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The Yellow Avenger 2: The Square Knight Returns

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The Yellow Avenger 2: The Square Knight Returns

Chapter 1: I Don’t Know

In dark city where sunlight never reached that part of the ocean, past a 90 degree drop, a lone mail truck drives by and throws a small box onto the ground in front of a building and drives away. A green sea creature with a large eye, big lips, and wearing blue shorts walks by and sees the package addressed to Rock Bottom. Curious, he opens it and his single eye widens to see its contents.

Crammed into the box was a yellow sponge wearing a red mask and a purple cape with a long collar. He groaned in agony until he pops out of the box, shaping himself back to normal. He wobbled back and forth as he held his aching head. The confused Rock Bottom citizen sees that the sponge is also wearing a blue jumpsuit, a utility belt, and black gloves and boots.

“My head…” The superhero sponge muttered, “Ugh, where am I?”

The dweller speaks in his native tongue. “Who *pfft* are *pfft* you? *pfft* and why *pfft* were you *pfft* in *pfft* that box? *pfft*

The sponge paused a minute before answering in a bewildered voice, “I…don’t know.”

Seeing his costume, the stranger then asks, “Are you *pfft* some sort *pfft* of party clown? *pfft*?”

In the same dazed voice, the sponge in the mask responded, “I don’t know.”

He then looks down at himself and notices his costume, reading the letters on his chest, “SW?” he holds his head and ponders, “The last thing I remember is a phone…and a picture.”

“I think *pfft* you need *pfft* a drink. *pfft*

The odd yet kindly stranger led the sponge to a small bar. The sponge took a seat at the counter where a large burly bartender fish handed him a mug. “Here’s your diet kelpsy.” He said in a gruff voice minus the raspberries.

“Thanks *pfft*.” The sponge replied in a depressed voice. He then ponders to himself, “‘SpongeWalter’? ‘SpongeWhite’? ‘SpongeWarren’?” he yells out in dismay, “Ugh! Any of those could stand for ‘SW’!”

The same stranger who brought the sponge to the bar then asks, “So why *pfft* are you *pfft* dressed *pfft* like that? *pfft*

The sponge replied in the same accent, “I don’t *pfft* know. *pfft*” he was about to take a sip of his drink until he saw his masked face reflected in the liquid. He uneasily put the drink down and stood up while backing away. “Something doesn’t add up.”

He then notices his utility belt full of items. “Maybe something in here will give me a clue.” He starts pulling random items out of the compartments such as a grappling hook, a bottle of bubble soap, a spatula, a superhero’s guidebook, and a jellyfish net. None of those brought back any memories. When he was about to give up hope, he finally pulls out a krabby patty and drops it in shock, catching the attention of everyone in the bar. Staring at the sandwich with its lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and buns; his eyes widen in shock, “WAIT! IT’S ALL *pfft* COMING BACK *pfft* TO ME!!! *pfft*” he shouts while gripping the sides of his head.

 

His memories flood back to him from the very beginning. It was a beautiful peaceful night in Bikini Bottom; all things were quiet on Conch Street until the sounds of familiar laughter emerge from SpongeBob’s pineapple home. Inside SpongeBob’s library, the titular sponge and best friend, Patrick, were lying next to each other across the floor surrounded by comic books based on the adventures of their favorite superheroes: Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.

“Oh, boy!” SpongeBob said with excitement as he turned the page. “This is getting good.”

“I know.” Patrick said with a giggle. “Let’s see if he can beat Toxic Malice now.”

They look at the page of the old superhero as SpongeBob reads the speech bubble, “‘Your reign of terror over the ocean is over, toxic fiend!’”

They look at the next panel which shows a villain made out of black glowing slime, complete with evil cape. SpongeBob then read the villain’s speech bubble, “‘Mwa ha ha! I don’t think so, Mermaid Man! For I have a trick up my sleeve and it will be your end!’”

At the bottom of the page, Patrick read the last note, “‘To be continued’.”

SpongeBob closed the comic book and cheerfully asked, “Wasn’t that exciting, Patrick? To think that tomorrow, the new issue will be out and we’ll see Mermaid Man triumph over the forces of evil.”

“We have to wait till tomorrow?” Patrick asked in slight panic as he held the sides of his head. “What are we supposed to do till then?”

While he too did not enjoy the wait for the climax of his favorite Mermaid Man comic book, SpongeBob was patient enough to know it would all be worth it. So to keep his best friend at ease, SpongeBob suggested, “Well, we could look over the other Mermaid Man Adventure comics just to tide us over.”

This immediately made Patrick jump in excitement, “Yippee! I can find them!” he quickly pulled a random cardboard box off the shelf and dumped the contents out. “Are they in here?”

But rather than comic books, a blue jumpsuit, black boots and gloves, a red mask, and purple cape was strewn across the floor. SpongeBob’s eyes widen in horror as he immediately recognized the old costume.

Patrick picked up the cape and wondered, “What is all this stuff?”

SpongeBob snatched it out of Patrick’s hand and held it close, hoping he would not make a connection between him and the suit. “N-Nothing, Patrick.” SpongeBob nervously explained with a slight chuckle. “Just some old clothes I outgrew years ago.”

Patrick picked up the suit and noticed the “MS” emblem sewn onto the chest. “Hey…this kinda looks like what that old Bikini Bottom superhero used to wear. What was his name again?”

He then picked up the red mask and stared at it. This made SpongeBob bite his lower lip anxiously, fearing that the thing he gave up long ago would come back to bite him.

“Mask…” Patrick said out loud as he pondered over the mask and held it up, getting a view of it and SpongeBob together. “…sponge.” As he looked at both the mask and his best friend, he repeated, “Mask…sponge…mask sponge.” His eyes widen in realization as everything suddenly comes back to him, “Oh, my gosh! SpongeBob, you’re-”

Before he could state his deduction, SpongeBob quickly tried to explain, “I’m sorry, Patrick! I wanted to tell you long ago, but-”

But SpongeBob was not able to finish as Patrick excitedly concluded, “SpongeBob, you’re dressing up as the Masked Sponge for Halloween this year?”

This wasn’t the accusation SpongeBob was prepared for and instead he got confused, “Huh?”

Patrick scratched his head as he mentioned, “I always wondered what happened to him.”

SpongeBob was surprised that Patrick still hadn’t figured out the truth. He thought maybe it was time he told him, “Umm, Patrick?”

“You know, you kinda look like him, SpongeBob. If you only your head was more square and you wore a mask.”

“Actually, I, uh…”

Still not being given a chance to explain, Patrick waved to SpongeBob as he started to leave, “Well, good night, SpongeBob. See ya tomorrow.”

After Patrick left the pineapple, SpongeBob sighs in relief as he picked up his Masked Sponge uniform and put it back in the box. “I wanna tell Patrick.” He said to himself. “But there’s just something in me that just won’t let it out.”

Before he can close the box, he just stares at his suit with wide eyes as he remembers all the heroic deeds he had done while he wore it. “It was pretty exciting when I was the Masked Sponge.” SpongeBob said with a grin. “I felt just as awesome as Mermaid Man.”

His nostalgic feeling was interrupted when his pet snail slithered behind him. “Meow.” He said with a concerned expression.

“Gary!” SpongeBob exclaimed in surprise, not expecting him to appear so suddenly. “I was just putting this back where it belongs.”

“Meow,” Gary replied, now appearing skeptical.

“Of course not.” SpongeBob responded as he closed the box and put it back on the shelf. “I would never don the suit again. The Masked Sponge is retired after all. Besides, my first and only career is fry cooking.” He gains a warm smile as he holds his heart. “After all, those krabby patties need me more than this town does.”

Feeling satisfied with his master’s decision, Gary slithered out of the library and SpongeBob followed while saying, “Well, it’s bedtime.”

As he shut off the light and closed the door, he peeked inside one last time at the box that contained his superhero suit as if it were calling to him to put it on once more. But he promised he wouldn’t and he had other obligations to himself. He wondered if Mermaid Man ever had this problem.

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Chapter 2: He’s Back!

The next day in Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob was doing his job at the Krusty Krab. With a happy grin on his face, SpongeBob flips the krabby patties off the grill and onto the buns with all the condiments placed upon it. When the patty was finished, SpongeBob rang the bell and handed it to the cashier, Squidward.

“Order up!” he called with enthusiasm.

Squidward just carelessly took the patty and handed it to the customer. As he stood there waiting for the next customer to approach him, SpongeBob looks through the window behind him and excitedly stated, “Just twenty more minutes and I’ll be able to buy the newest issue of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.”

“Ooh, joy…” Squidward replied with dull sarcasm.

But SpongeBob still spoke to him with enthusiasm, “I know! I heard from somewhere that it’s a real doozy- whatever that means.”

“Oh, grow up, SpongeBob.” Squidward snapped at him. “Spending all your time reading children’s books isn’t gonna help you in real life.”

When more customers approach the counter, Squidward snapped again, “Now give me some peace and cook more of these orders.”

With a smile and salute, SpongeBob responded, “You got it, Squidward.”

In the kitchen, SpongeBob placed some fresh krabby patties on the grill, and while they cooked, he opened up a bag of fresh buns and cut up some vegetables. Afterwards, he prepared the perfect delicious-looking krabby patties that he gave to Squidward to hand to the customers.

SpongeBob then emerges from the kitchen and excitedly declares, “Just fifteen more minutes, and I’ll be able to-”

He was interrupted when an orange fish in a light blue shirt started groaning in agony and he dropped his krabby patty while pushing the table over. Squidward, SpongeBob, and the customer watch in horror as the customer’s body grows larger, muscular, and grotesque with his teeth becoming sharp and his expression becoming enraged. The former customer then growled and pounded a hole into the floor, causing the other customers to scream in terror and run away.

SpongeBob and Squidward both scream in fright and hide behind the front counter, holding each other as they watch the mutant customer trash the restaurant.

Trembling, Squidward shouted, “If I weren’t so terrified, I’d point out how random this is!”

“You think I didn’t put enough ketchup on his krabby patty?” an equally terrified SpongeBob asked.

When it felt like it was over for them, the mutant customer crashed through the wall of the restaurant and ran outside toward the town. Hearing the commotion, Mr. Krabs bursts out of his office, yelling, “What’s goin’ on out here?” he suddenly gasps in shock upon seeing the wreckage. “What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened!” Squidward shouted frantically. “One of your customers just changed into a horrible monster!”

“What?” Mr. Krabs asked in surprise, but quickly assumed Squidward was just making stuff up. “That’s crazy.”

SpongeBob then spoke up, “It’s true, Mr. Krabs, I saw the whole thing. But how could this have happened?”

Squidward then picked up a discarded krabby patty the former customer bit into and stared at it curiously. “Maybe it was the krabby patty.”

Hearing this accusation made SpongeBob gasp in shock. Never would he imagine that a krabby patty could create something so horrible, especially since he had made it the same way he always did.

But Mr. Krabs spoke out for him, “That’s barbaric, Mr. Squidward! I don’t suppose you have any proof of this.”

Suddenly, the TV in the restaurant turns on and they see the news announcer Perch Perkins, “We interrupt this program to bring you shocking news from Downtown Bikini Bottom. It appears that a horrible mutant is rampaging the streets completely out of control. Witnesses say that this all started at the Krusty Krab: home of the famous krabby patty. Could this be caused by the food or something else?”

SpongeBob gulped nervously as he thought to himself, ‘I can probably stop this as the Masked Sponge. But should I? Maybe just this one time wouldn’t hurt, but I promised Gary I wouldn’t.’  

While SpongeBob was debating with himself about whether he should don his mask and cape again, Squidward was informing his boss, “Think about it, Mr. Krabs. If they find out that it was your food that caused this, the Krusty Krab will be shut down and the krabby patties will be discontinued.”

Hearing this, SpongeBob’s expression became one of horror until he frowned in determination, “Oh, no, it won’t!” he shouted boldly, “You two stay here! I’ll get someone who can take down that Krusty Krab mutant!”

With that, he ran out of the restaurant to fetch what he needed for his big comeback. Mr. Krabs stared in bafflement as he asked, “You think we can trust whatever idea he has?”

Squidward bluntly answered, “Definitely not.”

 

In the city of Downtown Bikini Bottom, the mutant customer continued rampaging through the streets. Making craters in the road with his monstrous footsteps, flipping boats over with one foul swoop, and roaring as he punched holes into buildings. Many Bikini Bottomites ran away in terror, screaming for their lives, believing no one can save them.

As the police try to stop him with a barricade, the mutant customer was about to charge right through until a high-pitched voice rang out, “Not so fast!”

This caught his attention and he turned to see a face familiar to many of those in Bikini Bottom and one not seen in a long time.

It was SpongeBob wearing his Masked Sponge uniform, still fitting him like the day he made it. He stood in the middle of the street, directly facing the mutant customer while declaring, “I am the Masked Sponge! I fight for truth, justice, and krabby patties- which you, sir, are tarnishing the good name of!” he then gets an innocent smile as he kindly asks, “So can you maybe turn back to normal and explain to everyone the real reason you-”

Before he can finish, the mutant customer roars loudly and charges toward the Masked Sponge with vicious intent. The Masked Sponge yelped and quickly dived out of the way with the mutant taking out a streetlight and bending it in half.

While crouched on the ground, the Masked Sponge analyzed, “Hmm, persuasion didn’t do the trick. I may have to resort to drastic measures.”

He reaches into his utility belt and pulls out a jellyfish net. While the mutant was flipping over more boatmobiles, the Masked Sponge yelled as he ran up behind him and jumped on top of the mutant’s shoulders, swinging the net onto his head. This only annoyed the mutant and he roars while shaking his head, making the Masked Sponge fly back and forth as he struggles to hold onto the net.

Finally, he is forced to let go and the Masked Sponge falls onto the ground. The mutant is now annoyed and he flips the net off his head, roaring in anger. The Masked Sponge slowly stands back up, groaning to himself, “Maybe…I’m a bit out of practice.”

His eyes widen in fright when he sees the mutant approach him with rage and fury in his red eyes. When it looked like the mutant would grab the Masked Sponge to rip him apart, the latter quickly reaches into his utility belt and pulls out a bottle of bubble soap, waving the bubble wand to create a protective bubble between them, causing the mutant to bounce away from him.

Seeing the opportunity, the Masked Sponge gets a face of determination and boldly declares, “Now it’s time for this hero to clean up the town!”

The Masked Sponge then charges at the dazed mutant and pulls out a pair of condiment bottles from his belt. When in range, the Masked Sponge squirts ketchup and mustard into the mutant’s face, blinding him and making him stumble backwards.

“Now to flip for some justice!” The Masked Sponge declares while taking his spatula from his belt and running behind the mutant, who still stumbled backwards, trying to rub the condiments from his eyes.

The Masked Sponge swung his spatula behind the mutant’s legs, causing him to fall backwards onto the hard ground. “The bigger they are…” the Masked Sponge shouted while scaling up a building and then jumping off, “…the squishier the bounce!”

While curled up, the Masked Sponge lands on the mutant’s large belly, making him groan in pain until he couldn’t take anymore. The Masked Sponge flips onto the ground and turns to see his foe defeated, “Phew, glad that’s over.”

Suddenly, the mutant lets out a loud burp and begins shrinking down in size until he returns back to the form of the customer he once was; only he was now unconscious. The Masked Sponge stared in surprise, but before he could check on his well-being, he was surrounded by mobs of fish, who all cheered.

“I remember you!” one fish stated.

“You’re the Masked Sponge!” another fish recognized.

“He’s returned!”

“I love you!”

“You saved us all!”

The Masked Sponge was flattered by all this praise, especially by the fact that everyone still remembered him, “Oh, why, uh, thank you.” He said in a bashful voice.

The customer then started to wake up, and he looked around, dazed and confused, “What…”

But he was suddenly cuffed by police and taken away, “Hey, what’s going on?”

The Masked Sponge heard the commotion and turned to see the frantic customer being put in the back of a cop car. “You got a lot of explaining to do.” The officer said.

“But I don’t know what happened!” the customer tried to explain, “I was just at the Krusty Krab, eating lunch! That’s all I remember!”

His explanation goes unheeded by everyone, except for the Masked Sponge, who overheard him. Pondering to himself in the midst of the cheering crowd, he suddenly had a news camera shoved in his face. Perch Perkins then asked, “Masked Sponge, now that you’ve returned, can you explain to us what just happened. Does this really have any connection to the Krusty Krab?”

SpongeBob stammered a bit, feeling nervous about the sudden pressure put on him. Watching him from the Krusty Krab on TV was Mr. Krabs and Squidward, both surprised to see the superhero return, though Mr. Krabs was worried that this kind of publicity would tarnish the Krusty Krab. While gasping, Mr. Krabs pleads, “Don’t say anything, masked stranger. It was not the fault of my business!”

Squidward rolled his eyes, secretly annoyed that SpongeBob was actually donning the costume again and being the only one in all of Bikini Bottom to see through his disguise.

On the news, the Masked Sponge answers the reporter’s question, “No, of course not.” The Masked Sponge defended, “I can easily say this has nothing to do with the krabby patty. I only came back this one time to make sure nothing slanders its good name. Now that the threat has been stopped, it is time I make my leave.”

The Masked Sponge holds his arms out as he struts past the crowd. Since his eyes are closed, he unknowingly walks past Sandy, who had witnessed the whole thing and held her chin in thought, wondering if there was more to this strange occurrence than let on.

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Chapter 3: Spoiler Title

After stopping the mutant customer, SpongeBob quickly snuck back to the Krusty Krab after changing out of his super suit. Mr. Krabs was thankful that he got a superhero to help since they ask for nothing in return, and Squidward ignored him when SpongeBob tried to secretly ask what he thought of his battle. But work resumed, slowly due to the small amount of customers they got after the wreck made by the mutant.

Soon, it was closing time and, rather than being the last one out like he usually was, SpongeBob rushed past Squidward, exiting the restaurant, and met up with Patrick so they can get the newest issue of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. As they walked together to the comic book shop, SpongeBob expressed every bit of excitement he had.

“Day: Monday. Time: 5 o’clock. Mood: EXCITED!” SpongeBob shouted with joy.

Patrick joined in, “Mood: uhhh…5 o’clock. Uh, time: Rectangle! Day: SUPER EXCITED!”

Despite this, SpongeBob grew even more excited and put his arm around Patrick. “Ooh, me too.”

But their expressions freeze when they see a large crowd gathered outside the comic book shop. As they walk closer, they hear the crowd cheering in excitement. “What’s happening?” Patrick wondered.

SpongeBob playfully elbows him and cheerfully says, “Isn’t it obvious, Pat? They’re just as excited about the new issue of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy as we are.”

However, these claims proved to be false when a young teen runs out of the crowd, holding a photograph. “I got it!” he yelled wildly, “I got a picture of the Masked Sponge!”

Hearing this shocked the Masked Sponge himself: SpongeBob. He and Patrick repeated in surprise, “The Masked Sponge?”

The two move their way past the crowd and they see that inside the shop, there were displays of photos and merchandise of the Masked Sponge, including a life-size cut-out. Many people were trying to get their hands on as much toys, clothing, and commodities as they could, and seeing everyone go crazy for his alter-ego stunned SpongeBob, despite the fact that he had only donned the costume just a few hours ago.

“Hey, that’s-”

“The Masked Sponge!” Patrick called out excitedly as he runs towards the cut-out and waved at it, “I can’t believe you’re here! I knew you’d come back one day!” but when the cardboard did not respond, Patrick asked again, “So, where’ve you been?” when he still got no response, Patrick began to get annoyed, “Oh, too important to talk now?” losing his temper, Patrick grabbed a hold of the cardboard and started strangling it, “That’s the problem with you famous heroes!”

