Vacuumland II Lettuce Prey part 8
“OK, so how do you propose that we get to the Planet Pretty Ugly, huh, Hannibal?” Face queried.
Hannibal just grinned and lit up a cigar. “Hey, Murdock…you think you could fly a spaceship?”
“Colonel, if it’s meant to be flown…I can fly it,” Murdock said and stood up giving Hannibal a crisp salute.
“And where are we going to get a spaceship?” Marina asked.
“Oh, I’m sure we can find one laying around here somewhere,” Hannibal replied. “Let’s go!”
“He’s on the jazz, man. He’s on the jazz,” BA muttered and shook his head.
“Hey, Hannibal…why do you think that Neil’s spaceship will be here?” Murdock asked.
“Well, because it seems as though the Dabei or, whomever transported us here, just zapped Vacuumland and everything that was in it to this planet. Carter’s shop was here and so is King Thurm’s palace…so, I am assuming that Armstrong’s spaceship will be here as well,” Hannibal replied.
“Good thinking, sir,” Marina commented and smiled at Hannibal. “So, Ralph, as I was saying before..umm, we have been friends for a long time and I was wondering if you would like to go out with me…you know, maybe to the Andromeda Galaxy or something. We could catch a few falling stars. When all this is over, of course.”
“Sure, Marina. I would love to! Hey, do you think it would be all right if I brought my friend along?…maybe we could make it a double-date…you know, introduce him to your sister,” Ralph added.
“Oh…I’m sure Walker would love to meet him. What’s his name?”
“It’s Pythagorus…you know, ever since he invented that theorem he just hasn’t had much excitement in his life.”
“Oh, wonderful…just who Walker would love to date, a mathematician. After we change her back from being a traffic warden, I will tell her about the hot-date…and oh, if you could, tell him to bring something to shout math problems to her through…you know, like a hazard cone…she really loves that. I can’t wait to see the look on her face,” Marina smiled evilly.
Upon coming to the spaceship that was parked on the side of the palace, the team had to duck for cover for the traffic wardens were busy writing up citations for various parking violations.
“Oh great, now, what are we going to do? How are we suppose to get past them?” Face asked.
Murdock immediately turned towards Jackson. “Jack – we need a diversion.”
Jackson looked blank. “What kind of diversion? And why do you always ask me, anyway?”
“Come on, Jack.” Face elbowed him. “You’re the only professional terrorist we’ve got – can’t you blow up something?”
“Can we stop the macho blowing-things-up routine?” Marina sighed. “All we have to do is commit a parking offence.”
Murdock grinned. “Okay. But we don’t have anything to park.”
Marina shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe there are other parking regulations. Ralph?” She asked the ravishingly gorgeous Mad Anagram Man Of The West, who was busy
answering some of his fan mail from teenage girls all across the dimensions, who had given up being fans of Boyzone to worship him.
“Um, right, parking regulations.” Ralph put away his notepad and brought a hefty book out from one of his coat pockets. “Parking, parking, okay… No oral sex on double
Murdock erupted in a coughing spree, Richie and Jackson looked studiously at their shoelaces and Carter asked Off what oral sex was. “Um, what else, Ralph?” Marina asked as
sweetly as she could.
“Uh, no fires on double yellow lines?” Ralph suggested.
“I think we can manage that.” Murdock looked around. “Matches, anyone?”
“Here.” Jackson produced a box from his pocket.
Richie looked at him suspiciously. “You said you’d given up smoking.”
“I have!” Jackson protested. “But if you’re going to be a super hero type, you have to have matches with you in case the bad guys tie you up. Don’t you read Dick Tracy?”
“Excuse me! Will the anti-smoking lobby please SHUT UP!!” Murdock took the matches from Jackson and looked pointedly at Carter’s surfboard.
“Oh, man, not my board, man!” Carter objected, hugging the board to his chest.
“We need some wood, Carter.” Marina patted him on the shoulder. “And I think I can arrange for my father to let you have a brand new board once we’ve saved the world.”
Carter sniffed and handed over the board to Murdock. “Yes, ma’am.”
Richie picked up two spray cans filled with yellow paint that had handily appeared and drew two slightly wiggly lines in the sand. Murdock dropped the surfboard and a match
onto the lines and the whole V-Team ran towards the spaceship as the traffic wardens ran towards the blazing surfboard.
“This doesn’t look much like the space shuttle.” Richie remarked, climbing into the sleek, purple vehicle.
“The vortex again, probably.” Hannibal said.
Murdock hurried to the high-tech cockpit. “Wow, this looks like something from Star Trek!” He hurriedly sat down in the pilot’s chair and yelled for Jackson to join him.
“Ever pilot a spaceship before, Jack?”
Jackson looked doubtfully at the flashing lights. “Christ, Murdock – I can’t even fly a helicopter and you want me to fly this!”
“No – I want you to read the map.” Murdock threw him the starchart that had been on his seat.
Jackson stared at it. “Murdock, I don’t know what to do with this…”
“Do me a favour, then, and guess!” Murdock yelled, seeing the traffic wardens trying to get into the spaceship. “And everyone buckle up back there, we’re in for a hell of a
Hannibal the butterfly strapped himself to a seat next to Ralph and Marina, who were shyly holding hands, and lit up a minature cigar. “I love it when a plan comes together.”
“Well, this is the planet Pretty Ugly.” Marvin announced to Great Jon, The Lord High Pink Bunny and the fridge containing the Dabei. “I hope you like it.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Great Jon said. “You’ve got a great future as a tour guide. So where’s this Shrimp guy you know so well?”
Marvin shrugged. “I don’t know him. He’s just famous for being the universe-expert on Oxymoron. We should find him at the university, which is right over there!” He
“Whoopee.” muttered the Bunny as he followed his evil cohorts along.
“So this is the University of Studies In Oxymoron.” Carter the Cool Cucumber announced, looking lost without his surfboard. “Are we going in?”
Murdock shook his head. “I think that you should go and bring this Larry guy here. We can’t leave the ship unattended and I’m the only one who can fly it.”
“We’ll stay with you.” Marina said, nudging Ralph.
“Marina – they need you to give them a letter of recommendation as it were.” Murdock smiled. “Don’t worry about me.”
Richie shook his head. “I hate it when he says that.”
“You want me to translate something?” Larry the shrimp peered over his glasses at Marina, Ralph and Carter. “Well, certainly. But there is a matter of a small fee…”
“Fee?” BA bellowed. “But we don’t have any money!”
“I am the Goddess of Vacuumland.” Marina announced. “I command you to translate this document!”
Larry shrugged. “I’m not from Vacuumland. Sorry, but it’s not worth my while.”
“But it means the world could be destroyed!” Richie yelled.
“Not my problem.” Larry turned away from them.
Suddenly, there was a large explosion outside. Everyone, including Larry, ran towards the noise. Outside, the place was filled with debris. The spaceship had evidently been
blown up. In the mess lay two bodies.
“Murdock?” Marina asked. “Beloved?”
Richie hurried over to the men. “They’re both alive… But they’re also both Murdock.”
Jackson glared at Hannibal. “What happens to your plan now?”
Hannibal shrugged as best a butterfly can and fluttered over to get another cigar from Richie.
“Oh great, now we have two crazy fools! Man, this just gettin’ worse and worse, Hannibal,” BA said and shook his head.
Hannibal shrugged and puffed on his cigar. “Yeah, well, let’s get them inside. Larry, do you have a couch or something we can lay them on?”
“Sure, you can use my brother Daryl’s room to put one in and my other brother Daryl’s room to put the other one in,” Larry replied. “Our house is just across the street.”
“Ah, you have two brother’s named Daryl?” Face queried.
“Ummm….yeah doesn’t everyone who is named Larry?” Larry asked confused.
“Ahh..” Face put his finger up in a questioning position and was just about to comment when he was interrupted by Hannibal.
“Lieutenant, never mind that, help BA , Ralph and Jackson get Murdock…I mean Murdocks into the house.”
“Right,” Face said and just shook his head at the still confused shrimp.
Jackson, BA, Face and Ralph managed to drag Murdock and Marvin into the house and get them settled into the beds.
“Larry, do you have a doctor around here anywhere?”
“Ummm…yes, in the center of town. I will go fetch her.”
“Good, you do that. Lieutenant, you take first watch. Marina, Ralph, you help me get some supplies. Jackson, BA go out to the space ship and see if you can figure out how it exploded. Understood?”
“Right!” everyone replied and headed off to complete their assignments.
“Hey, Colonel. What can Off and I do?” Carter asked.
“Ummm, round us up some grub. I know we haven’t eaten in awhile.”
“Yes, sir,” Carter saluted and hurried to the kitchen dragging Off with him.
“Would you let me out of the damn refrigerator?” the Dabei demanded from inside the box.
The Lord High Pink Bunny looked at Great Jon and shrugged. “Well, it can’t hurt!” the bunny said and opened the door.
