Why yes, yes I do…
So waaaaayyyyyyyy back in October of 2015 I came across a tweet from @ChuckWendig linking to his website Terribleminds where he posts many wonderful things including writing challenges. So back then I went and looked up his FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: IT’S X MEETS Y, THE HORROR EDITION! I booked marked the site so that I could find it later and take part in the challenge. Well much later (last month) I was cleaning out my old bookmarks and came across this one again; after reading through the challenge and rolling my D20 (yes I keep one on the desk) my X and Y were Carrie and The Muppets. I have not been able to get anyone to do a read through and edit as everyone is rather busy so you are all going to get a rather raw version of the story.
So after much procrastination I present to you…
The bulbs around the dressing room mirror are dark; a faint hint of dust can be seen upon them in the low light of a table lamp off to the side. The single bulb behind the green glass shade does little to dispel the darkness of the rest of the room. Through the thick wooden door the muffled sounds of music and the activity of backstage workers encroaches into the space; its only competition is the rhythmic swish of a brush through hair and her breathing.
She sits upon the frayed red velvet cushion of the antique bench as if cast from metal; hard edged and straight backed. Every movement she makes is controlled and precise. There must always be control. She stares past her reflected image into the mirrors silvered depths, seeing something unknown. A small spasm of contempt flashes across her face but it is quickly replaced with her serene mask.
A knock on the door startles her from her fugue like state. A small squeak escapes from casters on the clawed feet of the bench as she turns towards the door. Light and sound crash into the room as the door creaks open, Scooters ginger yarned head appears in the gap, his soulless unblinking eyes searching for her in the beam of light from the doorway.
“Miss White? Miss White, you will be needed on set in 5 minutes.”
“Thank you Scooter, I will be along shortly.”
“Thank you Miss White, I will let Kermit know.”
The door swings shut plunging her back into the semi darkness as Scooter heads on to his next task.
How long have the Muppets been around, 50 or 60 plus years and yet they never change. Immortality of a sort, never aging, but she could not see herself spending eternity in that awful green jacket.
This time the wheels give a disgruntled squeal as she stands up checking herself in the mirror for imagined imperfections. As she turns to the door the brush stops its work and floats over to her baggage to settle within her makeup case. Faded movie posters adorn the walls of her room; the one by the door behind cracked glass is The Muppets take Manhattan. The colors are faded and the paper has yellowed with age. They have had a few successful movies over the years but they always fall back into obscurity for long periods of time. The Muppets even tried to rekindle memories from their old fan base with a poor knock-off of The Office, it failed.
Many mourned the death of Jim Henson in 1990 but the general public is unaware that he did not die of natural causes. In an effort to have his creations live on he made a deal with a rather deceitful demon that turned into a horrible curse. Many from the original series died off suddenly when they started working with the puppets soon after Jim’s death. Each died in excruciating pain as their life force was sucked from their bodies and their arms or hands were slowly chewed off. Those limbs remain within the puppets making them move and talk as if still controlled by the puppeteer. Every now and then a body will be found missing a limb and sucked dry as some Muppet has been required to renew their source of power. The old joke of an x-ray of Kermit with an arm and hand inside him is actually rather apropos.
Bracing herself mentally she opens the door and steps out onto the landing. A few flakes of paint fall to the floor as she closes the door, the brass star with her name on the card is tarnished and in need of a good polish. To the left are the stairs leading down to the main back stage area, she slowly makes her way towards them looking over the railing to the area below. The first step bows under her weight, signs of dry rot that is most likely pervading the entire building. The doors to the alley below her are open and the hiss and growls of a scuffle between tom cats can be heard. The feline battle causes a number of trash cans to hit the pavement with such a clash that it makes her wince and cover her ears. As she waits upon the stairs for the din to die down she is now assaulted with the stench of rotting fish wafting through the doorway. Lew Zealand must have tossed out his last batch of boomerang fish; no wonder the cats were staking their territorial claims. She takes a number of calming yet fish scented breaths to refocus her and force back the unwanted sensory overload. Once completed she looks around and finds Bobo staring up at her.
Bobo is positioned at the base of the stairwell, blocking anyone from going up or down. Well over 9 feet tall his fur puffs out from beneath the crisp laundered security uniform. Polished brass buttons flash under the lights as his massive chest expands with each breath. He plays the fool on the show but those deep set eyes show a fierce primal intelligence. As she nears the base of the stairs Bobo turns to let her pass with a nod. She notices small flecks of meat in his fur and his muzzle and his claws are stained by dried blood. She passes him quickly as his natural animal musk and the smell of old blood begins to make her gag. She looks back to see him pry something from between his fangs with a 4 inch claw, he slowly licks the claw clean as he watches her from beneath furrowed brows. She catches him taking quick glances to the alley doorway; the smell of the fish must be driving him insane with the need to feed.
