A/N: I wrote this with the intention of it being "episode like" … but it turned out more random than I'd anticipated.
SpongeBob tried to comfort his boss, who sobbed uncontrollably. "There, there, Mr. Krabs," said SpongeBob. "It's okay."
"Why?!" Mr. Krabs cried, tears gushing like torrents. "Why, Neptune, Why?!"
"I guess turning the Krabby Patties into hand puppets wasn't such a good idea after all."
"But I could have sworn it'd bring in lots of customers!" Mr. Krabs grabbed SpongeBob's shirt collar, raising his voice: "Do you know how much of me money I lost putting on that stupid charade?!"
SpongeBob nervously swallowed. "Uh …"
"Over fourteen thousand dollars!" He dropped the sponge to the ground to free his claws, allowing him to continue covering his watery eyes.
"Fourteen thousand dollars!" exclaimed SpongeBob. "That's A LOT of money!"
Mr. Krabs only sobbed louder.
"Don't cry, Mr. Krabs," said SpongeBob. "I'll think of a better idea to bring in more customers. We'll get that money back in no time!"
"It's no use, boy." Mr. Krabs sniffled. "I'm just gonna go in me back office and dig up me old, unscratched lotto tickets I've saved for a day like this."
"Wouldn't they be expired?"
Mr. Krabs didn't listen. He was already dragging himself toward the door.
"Wait!" SpongeBob called after him. "I just had another great idea! How about this … instead of pickles on the patties, we use … finger-puppets!"
"Barnacles! That's the fourth idea in a row you've had involving puppets!"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Krabs! I've just got puppets on the brain!"
"Well, think of something else!"
SpongeBob punched at his head. "Think, SpongeBob, think…" he said to himself. "… I've got it! This one only involves violent animatronics! We'll bring in a mechanical seahorse!"
"That's not an animatronic!" Mr. Krabs snapped. "… though people will pay to see others bucked and thrown off those things. Ooh! And we can save money on buying one by just using Squidward!"
Squidward glanced up from his book at the cashier boat. "Um, no thanks."
"Yeah …" Mr. Krabs sighed, defeated. "He's much too scrawny."
"Look, forgive me for interjecting with some actual common sense," began Squidward. "… but isn't the best idea to make money not some stupid scheme but just selling a lot of Krabby Patties?"
"That's it!" said Mr. Krabs. "We'll have a contest! Whoever buys the most Krabby Patties wins!"
"Uh, don't you mean eat the most Krabby Patties?" asked SpongeBob. "That's how an eating contest works."
"Who said anything about an eating contest? I was just going to make a contest about whoever orders the most. The winner would get free napkins!"
"You should make it a Krabby Patty eating contest! The one who eats the most in one minute is the winner!"
Mr. Krabs smirked. "I see where you're going with this, boy. Every patty they eat in the contest, we'll charge 'em for!"
"Um … that's not really what I—"
"Brilliant idea, SpongeBob!" said the crab. "We'll have it this weekend!"
"No one will enter a stupid contest like that!" said Squidward. "You need a good prize!"
"How about the winner gets their patties for free?" said SpongeBob.
"That's it! We'll rig it!" Mr. Krabs snickered. "Oh, this'll be great …"
SpongeBob frowned. "Uh, that's not exactly what I meant …"
"We can fix it so you win and we don't have to actually give a prize to anyone!" said Mr. Krabs.
"How would we do that?"
Mr. Krabs pulled out a huge platter of Krabby Patties in a seemingly impossible way. "With lots of practice!"
"Mr. Krabs, I can't—"
Mr. Krabs interrupted SpongeBob by picking him up and placing him at a table, with the patties in front of him. "Dig in! I'll time you!"
SpongeBob looked hesitantly at the patties. After a couple seconds, he picked one up and slowly took a bite.
"No, no, no!" said Mr. Krabs. "That's not nearly fast enough! Plus, you can't use your hands!"
"Then how am I supposed to eat the patties?!"
Mr. Krabs quickly tied SpongeBob's hands together behind his back. "With your mouth!"
"Like an animal?!" asked SpongeBob as he struggled in vain against the rope.
Mr. Krabs pushed SpongeBob's head into the platter. "Yep! You're good at engorging yourself, right? Do it for ol' Mr. Krabs!"
"Aye, aye, sir!" SpongeBob inhaled the patties like a vacuum cleaner. In a matter of seconds, the platter sparkled clean. "How was that Mr. Krabs?"
"Not bad, boy! But you're gonna need more practice if you're gonna win the contest. Gotta stretch out your stomach walls."
SpongeBob brightened. "Oh, boy!"