“Ahhh…than..kk…yyy..ooouuuu, I was freezing in there,” Dabei stuttered as he vigorously rubbed his arms over his body trying to warm himself up. “Now, what happened, where are we? Where is that twit Marvin?”
“Hey, BA….look at this?”
“It looks like an explosive device of some kind,” Jackson commented as he held up the charred electrical remnants.”
“Well, that explains the explosion man, but how did the two Murdock’s get in there?”
“Well, one must be the Murdock look-a-like Carter was telling us about.”
“Yeah, but if he is the bad guy, why would he blow himself up?”
“Don’t know, BA.”
“Bwah ha ha ha! So, they all thought they were rid of me,” Manny said as he looked at scenes taking place on the TV screen. “And that Marvin….I created him…who did he think he was buying an evil plot and trying to take over the world. Hell, I’m giving up Sociology and going into this bad-guy business full-time!”
“Shultz, bring me the vortex!”
“Ja, Manny,” Shultz said and quickly ran to get the vortex, that he had stolen from Robin, for the cabbage.
Ralph was in with Marvin wiping his forehead with a damp cloth.
“How’s he doing?” Hannibal asked.
“Fine, I guess, he is still unconscious,” Ralph asked and continued to wipe Marvin’s forehead.
“Let me go check in on the other one.”
Hannibal fluttered down the hall and into the room that held Murdock and Marina.
“How’s he doing?”
“He’s still unconscious Hannibal. I am worried about him or them…I don’t know….which one is which.”
“Me either. I can’t tell them apart. I guess we will have to wait until they wake up and see if we can tell then.”
“Ummm…hey, I have an idea….let me sleep with both of them as soon as they are feeling better and the one who fulfills my fantasy has to be the real Murdock,” Marina suggested enthusiastically.
For many seconds, there was total silence in the room, until Jackson and BA hurried in. “What’s going on?” Jackson asked.
“Marina wants to have sex with both of the Murdocks to figure out which one’s real.” Richie explained.
Marina went bright red. “Well, um, I didn’t mean it like that exactly, ummm…”
Jackson cocked his head to one side. “Well… yeah… that might be a good idea actually.”
“It is?” Marina said weakly.
Richie shrugged. “I don’t see any other way to do it. But we’d have to observe you closely…”
Jackson nodded. “Take notes.”
“Study your every move.” Hannibal grinned. “Okay, so when are you going to do it? We don’t have much time, you know. One of these men could be our greatest enemy!”
Marina looked from Hannibal to Ralph to Richie to Jackson to BA to the sleeping Murdock, turned an even brighter shade of red and ran out of the room screaming.
“Yeah!” The four men and the butterfly did a series of high-fives.
“Did you see the look on her face?” Richie leaned against the wall, tears streaming in laughter.
“That was priceless!” Ralph said from somewhere near the floor.
Hannibal clapped his wings together. “Gentlemen, gentlemen – please. We have things to do, worlds to save. What did you find out, BA?”
“We found this.” BA held out the remains of the bomb. “Looks like someone really wanted to destroy our spaceship, Hannibal.”
“Totally losing the thread here, BA, but how come you weren’t scared of flying then?” Richie asked.
BA frowned. “I’m not scared of flying.”
“Oh. Right.” Richie quickly backtracked. “But, um, don’t you sometimes *prefer* to go by boat to overseas countries?”
“I like to watch fish. What you talking about?” BA argued.
Richie held up his hands. “Nothing!”
Hannibal fluttered closer to the bomb BA was holding out. “This looks like some high-tech piece of equipment. What do you think, Jackson?”
“I’d guess that this was attached to the spaceship and rugged to go off when two people exactly matching Murdock’s DNA patterns were in range.” Jackson reported. “You’re
right – it is high-tech. More complex than anything we have back home.”
“So how do you know about them?” Richie asked.
Jackson smiled. “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”
“All right.” Hannibal said. “Who do we know who could build something like this?”
“Manny.” They all chorused.
Richie held his head in his hands. “Which one’s he again? And is it me or does this story have far too many bad guys?”
Hannibal frowned. “You know, I think you’re right. Whose turn is it to do the recap, then?”
There was dead silence until Ralph spoke up. “Oh, all right then. The plot so far – Manny was trying to take over the world by breeding specially lettuce-sensitive cabbages and
the same time that the Lord High Pink Bunny and Great Jon were trying to take over the world using IRS officials and teletubbies. Anyway, Manny also had a science project –
a transdimensional vortex, which the Dabei stole in order to get a meaning. This vortex created an evil double of Murdock, who is currently somewhere in this building.”
“Uh huh.” Face yawned. “Right. So any idea if we’re ever going to reach a conclusion and get back home in time for Christmas?”
Face sighed. “Thought not.”
One of the Murdocks woke up, to find Carter and Ralph pointing two of the cloud-swords from Logarithmland at him. “Hey, what’s going on?” He yelled. “Where am I?”
“Where do you think you are?” Carter asked suspiciously.
Murdock looked around. “Planet Pretty Ugly?” He hazarded.
“Why did you blow up the ship?” Ralph interrogated him.
“I didn’t blow up the ship!” Murdock replied. “That other guy must have done it!”
“What other guy?”
“The guy who looks absolutely nothing like me!” Murdock answered.
“Funny.” Carter muttered. “That’s exactly what the other guy said.
The vortex buzzed and hummed and threw out a familiar-looking pilot in a brown leather jacket and a kilt. “Brubawubawubawubawubawub.” He said, picking himself up from
the ground, holding his head. “What happened?”
“I destroyed your spaceship, Murdock.” Manny grinned from his position at a console behind the vortex.
“So it was you!!!” Murdock pointed a finger. “I thought it was that lookalike!”
“Yeah.” Manny laughed. “So does eveyone else. No one’ll be coming to rescue you, Murdock.”
“They’d never believe I was dead without a body!” Murdock exclaimed.
“Oh, they’ve got a body, Murdock. Two, in fact. One of them’s Marvin – your evil double – and another is a clone made from some of your earwax.”
“I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery.” Murdock scratched his head. “Well, I guess you’d better tell me what your evil plan is, then, now that you’ve got me here.”
Richie Bancroft watched Jackson pace the ground in front of the university for several minutes before joining him. “You don’t like it here, do you?”
Jackson stopped pacing and sighed. “No. This is like being a hero twenty-five hours a day when I’m not supposed to be a hero at all. Stories are supposed to end, Rich! This
one… I don’t know… I just hope that I’ll wake up sometime soon.”
“It was you who decided to believe that we were being attacked by cabbages, you know.” Richie smiled. “So you can’t blame me for that.”
Jackson put out a hand to touch his lover’s face. “I don’t blame you for anything, Richie. But this isn’t where we belong – even if Murdock seems to like it here better than he
does the real world.”
Richie took hold of Jackson’s hand. “You’re right. And I think that’s dangerous for him. Murdock’s been insane once already in his life – I don’t want to send him back there.
Unfortunately Vacuumland might.”
“Yes – and we’ll be joining him.” Jackson smiled. “Don’t worry about Murdock. He can take care of himself. Now, tell me, have you ever made love on another planet before?”
In the second it took for Richie to open his mouth, a laser bolt surged out of the darkness, impacting near the young man. “Jack!” He screamed as he saw the terrorist’s body
fall to the ground.
Meanwhile on the Planet Metter 4, the Traffic Wardens had finished
putting out the surfboard fire and turned back toward the space ship.
“Hey, where did it go?” one of the traffic wardens asked in disbelief.
“Damn! And I had so many more tickets to give out!”
“Father, what are we going to do about all this mess?” Mother Nature asked as she sat back in her recliner.
“I don’t know, dear,” he replied.
“The girls are at it again, you know.”
“WHAT! After my lecture and taking away their powers they are interfering again?”
“No, no…calm down, Father, please remember your high blood pressure,” Mother Nature commented trying to assuage her husband’s frazzled nerves.
“Mother, where did I go wrong? Was I not a good father to them? Was I not strict enough?” Father Time asked. “It’s all my fault, they know they have me wrapped around their little fingers,” he sighed.
“Oh, you are the best Father in the whole known universe, but they do have you wrapped around their little fingers,” Mother Nature smiled.
“Fortunately, they didn’t interfere this time. However, they did manage to get themselves caught up in all the mess that is going on below. Walker is now a Traffic Warden on the Planet Metter 4 and Marina…well…ahem, she is on the Planet Pretty Ugly with 3 Murdocks.”
“Ohmyvacuum! There are three of him. Well, Mother we have to do something…you know Marina can not resist the temptation of three of them. Oh, this is not good…not good at all… no telling what she would do when faced with three of them….oh my….I know she is a good goddess…. but 3…. Oh dear…find me Pythagorus!”
