Disclaimer: I do not own TMNT. I really enjoy stories about "tiny turtles," so I wrote my own. Enjoy!
The Tale of the Monkodile
It seems like only yesterday my brothers and I were literally looking up to Master Splinter. Those days were filled with fun and frolic (in between intense ninjitsu training sessions). It was also during those younger years that we were each finding our place within the family unit. I discovered early on that I was the thinker, the voice of logic and reason. I remember one time when we were eight…
"Yay! I love sleepovers!" Michelangelo cried as he bounced up and down on the couch.
"Well, I don't think this really qualifies as a sleepover, since this is our place and we're the only guests," I said as I watched him jump. Leo, Raph and I sat on a pile of blankets and pillows on the floor of our living room. The remains of a pizza, popcorn and ice cream feast were scattered around us.
"So? Geez, Donny, do you always have to suck all the fun out of the room?" Raphael asked.
"Yeah!" Mikey added, sticking his tongue out at me.
"C'mon, guys," Leonardo said, "it's not often Master Splinter lets us stay up late like this, so why don't we just enjoy it."
"Whatever," Raph said, flopping onto his back. "So what do you guys wanna do now?" He asked as he stared at the ceiling.
"How about we watch another movie?" I suggested.
"We've seen two already!" Mikey said as he continued to bounce.
"Why don't we tell our own stories?" Leo said. "I'll tell a really good story, Mikey, if you'll sit quietly and listen."
"Okay," Mikey said eagerly. With one final leap he jumped off the couch and into the pile of blankets. Lying on his stomach, he propped up his head with his hands and stared at Leo expectantly.
"Once upon a time, there were four turtles…" Leo began.
"Were they brothers?" Mike asked.
"Yup. Their names were Mikey, Donny, Leo and Raph, and they lived in New York City. One day they went for a walk in Central Park. They saw a squirrel being chased by a big mean cat and ran over to help. Mikey grabbed the squirrel and kept him safe while his brothers scared the cat away. 'You are safe now little squirrel,' Mikey said. 'Thank you Mr. Turtle,' the squirrel said. Mikey was very surprised. 'You can talk?' he asked. 'Yes because I am a magic squirrel,' the squirrel said. 'And I will give you and your brothers three wishes.'"
Leo was interrupted by the sound of loud snoring. We all looked over at Raphael, who was pretending to sleep.
"Knock it off, Raph, the story is just getting good!" Mike snapped.
"You think that's a good story?" Raph scoffed. "I've seen commercials with better stories than this!"
"Well, I like it," I said, "even though the idea of a magic squirrel is nuts. Get it? Nuts." Met with blank stares, I quickly shut up.
"The story is dumb!" Raph continued. "First of all, why would we be walking in the park? It's not like we can go up to the surface anytime we want. And why didn't the 'magic squirrel' just use his powers to kick that cat's butt?"
"I suppose you could tell a better story, Raph?" A very irritated Leo asked.
Raphael flashed an evil grin. "I thought you'd never ask. Donny, get the lights."
I turned off the lights and rejoined my brothers in the pile. After a moment of pitch blackness Raphael switched on the flashlight, holding it directly under his chin.
"You may think we're the only mutants living in the sewers, but you're wrong," Raph began. "Deep in the sewers lives a mutant so mean and scary that no one who has seen it has lived to tell about it."
"Really?" Mike asked, clutching his pillow tighter.
"Really," Raph smirked. "A long time ago, a human flushed his sea monkeys down the toilet. They were ordinary sea monkeys just like the ones in your comic books, Mikey, until they hit the sewers."
"What happened then?" Mike asked, his eyes growing wider.
"They landed in a bunch of radioactive ooze, which killed all of them except one. That sea monkey grew and grew into a big monster monkey, with claws and fangs and everything! It roamed the sewers looking for people to eat, until one day it met a giant mutant crocodile…"
"Did they fight to the death?" Leo asked, also caught up in the story.
"No. They got married!" Raph exclaimed. "And then they had a baby…a half-monkey half-crocodile monster…a Monkodile! It was so evil and gross they abandoned it. But it didn't die, because it was too evil to die. Instead, it hunted down its parents and killed them and then it ate them!"
Everyone gasped, including me, even though I knew Raph was making it all up.
"You know the old 1800 sewer tunnel Master Splinter forbids us from ever exploring? That's where it sleeps! And when the Monkodile isn't sleeping it roams the sewers eating everything it can get its claws on…roaches, rats, sewer workers…" Raph then leaned forward and lowered his voice. "But do you know what its favorite food in the whole wide world is?"
"W-what?" Mikey asked, rising to the bait.
"TURTLES!" Raph shouted as he pounced on Mikey. Mikey screamed so loud I swear the entire city heard it. Master Splinter certainly did; he was in the living room in a flash, looking none too happy.
"What is going on here?" He demanded.
Ever the leader, Leo was the first to speak up. "Raph was telling a scary story Sensei, and he jumped on Mikey and scared him."
