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JCM

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  1. Chapter 18 Abby Waybright was in her bedroom in her apartment, scrolling on Facebook on her laptop, when her five-year-old niece barged into the room wearing a cloak too big for her and waving around a fake wand. "Expelliarmus!" said the girl. Abby rolled her eyes. "I knew I shouldn't have let you watch those Harry Potter movies," she said. "Is it true you met a real-life wizard?" said the girl. "Yeah, it is, Sasha," said Abby. Suddenly, the lights in the apartment went out. "W-what's happening?" said a frightened Sasha. "It's just a blackout from the thunderstorm. You'll be fine," said Abby, whose face was still lit by her laptop before she closed it. "What's that?" said Sasha, pointing to one of the outlets. Abby looked at where Sasha was pointing, and she saw a large current of electricity pouring out of the outlet. "Sasha, come here!" ordered Abby. Sasha ran into Abby's arms as the electricity morphed into the shape of a person. Abby watched in awe as Merlin appeared, illuminated by a blue energy around him. "How did you escape?" asked Abby. "You know that weirdo?" whispered Sasha, peeking at Merlin before turning back to Abby with a frightened look still on her face. "Yeah," said Abby. "It's okay, he won't hurt you." "When you visited me," said Merlin, "I told you I could leave that dungeon whenever I wanted to, but I wanted it to be a surprise when I launched my attack." "Does that mean…" "Yes. The attack begins tonight. Send the child to bed. I don't want her to bother us." Sasha, who was still being held by Abby, hugged her aunt tightly. "Please don't send me off!" said Sasha. "I don't trust him!" "It's late," said Abby. "You should already be asleep, anyway." "No!" said Sasha, pushing Abby away. Sasha pointed her wand at Merlin, who raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Stupefy!" screamed Sasha. "What was that...supposed to do?" asked Merlin. "Make you fall asleep!" "Well, it didn't work." Abby took the fake wand from Sasha and led her out of the room. "What did I tell you?" said Abby. "Don't use spells on guests." "I know, I know! But that guy in your room gives me the creeps! I don't want you to work with him!" said Sasha. "I'm a big girl. I'll be fine," said Abby. "Now, you don't want me to call your dad and tell him you've been misbehaving again, do you?" Sasha looked down at her feet. "No," she muttered. "Then go to your room and go to sleep. End. Of. Discussion." The lights turned back on as Sasha walked slowly to her room. She glanced at Abby once before going in, and once Abby was sure that her niece wouldn't attempt anything else, she went back into her room. "That girl," said Merlin. "Is she your daughter?" "No, she's my brother's," said Abby. "She's just visiting for the summer." Merlin nodded. "I've always wanted children of my own," he said. "But alas, I had greater ambitions." "Why did you come here?" asked Abby. "You were the one who told me of my followers, and I need you to get into contact with them to let them know that I'm out and that they need to be ready for the next steps of my plan." "Oh! O-of course I will!" said Abby, grabbing her laptop. "Is that device what you will use to communicate with them?" asked Merlin. "Yeah. I mean, I have some of their numbers, but most of what we do is over Facebook." Abby opened a page, and she scratched her chin. "This is new. One of those kids you were looking for, Dipper Pines, is apparently at Disneyland right now," said Abby. "Disneyland? Is that Disney fellow popular here?" asked Merlin. "Yeah! Everyone grew up watching his movies! There was even one starring you!" said Abby. Abby typed "The Sword in the Stone" into her browser's search bar, and pictures of the Disney movie appeared on her screen. "My beard's not that long!" said Merlin with indignity as he looked at the pictures. Merlin pointed to a yellow-haired boy in one of the pictures. "Who's that?" he said. "That's King Arthur!" said Abby. "You're friends with him, aren't you?" Merlin turned away. "I used to be," he said. Abby could tell something was wrong. "Did you two have a falling out?" she asked. "It doesn't matter," said Merlin. "It's in the past. Let's focus on today, because today, we can change the world." Abby nodded and switched to a tab with the Children of Merlin Facebook group open. As she did this, Merlin walked to a window and stared outside of it. "How do I find this...Disneyland?" asked Merlin. "It's in Anaheim," said Abby. "In California." "I know not these lands you speak of." "Wow. You clearly aren't from here. Duh! You're an ancient, magical wizard. Of course you aren't from here." "Draw me a map. I'm sure I'll find it." "I guess I can try." Abby rummaged through her desk and found a blank piece of paper. "Graphic arts degree, don't fail me now," whispered Abby. Wendy fell to her knees as the rain came at her faster than ever before. She looked at herself in the puddle under her, and her face was now covered in cuts and bruises. One of her eyes couldn't fully open, and her hair was disheveled from the rain and the fighting. She looked up at Zoey, who wasn't far from her and was just as beaten-up and as exhausted as she was. "We can't keep on like this," said Wendy. "Let's just go downstairs and get the others." "No!" hissed Zoey. "We've gone too far to turn back now!" "This isn't you! Those Children of Merlin...whoever the heck they are...they've corrupted you!" "I'm the same person I already have been. You just haven't realized it until now." Wendy stood back up and offered Zoey a hand, but she refused it. "You don't think I know about your friends making fun of me when they think I'm not listening? You don't think I understand how much of an outcast I am?" said Zoey. "You're not an outcast," said Wendy. "Yeah, I am, but I'm okay with it now, because for once in my life, I'm a part of something bigger than myself, bigger than Gravity Falls High School, bigger than all of that crap!" Zoey finally stood up, and she took a bow with the same pattern as Minnie Mouse's out of her hair to let her hair flow in the wind. Disneyland security reached them moments later. "Take the girl away," said Zoey. "Charge her with assaulting a cast member." "Zoe!" cried Wendy. "Don't do this, Zoe!" "After you've detained her, go downstairs, and you'll find that candy thief I was telling you about," said Zoey. The two security guards handcuffed Wendy and took her away despite her protests. Zoey checked her phone and noticed a Facebook message that caused her to open her mouth in astonishment. Dipper felt around the chamber Walt Disney's body was being held in until he found a button. He pressed the button as hard as he could, and the chamber started to rise to the surface. Dipper followed it as it got higher, higher, and SPLASH! Dipper and the chamber were both above water now, with Stan and Abuelita both on the edge of the hole now to see the miracle Dipper was telling them about with their own eyes. "I can't believe it," said Stan. "All that crazy stuff you were talking about...was real." "You're from Gravity Falls," said Dipper as Stan helped him out of the hole. "You should be used to this by now." Suddenly, everything around them started to shake, and the front of the chamber, which was clear to make it obvious who was inside, started to open. Walt Disney stretched and yawned before opening his eyes and smiling. "Hello," said Walt. "Do you think you can help this old man across that water? My legs are still quite tired from my rest. Dipper and Stan looked at each other before swimming to the chamber, helping Walt get between them, and swimming back with him. "I was wondering when someone would come for me," said Walt. "How long have I been away?" Dipper and Stan looked at each other again. "Mr. Disney, you've been in there for 45 years," said Dipper. "45? Heavens! I was never supposed to be gone that long!" said Walt. Walt sat down, clearly troubled. "Señor Disney," said Abuelita. "I know you do not know who I am, but I've loved your work since I was a child." "Thank you," said Walt. "What was the point of freezing yourself, anyway?" inquired Stan. "It was an...experiment. I'm not just a filmmaker, you see. I'm a scientist. I wanted to see if cryopreservation was an effective way to stop aging, but I only planned to be down here five, six years at the most. This is terrible. A scientific breakthrough, but terrible." "It's good we found you, though, because we need your help," said Dipper. "What do you know about Merlin?" "Merlin? He was a character in one of my last movies," said Walt. "Why do you ask?" "I'm not talking about that Merlin. I'm talking about the real Merlin," said Dipper. Walt stood up again. "What are you talking about, boy? Are you saying Merlin's in our world?" he said. "Yes," said Dipper. "Then we're already doomed," said Walt. "It took every trick in my book to get away from him, and even then, I almost didn't succeed. If he's managed to find his way here, I don't know if there's anything on this planet that can stop him." "No way!" said Stan. "We didn't come all the way down here for you to tell us there's nothing we can do!" "I don't know what you want from me," said Walt. "It's been so long ago, probably close to 100 years now. I remember reading a book of fairy tales with an older cousin and getting sent to this wonderful, magical world. I remember finding out that Merlin and his wife were trying to come here in our stead. I remember getting the Blue Fairy to betray him as me and my cousin acted out Cinderella, and I remember discovering the book and having to read 'and they lived happily ever after', before Merlin caught to up. And I assumed after that we lived happily ever after, but apparently not." "That's all you have? No weaknesses?" said Dipper. "The Blue Fairy was the only creature I saw capable of matching up with him, but unless she came here with him, then no, there's nothing that can stop him." Dipper punched a wall. "Arrgh!" he screamed. "Shh, Dipper, do you hear that?" whispered Stan. "Hear what?" "Footsteps." The security guards approached them with flashlights. "Are you Stan Pines?" said one of the guards. "Depends," said Stan. "What do you want with this Stan Pines?' "We have footage of you stealing from one of our candy shops. We'll need you to come with us," said the other guard. "No! I'm not going back to the brig!" said Stan, raising his fists. "Do you want us to get our tasers? Cause we'll tase the heck out of you!" said the first guard. "Stop," said Walt. "I own this park, so whatever he's done on these grounds should not be punished." "Yeah!" said Stan. "What he said!" The guards shone their flashlights on Walt's face. "And who are you supposed to be?" said the second guard. "Walt Disney," said Walt. The guards laughed. "Walt Disney is dead!" said the first guard. "If you need proof, here it is," said Walt, pulling out his wallet from his shirt pocket. The guards looked closely at Walt's driver's license before lowering their flashlights. "Fine," said the second guard. "But you better not drive anywhere, since that license expired in 1970." "I'll keep that in mind," said Walt. "Now, take us above ground. I've been frozen for so long that I forgot what fresh air tastes like." Dipper, Stan, Abuelita, Walt, and the guards returned to the stairs, and once they ascended them, they found Zoey waiting for them. "Why isn't Stan handcuffed?" asked Zoey. The guards pointed at Walt. "Ask him," said the first guard. "No," said Zoey. "It can't be!" "Walt Disney was down there, just like I told you!" bragged Dipper. Zoey backed away with a terrified look on her face. "What's wrong?" said Dipper. "And where's Wendy?" "Uh...I...have to go!" said Zoey before running off. Dipper turned to the guards. "Did either of you see where Wendy went?" he asked. "Who? The redhead? Zoey told us to lock her up," said the second guard. "What?" said Dipper. "Take us to her," said Walt. The guards led Dipper, Stan, Abuelita, and Walt to a small building in the back of Critter Country. When they walked inside, they found Wendy sitting crouched inside of a jail cell. "Wendy!" said Dipper. "Are you okay?" "I've been better," said Wendy. "Let her out," said Walt. The guards opened the jail cell, and Wendy, still sore from her fight, stood up slowly before walking out. "Why did Zoey have you arrested?" asked Dipper. "She isn't who I thought she was," said Wendy. Wendy glanced at Walt. "Of course Walt Disney's actually here," she said. "You didn't believe me?" said Dipper. "I wanted you to believe it, because it was easier than believing your sister was…" "Gone. Yeah, I know." "Your sister's missing?" said Walt. "Yeah, but you've already been a big help, so you don't need to worry about it," said Dipper. "I'm sorry," said Walt. "I had an older brother. The last thing I told him before I began my experiment was that I would see him again, but it seems I won't in this life." "You'll find your sister again," said Stan. "If there's one thing I know about you and Mabel from your time with me, it's that you always find each other." Everyone left the building, "Well, Mr. Disney, it's a nice park you've got," said the first guard. "Yeah," said Walt. "It's bigger than I remember, but nice." "By the way, can you put in a good word for us with the higher-ups? It's almost time for reassignments, and I would love a spot in Tomorrowland," said the second guard. Walt chuckled. "Of course," he said. After the guards left, Dipper looked up at Stan with a pleading face. "Do I still have to go to my parents?" he asked. "I promised them," said Stan. "But I'll tell them what I know now: you were right and we were wrong." Wendy playfully punched Dipper in the arm. "You actually did it! You found Walt Disney! Mabel's going to be so proud of you when she finds out!" said Wendy. Dipper smiled as he felt relaxed for the first time since Mabel disappeared. "I guess we better get going, then," said Dipper. "Thanks again, Mr. Disney." "Please," said Walt. "Call me Walt." "Do you need us to take you anywhere? The park closes soon," said Stan, looking at his watch. "No, I think I'm just going to...wait a minute. What that in the sky?" said Walt. The others looked up with Walt, and they noticed what seemed to be a star that was getting brighter and brighter until it was apparent that it was no star they were looking at. "It can't be," said Dipper. "Merlin?" whispered Walt. Suddenly, Zoey appeared from the darkness of the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction, waving her arms and jumping in excitement as Merlin stopped in the sky. "He's here, Merlin! Dipper's here! We have him!" shouted Zoey. "You should have stayed hidden!" said Wendy, running after Zoey. Walt grabbed Wendy before she could fight Zoey again. "Stop," said Walt. "I'll handle this." Wendy, whose face was red with rage, nodded and returned to Dipper, Stan, and Abuelita. "You work here, right?" asked Walt. "Yeah," said Zoey. "Well, you don't anymore." "I figured." Walt, Zoey, Dipper, Wendy, Stan, and Abuelita watched as Merlin slowly descended from the sky like an angel of death. "Leave the others alone!" said Dipper. "It's me you want!" As Merlin landed, he shot a glance at Walt. "But it isn't just you, is it?" said Merlin. "An old friend of mine finally has a kingdom of his own." "Your desire to make a kingdom out of this planet won't work," said Walt. "The people will resist." "The ones who are living won't," said Merlin. "That girl and millions of others already worship me. They know that I am what this planet needs." "What this planet needs is for you to return to your own!" "Well, I won't. And if you are to make it out of this encounter alive, you will bend the knee to me." "Never!" Merlin raised a hand, and Walt felt his knees go weak. As Merlin lowered his hand, Walt tried his best to fight Merlin's magic before dropping to his knees, the rain stopping as Merlin got closer to Walt. "I'll have mercy on you," said Merlin. "But do not forget that I could have killed you and chose not to." "If you release this spell on me, I'll make you wish you had killed me," said Walt. Merlin nodded. "By the way, I found your portrayal of me in that sequence of drawings to be very offensive," said Merlin. "Take it up with my lawyers," said Walt. Merlin waved his hand, and Walt passed out. He then turned to Dipper. "I'm sorry about your fat friend," said Merlin. "I knew I had to have a Plan B this time, and sadly, it required his sacrifice." "You don't care about Soos," said Dipper. "You don't care about any of us! You only care about yourself!" "What do you think is about? Power for the sake of power? I want to make sure that no child grows up as I had, isolated from a society that doesn't understand him. That's what I did for New Britain, the first country that let humans, wizards, witches, dwarfs, and many more magical and non-magical creatures peacefully coexist, and that's what I will do for your planet. You need to understand that I'm no villain. The causes I fight for are noble, but just like any war, the war I'm fighting will have casualties." "If you really don't think you're a villain after everything you've done, then I have nothing else to say to you." Merlin sighed. "Very well. I hoped I would be able to reason with you, but it's clear I cannot," he said. Merlin took a wand out from under his robe. "The good thing about the death spell is it's quick," he said. "No!" cried Wendy. "You can't kill him!" "Well, he's too dangerous to be left alive, so what do you suggest I do?" asked Merlin. "Anything else!" "No. I'm sorry if you're fond of the boy, but this must be done." "Come on, Wendy," said Abuelita. "Vamos. If he says it must be done, it must be done." Wendy looked at Abuelita with surprise before walking to her. Abuelita grabbed Wendy's hand, and Wendy grabbed Dipper's hand from the left. Dipper was still trying to process what was going on as Stan grabbed his hand from the right, and the four of them immediately vanished. "What?" said an astounded Merlin. "How did they…" "So I'm guessing you didn't do that?" interjected Zoey. Merlin whisked his fingers through his beard, which wasn't as long as the pictures made it out to be, but still quite long. "It seems this isn't a world without magic after all," he said. Merlin flew back into the sky, leaving Zoey and an unconscious Walt behind him.