“OK, Manny so let me get this straight. There are now three of me…umm….them…us….whatever and you are planning to take over the world, using the transdimentional vortex?” Murdock asked.
“Well, yes and no,” Manny replied.
“Yes and no what?”
“Yes, there are now three of you, but no I am not planning on taking over the world.”
“Well, what are you planning on doing then?”
“Well, you see…I have always had this dream ever since I was a mere bud, to become a freelance journalist. I want to travel the planets writing for the best magazines in the universe. Studying Sociology was just a pastime.”
“Okay….well, then why did you create Marvin and all that?”
“Well, in order for me to be able to travel. I need my pilot’s license, so I can traverse the universe and get the scoop on news happenings.”
“OK, well that still doesn’t explain why you created Marvin and brought me here!”
“Well, I created Marvin because I figured he could teach me to fly.
You see, since the Dabei destroyed the Planet Coleslawus I can’t find a good flight instructor anywhere.”
“And well Marvin was useless he was too preoccupied with the way he looked to help me. So, I told him to get out! Guess he got mad and that’s why he decided to buy and evil plot from Carter to take over the world.”
“That’s why I had to create that clone out of your earwax and build that bomb. It was rigged to your DNA and when Marvin and the clone got into the spaceship I could destroy them both and bring you here. Now, you can teach me to fly and forget about all the other stuff that is going on.”
“Umm, Manny you realize all you had to do was ask. I would be more then happy to give you flying lessons. Why did you go through all this trouble and cause all this aggravation?” Murdock asked.
“Well, this story would have been over chapters and chapters ago if I had done that,” Manny replied.
“Oh, yeah right!” Murdock nodded.
“Jack, Jack, speak to me!” Richie yelled as he cradled Jackson in his arms. “Come on, Jack, you can’t die on me. Help! Help!”
Hannibal, BA, and Carter came running out of the house. “What happened, dude?” Carter asked.
“He’s been hit by some sort of lightening bolt. It came from over there!” Richie said and pointed to the left.
“Carter, go look over there and see what you can find out!” Hannibal ordered.
“Face, BA, bring him into the house!”
BA and Face dragged the unconscious terrorist into the house.
“Sir, sir…look what I found!” Carter said as he came running up to the Colonel.
“What is it, Carter?”
“It’s cake crumbs, sir…looks like Shwarzwaldkirshtorte!”
“The Dabei!” Hannibal said and hurried into the house.
“I’m here, sir!” Pythagorus said as he came running up to the god.
“Oh good, Pythagorus, my daughters and their friends need help to save the universe. As you know, as gods Mother Nature and I are forbidden to interfere, but you, Pythagorus can help.”
“Me sir? How can I help?”
“Well, I’m not sure exactly, but you need to get to the Planet Pretty Ugly and meet up with the team.”
“Certainly, sir…but can I ask a favor?”
“Sure, son what is it?”
“When all this is over would it be alright if I asked Walker for a date.”
“Son, if you manage to save the world and bring our daughters home safely. You may ask for Walker’s hand and marriage and I will gladly grant you your request and see to it that Walker agrees.” Pythagorus’ face lit up and he immediately ran off to see if his theory would work to help save the world and get Walker for his bride.
“Hello, excuse me, hello!”
“Pythagorus? Hey, Bud, I haven’t seen you in awhile,” Ralph exclaimed as he came running up to the mathematician.
“Hey, Ralph…well I must say you are looking as fit as ever,” Pythagorus replied.
“Well, you know I try to keep in shape.”
“I wish I had your willpower, Ralph. I’m afraid the only exercise I get is when I get up to find my ruler so I can draw some triangles and then find their angles.”
“Marina, Marina…come here there is someone I’d like you to meet!” Ralph called out.
“Who is it, Ralph? I was right in the middle of filing my nails,” Marina said frustrated. She came to a an abrupt stop when she noticed the elderly gentleman with a long gray beard and a beer belly standing there grinning at her through yellow teeth.
“Goddess Marina, I would like you to meet Pythagorus.”
“Your goddessship,” Pythagorus said and knelt before the stunning goddess.
“Oh please, sir…don’t kneel. I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself,” Marina said and quickly helped Pythagorus to stand.
“Yes, you’re right, M’lady. I am not as young as I used to be,” Pythagorus said and held on to his aching back.
“So, Thaggy, what brings you to The Planet Pretty Ugly?” Ralph asked.
“I was sent by Mother Nature and Father Time to help you save the world and bring Marina and Walker home safely.”
“Oh cool!” Ralph said.
“Oh yes, and if I am successful then I will be granted permission to marry the lovely goddess Walker. The woman for whom I have secretly ached with desire for. We will be able to spend eternity together!”
“Ha!!!!!!!!! Oh, excuse me. I have to go…ummm…important goddess business!” Marina declared and ran out of the room laughing.
“What’s wrong with her?” Pythagorus asked.
“Oh, you know how goddesses are. So, let’s go tell Hannibal that you are here to help.”
“Hannibal, I would like you to meet Pythagorus,” Ralph said and introduced his friend to the butterfly.
“How do you do, sir?” Hannibal asked as he reached out a front leg to greet the man.
“Fine, fine and you?”
“Well, I’ve seen better days. Right now, I have two people who look like my Captain but are claiming to be someone named Marvin and not Murdock. I have an unconscious terrorist laying on the couch in the den, I have a German word with an obsession for Black Forest Cherry Cake after us, Manny the Cabbage is going around blowing up our only means of escape off the planet, an hysterical goddess, a shrimp named Larry and his two brothers named Daryl wondering how long we are going to be staying in their house, A planet full of Traffic Wardens, Ravenous cabbages still ultra-sensitive to being called lettuces ravaging the world, a missing vortex, I’m sure The Lord High Pink Bunny and Great Jon are lurking around here somewhere and to top it off…I am still a freakin’ butterfly.”
Everyone in the house was silent as they realized Hannibal was in the middle of a hissy fit which was usually reserved for Face.
“Well, Hannibal I am here to help?”
“Oh yeah, pal, I have heard this before.”
“No, really, I think I have the solution to all your problems
“Manny, listen to me…I really have to get back there and help with all the problems. You just heard Hannibal go off…he never does that…only Face does that,” Murdock said as he watched the Television screen.
“Listen, I promise to teach you how to fly.”
“Yes, yes, I’m sure! Now, why don’t we join forces, defeat the Dabei and do all the other stuff we need to do and make it back home to the real Vacuumland in time for goddess Walker’s wedding.”
“So, do we need to use the Vortex to get back to where Hannibal is?”
“Nahhhh, they are in the house next door. I just use all this fancy equipment to make me look important,” Manny replied.
“Oh, OK…well then, let’s go!”
“So, they all think they are going to defeat me, huh? Bunny, another piece of cake, if you please,” the Dabei said from his newly established HQ on the planet Pretty Ugly.
“Sure, Boss…so, what’s the plan?”
“Oh, you’ll find out!” the Dabei smiled evilly.
“Hey muchachos, what’s up?” Murdock asked as he came into the house. Everyone just turned to stare at him.
“Marvine, Clone, Beloved….ahhhhh…which one is which?” Marina fainted and was caught in the powerfully strong arms of Ralph.
“Yup…it’s me…your resident crazy man!”
“Oh yeah? Prove it!” Richie said.
“Well, Face, I taught you to get a vanilla milkshake from McDonald’s and then…” Murdock whispered the rest of the sentence into Face’s ear.
“OK, it’s the real Murdock,” Face grinned.
“Are you sure?”
“Oh, I’m sure!” Face said and gave Murdock a knowing glance.
“Ah, Murdock, care to tell us what you are doing here with him?” Hannibal said and pointed a wing at Manny.
“Oh, he is here to help us, Colonel.”
“Marina, goddess Marina, are you OK?” Ralph asked as he wiped Marina’s face with a damp cloth.
“Arghhh…where am I?” Marina queried as she looked around confused.
“You’re on the Planet Pretty Ugly…you fainted when you saw the third Murdock,” Ralph replied.
“Oh, yes, now I remember,” Marina said softly as she sat up on the bed.
“And you caught me.” She smiled.
“I would never let you fall, M’Lady,” Ralph replied smiling.
“Awww, you are the sweetest thing. How come I never noticed before?” she asked.
“I can’t tell you that Marina…you would hate me if I did.” Ralph turned away from the goddess, cursing himself for even mentioning the subject.
“You can tell me Ralph,” Marina said matter-a-factly. “I won’t get mad. I promise.”
“Well, honestly, I think you have been too obsessed with Murdock.”
“Ah, yes, the Beloved,” Marina sighed.
“I guess, I don’t stand a chance against him, do I?” Ralph asked with a tone of defeat.
“Ralph, Marina, come quickly Pythagorus has a plan to defeat the Dabei!” Richie shouted.