SpongeBob groaned. "Oh, no…"
"Come on, lad! Go, go, go! Eat, eat, eat!" chanted Mr. Krabs.
SpongeBob sat at the table, food smeared on his face and his gut bulging over his unbuckled square belt. The pupils in his eyes looked in two different directions. "I can't do this, Mr. Krabs … I've already eaten a hundred."
"No, you've only eaten ninety-seven!"
SpongeBob belched, causing a soggy Krabby Patty to pop out of his mouth.
He doubled over in pain. "If I eat another, I think I'm gonna explode…"
"Nonsense! Your stomach's just in expanding mode!"
"I think it's stretched enough," said SpongeBob. "… and it's gonna pop like a BALLOON!"
Mr. Krabs growled. "You've at least got to hit the triple digits!" He turned to the cashier boat. "Mr. Squidward! How many minutes are we at?"
"Oh, I'm the timekeeper?" Squidward glanced lazily at the clock. A grin spread across his face. "It's a minute past … the end of my shift! HA!" He flicked his uniform hat off. "Time to go home and—"
"Practice your clarinet, yeah yeah, we know," interrupted Mr. Krabs. He gestured to SpongeBob. "What about fixing the contest?!"
Just then SpongeBob slid out of the chair and onto the ground. He fell flat on his back. Krabby Patty mush simultaneously seeped out of every one of his holes. "Ugh …" he groaned.
Mr. Krabs stared for a moment at his fallen employee before saying, "Oh, forget it. You want something done right, you gotta do it yourself!"
Squidward paused, his tentacle on the door. "You? You really think you could win that contest?" he scoffed.
"Aw, who am I kidding? You're right." Mr. Krabs paused. " … now who's that fat friend of SpongeBob's again?"
A couple hours later, SpongeBob slowly opened his eyes. He didn't remember at first why he was laying passed out on the floor, belt unbuckled, with his hands tied behind his back — but he was slightly relieved when he did.
SpongeBob used his tongue to help prop himself on his feet. His balance was slightly off. He managed to push the door open with his square hip and start his way home.
"Hello, SpongeBob!" said the moon.
He glanced up for a second. "Oh, hey moon."
SpongeBob sighed. "I disappointed my boss and my stomach ruptured. And now I'm stuck with my hands tied behind my back."
"Aw. Hey, you what would make you feel better?"
"Eclipsin'," said the moon. "Always takes the edge off for me."
"… I don't think I can do that."
If it could have, the moon would have shrugged. "Guess it's a galactic body thing."
SpongeBob rounded a curve along the walkway. "You know, moon … no matter where I go, which way I turn, or how fast I go, you always seem to follow me. Even though I know you're not moving at all. Why is that?"
"Oh, I can take a hint."
"Huh? No, no, I didn't mean it like that. It's a scientific question!"
"I know when I'm not wanted." The moon scooted away. "I'll find someone else to talk to until my shift's up."
SpongeBob blinked. " … how did he do that?"
SpongeBob stared at his pineapple door. The key was in his pocket, but he wasn't too sure how he was going to get it.
"Hey, SpongeBob!" said Patrick, rushing over.
SpongeBob grinned. "Patrick, I'm glad you're here! Could you untie—"
"Oh, boy! What's the surprise you have for me?"
SpongeBob narrowed one eye in confusion. "Huh?"
"Well, obviously you're holding a surprise behind your back! What is it?!"
"Bahahaha!" laughed SpongeBob. "I don't have a surprise. My hands are just tied behind my back—"
Patrick wasn't listening. He jumped in excitement behind SpongeBob; but he frowned when he took a look. "String? That's the surprise?"
"Well, it's more like a rope."
"Gosh, SpongeBob! I thought we were friends!" said Patrick angrily. "If a friend revealed a secret surprise to just be string, then they must be a terrible friend!"
"Um, Patrick? Do you remember that time with the box?"
"I don't even remember…" He trailed off.
"Don't remember what?"
"Nevermind. Just untie me!" SpongeBob turned around and wiggled his wrists as a gesture that he needed assistance.
"Ooh! Is this a game? I'll get the blindfold!"
It was too late; Patrick was already running over to his rock. He hopped under it but did not return.
SpongeBob waited for a brief time, but it was getting late. He needed to feed Gary and get to bed.
"I know!" he said to himself. "I'll get Squidward to help me!"
Not having use of his hands, SpongeBob had to ring the doorbell with his tongue. He was glad this was planet Earth. Licking doorbells on other planets is almost as illegal as doorknobs.
Squidward opened the door, already in his pajamas. "I should have known. Nobody else knocks at night."
SpongeBob smacks his lips. "Mmmm … doorbell flavor."
"What do you want?!"
