"COURAGE AND THE HENDERSONS"
Note: This story is in no way related to the early '90s movie "Harry and the Hendersons".
Before I begin my story, I would like to give you my version of how the town of Nowhere was founded, because it's important to the story.
In 1802, two young Scottish immigrants named Joseph Williams and Reginald Baggs (who was incidently Eustace's grandfather) headed west toward California to establish their own town. Halfway there, in the territory of Kansas, they lost half of their rations to bears. Tired and defeated, the two friends decided to build the town right where they stood. Due to the scarcity of vegetation, as well as the lack of a map, Joseph and Reginald unanimously named their town Nowhere and started building.
The town probably would not have survived had it not been for the California Gold Rush. Everyone headed West, and Nowhere was declared a halfway point along the way. The town transformed from a post office and an outhouse to a decent-sized town. Early on, Joseph Williams was voted mayor of Nowhere by the toss of a coin. Any man other than Reginald would've felt cheated, but Reginald, nevertheless, accepted it. (Reginald, unlike Eustace, was a decent, good-tempered man. Hard to believe they're related!)
Things went well for everybody, until 1852. In that unforgettable year, Reginald Baggs (now as old as Eustace) was digging a hole to put in a telegraph pole when he suddenly struck oil! The town doubled its population overnight. Reginald became extremely wealthy and was declared Nowhere's Head of Finances. This infuriated the now-senile Joseph Williams, who couldn't believe Reginald's stroke of good fortune. If Joseph hadn't retired from office three years ago, he could've had a share of the oil profits! Joseph locked himself in his house for several weeks.
One month later, Reginald was discovered dead in a field outside of Nowhere, stabbed in the back. He was buried in Nowhere's first cemetery (which, as many Courage fans know, is where Courage's house was built on.) Naturally, everyone pointed to Joseph as the murderer. Despite his constant denials, Joseph Williams was found guilty of murdering his friend, Reginald Baggs. As he was led to the gallows, Joseph vowed that he would get even with Reginald and receive the money he rightfully deserved. Joseph was buried in an unmarked grave on the other side of town, far from the cemetery.
Since then, Nowhere experienced a steady decline to where it is today. There is a museum in Nowhere that chronicles its history, including the story mentioned above. The centerpiece of the museum is Joseph's prize possession: his first silver dollar, which was given to him by Reginald in their youth.
And now, on with the show!
Chapter 1: The Message
It was 3 A.M.
On the outskirts of Nowhere, the lonely little farmhouse stood surveying the landscape. The windmill was its only companion. Inside, the kitchen, living room, stairs, and the upstairs hallway remained vacant and empty. In the bedroom, Eustace and Muriel were both in a deep sleep.
Courage was in the attic. Normally, the dog slept on his masters' bed, but at around 1 A.M., he awoke from a nightmare screaming, which woke up Eustace and Muriel. Eustace kicked Courage out of the room and locked the door. Drowsy with sleep, Courage walked up to the attic. Once there, he took out a cot from a corner of the room and set it up across from his computer. Courage considered turning on the computer to view "certain websites", but he was far too tired. He crawled between the sheets and fell asleep.
Now, at five minutes after three, everything was dead silent. No wind, no crickets, nothing. What finally broke the silence was not a gust of wind or a creak of the house. It was actually Courage's computer, which was mysteriously turned on. Being a light sleeper, Courage woke up immediately to find himself bathed in a blue light from the computer screen. He traveled over to the computer, sat in the chair, and looked at the screen. In the center of the screen, was a black instant messenger box. The subject's name was only titled: "unknown". The message itself read: ARE YOU A RESIDENT OF NOWHERE?
For a moment, Courage thought his computer was playing another joke on him, but along the bottom of the screen, there was a steady stream of 'Z's moving from right to left. The computer was asleep. Someone else was talking to Courage. The message repeated itself.
ARE YOU A RESIDENT OF NOWHERE? ANSWER TRUTHFULLY.
Having no choice in the matter, Courage typed in the word 'Yes' and pressed Enter. After a moment, the stranger responded. Courage's fur began to stand on end as he read the message:
BE WARNED. IN 3 DAYS, VENGEANCE WILL RETURN. RETRIBUTION WILL BE ATTEMPTED. THE DOLLAR IS THE KEY.
Courage's eyes widened, partly with fear and partly with puzzlement. He read the message again and again, but Courage didn't understand what the cryptic message meant, so he typed in, "What does it mean?" However, just as he was about to press Enter, the monitor turned off by itself! Whining, Courage turned the monitor back on...but the message window and the stranger were gone.
Courage shakily wrote down the odd message on a slip of paper and placed it next to the computer. He wouldn't be getting anymore sleep for the rest of the night.
Five hours later, the sun had risen. Eustace, Muriel, and a tired Courage were at the kitchen table having breakfast. Nobody was talking, and Courage couldn't figure out why. His masters were unusually silent for the past several days. Suddenly, Eustace slammed down his coffee cup onto the table and declared, "Muriel! We need to get ourselves some visitors!"
"I agree," proclaimed Muriel. "It sure would be nice if we had some people to talk to."
Silently, Courage agreed with them.
Eustace continued. "Plus, I'm sick and tired of seeing the same two faces every single day."
Muriel began wondering, "If only there was someway that a few people could stop here for a few days or so."
"Yeah," grumbled Eustace. Then, a Grinch-like smile spread onto his face. "And I think I know how! Heh heh." Without a word, he turned and raced out the door.
Muriel and Courage glanced at each other and went outside. The didn't see Eustace anywhere. Suddenly, they heard hammering behind the house. The woman and her dog ran to the source of the sounds and saw a peculiar sight. Eustace was hammering large nails into a board of wood placed over two sawhorses. "What are ye doing, Eustace?" asked Muriel.
"Quiet!" bellowed Eustace. "I can't concentrate with you yapping,"
Turning to Courage, Muriel said, "I wonder what he's doing?" Courage just shrugged his shoulders and uttered an 'I dunno' sound.
Finally, Eustace held up the two by four, which had nails punctured all over it. Eustace than ran around the house toward the road with Courage and Muriel right behind him. Eustace heaved the wood onto the road. The nails stuck up towards the sky, creating a spike strip.
"There," said Eustace. "Now all we gotta do is wait for an unsuspecting car to drive by and 'whamo!' Instant visitors!" Eustace laughed at his own intelligence and headed back to the house. Muriel followed him, asking, "Don't you think this is a little drastic?"
"Drastic times call for drastic measures, woman! Now where's me paper?"
Courage decided to stay out a little longer. The nails were sharp enough to puncture even the thickest tire. Courage wondered what would happen if he accidently tripped into the spike strip. It wasn't a pretty picture.
"Ohh," muttered Courage to himself. "I have a bad feeling about this."
Coming soon: Chapter 2 - The Hendersons Arrive...