Ralph looked at Marina and headed for the door. Marina grabbed Ralph turned him to her and placed a delicate kiss on his lips, then smiled at him and ran out the door. Ralph stood there dumbstruck. “Come on, Ralph…we need you!” Marina said as she came back into the room and grabbed Ralph by the arm. “There will be plenty of time for you to think about how lucky of a man you are later,” she giggled and the two of them headed out of the room.
“What is it, Dabei?”
“My television blew a fuse, now I can’t see what they are doing to try and defeat me. Quickly, Jon, find me a new television!”
“Do you really think it will work?” Richie asked.
“Yeah, right. It might work!” Marvin smirked.
“It will work,” Pythagorus declared.
“BA, tie him up!” Hannibal ordered.
“The one that just spoke. He is the arrogant one. Must be Marvin!”
“Right, Hannibal,” BA replied and grabbed Marvin. “What about the clone?”
“Tie him up too.”
“Now, do we have all the ingredients?” Pythagorus asked.
“Hmmm…well, let’s see,” Murdock said and they all ran into the kitchen.
“Look into your suit pocket, I think you may find what you are looking for in there.”
Face reached into his pocket and pulled out a vial of sodium pentathol and a syringe. “How did that get in there?”
Marina just smiled and whistled innocently.
“OK, Gentlemen and Lady…let’s make a cake!” Pythagorus ordered.
The team and company spent the next hour or so baking a mouth watering Shwarzwaldkirshtorte.
“OK, Face, inject the sodium pentathol into it.”
“Right, Hannibal.” Face took the syringe and pumped the drug into the confection.
“Alright guys, now we just have to get this to the Dabei’s headquarters,” Pythagorus said.
“Ummm…well how are we going to do that, huh? I mean do you know where the Dabei has his head quarters. I know I don’t,” Face declared.
“Minor technicality, Lieutenant. Relax!” Hannibal replied and puffed on his cigar.
“Minor technicality he says. Relax he says. Hannibal, do you realize that we have been to three parallel lands and three different planets since this little adventure began, met up with more bad guys that I can count, we have numerous problems to solve and my partner is lying on the couch unconscious, we have a cucumber, a jar of mayonnaise, a Giant Man Eating Red Cabbage…”
“Ahh, I don’t actually eat men or women, for that matter, Face. I wanted the name Giant Pizza Eating Red Cabbage, but it didn’t sound menacing enough so…I went with this one,” Manny interrupted.
Face just stared at him in disbelief, raised his finger to comment, but then decided not to. He turned back to Hannibal who was still puffing on his cigar. “Like I was saying a Giant Man Eating Red Cabbage, a love sick goddess, a Mad Anagram Man of the West, and a aged mathematician as our team. And you want me to relax?”
“Yup.” Hannibal grinned and Face just stormed off. “Marina?”
“Is it against the rules for you to open a Bakery?”
“Ummm, well technically, no, I guess not,” Marina replied.
“OK, good…now, here is what I want you to do.”
“Get your fresh ‘Homemade Shwarzwaldkirshtorte,’ here!” Face called out. “Hannibal, I look ridiculous dressed like this,” he whispered to the butterfly who was sitting on top of his cherry hat.
“Well, it was the only way I could think of to attract the Dabei’s attention, Lieutenant and to keep you disguised.”
“Yeah, but why couldn’t I have dressed up like a chef or something, instead of like a Black Forest Cherry Cake? These tights are chaffing my thighs.”
“All in the line of duty, Lieutenant,” Hannibal replied and flew off to see if the Dabei or any of his entourage was in the area.
“Shwarzwaldkirshtorte…get it while it’s fresh!” Face called down the street as he stood in front of the Bakery.
“Ahhh, did I hear you mention Shwarzwaldkirshtorte?” the Dabei asked as he came up to Face.
“Why, yes sir…made fresh this afternoon. Would you care to try some?” Face asked.
“Ja, Ja, I would indeed,” the Dabei replied and licked his lips. “Come on, guys!” he said to The Lord High Pink Bunny and Great Jon.
“OK, sir, you an your guests have a seat and I will bring that right out for you,” Face said as he indicated for them to sit down at one of the tables.
Face went into the kitchen and Marina handed him the sodium pentathol laced Shwarzwaldkirshtorte. “Thanks. I hope this works.”
“Don’t worry, Face, it will work,” Marina smiled as the rest of the team and company crossed their fingers.
“Well, here you go…nice big slices of Shwarzwaldkirshtorte for everyone. Enjoy, and if you need me, don’t hesitate to call.”
In about five minutes the Dabei, Great Jon and the Lord High Pink Bunny were snoozing in their cake.
“Woohoo, it worked! Great job, Pythagorus and Hannibal,” Ralph said and high-fived the two of them.
“Well, now that we have them unconscious what are we going to do with them?” Marina asked.
“I got an idea. Manny, get the vortex and bring Marvin and the clone. I have the perfect solution for these guys.”
Manny got the vortex and after Hannibal whispered something in his ear. He grinned and set the controls. Soon the room was a swirl of colors and after a few minutes there on the table set the five most adorable infants. The Dabei, The Lord High Pink Bunny, Great Jon, Marvin and the clone were now babies.
“Awww, they look so cute all curled up sleeping like that,” Marina commented and picked up the bunny.
“OK, let’s get back to the house say bye to Larry and the Daryls and find a way to get back to the Planet Metter 4. The next problems we have to deal with are the Traffic Wardens and changing the Beethoven, Christina, Robin and Rudolph doubles back into one.”
“Oh, we can use my three-dimensional right triangle space ship to get back home. The one I built, using my theorem, to get here!” Pythagorus said and smiled at the team.
“Good job, Thaggy,” Ralph commented and hit him on the back, causing the old man to lose his balance.
Pythagorus stumbled and fell over. Goddess Marina, eager to make sure that the ancient mathematician didn’t die before she could make sure that her sister, the intelligent and beautiful Goddess Walker, had to spend at least a full twenty-four hours of wedded hell with the man, rushed forward to help him up.
“Uh, thanks…” Pythagorus got up off the ground to find that his beard had fallen off.
Everyone stared. “Uh, looks like you’ve got some major hair-loss problems there, Thaggy.” Murdock said, picking up the beard from the ground. “This is a fake!”
Ralph, who was becoming more and more heroic as he got into the swing of things, poked Pythagorus in the chest. “Why’re you wearing a fake beard? And – hang on!” He
pulled a pillow out from underneath Pythagorus’ tunic.
BA growled menacingly at the mathematician. “What you do with the *real* Pythagorus, man?”
Pythagorus, surprisingly, didn’t run away. Instead he was turning ever deeper shades of red. “Look, uh, I can explain.”
“Please do.” Murdock said, pointing his fly swatter at the fake.
“Well, okay, look. I am Pythagorus. Really. Just most people expect me to be this really old guy with a beer belly and a beard and stuff.” Pythagorus said, stripping off his
wig and makeup to reveal a handsome young man. “Truth is – that’s just a common stereotype.”
“But you’re more than two thousand years old!” Marina protested.
Pythagorus coughed. “Um, well, not really. Due to time differentials and stuff, I’m actually about twenty.”
“But you’re still a really boring mathematician, right?” Marina clung to one last straw.
Pythagorus grinned. “Only as a profession. In my spare time I actually like listening to Culture Club records. Maths is so boring, don’t you think?”
Marina lifted her fists to the heavens, screamed and ran away.
“What’s with her?” Pythagorus poked a thumb after the departing goddess.
Murdock drew a breath. “Uh, it would take far too long to explain. Right. Richie and Pythagorus get Jackson and say goodbye to Larry, Daryl and Daryl. Ralph – find Marina.
Everyone else into Pythagorus’ cool spaceship thing!”
Ralph caught up with Marina at the University, where she was sitting swinging her legs on one of the walls. “Hi Marina.”
“Go away.” Marina sniffed. “I don’t want to talk.”
Ralph sighed. “Marina, what’s wrong? Did you really want Walker to get married to an old and ugly mathematician?”
“YES!!!” Marina yelled. “If I’m not going to get Murdock then she isn’t going to get off lightly!!”
“But you’ve got me, Marina.” Ralph answered.
Marina smiled and put her arms around Ralph’s neck. “Yes… I guess everything maybe did turn out for the best. But I still don’t see how all of my evil plans backfire!!!”
Ralph frowned. “I think it’s because you’re not evil at heart, Marina.”
“Or maybe just because I skipped classes the day we were taught how to execute evil plans.” Marina muttered. “I mean, sure I can *laugh* evilly and plot evilly. But can I
actually do a real evil plan? No siree!”
Ralph put an arm around her shoulders and led her back to the spaceship. “i can see this relationship could take a lot of work.”
The fact that Jackson woke up with a fiendish headache was not the biggest problem in his life. The biggest problem was something to do with waking up in a field that didn’t
seem to hold to the laws of physics. And that he was a sheep.