  2. 3. Mr. Robot When you think of prestige TV, the first networks that come to mind are HBO, Showtime, AMC, and maybe even FX. Before recently, USA Network was not thought of as a home of prestige TV and seemed to have no designs of being so. Shows like Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice were good and occasionally even great, but you knew what to expect from shows like that, which had well-defined structures and rarely ever deviated from them. They were TV equivalents of comfort food, giving you something better than the bland fast foody dramas the broadcast networks pump out but nothing that will challenge you with bold new flavors. Enter Mr. Robot. The Sam Esmail drama ignored the precedent set by the popular USA Network dramas before it and defied every expectation it could. With a main character whose various mental disorders and drug habits made it hard for him to determine what was real or not, Esmail and crew had the opportunity to create one of the most unpredictable shows we've ever seen, and it was an opportunity they took advantage of. The show was a huge success during its first season, but the second season proved to be too confounding for a lot of people, and the ratings began a steep decline. Despite that, network executives maintained their faith in the show and its crew, and while the show's ratings continued to fall over its final two seasons, the show itself only got better, ending as not just the best show USA Network ever produced but one of the best shows of all time. My two favorite episodes of Mr. Robot came in those last two seasons: eps3.4_runtime-error.r00, which unfolded in real time, and 407 Proxy Authentication Required, which not only defied expectations but defies description, an episode you have to watch yourself to understand just how game-changing it is. If there's one thing most of the shows on my list have in common, it's a willingness to experiment with the medium, to truly give us something that we haven't seen before. In a television landscape dominated by spin-offs, reboots, and remakes (some of them admittedly very good, like the show right under this one on my list), that's very important to me, and Mr. Robot's commitment to doing just that is what makes it one of my top three shows.
  3. Chapter 17 Soos carefully pointed his arrow at a target painted on a tree. He took a deep breath, pulled back the bowstring, and let the arrow fly. It sped right past the tree, disappearing into the darkness of the forest. Shang, who watched from behind Soos, shook his head. “I’ve given you 30 arrows now, and you haven’t hit the tree once,” said Shang. “That’s not true!” said Soos. “I hit the bottom of it that one time!” “We’re days away from this war, and you aren’t even close to ready.” Shang walked to the tree with the target painted onto it and pulled an arrow from its lower trunk. “I have other men to train,” he said as he put the arrow into his quiver. “Please!” said Soos. “Give me more time!” “No!” said Shang. “If we’re to stand a chance against the combined forces of Galacia and the Visigoths, I’ll need soldiers. Real soldiers. I’m going back to the camp. Return to the castle where you’ll be safe.” Shang began to walk away, and Soos was reminded of the last time his father left him at nine years old. Tears streamed down his face as he remembered his father kissing him on the forehead, promising he wouldn’t be gone long, and driving away, never to be seen or heard from again outside of the letters he had mailed Soos over the next four or five years, each with a new lame excuse for why he couldn’t return to take care of his son. Eventually, the letters stopped coming, either because his father could no longer be bothered to write to Soos anymore, or because his abuelita no longer wanted to show him his father’s newest batch of lies. Abuelita tried to convince Soos that his father walking out on them wasn’t Soos’ fault, but even before he left, Soos could tell that his father didn’t respect him, that his father saw him as weak. He no longer blamed himself for what happened, but as Shang departed, all of the negative feelings surrounding his father’s abandonment returned, and out of desperation, Soos sprinted after Shang, tackling him and causing the arrow to fall out of Shang’s quiver. “What are you doing?” said Shang, pushing Soos off. “I want another chance!” said Soos. “Just one more! Please!” Shang stood up and brushed dirt and leaves off his military uniform. “Fine!” he said. “One more chance.” Shang gave Soos the arrow and pointed to the target on the tree. “You hit the target, dead center, and I’ll resume your training,” said Shang. “If you miss, you head to the castle or that arrow goes in you.” Soos nodded. “Understood,” he said. Soos fitted the arrow into his bow, aimed it at the target, took another deep breath, this one deeper than all the ones, and steadied his feet, steadied his hands, steadied his mind. Soos closed his eyes and waited for nearly a minute as Shang watched him with intrigue. When Soos opened his eyes again, all he could see was the target. Now certain that he knew what he was doing, Soos released his grip. --- Peter was asleep inside of a horse-drawn carriage when he was stirred by a bright light coming through his window. “Huh?” muttered Peter, still half-asleep. The Blue Fairy opened the door to Peter’s carriage. “Hello, Pinocchio,” said the fairy. “Am...am I here?” said Peter. “Yes. Geppeto’s shop is right down that road.” “Why couldn’t you just poof me here?” said Peter, stretching. “I had to use a very dangerous, very rare type of magic to turn you into a boy,” said the fairy. “The type of magic that doesn’t work well with other spells. If I used a spell to send you here, it likely would have sent you here as wood, especially after that little number Merlin did on you.” Peter looked down. “I’m sorry for running away,” he said. “I’m not the one you need to apologize to,” said the fairy. “Do you think he’ll forgive me?” The Blue Fairy helped Peter out of the carriage and put a hand on his shoulder as they walked toward the shop. “I know he will,” she said. Just as they reached the shop, they were startled as the carriage exploded and the horses that were pulling it let out frightened neighs before galloping in opposite directions. As the smoke from the explosion disappeared, it revealed an unconscious Bert and Mabel lying where the carriage was. “Hey,” said Peter. “I know that girl! She was with us at Charming’s palace!” “How did she return?” wondered the Blue Fairy. “And who’s that giant frog with her?” Bert was the first to awaken, and he gave Mabel a slight push. “Hey, wake up!” said Bert. “Mabel?” Bert felt Mabel’s pulse. “She’s holding on, but barely,” said Bert. The Blue Fairy approached them. “Excuse me,” she said. “How did you and that girl get here?” Bert looked around. “I assume we’re not in Amphibia anymore,” he said. “No, you’re in New Britain,” said the fairy. “I’m from Amphibia, but Mabel…” “She came from different lands, I know,” said the fairy. “That box...did it bring you here?” Bert looked down at the chest, which was between him and Mabel. “Yes,” he said. “It sent Mabel to Amphibia, too. Do you know about it?” “I know those gems. Gems that looked exactly like those created the original blue, green, and pink fairies several millennia ago. They used to travel dimensions, acting as benevolent gods to every society they encountered, but the leader of one of those societies tricked the fairies, stealing the gems from them and banishing them to this dimension.” The gems on the chest were colorless again, but as the Blue Fairy tapped one of the gems with her wand, it glowed blue. “You think you can use that thing to heal Mabel?” said Bert. “I’ll try,” said the fairy. The Blue Fairy pointed her wand at Mabel’s chest, and the blue aura that Mabel had whenever her powers were activated flickered around her until the Blue Fairy lowered her wand again. “She’s hurt pretty bad,” said the fairy. “I can heal her, but it will take some time.” The Blue Fairy picked up Mabel and returned to Peter. She nodded to Peter, and he walked inside the shop, where an old Italian man was cleaning up. “Papà?” said Peter. The man raised his head at the sound of a familiar voice. He almost didn’t want to turn around, thinking it was a dream, but he eventually did, and as the man, Geppetto, found the boy he lovingly crafted out of the wood of enchanted forest tree standing in his doorway, not even his old legs could keep him from sprinting to Peter to hug him. “I’m so sorry for running away, papà,” Peter said, crying into Geppetto’s worn white button-down shirt. “It’s okay, son,” said Geppetto. “It’s just good to see you again.” “I wish I could be better. I wish I could be that perfect son you wanted when you made me here so many years ago.” Geppetto pulled back from their embrace and wiped the tears from Peter’s face. “Pinocchio, the blue fairy didn’t turn you into a real boy because you were perfect,” said Geppetto. “Far from it. She did it because you knew you were flawed and committed to working on yourself. That’s what makes us human.” The Blue Fairy carried Mabel into the shop with Bert following her. “Thank you for bringing my son back,” said Geppetto. “I was happy to,” said the fairy. “Who are the other two visitors?” “I’m Bert and that’s Mabel.” said Bert. “They are here from foreign lands, and as you see, the travel had a very negative impact on the girl,” said the fairy. “I was hoping you could give her a bed for her to heal in.” “Of course!” said Geppetto. “Take her to the room beside mine. Someone used to live there, but...she’s long gone.” The Blue Fairy nodded and carried Mabel to the room. “Oh!” said Geppetto. “There’s someone else here who has been missing you very much, Pinocchio.” “Who?” said Peter. Geppetto opened a drawer, and he poked something inside of it. Suddenly, a cricket hopped out and chirped in a way Peter immediately recognized. “Jiminy Cricket!” said Peter with excitement. “Pinocchio?” whispered Jiminy Cricket, wiping his eyes as they adjusted to the light. Once Jiminy Cricket knew it was Peter he was talking to, he hopped as high as he could to greet his friend, but before he could reach Peter, he was wrapped by a long, slimy tongue and pulled into Bert’s mouth. Peter’s mouth opened with horror as he saw this, and then he started to cry. “What did I do?” said Bert. “You ate Pinocchio’s friend!” said Geppetto. “Oh,” said Bert. “Well, Mr. Pinocchio, if it’s any consolation, your friend was delicious.” Peter cried louder now, and Bert awkwardly whistled while walking to the room the Blue Fairy and Mabel were in. “Hey, how long do you think it will be until she gets better?” inquired Bert. “I can’t say,” responded the fairy. “Why?” “I don’t think I’ll be welcome here much longer.” “What did you do?” “I saw a tasty snack in the air, so I did what any frog would do in that situation, but the boy apparently saw that cricket as more than food.” “My gods! You ate Jiminy Cricket?” “Obviously, I know I shouldn’t have done it now, but that doesn’t change that fact that I did it, and now we need to be somewhere else.” “I’m sure Pinnocchio and Geppetto will forgive you.” The was a knock on the door. “Come in!” said the fairy. Geppetto walked in with his hands behind his back. “So, Pinocchio was very upset, but I managed to calm him down after assuring him Jiminy Cricket’s death was quick and painless,” said Geppetto. “Thank you so much for doing that,” said the fairy. “Does this mean I’m forgiven?” said Bert. “Of course!” said Geppetto. Bert sighed in relief as the Blue Fairy gave him a look that essentially said, “I told you so.” “However,” continued Geppetto. “Just because you’re forgiven doesn’t mean you won’t be punished for your crime. I’m a strong believer in retributive justice, and the perfect retribution for what you’ve done, which Pinocchio agrees with, is for us to chop you up and eat you.” Geppetto revealed that it was an axe behind him, and Bert shot the Blue Fairy a look that essentially said, “I told you so.” The Blue Fairy rolled her eyes, grabbed Bert’s and Mabel’s hands, and disappeared with both of them moments later. --- Shang and his soldiers reached the Rhine, a massive river that divided New Britain from Galacia, at sunset. The archers, including Soos, took their positions alongside the river, and they waited for the Galacian and Visigothic armies to cross. Hours later, it was pitch black outside of the stars in the sky, and Soos began to fall asleep. The archer to Soos’ left punched his arm and pointed to small lights in the distance, not much brighter than the stars above them first but slowly getting brighter and brighter until it was clear that they were coming from the lanterns of enemy soldiers on ships. The archers stood up, pulled back their bows, and let hundreds of arrows fly, many of them killing soldiers aboard the ships. They quickly replaced their arrows and shot even more at the ships, and while some of the lights dimmed and some of the ships slowed down, they continued sailing towards the British land. Opposing archers returned fire once the ships were close enough, and Soos heard archers on both sides of him shriek in pain and fall to the ground. Soos focused on the enemy archers, and he was able to kill several of them and barely