"I need your help! Mr. Krabs forgot to untie my hands earlier—"
"I got it, SpongeBob!" shouted Patrick, hurrying back to SpongeBob's side with a blindfold. "I couldn't find it at first. I forgot I keep it with piñatas."
"What do you need a blindfold for?" asked Squidward as he rolled his eyes.
"Duh! To play Pin the Tail on the Seahorse!"
"What does that have to do with my hands being tied up?" asked SpongeBob. "I can't play like this!"
Patrick shrugged. "I thought maybe you wanted a challenge?" He didn't wait for SpongeBob to respond. Instead he shoved the blindfold over the sponge's eyes.
SpongeBob struggled in his restraints. "Get it off! Get if off! I CAN'T SEE!"
"Oops! I forgot the bat!" In the blink of an eye, Patrick was gone to his rock once more (but not a blink of SpongeBob's, as he couldn't see a thing.)
Squidward laughed. SpongeBob's frantic vulnerability amused him.
"Squidward, please! Help!" pleaded SpongeBob.
"Oh, I'll help you," said Squidward. "Here, I'll go ahead and get you dizzy for your game."
"What?! No, Squid—"
Squidward grabbed SpongeBob's head and spun him. The octopus cackled as SpongeBob circled several times in a frenzy, then fell on the ground. As he spun, the blindfold had slipped past his eyes and hung on his nose over his mouth.
"Phew!" said SpongeBob, laying in the sand. "At least I can see again. Could you untie me now, Squidward?"
The door shut as he spoke.
SpongeBob sighed once more. His neighbors were too much of themselves to be of any aid. So he accomplished the difficult task of getting up once more, and started off in the direction of the treedome.
Patrick raced back over to Squidward's door, despite the fact that it was shut and no one was around. "I found the bat!" he said. "I forgot I keep it by that machine with the flashing red light! Who knows what that thing's for?"
There was no one around to answer.
SpongeBob walked with his eyes on the pavement. He was frowning, but it was impossible to tell with the blindfold covering his nose and mouth.
Suddenly a fish screamed. He had been taking his pet worm out for an evening stroll, but he dropped the leash when he saw SpongeBob. His arms flew up. "Please don't hurt me!"
SpongeBob looked at him curiously. "Huh? Why would I hurt you?"
"Please! I don't have any money!"
"I don't want your money!" SpongeBob then remembered the blindfold covering his face. Since it had slipped, it now looked suspiciously like a mask. "Ohh! Bahahaha! This is just a misunderstanding!"
The man shrieked again and went to find help.
The two police officers at short distance away were busy standing under a 'No Loitering' sign. They pretended not to hear the fish's pleads for help, but after the twelfth time, they had to acknowledge they were pushing it. "What do you want?" one finally asked.
"Can't you see we're busy protecting this sign?" said the other.
"It's a very safe sign, thanks to us."
"There is a guy trying to burgle me!" said the man.
"Hey now," said one of the officers. "You're not trying to loiter, are you? It's a felony in Bikini Bottom, like littering."
The other officer agreed: "Yes, loitering is littering, but with your body."
"No! Would you listen?!" The fish pointed behind him. "The bandit is back that-a-way!"
The police officers looked in the direction he'd pointed and saw SpongeBob, running as fast as he could down the road. Which wasn't very fast, due to the hand restraints.
They launched into a chase, drawing their batons. "Freeze!" one commanded.
SpongeBob skidded to a stop. "Please! Let me explain!" he said as he whirled around to face them.
"We don't negotiate with those who burgle!"
"Put your hands up!"
"I CAN'T!" sobbed SpongeBob.
One officer took a step closer. "And drop your weapon!"
"I don't have a weapon!" said SpongeBob.
"He must be hiding a gun behind his back," said one officer.
SpongeBob turned around to show his empty hands. "See now?! My hands are behind my back because they're tied together!"
"Sweet Neptune!" exclaimed an officer. "He's got a rope-shaped gun!"
"That's the most dangerous kind!" said the other. "Let's get him!"
The policemen wielded their batons above their heads. The chase was on once again.
SpongeBob knew he didn't stand a chance against outrunning them, so he tightened himself into a ball. But he rolled down the street so fast that he lost control. Like a basketball, he slammed into and bounced off of a building.
When the officers caught up, they found him rolling slowly back in their direction. The SpongeBob-ball bumped into one of their legs. So the officer grabbed him, dribbled him for a moment, and punted him into a nearby dumpster — goal-style.
"That was some fine policin'," one officer said to the other.
"Agreed. What would they do without us fine folks in blue?"