"Tattletale," Raph muttered.
"Enough," Master Splinter said. "We will discuss this further in the morning. Right now it is time for bed."
We all groaned and settled in under our blankets. Master Splinter bid us all goodnight and turned off the lights. Naturally it was less than a minute before Mikey broke the silence.
"Do you think the Monkodile could find us here?" He whispered fearfully.
"Mikey, there's no such thing as a Monkodile," I said.
"Sure there is," Raph said. "Don't try to protect him, Donny. He needs to know this stuff if he's gonna survive down here." He turned the flashlight back on and turned to Mikey. "If you want to avoid being Monkodile chow there's a few things you gotta do. First, don't wear orange…he hates that color. And always carry a head of lettuce everywhere you go…it's the only thing that will keep a Monkodile away. And whistle! The lettuce won't work if you're not whistling!"
"But I can't whistle!" Mikey whined.
"Oh…I guess you're doomed then," Raph said.
"Stop it, Raph!" I said. "Raph's just messing with you, Mikey. Right, Leo?"
"I dunno…" Leo said. "If ooze exists that can mutate four turtles and a rat, I suppose anything's possible."
"There you go!" Raph beamed triumphantly.
"Don't listen to them, Mikey," I sighed. "Even if a mutated sea monkey AND a mutated crocodile did exist, it would be impossible for them to have a baby."
"Give it a rest, Donny," Raph said. "You know the Monkodile is real and you're just as scared as everyone else. You just won't admit it!"
"It is not real!" I whispered fiercely. "I can prove it! I'll go into the 1800 tunnel and show you guys there is no Monkodile!"
"Donny, no!" Leo said. "Master Splinter said…"
"I'll just run in and out," I replied. "If something does live in there, they'll be some kind of evidence, like a nest. If I find anything, I'll admit Raph was right. If not, Raph has to admit I'm the smartest turtle in the world."
"Okay," Raph said. "But I'm going with you, to make sure you actually do it." He got up. "Let's go."
"Now?" I asked, taken by surprise. "We can't go now, I..."
"What's the matter, ya scared?" Raphael smirked. "Just admit I'm right so we can go to sleep."
"Yeah," Mike said nervously.
"Let's go!" I said, kicking off the blankets and getting up. Raph had pushed one button too many. I was sick of his teasing and bullying; just this once I wanted to put him in his place.
"Guys, you can't!" Leo whispered desperately. "You'll get in trouble!"
"We won't be gone long, Leo, I promise," I said. "We'll be there and back before you know it, and in one piece." Before Leo or Mike could protest, Raph and I were out the door.
Ten minutes later we arrived at the entrance of the old 1800 tunnel, one of many areas Master Splinter had declared off limits. Built in the early 19th century as part of the city's original sewer system, it was now the crumbling, condemned remains of a bygone era. A few wooden planks were nailed across the entrance, enough to warn people to stay out but not enough to keep them out. Staring into the black void I began to get nervous; not because I believed in the Monkodile, but because I was about to go wandering around a dark, dangerous tunnel against my Master's wishes just to prove how smart I was. At that moment, I didn't feel very smart.
"Well?" Raph asked. "Are you going in?"
"Aren't you coming?" I asked.
"No way!" Raph said, feigning fear. "There's a turtle-eating mutant in there! Hey, if it eats you can I have your walkman?"
"I know you're just trying to scare me, Raph, and it's not working," I said, trying to sound braver than I felt. "I'll go in there, look around, and come out. I guarantee I won't find anything."
"Okay, but you have to stay in there at least five minutes for me to believe it," Raph said as he handed me the flashlight.
"Fine!" I snapped. "I'll see you in five minutes!" I quickly stormed into the tunnel before I lost my nerve. It was narrower than the more modern ones, with huge cracks in the walls and ceiling caused by years of decay. I stepped over or around piles of debris, but nothing I saw indicated that any living thing other than me had been in the tunnel in decades. After a minute or two I began to relax and even smiled once I realized I was going to win the bet. Then I heard a noise behind me.
I spun around and waved my flashlight back and forth. Nothing. Still, I decided it had been five minutes and started to head back. I hadn't gone two feet when I heard a low moaning coming from the darkness, just out of reach of my flashlight.
"Raph?" I yelled. No response. "I know it's you, Raph, knock it off!" Still no response. I took a deep breath and continued to walk. That's when the moaning started again, followed by the sound of footsteps splashing through the water. I held my ground, refusing to give in to irrational fear.
"It's just Raph," I said to myself. "There's no such thing as a Monkodile…there's no such thing as a Monkodile…there's…"
Suddenly there was a loud screech followed by a louder crash, like the sound of something big and angry smashing its way through debris, and instantly all of my logic and reasoning vanished. I turned and ran down the tunnel as fast as I could, vaulting over the debris like an Olympian. I probably would have broken a world record or two if I hadn't hit a dead end. I turned and swung the flashlight's beam around, searching for anything I could use as a weapon. The light fell on a rusty pipe about five feet long, which I quickly snatched up. When I realized I couldn't effectively use the pipe and hold the flashlight at the same time my ninja training kicked in; I dropped the flashlight, gripped the pipe like a Bo staff and listened.