dodge an arrow headed for him. Shang and some of the knights pulled back dead archers and set up cannons in their now-vacant positions. “Ready…” said Shang once the cannons were fully set up. Soos tried his best to ignore what was happening around him and focus on shooting arrows while avoiding the arrows being shot at him. As the number of ships in the river increased, so did the number of arrows raining down on them. Soos used a shield tied to his elbow to deflect some of the arrows while continuing to shoot more out. “Fire!” screamed Shang. The ground shook with explosions as cannonballs went into the sky and sank many of the ships heading towards them. “Ready...fire!” More ships were taken down, but even more appeared. Soos got under his shield and reached for an arrow from his quiver before realizing he was out. “General Li!” exclaimed Soos. “I’m out of arrows!” Shang wordlessly grabbed a quiver of arrows from a dead archer and threw it to Soos. Soos struggled to catch it from under his shield. Once he got the quiver fitted to him, he turned back to the Rhine, squinting at the light coming from lanterns that were now brighter than ever before. He continued shooting arrows with the rest of the archers until the ships were so close that Shang had no choice but to order the archers to leave their posts. “Remember that we’re fighting for New Britain,” said Shang as he directed the archers to the front line of the regiment with the top British knights. The first ship hit the riverbank minutes later. More ships hit land as Soos and the rest of the archers shot their arrows at the soldiers coming out of the ships. The knights fought the soldiers who made it through the arrows, and for a while, the British forces had the advantage. As more of the enemy ships landed, however, it became obvious the defending soldiers were badly outnumbered, and the archers had to go deeper into their own territory as the knights who successfully held off the Galacians and Visigoths at first could no longer do so. Soos shot out his arrows at a rapid pace now, faster than all of the archers around him, even the ones who had decades of experiences, and most of the arrows he shot out hit their marks. Octavian’s ship was the final one to land, and he walked off the platform with an archer in front of him and an archer behind him. He smiled as he saw the vast majority of the casualties now had British colors despite their early advantage. Octavian put a blowing horn to his lips, and he blew into it with such power that the sound could easily be heard over the sounds of clashing metal on the battlefield. “I am Octavian, king of Galacia!” said Octavian. “And I come here with an offer!” The soldiers stopped fighting and turned to Octavian. Shang, who was now on the battlefield with his knights, reluctantly did the same but made sure that he was close to Soos. “You know you have no chance of winning tonight,” said Octavian. “Instead of dying for a lost cause, drop your weapons and surrender, and you shall be spared.” “No,” said Shang. “No! Don’t listen to him! Remember what you’re fighting for! Remember this is for New Britain!” The British soldiers looked at one another, their faces covered in blood, sweat, and tears, and over the next several minutes, all of them except Soos and Shang dropped their weapons. Shang grabbed Soos by the arm and returned with Soos to his horse. “Let’s go,” said Shang. “These men have made it clear where their loyalties truly lie.” As Shang rode off with Soos, the Galacian and Visigothic soldiers turned to the now-unarmed British soldiers and killed all of them. Soos used his shield to deflect the arrows now flying towards them until the enemy soldiers following them turned back. “Where are we going now?” asked Soos. “Back to the castle,” said a weary Shang. “This war is lost.” ---- Evelyn was cooking a deer for herself and the Big Bad Wolf when the Blue Fairy, Bert, and a still-unconscious Mabel appeared behind her, startling her. “Don’t sneak up on people like that!” said Evelyn. “Sorry,” said the fairy. “I didn’t know where else to go, so I just decided to bring them here.” “Is that...no! Merlin sent that girl back to her world! How is she here again?” The chest appeared in the Blue Fairy’s hands. “This box sent her and that giant frog here,” said the fairy. “This ‘giant frog’ has a name.” said Bert. “I don’t particularly care,” said the fairy. “I’m going to the Council to see if they’ll allow the pink and green fairies to help me reactivate this box. If they do, we’ll be able to send the frog, the girl, and the boy home, assuming the boy hasn’t…” “Hasn’t what?” said Evelyn. “Perished,” said the fairy. Evelyn took a deep breath and looked out the window. “He’ll be back,” she said. “How are you certain of that?” said the fairy. “Because I trust Shang.” “If Shang’s dead, too, it won’t matter.” Evelyn’s face turned red with anger. She felt tempted to hit the fairy but knew that doing so would likely provoke the fairy into doing something even worse to her. “Just get the box working again,” said Evelyn. “That’s the least we could do after the parts we played in Merlin’s scheme.” The Blue Fairy nodded and disappeared with the chest. The Big Bad Wolf walked into the kitchen moments later. “So...that’s what I smelled. I haven’t had frog in a long time,” said the wolf. “Will I ever be in a world where everyone doesn’t want to eat me?” said Bert to himself. “Don’t eat him. He’s a guest,” said Evelyn. “I’ll have your dinner ready soon.” The wolf growled. “Fine,” he said before walking out. “Have you ever tried deer?” asked Evelyn. “What’s a deer?” said Bert. “Right,” said Evelyn. “You’re not from here. Well, perhaps you’ll like it.” Evelyn helped Bert carry Mabel to a spare room, and they ate dinner shortly after that. A few hours after that, Mabel regained consciousness with Bert at her bedside. “I’m...I’m sorry,” whispered Mabel. Bert, who was starting to nod off himself, perked up when he heard Mabel’s voice. “Mabel! Mabel, I’m so glad you’re okay!” said Bert. “I’m sorry,” repeated Mabel. “Sorry for what? You didn’t do anything wrong.” “I’m sorry, Prince Charming.” “Who’s Prince Charming?” Mabel fell asleep again, and Bert sighed before finally going to sleep himself.
  4. 4. Better Call Saul How do you follow up a show as popular and critically acclaimed as Breaking Bad was? Regardless of your show's individual merits, it will be unable to avoid comparison to its more well-known sister series. BCS could have been seen as a failure just by being good, but miraculously, it was able to not just match the quality of the show that inspired it, but in the eyes of many, exceed it. Instead of trying to avoid comparison to Breaking Bad, BCS invited it, and that high standard led to a show better than I think anyone expected when it was announced during BB's record-breaking final season. Saul Goodman, Walter White's fast-talking lawyer, begins the show as Jimmy McGill, aspiring lawyer and brother of one of the most prominent lawyers in Albuquerque in Chuck McGill. The relationship between Jimmy and Chuck is the emotional core of the show, at least during its first few seasons, and it plays a big part in helping the show explain how Jimmy became Saul. The second-most important relationship, which becomes easily its most important by the show's end, is between Jimmy and Kim Wexler, who have a mutual attraction that isn't healthy for either of them. Outside of Saul, the most important character to return from Breaking Bad is Mike Ehrmantraut. His journey from cop to criminal enforcer is almost as compelling as Jimmy's transformation into Saul, and every time their stories collide, we're in for a treat. Saul and Mike aren't the only characters to return from Breaking Bad, of course, and every time we see a familiar face, it's exciting without being distracting, because the writers always make sure that it fits within the overall story arc. What makes a spin-off successful, like a Fraiser or a Law and Order: SVU, or a Better Call Saul, of course, is a hook that differentiates the show from the original without forgetting what made people love the original in the first place. BCS took a Godfather Part II approach to Breaking Bad, acting as both a prequel and a sequel while retaining much of what made BB such a huge hit. The writing, the acting, and the directing continues to be top-notch, and they're more consistent from the start than BB was, the result of a creative team that's much more confident going into it. Better Call Saul isn't just required viewing for people who loved Breaking Bad but for people who love great television in general.
  5. 5. Community The history of the sitcom is a long and varied one, longer than the lifetime of anybody reading this, but the goal has been the same since the beginning: to make the viewer laugh. That makes sitcoms harder to judge than other shows, but in my subjective opinion, Community is the funniest sitcom ever made as well as one of the best shows ever made. Taking place at a community college in Colorado, the show centers on Jeff, a disgraced former lawyer who starts a study group full of colorful characters. For its first 20 episodes, it's a mostly conventional sitcom, but two of the season's final episodes, Contemporary American Poultry and Modern Warfare, gave us a preview of the genre-bending show that Community would become. Community's so-called "gimmick episodes" or episodes styled to mimic everything from mafia and action movies like the aforementioned episodes, to documentaries ala The Office, to cheesy stop-motion Christmas specials, are among the highlights of each season. They also don't change up the style's format just for the sake of doing it generally but as a way of teaching us more about the characters. Remedial Chaos Theory, not just the best gimmick episode but the best episode period, is the show at its most funny, heartwarming, and inventive. It helped establish Community as one of the finest examples of its art form after just over two seasons, and despite a small bump in the road in the form of a fourth season without the show's creator, it completed its run as a hallmark of television, a series so influential that it helped launch a new streaming service (that died just a couple of months later oops). Community's greatness didn't translate into the viewership other great NBC sitcoms had, but the devoted fanbase and its refrain of "six seasons and a movie", an inside joke that blew up like many of the show's inside jokes, kept it going for much longer than it had any right to. Now that a movie seems more likely than it ever has been in the seven years since the show's conclusion, that devoted fanbase will be rewarded for its efforts with at least one more trip to Glendale Community College.
  6. 6. Gravity Falls Another animated show that proves cartoons can be enjoyed by far more than just children despite the insistence by studio executives (even today) that they can't be, Gravity Falls was an exciting, funny show that was unlike anything that had aired on Disney Channel before it. Taking place in the small town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, the series follows twins Dipper and Mabel Pines as they stay with their great-uncle Stan in his tourist trap, the Mystery Shack, over the summer. In the first episode, Dipper discovers a journal written by a secret author describing the supernatural goings-on of the city, and with the journal's help, he and Mabel learn how to navigate the strangeness they encounter every episode while also navigating the struggles and anxieties that come with growing up. The big animated hit that Disney had before Gravity Falls, Phineas and Ferb, managed to stretch a summer into eight years, over 200 episodes, and multiple movies, but Gravity Falls made sure it didn't wear out its welcome by ending after only two seasons and 40 episodes. I, like many of the show's fans, would have liked a little more, but after the experience Alex Hirsh and the rest of the show's crew gave us, I can't complain. The experience of watching Gravity Falls with all of its twists and turns, and most importantly, watching it all live, is what really sets this show apart from others in my mind. Had I binged the show years after it ended and after cultural osmosis made me aware of most of its big surprises, it likely wouldn't be this high on the list, assuming it made the list at all. That's what I love about television as a medium. Catching onto a great TV show as it airs, discussing it every week, and seeing new episodes at the same time as everybody else is a wonderful feeling, a feeling that's becoming more and more rare today with the growing fragmentation of TV and bulk release of episodes through streaming services. Gravity Falls felt like one of the last of a dying breed, and that's one of the things that keeps its memory alive ten years after it first premiered. Another thing keeping it alive is the Disney shows clearly influenced by it in DuckTales, the recently-ended Amphibia, and the soon-to-end Owl House, shows that prove cartoons can appeal to people of all ages by mixing their humor with strong storytelling and character growth, and I hope its an influence that doesn't go away anytime soon despite a corporate environment that's become increasingly hostile to those types of shows.