“Uh, hello?” He called out into the great yellow yonder, which looked like a Salvador Dali painting hung at right angles to the rest of the room.
“Hi there!!!” Another sheep bounced into view as if he was in zero gravity. “How you doin’, Jackson?”
“Um, you’re a sheep.” Jackson said it in the hope that it might make his brain figure out what was going on.
“Yeah?” The sheep said. “And your point is?”
Jackson looked around, but everything stayed just as weird as it had been before. “Uh, what is this place?”
“It’s your head. All this is a figment of your imagination.” The sheep replied. “This is exactly what you would imagine if someone told you to imagine this place.”
“So I’m dreaming?” Jackson asked. “About sheep?”
“Yes and no.” The sheep said. “You’re still unconscious in the real world, but I’m not a dream. I’m actually a being of higher form than anything you could ever imagine. The
name’s Wacky Zack, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you.” Jackson said. “So, what? Is there a point to this?”
“I was getting to that!” Wacky Zack exclaimed. “OK. The time has come that you mere mortals should be told WTHIGO.”
“Withigo?” Jackson asked.
“Yes. WTHIGO.” Wacky Zack replied. “Or, in layman’s terms – What The Hell Is Going On.”
“Ah.” Jackson said. “So what the hell *is* going on?”
“Maybe if you stopped interrupting I’d tell you!” Wacky Zack stated. “We higher beings thought that you’d eventually figure it out yourselves, but we obviously underestimated just how thick you people can be. Didn’t you wonder about the number of evil guys you encountered?”
“Well, yeah.” Jackson replied. “But…”
“How many? Go on!” Wacky Zack urged.
“Well… The Lord High Pink Bunny. Great Jon. The Dabei. Manny and Marvin.”
“Yes!!!” Wacky Zack hissed. “FIVE!!! And what is the significance of this number?”
“Uh, five fingers?” Jackson ventured.
Wacky Zack thumped his head off a nearby melting clock. “No!!!!”
“Well, what then?” Jackson asked.
Wacky Zack told him.
“So what does this button do?” Manny pointed to a large blue button in the middle of the pilot’s console in Pythagorus’ spaceship.
“Don’t touch!” Murdock yelled. “It’s for the windscreen wipers.”
“Oh, right.” Manny relaxed.
Richie hurried into the cockpit. “Murdock!!!”
“Yeah, Rich?” Murdock asked. “Has Jackson woken up yet?”
“No… Murdock, look at your watch!!”
Murdock looked at his watch. “Yeah. It’s a watch.”
“No – what was the time when we left Earth?” Richie asked.
“Um…” Murdock thought back. “About three thirty.”
“Yes!” Richie exclaimed. “And it’s four fifteen now!”
“Dear god!!!” Hannibal said. “That means-”
“That means that the show’s ending pretty soon!” Murdock said. “But we’ve saved the world, haven’t we? What else is there to do?”
“Well, we have to get back to Metter 4 and set the world right again.” Richie said.
“But that’s a final two minutes thing.” Murdock shook his head. “There has to be something else.”
“Hmmm.” Hannibal, Murdock and Richie said in unison.
“What’s this do?” Manny pressed a large red button.
“NOOOOO!!!!” Murdock said as alarms broke out all over the ship. “You’ve sent us heading straight for that spatial anomaly!!”
“Great.” Hannibal mused. “So now we’re a Voyager episode.”
“No, it’s worse than that!” Murdock yelled. “It’s a cloud filled with song titles!!”
“So that’s where it went.” Marina said.
“Okay, guys, hold on – this could be a rocky ride!!” Murdock grabbed the steering column.
As the spaceship surged into the purple cloud of song titles, everyone’s speech centres were strangely altered, to make them incapable of talking in anything but song titles.
“Help!” Murdock screamed, stepping down on the acceleration pedal.
“We’ve gotta get out of this place!” Richie yelled.
“What in the world’s come over you?” Manny asked.
“Space oddity!!!” Richie explained.
“Um um um um um um.” Murdock tried to think.
“De do do do. De da da da.” Richie muttered.
“Gotta pull myself together.” Murdock said. “With a little help from my friends.”
With a monumental effort, the pilot turned the ship to starboard and out of the cloud. The alarms changed pitch.
“Saved by the bell!” Face grinned.
“Uh, Face, it’s OK – we’re out of it now.” Hannibal told him.
“I know.” Face said. “I just like that song.”
Suddenly Jackson ran into the cockpit. “Guys! Guys! We have another problem. I was just contacted by a mad sheep and he says that there’s a reason why we’ve got so many
“So, why, Jack?” Murdock asked.
Jackson told them.
“Uh, Jack, are you feeling okay?” Richie asked, concerned.
“They want us to do *what*?” Murdock said in disbelief.
“They want us to play a five-a-side soccer match against the villains on the Planet Metter 4.” Jackson repeated and then shrugged. “Hey, man, I don’t know. Maybe these higher
lifeforms can’t get to a proper match…”
Murdock sighed. “OK. Changing course to Planet Metter 4.” He turned back to the other men in the cockpit. “This is far more serious than we thought. First of all, anyone
actually know how to play soccer?”
Everyone just turned and looked at each other. “These guys have to be
kidding. No one likes soccer!” Marina fumed.
“Marina, plenty of people like soccer,” Hannibal said.
“Sure, Colonel, I know there are some people who like it, but they are
mostly from Europe, the UK and places like that.. You guys are from
America. Do any of you know how to play it?”
“See, that’s what I thought,” Marina smirked.
“Jackson you aren’t from America. You should know how to play it,”
Hannibal commented as he looked at the terrorist.
“Colonel, I was far too preoccupied with my international terrorist
stuff to worry about playing soccer.”
“Well, we’re screwed,” Face sighed and everyone nodded their heads.
“Wait!” Pythagorus yelled. “I know a way that can save us.”
“Great, Thaggy, how?” Murdock asked.
“Well, we can go to the distant planet Gamus and ask the all powerful Pogo how to play soccer.”
“The all powerful Pogo,” Face stated. “What can he do for us?”
“He knows the rules to every game that is played throughout the universe. He can tell us what we need to know.”
“Woohoo!!!!! We’re saved!” everyone on the ship shouted excitedly.
“So, where is this planet? And how do we get there?” Marina asked.
“Oh, it’s easy to find, but hard to get to,” Pythagorus said with an eerie tone.
“What do you mean?” Face asked nervously.
“Well, we have to go to the Andromeda Galaxy and make a left, follow the galaxy halo until you come to Cygnus X1 and then you have to go through Cygnus and once you are out on the other side it’s about a mile from there.”
“But Cygnus X1 is a Black hole,” Marina stated.
“A black hole! Pythagorus, you want us to travel through a black hole? That is impossible!” Jackson shouted.
“Well, ignoring the fact that a black hole originated from a collapsed star, it is mathematically possible to continue space and time past the black hole’s singularity. A mirror image of the space-time diagram of the black hole is the result. This mirror image is often called a white hole, for it is actually a time-reversed black hole! Instead of absorbing light and matter, it emits it.
Some scientists predict that in certain instances, traveling through a wormhole would be rare, but possible. In order for matter to travel through a wormhole formed from a non-rotating blackhole, it must have a velocity of greater than the speed of light. According to relativity, this is impossible. Travel through a wormhole formed from a rotating blackhole, however, is possible, for it is not necessary to exceed the speed of light. This is because the wormhole is so unstable that it pinches off before even a light ray can pass through the connection,” Pythagorus stated.
“Huh?” everyone asked.
“Well, it is a little hard to explain. Einstein always does a better job then I do,” Pythagorus said. “Just be thankful that Cygnus X1 is a rotating black hole so it will be possible for us travel through. I mean, my space ship is quick, but it won’t go faster then the speed of light.”
“Oh yeah, sure,” everyone said not really understanding what the hell Pythagorus was talking about.
“Well, where is ol’ Einney at anyway?” Ralph asked.
“Last time I talked to him he said he was going to catch some rays on Mercury. Little vacation time,” Thaggy said. “We don’t want to bother Einney, he doesn’t like to be disturbed. Besides I know enough about traveling through worm holes and stuff to get us to the Planet Gamus. Let’s just head for Cygnus X1,” Pythagorus ordered.
“Gotcha, muchacho! Buckle up everyone! We are boldly going where no one has gone before!”
“Ahhh…no Star Trek jokes please, Murdock,” Hannibal instructed.
“Right, Colonel!” Murdock replied and altered his course away from the Planet Metter 4 to head for their intended destination. Upon arriving at the Black Hole everyone turned to look at Pythagorus.
“Ok, Thaggy we are here. Now what?”
“Well…” The part-time mathematician was looking up some star charts that had been under the seat. “I think you should…”
“HANG ON A MINUTE!!!” Jackson sat bolt upright.
“Yeah? What?” Murdock asked the international terrorist.