The noise came closer and closer, and my heart beat faster and faster. I desperately tried to concentrate on Master Splinter's words…listen to the sounds around you, my son…listen and wait…wait for the right moment to…STRIKE! The pipe connected with an object and sent it crashing into the wall. I dropped the pipe and felt around in the water until I found the flashlight. I turned the beam on what was my brother half buried under a pile of brick and concrete; the force of the impact had caused the old wall to crumble on top of him.
"Raphael!" I cried, rushing to his side. "Are you okay?"
"Ooooh," Raph moaned. "Geez, Donnie, can't you take a joke?"
I was too worried to be angry with him. I began to dig through the pile until Raph was almost completely uncovered; all that remained was a huge slab of wall that pinned his right foot to the ground. Despite my best efforts, it wouldn't budge. And as if that wasn't bad enough, once again I heard the sounds of footsteps echoing off the tunnel walls.
"Do you hear that?" Raph whispered, this time with genuine fear in his voice.
"Yeah," I whispered back. I immediately grabbed the pipe again and stood ready in front of my brother.
"What are you doing?" Raph whispered. "Run!"
"It's a dead end, Raph," I replied. "And even if it wasn't, you know I would never abandon you, no matter how big a jerk you are. Now be quiet!"
For once Raph listened to me. And I listened to the footsteps, gripping the pipe tighter as they came closer. Suddenly a yellow circle of light hit me in the face; panicked, I swung blindly.
"Hey, watch it, Donny!" A familiar voice yelped.
"Leo?" I asked, putting my hand across my eyes to block the light.
"Yeah, and me too," Mikey piped up. My two brothers emerged from the darkness; Leo held the flashlight and Mike was holding an apple. They both gasped when they noticed Raph.
"What happened?" Leo asked.
"Long story," I sighed.
"You can tell them later," Raph said. "Get me out of here!"
Even with the three of us pushing and pulling, we couldn't get Raph free. Finally we gave up and sat around trying to figure out what to do next.
"Maybe we should get Master Splinter," Leo suggested.
"No! He'd kill us!" Raph cried. "Come on, Donny, think of something!"
"Why me?" I asked, even though I knew the answer.
"C'mon, Donny, you know why!"
"No, why?" I asked again, this time with a big grin on my face.
Raph gritted his teeth. "Because you're the smartest turtle in the world!"
"So there is no Monkodile?" Mike asked hopefully.
"No, Mikey." I said. "Right, Raph?"
"Right," Raph growled. "Now get me out of here!"
I looked around for something that might be able to move the slab, and my eyes fell on the lead pipe. An idea hit me like a thunderbolt. "We can use this as a lever!" I exclaimed as I grabbed it up. I jammed it in between the slab and a large chunk of crumbled wall. "Leo, grab Raph's wrists. Mikey, when I give the word you and I will lean hard on this end of the pipe, and Leo is going to pull." We all got into position. "Go!" I yelled.
Mike and I leaned hard, lifting our feet off the ground; our combined weight raised the slab an inch or two, enough for Leo to pull Raph free. We all whooped for joy as Raph jumped to his feet.
"How's your foot?" Mike asked.
"Fine," Raph replied, moving his foot around in small circles.
"Good," I said. "It would be tough to explain a broken foot to Sensei. We'd better get back before he realizes we're gone."
The four of us walked back, Leo and Raph in the lead with Mike and I right behind them. Mike was unusually quiet; he pulled the apple from his belt and turned it over in his hands, looking at it intently.
"So are you going to eat that apple or are you trying to communicate with it?" I joked.
"I didn't bring it with me to eat," Mike admitted. "I thought maybe it would keep the Monkodile away. I mean, it's not a head of lettuce but it's round and green so I thought…" he trailed off. "Stupid, huh? Being scared of a made up monster. I wish I was like you, Donny. You're so smart and so brave…not a scaredy-turtle like me."
"You are brave, Mikey," I said. "You came looking for me and Raph even though you were scared of the Monkodile. That sounds pretty brave to me."
Mike's face lit up. "Really? Thanks, Donny!"
"Quiet guys, we're home," Leo whispered. "Time to switch to ninja mode."
We turned off the flashlights and quietly slipped into the lair. We were steps away from the safety of our blankets when the entire living room lit up and we found ourselves facing our Sensei. And I gotta say, at that moment he looked way scarier than any Monkodile. I'll spare you the gory details of what happened next, but sufficed to say it was a long time before we went exploring forbidden areas again.
Still, any experience is a good one if you learn something from it. That night I learned that my brains were every bit as valuable as ninja brawn, plus I now had something to lord over Raph for the rest of our lives. And that, my friend, made it all worthwhile.