  7. 7. Batman: The Animated Series Though studios are pumping out more superhero media than ever before, none have come close to replicating the impact that Batman: The Animated Series had in the early 90s. Meant to mimic the style of Tim Burton's hugely popular Batman film from 1989, with music including the iconic opening theme inspired by Danny Elfman's score for the movie, BTAS used the seeds of what came before it to create what is still known by many to be the definitive version of the Caped Crusader. I mentioned during my review of Invader Zim that most children's animation at this time existed either to teach you stuff or sell you toys or both, and while BTAS had the occasional Aesop, and while I'm sure it sold a ton of Batman toys, it was clear from the start that the show's main directive was telling great, compelling stories, and it did that better than almost any other show, live action or animated, that I've seen. Even today, BTAS manages to stand out from the pack due to its art style, dubbed Dark Deco, which makes everything seem like it's happening in the shadows. The show had many memorable performances from its voice cast, but none were as memorable as Mark Hamill's turn as The Joker, a performance so strong that it legitimately holds its own against Oscar-winning depictions of the character by Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix. The show has been so influential on Batman canon that its takes on obscure villains like Clock King and Mr. Freeze have been adopted into the comics, and of course, no contribution to the Batman mythos by the series has been bigger than Harley Quinn, who at this point is eclipsed only by Batman and The Joker in popularity. A triumph of art and storytelling and the launching pad of television's first superhero universe, BTAS deserves all of the praise it has gotten and then some.
  8. I'm back! Who better to describe my next show than Cosmo himself? 8. Seinfeld One of the most influential sitcoms of all time, as well as one of the funniest, Seinfeld didn't have the warmth most of its predecessors had. It didn't have lessons, and in fact, it went out of its way to avoid having lessons. Its main characters weren't likable (the farthest thing from likable, actually) but it took the country by storm anyway. After watching just a few episodes of this show, you'll understand why. Two of the biggest shows of the 21st century, The Office and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, got much of their comedy from bad things happening to bad people, but Seinfeld did it better than either of them. There are many episodes I can point to as examples of the show doing what it does best, but none stand out more than The Soup Nazi, which I jokingly had listed as my Favorite Episode on my SBC profile (and still might, idk I don't feel like checking). The Soup Nazi is not only my favorite episode of Seinfeld but one of my favorite episodes of television. It takes something as mundane as buying soup and turns it into an absolute riot with stakes and a seemingly unconquerable villain while having everything wrapped up neat and tidy after 22 minutes. The Soup Nazi aired in one of the show's final seasons, and one of the incredible things about Seinfeld is that while most shows, especially sitcoms, get worse as they go on, Seinfeld only got better. The last season had what was probably the show's most experimental episode in The Betrayal, an episode with a plot that unfolded in reverse, and the finale stayed true to the show's philosophy by having no hugging and no tears, instead putting the main four of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer exactly where they belonged: in prison.
  9. 9. Atlanta A show that defies genre, Atlanta was already one of the most unique shows on TV during its first season, but over its next two seasons, it continued to redefine itself. Created by and starring Donald Glover, the series used everything Glover had learned from writing and acting in comedy to give us a social satire about race relations and the issues that come with fame that was hilarious and thought-provoking from its very first episode. With a stellar cast of names that get more famous by the year and that have great chemistry with each other, Atlanta didn't have to deviate much from what it did during its first season to make an impact, but it did, anyway, propelling it from just a very good show to one of the best of all time. If Atlanta had anything resembling a formula by the middle of Season 2, it was thrown out the window for Teddy Perkins, arguably the show's best episode. It didn't have too many ha-ha funny moments, and the show's central characters Earn and Alfred had virtually no part of the episode's plot, but it thrived despite that. Now secure in the knowledge that it could completely ignore what had worked before to tell the stories it wanted to tell, Atlanta became more of an anthology series, a Black, Black Mirror, in its third season, which aired earlier this year after a four-year break. Atlanta's more than making up for lost time by premiering its fourth season next months, and the only expectations we can have going into it is that the expectations we will have will be subverted.
  10. 10. Invader Zim During the 90s, Nickelodeon revolutionized children's animation with so-called Nicktoons, cartoons made exclusively for the channel that, unlike the cartoons kids were used to watching on broadcast networks, weren't educational and weren't trying to sell them toys. It sounds crazy now, but at the time, it was seen as a huge risk, and it was a risk that paid off in a big way for the cable channel, sending what was already a growing brand into the stratosphere. By the time Invader Zim premiered in mid-2001, there had already been 15 Nicktoons, with the biggest success stories out of them being Rugrats, The Fairly OddParents, and of course, SpongeBob SquarePants. Invader Zim wasn't a success story. Far from it, in fact. It was the first Nicktoon not to reach 30 episodes or 3 seasons. In fact, its second season wasn't even completed before Nick gave it the axe. The show wasn't cancelled for being bad, though. Obviously, I wouldn't think that, or it wouldn't be on this list. The show was innovative, unpredictable, gorgeously animated, and of course, hilarious. It also happened to be super dark, darker than every other kid's show and most adult shows, too, which is why it's frankly bizarre that Nick greenlit it in the first place. I'm happy Nick did, though, because it gave us one of the classics of the form, one that still holds up even 20 years later.
  11. In honor of my 11th SBC Anniversary, I'm going to do something I was supposed to do six anniversaries ago: my top ten TV shows list! I'm actually going to make it top 11 to reflect my eleven years on the site and to make up for taking so long with this. (I swear to God it's not to rip off Nostalgia Critic, please don't sue me Doug.) Without further ado, here's the first show on my list: 11. The Mandalorian Three years ago, a new streaming service debuted in Disney+ that was expected to be the first to really give Netflix a run for its money. To challenge a giant like Netflix who was essentially synonymous with streaming at the time, Disney needed a real draw, a killer app that would do for their new service what Halo did for the Xbox. Jon Favreau's Star Wars show, the first live action show in the 40+ years of the franchise, turned out to be exactly that. Premiering on the same day as Disney+'s launch, it was critical in drawing interest to a service that wouldn't take long to become a giant in its own right, and it's easy to understand why. Fully embracing the Western genre that the Star Wars movies had only borrowed elements from, The Mandalorian tells the story of a bounty hunter who is forced to become the hunted when he refuses to give up a valuable prize, known by the show's fandom as Baby Yoda due to being...well...a baby who looks a lot like Yoda. The dynamic between the quiet, very serious Mandalorian and the innocent, playful child is the most engaging aspect of the show, and that combined with the stellar writing and the constant twists and turns the series throws at us makes it a classic after just two seasons. Whether you're a diehard Star Wars fan or somebody who couldn't care less about the movies, this is definitely a show worth checking out. #10 coming tomorrow
  12. Favorite Pokemon?
  13. Week of June 26, 2022 to July 2, 2022 Total Cartoon Legends! - 256 ( @4EverGreen ) SBCinema - 107 ( @Jjs Goodman ) Jjs' Riffing Theater 3000: Family Guy Funny Moments - 39 ( @Jjs Goodman ) One-Time Star Wars Characters: Where Are They Now? - 26 ( @OWM ) Oh Yeah! Collections - 23 ( @Steel Sponge ) Tiki Land -21 ( @Steel Sponge ) SpongeBob SquarePants: Lost in Translation - 20 ( @Steel Sponge ) Power Rangers: Multiverse Force - 15 ( @Rebel the Wolfgirl ) Mabel's Fables - 11 ( @JCM ) Red Flag Savior: Rebirth of a Storm - 8 ( @Steel Sponge ) Doubloons will be handed out later this week
  14. Chapter 16 Lady Olivia waited with one of the king's guards outside of his throne room. "So, you're the new royal advisor?" said the guard. "Yes," said Olivia. "Did you hear what happened to the advisor before you?" "No, I wasn't made aware." "He brought the king tea when he requested sparkling cider, so the king had him executed." Olivia gulped. "I'm sure you'll do fine, though!" said the guard. The door to the throne room opened, and another guard came out of it. He nodded towards Olivia, who was now sweating, and the other guard stepped out of the way as she walked into the room. King Andrias, who ruled over all of Amphibia, was staring at a portrait of his ancestors as Olivia approached him, and he didn't turn around to greet her. "Good morning, Lady Olivia," said Andrias after nearly a minute-long silence. "G-good morning, king," said Olivia. "What did you want to discuss?" "I'll be going on a trip to Stony Gulch, and I'll need to you look after the castle while I'm gone," said Andrias. "Me? But I haven't even been your advisor for a day yet!" said Olivia. "I trust you'll do a good job," said Andrias. "And if you don't…well, I'm sure one of my guards have told you what happened to the advisor before you by now." Olivia's eyes filled with tears, and she looked down before taking a deep breath and looking up again. "I'll make sure to keep your castle safe," she said. Andrias put three fingers in his mouth, whistled, and waited for a large bird to fly into his room through the window. The bird startled Olivia, causing her to back away as Andrias climbed onto its back. "See you soon, Lady Olivia!" he said before pulling the reins of the bird and flying out through the same window the bird had just come in through. Mabel yawned as she walked down the stairs of the Curiosity Hut. She smelled pancakes and ran into the kitchen where The Curator was cooking them. "You got here just in time!" said The Curator. "I thought I'd have to eat all of these myself!" Mabel jumped into a chair and rubbed her hands together as The Curator put a plate with pancakes and syrup in front of her. Stuck to the syrup were various types of insects. "Oh right," said Mabel, disappointed. "You guys put bugs in everything." An orange frog walked into the kitchen. "Oh man!" he said. "Am I late for pancakes?" "Indeed, Bert," said The Curator. "Make sure to get here early next time." Bert sighed and began to walk out. "Wait! You can have mine!" said Mabel. "No, I couldn't," said Bert. "You're a guest." "I insist!" said Mabel. Bert shrugged and turned back around. "Okay, then," he said before extending his tongue to grab the pancakes from Mabel's plate and pull them into his mouth. "You better not expect me to make you more food after giving yours to the help!" scolded The Curator. "It's fine. I wasn't that hungry, anyway," said Mabel, ignoring her growling stomach. The Curator ate his pancakes then left the kitchen. Bert sat down beside Mabel. "So," said Bert. "What's with the costume?" Mabel blushed. "I'm sure you're fooling most of the other frogs around here, but not me," said Bert, wiping his mouth with a napkin. "I got this from a costume shop because my regular self...scares people," said Mabel. "Well, considering what I do for a job, it'll take a lot to scare me!" said Bert. "What do you do?" "All those creatures The Curator has frozen in wax in the museum? I caught them!" "Really? That sounds super dangerous." "It is! But the thrill of getting closer to these beasts than anyone before me makes it worth it!" "How do you catch them?" Bert took a small tranquilizer gun out of his pocket. "With this!" he said. "By injecting my target with a Scorpileo stinger, I can subdue the animal enough to bring it here and let The Curator do his thing!" Bert put the tranquilizer gun back into his pocket and stood up. "It was nice talking to you...whoever you are," he said. "Mabel. My name is Mabel." "Frogbert Wharton, but everybody calls me Bert." Mabel giggled. "Good to meet you, Bert," she said, shaking his hand. "Now I must be off. There was a sighting of a giant centipede around this time yesterday, and I think he would make a great addition to the Hut!" said Bert. "Can I go with?" asked Mabel. "I don't know," said Bert. "Can you run in that heavy thing? Cause you might need to if this goes sideways." Mabel nodded excitedly, and Bert smiled. "Alright, then," he said. "Mr. Ponds, I'm taking our guest with me on today's hunt!" "If she dies, you're responsible for burying her!" The Curator said from another room. "Don't worry," said Bert. "He's delightful once you get to know him." "Really?" said Mabel. "Nah," said Bert. "Let's go!" Bert and Mabel left the Curiosity Hut and headed towards the forest. "So," said Mabel. "Are you from here?" "Nobody's from the Stony Gulch. It's just a big tourist trap," explained Bert. "Then where are you from?" "I'm from Swamp Shiro, a town in Frog Valley. I lived there until I decided I wanted to travel to Newtopia for a chance at a better life. It was hard at first. Most Newtopians think us frogs are just a bunch of dumb rednecks, and while a lot of us are, I wanted to prove to them I was different. I made great progress, even being the first frog ever admitted to Newtopia University, but fighting centuries of prejudice takes time. After I graduated, I was unable to find work in Newtopia, so I came here." "You seem pretty smart to me. You could see through my disguise, anyway." Bert laughed. "It seems both of us know what it feels like to not belong," he said. "Is that why you left wherever it is you came from?" "Actually, I kind of got here