She spots Kermit by the main desk typing madly away on an old typewriter and heads over to see what his plans are for her tonight. There is a number of Muppets running back and forth with props and equipment as they change out for the next scene; she creates a small bubble of space around her as moves through the organized chaos. Muppets are unknowingly diverted by the edge of the sphere allowing her unmolested passage to the small desk.
As she stops beside Kermit she senses something from the dressing room landing and notices Miss Piggy glaring down at her from the second doorway; with a thought she flexes the door shut in the pigs face. Honestly that porker needs to get over her jealously issues. One day someone is going to string her up and drain her blood into a bucket before frying up her fat ass for breakfast. Really, the damn frog is naked with no penis to be seen, though he may have some good tongue tricks he is not her type, she still likes the jocks.
“Ah, Miss White, there you are. I hope everything has been okay?”
“Yes, thank you Kermit, Scooter had mentioned that I was needed on set. What is the plan for tonight’s show?”
As she waits for his reply she notices the words upon the page in the typewriter: We need the humans. We must not KILL the humans. There are no spaces, just the words written over and over again across the page. Kermit doesn’t seem to notice her reading the page, or he just doesn’t care.
“Tonight you will be working with the Swedish Chef, just adlib it as best you can. It is pretty much all he does, not like there is an actual scene to practice with that guy. The only reason he is here is that he is the son of one of our Swedish bankers who manages our off-shore tax shelters, fucking IRS would drain us dry otherwise.”
“Okay, sounds easy enough. Do you have any other words of advice for working with him?”
“Only one thing Miss White, if that unintelligible bastard starts throwing shit other than his ladles just run as fast as you can.”
“Um, Okay, dully noted Kermit.”
With a thought she intensifies the protective sphere around herself; a small muscle tick begins to intensify on her left eyelid.
“Just head on out to the stage area behind the curtain, Chef is already there and I will go introduce you. Just follow the floor lights and you can’t miss it.”
Just past the desk a small curtain divides the pathways one behind the main curtain and the other to the brightly lit stage front. The red curtains and their gold trim are showing their age. Frayed tassels hang limply from the scalloped curtain top above her. Dirt and unknown stains mar the once brilliant red velvet of the main curtains. Here and there light from the hidden set bleeds through moth chewed patches. They could easily afford the repairs needed, but they seem reluctant to change. She pulls herself from her contemplation and follows the lights inlaid in the floor to center stage; there Chef waits grumbling to himself.
“Vhere-a zee-a hell is zeet vumuon? Bork Bork Bork!?”
“Sorry I am late Chef, I was speaking to Kermit about tonight’s show. “
“Suore-a, suore-a, oune-a ouff zeese-a deys I’m guing tu cuok zeet demn ribeet ribeet .”
From behind the curtain she can hear Kermit introducing them; she imagines his stringy green arms waving in the air as he runs off stage. The curtains draw back and she is momentarily blinded by the 9 scalloped backed stage lights. Beside her the Chef starts his song clanging his ladles together in rhythm.
“Yorn desh born, der ritt de gitt der gue,
Orn desh, dee born desh, de umn bork! bork! bork!”
A smattering of applause can be heard from the audience and the Chef flings his ladles into the crowd hidden within the darkened theater seating. An evil grin springs to life under his moustache as one ladle finds a target in the darkness; she scarcely notices as he whispers,
“Tunight vit zee-a help ouff MEEss Vheete-a ve-a gunna cuok zees chicky.”
With her eyes adjusted to the light she watches as Chef pulls a chicken from beneath the counter and places it on the cutting board. The poor chicken shakes in terror as Chef presses it down on the cutting board. His other hand is blindly groping along the edge of the counter for a large meat cleaver he has left there.
“Huld de stil chicky, chicky.”
It feebly clucks as Chef’s fingers constrict around the wooden handle of the cleaver. Slowly he raises it above his head the cleaver twirls in his hand. The stage lights flashing off the blade with each rotation like a strobe in the dark.
“Herdy go der heady dur muh clucky clucky!”
As the blade descends the doors at the entrance to the theater burst open silhouetting a small figure in the light from the lobby.
