team were relieved to find no pits of spikes coming their way and so strolled along, watching their footsteps carefully. "I don't like sharing your sporran with this hamster!" Robin objected. "I'm a hero of Vacuunmland and she's got very sharp teeth!"

"Yeah, Rob, but we're not in Vacuumland. we're not even on the same planet!" Murdock smiled. "I don't suppose you can control your time machine with a remote control, can you?"

Robin looked blankly at him. "What time machine?"

Great Jon shook his cistern sadly. "This is what comes of meddling in the space/time continuum."

Suddenly a VOOM! noise was uttered as the team passed a crack in the floor. "Uh oh." Rufus said. "This is when the spikes drop on us, isn't it?"

"Arg! We have to stop!" The Lord High Pink Bunny said, flopping down on the floor. "I think my batteries are running low!"

"Great! That's all we need!" Jackson exclaimed. "You running out of batteries is the last thing we need! Especially since we're on another planet!"

"You're not claustrophobic are you, Jackson?" Christina asked him, concerned.

"Me, claustrophobic?" Jackson grinned. "Not in a million years..."

Beethoven caught up with Carter and his surfboard and whispered. "What is it that your mayonnaise keeps saying?"

"Huh? Speak up, man!" Carter said.

"Well, he keeps muttering something under his breath. It sounds like 'Don't say it, don't say it'. What does he mean?" Beethoven asked, puzzled.

Carter kept walking. "Look, pal, if your name was Off, what wouldn't *you* like people to say?"

Beethoven was about to say "Huh?" when a strange hum started up around the cavern.

"We've gotta get out of this place!" Mark said.

"What?" Beethoven stared at the ceiling.

"I hope I think I know!" Nikki exclaimed, scuffing some words on the floor. They read 'Song title spell'.

"I hate...people." Beethoven muttered.

"Hey!" Richie yelled. "There's someone else here!"

"Hello!" The shabbily-clothed man up ahead waved to them. "I welcome you to my home."

"But who are you?" Chris asked. "Why are you here?"

"I am the Mad Anagram Man of the West." The man said. "And I am here because of...DABEI!!!"

"Huh?" The team said in unison.

"You know, I think I've been converted." Goddess Marina said, filing her nails in a corner of the vast bathroom of the heavens.

"Yeah?" Goddess Walker said, pausing from singing along to Karma Chameleon in the shower.

"Yeah. Look at how much fun those cute humans and Vacuumians are having - even without me being there!" Marina grinned. "I can't wait to see what happens next. Hey, Walker, do you think Murdock would go out with me?"

Walker resolutely turned up the water.

"Ahhh....can it with the puzzles pal," Hannibal ordered. "Just tell us how to get the hell out of this maze...we have a cabbage to chop!"

The Mad Anagram Man of the West looked at the monarch butterfly for a moment and then pointed to the left. "Just follow the humming sound."

"Thanks," Chris, Hannibal, Neil, Richie and Brian commented in unison and went in the direction indicated.

The Anagram man went back inside his cave spouting off dozens of the tricky mind puzzles as he shook his head in confusion.

****

"DUCK!"

"Where?" Great Jon asked as he looked up to the ceiling to see if he could see a bird of the water-fowl variety. "Ohhh, I hope it is a Mallard...I love Mallards."

"Not that kind of duck, toilethead...I mean duck, as in get down, get out of the way, lay in a prone position on the ground!" Murdock said and pushed the toilet to the earth.

"Oh, and don't call me toilethead...geez, did you and Carrotbreath go to the same class on name calling?" Great Jon asked annoyed as he covered his tank. At that moment a barrage of assorted cream pies flew threw the air just missing everyone, well except for Rufus who was smacked in the face with a coconut custard.

"Well, I said...duck," Murdock cringed as he looked at the angry bear, coconut cream dripping off his face and onto the floor. Sister Mary Patrick and Robin popped their heads out from Murdock's sporran and upon observing Rufus in his current state immediately ducked back inside the pouch.

"Ok, guys let's move on! We have to get out of this place," Murdock instructed.

"I most certainly agree!" Rufus said and brushed some of the custard out of his eyes. The team headed off in the direction of a humming sound that was emanating from a long dark tunnel.

***

"I....Th-in-k......w-e.....n-e-e-d....t-o......f-in-d...a.....b-a-t-t-e-r-y.......ch-ar-g....."

The Lord High Pink Bunny stuttered slowly as he began to wind down.

"Oh, wonderful, great! Now what are we going to do?" Jackson asked.

"I got an idea...Mikey come here!" Christina commanded. "Help me get him onto Mikey!"

Jackson, Christina and Gary hoisted the Lord High pink Bunny onto Mikey and then headed off to follow a humming sound that seem to be coming from up ahead of them.