by accident," said Mabel. "Well, I'm happy we met each other," said Bert. "Even if it was by accident." Mabel smiled. "Me too," she said. Bert and Mabel were deep in the forest when they noticed a large creature pass behind them. They both turned around. "Did you see that?" said Bert. "I noticed something," said Mabel. Bert took his tranquilizer gun out. "It knows we're here," he said. Bert picked up a rock and threw it as far as he could. After it landed, the ground shook, and Bert grabbed the arm of Mabel's costume with his free hand to keep them both steady. "What happens now?" Mabel whispered. The giant centipede shot out of the ground in front of them, revealing its huge body with hundreds of legs on each side. Bert backed away, pulling Mabel with him. "This," he said. Bert carefully pointed his tranquilizer gun at the centipede's underside, and once he was sure he had a straight shot, he pulled the trigger. A Scorpileo stinger flew from the gun towards the centipede as it turned around. The stinger hit the centipede's shell and shattered, causing the centipede to roar. "Well, that never happened before," said a nervous Bert. "Should we run now?" asked Mabel as the centipede barreled towards them. "Definitely," said Bert. Mabel and Bert ran in different directions as the centipede plunged into the area they were just standing in. Mabel stopped once she realized the centipede wasn't following her but Bert. "Oh, no. Bert!" she said. Mabel turned and ran towards the centipede, which was catching up to Bert quicker than he could run. Bert tripped over a root, and he cried as the centipede rose then descended on him with its mouth wide open. Bert closed his eyes, expecting these to be the final moments of his life, but when nothing happened after a minute, he opened them again. He gasped as Mabel floated above him, no longer wearing her costume and now with pink hair, green eyes, and a blue aura surrounding her. She was able to hold the centipede's mouth open with her bare hands, and as Bert watched in awe, she closed the creature's mouth, spun it around, and threw it to the ground, knocking the centipede unconscious. "What are you?" said Bert, standing back up. Mabel stared at her glowing blue hands with confusion as she floated to the ground. "I thought I knew, but apparently, I don't," she said. Mabel's hair and eyes returned to their normal colors, and the blue around her disappeared as she fell to her knees. "I...don't know what's happening," she said. "It's okay," said Bert. "We probably won't be able to fit that thing in the Hut, anyway. It's much bigger than I thought it would be." Bert took off his jacket and threw it over a shivering Mabel. As he waited for her to regain her strength, a bird wearing armor with a familiar symbol engraved upon it flew over them. "Is that...King Andrias?" said Bert. "I think I'm feeling better now," said Mabel. "You sure?" "Yeah." "Let's get back to the Hut, then." Bert and Mabel returned to the Curiosity Hut and found royal guards standing in the wax museum. "What's going on?" asked Mabel. "Sorry, this store is closed to visitors," said the guard. "We work here!" said Bert. "The owner was very clear about allowing nobody through until the transaction was complete," said another guard. "What does Mr. Ponds have that's so valuable the king is willing to come all the way here to get it from him?" wondered Bert. "That's none of your business. And also, we don't know," said the first guard. "Let us see him now!" said Bart. "Or what?" Bart punched the first guard so hard that he fell to the ground. Mabel and the second guard covered their mouths in surprise. "How dare you!" said the second guard. "Do you know what the punishment for assaulting a royal officer is?" Bart pointed his fist at the second guard. "Do you want to be next?" he asked. "No, sir! Go right through!" said the second guard. Bert ran to the Curator's office, and Mabel followed him. Once inside, they found the Curator excitedly watching King Andrias bring in large bags through the window as he held Mabel's chest. "What are you doing?" asked Mabel. The Curator's eyes widened once he saw Mabel and Bert. "Oh, my!" said the Curator. "This is awkward." "Where did you get that chest from?" asked Bert. "That weird-looking frog next to you brought it here! It's an ancient relic worth millions of coppers, which our king is graciously paying me right now. I'll never have to work again thanks to this thing!" said the Curator. "That 'thing' is mine!" said Mabel. "I don't see you holding it," said the Curator. "Stony Gulch has many rules, but one takes precedent over every other: Finder's Keepers!" "But I'm the one who found it! I gave it to you! I trusted you!" said Mabel, on the verge of tears. "Well, it seems your trust was misplaced," said the Curator. Bert grabbed Mabel's arm. "Come on," he said. "It isn't worth it. Mr. Ponds isn't worth it. Let him rot somewhere with all that money while we live our lives somewhere very far from here." Mabel ripped her arm away from Bert. "No," she said. "I want it back." Mabel shook as her sadness turned to anger. Bert noticed that the few strands of hair sticking out of her costume were now pink. "I want it back," she said. "Now!" Suddenly, Mabel's costume ripped apart as the blue aura surrounded her once more. Her eyes became green again as she blinked away some tears, and she ran towards the Curator with lightning speed. "What are you?" screamed the Curator. "Somebody who wants what's hers," said Mabel. Andrias watched Mabel with the same look of terror on his face the Curator had. "Impossible," he said. "You have the power of all three gems! How are you still alive?" Mabel took the chest from the Curator, who put up no resistance. Andrias pulled out the hilt of a sword, and a large, powerful blade of yellow energy popped out. He pointed the sword at Mabel. "No matter," he said. "Unless you give me that box of yours, you won't be alive for much longer." Mabel looked at the sword with surprise then left the room with Bart at the same lightning speed. "Well," said Andrias. "That didn't work." "I know it's a bad time," said the Curator. "But since you went to the trouble of bringing me all this money, how about letting me keep it?" Andrias pointed his sword at the Curator, causing him to back away. "Okay, okay, just a suggestion," said the Curator. Mabel and Bert stopped right outside the entrance to the Curiosity Hut. Mabel seemed visibly tired, and she dropped the chest as her blue aura flickered. "We have to get out of here," said Bert. "That thing you're holding...is that what sent you here?" Mabel nodded. "Well, try this...think about where you really want to be, and maybe the box will send us there," said Bert. "I...I don't know if I have the energy," Mabel said weakly. Bert took Mabel's hands in his own and squeezed them. "If you need more energy, use mine," he said. Mabel nodded again and closed her eyes. The gems on the chest began to glow, and the blue aura that surrounded Mabel now surrounded Bert, too. As Andrias stormed out of the Curiosity Hut, he was nearly blinded by the flash Mabel and Bert disappeared in. "Wow," he said. The royal guards came out of the building seconds later. "We did everything we could to stop them!" said the first guard, who now had a black eye. "It doesn't matter," said Andrias. "After a thousand years, I finally have confirmation that the box is still out there. The next time I see it...or one of those strange creatures with face bumps...I shall be prepared." Andrias went back into the Curiosity Hut and found the Curator in his office struggling to push one of the Andrias' bags of money out the window. "Hey," said the Curator. "Are you here to help?" "Of course not," said Andrias. "I'm just here to remind you that if we're even one copper short when we bring that back to Newtopia, we'll return to give you a very public execution. It seems boring in this town, so I'm sure the citizens would love to see somebody's head chopped off." The Curator gulped. As he pushed the final bag out the window, he watched it drop onto the back of the bird King Andrias flew into Stony Gulch on. "It's been excellent doing business with you," said Andrias before leaving. The Curator took a list of names and phone numbers out from one of the drawers of his desk. Since Bert wasn't likely to come back after today's events, he knew he had to seek a replacement, and one of the names on the list stuck out. "Frog Soos," read The Curator out loud. "I guess it couldn't hurt to give him a call."
  15. Week of June 19, 2022 to June 25, 2022 Total Cartoon Legends! - 210 ( @Australia ) SBCinema - 145 ( @Swiss Cheese ) One-Time Star Wars Characters: Where Are They Now? - 21 ( @Chad ) Most Wanted - 17 ( @Swiss Cheese ) SpongeBob SquarePants: Lost in Translation - 15 ( @We Forgive You Germany ) Mabel's Fables - 15 ( @Egypt ) Power Rangers: Multiverse Force - 14 ( @Australia ) Jjs' Riffing Theater 3000: Family Guy Funny Moments - 11 ( @Swiss Cheese ) Oh Yeah! Collections - 9 ( @We Forgive You Germany ) Tiki Land - 6 ( @We Forgive You Germany )
  16. Chapter 14 Octavian, King of Galacia, stood in his room, looking out the window of his palace as Livian, King of the Visigoths, approached it on a horse. The guards in front of the palace ordered him to drop his spear and swords before entering the palace, and he complied. Livian reached Octavian's room less than a minute later. "Did you hear the news carried by the raven?" asked Livian. Octavian pretended he didn't hear Livian at first, continuing to look out the window, but then he nodded. "The wizard Merlin has left and the witch Grimhilde has died, meaning there is nobody in New Britain powerful enough to repel an invasion," said Octavian. "With the combined strength of our armies, New Britain wouldn't stand a chance against us," said Livian. "And why exactly would I want to work with you?" asked Octavian. "I know about our history, brother, but right now, I'm focused on the same thing you are: getting Prince Charming out of there!" Octavian finally turned around to face his brother Livian. "I never should have let that monster take him from me," said Octavian. "I would love nothing more than to kill Merlin, but I suppose burning his kingdom to the ground and killing his wife will be good enough." "And I'll make sure you get to do both those things," said Livian. "Very well. I'll accept your help. But this doesn't change things between us." "No, of course not. After I help you get your son back and take my share of the riches from plundering New Britain, I'll return to my lands and stay out of yours." Octavian nodded again. "I'll get my soldiers ready," he said. "We leave at dawn." The first thing the Blue Fairy noticed as she regained consciousness was the smell of porridge in her nose. She looked up to find Evelyn stirring in a large pot with a wooden spoon. "W-what happened?" said the Blue Fairy. "You were defeated by Grimhilde," said Evelyn. "Then I killed her with a knife." "You didn't need to do that," said the fairy. "Well, I was quite tired of her going around and eating people, so I put a stop to it," said Evelyn. "You're welcome, by the way." The Blue Fairy stood up and found Soos at the kitchen table with an empty bowl. "Are you okay?" asked the fairy. "I will be after I try whatever Evelyn's cooking!" said Soos. Evelyn poured some of her porridge into Soos' bowl, and he finished it in seconds. "I do appreciate you keeping the boy alive," said the fairy. Evelyn poured porridge into a dog bowl then whistled. The Big Bad Wolf ran into the kitchen so quickly that he nearly sent the Blue Fairy back to the ground. Once he got to the dog bowl, he slurped up Evelyn's porridge. "I still don't know if I can trust you two," said the fairy. "But I suppose we'll need all the help we can get stopping Merlin, and you two know him better than anyone else." "That we do," said Evelyn. "But before we stop Merlin in his realm, we'll need to settle affairs in our own. Octavian and Livian have likely gotten word about Merlin and Grimhilde by now, so they'll be preparing their armies to invade New Britain, and without the magical defenses someone like you can provide, we'll lose." "I'm sorry," said the fairy. "The Council prohibits us from getting involved in human conflicts. We're allowed to help individual mortals with their problems, like I've done with Pinocchio, but anything that may have wider consequences, and especially anything that would determine the outcome of a war, is off-limits for us." "You don't understand," said Evelyn. "The Galacian and Visigothic kingdoms won't invade our lands seeking surrender. They'll be seeking to kill every man, woman, and child within these borders." "Why do those guys hate you so much?" asked Soos. "Octavian tried to invade once before, shortly after Merlin came to power. He lost, and to punish Octavian, Merlin kept his firstborn son, Prince Charming, as a prisoner." Soos gasped. "That's the dude I was with in the dungeon!" he said. "Yes, and he's also the heir to the Galacian throne," said Evelyn. "So, why don't you just give him his son back and call it even?" asked Soos. "I can't just 'call it even'. He already coveted these lands, and kidnapping his child was a transgression he will not forgive. War is coming, and without the Blue Fairy's help, New Britain won't exist for much longer." "Like I said, I can't help you," said the Blue Fairy. "You know what happened to the elves. I can't allow that to happen to my species." "What happened to the elves?" asked Soos. Evelyn sighed. "Many centuries ago, there was a thriving population of elves in these lands," said Evelyn. "One of the ancestors of the king who came before Merlin wiped them out when they supported a peasant uprising that ultimately failed. It's one of the first stories I was told on the manor I grew up on." "And it's why I cannot help you," said the fairy. "My recommendation is that you leave these lands before Octavian and Livian enter them." "This is my home," said Evelyn. "And with Merlin gone, I'm its sole ruler. I cannot abandon New Britain in its greatest time of need." Soos looked down at his empty bowl and saw a faint reflection of himself in it. "I'll help," said Soos. "What was that?" said Evelyn. "I'll help you in your war." "Why? You weren't born here. You were brought here by a madman, a madman I used to love, but a madman nevertheless." "You saved my life, so I can't just leave you here to die. Let me fight for you." "Have you ever even handled a sword?" "I can learn!" "This is crazy!" said the Blue Fairy. "Our focus needs to be on getting you back to where you