The chicken lets out a desperate “BAWK!” before the cleaver passes though it’s neck to slam home into the wood of the cutting board. Like some B rated horror flick, time seems to slow down. She watches as the blade descends through feathers, flesh and sinew into the wood below. Small splinters of bone intermix with those of wood. The gore released is instantaneous, blood showers the area. The gruesome sight has caused her to drop her protective field; flecks of blood and tissue pelt her face and body. As the silhouette turns it’s head to let out an anguished scream she sees the large hooked nose that could only belong to Gonzo. As the house lights start to come up she notices Statler and Waldorf laughing hysterically in their opera box. An unwanted memory flashes within her ordered mind.
“They’re all going to laugh at you…”
The eye tick increases in intensity as she slowly backs away from the counter trying desperately to regain her mental control. She must remain Miss. White, she can never let the other one out again. But the internal battle increases with the screams and smell of blood around her.
Chef releases his grip on Camilla and her headless body runs off the counter in the last direction it was looking only to get stuck on one of the stage lights. The heat of the lamp causes her feathers to burst alight and soon the stage is filled with the smell of burning flesh.
“Oh nu, I vuonted beked cheeckee-a, nut bebbq chickey. Bork Bork Bork!”
There is a flurry of activity behind Gonzo and soon the muzzle of a large cannon appears within the doorway along with a number of chickens in green army helmets.
“I’m going to kill your sorry ass and cook up your swedish balls in a creamy gravy sauce. “
Donning his trademark helmet Gonzo makes a few adjustments to the leather ear flaps and pulls the goggles into place. He Climbs into the cannon as the chickens check the elevation aiming it towards chef. At the last minute two of the chickens toss a wrapped bundle into the muzzle of the canon.
Chef stands his ground on the stage, slowly waving the bloody cleaver back and forth.
“Cume-a und get me-a yuou puoultry-fuockeeng illegel spece-a ilee-an!”
The canon blast within the confines of the theater leaves many falling to the floor writhing in pain but their screams are muted by the ringing in her ears. She staggers backwards into the cabinets clasping her head as the battle on stage and the one within starts in earnest.
Gonzo emerges though the blackpowder smoke twin sabers outstreched in his hands. They may be chickens but their aim is true as his blades find their mark and drive into the Swedish Chef. Gonzo’s momentum slams them back into the kitchen cabinets where chef hangs limply skewered on the gleaming blades. Releasing his hold on the sabers Gonzo drops to the floor and rushes over to his extra crispy Camilla, slowly petting her burnt remains.
Her attention is pulled from the mourning Gonzo by a small cough and movement where chef hangs.
“Gud Demun it, zees ves my best iprun. Bork”
“I’m guing tu fuockeeng keell yuou, yuou puorple-a besterd.”
Grabbing the sabers blades chef begins pulling himself forward along their length. As he reaches the cross guards the shift in weight wrenches the sword tips from the cabinet doors and he drops to the floor. Pulling one saber free from his body he advances slowly on the sobbing form of Gonzo; who lost in his grief is unaware of the danger. She shouts a warning to Gonzo who turns in time to avoid the downward stroke of the saber. As he spins away he tears the second saber from Chef’s body and falls into a ready stance saber on guard.
“Guess I missed the vital spots, I will just have to dismember you slowly then, Daddies money is not going to save you now.”
“I dun’t need Deddy tu sefe-a me-a, I’ll teke-a yuour heed juost leeke-a I tuok zee-a oune- ouff yuour puoultry whure-ovrzeere-a. Iffter vheech I vill grind yuou up intu a nice-a meetlueff. Bork Bork Bork!”
Statler screams down from the opera box “How much does a poultry whore costs?”
Waldof replies “For someone like you it’s just chicken feed.”
As they begin laughing hysterically Gonzo points up to them; “After I’m done with the Swedish Freak here you two are next on my list.”
She slowly slides herself towards the stage exit forgotten as Gonzo and Chef square up and takes a few swings at each other. The clangs and hiss of steel on steel cannot drown out the laughter from the opera box. The eye twitch will not abate as she covers her ears once more. She must remain Miss White; she cannot let the other out again. It has been years since the incident at the prom, hiding away from the public and learning to force down her other self. But the memories flood her mind, she fights the undertow but it’s a losing battle but still she must try.
“They’re all going to laugh at you…”
“They’re all going to laugh at you…”
“They’re all going to laugh at you…”
She makes it to the exit only to bump into the massive form of Bobo whom is waiting in the darkness, watching the events unfold on stage. He reaches out to steady her but his claws score her bare arms, the smell of old blood and new pushes her over the edge.
“I’m sorry Miss White, we will get those looked after right away, just head off to the backstage area. Kermit has police and ambulance on the way”
“Miss White is not here Bobo, there is only Carrie now.”
With a thought she tosses Bobo across the stage to slam through the kitchen props and into the ropes and cables on the other side. He is stunned and tangled up but soon begins to recover his wits and a low growl rumbles across the stage. As he struggles with the ropes the curtains above begin to shift, ripping sounds can be heard aloft, and tassels begin to fall here and there.