SpongeBob repeatedly banged the side of his head against the doorbell. He decided his tongue wasn't fast enough. Due to his frantic desire to escape his restraints, he would settle for nothing less than hummingbird speed.
RING-RING-RING-RING-RING-RING! went Sandy's doorbell.
He continued this until the doorbell stopped working. This was no matter to SpongeBob. His shrill voice would suffice quite nicely.
"RING RING RING RING RING!" he screamed at the top of his lungs.
In her bed, Sandy rolled over. "Dagummit, SpongeBob …" she muttered.
"Sandy! Come down!" said SpongeBob's voice. There was something different about it. Instead of being muffled by the dome, it was clear. He'd gotten inside.
Sandy climbed down the tree, where SpongeBob hurried over to her. But before he could say more, Sandy put her hand out and stopped him. "What're you doin' over here at this hour?!" she demanded.
"I need help!" His statement was true in more ways than one. In his frenzy, he'd neglected to put on a water helmet. The clock was ticking.
Sandy covered her nose. "Pew-eey!" she exclaimed. "You stink worse than a county fair outhouse!"
"I got punted into a dumpster!" said SpongeBob. "Remind me never to make myself into a ball around the police again!"
Sandy shook herself. She'd just woken up, and it was taking her longer than normal to process all this. She was still confused why SpongeBob was at the treedome in the middle of the night to begin with. "How'd you get inside?" she asked.
"I flattened myself and slid under the door." He turned his back to her. "Please untie me! Quick! Before I dry out!"
"Y'all came all the way over for that?"
"Yeah! I've been trying all evening to get this rope off!"
"And nothin' occurred to you when you were … ya know, makin' yourself into a ball or slidin' under my door?"
SpongeBob faced her again. "What do you mean?"
"Well, ain't that the solution right there?"
"No, the solution is you untying me!" said SpongeBob in an increasingly raspy voice. The water level in his body was becoming dangerously low. "Hurry!"
Just then Sandy fell over on her back, clutching her middle, laughing uncontrollably. And she didn't stop. Her laughter continued for a length of time that SpongeBob's body couldn't afford.
He was forced to rush out of the treedome. But the hatch door proved a struggle, and he was too rigid to flatten himself.
Sandy managed to pick herself off of the ground. "I'll help ya, SpongeBob," she said as she wiped away a tear.
"You will?!" His eyes would have watered with joy, had there been any water left inside of him.
"Sure." Sandy opened the door. "There ya go."
While he was thankful to be able to re-hydrate himself, that wasn't what he thought she meant. "You're not gonna untie me?!"
"I think I'll let you figure this one out on your own," she said. "Y'all need to find yourself outta your own jams sometimes. I can't always hold your hand every step of the way."
"You can't hold my hand because it's tied to my other one!"
"That prob'ly ain't the best sayin' for this situation, is it?"
SpongeBob didn't have time to respond. His time was past due; he had to get back in the water.
And after he'd had his full of it, he discovered Sandy had locked him out.
SpongeBob looked longingly at the giant anchor. Hopefully Mr. Krabs could end this nightmare for the poor sponge.
There wasn't any answer at the door. This wasn't surprising — it was past midnight. But the door was unlocked, and he was desperate, so SpongeBob cautiously tiptoed in.
"Hello?" SpongeBob called out. He flipped on the lights.
The sight he saw made him recoil in disgust. Mr. Krabs' horrendously bloated body lay on the floor. The mass of a crab had grown more than ten times his weight, in fat alone. His shell was cracked in numerous places, fat rolls falling out of them. He looked like a giant blob, stretching nearly wall to wall.
"Mr. Krabs!" exclaimed SpongeBob after he got over the initial shock. "What happened?!"
Mr. Krabs groaned. "I left … a message for Patrick … he never called back." He had a hard time catching his breath. "So I decided … to train myself instead …"
"Great Neptune! How many patties did you eat?!"
"I ... lost count … after …" Mr. Krabs' eyes shut.
"After what?" SpongeBob nudged him with his foot. "Sir! Speak to me!"
But he didn't. The blubbery mass of a crustacean had passed out.
SpongeBob looked his boss over. The cracks in the shell caught his attention. It wasn't a concept he was used to. After all, his own shape was flexible — elective even. This should have sparked a realization, but his eyes kept traveling to the crab's claws.
He grinned. "I've got it!"
It took forty-five minutes, but SpongeBob decided it was worth it. He rubbed the rope repeatedly against Mr. Krabs' claw, slowly wearing away at the material. Eventually it was down to a string, which SpongeBob snapped in two.
SpongeBob smugly exited his boss's house. "I knew I'd figure it out."
He walked home, blissfully unaware of how his shape-shifting ability could have easily solved the problem from the very start.