came from. If the queen wants to die at the hands of hostile invaders, let her, but you don't need to get involved." "All my life, I've wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself," said Soos. "Bigger even than the Mystery Shack. This is my chance." Soos put his empty bowl on his head then knelt in front of Evelyn. "My queen, what are your commands?" he said. Evelyn blushed. "Okay," she said. "You're officially a soldier in the Royal Army. I'll let General Shang give you your instructions once he gets here." The Blue Fairy rolled her eyes. "If you two want to discuss suicide, so be it, but I'll have no part in it," the fairy said. The Blue Fairy disappeared, leaving nothing but blue specks of fairy dust behind. General Li Shang was the top military commander in China before escaping during the fall of the Han dynasty. He had spent nearly a decade traveling the continent as a merchant before being summoned to New Britain by Merlin, whose wife had taken great interest in a rare artifact he carried: the frozen egg of a dragon. After buying the egg, Merlin offered Shang a high-ranking position in his own army, and Shang rejected the offer at first, preferring his life as a merchant over the chaotic, often dangerous life he had as a commander. Once he saw Queen Evelyn, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, he changed his mind, and it didn't take him long to become the Royal Army's top general. Merlin, who had constantly been away from the palace searching for ways to expand his kingdom, entrusted General Shang with his palace's protection while he was gone. The more time he spent with Evelyn, the closer they had become, and eventually, they started an affair. The dragon egg Merlin purchased from Shang was unfrozen and hatched, and the dragon grew quickly, becoming a cornerstone of the Royal Army in less than a decade. Barbarian invaders were turned to ashes within seconds by Excalibur, which Merlin named the dragon. This led to a long period of peace and prosperity within the kingdom, and while Merlin thought about expanding it eastward or even capturing Galacia and the Visigothic Kingdom to the west, his ambitions grew with Excalibur, and he knew he wanted to take his kingdom somewhere no man had ever taken a kingdom before. As quickly as Excalibur grew, his death was just as sudden. Shang thought about it many times in the years since then. The dragons he heard legends about during his childhood were known to live for hundreds of years, and this dragon they had hatched and nurtured like a child of their own hadn't even lived for 20 years. Perhaps it had something to do with it being frozen in an egg for so long, or perhaps those legends he heard about were just legends and nothing more. Whatever the reason was for Excaliber's early demise, it caused Shang and Evelyn to drift apart, and he started having lower-ranking officers defend the palace when Merlin was gone instead of doing it himself. He suspected that Merlin knew about their affair but that the wizard king did not want to interfere with Evelyn's happiness, as when Shang informed him that he no longer wanted the castle guard duties, Merlin almost seemed relieved to hear it. Shang now stood at the palace doors for the first time in years, and when he knocked, the doors flung open, and Evelyn, as beautiful as he remembered, was now standing in front of him. "Hello, General Shang," she said. "Hello, Queen," responded Shang, trying to sound as formal as he could. Evelyn let Shang inside, and once they reached the kitchen, Shang noticed Soos, who was eating more of Evelyn's porridge. Soos looked up and waved with his mouth full. Shang hesitantly waved back. "Who's he?" asked Shang. "That's Soos, a visitor from another land," said Evelyn. "He couldn't have picked a better time to visit," muttered Shang sarcastically. Soos ran up to Shang and saluted. "As the newest soldier of Her Majesty's Royal Army, I am prepared to receive orders from you, SIR!" said Soos. "Really?" said Shang. "This is what I have to work with? You may as well offer my head to Octavian on a silver platter." "Come on," said Evelyn. "Assuming the Galacian and Visigothic forces leave at dawn, they won't get here for four more days, giving you four days to train Soos up into a proper soldier." "I'm a commander, not a magician," said Shang. "If we had our magicians, I wouldn't need to be here." "Please, Mr. Shang! Just give me a chance!" said Soos. Shang sighed. "Alright," he said. "Have you ever used a sword before?" "I have!" said Soos. "You have?" "Not!" "Come on, man." "I have used one of those fake lightsabers. Does that count?" "I don't even know what that means!" "Then no, I haven't." "Alright, alright. Have you ever used a bow and arrow?" "I have!" "Not?" "How did you know I was going to say 'not'?" "Listen," said Shang. "You clearly don't have the agility to become a capable swordsman in the time I have to train you, but I can teach you to be an archer, even a good archer, if you listen to exactly what I tell you to do between now and the start of our first battle." "You got it!" said Soos. "Great. Let's depart, then," said Shang. Shang and Soos left the palace, and Shang untied a pair of horses that had their reins connected. "Get on. We don't have all week," said Shang. "About that," said Soos. "I don't know how to ride a horse, either." "You have to be kidding me," said Shang. "We don't ride horses where I'm from!" explained Soos. "I would never want to live somewhere as primitive as wherever you're from," said Shang. "Get on." Shang tied the two horses together again, and he climbed onto a horse before helping Soos climb onto it behind him. "I'll make a man out of you yet," said Shang as he pulled the reins of the horse and they were carried off at a speed that startled Soos so much he nearly fell off. The sun began to set as Shang and Soos rode through the fields outside the castle, and Shang pulled the reigns tighter to ensure that they wouldn't have to spend too much time riding with only the stars lighting their path ahead. Shang knew that the next time the sun peeked out of the horizon, the armies of Galacia and the Visigoths would begin marching towards them, and while he had experienced fear many times during his military campaigns, he had never experienced a fear quite like this one. He didn't know what Evelyn saw in the kid riding with him, but he hoped that training him would help them get exactly what they would need to win this war: a miracle.
  17. Late but might as well wing something for this: Long Gone Summer I had just finished the best day of my and every seventh grade student's year: the last day of seventh grade. I was sitting in front of the middle school, playing my Nintendo DS in the parking lot as I waited for my parents to pick me up. Rafael Hernandez, my best friend (and only friend) grabbed my shoulders from behind, startling me. "What the heck, dude?" I said. "I was about to punch you in the face!" "Sorry," he said, smiling. "I still might," I muttered. "What's got you so down? School's over! We're free!" "Until September, anyway." "There you go, seeing the negative side of everything! That's why nobody wants to hang out with you!" I shrugged. "There just isn't a lot to be positive about right now," I said. "What do you mean? According to my parents, the economy's starting to get better, meaning people can work again. We just made that Obama guy president, meaning racism is officially over. There couldn't be a better time to be alive!" "Yeah, I guess, but...I don't know. In school I had a routine. Now I'm going home for three months to burn my eyes out playing Pokemon. Maybe we'll go to the movie theater to watch Up a few more times, but that's it. We can't afford to do anything else." "So it's money you need? I can help with that!" "How?" "Well, my science teacher started watching this show Breaking Bad...it's boring, I wouldn't recommend it, but it gave my teacher the idea to sell meth, and he wanted my help, since...well..." "Since you're Hispanic?" "Well, yeah." "I thought you said racism was over." "Anyway, I did some research, and it turns out you can make a lot of money selling that stuff." "Jesus, Raf, you want to sell meth?" "No! God, no! The margins on meth are terrible! I want to sell heroin." I closed my DS and stood up. "I'm not having this conversation anymore," I said. "We can get in trouble just for talking about this!" "Come on! I have some connections back home in Colombia, and they were able to send me a kilo of the stuff. I'll give you half, and you'll be able to get 50, 60 bucks from that alone," said Rafael. "No," I said. "I am not selling heroin." By the end of June, I had sold my half-kilo of heroin, and I met with Rafael at his house to get another. "Oh, I'm so proud of you boys!" said Rafael's mom. "Not even 14 yet, and you're already successful businessmen!" "Go away, mom. You're embarrassing me," said Rafael. "Alright, alright. As soon as your friend gives me my cut, I'll go," she said. "Her cut?" I said. "Oh, yeah," said Rafael. "My mom's kind of in control of the whole operation, so she takes 20%." I rolled my eyes and took $10 out of my pocket before giving it to Rafael's mother. "Thank you so much, dear," said Rafael's mom. "And remember if you ever 'forget' to pay me, I'll send people to your house to kill your family. Oh! The cookies are almost ready!" Rafael's mom ran into the kitchen, and Rafael rubbed his arm with a sheepish look on his face. "My mom can be kind of intense sometimes, but she means well," he said. "I can't believe I can actually make my own money now," I said. "A trip to Disney World would probably cost us $400 which, taking your mom's cut into account, would be five kilos. Think we can make it happen?" "Absolutely! We were just being tested with the half-kilo to make sure we wouldn't smoke the product or do anything dumb like that. Five kilos is nothing." I tried some of Rafael's mom's cookies, making sure to keep my distance from her, and I left with the five kilos. My parents thought I got a job delivering newspapers, so once I got back home, I told them I was taking the bike out for work, and they didn't ask any questions. I rode my bike to the bad part of town, and it didn't take long for me to sell the five kilos. I returned Rafael's house, and his mom was surprised to see me when I walked in. "You already sold the product? You were only gone an hour," she said. I gave Rafael's mom five 20s. "Yep, it's sold, and there's the proof," I said. Rafael's mom smiled. "How would you like a bigger role in the organization?" she said. "What? Why are you promoting him and not me!" said Rafael. "Have you even sold your half-kilo yet?" his mom said. "N-no, but I'm working on it," said Rafael. Rafael's mom put a hand on my shoulder. "You are a golden boy. The best worker we've ever had. Enjoy your trip to Disney World. You have earned it," she said. I smiled and returned home just as it started to get dark. I surprised my parents with the $400 that night, and I hadn't seen them that happy since my dad got his hours cut due to the recession nearly a year before. I realized I had a special ability, an ability to sell heroin not just to drug addicts but to all kinds of people, even people who never thought they would do drugs in their wildest dreams. I was to heroin what Steve Jobs was to phones, what Bill Gates was to computers, and it was a gift I had no intention of letting go to waste. By the end of the summer, I was selling thousands of dollars of heroin a week. My relationship with Rafael went sour, probably because his mother liked me more than him, but I didn't care. I was able to buy my parents a new car with my "newspaper" money, and while I'm sure it didn't take them long to realize I didn't actually deliver newspapers, they didn't care to ask about it as long as the money kept coming in. I was on top of the world, believing nothing could stop me until the day before Labor Day and two days before the start of eighth grade, when everything came crashing down. I met a potential buyer near the lake, a tall man wearing sunglasses who had called me earlier that day saying he wanted to buy 100 kilos, which a lot more than anyone had ever requested from me. I called Rafael's mom right after that, and she told me that this could be a trick and that I would need to have a gun on me, but that it was fine to make the sale as long as I was safe. "Hello, there," said the buyer, waving as I approached him. "Can I see what you have?" "Can I see the money first?" I said. "Of course, of course." The buyer unlocked a briefcase to reveal lines and lines of hundreds inside. It was like something out of a movie. I had to stop myself from drooling as I looked at the money with my mouth agape. The buyer locked the suitcase again. "Your turn," he said. I unzipped my backpack to reveal the bags of heroin inside. "Can I try a sample?" said the buyer. I dipped my finger into one of the bags an rolled it around until my finger was completely white. I then let the buyer sniff my finger. "Wow, that's pretty strong!" said the buyer. "I guess now's a good time to tell you that I work for the DEA and that you're under arrest for the possession of drugs." My heart sank when I heard this, and for moment, I thought about getting the gun I buried under the bags of heroin and shooting the DEA agent, dumping his body in the lake, and pretending like none of this ever happened. The agent took off his sunglasses and glared at me in a way that made it crystal clear he knew what I was thinking. "If there's a gun in there, you'll be charged for that, too, and if you want to use the gun on me, well, I can't stop you, but it will make what is already a bad situation a whole lot worse. The DEA knows your name, they know where you live, and they know you're the biggest heroin distributor in this city," said the agent. I began to cry. I didn't want to give that smug agent the satisfaction of knowing he broke me, but it was all too much. The agent handcuffed me and threw my bag into the trunk of his van before making me get into the backseat. I spent the next few months in a holding facility being questioned, but I didn't give them any names, knowing my entire family was good as dead if I did that. I pled guilty to everything they charged me with and did three years in juvie before getting released for good behavior. If I could do it again? I would, because for that summer, that long gone summer, I felt invincible. I know now that I'm anything but, which is why I've retired from the drug trade, but that feeling, as fleeting as it was, is one I'll never forget.