“Something isn’t right here!” Jackson scratched his head. “You!!!” He pointed at Hannibal the butterfly.
“Me?” Hannibal said, still puffing away on the cigar he had lit about a week ago.
“What’s up, Jackson?” Pythagorus asked. “We have to get through this wormhole!”
“It’s a black hole.” Ralph muttered.
“I don’t care what kind of bloody hole it is!!!” Marina screamed. “What is the holdup here!!!”
Murdock thumped his head on the console in front of him several times until there was complete silence in the cockpit. “Okay.” He said in a frightening whisper. “Jackson – start making some sense. I know it won’t be easy, but try.”
Jackson took a deep breath. “We don’t have to go through this wormhole.”
“Black hole.” Ralph said. Everyone glared at him.
“But we have to find out the rules of this strange game of ‘sock-her’.” Marina replied.
“I know them!” Jackson said. “I know I said I didn’t a few paragraphs back, but I’d just been attacked by a miffed German word and had a vision about a mystical sheep! What I want to know is – why did Hannibal think that I wasn’t from the USA? And why did you all agree with him?”
“I was just glad you weren’t going to talk about soccer anymore.” Richie answered. “You know how bad it can get when you have to live with someone who constantly talks to you about a game you don’t know a thing about?”
There were muttered agreements. Jackson stared in disbelief at him. “I thought you liked soccer!”
“Oh, so I was showing my *appreciation* by locking myself in the bathroom for two hours every Wednesday night, was I?” Richie fumed.
Jackson shrugged. “Look, pal, the last guy I went out with wasn’t exactly normal. It’s difficult to tell…”
“Face! Jack!” Murdock yelled. “TIME OUT!!!!”
Richie leaned back against the bulkhead, smoke visibly coming out of his ears.
Murdock sighed. “Okay, Jackson, what’s your point? We’re all a bit tired after constant battling of weird villains and being turned into cabbages and traffic wardens. I think we just don’t have much logic left!”
“My point is that he’s an imposter!” Jackson pointed at Hannibal again.
“No I’m not!” Hannibal retorted. “I’m a butterfly!”
“Some excuse!” Jackson sneered.
Murdock got up and stood between them. “Look, we don’t need to take sides here. Hannibal’s brain now is a lot smaller than it used to be, so he probably thought that New York was in Germany or something… So you can tell us the rules, Jack?”
“Sure.” Jackson smiled. “If you let me in the team, Cap’n.”
Murdock sat back down. “I think we’ll have to. Okay, Manny – set in a course back to the Planet Metter 4!!!!”
Manny sighed and turned the spaceship around again. “You couldn’t have had this argument ten light-years ago?”
“Did he just call me stupid?” Hannibal asked, a few light-years later.
After going a few times around the interstellar roundabout, the crew of the Weird Triangle Thing arrived at the Planet Metter 4, which they had left a few episodes ago to ask Larry the Jumbo Shrimp to translate Marvin’s evil plan, which he had never done. But what’s a little continuity between friends?
“Look! Over there!” Marina called. “There’s a strange rectangle of green, with white lines drawn on it! Do you think it’s the last piece of an ancient civilisation?”
“No, I think it’s a football pitch.” Jackson said, hurrying in front of her. “Looks like we’ve got a crowd to watch us as well.”
Around the sides of the football pitch were all the rest of the cast of Vacuumland, who had previously been traffic wardens, plus Father Time, Mother Nature and Wacky Zack the Sheep.
“So you finally got here.” Wacky Zack greeted Jackson.
“Yeah, well, we had a minor directional problem.” Jackson said. “When’s the kick-off?”
Wacky Zack smiled. “Whenever your team is ready. The opposition are waiting.” He pointed a foot at the team, dressed in a black strip, who were warming up on the other half of the park. Jackson had never seen a German word, a toilet, an Energiser Bunny, a cabbage, two Murdock lookalikes and a Weinerschnitzel try to play soccer before, but he supposed there was a first time for everything. He hurried to where Murdock and the rest of the crew were being welcomed by the Vacuumians (except for Manny, who had been transported here half an hour ago due to some really complicated space-time stuff).
“Murdock!” He said loudly. “You need to pick a team!”
“Oh, right.” Murdock looked around. “How many?”
Jackson sighed. “Five and two substitutes.”
“All right. Well, there’s me. And you. And I suppose we’d better have BA. And Face. And, um, B-Man, you’re German, right?” Murdock asked the composer.
“Well, yes, HM.” Beethoven answered. “But I didn’t play football.”
“But you’re German, so that’s okay.” Murdock stared at him. “Shouldn’t there be two of you?”
Beethoven smiled. “Wacky Zack fixed that up. He was quite eager to have this game played without any distractions.”
Murdock nodded, not quite sure that Vacuumland was making as much sense as it used to. “Right – substitutes. Ummm… Carter, you play soccer at all?”
“No way, man!” Carter protested. “I play beach volleyball!”
“I knew I should never have asked. Rudolf – you’re a bit small, I’m afraid… Okay, Christina and… Mikey.” Murdock said. “I guess four feet are better than two. So, what now, Deputy-Captain Jackson?”
“What *are* these meant to be?” Marina’s voice alerted everyone to the potential problem that the strips for the Good Guys Team were about as fashionable as… something really unfashionable.
“Hmmm.” Murdock picked up a white T-shirt from the ground. “Hardly Tommy Hilfiger, but who’d notice with my dress sense? Okay, people – to the changing rooms!”
The seven players hurried down the tunnel to the ‘home’ team’s dressing room, slamming the door before Marina could sneak inside. “Damn!” She stamped her foot. “I wonder if they need a referee…”
“So *then* we were about to go and ask the Giant Pogo for instructions, but Jackson remembered them anyway and we didn’t have to go through the wormhole after all…” Pythagorus explained to Goddess Walker, who was sitting in the stands, humming away to her walkman.
“Black hole!” Ralph exclaimed and looked around. “Where’s Goddess Marina gone?”
At that moment Marina stomped up the stairs to the row in which the three humans were sitting and grabbed Walker. “What?” Walker asked.
“Father wants us to be *linesmen*!!!” Marina whined (she had been exposed to Face too much). “And I’m definitely not dressing up in those *obscene* outfits by myself!”
Walker sighed and snapped her fingers, changing into the mostly black T-shirt and shorts of a linesman. Or linewoman. Or whatever. And picked up the required flag. “Great. Is Father refereeing?”
“Yes!” Marina yelled. “It’s a tragedy! He’ll *never* let Murdock win! We’ll never be together!”
“Well, actually, he has to let *one* of the Murdocks win.” Walker pointed out. “There are three of them playing, you know!”
“Arrrggghhh!!!” Marina said in exasperation and charged over to the other side of the pitch. Walker shrugged and went to check that the corner flag was all right.
“Hi.” She said to the corner flag. “Are you okay?”
The corner flag sighed. “Well, Miss Walker, it’s been a hard few weeks, what with my operation and everything…”
Walker grinned reassuringly. “I’m sure that no one’ll land on you today.”
After the first half of the football match, the home team marched into the dressing room. Jackson slammed the door on Marina’s face again and turned to stare down ‘his’ squad.
“Okay, Murdock – you’re fired!!!”
“What?” Murdock looked as if he’d been shot.
“You’re the worst goalkeeper I’ve ever seen!” Jackson exclaimed.
“How so?” Murdock asked defiantly.
“Yeah – go easy on him, Jackson. He doesn’t know the rules.” Richie protested.
“Well I figured he might have figured out after the fourteenth goal that he wasn’t supposed to *let* the other team score!!!” Jackson fumed and turned to BA. “And you! Getting sent off after ten minutes for persistant handling of the ball didn’t help us much!”
BA shrugged. “It’s a stupid game anyway.”
Jackson groaned. “Don’t you people realise that if we don’t go out there and score at least thirty-eight goals in forty-five minutes the bad guys’ll have won! You weren’t about to let them take over the world, so why should you let them win a football game?”
“Because it doesn’t really matter?” Murdock hazarded.
“NO!!!! This may not be a matter of life and death, team, but that’s because it’s much more important than that!!!” Jackson told them. “If we lose, it’ll be a total humiliation for Vacuumland! It’d be like Scotland not being able to beat Lithuania!” The terrorist paused for a moment and reconsidered. “Okay, maybe that was a bad example… Anyway,
Murdock – you’re being substituted. Christina – you’re on. Richie, can you please make an attempt at keeping the ball *out* of our net! B-Man, Christina – you’re taking the mid-field. I’ll try to actually score some goals. I think we can pretty much leave out much defending – a score of seventy-nil isn’t a lot worse than thirty-seven-nil.” Jackson sighed. “Okay, people – let’s move!!!”
“Huh.” Murdock sat down beside Rudolf, Ralph, Pythagorus and Robin in the stand, who were all inexplicably wearing matching replicas of the home team’s shirts with ‘B-Man’ written across the back. “Jackson doesn’t know a good goalkeeper when he sees one – imagine replacing me with Face!!!”