But the comic shop owner was unamused. “A, that’s not the Masked Sponge. And B, don’t touch the merchandise.” He took away the bent cardboard from Patrick and put it back on display.

SpongeBob went up to Patrick, still stunned by how popular he was. “I never knew so many people liked the Masked Sponge.”

“Are you kidding?” a child purple fish responded, “He’s the best.”

Then an older orange fish asked, “Where do you think he’s been all this time?”

“Maybe inside a crystal, building up strength, so he can come back and protect us again.”

Another voice in the crowd shouts, “The Masked Sponge rocks!”

Hearing the praise made SpongeBob smile and blush modestly. “So much praise, and yet I can’t accept it.”

“Well, of course you can’t accept it, SpongeBob.” Patrick interjected, “You’re not the Masked Sponge.” He then held up a Masked Sponge photo and looked between it and SpongeBob, seeing the obvious similarities between them. “Hmm…you do look a little like him. Are you trying to copy his style?”

SpongeBob just gave a nervous chuckle and tried not to look suspicious. He wanted to tell Patrick the truth and always felt so bad about lying to his best friend, but he knew from comic book reading experience that he might put Patrick in danger by doing so. Luckily, Patrick chose to drop the subject and said, “I’m gonna grab a Masked Sponge coffee mug. Do you want one?”

“No thanks, Patrick.” SpongeBob politely declined, “I came here to get my comic book and that’s all I’m gonna get.”

He enthusiastically spun around and went over to the comic book racks that weren’t carrying Masked Sponge merchandise. “This will be the best day ever.” He excitedly said to himself, “I’ll finally know what happens to Mermaid Man, how he’ll win the heroic battle, and I’ll say-”

He suddenly froze in place and felt his heart stop in horror when his eyes caught hold of the new comic book. The title alone stunned him, “…‘The Death of Mermaid Man’?”

Still in shock, he took a few steps back and bit his lower lip. He nearly bumped into Patrick, who was decked out in a Masked Sponge t-shirt and baseball cap, holding a matching coffee mug and a photograph. Patrick turned around and noticed how distressed SpongeBob looked. “What’s wrong, SpongeBob?” he asked in concern.

SpongeBob gripped onto shirt and cried, “Don’t you see it, Pat? The new issue, it says ‘Death of Mermaid Man’, which could only mean one thing.”

Patrick’s eyes widen in shock. “What?!” he exclaims, and sees the cover of the comic book that shows the superhero’s discarded belt hanging on a piece of ruined debris. “Aww, man!” he groans with an annoyed frown, “They just gave away the ending!”

SpongeBob begins sobbing into Patrick’s chest. “Why, oh why? Why does Mermaid Man have to die?”

“Oh please,” SpongeBob turns his head to see Bubble Bass standing near the comic book rack, boredly looking at the Mermaid Man comic. “Can you say ‘readership grab’?”

“Do you mind?” Patrick angrily snapped, his arm around SpongeBob, “My friend’s in a state of shock right now!”

But Bubble Bass proceeded to explain in his most arrogant tone, “This is obviously just a ploy by the writers to stir up controversy; and when suckers like you express outcry, they’ll use the opportunity to revamp Mermaid Man. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

He held out another comic book towards SpongeBob’s face, and between his tears, he sees the prime Mermaid Man standing next to Barnacle Boy, who looked radically different, wearing thick eyeglasses and having coifed red hair. “W-Who is that?” SpongeBob tearfully asked, not even recognizing him as the Barnacle Boy he knew.

“Exactly.” Bubble Bass answered. “Besides, killing off superheroes is just a way to remind us that even the most powerful beings aren’t immortal.”

SpongeBob was shocked by his statement as Patrick asked, “Gee, SpongeBob, you think he means the same thing for the Masked Sponge?”

Bubble Bass laughed cruelly, “The Masked Sponge? Please, you call that has-been a superhero? He doesn’t even have any powers.” He walked away while adding, “They might as well get his casket ready.”

This blow to his alter ego would’ve offended SpongeBob, but he was much too upset over his loss to care. “Patrick,” he uttered in heartbreak, “If even heroes like Mermaid Man can die, does this mean…”

He was cut off when some nearby teenagers were discussing the new comic book as they read it. “I can’t believe they killed off Mermaid Man.”

“Yeah,” his friend agreed, “I guess the Masked Sponge better watch his back.”

He laughs as he cuts the head off a Masked Sponge action figure, and just seeing this made SpongeBob’s face wretch in horror. Patrick gave SpongeBob his own copy of the comic book as he pat him on the back for comfort. “I guess it’s a good thing you’re not the Masked Sponge, huh buddy.”

Suddenly, SpongeBob screams at the top of his voice with gushers of tears streaming out of his eyes and he runs past the crowd. One person complains, “Man, he ruined my Masked Sponge hankie. Not like it’s the Masked Sponge’s tears.”

 

Later that night, SpongeBob was locked in his room with a candle for lighting, matching his dour mood over losing his idol. He was lying across his bed, wearing only his underwear, peering over the edge at the open comic book, reading what pages he can bear to set his sights on.

“The Toxic Malice turns into a large scary monster, but at least Mermaid Man won the battle.” SpongeBob says in a low melancholic voice, and then uses a stick to turn the page. “But battle takes its toll…” he turns the page again, “Cut to the funeral.”

“Ohhhh,” SpongeBob bellowed as he cried. “Everyone’s right. If someone as powerful as Mermaid Man could die in a battle against evil, does that mean the Masked Sponge can be killed as well?”

Sitting by the side of his bed, his pet snail, Gary, looks up at him and says, “Meow, meow.”

SpongeBob hugs his knees and lies on his side. “You’re right, Gary. It was a mistake to be the Masked Sponge. It will be a lot easier and a lot safer if I just be me.”

Comforted that his owner won’t be putting himself in danger anymore, Gary decides to fall asleep. But SpongeBob still had his eyes open as he pondered over his situation. “Right…” He said to himself. “I don’t have to worry about ending up like Mermaid Man or having to make sure Bikini Bottom is safe.”

He closed his eyes so he can drift off to sleep, but his eyes suddenly shoot open and he sits up, realizing to himself, “Mermaid Man is gone now. That means there’s no one to keep Bikini Bottom safe, no one to fight crime, and no one to be a hero.”

SpongeBob hopped off his bed and wiped away his tears, replacing it with a determined frown. “Mermaid Man may be gone, but his sacrifice won’t be in vain. I will make it my duty to fight crime in his name.”

But he hears Gary stirring in his sleep, and not wanting to wake him up and alarm him of his choice, SpongeBob quietly sneaks out of his room to get dressed.

SpongeBob put on his suit, strapped on his utility belt, clipped on his cape, put on his gloves and boots, and tied on his mask. Despite the cloudy weather outside, he went onto the roof of his pineapple and looked out into the distance to see what he thought was the crime-ridden city of Bikini Bottom.

He then looks to his right to see Squidward’s house and happens to see through the window. When Squidward comes into view, he notices SpongeBob peeping in and angrily closes the curtain. SpongeBob smiles and notes, “Squidward seems to be safe and sound.” He looks towards Patrick’s rock and hears the starfish snoring loudly, “Patrick seems to be in no danger as well.”

The Masked Sponge reaches into his belt and pulls out his grappling hook. With a gritty smile, SpongeBob prepares to resume his duties as Bikini Bottom’s superhero. “Being a superhero is like eating a krabby patty: you can’t just eat it one time.” He dramatically says, “And you know what the best part is?” he can no longer contain his excitement and he cheerfully blurts out, “I GET TO START NARRATING AGAIN!!!”

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Chapter 4: On Patrol, I’m On Patrol

In the city of Bikini Bottom on a dark cloudy night, thunder clapped as SpongeBob, under the guise of The Masked Sponge, scaled up the top of the building. The sponge hums an action-packed theme to himself as he makes it to the roof. ‘Here I am.’ SpongeBob narrated, ‘An ordinary fry cook by day and a totally awesome superhero by night.’

“Yeah!” SpongeBob cheered. “What a beautiful night to patrol for crime!”

On cue, it starts to rain, which SpongeBob takes notice of, hoping he wouldn’t catch a cold or get his pores filled up. “Uh oh,” he says with his hand catching rain drops. “I should head back and get an umbrella.” But he suddenly hears a scream and looks towards an alley where the scream was coming from. “Whoops, no time for that now.”

Down below, there was a fish in a black ski mask trying to rob a gray female fish, with white hair and a green dress, of her purse.

The Masked Sponge decided to spring into action by leaping from the tall building through the dark sky. Lightning flashed, however, and he screams when it strikes him, ruining his dramatic entrance.

When the mugger was about to snatch the woman’s purse, the Masked Sponge landed on top of him. His clothes all charred and his body smoking, the Masked Sponge stood up and saw he knocked the mugger unconscious.

The woman fish smiles gratefully at him, “The Masked Sponge! You really have returned and you saved me!”

The Masked Sponge wiped the ash off of him and heroically spoke, “All in a day’s work.” He paused when he remembered what time it was. “Or night’s work.”

 

Meanwhile, a blue snail was crossing the wet street, unaware that a boatmobile was coming around the corner being driven by a brown fish with five o’clock shadow. His eyelids were hanging down as he yawned, “I never should’ve worked that double shift today.” He groaned until his eyes close all the way and he suddenly drifts off to sleep behind the wheel.

The snail notices the headlights coming onward through the rain, and being a snail, can’t avoid it in time. The snail hides in its shell, awaiting the collision, until the Masked Sponge pulls back on a stop sign and slingshots himself across the street, grabbing the snail as he flies by before the out of control boatmobile drives through and crashes elsewhere.

The Masked Sponge puts the snail in a cardboard box out of the rain just as the snail comes out of its shell to see that it’s safe. SpongeBob smiles and tenderly kisses the snail on the eyestalk before going on his way.

 

Taking shelter from the rain in a lit tunnel was a group of four teenage hoodlums spray painting graffiti on the walls. As one was writing “JELLYFISH STINK”, something flies through the air and knocks the spray can out of his hand. The teenager holds his fin as he groans in pain while the rest of them look down to see a spatula lying on the ground. They turn to see someone standing at the entrance of the tunnel. “If you wanted to color, you could’ve bought a coloring book.” He quipped in his high-pitched voice.

“Who is that?” one of them asked.

Lightning flashed at the entrance of the tunnel and briefly illuminated the Masked Sponge in the darkness.

“Oh, barnacles!” another one of the hoodlums cried in shock. “It’s the Masked Sponge! He’s real!”

They all gasp in shock, having heard the rumors of the superhero who fought the mutant that afternoon, and even the exaggerated rumors that he was non-merciful on criminals. The Masked Sponge lets out a yell as he runs up the sides of the tunnel and karate kicks one of the hoodlums down. He quickly picks up his spatula and swipes at another one’s feet, knocking him onto the ground. The remaining two try to grab him, but the Masked Sponge quickly grabs them both by the front of their jackets and pulls them both down, bumping their heads together.

With all four of them down on the ground, groaning in pain, the Masked Sponge stands over them with a serious face. “Now…are you all sorry for what you’ve done?” he asked, pointing to the hoodlums.

“Yes, yes!” one of them cries out. “Just leave us alone!”

They cry out and run away, dropping their spray cans on the ground as they exit the tunnel. SpongeBob picks one can up and goes over to the wall, spray painting over what was already written. When he was done, he walked away, leaving the graffiti as “JELLYFISH ARE STINKIN WONDERFUL ♥

 

Outside in the center of town, a passing purple fish in a hat and trench coat walks through the light drizzling rain as he drinks the last of his kelp soda and tosses the empty cup and straw towards the trash can, only to miss. He doesn’t care and just keeps walking. But he suddenly bumps into a large bubble, stopping him from going any further. He sees the Masked Sponge standing in front of him on a fire hydrant with his hands on his square hips. The Masked Sponge silently points down to the empty soda cup lying on the sidewalk and then points to the nearby trash can.

Realizing who he was up against, and having also heard the rumors of the Masked Sponge’s tough exterior, the fish grins nervously as he picks the cup off the ground and places it in the trash can this time.

The fish then quickly goes on his way and the Masked Sponge blissfully shouts, “Thank you!”

However, lightning strikes again, followed by thunder, which startles SpongeBob and he falls off the fire hydrant with a yelp.

Standing back up on the sidewalk, SpongeBob groans to himself, “Maybe next time I should come back when it’s sunny.” But afterwards, he gets a satisfied grin and says to himself, “Mermaid Man would be proud though.”

His thoughts were interrupted when he hears loud sirens and sees police boats speeding through the rain. “Hmm…” SpongeBob says as he holds his chin, “Where there’s police involved, there’s bound to be crime. This looks like a job for the Masked Sponge!”

 

He follows the police on foot, choosing not to travel by building this time while lightning was still striking the sky. He finally catches up to what may be a crime scene where the walls of a building had been demolished and he hears a loud roar coming from further up the street.

SpongeBob gasped in shock and ran over to the building where an orange female fish in a purple dress was sitting on the ground. The Masked Sponge approaches her and asked, “What happened just now?”

She immediately recognizes who he was and tearfully explained, “Oh, Masked Sponge, the weirdest thing just happened. My husband turned into some horrible monster.”

“Hmm,” SpongeBob pondered as he held his chin. “This seems just like the mutation at the Krusty Krab, but at least it does confirm-”

He was suddenly cut off when the wife added, “It was right after he had taken a bite of a krabby patty he bought earlier today.”

SpongeBob’s eyes widen through his mask as he sees the discarded leftover krabby patty that had a bite taken out of it, lying on the floor. “No…” SpongeBob whispered in horror, “It couldn’t be.” But seeing the distressed citizen, he quickly composed himself and assured, “I mean, don’t worry, ma’am. I’ll stop you’re rampaging hubby.”

The Masked Sponge quickly sped off and ran down the street at fast speed, hoping to catch up to the mutant. SpongeBob begins to narrate again, ‘This was exactly like what happened earlier today. A krabby patty turned a customer into a monster. But how? Why? A krabby patty would never do that.’

His monologue was cut short when he sees a bunch of police boats surrounding a large hulking dark green fish that looked similar to the last mutated fish. He roars loudly and wildly smashes a police boat while nearby citizens run in panic. “Stop right there!” SpongeBob shouted, getting his attention.

One of the police officers smiles in joy at seeing him, “The Masked Sponge!”

“About time.” Another one says, “I was afraid we were gonna have to do something about that mutant.”

SpongeBob confronts the mutant and angrily continues shouting, “You’re giving krabby patties a bad name! Now tell me what really made you this way!”

But the mutant just growls in fury and storms towards the Masked Sponge. “Uh oh.” He peeps until the mutant runs into him and body slams the sponge into a wall.

The mutant backs away, leaving the Masked Sponge in the hole. He would’ve passed out had it not been for the raindrops falling on his face. He just groans in pain and coughs while managing to get on his feet and face his opponent again. “Is that the best you got?” he said in a raspy voice.

The mutant approaches him again and tries to swipe his large fist at SpongeBob, but the Masked Sponge jumps behind him and climbs on his shoulders, wrapping his arms around the mutant and putting him in a headlock. “Listen to me, mister.” SpongeBob calmly says as he struggles to keep hold of him. “I know you didn’t mean for this to happen. But just change back so you can tell everyone that the krabby patty you ate didn’t cause this.”

Despite his attempts to talk things out, the mutant roars even louder and shakes SpongeBob off his body.

He landed in a large puddle and sat up to see the mutant standing over him, growling in fury. SpongeBob starts to tremble in fear as he takes a few steps back, until remembering it was raining and he was standing in a puddle.

SpongeBob smirked as he declared; “They don’t call me the Masked Sponge for nothing!” he concentrated hard and let all the water from the puddle get absorbed into his body until his head was bloated.

When the mutant got closer to him, he let out a stream of water from his mouth that pushed the mutant away. SpongeBob stared through the rain to see the mutant down on one knee. But out of concern, he ran up to him with his spatula in hand just in case.

“You can try and taint the krabby patty name,” SpongeBob declared, “But I’ll be here to stop you!”

Tilting his head towards the Masked Sponge, the mutant snarled, and SpongeBob jumped up with his spatula held in the air, prepared to strike. But his finishing move was interrupted by the mutant, who grabbed the Masked Sponge’s squishy face in his large hand and slammed it to the ground, pinning SpongeBob down. He would’ve screamed for help, but the mutant’s large palm over his mouth silenced him, so all he could do was think.

‘This is it I suppose.” SpongeBob narrated, ‘My first day back as the Masked Sponge is also my last.’

The mutant stares down at him menacingly as lightning strikes in the sky above him. ‘Just like Mermaid Man, I’m about to be killed in the line of duty!’

But just when SpongeBob thought it was all over, someone swung from the top of a building and kicked the mutant in the face, knocking him off of the Masked Sponge. He quickly sat back up, wondering who it was that rescued him.

“Sorry to barge in on your heroic battle, Masked Sponge.” A female voice with a southern accent said, “But you looked like you could use a little help.”

SpongeBob thought he recognized the voice, but had a hard time seeing in the dark rain as the person karate chops the mutant on the head and kicks him in the gut. This person was obviously a lot stronger than the Masked Sponge since his own physical attacks did nothing. Finally, the mutant was tied with a lasso that tightened around him until he let out a large belch and fell to the ground. With that, the mutant suddenly begins to shrink down, and the rope loosening around him as he turns back into a regular fish that lies on the wet ground unconscious.

Seeing the battle over, the Masked Sponge quickly got up and demanded to know who this new superhero was. “Hey, who are-”

It was now that the rain conveniently let up and he could now see the new hero clearly. His eyes widen and his cheeks turns red behind his cape collar to see it was a female squirrel in a blue jumpsuit with an ‘MS’ emblem in the middle just like his, but with a short red skirt, a red mask over her eyes just like him, a purple cape with a long collar just like his only a bit smaller, long black gloves, a black utility belt just like his, and an air helmet with a pink flower on top.

SpongeBob felt himself completely tongue-tied, but she spoke in the same voice that he thought he recognized, “Phew, that there nearly got messier than hoard of cattle.” She then grabbed his hand and shook it. “Howdy. You can just call me the Masked Squirrel. Pleasure to officially meet ya.”

Now the Masked Sponge was in complete shock, seeing the new superhero taking on a persona similar to his. “M-M-M-Masked Squirrel?” he asked, stuttering, as his cheeks turn a brighter shade of red. “I…I…”

She pays no mind to his awkwardness and just approaches the unconscious man and kneels down to pick up what looked like a crumb off the side of his lips. “Hmm…” she thought to herself. “This looks suspicious.”

“I…I…”

Before SpongeBob could attempt to form a sentence, the police boats suddenly surround them and an ambulance pulls up as well. The police approach the scene, and the female cop, Officer Nancy says, “Nice work, Masked Sponge.”

The Masked Sponge smiles until realizing she only greeted one superhero. He turns around to see the Masked Squirrel had suddenly vanished before the police surrounded them. Before he can look for her, he sees the confused fish being taken to the ambulance on a stretcher. “I don’t know what happened.” He said weakly, “I was just eating a krabby patty…and the next thing I know, I’m out here.”

SpongeBob backed away from the crowd as he covered his mouth in shock. “Oh no, no, no…” he stammered, trying not to fall over. Whether he was going to or not, he was suddenly pulled into an alley and pushed against the wall.

His eyes widen to see it was the Masked Squirrel holding his shoulders. “Listen here, Masked Sponge.” She said in a serious tone, “I heard about the incident that happened this mornin’ and I’m gonna conduct some research on it.” She held out the crumb from the mutant’s krabby patty and added, “I’ll find out if this really is the cause of the krabby patties.”

The Masked Sponge’s eyes brighten as he smiles widely. “You wanna help the Krusty Krab too?”