  18. Week of June 12, 2022 to June 18, 2022 Total Cartoon Legends! - 202 ( @4EverGreen ) SBCinema - 110 ( @jjsthekid ) Tiki Land - 65 ( @Steel Sponge ) One-Time Star Wars Characters: Where Are They Now? - 37 ( @OWM ) SpongeBob SquarePants: Lost in Translation - 26 ( @Steel Sponge ) Patrick Star in the Multiverse of Madness - 25 ( @JCM ) Oh Yeah! Collections - 20 ( @Steel Sponge ) Most Wanted - 19 ( @jjsthekid ) Mabel's Fables - 18 ( @JCM ) Power Rangers: Multiverse Force - 18 ( @4EverGreen )
  19. JCM

    SBCinema

    133. The Bobfather Film: The Godfather Don Terminoob, leader of the SpongeBob Community crime family, is with his family and various family friends at the wedding between his daughter, Cha, and her fiance Poison Ivy. Terminoob is constantly distracted by people at the wedding who want him to do favors for them, much to Cha's annoyance, and Terminoob's youngest son, jjsthekid, is reminded of him doing something similar during his marriage to WhoBob, making him glad that he and his husband aren't involved in family affairs. Cha quickly forgives her father when the wedding's special guest, hip hop superstar Li'l Nas X, appears to sing at her wedding. WhoBob wonders how Terminoob was able to get someone that famous to perform, and jjsthekid reveals that Li'l Nas X owed Terminoob a favor for jumpstarting his career by threatening to kill his old record producer if he didn't let Li'l Nas X out of his contract to do a song with Billy Ray Cyrus. WhoBob is horrified when he hears this, and his resolve to keep jjsthekid away from the family strengthens. Terminoob finally joins Cha right before her nupitals, briefly dancing with her before she and Poison Ivy say their vows. The next morning, a lawyer for SBC visits the president of Viacom in Hollywood, letting him know that teenj, one of Terminoob's godsons, has been training his entire life to be a writer for SpongeBob and that Terminoob would appreciate it a lot if the president hired him. The president refuses, insulting the SBC family and making it clear to the lawyer that the tactics they used against Li'l Nas X's record producer won't work on him. He kicks the lawyer out, and the morning after that, he wakes up to find the severed head of his prized racing horse chilling with him in his bed. The lawyer returns to SBC's headquarters in New York shortly after that to give teenj the good news that he'll be hired to write for SpongeBob, after all. The lawyer arranges a meeting between himself, Terminoob, and Terminoob's oldest son, Clappy. They discuss an offer by Canadian mob boss sblover to pay him to distribute maple syrup through Terminoob's network. Terminoob believes it would be too dangerous, as they would go from simply being federal criminals to being international criminals if they got involved in the syrup trade. The lawyer believes, however, that if they don't do it, one of the other families in the city will, reducing SBC's influence as the other families become richer and more powerful thanks to the sweet, sweet syrupy gold. Terminoob still refuses to take sblover up on his offer, preferring to keep his business as clean and non-sticky as possible. Terminoob becomes curious about a rival family partnering with sblover and has one of his goons spy on the family. The goon gets caught, and after the family murders him, they order a hit on Terminoob. Terminoob is at Whole Foods using his ill-gotten gains to buy overpriced organic meat, gluten-free beer, and whatever kombucha is when he notices sketchy characters in the parking lot. Before he can get away, they gun him down. JCM, in a cameo as Terminoob's second-oldest son as well as the only son lame enough to want to go shopping with him, cries over his wounded father. Terminoob slaps him, telling him that a man doesn't cry, and then the don passes out from his injuries. jjsthekid is coming out of a theater with WhoBob after watching an early release of a quirky sci-fi movie known as Star Wars. WhoBob remarks that while it has an interesting premise, it will never catch on. jjsthekid agrees, and then he's horrifed to find headlines about his father's attempted murder in the newsstands. Clappy is trying to learn everything he can about Terminoob's would-be killers, prepared to start a war with the rival family as the SBC family's new leader. sblover meets with SBC's lawyer about brokering a peace between the families and getting Clappy to do the maple syrup deal Terminoob wouldn't. The lawyer, fearful of a war and greedy for syrup profits, agrees to do both things. sblover is disappointed later on to find that Terminoob survived the attack. During a meeting with jjsthekid and Clappy, the lawyer is unable to convince Clappy to call off his planned retaliation against sblover and the rival family even after revealing sblover has the entire Canadian police force on his payroll. jjsthekid has the idea to meet with sblover as a representative of the family at a public restaurant in order to guarantee his safety. One of their goons would hide a weapon where only jjsthekid would find it at the restaurant, and then when the time is right, jjsthekid would use the weapon to kill sblover. Clappy is surprised by his youngest brother's cunning but worried that if the plan goes sideways, not only would jjsthekid die, but Canada would declare war on the US to protect its maple syrup cartel. jjsthekid promises that he will be careful, so Clappy gives him the go-ahead, saying weird Italian stuff like "bada bing, bada boom" while he does it. sblover has a limo driver take him, jjsthekid, and a Canadian police escort to a restaurant only he supposedly knows about. jjsthekid follows sblover and the policemen into the restaurant, and after they talk about life, love, and syrup, jjsthekid excuses himself to go to the restroom. He finds the gun exactly where Clappy said it would be, and as soon as he leaves the restroom, one of the Canadian policemen notices the gun and lunges as jjsthekid, forcing him to shoot the cop and the other Canadian policemen before shooting a fleeing sblover. jjsthekid drops the gun and steps over sblover's body, checking his pulse to make sure he's dead, before leaving the restaurant. He then takes a cab to the airport and buys a plane ticket to Italy where he would spend the next few years in hiding. As predicted, Canada declares war on the United States after jjsthekid's murders, and more locally, SBC declares war on the rival family with murders orchestrated by Clappy. The mob war ends after Clappy is killed by mysterious assassins and Terminoob, now fully healthy, arranges a truce between the warring families, and the Canadian-American War ends after Canada burns down the White House (again) and the Ford administration is pressured into legalizing maple syrup. jjsthekid has many exciting adventures in the small Italian town he lives under a different identity in, and he even starts a relationship with a young woman who nearly makes him forget about WhoBob. The rival family is able to track jjsthekid to the small town, and the woman is killed by an explosive meant for jjsthekid when she starts his car. Terminoob arranges for jjsthekid's safe return to the US shortly after that, and after learning of Clappy's death, jjsthekid decides to start working for his father full-time. jjsthekid finds WhoBob, who is unhappy to learn jjsthekid has returned to the family business but who believes his claim that once he takes over the business he'll clean it up. As jjsthekid meets with Terminoob to discuss retaliation for Clappy's death, Terminoob laments that he couldn't keep jjsthekid away, and jjsthekid insists that he'll be fine. While playing with the son of jjsthekid and WhoBob in a garden, Terminoob drops dead from a heart attack. Now with full control of the business, jjsthekid has the head of the rival family murdered, and then he has the leaders of the rest of the Five Families killed for good measure. He has the person responsible for blowing up his mistress during his exile murdered next, leaving just one name on his list: Poison Ivy. jjsthekid meets with Poison Ivy, ostensibly to congratulate her on the girl she recently had with Cha but really to question her about what happened the night of Clappy's death. Poison Ivy reveals that Clappy believed in traditional marriage and preferred that Cha marry somebody who wasn't a living plant. In order to protect her marriage, Poison Ivy worked with the head of one of the other Five Families to have Clappy killed. She doesn't bother trying to lie to jjsthekid because she could tell he knew everything before she said a word, and jjsthekid confirms this. He takes out a herbicide and sprays Poison Ivy with it, killing her. Cha screams at jjsthekid as soon as she finds out about it, saying he's no better than his father, and jjsthekid ends the movie looking out of the window of his room in his penthouse, out at the city that is now his city, and a city he does not intend on relinquishing anytime soon, or at least until the paychecks for two lucrative sequels and two Oscar nominations come in.
  20. Chapter 13 Mabel woke up to find that she was now outside, laying between bushes with types of flowers that she had never seen before growing from them. She sat up and noticed a golden chest on her lap. She immediately recognized the chest, and she also recognized that the gems attached to the chest, which were blue, green, and pink when she last saw them, were now colorless. She took the chest with her down a rock road, and after several minutes of walking, she saw a large stone arch with the words "Stony Gulch" featured prominently at the top and a banner saying "Travelers Welcome" pinned to the arch right under the words. Under the banner, she saw what appeared to be large humanoid frogs, toads, and newts in a primitive city behind the arch. "How is this possible?" Mabel asked herself. Mabel walked into the city, and the first creature to notice her screamed aloud. "Monster!" it said. "Who, me?" asked Mabel. Others screamed upon seeing Mabel, and to her confusion, they all ran into the building closest to them. "Wait!" said Mabel. "I'm not a monster! I just…" Mabel sighed as she realized everyone was now in hiding. "I just wanted to know where I am," she said. Mabel looked at the names of the stores around her, and she decided to go into one that had the name "Costume Shop" above its entrance. "Hello?" said Mabel as she walked in. "We're closed due to a monster attack," said a toad sitting behind the store's counter and reading a magazine titled Amphibia Weekly. Mabel cleared her throat, and the toad nearly jumped out of its chair once it saw Mabel standing at the entrance. "W-what do you want?" asked the toad. "I just want to buy a costume," said Mabel. "One that will let me look more like everyone else." "We sell costumes here, not miracles," said the toad. "What's Amphibia?" said Mabel, noticing the title of the magazine. "Gee, what a shame," said the toad. "You're ugly and stupid." "Come on!" said Mabel, feeling embarrassed. "Amphibia is everything you see around you. It's the land that we walk on, the air we breathe. I, like my parents and the parents of my parents, am an Amphibian. What, pray tell, are you?" "I'm a human." "I've never heard of a human before, but if they all look as horrifying as you do, I hope you're the last one I meet." "Can you just let me buy a costume?" "Sure, take a look around. Might as well make up for some of the business I'm losing by you coming here." Mabel looked through the costumes on the wall, and she found a frog costume that fit her perfectly. "I'll buy this one!" she told the toad. "That will be seven coppers," said the toad. Mabel took a small bag out from under her sweater. She opened the bag, took out seven pennies, and dropped them on the counter. The toad looked at the pennies through a pair of binoculars before shrugging. "Good enough," he said. Mabel left the store in the frog costume, and the citizens of Stony Gulch, no longer seeing the "monster" around, left their hiding places soon after. Mabel asked around about the chest, but nobody knew anything about it. As the stores began to close, locals went into their homes, and visitors either went into one of the town's hotels or left the city on a bird or snail. Mabel had used what was left of her money to buy an ice cream cone, and after spending 20 minutes taking bugs out of it, she cautiously ate it, and it tasted almost exactly like the ice cream on Earth, minus the unfortunate bug aftertaste. She approached the only store that was still open as she finished the ice cream cone. "The Curiosity Hut," said Mabel, reading the store's name out loud. Mabel entered The Curiosity Hut, and the only source of light inside the store was the glowing mushrooms used to highlight various creatures frozen in wax. One of them, a group of gnome-like creatures on a platform with the label "Fromes" on it, caused her to shiver. "That's bringing back some traumatic memories," said Mabel. "Who goes there?" said a familiar voice. Mabel turned towards the voice, and she saw an outline of somebody she recognized in the darkness. "Grunkle Stan?" she said. "My name may be Stan…" the source of the voice began. Mabel gasped as she saw who the voice really belonged to, an orange frog with an eyepatch, a maroon-colored fez, a suit, and a cane. "...but I ain't nobody's Grunkle!" he finished. "I'm sorry," said Mabel. "You reminded me of someone I know." "That's all right!" he said. "Anyway, welcome to my Museum of Oddities! I go by many names, but you can call me 'The Curator'." "A little on the nose, but okay," said Mabel. "For the low, low price of 3 coppers, I can give you a tour of the museum," said The Curator. "Actually, I don't have any money right now," admitted Mabel. "No money! Then what are you doing here? What are you doing in Stony Gulch? Nobody comes around these parts unless they have money to spend!" "That's the thing," said Mabel. "I'm not from here. I'm not from Amphibia. I was brought here from another world by this." Mabel took the chest out of a bag she was keeping it in. The Curator's eye widened as he saw the chest. "Where did you get that from?" asked The Curator. "My Grunkle Stan, the guy I mentioned who looks exactly like you, was keeping it in a place kind of like this, but a little less creepy," said Mabel. "No offense." "None taken," said The Curator. "How about we make a deal? You let me hold onto that for the night, and I'll let you spend the night in a room I have in my attic, free of charge!" "You'd really do that for me?" "Sure! I probably have seven, eight years left, so I'll need as many good deeds as possible before I depart from this rotten planet!" "Oh, I'm sure you have more than that!" The Curator laughed. "I love your optimism!" The Curator took the chest from Mabel and headed towards another room. Mabel ran upstairs and found a room in the exact same location as her room in the Mystery Shack. "Wild," said Mabel. Mabel jumped onto a bed in the middle of the room, and large bed bugs crawled out from under it. "Gross! Gross! Gross!" screeched Mabel, hitting the bed bugs with her pillow as they lunged at her. After all of the bed bugs crawled out the window, Mabel sank in her bed, terrified of this world and wishing she was back home with her brother. As she tried to calm her nerves and go to sleep, Dipper wasn't the only person she thought of. She thought of Soos, Grunkle Stan, her parents...and she thought of Prince Charming. His face, his smile, the way she felt around him. Despite what Dipper told her, she couldn't believe it wasn't real. After everything she had seen in Gravity Falls, in that fairy tale world, and here in Amphibia, there wasn't anything she couldn't believe was real. The Curator thumbed through the pages of a book in his study room. "I know I saw it in here somewhere," he muttered. He stopped on a page that had a drawing of an item that looked exactly like Mabel's chest on it. "Jackpot!" he said. He read through the page, which had "BEWARE!" in big, bold letters on it. On the adjacent page were the words "Calamity Box", detailed drawings of the pink, blue, and green gems on the chest when Mabel found it, and the word "DANGER!", also in big, bold letters. "King Andrias is going to find this very interesting," said The Curator. "Very, very interesting indeed."