“You’re right.” Rudolf replied. “He should have put Face in goals in the first half.”
Murdock waved his arms around in a good imitation of an epileptic fit and hurried off to find BA. The big man was standing on the sidelines, chomping a hamburger. “Hi BA…” Murdock started, but didn’t finish as someone very familiar pointed two guns at their heads.
“OK.” Marvin said. “To the dressing room! Quickly!”
“Uh, aren’t you out there playing?” Murdock asked.
Marvin shrugged. “Probably. This cloning business gets pretty confusing, you know.”
Three minutes later, Murdock and BA were chained up to wires connected to the giant scoreboard out on the field. “So, are you going to tell us your evil plan or what?” Murdock asked as BA continued to eat his burger.
Marvin sighed and looked at his watch. “Well… If by the end of the game, your team haven’t got *exactly* the same number of goals as my side, you’ll be fried!”
“Uh, why?” Murdock inquired.
Marvin grinned. “I kind of liked Speed…” He hurried off to the football field.
Murdock sighed. “Well, BA, I guess this is it…”
“What do you mean this is it, fool?” BA snarled back.
“I mean there is no way in hell that the good guys are going to be able to score enough goals to stop us from being fried.”
“Oh, well maybe Face will be able to fend off the goals,” BA said seriously and then immediately rethought that statement. “What are we going to do, man?”
“I don’t know BA, but I hope somebody can think of something.” Murdock said. “Hey, maybe the goddesses will help us,” he enthused.
BA just looked at the wires and sighed. “I think I’d rather take my chances with the electrical current.” Murdock nodded his head in agreement.
Meanwhile, out on the field the game was underway. B-man and Christina, with some fancy footwork, managed to get the ball downfield and help Jackson score a few goals. The score moved closer and closer to a tie.
“Hey, maybe we might be able to win this thing after all,” Jackson said and smiled at Richie. Just as he said that the other team managed to score 5 more goals leaving the gap between the scores now even more of a problem.
“Ahhh…on second thought, maybe we won’t win this thing after all,” Jackson said as he eyed the new numbers on the scoreboard.
“Where is Murdock?” Marina asked.
“Ummm…isn’t that him down there?” Walker said pointing to Marvin.
“Ahhh….no, I think that is Marvin.”
“Oh OK, well, then that’s him over there,” Walker said pointing to the clone.
“Ahh…nope, wrong again. That’s the clone.”
“Damn, how can you tell them apart?”
“Easy, if Murdock was on the field then that would mean he was playing again and Jackson has forbidden him to even look at a soccer ball let alone play in the game,” Marina said confidently. “Besides it’s time for the “what happened to the hero….he must be in some sort of perilous situation” scene. After all, we haven’t had one of those in a few chapters.”
“Oh yeah right,” Walker said and shook her head.
“Pythagorus, have you seen Murdock?” Marina asked.
“Nope, he headed off to find BA and he hasn’t come back yet.”
“Well, let’s go, sis! We have to find the Beloved and see what we can do to help,” Marina said and grabbed Walker by the arm pulling her out of the bleachers.
“Come on Big Guy there has to be a way out of this mess. Can’t you break this chains or something?”
“Man, these things are made of some funky unbreakable metal from outerspace. I can’t budge ’em.”
“Well, this is great. I am going to be fried to a crisp and the last thing I am going to see is your big ugly mudsucker face.”
“Well, you ain’t exactly Cary Grant, fool!” BA shouted back as he struggled with his binds.
“Goddess Marina! Thank goodness you’re here! What’s the score?”
“Oh well, the bad guys are winning,” Marina said sadly.
“Well, then you have to get us out of here!”
“But I can’t interfere, Beloved. I just can’t!”
“You don’t understand. If the game ends and the score isn’t tied, BA and I are going to be crispier then a hot dog left all day on the bar-b-que.”
“Look!” Murdock shouted pointing to the wires.
Out on the field, things were looking hopeless. B-man had been injured in a freak ball juggling accident and was out of the game. The score was now 227 to 10 and things seemed like they couldn’t get much worse. When suddenly the whistle blew ending the second half. Instantly, there was a loud explosion as the score board began to sizzle and pop. Blood curdling screams emanated from the locker room as smoke poured onto the field. Everyone ran to the locker room and was shocked at the sight.
“Okay, so who left the microwave on?” Christina looked accusingly at Rudolf, who ran away and cowered behind Jackson.
“Eeeeww.” Richie sniffed the air. “Someone burnt the pot noodles.”
“Pot noodles?” The Vacuumians asked.
“Uh, never mind.” Richie said.
“Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!” Marvin said, bursting in. “Now that I have killed your leader, you must all bow down before me! Marvin! The one true Murdock!” He suddenly held his nose. “What’s that smell?”
“You *killed* the pot noodles, Marvin.” Walker said, arriving on the scene in a puff of smoke. “Now, children, see why you have to pay attention in technical class.”
“What?” Marvin yelled. “I must have connected the score board to the microwave instead! But what did I connect Murdock and BA to, then?”
Everyone raced out of the room and towards the home dressing room. Inside were Goddess Marina and two very shaken men. “You!” Murdock pointed a shaky finger at Marvin. “You connected us to an egg whisk, you idiot!”
“Uh, okay.” Marvin said. “I’m sorry. I’m obviously not cut out for this evil guy gig after all.”
“I’ll say!” Murdock got to his feet. “You’re not killing anyone! You’re just causing large-scale embarrassment! Uh, speaking of which, what was the score?” He turned to Jackson.
“227-10.” Jackson said. “Which wasn’t bad considering the circumstances.”
“Not bad?” Great Jon mocked. “You lot lost miserably! And look at us! We’re a team made up of an Energiser Bunny, a toilet, a cabbage and a couple of Murdock-a-likes!”
“Yeah…” Goddess Walker muttered. “It *is* kinda weird. I mean, that averages out to… Almost three goals a minute. One goal every twenty seconds is pretty impossible!”
“No it isn’t!” The Lord High Pink Bunny objected. “We were just very lucky!”
“Like hell you were!” Jackson said. “The game was a fix! We’re not accepting the result!”
“Oh, for Vacuum’s sake!” Wacky Zack said, appearing in the midst of them. “We’ve tried all-out war, pesky cabbages, football and clichéd electrocution plans to get you to finish this story! What else can a sheep do!”
There was total silence in the room until Murdock was able to speak. “You mean all this has happened just to end the story?” He asked in what was barely more than a whisper.
Wacky Zack shrugged. “Well, sure. I mean, last Friday night me and the lads were down the pub and we thought ‘Hey, let’s get some cabbages to attack Vacuumland’. And then you all had to complicate matters!”
“Uh, hang on a minute.” Jackson piped up. “You said a minute ago that it was all because you wanted us to play this football game.”
“Uh, well, ummm…” Wacky Zack said. “I don’t know. Okay, I’ve got an idea of how to sort all of this out once and for all. I call upon The Editor!”
A collective gasp went up around the room, with the notable exceptions of Murdock, Face, Jackson and BA who had no idea what the sheep was talking about.
A massive cloaked figure appeared in the centre of the room. It appeared to be talking on a mobile phone, but put it away as soon as it realised that it had been called upon. “Who calls upon me?”
“Uh, we do.” Murdock said. “Look, mate, we’ve been running around Vacuumland for the last… uh, well, a long time. Anyway, everything’s got horribly confused and I’d really, realy like just to go home. Any chance of that happening *before* we all kill each other?”
The Editor hesitated. “Well, there is something you could do…”
“What?” Everyone, as the entire crowd had now crammed into the dressing room, whispered urgently.
The Editor sighed. “You won’t like it. I mean, even i am quite disturbed when I see it happening.”
“What!!!!” Everyone yelled.
“Uh, left foot – red!” Murdock shouted out from his position bent over backwards on all fours. The lord High Pink Bunny tried to move, but got tangled up even more with Beethoven and all three collapsed to the ground laughing.
“Well, I never thought I’d see this happening.” Jackson scratched his head.
Face shrugged. “In my experience, ‘Twister’ crosses all boundaries. Hey, look, even the cabbages want to join in!”
“Uh, are you sure they’re here to play Twister?” Ralph asked nervously.
“Yeah, Rich. Cabbages don’t have limbs.” Jackson pointed out.
“That’s only a minor problem.” Richie grinned as the cabbages bounded over to the huge plastic mat to join in, passing Murdock on the way.
“Hi guys.” Murdock waved. “Well, I guess you want to go home now, huh? Fortunately, we did *that* part last time, and we have a rather large stock of batteries. Anyway, here’s Robin…” He passed Richie the chameleon. “And the toilet rolls…” He gave Jackson the toilet paper. “And you’re all set. Stonehenge shouldn’t be that far off…”
“It’s on a different planet!” Jackson objected.