Statler turns to Waldorf, “When did we get a flying bear act?”
Waldorf turns to him, “No clue, but it would sure liven up Fozzie’s act. Wocka! Wocka!”
Tilting their heads back with a new bout of laughter they never see the two kitchen knives flying towards them. The blades slam home into their open mouths passing through the palms of the zombie hands moving within. Their laughter turns to gurgles then silence as destroying the hand is akin to shooting a zombie in the head.
Pulling the blades free she sends them towards Bobo as he comes free of the ropes and begins searching the darkness for her. A massive paw bats the first blade aside but the second lodges deep into his back. She expects more resistance as she mentally draws the blade downward but the fabric and foam of his body parts easily under the blades keen edge. To her horror she finds a full sized human trapped within, its flesh begins to slog off in bits and pieces as it is exposed to the air. The wound would stop a normal creature but Bobo begins to charge towards her, his maw opening to show his savage teeth. She pulls a rope from the tangle behind him and wraps it around his legs tripping him. The rope pulls tight and draws Bobo up towards the rafters. She takes a quick glance to Chef and Gonzo lucky that they are too involved with their own battle to notice her. Chef has lost a hand in the battle and Gonzo his trade mark nose but still they circle each other lashing out in blind rage.
Bobo continues to try and escape his bonds when she notices a cast iron frying pan on the floor among the remains of the kitchen. She takes mental swings at Bobo’s head with the pan slamming him back and forth like a furry piñata trying to crush the human skull within. As his struggles lessen she undoes the rope dropping him to the stage head first. There is a sickening sound as if a rotten watermelon was slammed by Gallagher’s mallet and his struggles stop. With the tension on the rope released a section of the curtain falls draping itself over two of the stage lights. Wisps of smoke are soon to appear and flames begin to eat away at the fabric and tassels. She closes and locks all the theater doors with a thought as she heads backstage.
As she comes around the curtain she is confronted by Kermit and a small group of Muppets.
“What have you done Miss White? You’ve killed Statler, Wladorf and Bobo while Gonzo and Chef are busy hacking each other to pieces”
“As I told Bobo, Miss White is no longer here. You can call me Carrie. “
“All I’m going to call you is DEAD you psychotic bitch!”
Green arms flailing above his head Kermit screams as he charges towards her.
Grabbing whatever is nearby the group begins to quickly advance on her. Once more she flexes her powers and they are flung away from her slamming against the back wall and stairway. Carrie turns to the sound of a “Hi’ya” as Miss Piggy launches herself from the landing with a karate drop kick. With a thought she catches her midair and slams her back into the half wall that acts as a railing for the upper floor. She mentally grabs a fallen pipe from one of the other Muppets and pins Piggy to the wall through her abundant pork belly. Miss Piggy reaches out towards her love and whimpers “Kermie” before falling still.
Sudden pain flares in her leg as teeth sink into her flesh, distracted by the walking pork rind she had failed to notice the approach of Animal. Shaking his head furiously he ravages her leg making her drop to the floor. She begins pounding on his skull with her fists in an attempt to loosen his bite but only drives his teeth further into her leg. Grabbing one of his arms she breaks his wrist and pulls the drum stick from his hand; with all her strength she drives it into the top of his skull. Animal instantly goes limp and she throws his body away from her. Setting up a mental shield she begins ripping strips from her dress to steam the blood loss from the wounds in her leg. Surprisingly none of the other Muppets have made an attempt to attack her. She looks around to see what is happening only to find Kermit staring at her from the stairwell. Smoke is billowing through the stage entrance now as the curtain fire spreads.
“You’ve killed us. Was that always the plan?”
“No, that wimp you called Miss White was looking for a start in acting, but once things went sideways out there with Chef and Gonzo I had to take over as I must survive.”
Kermit’s head hung down in thought. “I see.”
Through her shield she could feel the heat of the fire as it drew nearer, feed by the old wood and fabrics it was growing quickly. She pulled herself up to her feet and tested the wounded leg to see if it would support her weight. She created a mental brace to help support her leg as she made her way to the back stairs leading to the alley.
Kermit looked up towards her once more.
“I’d rather not slowly burn to death, could you kill me before you go?”
Carrie looked at him and slowly nodded, keeping eye contact with him the whole time until the typewriter slammed him backwards into the stairs crushing his skull.
As she exited the building locking it tight you could hear the faint sound of a typewriter keys clicking away. As the page began to curl and char before bursting into flame the final words on the page read.
No one is laughing now…