  21. The climactic third act of Patrick Star in the Multiverse of Madness was released last night, and the thirteenth chapter of Mabel's Fables will be released tomorrow. Finally, The Bobfather, a parody of The Godfather, will be released for SBCinema this Saturday.
  22. Act III (Ianus circles the five Patricks in his UFO.) Ianus: Yes, yes, you'll do fine. Realistic Patrick: What do you mean "it's a Patrick that we're fighting"? One of us created that rift? Ianus: Yes. You see, in the trillions of universes out there, every single one has its own Patrick Star. You all come with a unique ability to mold the universe you're in and even travel between universes, but only one of you has actually discovered this ability, and unfortunately, he does not seek to use it for good. Squidina: What's that Patrick trying to do? Ianus: Destroy the multiverse using its own energy. That rift takes in energy from every universe it appears it, and it appears in a new one every second. Once that rift is in enough universes, it won't be able to contain all of that energy, exploding and turning every universe that has ever existed into little more than space dust. SpongeBob: Neptune! That's awful! CGI Patrick: Why would one of us want to do that? Ianus: I haven't spoken to this Patrick, but I imagine he's given up on life and wants to take as many lives as possible with him. Realistic Patrick: And how are we supposed to stop him? Ianus: Since a Patrick opened the rift, only a Patrick can close it, but it's so powerful by now that we'll need up to five of you to close it successfully. (The original Patrick looks at the others.) Patrick: Well, what are we waiting for? Let's save the multiverse! PSS Patrick: Yeah! CGI Patrick: Yeah! Lego Patrick: Yeah! Realistic Patrick: (rolls eyes) Whatever. Ianus: All right, get in. There's enough room for all of you. (The Patricks jump into the UFO, and Ianus flies it into the rift, leaving SpongeBob, Sandy, and Squidina behind.) SpongeBob: I hope they come back okay. Sandy: I still can't believe any of this. There's a multiverse, it's ruled by a two-headed amphibian, and the most important person in every universe is Patrick? The book I write about this will make me rich! Squidina: If you live to write it, anyway. Sandy: (nervous) Y-yeah! If I live to write it. (Ianus lands with the other Patricks in a universe where everything is chrome.) Lego Patrick: Where are we? Ianus: This is the original universe. The one that started it all. (Ianus points to a large chrome statue of a Patrick wearing no clothes.) Ianus: This Patrick died thousands of years ago and is currently worshipped as a god. Patrick: Why? He doesn't even know to wear pants! PSS Patrick: And I thought we were dumb! Ianus: Every universe is different, Patricks. Now let's focus on what we came here for. (Ianus and the Patricks walk through the streets, which are littered with the bodies of dead animals.) Patrick: What happened here? Ianus: The people of this planet attempted to create a device that would allow them to travel between universes many years after their Patrick died, but without a Patrick to assist them, the device failed horribly, wiping this planet's population out. Many other people in many other universes have tried the same, but without a Patrick's help, they all met a similar fate. PSS Patrick: Man, we must be really important. Ianus: Indeed, you are. (CGI Patrick notices Realistic Patrick keeping his distance from the others. He slows down until he and Realistic Patrick are beside each other.) Realistic Patrick: What do you want? CGI Patrick: You seem lonely. Do you want to be friends? We have so much in common! Realistic Patrick: No thanks, Stop Motion Patrick. CGI Patrick: Hey, I'm not stop motion! That's Lego Patrick! (Lego Patrick turns his head without moving the rest of his body.) Lego Patrick: Did somebody say my name? Realistic Patrick: Don't freakin' do that! That's weird as shit! Lego Patrick: You swear a lot. Realistic Patrick: Well, I'm a grown-up. That's what we do. Now, look at where the hell you're going. (Lego Patrick frowns and turns his head again.) CGI Patrick: Why don't you want to be friends with me? Is it my breath? I probably shouldn't have had those fried oyster skins for breakfast. Realistic Patrick: Your breath certainly isn't helping, but it's mostly that...friends inevitably disappoint you. I'm better off without them. Ianus: We're here. (Ianus and the Patricks approach a large building.) Ianus: This is where the device was built and likely where that rift came from. Patrick: Do you think that evil Patrick is in there? Ianus: I know he is, so make sure you're on your toes. Patrick: But I don't have toes! Ianus: You know what I mean! Patrick: Not really. Ianus: (sighs) Just be careful. (Ianus and the Patricks walk into the building to find a Patrick wearing the original Patrick's pants with a black shirt facing away from them, typing into a keyboard connected to a big machine which is connected to an even bigger monitor. The monitor contains several small lines of code beneath a large, constantly increasing number.) Evil Patrick: I was wondering when you'd show up. (Evil Patrick turns around to reveal that his face is also similar to the original Patrick's but with a mustache.) Patrick: Oh, man! I could never grow a mustache! Ianus: Step away from the machine, Evil Patrick. Evil Patrick: Is that what you're calling me? I wouldn't say it's wholly inaccurate, but it's also not very original. Ianus: We're closing that rift. (Evil Patrick pulls out a knife.) Evil Patrick: No...you aren't. (Ianus charges at Evil Patrick and misses every knife strike before knocking the knife out of his hand and pinning him to the ground by his neck.) Evil Patrick: (hoarsely) It's too late! We've already reached the inflection point of 300,286 universes with a rift! Ianus: Really? (Ianus looks at the monitor with one face to find that the number on it is 300,285. Evil Patrick discreetly pulls a second knife out of his shirt and stabs Ianus with it before his second face can respond.) Evil Patrick: No, but we will now! (Evil Patrick pushes Ianus off him and presses the Enter button on the keyboard, causing the number on the monitor to increase by one before flashing red. The other Patricks watch in horror as Ianus lays bleeding and unresponsive on the floor and Evil Patrick stares at the monitor with a huge grin on his face.) Evil Patrick: The resetting of the multiverse...has begun. (End of Act III)
  23. Week of June 5, 2022 to June 11, 2022 Total Cartoon Legends! - 273 ( @4EverGreen ) SBCinema - 100 ( @jjsthekid ) Jjs' Riffing Theater 3000: Family Guy Funny Moments - 39 ( @jjsthekid ) One-Time Star Wars Characters: Where Are They Now? - 29 ( @OWM ) Oh Yeah! Collections - 19 ( @Steel Sponge ) SpongeBob SquarePants: Lost in Translation - 18 ( @Steel Sponge ) Patrick Star in the Multiverse of Madness - 16 ( @JCM ) Power Rangers: Multiverse Force - 15 ( @4EverGreen ) Most Wanted - 13 ( @jjsthekid ) Mabel's Fables - 9 ( @JCM )
  24. Act II (Lego versions of SpongeBob and Patrick are working at a construction site in the city of Brickini Bottom.) Lego Patrick: (sighs) This job is so exhausting, SpongeBob! Lego SpongeBob: I know, but when we're finally good enough to become Master Builders, it will all be worth it! (Suddenly, a giant hole appears in the sky above them.) Lego Patrick: What's that? Lego SpongeBob: Don't touch it, Patrick! (Lego Patrick's eyes sparkle as he stares at the hole in the sky.) Lego Patrick: But it's...so captivating. (Lego Patrick grabs Lego bricks from the construction site and uses them to build a staircase.) Lego SpongeBob: Patrick, no! (Lego Patrick reaches for the hole in the sky from the top of his staircase, and within seconds, he's sucked in.) Lego SpongeBob: Patrick! (In the Patrick Star Show universe, Patrick, PSS Patrick, and CGI Patrick are in Sandy's treedome with SpongeBob, Sandy, and Squidina.) Sandy: So wait, you're telling me that you met your Sandy at summer camp when you were a kid? CGI Patrick: Yeah! Sandy: And Treedome Enterprises was willing to send a critter that young underwater? CGI Patrick: I have no idea! Sandy: (scratches chin) Interesting. (Suddenly, Lego Patrick falls out of the hole in the sky and lands right in front of the treedome.) Squidina: Another Patrick! Sandy: How many of y'all are out there? (In a darker version of Bikini Bottom from a different universe, a hyper-realistic Patrick walks past many failing buildings until he sees one with a number on its door that he recognizes.) Realistic Patrick: Here it is. (Realistic Patrick walks into the building and sees several fish inside it smoking cigars and playing poker.) Realistic Patrick: Hello. I'm wondering if there's anyone here who has seen a friend of mine. He goes by the name of SpongeBob. (As soon as the fish hear that name, they all pull out their guns and point them at Realistic Patrick.) Realistic Patrick: It seems I've struck a nerve. Voice: Hey, hey! Put that shit away! (The owner of the voice comes out of another room to reveal it's a hyper-realistic SpongeBob. The fish put their guns back into their pockets and resume playing poker.) Realistic SpongeBob: Sorry about that. We have some bad people after us, so we can never be too careful. Realistic Patrick: It's good to see you again, anyway. Realistic SpongeBob: So, are you here because you're ready to join the business? Realistic Patrick: (shakes head) No. Drugs destroyed this city. If you went out once in awhile, you would see it. Kids addicted to whale blubber, people shooting up in the streets. I'm not here to join but to beg you to shut the operation down. Haven't you made enough money from it? Realistic SpongeBob: There's no such thing as "enough money". Sandy's pregnant again, didn't you hear? Realistic Patrick: She is? Damn, I thought she dumped your ass by now. Realistic SpongeBob: She's more understanding of what I do than you are. I'm trying to provide my kids with life I could never have. I want them to move a better city, go to a good school, become doctors, lawyers, start families of their own, and to allow them to do that, I've gotta keep the business going. Realistic Patrick: Come on, SpongeBob. You and I both know this isn't about the kids. You've been doing this for so long you don't know what else to do. You caught lightning in a bottle, cooking up shit nobody in this town ever tasted before. And you're afraid to drop the spatula and move onto something more respectable. (Realistic SpongeBob turns around and thinks for a moment.) Realistic SpongeBob: Maybe I am. It doesn't matter. I ain't shutting the business down, and if you think I am, you need to get those thoughts out of your head right now. Realistic Patrick: Then you can have this back. (Realistic SpongeBob turns around to find a ring with "BFF" engraved in it in Realistic Patrick's open palm.) Realistic SpongeBob: (gasps) Our friendship ring! Realistic Patrick: I can't be friends with somebody who continues to hurt people. (Realistic SpongeBob takes the ring, and his eyes fill with tears as he looks at it.) Realistic SpongeBob: Fine, then. Leave and don't come back, cause next time my people are preparing to blow your brains out, I won't intervene. (Realistic Patrick leaves the building and goes into his apartment building several blocks away. He's about to go to sleep in his room on the 21st floor of the building when he notices something outside the window.) Realistic Patrick: What the hell? (Realistic Patrick opens the window and sees clearly that it's a large red hole floating in the space in front of him. As he gets closer to it, he feels it pulling him in, and before he can get away from it, the hole consumes him and spits him out into the Patrick Star Show universe. Sandy and Squidina run to him and cover their mouths in horror once they see his face.) Realistic Patrick: Where am I? And why's everything look like a comic strip? Squidina: (whispering) This is definitely the ugliest Patrick. Realistic Patrick: Hey! I heard that! And you're no spring chicken, yourself! (Realistic Patrick stands up and brushes himself off.) Sandy: Welcome to our universe! You're the fourth Patrick to come from that rift in the sky today, so we think something big is about to happen that involves y'all! Realistic Patrick: Fourth Patrick? (Patrick, PSS Patrick, CGI Patrick, Lego Patrick, and SpongeBob join them.) Realistic Patrick: Yeah, screw this. I'm out. (Realistic Patrick jumps as high as he can, but he can't reach the interdimensional rift.) Realistic Patrick: Can somebody give me a hand? Squidina: No can do! Before we send you back to your universe, we have to find out why you and the other Patricks were sent here! Realistic Patrick: Maybe this all is just a coincidence. Sandy: I thought that could have been a possibility after the third Patrick, but now it's obvious this is anything but coincidence, and we're going to get to the bottom of it! Realistic Patrick: We aren't going to do anything! (Realistic Patrick grabs Lego Patrick and sticks his head into the ground.) Lego Patrick: Help! I don't consent to this! Realistic Patrick: I'm getting away from this freak show! (Realistic Patrick jumps onto Lego Patrick and reaches for the hole in the sky. Before he's able to enter it, a UFO flies out of it, knocking Realistic Patrick off of Lego Patrick.) SpongeBob: What the? (The UFO's window opens to reveal a frog with two faces inside of it.) Frog: Good! Everyone's here! Squidina: Who are you? Frog: I am Ianus, King of the Multiverse. I've brought these five Patricks together to help me stop the man who created this interdimensional rift you see behind me. Sandy: Why does it need to be Patricks? Ianus: Because, dear Sandra, it's a Patrick that we're fighting. (End of Act II)
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