***

King Thurm and Queen Rachel were walking claw and claw trying hard to see where they were going. Bob working diligently to light their way as they navigated the sinuous tunnels.

"Hey, what is that humming sound?" Thurm asked BA who was still trying to get used to being followed by two giant lobsters, a teddy bear and a lightbulb.

"Don't know, man, but I think we better check it out. Let's go!"

Quickly, the five of them headed off into the direction of the humming sound.

***

Beethoven was busy running a list of things through his mind that Off wouldn't want people to say. "Step-off, naah, back-off, naah, jerk-o...hmmmm, well that is pretty bad...' "Oh, I know,I know, Fuc..."

"Beethoven! Quickly! We have to find out what that humming sound is!" Carter yelled and immediately Beethoven, Mark, Nikki, and Off followed the cucumber in the direction that the humming sound was coming from.

The five teams converged all at once from the labyrinth crashing into each other as they all hurried out of the exits from the tunnels. They picked themselves up and began dusting off their clothes. Once they had their bearings they began to look around and were stunned by the sight.

****

Meanwhile, back up in the heavens Walker was busy drying her hair. For you see, Walker had hit it off with Ernie aka the chariot salesman, and they were going on this hot, heavy date. They were planning on *testing* out the *shocks* on goddess Walker's new chariot.

"Now, Marina, while I am out tonight. I expect you to stay out of trouble. Remember what Mother said about not interferring with the Vacuumians and the humans," Walker warned as she raised a finger at goddess Marina.

"Lonely I swear to you. I am a reformed goddess, no more freezing time, no more playing with bulges, no more transporting entire populations of countries to distant worlds. No, I am going to walk the straight an narrow from now on. I've learned my lesson. You'll see, I will make Mother, Father and you proud!" Marina beamed.

"Well, seeing is believing," goddess Walker replied skeptically and went back to getting ready for her date.

"I don't believe it!" Murdock gasped. "How could this possibly be right?"

Robin the karma chameleon stuck his head out of Murdock's sporran. "Wow!" He said, that *is* pretty unbelieveable!"

Richie picked himself off the ground and nodded. "Yup. Guys - I think I've finally got to grips with this world after all - I know what this is!"

"Yeah?" Mark asked. "Would you mind sharing then, pal?"

"It's..."

BANG!!!!!

Murdock fell out of bed and knocked his head against the bedside cabinet. "OW!!" He yelled. "Who put that there!" He slowly got into a vertical position, rubbing his head. "Hey, where am I, anyway?"

"So, the fearless pilot finally wakes up." Amy Allen grinned at him from the doorway. "Richie just called - he's going slightly apoplectic at the airstrip. Now, I guess having a rest is a good thing, but you really should tell him if you take the morning off..."

Murdock just stared at her. "Huh?"

"Hey, Dad!" A girl in her mid-teens swung around the door, brandishing a school jotter. "Sign this for me, will ya? If I leave it till tomorrow I'll forget and I want to go see Zack."

Murdock took the jotter and stared at the front of it. Amy ignored him and turned to the girl. "Are you sure you should be going to the school? Zack does have a job, you know, and he probably doesn't need you hanging around him the whole time."

"Mom!" The girl rolled her eyes. "I'll be back for dinner."

"Hang on a minute!" Murdock held up a finger. "Where am I and who are you?" He pointed at the girl.

"Yeah, funny, Dad." The girl grinned. "See you later!" She hurried away. Murdock was left shaking his head in disbelief.

"HM? Are you okay?" Amy looked at him, concerned.

"What? Yeah..." Murdock rubbed the bruise on his forehead. "I guess I'm still a bit tired, that's all..."

Amy grinned. "You're getting old, that's what it is. Okay, I'll make some coffee and then you can head out to put Richie out of his misery." She left Murdock alone in the room. Still rubbing his head, Murdock ventured over to the mirror that was hanging in the corner. Unsurprisingly, he saw his reflection, clad in blue pyjamas, with a darkening bruise above his left eye.

"This isn't right..." Murdock muttered.

"Duh! Course it isn't right!" Another person appeared in the mirror beside him. "At least - not your right! Well, it wasn't, but it is now! Everything's changing! Everything!"

Murdock jumped the proverbial ten feet in the air and spun around a few times before he figured out that, yes, this was one of those things that happened to people in horror movies. "Who...who are you?"

"I am the Mad Anagram Man of the West!" The reflection grinned. "But that's only in my spare time. You have to get back to Vacuumland and stop the end! You have to stop the *DABEI*."

The reflection disappeared, leaving Murdock to say. "Huh?" For not the first time in his career. "What the hell is a Dabei?"