Rather than answer his question, the Masked Squirrel took out her rope. “Well, it was a pleasure doin’ business with ya.” She said in a friendly voice, “Sure hope we can meet up again soon.”

She runs over to a building and lassos the top so she can swing up from one building to another, a lot more graceful than the Masked Sponge was with a grappling hook. As she disappeared into the night, SpongeBob’s face turned red as he gains a longing look.

‘I couldn’t believe my eyes.’ SpongeBob narrated, ‘It was like I had entered a dream, only it wasn’t a dream. It was happening right now and I was awake and it only felt like a dream. Seeing her swoop away like that felt like seeing a freshly made krabby patty: a hot meat patty, shiny eyes like pickles, cheeks bright like tomatoes, lips red as the ketchup, she brought tears to my eyes like onions, and was all wrapped up between two warm fluffy buns.’ SpongeBob sighed with a dazed smile, ‘I wonder who she really is. I’ll definitely continue behind the Masked Sponge if I get to meet her again.’

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Chapter 5: The Mourning After

“This is Perch Perkins coming to you live with the news that officially marks the Masked Sponge’s return. He stopped a wave of crime last night and defeated another mutant that threatened to terrorize our city.”

The news then goes to the same gray female fish that the Masked Sponge rescued last night. “He was amazing!” she exclaimed with joy, “He swooped in and saved me!”

It cuts to another fish known as Nat Peterson. “I always knew he would return one day. Perfect timing now that all these monsters are showing up.”

The camera goes to a purple teenage female fish with blonde pigtails and braces, who excitedly explains, “I saw him take down that mutant guy. He had to be, like, twelve feet tall- the Masked Sponge, not the mutant. I think he pounded the mutant with his super strength too, and blasted him with his laser vision.”

It cuts to Bubble Bass, who scoffs, “The Masked Sponge? Please, you can barely call him a superhero. He’s way too cheerful. Everyone knows the best superheroes of today are dark and angsty. By the way, I’m running a charity called the “Help Me Move Out Of My Mother’s Basement Fund. If you wanna help with the cause, just send money to this address.”

It then cuts away from Bubble Bass and back to Perch Perkins. “Whether or not you saw him with your own eyes, you can bet the Masked Sponge will protect our city from this horrible mutant epidemic. Of course, traces of the outbreak have been leading to none other than the Krusty Krab. Can they be trusted? We’ve also had witnesses report of a second superhero known only as “The Masked Squirrel”. Could there be any relation to the Masked Sponge? The answer is: No, since one is a sponge and one is a squirrel.”

Not watching the news report on TV was SpongeBob, who was lying on the living room couch in nothing but his underwear, snoring loudly after a long night of crime fighting.

Suddenly, Gary slithers over and meows loud enough to wake him up, “Meow!”

“H-Huh?” SpongeBob spits as he jolts up. He notices his pet and smiles through his tired eyes. “Oh, Gary, it’s just you.”

“Meow,”

With a ditzy smile, SpongeBob answers, “Of course I was fighting crime and taking names.” He slurps up some drool that was dripping from his mouth and speaks clearly, “You should’ve seen me. I was on fire and so was the Masked Squirrel.” He sighs longingly as he recalls seeing her last night, “I wish I knew her true name…course I don’t know anyone named “Squirrel”.”

Frowning in disapproval, Gary responds, “Meow.”

“I have to, Gary.” SpongeBob clenches his fist in determination, “It defines who I am.”

“Meow, meow, meow.”

Crossing his arms and turning away, SpongeBob retorted, “Mermaid Man said that and he said it until the end.”

But being reminded of his late hero made SpongeBob tear up, and he notices his Mermaid Man action figure on the floor. He reaches for it and cuddles it as he starts to sob, “I think he would be proud of me.” He said softly, “Don’t you?”

His usual crying was interrupted by a knock at the door. He quickly put on a pair of pants and answered the front door to see his best friend, Patrick.

“SpongeBob!” Patrick said excitedly, “You won’t believe it. The Masked Sponge came back last night. He’s just as cool and handsome as I remember.”

Giggling in flattery, SpongeBob replied, “Oh, Patrick, I’m sure he would be very happy to hear you say that.”

“I also heard people saying there was another superhero last night: The Masked…Possum?”

SpongeBob corrected him, “The Masked Squirrel.” He gets a love-struck smile, “If only you saw her, Pat. She was as super as she is beautiful.”

“Yeah, good thing I woke up at 10am like I normally do or I would’ve missed the news.”

“10 AM?!” SpongeBob screamed, realizing he had overslept. “Shrimp, I’m late for work!”

He was about to rush past Patrick, but the starfish grabbed him and pulled him back. “Hold on, SpongeBob. Don’t think I don’t know the reason why you were up so late?”

“What?” SpongeBob asked, looking in more panic than before, believing Patrick finally realized he was the Masked Sponge.

“Yeah…you were still upset about Mermaid Man.”

As much as it hurt being reminded again of his late hero, SpongeBob still knew he was late for work. “Y-Yeah, but sorry, Patrick, I have to-”

But Patrick ignored him and put a comforting hand on his back. “It was truly a tragic loss and he surely lived a long and meaningful life…in comic form.”

“I know, Patrick, but I-”

“But with every life, there must come an end,” SpongeBob was about to speak up again, but Patrick rambled on, “Mermaid Man will still live forever in our hearts. But if you ever feel like you need to talk or cry, I’m here for you, buddy.”

Despite the fact that Patrick was eating up more of his time, SpongeBob felt touched by his words, “Aww, thanks, pal.” He showed his gratitude by hugging Patrick, until he remembered he still needed to get to work. “Tartar sauce, I gotta hurry up and go.”

He suddenly rushed right past Patrick, leaving the starfish concerned. “Poor thing, he’s now in the stage of denial.”

SpongeBob ran as fast as he could down the road to reach the Krusty Krab. He couldn’t believe that spending nearly a whole night crime fighting would cause him to be late for work. He couldn’t remember that ever happening the last time he was a superhero.

“SpongeBob!” he suddenly stopped when he was confronted by Sandy. “There you are, partner. I was just on my way to the Krusty Krab to see you.”

Jogging in place as he was desperate to not be any later than he already was, SpongeBob replied, “I’m on my way there too, Sandy, now if you can just-”

But Sandy was not about to let him walk away. “Hold your Texas hot sauce, SpongeBob. I’ve been doin’ some research on that mutant that appeared yesterday at the Krusty Krab, and so far, I’ve concluded that it wasn’t the cause of a krabby patty.”

Hearing this, SpongeBob stopped trying to rush. “Really?” he asked with his eyes brightening. “Oh, I knew it! No krabby patty would ever do something so horrible.”

“I’d still watch my grill if I were you, SpongeBob.” Sandy said in a suspicious voice as she whispered in SpongeBob’s ear. “Someone is obviously tryin’ to frame you, and we’re gonna need another someone to take charge around here.”

SpongeBob smirked and replied, “Oh, I hear ya.”

Both Sandy and SpongeBob exclaim in unison, “The Masked Squirrel/The Masked Sponge!” hearing what they both said at the exact same time, they both shout in unison, “What?!”

Suddenly, they both grew nervous and start walking away from each other. “I think I’ll be just…” Sandy said with a sheepish grin.

“Yeah, me too. I’m late for work anyway.” An equally embarrassed SpongeBob said as he went on his way.

Once he was alone, SpongeBob exhales in relief. “Man, that was close. Gotta watch what I say more carefully.” Then he sighs dreamily, “But that Masked Squirrel sure is divine. Wait…” he suddenly stops as he ponders to himself, “Sandy said she studied the krabby patty that mutant ate before he transformed, but that’s what the Masked Squirrel said she was doing last night. That can only mean one thing…” he smiles excitedly and concludes, “The Masked Squirrel and Sandy know each other! Oh, I wonder if Sandy can introduce me!”

But as SpongeBob made it uphill until he can see the Krusty Krab, he stopped in shock to see many police boats parked outside the restaurant and not a customer in sight. In slight fear, SpongeBob made his way past the police barricade and entered through the front doors to see the restaurant nearly empty save for two police officers across a table from Mr. Krabs and Squidward.

“What’s going on?” SpongeBob asked in concern.

Squidward just frowned at him and sarcastically replied, “Well, well, nice of you to show up, SpongeBob.”

With a confused look, SpongeBob approached the table and was pulled closer by Mr. Krabs, who nervously chuckled and advised, “SpongeBob, me boy, will you kindly tell the nice officers how there is nothing wrong with the Krusty Krab?”

Staring suspiciously at them, the male orange fish, Officer John Slugfish asks, “Are you the fry cook of this establishment?”

Looking intimidated like his employer, SpongeBob answered, “Yes, I am.”

The female purple blonde-haired fish, Officer Nancy O’Malley then stated, “Then you won’t mind telling us what exactly you put in this patty.”

She used her police baton to push a ziplock bag containing an unfinished krabby patty across the table. SpongeBob could recognize it as the one from last night that turned a hapless fish into a mutant.

SpongeBob was just stunned that he would be accused of tainting the krabby patty himself. “But…” he stammered, “I didn’t do anything.”

Mr. Krabs then whispered, “Come on, boy-o. Don’t say anything that could cost me money.”

“But I really didn’t do anything. I just made the krabby patty the same way I always do.”

“That’s a lie!” the Officer John wildly accused. “The last two mutations traced back here to the Krusty Krab, all stemming from your krabby patties made by him!”

SpongeBob had a look of terror on his face. Then Officer Nancy added, “If found guilty, this place will be shut down and krabby patties will be discontinued.”

Hearing this warning for the second time made SpongeBob shriek loudly, but even as he stopped, Mr. Krabs continued to shriek in the same high-pitched voice. “You can’t do that!” Mr. Krabs pleaded, “How else am I supposed to make me money?”

“How about behind bars?” the Officer Nancy asked.

Mr. Krabs seriously started to consider this. “Well, I suppose money is money…”

Not wanting to lose the Krusty Krab or have Mr. Krabs put in jail, SpongeBob shouted, “Wait! What if I made you a krabby patty right now? That way I can prove to you that the krabby patty is not the cause of all this.”

Although they didn’t like the idea, the officers narrowed their eyes at each other and the Officer John relents, “Fine.”

His partner sternly adds, “But we’re keeping an eye on you.”

SpongeBob grinned excitedly and rushed into the kitchen to make the finest krabby patty he can cook. ‘This is it.’ He narrated to himself. ‘This is my chance to save the Krusty Krab and prove everyone’s innocence. Best of all, I didn’t even need to wear a mask to do it. I can be a hero by just being me. Oh, Mermaid Man would definitely be proud.’

Not wanting to mess anything up, SpongeBob made sure to cook the patty at just the right temperature, cut up the right amount of vegetables, and used his freshest buns. With his skill, he finished it up in no time flat and the krabby patty looked absolutely perfect, he could kiss it, but now was not the time.

He soon emerged from the kitchen and put the krabby patty on the table between the employees and the police officers. SpongeBob proudly announced, “One krabby patty, hold the mutation.”

Officer John smiled as he looked at the patty. “It looks great.” But then, he scowled and aimed his baton at the three, “Which is why I’m sure one of you won’t mind eating it.”

Squidward’s, SpongeBob’s, and Mr. Krabs’s eyes widen in shock, but the latter grins and responds, “S-Sure, I can eat this. That’ll show ya we have nothin’ to do with the mutations.”

Mr. Krabs enthusiastically took the krabby patty and was about to take a bite of it until he paused with his eye widening in worry. The police officers stare, growing more suspicious.

Squidward asked. “Are you gonna eat it or what?”

“Come on, Mr. Krabs.” SpongeBob quietly urged.

But Mr. Krabs put the patty back down onto the plate and whispered to SpongeBob, “Lad, are you sure you didn’t put anything new in the patty?”

SpongeBob looked offended and whispered back, “What? Of course not. I made it the same way I always do.”

“Well?” the Officer Nancy asked impatiently.

“What’s the hold up?” Officer John asked as well.

“Nothing, officers.” Mr. Krabs sheepishly answered. He picked up the patty and held it towards the octopus. “Mr. Squidward, you try it.”

“What?!” Squidward asked angrily. “There’s no way I’m eating-”

But Mr. Krabs shoved the sandwich into his mouth and forced him to swallow it. Squidward cringed a bit, but noticed nothing was happening. “See?” Mr. Krabs said to the officers. “All this is just one big-”

However, Squidward suddenly doubled over and started groaning as he clutched his stomach. SpongeBob became concerned, “Squidward?” he asked in a worried voice.

Everyone backed away in fear as all of Squidward’s tentacles grew large, his teeth becoming outward and jagged, and his appearance becomes grotesque. Like the others before him who ate a krabby patty, Squidward was now a large hideous mutant who roared loudly and smashed the table into pieces, causing Mr. Krabs, SpongeBob, and the two police officers to scatter.

“Squidward!” SpongeBob called out, but the mutant formally known as Squidward smashed through the wall of the Krusty Krab and stomped off.

“Okay, I think we’ve seen enough.” Officer Nancy said as her partner took out a pair of handcuffs and arrested Mr. Krabs.

“But-but…” Mr. Krabs stammered, “There’s a perfectly good explanation for what just happened.”

“Tell it to the judge, burger tainter. You and your-” but he and his fellow officer notice SpongeBob no longer present. “Hey, where’d the other guy go?”

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Chapter 6: Octo-muty

On Conch Street, Patrick was sleeping against his rock when he heard loud footsteps approaching. He woke up and saw the mutated Squidward stomping down the street with a grumpy frown on his face.

Despite his appearance, Patrick gave him a giddy wave and greeted, “Hi Squidward!” but then, he gets a surprised look, “Wait a minute…have you been working out?”

Upon seeing him, the Mutant Squidward stomped towards Patrick and held out his tentacles as if intending to tear him apart.

Patrick just continued to lie there against his rock, not noticing the danger he was in. “Aww…” he said with a smile while standing. “Do you wanna hug?”

“STOP!” a familiar voice called out and they both look up and see SpongeBob as the Masked Sponge standing atop of Patrick’s rock in a heroic pose. He jumped off and flipped through the air landing between Patrick and the Mutant Squidward.

“Oh, my gosh…” Patrick said in hushed excitement. “It’s the Masked Sponge. Oh, why does SpongeBob have to be at work right now?”

Seeing the sponge, the Mutant Squidward becomes enraged and thrashes about wildly, possibly still remembering how much he hated SpongeBob.

But the Masked Sponge held his hands out and spoke in a calm voice, “Easy, Squidward, I don’t know how this happened, but if you just calm down and let me…”

The Mutant Squidward just swung his tentacle at the Masked Sponge, causing him to fly into the side of the former’s house. He began stomping towards him while Patrick watched in growing excitement, “Oh boy, a superhero fight…in my own front yard.”

SpongeBob opened his eyes and saw the mutant coming closer with drool dripping from his jagged mouth. He quickly reached into his utility belt and pulled out his bubble wand that he aimed at the mutant.

The mutant stopped for a moment while SpongeBob’s arm trembled, but tried to smile at his friend. “Come on, Squidward.” He whispered to prevent Patrick from hearing him, “It’s me, SpongeBob, your best friend, remember?”

But the mutant took a big chomp of the bubble wand, causing SpongeBob to shriek, “Eeek!”

This caused the mutant to burp out a few bubbles, but when the mutant was about to go for seconds on the Masked Sponge, the latter quickly slid between his four legs and stood behind him. SpongeBob jumped in the air and did a spin kick at the mutant’s back, but the soft blow did little damage, instead making the mutant angrier.

“Aww, shrimp.” SpongeBob groaned in dismay. He took a step backwards; avoiding the mutant’s flailing tentacles. SpongeBob then tried to reason with him again, “Squidward, please listen! I don’t wanna have to fight you! You’re not really evil!”

“Kick his butt, Masked Sponge!” Patrick cheered from afar. “He’s evil now!”

The Mutant Squidward grumbled like an animal as he turned to the superhero. Still, the Masked Sponge tried talking to him, “I can get you back to your good ‘ol friendly self, just let me help you.”

The mutant wrapped his right tentacle around SpongeBob and picked him up. The Masked Sponge smiled, believing he was finally getting through to the Squidward he knew. “Aww, I knew we were still friends.”

He held his arms out, expecting a hug, but the Mutant Squidward let out a mighty roar and hoisted the Masked Sponge into the air and spun him around by his cape, flailing the sponge onto the ground, left and right, repeating this action until the Masked Sponge was battered and bruised. “Squidward…” SpongeBob coughed.

Gripping the Masked Sponge in his right tentacle, the mutant held him out and charged towards Patrick’s rock. The starfish yelped and quickly ran out of the way and the starfish pounded the Masked Sponge into the rock so hard that it left a large crack.

Seeing the battle, Patrick stared in shock, “Oh, my gosh…the Masked Sponge was hit against my rock! I must be the luckiest guy in all of Bikini Bottom.”

SpongeBob slid on the ground, but despite the pain, he managed to get back up. “Can’t…let myself…be killed just like…Mermaid Man.”

“Booo!” Patrick shouted in dismay, “Too soon! You’re lucky my pal SpongeBob’s not here to hear that!”

“I am a superhero and I’m gonna win!” SpongeBob shouted boldly as he took out his trusty spatula and aimed it at the mutant. But just as he was about to strike, SpongeBob dropped the utensil and fell to his knees. “Oh, I just can’t!” he cried out, “Horrible mutant or not, you’re still one of my best friends! I just can’t fight you!”

Despite the sweet sentiment, the mutant just carelessly grabbed SpongeBob with his mouth and began trying to chomp his large teeth onto him while SpongeBob struggled to keep his jaw from closing. Patrick quickly covered his eyes and looked away. “I can’t watch.” He said with fear, but afterwards took a peek through his fingers. “But I wanna know what happens.”

‘Now I’m sure this is how it’s gonna end.’ SpongeBob frantically narrated while trying to keep the Mutant Squidward from biting down on him, ‘Eaten by the mutant that was once my best friend; and all cuz I couldn’t fight him! Mermaid Man died a hero and the Masked Sponge died a coward!’

Suddenly, the mutant was kicked in the face, forcing him to spit SpongeBob out. A saliva-covered Masked Sponge rolled onto the floor and got up to see the Masked Squirrel once again rescued him and was now picking up the mutant with her massive strength and slamming him to the ground. Despite the rescue, the Masked Sponge gasped horror, concerned for Squidward.

As the mutant lied on the ground in pain, the Masked Squirrel jumped into the air and stomped her feet onto the mutant, knocking the wind out of him and causing him to belch loudly.

The Masked Squirrel dusted her hands just as the mutant turns back into Squidward, who lied on the ground, writhing in pain. The Masked Sponge rushed over to him and kneeled down towards him in concern. “Squidward?” he worriedly asked, holding his head. “Squidward, are you okay?”

“Nice job, Masked Sponge.” Patrick congratulated. “You beat Squidward. Who’d have thought he’d turn into a supervillain?”

Just then, a bunch of sirens were heard from the police boats and ambulance that were heading towards Conch Street. The Masked Squirrel was about to head off until the Masked Sponge grabbed her by the wrist. “Hold it right there, Masked Mammal!” he ordered with an angry frown on his face.

“Howdy, Masked Sponge.” She said in a friendly voice. “You don’t have to thank me.”

“Thank you?!” SpongeBob asked in distress. “Look what you’ve done to that poor creature!”

He gestures to Squidward, who was still heavily injured while being put on a stretcher by paramedics. But SpongeBob continued to chew out the Masked Squirrel, “How could you? You’re supposed to be a superhero! How can you hurt someone as innocent as Squidward?”

“He was terrorizin’ the neighborhood.” She defended, “He was about to eat you like a piece of pecan pie. I couldn’t just let him roam free like that.”

Despite not liking that she knocked his friend out like he was a criminal, he had to admit she was right and she did save him from dying a heroic death. But then, he remembered something else that was important. “Oh, never mind that for now. You know Sandy Cheeks, right?”

The Masked Squirrel began to stammer nervously, “Uh, well, I…”

“Get this: she said the krabby patties weren’t tainted, but the one Squidward just ate turned him into that.”

Hearing this made the Masked Squirrel react in surprise, “What? But that’s impossible!”

SpongeBob grabbed the Masked Squirrel by her shoulders and pulled her close to quietly ask, “You’re studying the krabby patty from last night too, right? Tell me, did you get the same results?”

The Masked Squirrel pulled herself away and shrugged as she answered, “There was nothing wrong with the patty. It came out clean.”

SpongeBob became frantic as he pleaded, “You’re a superhero too, so you gotta help me. Help me stop this horrible epidemic, help me restore the good krabby patty name, work together with me- I mean, not like a date.” He suddenly became shy as he spoke, “But if you wanted to make it a super date, I…”

But the Masked Squirrel was not paying attention and was more confused over how he knew what Sandy had told SpongeBob, “Wait a minute, how did you know-”

Before she could ask, the same two cops that interrogated SpongeBob at the Krusty Krab walked up behind them. “Good work, you two.” The Officer Nancy congratulated. “You stopped that mutant and saved the day once again.”

“And don’t worry.” The Officer John assured, “We got Mr. Krabs behind bars. That fry cook is on the run right now, but we’ll get him next. There will be no more dangerous krabby patties after this.”

Hearing that his boss was in jail, his secret identity was a wanted criminal, and the krabby patties were now discontinued sent SpongeBob over the edge. He let out a large scream with tears flying out of his eyes, “WHAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!”

He then ran away in the most non-action way possible, causing everyone to stare at the superhero in confusion.

When he got as far away from his neighborhood as possible, the Masked Sponge ran down the street and hid behind a large boulder. He sniffled as a large tear ran down his face. “What kind of superhero am I? Not only did I fail to save Squidward and Mr. Krabs, I also failed to save the Krusty Krab. Now it’s too late.”

“It’s never too late, Masked Partner.”

SpongeBob yelped a bit as he jumped forward and turned around to see the Masked Squirrel standing on top of the boulder. She jumped down in the same action the Masked Sponge did earlier and landed in front of him, causing SpongeBob’s cheeks to go red.

“M-M-Masked Squirrel.” SpongeBob stammered nervously. “Listen, about what those cops said before. SpongeBob is a great fry cook, so I know for sure that he would never-”

But the Masked Squirrel covered his mouth, silencing him. “Don’t say another word, Masked Sponge. I think I got this all figured out. There’s something funny goin’ on at the Krusty Krab and I think someone is tryin’ to frame SpongeBob.”

“What?” the Masked Sponge muffled in shock, hearing his secret identity in jeopardy and the fact that what Sandy told him before was true.

She uncovered his mouth and informed him, “I’m gonna get to the bottom of this and I can really use your help.”

SpongeBob immediately grew a smile as his eyes grow big and bright. “Really?” he asks in a slow childish voice, “You want my help?” but then he looked concerned about what that would entail. “But can a superhero really be a detective as well? The whole thing just sounds ridiculous.”

“It’s the only way to fix this mess.” She smiles at him and says in an almost flirty voice, “I’ll be waitin’ for ya like a June bug on a picket fence in summer.” She gives him a friendly punch in the arm and dashes off.

SpongeBob rubs his right arm and becomes dazed as his mind fills with thoughts of the Masked Squirrel from all his interactions with her thus far. “I think I wet my pants.” He said with a ditzy smile.

His daydreaming was interrupted by a, “Meow!”

“Gary!” the Masked Sponge shouted in surprise, turning to see his pet snail suddenly behind him, “H-How long were you sitting there?”

The snail directed his eyestalks towards the pineapple house and the Masked Sponge peeks out from behind the rock to see some police officers bursting through his front door to search the place for the Krusty Krab’s fry cook.

SpongeBob picks up his snail and strokes his shell. “I’m sorry, Gary.” He said sadly, “When I donned this costume again, I never imagined I wouldn’t be able to take it off. If I do, I’ll just be put in jail like poor old Mr. Krabs for a crime I didn’t commit.”

“Meow,” Gary said with a frown.

He sighs sadly and remarks, “I just wanted to honor Mermaid Man. But just when I thought I could save everyone, I reached a dead end. The same one Mermaid Man probably hit before he….” He felt himself tearing up again as he wipes his right eye with the end of his cape. Gary decides to comfort him by rubbing his eyestalks against his owner’s face affectionately.

SpongeBob calms down and stands up. “Don’t worry, Gary. I’ll help everyone just like a superhero is supposed to do.”

“Meow,”

“You’re right. We are gonna need a place we can hideout for the time being.” He quickly thinks it over and says, “It’ll have to be with someone we can fully trust.”

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Chapter 7: A Dead End

“Good evening, Bikini Bottom.” News anchor, Perch Perkins announced from his news desk, “This is Perch Perkins coming to you live with news of a third mutant attack this week. Earlier today, local resident and cashier, Squidward Tentacles, was the victim of a contaminated krabby patty that mutated his body and caused him to go on a rampage. Thankfully, he was brought back to normal thanks to the combined efforts of the Masked Sponge and the Masked Squirrel. Squidward Tentacles is now resting uncomfortably at the Bikini Bottom Hospital, and with more than enough proof of the link between the mutations and krabby patties; Krusty Krab owner, Mr. Eugene Krabs, is now behind bars and is facing charges of harm to the public. However, Krusty Krab fry cook, SpongeBob SquarePants, fled during the chaos and has not yet been seen. Police are currently searching for the wanted fugitive, and the Krusty Krab remains closed. This could also spell the end for the famous krabby patty.”

Watching the news report in his home was Patrick Star, who quivered his lip at hearing the report. “No, no, NO! No more krabby patties?!” he cried out in panic. “What will I eat?! What will I live for?!”

Before he can start crying, he heard a knock at what he presumed to be his front door. Patrick got off the couch and lifted his rock up to see no one in sight, other than a few police officers staking out SpongeBob’s home.

“Hmmm…” Patrick pondered to himself. “I wonder when SpongeBob will get home so he can meet up with all those police officers.”

However, he was unaware that SpongeBob was peering from the top of his rock, dressed in his Masked Sponge uniform. Quietly, he slides off the top and slides down the bottom to sneak into Patrick’s home. Once the Masked Sponge was safely in Patrick’s living room, he started to tiptoe to a different room until he was greeted with, “Hi, Masked Sponge.”

SpongeBob winced when he turned to see Patrick had noticed him sneaking in. But Patrick quickly became star struck when he realized just who he was talking to. “Huh?!The Masked Sponge in MY home?”

“Heh eh eh eh.” SpongeBob nervously giggled, “That’s right, Patrick. It’s me, the Masked Sponge, apparently.”

‘I should be happy that my best friend sees me as a hero.’ SpongeBob narrated. ‘I was hoping I could sneak into Patrick’s house so I can change back into SpongeBob without him knowing. Then I could still be SpongeBob during the day with Patrick hiding me, and be the Masked Sponge at night while saving the Krusty Krab. But if I change back into SpongeBob now, he’ll figure out my identity and I’ll be in more trouble.’

“I’m glad you’re here, Masked Sponge.” Patrick said as he got close to the Masked Sponge. “There are no more krabby patties and my friend, SpongeBob, is missing.”

Not wanting his best friend to be upset, SpongeBob holds Patrick’s hands and assures him, “Oh, Patrick, SpongeBob’s not missing. He’s just laying low for a while until the heat’s off.”

“The heat is off cuz there’s no one making krabby patties anymore.”

“That’s why I’m here. I’m gonna find out who’s responsible for the mutations, clear the Krusty Krab’s name, and beat the guy responsible for this. Till then, I would like to request that I have the honor of staying in your home for the time being.”

Patrick was in stunned silence for a moment. “Wow…” he became excited and jumped up and down, “I’m gonna call everyone and tell them the Masked Sponge is staying at my house!”

He was about to head outside until SpongBob screamed; “NO!” once Patrick stopped, SpongeBob calmly explained, “You don’t need to do that, Patrick. Let’s just keep this between us.”

“Well, can we keep this between us and SpongeBob?” Patrick innocently asked. “I’d like to finally introduce you to him, but he ran away.”

“Don’t worry, Pat. SpongeBob will be back soon. But you can’t tell anyone that I’m staying here so keep this a secret between just the two of us,” Gary’s eyes pop out of his cape collar and the sponge adds, “…and Gary. I’m…watching him while SpongeBob is away. Pleeeease?”

Patrick was silent for a moment until he breaks out in joyful tears. “The Masked Sponge...staying with me? Dear Neptune, I can’t believe it. No one is gonna believe it.”

The starfish grabbed SpongeBob and held him in a tight hug. SpongeBob managed to choke out the words, “Remember to keep this a secret, buddy. You wouldn’t want bad guys coming in after us, right Patrick?”

Patrick suddenly understood and shook his head. “Oh, of course not, Masked Sponge. Especially after seeing how you beat up Squidward earlier just because he looked ugly.”

As much as SpongeBob loved Patrick, he hated being reminded of what happened earlier. “Uh, yeah…don’t want that again.”

“If only SpongeBob were here to see this.”

This comment only made SpongeBob sadder since he now knew that he could no longer go back to being his real self. “Yeah…” he sadly agreed, “If only he were.”

Gary just rolled his eyes at now having to live in hiding with his disguised owner and his ever oblivious best friend.

 

Soon, night fell in Bikini Bottom and a certain superhero decided to use it as a cover to confront his number one suspect: the only person in Bikini Bottom who would want to taint the good name of the Krusty Krab. In the shadows, the Masked Sponge dove behind the Chum Bucket and stood back against the wall. ‘So close yet so far.’ SpongeBob’s voice narrated, ‘Once I bust the criminal, I’ll have saved the day and still be ALIVE!’

“Shhh!” the Masked Sponge hushed, “I’m trying to be stealthy here.”

‘Sorry.’

The Masked Sponge reaches into his utility belt and takes out his grappling hook. He fires it at the top of the Chum Bucket and begins scaling up the side of the restaurant.

Inside the Chum Bucket, Plankton was showing charts to his computer wife, Karen. “So, with this plan, I’ll be sure to-”

He was cut off when the air vent popped off and the Masked Sponge dropped to the ground ungracefully on his face. But wanting to salvage a cool entrance, he springs to his feet and faces Plankton and Karen. With his hand held out, SpongeBob declared, “Not so fast, Plankton!”

While in complete shock, Plankton immediately recognized the superhero from his last encounter with him. “The Masked Sponge!” however, he quickly remembered that he knew exactly who the Masked Sponge was. “Well, well, SpongeBob. Haven’t seen you wear that silly costume in a long time.”

The titular superhero was unfazed by this, however, and declared, “Cut the small talk, Plankton. I know you have something to do with the krabby patty mutations.”

“Krabby patty what-tations?”

The computer monitor on the wall explained, “He means the mutations caused by the krabby patties. The news has spread all over town and the uproar has made krabby patties outlawed.”

“Oh yeah, that.” Plankton said in feign surprise. “Hearing that the Krusty Krab was shut down and that Krabs is rotting away in jail was the highlight of my day.”

“Don’t act so innocent, Plankton!” SpongeBob shouted as he pointed at Plankton. “You put something in the krabby patties that turned people into monsters, shut down the Krusty Krab, and got Mr. Krabs arrested!”

“As much as I would love to take credit for such splendid work, I’m afraid I had nothing to do with sabotaging the Krusty Krab this time around. But I am taking advantage of Krabs’s downfall by being the only open restaurant in town.”

“And yet you still have no customers.” Karen pointed out.

Plankton quietly snapped at her, “Shh, Karen, you’re making me look bad.”

Hearing that Plankton was not responsible this time around, SpongeBob reacted in surprise with his eyes widening and his hand trembling as he tried to point. “But if you didn’t do it, how did…”

“Oh, don’t act so innocent, you masked buffoon. I know the police are after you. Everyone believes you tainted the krabby patty formula and caused all those mutations.” Plankton pondered over this and accused, “Could this be the work of you preventing me from achieving my goal or you trying to achieve your goal of being a world famous superhero by giving yourself monsters to fight?”

SpongeBob gasped in shock, taken aback by this accusation. “That…that’s not true!” His eyes water as he begins to crying, “I just wanted to help everyone and honor Mermaid Man…” he begins to uncontrollably sob, “And now everyone hates the real me and I’ve lost everything!”

As SpongeBob loudly cries, Plankton grits his teeth in annoyance, and Karen sarcastically states, “A crying superhero. Just what the world needs.”

Plankton attempts to look sympathetic as he urges, “Come on, SpongeBob, dry those tears. Since you’re currently out of work…not to mention I know your secret identity…how would you like a job working for me at the Chum Bucket?” he turned around and picked up a sheet of paper. “I’ll just need you to sign this contract and-”

He was cut off by a creaking sound and turns to see the Masked Sponge attempting to make a sneaky exit out the front door. With a nervous chuckle, SpongeBob says, “Sorry…I thought we were done.” As he makes his way outside, he adds, “Sorry for the misunderstanding.”

After the Masked Sponge was gone, Plankton sighs in defeat and tosses the contract aside. “I hope he dies in the line of duty.”

 

In the city, the Masked Sponge was walking down the streets while he sulked at coming to another dead end.

 “The only bad guy in Bikini Bottom with a grudge and a motive against the Krusty Krab and he didn’t do anything.” SpongeBob complained to himself. “I wonder if the Masked Squirrel has found anything out. If only I knew where to find her.” He suddenly gets a dreamy smile on his face and says, “Just thinking about her makes me smile.”

He looked across the street to see Bubble Bass carrying a large box that was somewhat obstructing his view and caused him to trip on a crack in the sidewalk.

The Masked Sponge immediately sprang into action. “Saving now, romance later.”

Before Bubble Bass could fall face first on the concrete, his fall was stopped by the Masked Sponge who stood underneath him and used all his strength to push the heavy weight fish back onto his feet.

“There you are, good citizen.” SpongeBob said in a cheery tone.

“The Masked Sponge…” Bubble Bass said while rolling his eyes and added in a most insincere tone. “I suppose you want me to thank you for that little rescue.”

The sarcasm blind sponge just replied, “No need to thank me. All in a day’s work- or night’s work, ha ah ah ah.”

“I’ll thank you after you give me enough money to move out of my mother’s house so I can quit my lame job.”

“Gee, I’d love to help you out with that, but I got my own problems. Maybe the Masked Squirrel is having better luck than me.”

Suddenly, Bubble Bass took interest. “The Masked Squirrel? You mean the obvious suspect?”

SpongeBob smiled brightly as he asked, “You know where she is?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, of course not. I only know that she’s the one who’s obviously behind making krabby patties illegal.”

“What?” SpongeBob asked in shock before angrily demanding, “Don’t you go accusing her of anything!”

“Aren’t you supposed to be the superhero here? These mutations only started after she showed up, so it’s pretty clear that she’s behind it all and is trying to pin the blame on someone else.”

SpongeBob’s face went into shock, not wanting to believe that his fellow superhero and crush was the villain this time around. “No…it can’t be. I- I have to talk to her to know for sure.”

Bubble Bass smirks and mentions, “Hmm, something tells me you like this female superhero.”

This causes SpongeBob to blush in embarrassment, which he tries to hide by pulling his cape collar over his face. “Wha…well, I…I-I don’t…”

“It must hurt knowing that she might be responsible for such a crime and that she will never be into you.”

Still red in the cheeks, SpongeBob started to become depressed by his words, “It does hurt.”

“Good, use that.”

“Use what?”

“If the truth’s what you want, I know how you can get her sing.”

SpongeBob became love-struck again as he sighs longingly, “I’ll bet she has a melodious voice.”

“First off, stop doing that.” Bubble Bass demanded with an annoyed frown. “If you wanna get a girl to like you enough to want to tell you everything, act like you don’t care.”

This only made SpongeBob confused. “Don’t care?”

“You’re a superhero, so that gives you an advantage. You don’t have actual superpowers, so that’s drawback. But if there’s one thing that makes superheroes popular, it’s their brooding behavior.”

“Broo-ding?”

“You know, act aloof and serious. Girls dig guys with tortured souls who act all dark and gritty.”

“Really?” SpongeBob asked, excited at the idea of knowing how to get the Masked Squirrel to fall for him. But then, he looked unsure if someone like him can pull it off, “Well, I don’t know.”

Bubble Bass put an arm around SpongeBob. “Trust me, Masked Sponge. You’ll be doing everyone a favor. Showing off your dark and serious side will make you more popular with everyone, including the ladies. Plus it’s the brooding superheroes that are almost never killed off.”

He then picked up the large box and walked away, leaving the SpongeBob awestruck at this very helpful advice. Growing a smile across his face, SpongeBob says, “Popular and never killed off? Well, if brooding is what’ll help me find the Masked Squirrel and save the Krusty Krab, then brood I shall!”

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Chapter 8: SpongeBob MoodyPants

The next afternoon, the Masked Sponge woke up after getting a lost night’s worth of sleep. He soon told Patrick about his idea of getting the Masked Squirrel’s attention by pretending to be a serious brooding superhero. Patrick was all too happy with the idea of helping the Masked Sponge practice what he was gonna do.

 Despite not knowing how to be a serious superhero, the Masked Sponge decided to try it. “Okay, Patrick, how about this…” he clears his throat and puts on a grim expression with a deep voice to match, “My tormented life of battling crime makes me feel so much torment.” He then took a deep breath and exhaled while saying the word, “Brood.”

“Wow…that’s so deep, Masked Sponge.” Patrick complimented, “I just wanna reach over and give you a hug.”

“Thanks Patrick.” SpongeBob said with a smile, but looked unsure afterwards, “But maybe I should add a little more moodiness.”

“Too bad SpongeBob’s not here. He’s been kinda moody lately; he could give you a few pointers.” Suddenly, Patrick’s expression turned sad, “I guess he’s been so moody that he ran away. Now I’ll never see him again.”

SpongeBob looked guilty for lying to Patrick, seeing how much he missed his best friend, who was ironically standing right in front of him, “Oh, Patrick, I’m not- I mean, he’s not moody. Just because his favorite superhero died, he lost his job…” as he spoke, his expression became just as moody as he had been trying to be. “…his boss got arrested…he can’t go home anymore… he can’t be himself anymore…” suddenly, his voice grew deeper as his expression grew grim, “His life spiraled downward in a spiraling motion.”

“Awww, come here, buddy.” Patrick said with his arms held out.

Despite wanting to be dark and gritty, SpongeBob couldn’t help running into Patrick’s arms for comfort. Patrick notes, “Even though SpongeBob’s not here, I’m glad I have you here instead, Masked Sponge.”

SpongeBob steps back and notes, “Gee, you know what? Thinking about all the terrible stuff that’s happened to SpongeBob makes it easier for me to be dark and brooding.”

Patrick gets the idea and suggests, “Perfect. You can use that as your brooding fuel. Feed off of other people’s misery!”

“YEAH!” SpongeBob shouted in triumph, but realized he was being too enthusiastic and looked more serious, “I mean…yeah.” He said in a deeper voice, “I don’t care about this ‘SpongeBob’ guy, but he probably misses you too.”

Breaking character, SpongeBob and Patrick let out a giggle at the Masked Sponge’s new cold brooding demeanor. They then had more fun by saying the word, “Brood.”

 

Soon, SpongeBob decided to take his show on the road in hopes of meeting the Masked Squirrel again. He marches down the sidewalk with a pouty frown on his face to make himself look serious. Using the latest mishaps in his life as fuel, he lets out a depressed sigh while saying the word, “Brood…”

Around the corner, he sees a guy in a ski mask trying to steal a boat. Once the guy manages to break in, the Masked Sponge jumps on the hood and stands there silently with his hands on his square hips. Seeing the superhero makes the boat jacker scream in terror, “The Masked Sponge!”

SpongeBob opens the door and pulls the guy out of the boatmobile and tosses him onto the hood of a nearby police car. He then sighs out the word, “Brood…” and speaks in an icy deep voice, “You see only the turmoil that is filling my heart brought upon by the turmoil that fills my heart.”

Officer John salutes while saying, “Thanks for your help, Masked Sponge.” He then holds out a Wanted Poster of SpongeBob SquarePants. “By the way, have you seen this dangerous fry cook anywhere?”

He was briefly surprised to see that the police were still looking for him on the account that he was believed to have created the mutating krabby patties, but SpongeBob quickly composed himself and spoke in his gritty voice, “I look not for all I see are dark souls wandering the streets that I will have to fight because their souls are dark.”

He takes off without a word as the confused officer stares at him. Some people were watching the heroic action, all of whom were impressed by the Masked Sponge’s cool demeanor. One woman sighs and swoons, “I never noticed how troubled the Masked Sponge is. I just wanna hold him.”

 

From out of a movie theater, a fish couple was walking together until a mugger jumps out of an alley and aims a gun at them. They scream in terror until a jellyfish net swings over the mugger and pulls him back into the alley. The sounds of karate chops were heard until the Masked Sponge comes out of the alley with an emotionless frown as he dusts himself off.

Smiling gratefully, the husband says, “Thank you, Masked Sponge.”

“How can we repay you?” the wife asks.

Keeping his back turned to them; SpongeBob sighs the word, “Brood…” again and says in a deep voice, “Fighting an endless battle that goes on endlessly and never stops is all the payment I deserve.”

The wife suddenly tears up and calls out to him, “You poor thing, let me comfort you.”

“I don’t do comforts, ma’am, nor do I deserve them.” SpongeBob dryly says while brushing his cape back and once again sighs the word, “Brood…”

 

Walking through a small neighborhood was the purple teenage squid, Squidina, who is suddenly approached by a vicious worm, who growls and barks, mistaking her for a trespasser. She screams in fear until the Masked Sponge jumps between them and waves a stick at the worm, making him pant in excitement until the Masked Sponge throws the stick and he chases after it.

Squidina smiles in joy and says, “Thanks Masked Sponge. I think you’re so cool.”

SpongeBob poses dramatically, leaning backwards so he stares at the sky, and responds in a deep voice, “I’m about as cool as the ice that fills my heart with the loneliness from my friendless and lonely existence.”

She gasps in shock and utters, “You’re so cool and tortured.” She then shouts in excitement, “I wanna change you!”

“‘Change’…” SpongeBob lamented while retaining his deep voice, “Change is for parking meters.”

SpongeBob walks away with an uncaring frown, but once he is alone, he stands biting his lower lip in excitement, thinking to himself, ‘I can’t believe Bubble Bass was right. Being a brooding serious superhero does make girls wanna like you, which means the Masked Squirrel will like me too. But where is she? I’ve been fighting crime all night and she hasn’t shown up once.’

“Help! Help!”

Hearing the voices, SpongeBob puts his serious face back on and rushes into action towards the edge of town, finding two young boys, one small, light blue, with red shorts and the other thin, orange, with green shorts. SpongeBob clears his throat and speaks in his deep voice, “I may sound like I don’t care, but I would like to know what the problem is.”

The smaller boy explains, “Our kite is stuck in a tree.”

“While I wonder why two kids would be flying a kite at night, it doesn’t stop this vicious wave of crime that washes over us like a wave of water that is actually crime.”

Unlike the female fans of the Masked Sponge, the two boys glare at him as the shorter one of the two snaps at him, “Dude, can you just get our kite down for us?”

“Brood…” SpongeBob grumbles as he climbs up the tree up towards the branch where the kite was stuck in. As he lies on the branch, he untangles the string until said branch can no longer support his weight and it snaps off with him on it, making him plummet to the ground. Despite his injury, he still saved the day and held out the kite.

“Thanks, Masked Sponge.” The taller boy said gratefully, taking the kite back.

SpongeBob then asked in his normal voice, “Say, you haven’t seen the Masked Squirrel, have you?”

The boys stayed silent and glanced at each other, obviously not having the answer he wanted. This made the Masked Sponge become emotional, breaking out of his gritty character. “Oh, first I lost my idol, then my job, and now I lost my future partner in crime fighting and love.” He bursts into tears and ran away, wailing, “Brooo-hoo hoo hoood!”

Once he was gone, the smaller boy asked his friend, “Who would win in a fight between the Masked Sponge and Mermaid Man?”

“At this point, I think Mermaid Man can beat him from beyond the grave.”

 

SpongeBob decides to call it a night by sitting on the side of a bridge that led out of Bikini Bottom, and sulking over the thought that he had failed to meet the Masked Squirrel again.

“Well, I guess I’ll have no trouble brooding now.” SpongeBob said to himself, and then speaks in his deep gritty voice, “My soul is now darker than a dark place that never has any light shining in the dark.” he cracks a smile and looks proud, “Oooh, I am getting good at this.”

“Howdy, Masked Sponge.” A familiar southern voice greets him.

Instantly recognizing the voice, he quickly (and literally) wipes the smile from his face to show a dark frown. He spins himself around the side of the bridge with one leg over the other and his arms folded. He sees not the Masked Squirrel, but Sandy Cheeks.

While disappointed at meeting the wrong squirrel, he still greeted his friend with his new tough exterior, “Sandy…good to see you.”

“Well, shee-oot, Masked Sponge. I’ve been all over this ding-dang town lookin’ for you.”

He continues to speak in his gruff voice while keeping his expression emotionless, “You found what you were looking for, but I’ll never find what I’m always looking for…which is something I’ll never find.”

Sandy did not understand his strange response, but did not bother to question it. “O…kay.” She said, raising an eyebrow. “Listen, Masked Sponge, I really need your help. It’s my buddy, SpongeBob.”

While he was concerned about Sandy asking about his secret identity, SpongeBob decided to test out his new brooding behavior by not caring to see if such an act would get a girl to like him enough to tell him everything he wanted to know.

“Never heard of him.” SpongeBob responded coldly.

“What?” Sandy asked in surprise since SpongeBob or the Masked Sponge usually expressed knowledge of each other, which Sandy usually assumed was a sponge thing. “But you have to know him. He’s the fry cook of the Krusty Krab, and ever since the place shut down, he’s been missin’. I haven’t been able to find him, so I thought you can help.”

“Forget about him, Sandy.” SpongeBob said jumping to his feet and turning his back to her as he continued to speak dramatically, “The SpongeBob you know may never come back and I don’t care if he does.” He places one foot on the railing and makes an angsty pose with one hand draped over his forehead, “I’m here now and I’ll never know if peace will arrive because I’ll always be fighting the long hard battles while I never care about caring.”

Despite how proud of himself SpongeBob was, Sandy was not proud at all and eyed the Masked Sponge suspiciously, “So…you know that SpongeBob is gone for good?”

SpongeBob turned around and answered, “As sure as I am sure.” He then speaks in his normal voice, “By the way, if you see the Masked Squirrel, can you tell her I’d like to see her?”

“Oh, sure.” Sandy tensely answered as she backed away, glaring at the Masked Sponge. “I’ll be sure to let her know.”

“Thanks, ma’am.” SpongeBob calmly answered and turned around to make an excited grin, gripping the bridge railing tightly. “I did it.” He whispered loudly, “My new uncaring troubled outlook convinced Sandy to help me meet the Masked Squirrel. Oh, I wonder when she’ll get here.”

 

However, Sandy was now hiding under the bridge, fuming at the Masked Sponge, realizing what he has really done. “So that masked varmint’s responsible for SpongeBob disappearin’, huh? Well, I’ll set that critter straight and show him what a real superhero is about.” She began unzipping her suit, revealing a familiar “MS” symbol on her chest.

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Chapter 9: Love and Warfare

While leaning on the side of the bridge just outside Bikini Bottom, the Masked Sponge had been around town, helping various people, hoping for the Masked Squirrel to show up, but had no luck. After waiting a while, SpongeBob sighs (minus the “brood”) in disappointment and decided to call it a night.

“I guess the Masked Squirrel only shows up when mutants attack.” He said in a depressed tone. “Too bad the Krusty Krab is closed.”

He was about to walk back to Patrick’s house until he heard a voice, “Not so fast, ya masked sponge.”

He initially thought it was Sandy again, but he looks up to see the Masked Squirrel standing on top of the bridge, her cape blowing in the wind and looking down at him with a furious scowl. SpongeBob’s face immediately brightens up. “The Masked Squirrel!” he shouted in a high-pitched voice, but immediately clears his throat and remembers his brooding training. “The Masked Squirrel…” he said in a gruff voice. “You’re here…not that I care.”

“All this time I never thought that the felon I’d been lookin’ for was actually you.”

“Me?” SpongeBob asked with glowing eyes and a smile. “You were looking for me? I mean…” he speaks in his gruff voice, “You must know something about the tainted krabby patties. You’ve been around as long as they have.”

“Oh, I do know about the tainted krabby patties.” The Masked Squirrel tensely answered as she discreetly took out her rope. “Just like you know where SpongeBob is hidin’.”

SpongeBob was surprised to hear another squirrel ask about the location of his secret identity. But remembering how his new serious attitude made Sandy drop the question, he decided to employ it again. “I’m too much of a tough crime-fighting vigilante to care.” SpongeBob answered, trying to look tough and serious. “It’s the only way I can sleep at night when I have so much of a burden on my shoulders- which is why I don’t sleep at night.”

However, he suddenly hears the Masked Squirrel scream in fury and swing down from the top of the bridge with her rope. She swings towards SpongeBob and kicks him off the side of the bridge. He rolls underneath the bridge that was littered with garbage and crowded with bums who were staying warm with garbage cans lit with fire.

SpongeBob sat back up, feeling dizzy and confused as to why the Masked Squirrel suddenly attacked him. “What happened?” he asked himself, “Was I not serious or brooding enough?”

The Masked Squirrel jumps down in front of him and grabs the Masked Sponge by his sides in both her fists. SpongeBob blushes and sheepishly giggles. “Is this how superheroes express their feelings?”

She just tosses SpongeBob across the way; the bums running away in fear from the two fighting superheroes. SpongeBob sat up and stared at his superhero crush advancing towards him, and it soon becomes clear to him that she was not looking at him with love or admiration, but with killing intent.

“M-M-Masked Squirrel?” he stammered as he shivered on the ground. “Is…something wrong? Am I coming on too strongly? Is this because I don’t have actual superpowers?”

The squirrel slowly advances towards him and states, “You may have everyone else fooled, but I know my pal, SpongeBob, only disappeared after you showed up.”

“You’re pals with me?” he asked with a hopeful gleam until realizing he was about to give himself away, “I mean, SpongeBob?”

“That could only mean one thing: You sabotaged the krabby patties and pinned the blame on SpongeBob just to get rid of him and make room for you.” She kicks a flaming trash can at the Masked Sponge, who quickly avoids it by sliding underneath on his knees.

“What?!” SpongeBob questioned, shocked by his accusation. “But I love krabby patties…and SpongeBob!” he grins while adding, “He’s a terrific fry cook!”

“THEN WHERE IS HE?!” she yelled as she jumped toward the Masked Sponge and swung a karate chop at him that he quickly ducks to avoid.

“Uhh…” SpongeBob stammered again while trying to avoid the squirrel’s kicks and punches. “I…I can’t tell you!”

The Masked Squirrel spun around and swiped at SpongeBob with her tail, knocking him onto the ground. “That only proves you’re keepin’ him somewhere!” the Masked Squirrel screamed angrily.

SpongeBob became scared as he crawled backwards on the ground. However, he suddenly gets an idea and spins on the ground, swinging his feet around and kicking the Masked Squirrel away from him, and causing her to land face first in a pile of green goo, smearing her helmet and blinding her.

As she tries to wipe it off, SpongeBob uses the opportunity to escape. “I’m sorry.” He quickly says before running away.

 

SpongeBob ran as fast as he could through the city to get as far away from the Masked Squirrel as possible. He did not want to fight her, nor did he believe superheroes should fight each other. He decided to duck into a dark alley, hoping she would not find him.

Breathing heavily, he backed further into the alley, keeping his guard up. “How could she think I had something to do with the krabby patties?”

As he backed up, he suddenly bumped into something- or someone, who glared down at him with her hands akimbo. He quickly spun around and realized it was the Masked Squirrel.

“Hi…” SpongeBob nervously greeted with a grin. “Uh, listen, all this is just a misunderstanding. Maybe we can still team up or go on a date, yes?” his smile disappears to a look of fear. “…No?”

Still glaring at him, she spoke in a furious tone, “I always thought of you as a hero, but hearin’ you not care about poor SpongeBob after he lost his job and became a wanted man like some kinda Texas criminal? What kind of hero does that make you? Course it doesn’t make you one; that only makes you the one behind SpongeBob’s disappearance.”

SpongeBob couldn’t believe it. He only pretended not to care in order to impress her. Instead, he sent out the wrong message and made himself look like the bad guy behind losing his beloved job. SpongeBob felt like crying, but being at the beautiful Masked Squirrel’s mercy made him freeze up.

She threw a punch at him, knocking him into a wall. SpongeBob slowly got back on his feet with a black left eye. The Masked Squirrel approached him with her fist held up and once again asked, “Now, where’s SpongeBob?”

Without answering, SpongeBob reached into his belt and pulled out his grappling hook. Firing it up in the air until it hooks onto the roof of the building behind him and pulls him upwards; avoiding another punch from the Masked Squirrel whose fist end up denting the wall instead.

SpongeBob looks down below to see the Masked Squirrel still on the ground, staring up at him, and he takes a sigh of relief when it looks like he finally lost her.

“Phew,” he says, wiping his forehead. “Glad that’s over.”

Suddenly, a rope lassos onto the smokestack, making SpongeBob shriek as the Masked Squirrel climbs her way up the wall to follow him.

“Would it help if I said “I’m sorry”?” SpongeBob timidly begged, but the Masked Squirrel said nothing. “Oh, well.”

He quickly took out a bottle of bubble soap and blew a large bubble that he immediately jumped into just as the Masked Squirrel made it onto the roof and he runs in place so the bubble will float away.

Once he thought he was far enough, SpongeBob sat down as he floats above the city in the bubble. “How ironic.” He groaned, “I spent all night trying to find the Masked Squirrel, and now that I have, I wanna get as far away from her as possible. Well, at least she can’t get me all the way up here.”

But his eyes widen when he hears something behind him. He turns around and sees the Masked Squirrel flying right next to him, swinging her lasso like a helicopter that made her hover in the air.

“Tartar sauce.” SpongeBob never knew squirrels could fly and he certainly didn’t expect her to take out a gun. Horrified, he flinched just as she pulled the trigger and it released an acorn that hit the bubble, popping it, and making the Masked Sponge fall towards the ground.

Screaming, he fell through the wooden roof of a building and landed on the hardwood floor. Once SpongeBob sat up, he recognized the place as the Krusty Krab, dark and abandoned. It usually looked that way after closing, but now it gave SpongeBob a cold empty feeling. As he stood in the middle of the restaurant, he fell on his knees in a depressive state. “It definitely won’t help if I say “I’m sorry” now. I failed you, Krusty Krab. Not only that, I’m gonna die right now as a failure and not a superhero; and not at the hands of a villain, but at the hands of a-”

Before he could finish, the doors burst open from the Masked Squirrel’s kick and she storms into the restaurant. “Ya can’t hide, Masked Sponge!” she shouts at him, pounding her fist into her hand. “I want some answers right now!”

“I told you!” SpongeBob pleaded, “I can’t tell you where SpongeBob is!”

“Wrong answer, bucko!” she swings her lasso and hogties him, pulling the rope tighter around his body until he almost couldn’t breathe.

SpongeBob quickly reaches into his utility belt and pulls out his trusty spatula, using it to cut the rope off of him. Once he could breathe again, he tries speaking to her again, “Listen, I don’t wanna fight.”

An annoyed Masked Squirrel tosses her torn rope aside and charges at the Masked Sponge, leaping through the air and tackling SpongeBob into the kitchen.

She lands on top of him and pins him to the ground. While SpongeBob laid at her mercy, he spots a pile of forgotten krabby patties sitting on the counter. He finally decides he’s had enough and uses both legs to kick the squirrel off of him, pushing her back against the grill.

The Masked Squirrel sits up and looks to see the Masked Sponge stand on his feet and yell, “I DON’T WANNA FIGHT!” his eyes tear up and quietly repeats, “I don’t wanna fight anymore.”

Seeing the Masked Sponge become so emotional, the Masked Squirrel finally stops attacking him and just sits there against the grill, watching him approach the counter with the krabby patties on it.

“I became a hero again just so I can honor the late Mermaid Man’s name and help save the krabby patties.” SpongeBob sadly explained as he picked up a kabby patty from the top of the pile. “But I couldn’t even do any of that. I couldn’t even tell you how I really feel, so I pretended to be someone I’m not.” He holds up the krabby patty and concludes, “Well, if I’m gonna go out, I’m gonna go out eating the thing I love.”

Realizing what he was about to do, the Masked Squirrel panicked and quickly got up to stop her fight against the Masked Sponge from turning into a fight against another mutant.

SpongeBob leaned the krabby patty towards his mouth while the Masked Squirrel rushed towards him, yelling, “DON’T!”

Right when he was about to take a bite, the Masked Squirrel collided into him, causing all the ingredients on the krabby patty to come apart and scatter, and both heroes to fall on the ground. As SpongeBob lies on his back with his mouth wide open, he sees the patty falling towards him and it makes a perfect landing right into his mouth, and his first instinct is to chew.

“NO!” the Masked Squirrel cries out, crouched on the ground, reaching out to the Masked Sponge, who would turn into a horrible mutant at any moment.

SpongeBob sits up and swallows the krabby patty, and after a moment, his body starts shaking and his face scrunches up as if about to transform. But to the Masked Squirrel’s surprise, a gleaming smile spreads across his face and he cheerfully says, “That was delicious!”

“Wait a minute…” the Masked Squirrel says as she stands up. “You just ate a krabby patty. How come you ain’t mutated?”

“Hmmm…” SpongeBob wonders as he stands up and feels his body. “I don’t feel any different.” He looks at the stack of other krabby patties and examines them. “Maybe these ones aren’t contaminated.”

He grabs another one and was about to take a bite of it until the Masked Squirrel stops him. “Wait a second.”

She takes a pair of high-tech goggles from her utility belt and puts them on, examining the stack of krabby patties. “Just as I thought. These have some sort of substance in them that’s causin’ mutation.”

“What?” SpongeBob asked in shock. “But how? The one I ate was just like these.” He looks down to see the buns and condiments scattered on the floor. “Or at least it was.”

Sandy turns and looks down at the fallen ingredients and suddenly gasps when her goggles pick up something. “Holy tarnation.” She bends down and picks up the top and bottom buns off the floor. “That mutagen substance. I’m picking up traces of it in these buns.”

SpongeBob’s eyes widen and his jaw lowers, “Whaaaat?”

Sandy picks off a few buns from krabby patties on the counter. “I’m picking up the same readings in these buns. However, the krabby patty itself is comin’ out clean.”

“Clean…” SpongeBob repeated as he starts to realize what’s going on. “That’s why Sandy said the krabby patty wasn’t tainted before. It wasn’t the krabby patty that was mutating people, it was the buns!” he grabs a krabby patty off the counter and looks at it lovingly. “Oooh, I knew you were innocent the whole time. Your outside might be tainted, but your inside is still as pure as ever.”

The Masked Squirrel took off her goggles and pondered, “But it still doesn’t explain why the buns are contaminated.”

“I don’t know.” SpongeBob responded, looking determined as he put the krabby patty in his utility belt. “But I’m gonna find out by going to the source. I don’t know where that is, but I’m gonna find that out too. The Masked Sponge is back on the-”

Suddenly, the Masked Squirrel grabs him by the front of his cape and pounds him against the wall. “Just a cotton-pickin’ minute there, masked man!” she threatened, keeping him pinned against the surface, “You still haven’t told me where SpongeBob is! Since this isn’t the work of the krabby patty, he needs to know the truth.” 

“I-I-I…” SpongeBob nervously stammered before weakly reassuring, “…I’ll tell him. Don’t you worry; I’m sure he’ll be relieved to hear the news.”

“I ain’t buyin’ that with a gold nugget.” She threatened again, “You may not be behind the taintin’ of the krabby patty, but you still have somethin’ to do with SpongeBob disappearin’ like a mirage in the desert.”

As he was pinned against her mercy, he noticed a mayonnaise dispenser on the counter next to them. He quickly reached over for it and gave it a tight squeeze, squirting mayonnaise on the front of her uniform and causing her to let him go and back away.

“Eww, gross!” she groaned since she was never fond of mayonnaise.

Rather than take the opportunity to escape, SpongeBob came over to her and said, “The only thing I really can say is “I’m sorry”.” Suddenly, he grabbed her shoulders and pulled her down towards his height to kiss her. If he was aiming for her lips or cheek, it was unclear since she was wearing a glass helmet; and all the Masked Squirrel could do is stare in shock at seeing his lips pressed against the front of her helmet.

Afterwards, he slyly smiled at her and spoke in his brooding voice, “My love for you is as loving for you as the love I have for anything I’ve ever loved.”

SpongeBob then ran out of the kitchen, leaving the Masked Squirrel to look more annoyed than anything, whether it was because of the mayonnaise on her uniform or the Masked Sponge attempting to kiss her was unknown.

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Chapter 10: The Final Destination

On Conch Street during the hours of midnight, Squidward was just about to go to bed after spending most of the day finally leaving the hospital and getting back to his normal life despite still recovering from his injuries he sustained from mutating and being beaten up by superheroes. His left arm is in a sling, and a bandage is wrapped around his head. Before he could get changed into a night shirt, he heard a knock at the front door.

With a grumble, he marched downstairs, wondering who it could be at this late hour. When he opened the door, to his surprise, there was no one there. He poked his head out and glanced back and forth, but didn’t see anyone around.

Finally, he slammed the door shut and thought, “Probably one of Patrick’s pranks. Figures he’d be bored with SpongeBob rotting away in jail.”

But suddenly, he heard a crashing sound coming from his living room and he turns his head to see the Masked Sponge clumsily sneaking in through his window, knocking down some of his fragile ornaments off the book shelf. When he notices Squidward staring at him, SpongeBob froze in place and gives a sheepish grin as he greets, “Hi.”

Rather than yell, Squidward’s face scrunches up in fury as he sees the superhero that he recognizes as his neighbor and (as far as he knew) the person who put him in the hospital. “You…” he snarled through his teeth.

However, SpongeBob fails to notices his seething anger and begins to approach him. “Oh, Squidward, thank Neptune you’re alright. I was so worried.”

“Stay away from me!” Squidward demanded as he backed away from the sponge, flinching.

SpongeBob became concerned as he tried to reach out to him. “Squidward, I…”

“You did this to me!” Squidward shouted, pointing at the Masked Sponge. “First you poison me, and then you mangle me!”

“But I didn’t do it, Squidward. Neither did the krabby patty.” SpongeBob assures as he pulls the sandwich from his utility belt.

This causes Squidward to scream and fall on the ground, backing away into a corner like a frightened animal. “Get that away from me!” he reaches for a nearby table and grabs a conch phone. “I’m calling the police.”

“NO!” SpongeBob screams as he jumps forward and begins to try and wrestle the phone from Squidward. “You can’t do this, Squidward! If you do, I’ll be the one arrested!”

“That’s the point! You made those krabby patties that turned me into a hideous monster and horribly injured me!”

“That’s not true!” SpongeBob cried as he began pressing his foot against Squidward’s face, trying to pry the phone from his one tentacle. “It’s the buns that are tainted, not the patty!”

The krabby patty SpongeBob was carrying drops on the floor between them, and just seeing the sandwich made Squidward scream and recoil, letting go of the phone and causing SpongeBob to fly backwards across the room.

SpongeBob sat up and saw Squidward stand and kick the patty across the room. “Squidward, wait!” he tossed the phone over his shoulder and ran over to the krabby patty, gathering all the pieces and hastily putting it back together. “The patty is innocent, see?” he pulls the patty part out and takes a small bite of it, showing Squidward that he was not mutating.

Squidward just stared, his anxiety calming down. SpongeBob placed the patty between all the ingredients and put it back in his belt. “I just found out that the buns are the culprit here and they’ve been the ones hurting people.”

After a beat of silence, Squidward bluntly stated, “I’m still calling the cops.”

SpongeBob began to panic again as Squidward heads for the front door. But just as he began to open it, SpongeBob jumped over and wrapped his body around Squidward. “Please, no, Squidward!” he cried and pleaded, “I’ve been trying so hard to solve this crime and I need your help to find the culprit behind the culprit.”

An angered Squidward asked, “And why would you possibly need my help?” he tries to push SpongeBob off of him. “I’m a victim of this whole thing, remember?”

SpongeBob raises his sobbing masked face up at Squidward, “Because there’s someone tainting the Krusty Krab’s buns and framing the krabby patty for it. As a superhero, I’m the only who can stop them. But I need to know where the Krusty Krab gets its buns. I can’t ask Mr. Krabs while he’s in jail.”

“Where do you think we get them?” Squidward asks in annoyance. “We get them delivered from Fine Fresh Bakery.”

SpongeBob’s face pops as he repeats, “Fine Fresh Bakery?” he then leaps off of Squidward and triumphantly declares, “That’s it! I’ll head over there and find out what’s going on!”

“It’s closed, you know.”

“All the more reason for me to head over there right now.” He then stops and asks Squidward, “You think you can give me a ride?”

“Are those tights cutting off circulation to your brain?” Squidward angrily responds, “I want nothing more to do with your superhero fantasy.”

This makes SpongeBob’s determination turn into sadness as he hunches over and speaks in a low voice, “Alright, Squidward, I understand. After all, I wouldn’t want you to get hurt again.”

Squidward crosses his arms and tries to ignore SpongeBob while the latter continues moping. “This is what they call “the final battle” and I could end up dying a heroic death- just like Mermaid Man.” Suddenly, Squidward turns his attention to SpongeBob as the sponge starts walking towards the front door. “Well, thanks anyway, Squidward. I’ll just…”

He was cut off when Squidward shut the front door. “You know what, SpongeBob? It’s such a long walk and it’s already so late. Why don’t I just take you there in my boatmobile?”

SpongeBob grins and asks, “Really?”

“Crime waits for no one.” A chipper Squidward said as he grabbed his keys and SpongeBob excitedly follows him out.

 

After about a half hour, Squidward pulled his boatmobile up to the Fine Fresh Bakery that appeared empty due to it being the middle of the night. Knowing he has a job to do as the Masked Sponge, SpongeBob gets out and shuts the passenger door. “Thanks Squidward. I knew I could count on you.”

“Think nothing of it, Masked Sponge.” Squidward says with a grin before turning it upside-down and grumbling, “Really.”

Smiling, SpongeBob mentions, “You know…that sidekick position is still open.” With that, Squidward steps on the gas and drives off. But SpongeBob just waves and calls out, “Thanks again!”

Taking a deep breath, SpongeBob marches forward and goes over to the front doors. He tries to pull it open, but notices it’s locked.

“Tartar sauce.” He mutters in dismay. “How am I gonna get in?”

As he pondered, his eyes glance upward and he notices a nearby window that had been left open. Grinning with an idea, he used his grappling hook to pull himself high enough to reach the window. Then he swings himself through, which may have been a bad idea since he ended up plummeting down inside. But when he thought he would land on something hard and painful, he ended up hitting a soft pile of flour sacks, which made him cough, but allowed him to get on his feet.

Right when he gets his senses back, his eyes widen when he sees the inside of the factory that is full of heavy machinery that pressed dough, shaped it into burger buns along a conveyer belt, moved it into large ovens, and cooked it. SpongeBob took a whiff of the air and smelled something so sweet that it reminded him of being in his grandma’s kitchen right after she baked a loaf of bread. “So this is where our buns are made.” His eyes sparkle as he adds, “It’s more magical than I thought it would be.” However, his smile drops as he wonders, “But how in the name of Davy Jones’s locker can something so wonderful be producing something so dangerous?”

Then it hit him: all these machines were running and there were no workers in sight. He frowned with determination and began going upstairs to a catwalk. “There has to be more to it than this.”

As he walked across the catwalk, he looked over the edge to see a large vat of dough being kneaded by a large machine. “I wonder if it has anything to do with this.” He pondered, leaning against the railing.

“Can I help you with something?”

SpongeBob eyes widen in surprise and he turned around to see a familiar overweight fish wearing a white jumpsuit and yellow hard hat. “Bubble Bass!” he cried out. “What are you doing here?”

“Isn’t it obvious, Masked Sponge?” Bubble Bass asked in a conceited voice. “I work here. I’m trying to make enough money to move out of my mother’s house.”

Though SpongeBob certainly wasn’t expecting this to be the job Bubble Bass had been griping about, something still bothered him. “But where’s everyone else?”

“This is the Night Shift. It’s new so there aren’t that many employees on duty- I’m the only one.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re here. You can help me find the one who’s been tainting the Krusty Krab’s buns.”

“No can do, Masked Sponge.” Bubble Bass responded, “There are no more tainted buns, so you don’t have to worry your little square head about it.”

SpongeBob suddenly felt a sense of relief. “Phew, well, that’s good. At least we won’t have…” his eyes widen when he caught something unusual about Bubble Bass’s claim. “Wait a minute…how can you be so sure that there aren’t any more tainted buns?”

“Maybe because I work here, remember?”

“Then you must know who’s behind this!”

“Whoever it is, he’s gone. So get lost already!”

“That’s great, so you can tell me who he is and where he went!”

“NO! I CAN’T!”

“WHY NOT?!”

“BECAUSE I DID IT!”

Afterwards, SpongeBob covers his mouth in shock, having not expected Bubble Bass to be the culprit behind the krabby patty buns mutating the customers. “But…” SpongeBob asked in a quiet voice, “…But why?”

“Before you throw the book at me, let me start by explaining.” Bubble Bass calmly began, “I was working my job last Monday when during my nightly inspection of the dough pressing machine, I dropped my kelp bar. While picking it up, I happen to knock over a can of the oil they use to keep the machines running and it spilt right over the ledge and into the machine that presses the dough used to make the buns. Upon looking at said can, I noticed that while the oil does wonders for the equipment, it can be bad if you were dumb enough to eat it.” He recalls seeing the warning label on the can that read ‘Warning: If ingested, may cause physical mutation and/or crankiness’. Bubble Bass concluded, “I knew that such a little hiccup would cost me my job, so I did the honest thing and pretended like nothing happened.”

“But everyone who has eaten those buns has turned into horrible monstrous mutants!” SpongeBob mentioned, but despite being angered that Bubble Bass was wholly responsible for ruining his life, SpongeBob tried to see the bright side of it all. “But this is okay.” He said with a smile. “Because you can admit to everyone what you did, Mr. Krabs will be released from prison and the Krusty Krab will go back in business.”

SpongeBob grabbed his arm and tried to drag him towards the exit, but Bubble Bass pulled his arm back and yanked SpongeBob backwards onto the ground. “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Masked Sponge.”

Looking confused as to why Bubble Bass stopped him, the latter explains, “If anyone were to find out, I would lose this job and I’ll never be able to afford my own place.”

An exasperated SpongeBob points out, “But everyone blames the Krusty Krab for what happened! Now there are no more krabby patties!”

“Oh no,” Bubble Bass said with shock, “If I had known that would happen, I would’ve bought twenty krabby patties first.”

“I’m sorry, Bubble Bass, but as a superhero I must do the right thing and save the Krusty Krab.”

He walked past Bubble Bass and was about to head downstairs until he was suddenly hit hard in the face by a wooden oven shovel. SpongeBob groaned in pain, feeling some of the teeth fall out of his mouth, before falling backwards on the ground. Bubble Bass approaches him, holding the oven shovel.

Looking over the fallen sponge, Bubble Bass smirks as he stated, “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Masked Sponge.” As he laughed, SpongeBob’s eyelids fall as he passes out.

He didn’t know how long it had been, but SpongeBob began to open his eyes, seeing the ceiling of the factory. However, he couldn’t move his arms and legs- his whole body felt like it was crammed in a small box. Before he could try and move anything, he sees Bubble Bass come into view- except he was now wearing a red and yellow luchador costume, complete with a mask and cape.

“Hello, “Masked Sponge.”” He said with air quotes. “Like my new outfit? You’re not the only one who can play dress up. But I prefer to be known as “The Bass”.” He pauses to do an evil laugh, “There’s one more shipment of mutating buns going out tomorrow at noon, and as much as I would love to stop it, I have to maintain job security- which means, I have to get rid of you.”

He smirks as he holds out a roll of packing tape. SpongeBob did not respond due to his injuries and was struggling just to keep his eyes open. But Bubble Bass took the opportunity to gloat some more, “And don’t even think about trying to stop me or snitch on me, because if you do, all of Bikini Bottom will see this…”

Bubble Bass shoves his phone in SpongeBob’s face, showing that on screen was a picture of SpongeBob unconscious, wearing his Masked Sponge costume, and his eyelids hanging halfway down on his goofy-looking face. But one thing caught his attention: he was not wearing his mask!

Right before closing the box, a smirking Bubble Bass says, “Enjoy your trip, Masked SpongeBob.”

Just as the flaps on the box begin to close, SpongeBob slips out of consciousness again as the last thing he hears is Bubble Bass sealing the box with tape.

‘Huh…I guess this is where I came in.’

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Chapter 11: Confessions

After remembering who he was and what he had been doing the past few days, the Masked Sponge still stood in the middle of the Rock Bottom Bar and held the krabby patty that he had been keeping in his utility belt.

“So *pfft* that kabby patty *pfft* is poisoned? *pfft*” a Rock Bottom citizen asked after listening to his story.

“No,” SpongeBob says as he gently strokes the patty’s buns. “The buns are just tampered with, but only because of Bubble Bass.” He gasps in horror as he recalls the last part of his recovered memory. “And he knows who I am.”

“So does everyone in this bar thanks to your story.” The bartender mentioned.

“I *pfft* fell asleep *pfft* during *pfft* half of it. *pfft*” a guy with large fins on his head, sitting in the corner of the bar, mentioned in a bored tone.

But one curious angler fish asked, “How *pfft* does it *pfft* end? *pfft*

SpongeBob sulked as he took a seat at the counter and answered, “I don’t know.” He took a big sip of his kelpsie and added with a weak smile, “At least my story ends happier than Mermaid Man’s did.”

But the skeptical bartender states, “I don’t know, kid. Sounds to me like you’re letting down everyone who depends on you.”

Hearing this, SpongeBob gulps and replies, “But what if they know who I am already? Bubble Bass might’ve posted that picture all over the internet or maybe he will the second I go back to Bikini Bottom.”

“So what if he does? Would Mermaid Man have quit if some low-life got the upper-hand on him?”

SpongeBob’s face froze as he contemplated this question. Then he stood up from his stool, his eyes narrowed in determination. “You’re right.” He said, pounding his fist into his hand. “Mermaid Man may have died on the field, but his death wasn’t in vain. He managed to save everyone he cared about and so will I, even if my identity gets exposed to everyone. The only thing worse than going back would be not going back.” He yells out in triumph, “I’M *pfft* GOING *pfft* BACK!!! *pffffftt pfft pfft*

This earns him the applause of every Rock Bottom patron in the bar. The bartender then asks, “Can I get you a drink for the road, buddy?”

SpongeBob enthusiastically asks, “A can of Fizzy Bomb Cola would be nice.”

 

Since there was no time for a heroic comeback, SpongeBob decided to hop on a bus to get back to Bikini Bottom. When he left the dark trench of Rock Bottom, he saw the sun shine through the windows, cueing him that it was morning and he hadn’t been gone that long. Upon arriving on Conch Street, he first noticed the police were no longer staking out his house, and began wondering if Bubble Bass already posted the picture of him on the internet and that they were now searching for the Masked Sponge.

“I have only a few hours to stop Bubble Bass before the rest of the tainted buns ship out.” SpongeBob thought to himself. “Wait…if everyone’s gonna learn who I am soon, I want my best friend to hear it from me first.”

He rushed over to Patrick’s rock and repeatedly knocked on the door. “Patrick!” SpongeBob called out. “Patrick, open up! It’s me, SpongeBob!”

The rock automatically flipped open, but instead of Patrick emerging, it was his pet snail, Gary.

“Gary!” SpongeBob called out, relieved to see him still safe in hiding. “Thank Neptune you’re still here. Is Patrick home? I really need to see him.”

“Meow,” Gary answered.

SpongeBob gasped and repeated, “He left with some guy in a weird costume? Why does that sound familiar?”

“Meow, meow,” Gary added as he went inside his shell and came back out with a piece of paper.

Taking the note, SpongeBob read it, “‘Dear SpongeBob aka The Masked Sponge, I invited your fat pink friend for a tour of the factory. He will also be helping me deliver the last shipment of tainted buns into town. Once everyone eats them, he’ll be the one who takes the blame and I’ll be off scott-free. Don’t worry, your secret is still safe with me- that is unless you try and get in my way. Sincerely yours, The Bass’

Afterwards, a horrified look appears on SpongeBob’s face, realizing that his worst fear has come true: his secret identity had been exposed and now his best friend is in danger. “Patrick…” he muttered in concern. “He’s gonna take the blame for Bubble Bass without even realizing it.”

“Meow,” Gary expresses with concern.

SpongeBob’s face goes in a daze and he falls on his back. His eyelids begin dropping as he slaps the sides of his face. “My best friend has been kidnapped by a bad guy who knows my true identity…” he said in a low voice that seemed to be drifting into madness, “I shouldn’t have come back after…staying up all night.”

Suddenly, he drifts out of consciousness just as a shadow looms over him.

 

SpongeBob anticipated Bubble Bass may send a squad of goons to come after him, but this wasn’t the case. His captor was none other than Sandy Cheeks, who brought the unconscious Masked Sponge into her treedome and laid him down on a lawn chair as he snored.

Staring at the napping superhero, Sandy held her chin and pondered, “That critter’s been gone all night and there’s still no sign of SpongeBob.” She glared in fury, “Well, no more! If he’s gonna get rid of my buddy, then I’m gonna get rid of him.”

She held out a large acorn and slowly advances towards the Masked Sponge, who sleeps blissfully unaware of the danger he was in. Before she could attack him, she decides she wants to see the face of the one who made her best friend disappear. Once she was close enough, Sandy grabs a hold of the sponge’s mask and yanks it off.

Gasping, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing; The Masked Sponge was really the one she had been searching for this whole time. Right on cue, SpongeBob opened his eyes and yawned. “How long have I been out?” he groggily asked until he noticed Sandy next to him, “Hey Sandy.” He cheerfully greets, “Why are you…staring at me like that?”

Sandy’s stunned expression did not escape him. It was a full minute until he noticed that she was holding a red cloth in her hand. He felt his face until realizing that it was his very own mask that she was holding and his identity was exposed. “Uh oh,” he peeped.

“SpongeBob!” she cried out, “You’re the Masked Sponge?!” she became furious and yelled, “Well, I didn’t think it would be so obvious, but how can you be the Masked Sponge this whole time without tellin’ your own friend? Don’t you know how worried sick I was about you?”

“Wait, wait, wait!” SpongeBob rapidly said while springing to his feet on top of the lawn chair. “I-I- I can explain! You see…” but something immediately caught his eye and he shakily pointed at Sandy, “Hold on…you’re the Masked Squirrel?”

Sandy’s eyes widen at this accusation. “What? Now hold on a gosh darn minute! Why would you go sayin’ something so crazy?”

SpongeBob answered by pointing behind her to see the Masked Squirrel uniform hanging on a clothes line in plain view. This causes Sandy to blush in embarrassment as she sheepishly says, “Oh…ya mean that.”

SpongeBob was a lot more stunned about finding out her secret than she was about finding out his. “Sandy, you were the Masked Squirrel this whole time? Then that means…” he gains a horrified look and his face turns beat red that he tries to hide behind his cape collar. He turns his back to Sandy and crouches down while muttering, “Dear Neptune, I kissed Sandy.”

“Uh, SpongeBob?” Sandy called, concerned about his behavior.

But SpongeBob was still agonizing over what he just discovered. “But I love the Masked Squirrel…” He muttered to himself, “…does this mean I actually love Sandy?” Finally, SpongeBob turned around and faced her. “Listen, Sandy, I didn’t know it was you. I…”

But Sandy interrupted him, “Golly SpongeBob, you’re redder than a sunset over the country farm. I better get you some water.”

Even though she had misinterpreted SpongeBob’s blushing as dehydration (since he had been in her air filled treedome without a water helmet the entire time), SpongeBob was still too embarrassed to even care. “No, don’t bother, Sandy.” SpongeBob said depressed tone, “I’ll just be on my way.”

He was about to walk out, but Sandy ran in front of him. “SpongeBob, wait a second.” She had a remorseful look as she spoke, “Look, SpongeBob, I will admit that I am still surprised about you bein’ the Masked Sponge, but…I ain’t one to talk. I only became the Masked Squirrel just to help you out.” She sheepishly smiles while saying, “But I guess it was kinda hard for me to stop afterwards.”

SpongeBob gave an awkward chuckle as he replied, “It’s like eating a krabby patty. You can’t eat it just one time.”

It was this statement that made SpongeBob remember what he was supposed to be doing right now. “Sandy!” he asked in slight panic, “What time is it?”

Raising an eyebrow at his behavior, Sandy answered, “Almost noon.”

“Tartar sauce!” SpongeBob exclaimed, “There’s gonna be more tainted buns hitting Bikini Bottom soon! And if I don’t stop them, everyone will turn into mutants, and Patrick will be in danger!”

“Oh no!” Sandy shouted in panic over the news.

“I gotta stop Bubble Bass before it’s too late!” he was about to run for the exit, but Sandy grabs his cape and yanks him back.

“Hold on there, SpongeBob.” Sandy spoke to him calmly. “Ya can’t just run off into danger like that.” She smiles at him, “Not without me.”

“You?” SpongeBob asks with a hopeful smile. “You mean as The Masked Squirrel?”

“Heck yeah.” An enthusiastic Sandy replied, and then led him over to a table with a bunch of gadgets on it. “I even have some useful gizmos befitting for a superhero without the use of superpowers.”

SpongeBob’s eyes glow as he sees everything he can use to stop the bad guy and save the day. “Woooow…” however, his excitement turns to concern towards Sandy. “But are you sure you wanna help? He knows who I really am, so he might figure out who you are too. Plus I might not even…” he bit his lower lip to hold back his tears, “…and you might…”

But Sandy stopped him by covering his mouth like she had been doing before. “Don’t go thinkin’ the worst, SpongeBob. After all, you’re the Masked Sponge. You’ve been battlin’ crime and takin’ names like a cowboy on a buckin’ bronco. This time should be no different.”

SpongeBob gets a love-struck smile as he utters, “Yeah…you’re right. As long as the Masked Squirrel partners up with me, I think I’ll be just fine.” He pauses awkwardly and asks, “You’re not…mad about that kiss, are you?”

“What? Naaah…” Sandy replied, looking away to hide her blushing. “We were both in the heat of moment and neither of us knew who the other was.” She held his shoulder and spoke softly to him, “I just hope you ain’t mad at me for keepin’ ya from doin’ your job last night.”

SpongeBob held her hands and smiled warmly. “If you can forgive me, I can forgive you.”

When silence follows, SpongeBob and Sandy begin to lean closer to each other, but Sandy suddenly freezes when she hears a sizzling sound and sees SpongeBob’s body begin to dangerously dry up. With his raspy breath, SpongeBob cries out, “Waaaateeer!

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Chapter 12: Kick Some 8455

At the Bikini Bottom Fine Fresh Bakery, a delivery truck was parked outside the factory and a few workers were loading boxes of buns onto the truck, unaware that they all contained the tainted buns that were accidentally created by Bubble Bass. Said worker was monitoring the loading while still wearing his “Bass” costume (which didn’t strike any of the other workers as odd).

“Very good, gentlemen.” Bubble Bass noted while looking at a clipboard. “Just one more load and we’ll be on our way.”

Suddenly, Patrick appeared behind him, “What can I do? What can I do?” he asked, jumping up and down, and clapping his hands like an excited child.

An annoyed Bubble Bass points and demands, “Just go wait in the truck! Don’t worry; I’ll have a special task for you later.”

“You got it, Bubble Bass.” Patrick enthusiastically replied before going to the passenger seat of the delivery truck.

“It’s THE BASS!” Bubble Bass shouted angrily. “I’m a super villain now!” but then he groans weakly, mumbling to himself, “I was hoping he had a krabby patty on him.” He suddenly smirks to himself, whispering, “Maybe I’ll get some reward money for turning that idiot in, and then I’ll buy the Krusty Krab and eat all the krabby patties I want. HA HA HA HA HA!”

However, his laughter caught the attention of some of his co-workers, who were staring at him. He snapped at them, “Do you mind? We all have jobs to do!”

Bubble Bass casually gets in the driver’s seat of the truck, next to Patrick. Right as he starts the engine and drives off, the starfish excitedly cheers, “Whooo! Road trip!”

As the truck with the buns left the bakery, from up ahead behind a bush of seaweed, the Masked Sponge was watching through a pair of binoculars to see the truck with Bubble Bass and Patrick inside. He talks into a walkie-talkie, “I got eyes on the culprit and I am about to pursue.”

Sandy’s voice comes out from the other end, “Copy that.

SpongeBob frowns in determination as he puts away the walkie. “Time to break out the Masked Spongemobile.”

Bubble Bass was casually driving the truck until Patrick peers over to Bass’s side of the window and cheerfully greets, “Hi Masked Sponge!”

He turns and gasps in surprise to see the Masked Sponge driving next to him on his unicycle, huffing and puffing as he peddled as fast as he can to keep up with the truck. “You?!” Bubble Bass shouted in anger.

Between breaths, SpongeBob shouted, “Pull…this truck over! You’re…under arrest…for besmirching…the krabby patty name…Assault…Blackmail…Kidnapping….Not to mention…running a stop sign just now!”

Scowling, Bubble Bass slams his foot on the gas pedal and speeds away from the Masked Sponge. Unable to pedal fast enough on his bike, SpongeBob reaches into his belt while muttering, “Time for this sponge to hitch a ride.”

He takes out a new grappling hook he received from Sandy and fires it, releasing a plunger that latches onto the back of the truck. However, the force yanks the sponge off his bike and when the truck turns right, the Masked Sponge slams onto the left side of the truck.

Hearing the loud noise on top of the truck, Bubbles Bass frowns and unbuckles his seatbelt. “Take the wheel.” He orders Patrick.

“You got it, Bubble The Bass.” Patrick responds with a cheerful salute.

Bubble Bass grits his teeth in annoyance as he squeezes his fat behind through the driver’s window and climbs on top of the truck where the Masked Sponge is waiting for him.

SpongeBob narrowed his eyes, glaring at his opponent, “Bubble Bass…”

“It’s THE BASS!” Bubble Bass yelled in frustration.

“Whoops, sorry.” SpongeBob replied sincerely.

“I thought I threw you out of town.”

Speaking in his brooding voice, SpongeBob retorted, “This town is dependent on a superhero they can depend on. Therefore I must be dependable.”

Chuckling maliciously, Bubble Bass asked, “Masked Sponge, why so serious?”

In his normal voice, SpongeBob angrily answered, “I’m serious because you made me lose everything I had; my job and my life.”

“Boo-hoo.” Bubble Bass teases, “I believe I warned you what would happen if you got in my way.” he smirks and takes out his phone to show SpongeBob the picture he took of him. “Now it’s time for the whole world to know who the Masked Sponge is.”

Panic began to fill SpongeBob’s heart as he frantically pleads, “Wait! I’m sure we can talk this out!”

“Sure we can.” Bubble Bass taunted, hovering his finger above the post button, “After I become known as the Man Who Unmasked the Masked Sponge.”

Right as he was about to tap his phone, the truck hits a speed bump, causing them both to fumble and Bubble Bass to drop his phone.

“NOOOO!!!” he screams as he watched the phone hit the road and break into pieces while they drive away. “I still had two more payments!”

A flash of relief swept SpongeBob, but it was short-lived as Bubble Bass snarling at him with hatred. SpongeBob held his hands up defensively and calmly spoke, “Come on, Bubble Bass, we can still talk this out.”

Without listening, Bubble Bass got up and charged toward him with his fist held out. “This is all YOUR FAULT!!!”

The sponge quickly stood up and held up his own fist until they both bump each other and lace their hands together as if trying to push the other to each ends of the truck. They both stared at each other with focused intent, trying to push the other down.

“You should’ve stayed where I sent you, Masked Loser!” Bubble Bass shouted, “Then you could’ve played the hero all you want!”

He plays dirty by using SpongeBob’s own left fist to punch the sponge in the face three times. SpongeBob was dizzy for a moment, but he glared and retorted, “You can’t get rid of me that easily, Bass.”

The Masked Sponge strikes back in the same manner by shoving Bubble Bass’ left fist back and using it to punch him in the stomach three times, knocking the wind out of him. SpongeBob adds, “You should’ve just told the truth, then we wouldn’t have to do this.”

“That’s another reason why the Masked Sponge is such a lame superhero. You’re always trying to talk, talk, talk, instead of fight, fight, fight. Superheroes don’t exist to make friends with the bad guys. Was Mermaid Man always trying to make friends?”

SpongeBob interrupted by shouting, “He was always friendly, just like a real superhero should be!”

But he was silenced by Bubble Bass pushing him down to one knee. “WRONG!” he then cruelly mocked, “He’d still be alive if he weren’t. Wouldn’t you agree? That’s why you’ll end up just like him…DEAD!”

At this, tears appear in SpongeBob’s eyes and anger fills his heart, causing him to yell at the top of his voice, “NEVER!” and swiftly karate kicks Bubble Bass onto his back, making him almost slide off the truck.

SpongeBob was about to approach him, but a bump on the road caused SpongeBob to almost lose his footing and allowed Bubble Bass to grab him by the ankle and pull SpongeBob onto his back. Bubble Bass smirks, thinking he now has the Masked Sponge at his mercy, but SpongeBob kicks Bubble Bass in the face, making his glasses go crooked and letting SpongeBob drop on his feet.

Bubble Bass frowned in anger at the Masked Sponge, having finally lost his patience. But then, Bubble Bass suddenly pointed ahead and shouted in surprise, “Oh my gosh, it’s the Masked Squirrel!”

“Where?!” SpongeBob excitedly asked, turning around and allowing Bubble Bass to grab SpongeBob by the cape and whip him in the air, flinging him off the back of the truck.

Fortunately, SpongeBob managed to grab onto the edge to keep himself from falling onto the road, but his fingers were slipping off the moving truck. Just when he couldn’t latch on anymore, Bubble Bass suddenly grabbed his hand and held onto him. Even SpongeBob couldn’t believe this. “You saved me?” he asked in a stunned voice.

“I’m not finished with you yet.” Bubble Bass maliciously answered, glaring at him.

But SpongeBob used this moment to plead with him, “Please, Bubble Bass, just turn yourself in. They might give you a lighter sentence if you just explain it was all an accident. I’ll even vouch for you.”

“Forget it! I’m not gonna lose my job and my home because of you!”

An offended SpongeBob pointed out, “I lost my job and my home because of you!”

“You’re gonna lose more than that in a second.” He held SpongeBob over the edge of the truck. “Once you become road pizza!”

Despite the danger he was in, SpongeBob just glared at Bubble Bass, “You can get rid me all you want, Bass! But as long as the krabby patties are in danger, I’ll always come back!”

A voice suddenly called out, “You tell him, Masked Sponge!”

They both turn to see Patrick sitting on the other end of the truck, drinking a soda as he watched the whole thing. “Patrick, what are you doing?” SpongeBob asked, concerned about his best friend being so close to the action that he could get hurt.

“I didn’t wanna miss the superhero fight.”

SpongeBob quirked an eyebrow and began wondering, “Who’s driving this truck?”

This made Bubble Bass’ eyes widen until he yelled at the starfish, “I told you take the wheel!”

“I did take the wheel.” Patrick backed up this claim by holding up the steering wheel in his hand.

The two masked sea creatures’ eyes widen as the truck suddenly swerves out of control and throws them across the top and they both try to hang onto it for dear life. The truck enters the city of Bikini Bottom and barrels through the streets as civilians scream in panic as they try to run out of the way.

The superhero and supervillain scream and hold onto each other right before the truck hits a brick wall and explodes. The Masked Squirrel makes it onto the scene and searches the debris and flames for any signs of her fellow superhero.

She lifts up a large pile of debris up and tosses it aside, only to find Patrick lying there. She pulls him up and asks, “Patrick, do you know where the Masked Sponge is?”

Though a little disoriented, Patrick answers, “Uhhh…He was here a minute ago fighting The Bubble Bass-Bass.”

However, on the other side of the destroyed truck, SpongeBob pushed a large piece of metal off of him and he sighs in relief to find that he managed to survive the crash. He looks around to see the contaminated buns that were on the truck are now scattered across the ground in flames.

“Phew,” SpongeBob said with a small smile. “I’m okay and the tainted buns are no more. I just gotta find Patrick and makes sure he’s okay too.”

Before he could get very far, he was suddenly yanked backwards by his cape and slammed against the back of the destroyed truck. He sees a furious Bubble Bass holding him by the sides of his square body.

“I should really reconsider wearing a cape.” SpongeBob wheezed.

Through his snarling teeth, Bubble Bass says, “You! This is all your fault, you masked freak! You cost me my job and my chances of getting my own place. Worst of all, I’ll never get to eat another krabby patty.”

An offended SpongeBob retorts, “Hey, if you hadn’t been so careless, none of this would’ve happened!” but he was silenced when Bubble Bass tightened his grin around his body, nearly choking him.

“Say hi to Mermaid Man for me.” Bubble Bass sneered before pounding SpongeBob against the truck again, causing a krabby patty to fall out of his belt and onto the ground. Seeing this, Bubble Bass reacted in surprise and tossed SpongeBob aside, “A krabby patty! You were hoarding the last good one with you this whole time!”

SpongeBob sat up to catch his breath, but quickly realized what was about to happen. “No…You can’t…” he could only let out in a whisper.

But Bubble Bass ignored his warning and picked up the krabby patty with gusto. “Come to papa!”

He ate the whole thing in one bite and licked his lips while looking at SpongeBob as if to rub it in his face that he ate his last good krabby patty. While the sponge sat there in fright, expecting the worst to happen, Bubble Bass held up his fists and stated, “And now to finish you o-aaaAAAH!” he screams as he clenches his stomach and suddenly feels his face mutating as it tears his mask off.

SpongeBob backs up and cringes in terror as he watches Bubble Bass grow even larger than he already was, his teeth grow long and sharp. He is only able to mindlessly let out a gargled growl before stomping over SpongeBob and knocking the remains of the truck aside as he stomped into the city.

“Poor Bubble Bass.” SpongeBob said in sympathy. “Hoist by his own fisherman’s hook of evil.”

“Masked Sponge!” Sandy called out as she and Patrick rush over to him. “Thank goodness you’re okay.”

“Oh, Patrick,” SpongeBob squealed as he tearfully hugged his best friend. “The only thing that matters is you’re okay.”

Holding the emotional superhero in his arms, Patrick calmly replies, “There, there…you’ll meet SpongeBob someday.”

However, Sandy breaks up the tender moment by reminding them, “But that yellowbelly, Bubble Bass, ate a contaminated krabby patty and now he’s wilder than a coyote in a chicken farm.”

The situation now dawned on SpongeBob and he holds the sides of his head in panic. “Dear Neptune, he’ll destroy all of Bikini Bottom at this point.”

But Sandy calmed him down by assuring him, “Not to worry. If we rough him up enough, he should shrink back to normal.”

SpongeBob narrowed his eyes in determination. “Then it’s all up to me.” He pointed at the Masked Squirrel, “You keep Patrick and everyone else safe.”

“But Sponge-” Sandy was about to protest until realizing she would give away her friend’s identity in front of Patrick.

“Let us come with you, Masked Sponge.” Patrick suggested, “I may not have powers, but neither do you. So that’ll level out the playing field.”

“I hate to admit it, but Patrick may be right.” Sandy agreed. “We may have a better chance of beatin’ that monstrous varmint if we all do it together.”

“You can’t!” SpongeBob pleaded, “Patrick, you’re not experienced like the Masked Squirrel and me.” He points to Sandy and concludes, “And because he’s not experienced like us, you have to be the one to protect him from any more harm. And if…if this ends up being my last battle, I... I have to leave the protection of Bikini Bottom to you.”

He takes a deep breath marches into battle without another word. Watching him leave, Patrick tears up and states, “You have to make it back, Masked Sponge. If you don’t, SpongeBob and I won’t have anyone to look up to anymore now that Mermaid Man’s gone.” Sandy comforts him by holding his shoulder.

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Chapter 13: Death of the Masked Sponge

Further in the city, the mutated Bubble Bass stomps down the street and carelessly flips over boats as the Bikini Bottomites scream and a cry of “MY LEG!” was heard. The Mutant Bubble Bass mindlessly bites his sharp teeth into the side of a building until a voice caught his attention.

“Stop right there, Bass!” he looks ahead to see the Masked Sponge. “I am the Masked Sponge! Which you already knew- but what you probably didn’t know is that I fight for truth, justice, and krabby patties; which you have tainted the good name of!”

Whether it was the real Bubble Bass’ mind regaining its memory or a result of the mutation making his mind go feral; the mutant roared and attempted to belly flop on top of SpongeBob, who immediately rolled out of the way as the mutant fell onto the ground, cracking the pavement. Seeing that the mutant was not immediately getting up, SpongeBob rushed forward and gave the mutant Bubble Bass a punch in the nose. “That’s for kidnapping my best friend!” He shouted in a serious voice.

The punch, however, only felt like a soft tap, but annoyed the mutant to the point of growling in anger. SpongeBob was not ready to give up and he jumped on top of his head and pounds both his fists on top while shouting, “And this is for making me forget who I am!”

The mutant roars loudly as he swiftly pushes himself up, throwing the Masked Sponge off of him. SpongeBob stands back up and with a shout, he jumps and spins through the air while yelling, “AND THIS IS FOR THE KRUSTY KRAB!!!”

He has his leg stretched out for a karate kick, but the mutant grabs the sponge in his whole fist and slams him into the street, creating a large hole. He still holds the Masked Sponge in his fist, pinning him into the ground. Despite the dust and pain on his body, SpongeBob opens his eyes and pleads, “Stop this, Bubble Bass!”

But the mutant responds by holding SpongeBob up in sadistic joy through his sharp teeth and throwing him like a baseball, making him fly all the way down the street until he landed in a boatmobile with a large crash, causing everyone in the area to run away.

 

Downtown at the Bikini Bottom Police Station, Squidward arrived at the visitor’s center and took a seat while on the other side of the glass wall, Mr. Krabs arrived in his prison orange and took a seat across from Squidward. Both picked up the phones they had and Mr. Krabs began by greeting, “Well, well, well, I was wonderin’ when you’d show up.” He quickly glanced around as if expecting to see someone else. “Where’s SpongeBob?”

Squidward dully answered, “Still on the run from the law.”

Mr. Krabs growled in dismay at being the one locked in jail for a crime he didn’t commit while the most obvious suspect behind the crime, SpongeBob, was out to roam free. “What happened to employee loyalty?” He complained, but then smiled when he looked up at Squidward, “But at least I know I can count on you, Mr. Squidward, to try and bail me-”

But Squidward interrupted, “Save it, Eugene. I’m just here to find out when I’ll get my final paycheck.”

They were cut off when the prison guard announces, “Hey! There’s another one of those mutants in Bikini Bottom.”

Everyone turns their attention to the TV hanging from the ceiling that showed a news broadcast of the mutant Bubble Bass rampaging through the city. The camera also shows the Masked Sponge lying unconscious in a boatmobile after trying to defend the city from the mutant.

“Ain’t that the Masked Sponge guy?” Mr. Krabs asked.

“Who cares?” Squidward responded as he watched with interest. “My money’s on the monster.”

 

Despite the injury, SpongeBob managed to sit up as he laid in the driver’s seat. “He’s too strong.” He groans to himself, “I can’t beat him.” He hears loud stomping and feels the ground beneath him shaking. He looks up to see the mutant running towards him with his arms out, wanting to roughly play and tear apart the superhero some more.

SpongeBob was frozen for a second until he remembered what he had to do to beat any mutant. He quickly sits upright in the boat and starts it up, turning the boatmobile until it starts driving towards the mutant.

“I wonder if a superhero needs a license to drive.” SpongeBob thought to himself until he sees himself getting closer to the approaching mutant. With a glare of determination, SpongeBob hits the gas on the boatmobile and quickly jumps out of the seat just before the boatmobile rams into the mutant’s stomach and pushes him backwards as the boatmobile explodes.

Seeing the destruction, a concerned SpongeBob wonders, “I hope he’s not hurt too badly. Well, at least I hope I hit him hard enough to make him spill his lunch and that poisonous bun.”

He then feels the ground shake and sees the still mutated Bubble Bass emerge from the flames, glaring furiously at the Masked Sponge. “Tartar sauce.” SpongeBob curses as he widens his stance. “A superhero’s work is never done.”

The Mutant Bubble Bass charges at the Masked Sponge as he roars loudly, and SpongeBob lets out his own battle cry as he takes out his spatula and leaps towards his opponent. The mutant kicked SpongeBob with his foot, and while he managed to block the attack with his spatula, the force still knocked the smaller sponge backwards across the street.

SpongeBob sat himself back up and saw the Mutant Bubble Bass swing his fist at him, punching SpongeBob further across the street. As he started to feel weakened, SpongeBob struggled to his feet and held his fists up as if still willing to fight.

The Mutant Bubble Bass pounded the street in a fit of rage just as SpongeBob reached into his belt. The mutant roared at SpongeBob again until a blob of goo splattered on his entire face. SpongeBob was holding out a high-tech gun that he had fired at the mutant. Seeing the results, SpongeBob smiled and said, “Thanks for this goo-launcher, Sandy.”

While the mutant was trying to pull the goo off his face, SpongeBob slowly approached him with his hands held up, “Bubble Bass…if you’re in there somewhere, I know you have every reason to wanna kill me, but there’s no reason for you to be this. So please, let me help you. That’s what superheroes do.”

Whether or not Bubble Bass can hear SpongeBob was unclear as right after he removed the goo from his face, the mutant looked at SpongeBob with a ferocious intent and grabbed SpongeBob in his fist, flinging the superhero further across the city until he slid across the pavement, his body battered and bruised.

SpongeBob struggled to push himself upwards, but did not get the chance as the Mutant Bubble Bass landed on the ground behind him and repeatedly pounded SpongeBob into the dirt. The Masked Sponge was unconscious; his suit suffering damage. But the mutant smirked and stood up straight, lifting his large foot to finish the sponge off by stomping on him. SpongeBob started to regain consciousness just as a shadow loomed over him. Right when the mutant pressed his foot down, he turned his head around to see the Masked Squirrel, pushing the mutant’s foot away to prevent him from further hurting SpongeBob.

“Sandy…” SpongeBob whispered in a weak voice, struggling to push himself to his feet, but was unable to.

As she used all her strength to keep the mutant from stomping on them, Sandy screamed loudly, “Get away from this brave hero, you blob of cow manure.”

The mutant growled in frustration and pushed his right foot down harder, but Sandy still pushed back to try and stop him. SpongeBob struggled to push himself up, not wanting both him and Sandy to lose their lives in this battle. “Sandy…” he whispered weakly. “No, don’t…”

“Don’t worry, Masked Sponge.” Sandy assured SpongeBob, “You ain’t gonna die a heroic death- At least not alone.”

But this only made SpongeBob more terrified of her dying in the heroic battle. But before he can protest some more, the Mutant Bubble Bass became even more enraged and pushed his foot down even harder, making Sandy start to struggle as she tried holding him back. She was brought down to one knee, feeling like she couldn’t hold on any longer. SpongeBob noticed this and quickly got up, wrapping his arms around Sandy.

Right as the mutant was about to finish the two superheroes off, a rock was suddenly flung through the air, hitting the Mutant Bubble Bass on the side of his head. This diverted the attention away from the masked superheroes and eased the pressure off his foot.

The one who threw the rock was Patrick, who yelled at the mutant, “You leave those guys alone! They’re the superheroes who’re supposed to stop you! And I’ll stop you too as the superhero…uh…The Patrick.”

The Mutant Bubble Bass growled at this interference and lifted his foot away from the Masked Sponge and Squirrel. He then walks past them and starts heading towards Patrick. Seeing the monster advancing towards him made Patrick jump in fright, despite his previous bravery, and ran away screaming with the mutant chasing him.

“Patrick…no.” SpongeBob weakly cried out. He attempted to run after his best friend, but he ended up falling on his face before he can take one step.

“SpongeBob,” Sandy said in worry as she helped him up. “You can’t go after them. Look at you.”

“I have to, Sandy.” SpongeBob weakly argued, “My best friend needs me.”

Knowing how much he wanted to help everyone, Sandy nodded and put SpongeBob’s arm over her shoulder before helping him get to the new sight of the battle.

 

Meanwhile, Plankton had emerged from the Chum Bucket and was now making his way towards the Krusty Krab. With an evil chuckle, Plankton notes, “With Krabs still incarcerated and the town in a frenzy about all the mutations, now’s the perfect time to finally steal the secret formula.”

However, he suddenly feels the ground quake beneath him, causing him to lose his balance a few times. “What the scallop?” he cries out until seeing the Mutant Bubble Bass approaching as he pursued Patrick.

Patrick had a look of panic on his face as he tried to outrun the large mutant. He then ran towards the Krusty Krab and crash through the front doors, hoping to hide inside. Unfortunately, the Mutant Bubble Bass noticed this and followed him into the restaurant, smashing the entire front of the restaurant.

Patrick shook in terror as the mutant came closer, ready to tear the starfish apart. But as he reaches his large hands towards him, the Masked Sponge was suddenly thrown by the Masked Squirrel and he wrapped himself around the mutant’s right arm as if trying to hold him still, whether it worked or not, his arm stopped moving towards Patrick.

Despite a black eye, missing tooth, and bruised face, SpongeBob fiercely spoke, “You can destroy my favorite krabby patties and you can destroy my favorite restaurant, but you will NOT destroy my favorite best friend.”

Soon, a crowd of gawkers appeared near the Krusty Krab as if hoping to watch the outcome of the fight between the Mutant Bubble Bass and the Masked Sponge, including Perch Perkins and his news crew, which was recording the whole thing and was still being viewed by Mr. Krabs and Squidward at the prison.

The Mutant Bubble Bass tried to shake SpongeBob off his arm, but when he refused to let go, he resorted to biting down on it, causing SpongeBob to groan in agony at the sharp teeth puncturing his spongy body. Before he can bite down any harder, a whistle is heard and Sandy steps forward, yelling, “Hey mutagenic blob!” she pulls out her acorn gun, “Chew on this!”

She fires multiple acorns at his head until he drops SpongeBob on the ground and follows Sandy’s advice, letting the acorns fly into his mouth, chewing them to pieces. When she stopped firing, she growls in fury as the Mutant Bubble Bass growls in return and prepares to advance on her.

Seeing his friend in trouble, SpongeBob struggles to his feet and tries to dig through his utility belt for anything that can help him. After tossing aside his bubble soap, grappling hook, TV remote, and sticker book, he finally pulls out a can of Fizz Bomb Cola that he forgot he bought earlier. Suddenly, his eyes widen with an idea and he quickly yells, “Masked Squirrel, hand me that thing!”

Hearing his order, Sandy quickly tosses her acorn gun and Mutant Bubble Bass sees the Masked Sponge catch it and quickly load the soda can into the gun. “Hey Bubble Bass!” he calls out, aiming it directly at the mutant, and speaking in his brooding voice, “How about a drink?”

He fired the acorn gun and shot out the can of Fizz Bomb Cola through the air until it landed in the mutant’s mouth. He was about to jump at SpongeBob until he stops in confusion and feels his stomach rumbling. Suddenly, he lets out a large belch and his body begins to shrink down until he is back to his regular size and appearance. Bubble Bass lets out a weakened groan and he faints on the floor.

The surrounding crowd approached with relief now that the monster had been defeated, but the hero who was victorious fell backwards as he appeared to be succumbing to his injuries. “NOOO!” the Masked Squirrel cried out as she rushed towards SpongeBob and held him in her arms as he lied there unresponsive. “Oh, no! Please wake up, little buddy.”

Patrick gasped in horror as he thought to himself, “Not another Mermaid Man.”

The crowd became silent when the Masked Sponge did not wake up, even Mr. Krabs and Squidward appeared saddened as they watched everything on the news. Perch Perkins got in front of the camera and reported, “With the mutant defeated and Bikini Bottom safe, it seems that everything is at peace. However, it seems it all came with a price: The Masked Sponge is gone, and no longer will we have him…or the Krusty Krab…and its krabby patties.”

Hearing these last words echo in his mind, SpongeBob’s eyes shoot open and he immediately sits up, pushing Sandy away. “NO!” he screams in determination as he undoes his cape and pulls his spatula from his utility belt. “I will NEVER let that happen!”

Seeing that their favorite superhero was alive, everyone gasps in shock. Patrick smiles with joy as he shouts, “Masked Sponge, you’re okay!”

Frowning with seriousness, he states, “That is no longer my name.” and suddenly, he rips the mask off his face.

Everyone in the area gains even more shocked expressions at seeing the true identity of the Masked Sponge. As the camera crew zooms in on SpongeBob’s face, Mr. Krabs seemed the most shocked of all. “Me own fry cook…was the Masked Sponge this whole time?”

Squidward dully pointed out, “I’ve only told you that twelve times.”

Without another word, SpongeBob marched into the kitchen and turned on the grill. Afterwards, he went into the freezer and came out with a frozen krabby patty that he tossed like a disk, landing it perfectly on the hot grill. He then chopped up some lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese while he flipped the patty. When he was ready, he tosses aside the boxes that he knew contained the tainted buns and pulled out a bag of buns that he used to place his finished patty on and topped it with all the ingredients.

Soon, SpongeBob emerged from the kitchen, holding up a plate with the krabby patty. Everyone looked anxious since as far as they knew, krabby patties caused people to mutate and run rampant. But SpongeBob turned to Patrick and spoke, “Patrick, as the one who always stood by me whether I was the Masked Sponge or SpongeBob, I’d like you to try the first good krabby patty.”

“Oh, krabby patty…” Patrick said with a teary smile as he took the patty. “How I’ve missed you.” He quickly pats SpongeBob on the back while adding, “And I’ve missed you too, SpongeBob.”

After he took a bite, everyone watching gasped in fright, fearing they would have another mutant to deal with. It didn’t help that after Patrick swallowed, he began to shake and groan. However, Patrick’s face broke out in a smile and he shouts, “That was the best krabby patty ever! You really are a superhero, SpongeBob!”

SpongeBob smiled with joy that the first krabby patty he made in days was being enjoyed by his best friend. Afterwards, he heard a slow clapping sound and turned to see the Masked Squirrel clapping her hands, which was followed by everyone else in the Krusty Krab doing the same as they cheered. SpongeBob glows with joy as the clapping turns to cheering, and while he didn’t know it, Squidward and Mr. Krabs clapped for their fellow employee from across town.

Now that the krabby patties and the Krusty Krab had their name cleared, the true culprit, Bubble Bass, was being arrested. He scowled after being put in the back of the police car and SpongeBob watched with a satisfied smile. “Looks like you’ll be getting your own apartment after all, Bubble Bass.” Said the former Masked Sponge.

“It’s THE Bass!” Bubble Bass screams before being driven away.

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Chapter 14: The Epilogue

Two days after the big climatic superhero fight that was the talk of Bikini Bottom, things were starting to return to normal, especially for the Krusty Krab. Mr. Krabs had been released from prison, The Krusty Krab had been repaired, the contaminated buns had been recalled and replaced with fresh ones, business was running again in the restaurant, and krabby patties were being cooked by the one and only fry cook who was all too happy to have his job back.

Stroking the side of the grill, SpongeBob gently spoke to it, “I know I’ve already said this twelve times, but boy did I miss you.” He wrapped his arms around the grill as he rambled, “I’ve missed your warmth, I’ve missed your sizzle…”

Before he can further express his love, Squidward interrupted from the other side of the window, “Hey Masked Moron,” He angrily called, glaring at SpongeBob. “Where are the two krabby patties I asked for?”

“Right here!” SpongeBob blissfully answered as he handed two plates each holding a krabby patty. “And you don’t have to call me that anymore, Squidward. I only go by ‘SpongeBob’ now.”

Suddenly, the kitchen door swings open and Mr. Krabs barges in with a crowd of people. “And here we have the Masked Sponge. For only five dollars, you can take a picture with him.”

“Wha?” SpongeBob asked in stun until he was pulled out of the kitchen by a random customer, who held SpongeBob close and took a selfie with him. The other customers nearly blinded him with the flash of their cameras.

SpongeBob chuckles bashfully and says, “Oh, thank you. But really, I am now only SpongeBob.”

“Yeah, but you’re still the superhero who saved us all.” One male fish pointed out, followed by the rest of the customers cheerfully agreeing.

With an awkward smile, SpongeBob wonders, “Gee, am I?”

Mr. Krabs puts an arm around SpongeBob and assures, “Lad, you’re the biggest hero this side of Bikini Bottom. Thanks to you, I got outta jail, I got me restaurant back, I got me business back, and best of all: I’m making more money than ever now that the Masked Sponge is working full time as me fry cook.”

SpongeBob grins, mentioning, “And he intends to keep it that way.”

“I hope so. Otherwise, I’d have to give you two paychecks for both identities.” Mr. Krabs mentioned, looking uncomfortable at the idea. “By the way, do you know who the Masked Squirrel is?”

Suddenly, SpongeBob’s expression goes to one of shock as he sweats nervously at his boss asking him to expose the Masked Squirrel’s secret identity. “W-W-Why do you ask that?”

“Because if I’m making money by selling photo ops with one superhero, imagine how much money I’d make by having double the package.”

SpongeBob began stammering nervously until Sandy approached and answered, “Hate to burst your barnacle, Mr. Krabs, but unfortunately, the Masked Squirrel has hung up her spats.”

“What?” Mr. Krabs asked in shock at hearing that yet another superhero retired. “How do you know?” he asked suspiciously.

Sandy easily answered, “The ol’ girl announced it right after that last fight.”
Groaning in dismay, Mr. Krabs complains, “I guess superheroes are already out of style now.”

As he walks away in disappointment, SpongeBob got closer to Sandy and whispered, “You really retired, Sandy? But I thought you would keep Bikini Bottom safe now that I’ve retired.”

“Aww, SpongeBob,” Sandy said in a comforting tone as she held his shoulder. “Don’t ya remember? I only became the Masked Squirrel just to help you out. Now that you and the whole town are safe, I’m not needed anymore.”

“Yeah…” SpongeBob responded with a small smile. “I guess so.”

“But…don’t mean we can’t still test our crime fighting skills with a little kay-rah-tae.”

Grinning with excitement, SpongeBob replied, “You know I’m in!”

“See ya later then.” Sandy waved as she went home to wait for him until he was done with work.

With a dreamy sigh, SpongeBob says to himself, “Masked Squirrel or Sandy Cheeks, I still love her.”

“Hello SpongeBob,” the sponge turned around to see his best friend, Patrick, greeting him.

“Oh, Patrick,” SpongeBob greeted nervously since he hadn’t really spoken to Patrick since his last battle as the Masked Sponge, “It’s great to see you again.”

“Yeah…” Patrick said with a calm smile, “I was pretty surprised when you turned out to be the Masked Sponge.”

SpongeBob now had a guilty frown as he said, “Listen, Pat, I’m sorry about lying to you all this time.” He gave a small smile as he added, “Out of everyone I wanted to tell my secret to, you were the one I wanted to tell the most.”

Expecting his best friend to furious with him, Patrick just held his shoulder and assured, “Don’t worry, buddy. I always had this funny feeling that you and the Masked Sponge were connected somehow.” With a dim chuckle, he adds, “Only someone…not smart could’ve not known it was you behind that mask.”

“Thanks Patrick.” SpongeBob said with a happy smile at his friend’s understanding. However, he sighs sadly and recalls, “Being a superhero again and helping everyone was pretty nice, but it’s just too bad that Mermaid Man still won’t be around to save the day.”

With a reassuring smile, Patrick states, “Hey, if Mermaid Man were here, I think he’d be super proud of you.”

SpongeBob got a tearful smile at the thought of his favorite superhero expressing joy at his heroics from beyond the beyond. However, his imagination was interrupted by Mr. Krabs shouting, “Get back to work, SpongeBob! Just cuz you’re a celebrity now, don’t mean you get extra breaks!”

Afterwards, SpongeBob slapped Patrick on the arm and said, “I’ll meet ya after work, buddy. Now that I’m no longer the Masked Sponge, I’ll have a lot of extra time on my hands for jellyfishing.”

“I’m looking forward to it, No-Masked SpongeBob.”

Soon, SpongeBob went back into the kitchen and continued doing his job. Patrick then left the Krusty Krab and started his walk back home by himself to wait until his best friend was done with his shift.

When he went underneath his rock, he wiped his forehead in relief. “Phew, that was a close one.” He said to himself as he walked toward his bedroom. “I was afraid SpongeBob would’ve found out my secret.”

He opened the closet door and stood there as he stared at a piece of clothing hanging from a single hanger. It was a red cape with a star in the middle, blue shorts, and a red mask.

Smiling with determination, Patrick declares, “Now that the Masked Sponge is out of business, it is Starfishman’s time to shine.

The End

 

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