“Well, yes, but here on the Planet Metter 4, all meaning in the world collides. So everywhere is here.” Murdock scratched his head. “Don’t think about it too much and you’ll be fine. Oh, and take BA with you if you see him.”
“Aren’t you coming?” Richie asked.
Murdock sighed. “Well, I would, but I’ve got an entire universe’s social problems to sort out. And I’ve a feeling it might take more than a game of Twister to do that. Don’t start Christmas without me!”
“Right.” Richie nodded. “Come on, Jack.” Together, they wandered off towards Stonehenge, following Robin’s instructions and picking up BA on the way.
Murdock turned around, surveyed the large group of people tangled up on the Twister mat, screwed his baseball cap down onto his head. “Right.” He said and marched off towards them.
Jackson, Richie, BA and Robin arrived at Stonehenge. They drew the ceremonial cow on the ground with baby powder and wrapped BA in toilet paper.
Robin took out his Walkman and placed it on his ears. “OK, who has the cheese wheel?”
“Cheese wheel? What cheese wheel?” Richie asked.
“We need a cheese wheel if this transdimentional vortex opening ceremony is going to work,” Robin replied.
“Great…where the hell are we going to get a cheese wheel?” Jackson groaned.
Robin and Richie shrugged and BA let out a muffled growl.
Meanwhile, back at the Twister board Murdock had managed to untangle all the participants. “Ok, Zack Wacky..”
“Ah…that’s Wacky Zack, Murdock,” the sheep replied.
“Zack Wacky…Wacky Zack….we have more important problems to worry about then your name, sheep!” Murdock snapped.
“Well, you don’t have to get so testy…I was merely telling you the correct pronunciation of my name,” Wacky Zack said in a huff.
“You’re the one who is being testy…you overstuffed sweater vest!” Marina shouted to the sheep.
Everyone began arguing at once, this whole mess was beginning to get to them. “Quiet!” Murdock shouted. No one listened. “Hello?”
The arguing continued!
“ARGHHHHHHHHHH!!!” Murdock shouted, “I’ve had enough!” and stomped off.
Goddess Marina called to the pilot but he disappeared around the corner. “I have to go to him!” Marina said to Ralph and Walker. “I have to!”
“Go, Marina!” Goddess Walker said and gave her a hug.
“Yeah…go Marina, it’s OK,” Ralph added and gave her a hug. “I understand.”
Marina smiled at both of them and disappeared into a cloud of smoke.
After wandering around for what seemed like hours Murdock stumbled upon a giant mushroom. He sighed and proceeded to sit down on his cap but immediately jumped up upon hearing the “Get off me!”
“Woah! Sorry, little guy…I didn’t know you were..”
“Alive? Yeah, I get that all the time!” the mushroom replied and dusted off his cap.
“So…what’s your name?” Murdock asked.
“Stanley…Stanley Shitaki…I live in the Land of Lost Consonants…but like you say all meaning converges here so I am able to be here with you on the Planet Metter 4…and besides my contract said I get to appear in at least two chapters…so the writer of this part is under obligation to include me in here.”
“Ah…yeah right,” Murdock replied and looked strangely at the mushroom.
“So sit down there on Bubba,” Stanley said and pointed to the rock, “and tell me all about your troubles.”
Murdock dusted off Bubba and sat down. “Well, it’s a long long story,” Murdock commented.
“Don’t worry I’m not going anywhere,” Stanley smiled. “Roots you know!”
Murdock grinned. “Well, it all began when I went Christmas shopping and I ran into this huge Furby…”
“Cheese wheel? Of all things to need?” Richie groaned.
“Hey, wait a minute I think I know where we can get one!” Robin shouted.
“Hmmm…” Stanley said, after listening to the previous forty-four chapters of Murdock’s odyssey. “Well, since this is obviously the standard resolution scene, we’d better finish this off pretty soon otherwise the audience will fall asleep or leave!!”
Murdock looked around. “I think they’ve done that already.”
Stanley sighed. “Never mind. We have a job to do, Captain. we’re going to finish this story at all costs!!! Now, what you must do is round up everyone here…”
Stanley surveyed the crowd of characters from Vacuumland. “Geez. I didn’t know there were so many of you.” From the crowd, he picked out Jackson, Richie and BA. “Here’s your bloody cheese wheel!” He yelled, throwing the said object at them.
“Ouch!” Richie said, rubbing a rapidly expanding bruise on his forehead. “Where did you get that from?”
“Bubba has a hobby of collecting cheese wheels.” Stanley explained. “Now, Murdock. Take the vortex and put us all back on the right planet, please.”
Murdock squinted at the vortex, which was no longer a carrot. “How do I do that?”
Stanley sighed. “By pushing the big red button.”
“Oh, right.” Murdock pushed the big red button and miraculously everyone was back, standing in Vacuumland, just outside the peanut butter factory.
“Hey, how do you know all of this, Stanley?” Goddess Marina asked.
“Because I’m a shameless device used by the writer of this part to end the story.” Stanley gave her a helpful smile. “Now, Murdock – take your friends to Stonehenge and go back home! Get!”
“Okay! Okay!” Murdock handed the vortex to Rudolf and set off at a sprint to Stonehenge, dragging Richie, Jackson and BA after him.
“What now, Stanley?” Goddess Walker asked.
“Now.” Stanley sighed. “I have to sort out all of your social problems.”
Jackson tied a toilet roll around Richie while hitting Murdock over the head with a cheese wheel. “Murdock! How long do we have to do this for? I feel silly…”
With a great flash of light, all four humans disappeared.
“Okay.” Stanley said. “Marina. Marvin. It’s obvious you two are made for each other, so do us all a favour and go for a really long vacation in Logarithmland.”
“Aw, man!” Carter exclaimed. “I don’t want them around while I’m surfing!”
“Ah.” Stanley said. “Your surfboard.” It appeared in front of him.
“Hey, cool, man!” Carter said, heading off towards Logarithmland, Off in tow.
“Goddess Walker.” Stanley looked at her seriously. “I’m afraid we don’t have any Jackson clones, but we do have Ralph and Pythagorus…”
Walker sighed. “Well, I guess they’ll have to do. Come on, boys!” She grabbed a hand of each of the men and all three disappeared in a puff of smoke.
“As for the rest of you…” Stanley concluded. “I think you should all go and make some peanut butter sandwiches before going to bed. You can all try to take over the world
“Awww.” Great Jon, Manny, the Dabei and the Lord High Pink Bunny said in unison, before hurrying off into the factory with everyone else to join the peanut butter wrestling match that was commencing between Beethoven and Rufus.
Stanley and Bubba were left alone outside with Goddess Marina. “You’ll never get away with this, you know.” Marina said. “You can’t end a story by force!”
Stanley smiled. “I’m not ending it… I’m just postponing the insanity until someone can be bothered writing Vacuumland 3.”
Murdock woke up in an unusual situation. He was, in fact, walking towards his own front door. It never having been a place he’s woken up before, he gave an involuntary yelp of surprise.
“Yeah, Murdock.” Jackson grinned. “We’re back. And just in time for Christmas as well.”
“Back?” Richie looked at both of them quizzically. “Back from where?”
“He been spending too much time wit dat fool.” BA Baracus told him and knocked loudly on the door.
“Jack?” Murdock whispered. “How come you remember and…?”
Jackson shrugged. “Richie’s got used to repressing things. Weird things happen to me so often, I guess I’m not bothered by them too much.”
“Like falling out of aeroplanes?” Murdock asked.
“Shut up!” Jackson elbowed him in the ribs.
The door was opened by a smiling teenage girl. “Hi Dad!”
“Huh?” Murdock said, rather loudly.
“Hi Tanya!” Face handed her the present he had bought.
“Oh, cool!” She unwrapped it. “A Bon Jovi CD! What did you get me, Dad?”
“Ummm…” Murdock held out the Furby.
“Ha ha. Very funny.” Tanya smiled. “I’m not five, you know. Come in, guys. Mom’s waiting!”
Face went inside and immediately started to chat up Tanya. Murdock frowned. “Is it me, or did we miss ten years somewhere? Last time I looked, my daughter was a baby!”
Jackson smiled. “There’s a whole parental talk on that issue. I guess the vortex must have gone weird somewhere. So that some things have moved on ten years, while the
world hasn’t. I think there was a Twilight Zone episode on that…”
“Okay, okay!” Murdock said. “But one thing worries me!”
“Killer cabbages?” Jackson suggested.
“No… How Face knew to buy a present for a sixteen year old instead of a baby.” Murdock replied.
“Hmmm…” Jackson said. “That *is* weird.”
In the kitchen of Murdock’s house, Face heard the strains of his friends’ conversation and smiled. It was nice to have a time machine at his disposal.
Meanwhile, in Vacuumland, only one voice could be heard above the laughing antics of the peanut butter factory…