"It's my science project!" A large red cabbage hurried out to bat Richie's hand away from it. "And your *friend* has just messed it up!"

"Manny?" The Lord High Pink Bunny and Great Jon exclaimed in disbelief.

"Oh, hi guys!" Manny Redcabbage fiddled with some of the computer keys that were wired to the shifting vortex in the centre of the room that had swallowed up Murdock. "This was never supposed to do this!" He yelled. "It was only supposed to do my algebra homework on weekends when I was out scuba diving!"

"Where you put Murdock, man?" BA shoved his fist in Manny's face.

Manny shrugged. "I don't know. This vortex has changed in purpose altogether - someone's altered it to make it change time and space!"

"What, you mean he could be in any reality?" Jackson asked. He had seen *that* episode of the Outer Limits as well.

Manny shook his head. "No - there is only one reality, pal. Only one that Murdock can survive in, anyway. The problem is that the vortex may have changed it out of all recognition!"

"Huh?" Everyone chorused. They were getting quite good at it.

Manny sighed. "Look, there's only one reality. Vacuumland, Computerland, Planet Coleslawus, etc, are the flipsides to Earth and its solar system. They're all related. But what the vortex might have done is change that reality! It could have made Earth a great jungle filled with venomous lampshades, for all we know!"

"But it could have been made into a beach in the Caribbean filled with naked women and lots of tequila?" King Thurm asked hopefully.

"I doubt it." Manny shook his head. "Even if it is good now, it may change again. Remember, guys - I'm a graduate of Evil Masterplans and I made this thing. If someone could gain control over it and bend it to his will, he must be someone very very very evil!"

"Oh great." Jackson said. "I always knew putting down 'International terrorist' on my careers form would get me into trouble."

"So, how did the date go?" Marina asked Walker, idly flicking channels on the TV.

"It didn't!" Walker threw down her handbag on the couch and sat down heavily. "He didn't show up! Do you realise what this means - a third-rate carriage salesman ditched me - a goddess!!!!"

"Well, he wasn't good enough for you anyway." Marina sniffed. "Why don't you go out with one of those nice superheroes? Reallycoolman's *always* calling and he has such nice hair..."

"Why don't you go out with him, then!" Walker got up and stomped off in a huff.

Marina grinned and switched over the TV channel to a very interesting program indeed. "I would... except I have my eye on a very different kind of superhero..."

Murdock came rushing out of the bedroom and looked around. Suddenly, outside his window he noticed strange an unusual things taking place. The houses on the block were now large dog houses. Across the street, a Great Dane in a bathrobe and slippers came out to get the morning paper. His human romping about under his feet chasing a ball.

Vacuumland II Lettuce Prey part 4    

Murdock began to look around his own surroundings. There were bone-shaped chairs in the living room, chew toys strewn about the floor and various family pictures adorning the walls. Including one marked "Puppy's First Christmas" which was a picture of an adorable little golden retriever sitting on Santa's knee. Murdock ran to the refrigerator and opened it. Inside were T-bone steaks, chicken, liver, meats of every kind. In the corner of the kitchen, Murdock noticed a bowl with his name on it and a 50 pound bag of "Human Food" sitting next to it.

"What the hell is going on?" Murdock shouted outloud to the room.

Suddenly, a loud bark came from behind him. Murdock turned around to see a Golden Retriever, smoking a pipe and wearing a silk lounging jacket, staring at him. "Bad, Murdock, bad human, what are you doing in the house? Shoo!" the dog said and chased Murdock out to the yard.

Murdock stood their stunned. He had no clue what in the world was happening, but all he knew was that he'd better get back to Vacuumland ASAP. He knew that something there was the cause of all this mess.

****

Meanwhile, back on the Planet Coleslawus Manny, BA, Jackson, Face and the rest of Vacuumians were attempting to stop Manny's science project from wreaking anymore havoc.

Jackson, being the most evil of the bunch, was trying his best but it didn't seem to be working.

"Our only hope is that Murdock can find his way back to Vacuumland!" Manny shouted.

"Oh, great, how in the world is he going to do that?" Face asked as the great swirling vortex seemed to be at it again.

***

Back on Earth, the world suddenly began to change again. This time all the inhabitants were turned into talk show hosts.

"Hi, my name is Sally Jesse Oprah Raphael Springer, and I have it on good reliable authority (unpaid, of course). That you, Mr. Murdock are a transvestite who plans to have a sex change so you can sleep with the lesbian wife of your mother's brother's father's uncle's sister's 'husband's brother. And that you like to let the dog watch while you have sex? Is that true Mr. Murdock?"

Murdock took one look at this hideous creature and took off running. He finally came to a stop in the woods. Exhausted, he knelt down and almost began to cry. "Goddess Marina, if you can hear me, I really need your help!" he shouted into the air.

***

Up in the heavens, goddess Marina was busy making herself a enormous hot fudge sundae with lots of whip cream and chocolate sauce, when she heard the pleas of her beloved pilot echo through the air. Quickly, she turned around to see where goddess Walker was. Upon seeing that Walker was taking a nap, Marina *borrowed* Walker's astral projection thingy and beamed herself to where Murdock was.

"Yes, my beloved, I am here for you, what is the matter?" Marina asked as she knelt down on the earth beside the gorgeous man.

"Marina, you have to help me. I need to get back to Vacuumland. Something awful is happening, according to the Mad Anagram man of the West."

"Oh, you mean Ralph...what has he done now?"

"Goddess Marina I have no clue, he says something about that I must stop something called a DABEI, but I don't know what it is and I am afraid my friends are in serious trouble. Oh, goddess, can you help me, please.." Murdock fell into the goddess' arms and began to weep.

"There, There, my love, no need to cry....I will help you," Marina said and ran her fingers over Murdock's face drying his tears with her finger tips.

Murdock looked up at the goddess and grabbed her, placing a passionate kiss on her supple lips. They kissed for what seemed like an eternity, forgetting everything else around them. Neither of them wanting it to end, but then a horde of talk show hosts thundering towards them brought them back to *reality*.

"I'm sorry, Mother, Father, Walker, but I must interfere....it is for my love. Please, forgive me." Marina kissed Murdock one last time tasting the sweetness of his lips, then waved her arms and transported the pilot to Vacuumland.

Murdock got up and looked around. "OK, I'm here. Now what?"

"There's something weird here that I'm just not putting my finger on." Richie wandered around the room which held Manny Redcabbage's science project.

"Good!" Manny muttered. "Put your finger on any of this stuff and you might turn us all into interestingly-shaped mashed potato!"

"No, but, you've got to admit, something very weird is going on." Richie said. "I mean - first it was the cabbages who were the bad guys, then it was the Lord High Pink Bunny and Great Jon and then it was you and now it's some reality-changing vortex. Is anyone else totally lost?"

"Yup." The rest of the people in the room, who were also trying to avoid touching anything, chorused.

"Hmmm..." Richie pondered as the room shifted around forty-five degrees and everyone froze. "Hey, what happened?" Jackson asked the room.

"Yeah, what happened?" Sister Mary Patrick, changed back into a human, brandished her ruler at him.

"Well, taking a wild guess, I'd say that everyone's been turned into cabbages." Jackson looked around at the room, which was now filled with green vegetables. Even the vortex had been affected - it was now a very large carrot.

"I'll get em!" Sister Mary Patrick said in a bloodthirsty rage, offloading her flame-thrower from her shoulder.

Jackson wrestled her to the ground. "No! Those people are our friends! Or at least they were - we're going to have to find a way to change them back! Preferably before they eat us!"

Sister Mary Patrick grinned at the handsome man on top of her. "Well, when you put it like that... Watch out! They've woken up!"

Some of the cabbages were stirring and snapping their jagged teeth at the only people left in the room. "Grab that carrot!" Sister Mary Patrick yelled at Jackson as she ran off down the tunnel.

Jackson rolled his eyes, grabbed hold of the giant carrot and bolted off after her. "What do we do now?"

"I've a few suggestions." Sister Mary Patrick smiled alluringly at him. "What's a nice boy like you doing with that Bancroft kid, anyway? You want someone with a bit more experience, I think..."

Jackson thought of a few choice remarks, but decided not to say any of them. The cabbages were bouncing after them along the tunnels of the labyrinth and were about to catch up with them. "What were the names of those goddesses Murdock was talking about?"

"Oh, you don't want them, Jack..." Sister Mary Patrick said.

"YES I DO!!!" Jackson shouted. "They're the only people who can get us out of here!"

"Oh, I that case..." Sister Mary Patrick sniffed. "They're called Marina and Walker, but they won't help us - there's a non-intervention policy, you know."

"Well, if it's the same one the USA has, they'll help us." Jackson grinned. "Um, oh Goddess Marina, help us in our time of need! Cause, basically if you don't we're going to be eaten alive by some ravaging cabbages and that really wouldn't look good on my resume!"

"Whirr...Whirr... Goddess Marina can't come to the phone right now, but if you would leave your prayer after the angels singing, she'll get back to you as soon as possible..." There was a click as someone picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Uh, hi." Jackson said, yelling up at the roof. "Would you mind saving us, please!"

"Who is this?" The voice said.

"Jackson!" Jackson yelled back. "And we're about to be eaten alive, if that's any incentive."

"Well... since it's you..." The voice hung up, leaving Jackson and the nun alone to face the hordes of cabbages.

Suddenly, they both vanished, putting many of the cabbages in therapy.

"Hey, nice place you got here." Murdock said to Goddess Marina, who was leading him into her heavenly house with a distant smile on her face. "I guess this is one costly bit of real estate, huh?"

"We got a good deal on it." Marina replied, still grinning. "Um, would you like something to eat or shall we go right to my room?"

"Um..." Murdock said, wondering what he had gotten himself into. "I wouldn't mind a sandwich... I haven't had anything to eat for ages..."

"Okay!" Marina flashed him a bright smile and then froze. "Hey! What's that noise!"

"I don't hear anything..." Murdock shrugged.

"If you had to share your place with another goddess, you'd hear everything!" Marina stalked off in the direction of Walker's room and tried the door. It was locked. Murdock arrived a few seconds late and heard some strange muffled sounds coming from behind it.

"What's going on?" Murdock asked.

"I've got a fair idea!" Marina muttered, banging on the door. "Walker! Open this door right now or you're washing the dishes every night for a month!"

The door opened instantly, revealing Walker's room, Goddess Walker, a bemused looking Jackson and a small hamster wielding a flame thrower. "Hi there, Marina. Was wondering where you were."

"What were you doing with him?" Marina demanded, pointing at Jackson, who was pulling his shirt back on and edging over towards Murdock.

"I was, um, demonstarating some cabbage battle techniques." Walker replied.

"Murdock... these people are crazy!" Jackson whispered urgently.

"Nope, they're Goddesses." Murdock explained. "Which means that they get very bored and occasionally have to have a bit more excitement in their lives."

"Yeah, but do we have to supply it?" Jackson whined. "I mean, you're a married man and despite the fact that my boyfriend's been turned into a cabbage, I don't think I'm going to dump him just yet!"

"Richie's been turned into a cabbage?" Murdock repeated. "What happened?"

"Everyone's been turned into cabbages!" Jackson explained. "Except me and Sister Mary Patrick, who Walker turned back into a hamster. But we've got the vortex!" He pointed at the large carrot propped up in the corner.

"You violated the non-interventionist policy!" Marina jabbed a finger at Walker.

"Yeah, but you did it first!" Walker said. "Besides, Jackson's so cute... I couldn't let him be eaten alive by cabbages. It would look bad!"

"Goddesses, um, can we focus here, please?" Murdock begged. "The entire reality is changing! Our friends have been turned into cabbages! The only thing that can turn them back in a large carrot! What are we going to do?"

Suddenly a familiar-looking cupboard appeared in the middle of the room. Murdock hesitantly opened the door, revealing Rudolf, Robin, Beethoven and Christina. "Hi Murdock!" They all waved.

"Um... aren't you all cabbages?" Jackson asked.

"Well, in a manner of speaking, yes." Rudolf tried to explain. "But that was a while back. We're from the future, after you turned us back."

"So how did we do it?" Murdock asked.

"We can't tell you that, HM." Beethoven shrugged. "Father Time wouldn't like it. But we are here to help you."

"Great!" Murdock grinned. "Just like old times! Now, does anyone have any idea of how we can change the vortex back into a vortex and repair all of the damage?"

"Dabei! Dabei! Dabei!" The Mad Anagram Man Of The West fell through a window on top of Rudolf. "Uh, hi guys!" He picked himself up and righted the young teddy bear. "Just wanted to tell you - DABEI!!!"

"Look, pal, what's a dabei?" Murdock asked.

"Can't tell you." The Mad Anagram Man grinned.

"It's a German word." Beethoven told him.

"Well, what does it mean?" Murdock asked.

Jackson shook his head. "This is bad, Murdock, very bad. I think I might know what's going on... Dabei is a word which has no direct translation in English - it's one of those words that you just put in sentences to take up space. If the Dabei has become sentient, maybe it wants a meaning!"

"And it's taking all of the meaning from the outside world by using the vortex!" Beethoven finished.

"Yeah, Jack, you were right - this is bad. After cabbages, bunnies, toilets and more cabbages, we're now under attack from a miffed German word!" Murdock sighed. "Okay, so any idea how we can make everything okay again?"

"You must trap the Dabei once more in a German dictionary!" The Mad Anagram Man wailed. "You must travel through the Land Of Lost Consonants to get there. It will be a long and perilous journey, but, hey, it wouldn't be any fun if it wasn't."

After much muttering, Murdock, Beethoven, Robin, Rudolf, Christina, Sister Mary Patrick and Jackson, who was still carrying the carrot, set off for the Land of Lost Consonants.

As soon as the door slammed shut, Marina turned to Walker. "So, was it good for you?"

