Muppets from Earth
Part 1: The Sandwich Whisperer
By Kim McFarland
It was not a dark and stormy night. For the past few weeks the weather had been very fair, which was convenient for late-night Jacuzzi parties.
It was, in fact, late morning in the time zone in which the Muppets' boarding house was situated. The place was always lively, but now there was an added element of anticipation, as the renovations to the theater were almost complete. Soon the Muppets would be able to put on their shows again. Everyone had been making plans, preparing new acts, and generally driving each other crazy. It was a glorious time.
Very few Gonzo groupies still hung around because there had been no further communication with his alien brethren after they left Earth. The "R U THERE" messages had disappeared as mysteriously as they had appeared, leading some to speculate that they had never been real.
Kermit was reading just such an article over a late breakfast and shaking his head. The Muppets had engineered an elaborate hoax, so the writer claimed, in order to drum up publicity for their soon-to-be-reopened theater. "If we had the money to pull off something like that, would we be fixing up an old vaudeville house?" he said to himself.
"Sure we would," replied Fozzie.
Kermit looked up. Fozzie said, "Where else would we do the show? The theater's like home."
Kermit nodded thoughtfully. Fozzie was right. Even though the repairs required to bring it up to code were intimidatingly expensive, nobody had even considered moving the show elsewhere.
Kermit's train of thought was derailed by a muffled explosion from the kitchen. Flour and edible shrapnel sprayed through the door into the dining room. Rats shouted in excitement and immediately began gathering up the windfall. One slipped on a piece of banana peel and skidded, whooping, across the room.
"And this home is like a theater," Kermit told Fozzie.
"Hey, that's a good one! Can I use it?" asked the bear.
"Sure, go ahead," Kermit said as Fozzie scribbled on a paper napkin. He thought that it was a good thing they had rats; the perpetually-hungry creatures cleaned up a lot of the Swedish Chef's messes. Well, the larger bits, anyway. All attempts to interest them in sweeping or mopping up had failed dismally.
Gonzo, dressed in blue jeans and a button-down shirt with a dice pattern, came down the stairway. He glanced down at the floury floor, speckled with tiny footprints and skid marks, then continued into the kitchen as if this was nothing unusual. Which, to tell the truth, it wasn't.
Soon he came back out with a sandwich. Kermit folded the paper to hide the hoax article. Gonzo was aware of the controversy, but there was no need to bring any more attention to it than it deserved, which, in Kermit's opinion, was none. He asked, "Got any plans for the new show?"
Gonzo took a seat at the table. "Not yet. You know me, I'll come up with something cool. My mind's just been on other things lately."
"Yeah," Kermit said, nodding. After meeting his alien family, Gonzo had rebounded from his depression, and the first thing he had done was get back together with his girlfriend Camilla. Kermit would be willing to bet that that had done him more good than any amount of therapy could have.
Gonzo leaned his head in one hand and said thoughtfully, "It's been a while since I tried a motorcycle stunt."
Kermit replied, "It's been a while since anybody would insure your motorcycle stunts."
"Art should be dangerous," Gonzo said calmly. He thought a bit more, but nothing original came to mind. Usually he had more ideas than he knew what to do with, which was a good thing, because Kermit vetoed most of them. "Huh, I must really be out of practice. I've got stuntman's block."
"Isn't that usually a brick wall?"
Gonzo grinned at Kermit. Fozzie turned his napkin over and wrote. Someone said, "Hey, how ya doing?"
All three looked around. Gonzo had heard that voice before, but he couldn't place where. Was it one of the rats? He peered under the table.
"I'm up here. On your plate."
Gonzo looked at his sandwich. The conglomeration of wheat bread, baloney, peach slices, and chili powder said, "Sorry I haven't been in touch, but we can only send to the satellite every so often, when things are clear enough."
Unnerved, Fozzie said, "Uh, Gonzo, why is your sandwich talking?"
"This is how my people contacted me before. Remember, when they told me to meet them at Cape Doom that night," Gonzo said. "Kermit, Fozzie, this is..." He looked at the sandwich, "Er, I didn't catch your name."
"Call me Brian," the sandwich replied.
"Brian?" Gonzo repeated, surprised.
"Hey, we can't all have cool names."
"Sorry. This is Brian," