a collaborative story
Since there was still a little time left before dinner, Stiffy decided to return home to see what he could find on the internet. He switched on his computer, logged on to the net, and was astonished by what appeared on the screen. There was what seemed to be the same Spondy he had seen earlier at Stirbuck's and at the post office. Behind the fellow was a background that read "Bonne Annee," "Feliz Nuevo Ano," "Felice Nuovo Anno," "Neujahrswunsch," etc. - "Happy New Year" in every known language of the world. Stiffy tried to log-off, but the same screen continued to appear. He unplugged his modem from the telephone line, but the picture was still there. He rebooted the computer, but to no avail. He even turned the machine off, un-plugged it, re-plugged it, and restarted it - and the same picture appeared. Only now the character was laughing. What on earth could be going on?
Stiffy decided to check the television for the latest news. Every channel - commercial and cable - had the same picture as had appeared on his computer screen.
Suddenly, the Spondy stopped laughing and began speaking.
"Residents of Spondyville, I speak for Dr. Payneful Lowerbackus, who has taken control of all communications across the country and around the world. A virus has been unleashed on all your computer systems that will prevent any communication or commerce from taking place. Those who rely on the net for connection to the outside world are now totally isolated. Dr. Lowerbackus' loyal operatives are the only beings with whom you will be allowed contact. There is no possibility of reaching your far-off relatives or friends. You have no means of buying anything, including food and medicine from anyone other than Dr. Lowerbackus' franchised businesses. All transportation in and out of Spondyville has ceased, so you cannot get away. You are trapped in this place and in this body with no hope of ever escaping the pain and suffering that is inherent to this disease. Dr. Lowerbackus will not allow the development or manufacture of any medications that will bring you relief. Further information will be provided at a later time, as the situation warrants. Meanwhile, have a nice day."
The screen went black for a few seconds, then the Happy New Year greeting reappeared, dancing about, as if mocking the immobility of the viewers. Stiffy sank into his recliner, not wanting to believe that one person could add so much to the already immense pain and suffering of the residents of Spondyville. Hadn't they all endured enough? What would they do without medications to ease the constant pain? Stiffy thought of getting into a tub of extremely hot water, but realized that would only provide temporary relief, and even though he had a solid core of tundra-like perma-frost, he had to be careful of melting. Besides, he needed to go out to find his brother, Spiffy, to see if they could think of some way out of this horrible dilemma. Ironically, there were many residents of Spondyville who had no clue as to what was going on. Everyone was so looking forward to a gala evening of music and dancing to bring in the New Year, but how would they manage with no NSAIDS of painkillers?
Going out into Ankylosinger Square, Stiffy found Spiffy sitting on a bench, watching the crowd gathering. Spiffy seemed to be a bit more hunched over than he had been earlier. "Are you okay," asked Stiffy "You know," replied Spiffy, "I'm beginning to get a little sore and I can't seem to find anything to take for the pain."
"Usually, the pharmacist has a good supply of the meds I need, but today, when I went there, he said some guy he had never seen before bought out his entire supply of meds earlier this afternoon and, because of the festivities, a new shipment is not expected for several days. What are we going to do?" "Perhaps we should try to catch a train or bus to Another town to see if the pharmacy there has a supply," said Stiffy.
Both brothers were now feeling a lot of discomfort, so they slowly made their way to the bus depot. There was no rushing at this point. They approached the ticket counter and were greeted by the same strange Spondy they had seen earlier. How could this be - the same man at Stirbuck's, in the square, at the post office, on television, and now at the bus depot?
"Good evening," said the Spondy. "And where do you two fine gentlemen think you are going to go? Haven't you heard - all transportation and communication in and out of this town have ceased. Everything is now under the control of Dr. Payneful Lowerbackus and he says no one is going anywhere." "We're just trying to find a way to get some relief from this pain," replied Stiffy. "There is no relief," was the answer. "You people will just have to learn to live with this. Dr. Lowerbackus has no sympathy for you folks who complain all the time. Now go about your business."
Stiffy and Spiffy went back to the square. It was now about 6 o'clock and they looked for the friends they were supposed to dine with. All they heard were moans and groans. The restaurant was practically empty. Who could eat when they were all in such pain?
Just when things were looking really bad, a voice rang out: "Stiffy! Spiffy! Do come in," said the manager. "I managed to get in a shipment of chili peppers just before the roads were closed, and we've prepared a salsa that might help with your inflammation problem. It is said that the heat of the peppers causes the brain to secrete endorphins, which block the pain sensation. And I have some cool yogurt to relieve the burning in the mouth."
"Hey, I'll try anything," said Stiffy, bravely. "I so wanted to enjoy this evening, but at the moment all I can think of is my recliner and a hot pack."
"I don't like hot foods very much," said Spiffy, "but could you prepare an omelet using the peppers? I've used bell peppers and potatoes with eggs, and its very yummy."
"Why not," said the manager, and he went to the kitchen to talk with his chef. In almost no time, the manager returned with the two servings, salsa and chips for Stiffy and an omelet for Spiffy. Both brothers enjoyed the food and, amazingly, their perception of pain dimmed considerably. Others, who had been looking in the window of the restaurant, saw the brothers eating with such relish, and decided to also give the hot peppers a try. By 8 o'clock, when the presentation was scheduled to begin at the Opera House, most of the townspeople were feeling better and ready to enjoy the entertainment. But the evil genius, Dr. Lowerbackus had only begun his campaign to spoil the revelries and take over the world ...
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Oh, forget about that best of times, Spondyville was in an uproar. Dr. Payneful Lowerbackus had succeeded in nearly crippling the entire town. All the beloved citizens of Spondyville, (a town founded in the late 1800's as haven for people suffering with a common arthritic malady), were affected. Through the decades, many pilgrims had made their way to the little town of Spondyville. They heard from relatives, they heard from the Spondylitis Association, they heard from neighbors and friends and yes, they had even found out about this unique community from the internet. (!!) Now it seems that it's this very same internet that is playing an integral part in crippling the community of Spondyville.
Oh, did I say crippling? Forget that, too. These citizens could be down, they could get flares, they could even face joint replacements, but they would never be crippled! Why, one famous baseball Spondy even survived a trade to the Boston Red Sox. But never mind that. Spondyville residents are way too strong and resourceful to let a little shortage of NSAIDS, Cox inhibitors, and yes, even their pain killers and sleep aids get them down.
On the eve of the new millenium, Stiffy and Spiffy, the twin Snowspondys were strutting (as well as any Snowspondy can strut), all over the town of Spondyville in their finest attire.
They had dressed to the nines (They used to be able to dress to the tens, but like all Spondyville residents they had diminished in stature just a tiny bit.) Their plan to be at Ankylosinger Square just as the giant anti-inflammatory pill dropped at the stroke of midnight had been foiled by that evil Dr. Lowerbackus. The announcement had come out that very afternoon over cable television, the internet, radio and even cell phones, that the evil Dr's plan had succeeded in drying up all the pharmacies of their supplies of the medications that kept these Spondys in check. What would it be next, would the furniture companies suddenly have no more recliners left? Would the surgical supply stores suddenly find that raised toilet seats and left-handed grocery reachers were now completely out of stock?
As the residents, including Stiffy and Spiffy, approached that time of the evening that they knew would mean new medication, they wondered how they would manage to put one foot in front of the other. Oh, sure, they had tried other methods - they had tried gin and golden raisins, the no- starch laundry diet, and even, the dreaded "Hey noni-noni juice" (ugh). Why, once they had even taken all the magnets off of all the refrigerator doors in Spondyville, and tried them on different fused or fusing parts, but to no avail. These people needed their NSAIDS.
A stranger in town, who had been been showing up in all the most picturesque places in Spondyville, had to know something about this dilemma. This man had a distinctive gold cane, not that canes were all that unusual in Spondyville. This cane was special. The man had been at the local Stirbucks and had waited on the two SnowSpondys as they were attempting to buy the new Millenium Stamp issued just this one night. There were so many intelligent, resourceful, creative spondys in town for the millenium celebration. There were accountants and writers. There were photographers and nurses. There were teachers and students. Spondys come in all shapes and sizes and degrees of stiffness, but one thing was for sure- these spondys were getting stiffer by the moment. Did this stranger, the one with the golden cane, have a solution for these dazed Spondys? Or, was he the problem?
At the end of the last chapter, our heroes were contemplating their next move, knowing full well that they had only temporarily foiled Dr. LowerBackus. But what they did not know was that one of the dark and sinister leaders of the evilbots was none other than "DARTH SPONDY". Darth, at a young age, was banished from his family for being so evil at such an early age. He oversaw a hostile take-over of the Pablum industry when he was only 2 and at 3, was managing Menudo. Obviously he was having a very negative effect on his siblings especially his younger brothers. When he was 5, The federal authorities decided to banish him to Antarctica to, in their words, "let him chill out a little".
The years passed and Darth was forgotten and never retrieved from the frozen world. Darth was raised by polar bears, who took him under there paw, so to speak. When he grew up, he became their leader and they adored him and would do anything for him. (I was going to say he was raised by penguins but the Batman people already used that one.)
Anyway, this is where Dr. Lowerbackus entered the picture. The place he decided to built to do his research and launch his deadly plan was, (What a coincidence!), the continent of Antarctica, where he would not be bothered (he assumed), by anyone. There he could refine his mind control substance and perfect his Evil-bots.
Upon arriving in the arctic wasteland, he found Darth and his polar bears and naturally, the recruitment began.
The Dr. convinced Darth that he could join forces with him and go back to Spondyville and seek revenge on everyone who had conspired to send him to this frozen prison. Darth, not needing much coaxing, was all too eager to join forces, and with him brought a loyal army of killer polar bears. Could the citizens survive this barrage of mind control, evilbots, killer polar bears and now the sinister mind and determined revenge agenda of Darth Spondy?
Back in Spondyville Stiffy and Spiffy were growing concerned.. Stiffy knew something had to be done, but what? As the night progressed, both of our spondys started to stiffen up and the pain was growing by the moment.
Stiffy knew he needed to figure something out and soon. The whole town was beginning to start to show horrible pain and stiffness, and all of this with no NSAIDS in sight. The effect of the chili peppers had worn off and no more anti-inflammatory foods were left within the entire tri-state area.
Stiffy told Spiffy he had to get away from town to think and figure something out.
Spiffy said he would keep watch in town and wished Stiffy luck. As Stiffy thought on the situation one thing came to mind. The fact that the evil Dr. was counting on everyone looking up at the golden pill at midnight, was the weak link in the plan. He forgot that not many of the citizens were able to look up at all.
Ah, yes, but Stiffy knew there would have to be more. As Stiffy grew more and more stiff, he decided to go to an old sacred Indian ground located on the outskirts of town and see if the gods could offer any help or inspiration. After sneaking out of town by jumping on the rear fender of one of Doctor Lowerbackus' Access-a-Ride vehicles used to transport his evil-bots, Stiffy slowly made his way up the trail to the sacred ground. There Stiffy came upon the large, inflammed "burning joint". (No, not a marijuana joint! C'mon, you pot-heads, this is not that kind of a story!) The burning ELBOW joint, (See? A more logical visual image.), called to him and said, "Stiffy be not afraid. I have contacted and touched you before, but you did not listen to me then. You ignored me. And you finally succumbed and replaced me with your false joints. But the gods do have compassion on you and have some guidance for you. You must muster up your strength and endure your pain a little longer. You must go on a quest to the most sacred place of all, the mythical Tumor Necrosis Falls. Upon your arrival you must drink of the water, then and only then will you be transformed and you will be given 2 tablets to take back to your people. It is through you that they will find salvation.
(What Stiffy did not realize at the time was that the journey would be a long and arduous one, involving a magic spell and a travel through time. But that was all in the future.)
Without delay, Stiffy headed off to Tumor Necrosis Falls, not knowing what to expect or what the 2 tablets would contain.
He did not know what lay ahead for him on this journey, he only hoped that whatever happened, he would not be too late to save Spondyville!
Chapter 7- Another journey begun again.
Stiffy set off on his journey. The burning joint had given him a map to help him find his way to Tumor Necrosis Falls. As he made his way North, towards his goal, he suddenly came upon a dense forest. Stiffy was, for the first time all day, a little afraid. He had heard stories of Snowspondys being eaten by Tree Goblins in the dark and forboding forests which surrounded Mount Spondy. He was debating whether to turn back and forget the whole thing, when he remembered the pained looks on all the townsfolk and he knew that, tree goblins or no, he was going to have to enter the forest to get to his destination. Slowly, (and painfully), he moved along the lone path that stretched through the forest. The sunlight, which had been so abundant only minutes earlier, quickly faded as the leafy canopy of the tall trees blocked out the light. Fortunately, Stiffy had brought along, in his back-pack, a trusty flashlight and it lit up enough of the path for him to walk ever so nervously forward.
The wind blowing through the trees rustled the branches just enough for Stiffy to imagine a tree goblin on every branch ready to ponce on him. Slowly, cautiously, he continued moving forward, deeper and deeper into the forest.
After what seemed like hours of walking, Stiffy was exhausted and looked for a place to sit and rest for a moment. He found a tree with a low hanging branch and slowly lowered himself to the ground. He sat, leaning up against the tree and closed his eyes for awhile. His mind wandered off to dreamland and his head was filled with visions of ice cream and frozen slurpies.
Suddenly, a noise! Stiffy's eyes opened wide ... "A tree goblin", he thought. He listened intently to see if he could figure out where the tree goblin was hiding, waiting to pounce on him.
He listened with all his might and shone his flashlight on the surrounding trees hoping to catch the tree goblin in its yellow-ish beam. Nothing. He was about to chalk the whole thing up to his understandably over-anxious imagination, when the flashlight's beam was reflected by a tiny gleam coming from behind a shrub on the other side of the path.
"Aha", Stiffy cried out, "I have you now, tree goblin ... You keep away from me. I'm a very dangerous Snowspondy and I will not allow you to eat me. I am on a mission to save Spondyville."
When the tree goblin did not respond, Stiffy moved forward, (prudently), and tried to get a better look at the hideous monster.
What a surprise to discover that tree goblins looked just like cute little ducklings.
Stiffy breathed a sigh of relief. This was no tree goblin at all. It actually was a baby duckling.
A cute little baby duck, that was stuck ... in a bramble bush; his feather's caught in the many burrs. He looked very frightened and was so dehydrated he could barely quack.
Stiffy edged closer. "Oh hello little fella, what are you doing so far from home?" The little duck did not speak. Stiffy could see that tears were trying to well up in the little duck's eyes, but he must have been too dehydrated... "Poor Fella. Let me I give you a hand."
The frightened duckling allowed Stiffy to release him from the bush's burrs. He managed to wriggle out of Stiffy's grasp, but was too weak to go very far collapsing after only a few steps.
Stiffy went over to him and gently picked him up. Poor fella. You need some food and water to get your strength back. (Like all good Snowspondys, Stiffy always remembered to carry a few emergency peanut butter sandwiches in his back-pack, but he was very low on water, having been real thirsty after his meeting with the burning joint. At the time, he just assumed that he would refill his thermos when he came to a stream. Unfortunately, he had not come across water of any kind yet. He shared what little he had left with the duck, but it was so dehydrated, Stiffy knew that would not be enough. Then Stiffy had an inspired realization. Snowspondys were made of snow!! (Very solid tundra-like perma-frost type snow, but snow nonetheless!) If he just placed the flashlight on his arm the heat from the light would eventually allow a small bit of snow to melt and it would trickle down to his hand. All he had to do was point his finger and place the little duck's open mouth underneath it, and the little duck would be re-hydrated in no time.
After a while the little duck was as good as new. His stomach was full and he felt well enough to speak.
"Hewwo Mith-dah Spowsnoddy ..." (Naturally, like all good comic relief side-kick characters, he spoke with a humorous speech impediment, which was, in its own way, quite endearing.)
"Than Yew foe wescuin me"
Stiffy was curious. "What are you doing here in the forest? Did you get lost? Where is your family?"
The little duck proceeded to tell Stiffy how he had wandered into the woods one day, after losing his way and getting separated from his family. That he had seen an owl and had run behind the bush to hide, only to get caught in the burrs He had been stuck there for more days than he count. (Of course, being a little duckling, he could only count up to two or maybe three on a good day, but never mind that )
Stiffy, suddenly remembered that he was on a quest and time was a-wasting, but he could not leave the little duck all alone. So, he invited him to join him.
The little duck happily agreed.
"My name is Stiffy the Snowspondy. What's your name?"
"I'm Fuser. I'm an Ankylo-duck." (Well, what did you expect in a story centered around Spondyville?)
"Well, 'Lil Fuser, it's time to get going. Spondyville and it's residents are in trouble and I errr WE have to save them."
And so, the two set off down the path that led out of the far side of the forest. While they walked, Stiffy recounted all that had gone before; Dr. Payneful Lowerbackus' sinister plan to rule the world, his use of evil spondy-bots and his joining forces with Darth Spondy.
'Lil Fuser looked worried. Stiffy reassured him that all would turn out fine in the end. (But, HOW could he possibly know that? Oh wait, maybe he was just saying that so Fuser would not be scared. Never mind.)
Anyway after a number of twists and turns, and ups and downs, the path emerged from the woods and there before them lay a beautiful panorama. A lush, green valley with streams, and babbling brooks, and there way off in the distance TUMOR NECROSIS FALLS!!
As they approached the very first stream, Fuser ran ahead and jumped in and swam around, splashing and playing. Stiffy, once again feeling the lack of anti-inflammatories, eventually caught up and leaned against a big rock, watching with amusement as Fuser enjoyed himself.
Suddenly, before Stiffy could turn around, he felt a presence. With great effort he pushed himself up and slowly turned, only to find himself face to face with an EVIL SPONDY-BOT!!
|Chapter 8 - The Plot Stiffens
Stiffy took a step back in surprise. "YOU! You're that stranger we've been seeing all over Spondyville! How did you find me?" The Spondy-bot just looked at him blankly. 'Lil Fuser, who had, moments earlier, been frolicking in the clear, fresh waters of the stream, stopped abruptly what he was doing and stared as Stiffy tried to speak to the Spondy-bot. "Where are you from? What do you want? How did you get here?"
In the now familiar singsong cadence in which all the evil cyborgs spoke, the Spondy-bot simply stated, "You are the Snowspondy. You must come with me." With that, the Spondy-bot put his arms around Stiffy, (not an easy thing for most of the residents of Spondyville), and actually picked him up and began to carry him away!!
'Lil Fuser hurriedly tagged along, hoping to find out what was going on, and why this person was carrying off his new friend.
About a hundred yards down the path, the Spondy-bot suddenly turned left and walked right into a tree At least it seemed that way to 'Lil Fuser. What had actually happened was that the Spondy-bot's built-in electronics had opened the hidden door in the enormous hollow tree trunk and the Spondy-bot and Stiffy had passed through the secret elevator entrance that lead to Doctor Payneful Lowerbackus' underground hideout.
'Lil Fuser ran and was JUST barely able to hop inside the tree trunk as the door slammed shut. He hid next to the feet of the Spondy-bot, (remembering something his mother had once told him; that most Spondyvilleans could not bend to see their feet all that well. This proved true for Spondy-bots imitating Spondyvilleans as well, as 'Lil Fuser remained unnoticed by the Spondy-bot.) Stiffy silently signaled him not to say anything.
After a long while, the door opened, and the three of them entered the underground lair of the evil doctor, who was standing in the middle of the room underneath a very bright halogen lamp, examining a rare stamp with a large magnifying glass.
'Lil Fuser snuck off and hid behind an old medical cabinet.
"Ah, Mr. Snowspondy, I presume. Thank you, John, you may go."
The Spondy-bot released Stiffy and abruptly turned and left. Stiffy noticed the room was still heavily guarded by malevolent-looking polar bears.
"Ummm excuse my theft of intellectual property, but, uh What's up, Doc?" (Stiffy's Bugs Bunny impression was always a big hit on amateur night at the fabulous art-deco Spondyville Bijou.)
"You have meddled in affairs which are of no concern to you, Mr. Snowspondy. You have interfered in my plans for the last time."
The evil doctor motioned to one of the polar bears who came over and grabbed Stiffy and forced him to lie down on a conveniently nearby table. The surprisingly nimble-fingered bear, then proceeded to tie Stiffy to the table with some rope that also appeared conveniently at hand err paw.
The doctor then focused the halogen light on Stiffy and placed his gigantic magnifying glass just inches above Stiffy's stomach.
Defiantly, Stiffy asked. "What is this? Do you expect me to talk?"
To which the evil doctor replied, "No, Mr. Snowspondy, I expect you to melt."
With that, Doctor Lowerbackus smiled as the magnifying glass began to melt our hero. Stiffy squirmed in a vain attempt to escape his bonds.
Things did not look good, as a small puddle began to form on the floor.
Fortunately, at that moment, the back door to the Doctor's lair was thrown open and a menacing figure dressed all in black strode in. He wore a large helmet which covered his face, and he walked with the powerful gait of someone with very evil intentions. It was DARTH SPONDY himself!!
"Doctor, I told you I would not tolerate cruelty and violence" (Darth's voice was deep and booming, just like you would imagine it to be if he was announcing that this was CNN.)
The doctor stepped back.
Stiffy breathed a sigh of relief.
The figure in black continued, "When we became partners, you promised that this whole plan would play out with a minimum of torture and killing."
"Sometimes it is a necessary expediency", the doctor argued.
"Expediency, Exshmediency, this is totally unnecessary."
"But", the evil doctor whined, "This Snowspondy is trying to ruin all our plans."
"He will not succeed", Darth replied. "Spondyville is doomed to suffer a fate worse than death a lifetime without medication, and we are about to take over the entire rest of the world ."
Stiffy spoke up. "Excuse me, may I ask a question?"
"Certainly", said Darth, "After all, there is nothing you can do to stop what is already happening."
"Do you really expect to take over the world? Why you must be mad!"
"And your point is?"
"What's the deal with those odd people with the sing-song-y voices?"
"Those", the doctor said with pride, "are my Spondy-bots. They are robotic replicants, who have infiltrated Spondyville and who now, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, are posed to take over the American work force at all levels, from factory worker to chairman of the board."
"Enough!" interrupted Darth. "We have other parts of the plan to implement. Doctor I suggest you get to the media control room."
"Darn it, look at the time. I will never get used to not having windows." With that, the doctor rushed out of the room.
Darth Spondy waited until the door had closed behind the doctor. He then crossed over to where Stiffy was lying and began to untie him.
To say Stiffy was confused would be putting it mildly. "Wait a minute, why are you doing this?"
"Don't you recognize me? Luke, I am your Uncle!"
"The name is Stiffy and you are NOT my uncle!"
Just then, 'Lil Fuser snuck around behind Darth and stepped on his cape. When Darth turned around, his cape fell to the floor, revealing a pair of very furry legs!
'Lil Fuser's eyes opened wide. "You're a POWAR BEAW?!!"
"Don't be ridiculous, little one, these polar bears are strictly for show. I am " And with that, Darth Spondy removed his helmet.
Stiffy gasped. "UNCLE WIGGLEY!!"
"Well, actually, since my nieces and nephews have all died, it's just Old Man Wiggley now."
"But, you're a rabbit with Rheumatism How come you're not hopping or limping or using a cane?"
"I haven't had to limp or use a cane since my hip-hop replacement surgery."
I walk normally now, although once in a while I get an overwhelming urge to rap. But never mind that."
"What are you doing being partners with Doctor Lowerbackus?"
"Yeath, expwain dat." Fuser added.
"I will explain more later. Right now I'll just say that I am working undercover to stop the doctor's evil plans."
"Sure, fooled me." Stiffy said with a full measure of skepticism, (and a half dose of sarcasm to boot.) "What about all that stuff about Darth Spondy and being sent to Antarctica, living with Polar Bears, etc."
"That was my cover story. I was embedded in Antarctica strictly for the purpose of being found by Doctor Lowerbackus and infiltrating his organization."
Suddenly, footsteps could be heard in the distance.
"Quick, we must take you to a safer place. Follow me."
Stiffy and Fuser looked at each other for a moment. They quickly decided they had no choice but to trust Old Man Wiggley. They followed him, (as best they could), as the rabbit quickly led them down a deserted hallway leading deeper into the bowels of Doctor Lowerbackus' headquarters.
(To be continued)
|Chapter 9 of "Stiffy2K" is now complete!
To continue on to the next exciting chapter of Stiffy2K, Click Here!
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Stiffy2K, Click Here!
If you would like to try YOUR hand at writing a chapter of this story, please send an email to: Spenser23@aol.com
|Thanks to Spenser, Margaret, Yvette, Laura, Tyler and Pete for each contributing a chapter to this story.|
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