"Bringen Sie mir ein Stück von Schwarzem forrest Kuchen und einem Glas der Milch," the DABEI shouted to the terrified weinerschnitzel named Schultz before him.

"Ja, mein Kommandant." The piece of pork ran off dripping bread crumbs along the way.

The DABEI sat back in his throne and looked around the castle. He was angry and needed some sweets to cheer him up. After all, the vortex had been turned into a carrot and he was not happy. "How am I suppose to find a meaning now?" DABEI asked Shultz who was running back carrying a large piece of Black Forrest Cake and a glass of milk for the DABEI.

"Oh, thank you Shultzey I really needed this snack."

"Sie sind willkommen, mein Kommandant." Shultz replied and went off to make sure the guard dogs were fed.

"So polite that one is," The DABEI muttered as he sunk his teeth into the cake.

***

Meanwhile, Beethoven, Murdock, Christina, Sister Mary Patrick (who mysteriously keeps changing back and forth from a nun to a hamster and vice versa) Rudolf, Robin, and Jackson stopped in their tracks. "Hey Murdock...umm, how do we get down from the heavens so we can start off for the Land of Lost Consonants?

"Er, good question Jackson...ummm, goddesses would you mind beaming us down to the Earth?" Murdock asked.

"Oh, yeah, sorry...I forgot," Goddess Walker giggled and beamed the seven travelers to the ground.

"OK, now we can start off for the Land of Lost Consonants and find a German dictionary somewhere along the way, I hope," Murdock commented to his team members.

On cue a Dictionary came running up from behind a nearby grove of trees. "Hi, I'm Wilhelm and I heard you mention something about needing a German Dictionary? Just so happens that I am a unemployed German Dictionary and I could really use the work," Wilhelm pleaded as he looked at Murdock.

"OK, well how do you feel about going to find and trap a miffed German word, without a translation, who is trying to suck a meaning from the world by using a giant vortex, which was created by a giant man eatingred cabbage for the purposes of doing his algebra homework, but this vortex has now been warped and turned into a carrot," Murdock stated as Jackson held up the carrot for the dictionary to see.

"Sounds like whoever created this tale needs serious psychiatric help,"

Wilhelm commented as he rolled his eyes. "But I'm desperate man, the rent is due and I am short on cash."

"Well, then you got yourself a job!" Murdock smiled and shook the dictionary's hand.

***

Back up in the heavens goddess Walker was still attempting to evade Marina's questions. "So, come on tell me, every last detail."

"Marina, goddesses do not practice Cabbage Battling techniques and tell." Walker smiled coyly.

"Awww, come on..."

"Nope!" Walker giggled and threw a pillow at Marina.

Marina just stuck out her tongue at Walker who was grinning from ear to ear.

***

"Ok, Rudolf do you have any idea how we get to the Land of Lost Consonants?" Murdock asked.

"Umm, well you have to travel to the edge of Vacuumland and hope that there is a bottle of skin lotion so we can get across the swimming pool filled with electric eels. Then we go through Computerland and beyond that Captain I am afraid that we must travel through the seedy, shadey side of this flipside reality," Rudolf commented nervously as he looked around at the team members.

"And then do we come to the Land of Lost Consonants?"

"Well, Captain that all depends on whether or not the authors of this

story, decide to write it that way or not," Rudolf stated.

"Oh, yeah right!" they all said in unison and headed off for the border.

"Hi there!" The Evil Kidnapper Guy closed the door to Goddess Marina's bedroom behind him, flashed a smile at Goddess Walker who was standing in the corridor tapping her foot angrily and hurried off towards the front door. As soon as he was out of sight, Walker charged into Marina's room.

"*What* was he doing here?" Walker demanded. "And don't tell me you were practicing cabbage battle techniques!"

Marina grinned. "He was just helping me out with some of my paperwork. EKG's sweet, but he'll never replace the one true love of my life."

Walker rolled her eyes. "Just when I thought we were going to get through a whole three paragraphs without mentioning Murdock."

"You brought him up!" Marina sniffed. "I think you're getting a bit obsessive about him!"

"Obsessive? You're the one who has five pages of her diary covered with 'Marina 4 Murdock'." Walker retorted.

Marina stood up. "You read my diary?"

Walker took a step back. "Um, no..."

"So how did you know about it, then?"

"Uh, Jackson told me..."

"*Jackson* read my diary?" Marina said, getting ever more high pitched.

"Well, metaphorically..." Walker smiled nervously.

Marina looked at her. "How does someone metaphorically read a diary?"

Walker shrugged. "I don't know, but when I find out, you'll be the first to know!" She disappeared in a puff of blue smoke before Marina could throw another pillow at her.

Marina flopped down onto her bed, which had mysteriously changed into a large banana.

"This doesn't look good, does it?" Murdock squinted into the swimming pool which marked the border between Vacuumland and Computerland. An electric eel fizzed angrily at him.

"Um, no, I would say not." Beethoven sat down in the sand and yawned. Suddenly, Christina turned into an ironing board. "Hey!" The composer jumped up. "What happened to my wife?"

Murdock scratched his head. "It's the vortex again. Turning itself into a carrot obviously hasn't stopped it."

"Maybe we should just destroy it." Rudolf rubbed his nose where a cabbage had bitten it.

"Look, pal!" Jackson stuck a fist in the teddy bear's face. "My boyfriend's been turned into a cabbage - his wife is now a very pretty ironing board. This carrot is the only chance we have of getting them back, okay!"

"Okay, Mr. Jackson, sir!" Rudolf saluted and then hurried away a few steps to hide behind Murdock.

Jackson angrily threw down the carrot and sat on it, for emphasis. "So, how do we get to the Land of the Lost Consonants now? We can't stay here forever and I really don't want to have to ask those goddesses for help again!"

"Uh uh." Everyone shook their heads.

"Okay, Rudolf, are there any other ways to the Land of the Lost Consonants?" Murdock asked the bear, who was hiding behind one of his legs.

"Um, I don't think so." Rudolf said, eyeing Jackson carefully.

"Anyone?" Murdock asked. He looked around the small group. Christina was now an ironing board. Beethoven had mainly stayed in Vacuumland. Jackson was a first-time visitor. Rudolf and Robin, who had travelled around, were both sadly shaking their heads. "Wilhelm?" Murdock prodded the German dictionary.

"What?" Wilhelm asked.

"Do you know another way to get to the Land of the Lost Consonants?" Murdock repeated.

"Ummm..." Wilhelm looked around. "Don't you want to go this way? It's got such nice scenery..."

"Yes,but we prefer scenery that doesn't want to kill us!" Robin yelled.

"Oh, all right then, I do know another way." Wilhelm muttered.

"Well, why didn't you say so!" Beethoven threw his arms up in disbelief.

"I'm trying to get some work experience as a tour guide book." Wilhelm explained. "Being a German dictionary is so boring. One day, I hope to be a John Grisham book!"

"Yeah, yeah, but what's the other way?" Murdock asked.

"It's an incantation." Wilhelm explained, tearing a few pages from himself and handing them out.

"These are song sheets." Jackson said.

Wilhelm grinned. "Yes! It works by insulting the gods of all the countries so much that they send you to the one place where a song like this would be number one!"

"And that place would be The Land of the Lost Consonants?" Murdock asked. "Well, I guess we'd better give it a go. Um, B-Man, care to give us a tune?"

Beethoven shrugged. "We have no instruments here, HM."

"Hey, look what I found!" Rudolf picked up a guitar from the bushes. "I think there are some keyboards here too... Oooh! And a drum kit!"

"I hate asking." Jackson said. "But isn't this all a bit unlikely?"

"Yes." Murdock agreed. "But it's Vacuumland. Learn to love it!"

"So, does anyone actually *play* the guitar or drums?" Beethoven asked.

Rudolf eagerly scrambled over to sit at the drum kit and twiled the sticks around in his paws. Jackson sighed and picked up the guitar. "I'm not promising anything - Tommy taught me about five chords one Saturday night. And I think I was fairly drunk at the time, too..."

"Don't worry about it!" Robin called out. "I think that as long as you try, it'll work. This is Vacuumland, after all."

"And you're sure there are no toilet rolls or large rocks involved in this at all?" Murdock eyed the dictionary suspiciously.

Wilhelm shrugged. "Don't think so."

"Okay." Murdock picked up a microphone that was lying on the ground. "Um, guys, any idea what all this electrical stuff is connected to?" Jackson tapped him on the shoulder. "What?" Jackson pointed to the swimming pool. "Oh, right... Okay, guys, let's try it. Ummm... This is 'Toasted Oranges For Breakfast' performed by Tin Foil Incorporated."

"Tin Foil Incorporated?" Everyone asked Murdock.

The A-Teamer shrugged. "That's what it says here, okay, Rudolf - hit it!"

The young bear started up a beat that Beethoven soon added to on the keyboards. Jackson, with a shrug, started to strum his way through some chords which by some miracle were in harmony with everything else. Frowning at the songsheet, Murdock started to sing...

"One day, one hundred thousand years from now." Murdock began quietly, trying to keep with the music. "We say, while sitting on a purple cow. WHY DID WE WRITE THIS SONG!!!!!"

Rudolf upped the volume, giving a loud crash with the cymbals as Murdock got into the chorus.

"Paper!" Murdock belted out.

"Paper!" Robin and Jackson harmonised.

"Why did we write this song!" Murdock continued. "Oranges!"

"Oranges!" Robin and Jackson sang.

"Our toasted oranges!" Murdock sang back. "WHY DID WE WRITE THIS SONG!"

As the chorus finished, the world seemed to start turning around. "Keep playing!" Murdock yelled. "Jackson, get that carrot!"

He looked at the songsheet to see what was next. "Breakfast, one hundred thousand years ago. Breakfast, without oranges in bright day-glo. IS WHY WE WROTE THIS SONG!!!!"

Thankfully, the swirling scenery had stopped by the time Murdock finished singing the verse, so there was no need to go through the chorus again. "Aw, man, Murdock." Jackson dropped his guitar. "That song is awful!"

"Yup, but we got here!" Murdock grinned. "I guess this is the Land of the Lost Consonants."

The band of travellers walked forward a few steps over a hill and then came back of the crest, running very quickly with cabbages in pursuit. "Oh, great." Jackson said, still holding the carrot. "What do we do now?"

Up in the heavens, Marina and Walker were watching TV. "Well, I think it could be a hit." Marina mused. "With the right promoter and all... I mean, with such a good-looking lead singer, how could they fail?"

"I admit, the guitarist is drop-dead gorgeous." Walker replied. "But you have to think of merchandising..."

"You're right - we'll sign that teddy bear up immediately!" Marina grinned. "By the way, after all this is over, do you think I should take Murdock to the Black Hole or the Supernova? I would say the Black Hole - more *personal* - but maybe he'd think I was being too pushy."

Walker rolled her eyes and wandered off to see what Ralph the Mad Anagram Man of the West was doing for dinner.

Suddenly, a letter X came running up to Murdock. "Ahhh, let me guess...you're lost, right?" Murdock asked the little letter who was holding a map.

"Yeah, how did you know?" the X asked amazed.

"Lucky guess," Murdock grinned and grabbed the X by the arm. "Come on,

we have to get away from those cabbages," he yelled and everyone ducked inside a nearby cave. The cabbages rolled right on past the travelers.

"Phew, that was close," Robin said as he popped out of Murdock's sporran.

"OK, well, since the letter X is a consonant and he is lost. I say we are in the right place," Beethoven commented to the group.

"Yup, B-man, I'd have to agree with you on that one," Murdock replied and patted the X on the head. "So, little fellow, do you have any idea how to get to the castle of the DABEI?"

"Ummmm, well, no, not really. I mean, I am not good on directions. That's the bad thing about being a lost consonant, you never can find your way around," The X replied sadly.

"Oh, yeah, right...sorry. Well, you know, this little adventure into the Land of Lost Consonants might just prove to be more tricky then I thought," Murdock commented and looked around the cave.

"Duh!!!!" the whole group shouted in unison.

"You didn't think it was going to be easy, did you?" Jackson asked. Murdock just shrugged and went off into the cave. The others looked at each other, shrugged and followed Murdock into the cave as well.

***

Back up in the heavens, goddess Walker and Ralph were fixing ameal of macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and corn on the cob.

"Hey, Walker, do you think that Father and Mother will be mad that we interfered again after they ordered us not to?" Marina asked as she peeled the corn cobs.

"Umm, probably, but I'm not worried," Walker replied casually as she added another pound of cheddar cheese to the macaroni.

"And why is that?" Marina inquired confused.

"Cause it was my first offense," Walker replied. "But they are probably going to crucify you," she grinned.

"Oh, thanks for your optimism Walker. You really know how to make a goddess feel good," Marina replied and sat back on the stool.

"Umm, well, maybe all will be forgiven if we keep our noses out of it from this point on," Walker beamed.

"You really think so?" Marina asked excitedly.

"No, but I was trying to make you feel better," Walker commented as she poured some milk on to her creation.

"Gee, thanks," Marina said and threw a corn husk at goddess Walker.

***

"HM?"

"Yes, B-man?"

"Why are we walking around this cave?"

"Umm, well, I thought maybe we could find something in here that might help us get to the castle of the DABEI."

"Oh I see."

"Murdock! Murdock! Come quickly!" Rudolf shouted.

"What is it?"

"It is a scroll with something written on it," Rudolf said as he handed the scroll to the pilot.

Murdock took the scroll and began to read it out loud: "What is greater then God? More Evil then the Devil? Rich People need it? And poor people have it?"

"Huh?" everyone blurted out when Murdock had finished reading the riddle.

 

Next


Vacuumland II : Lettuce Prey by Lonely Walker and Captain Marina
Vacuumland III: When Newbies Attack by Lonely Walker and Captain Marina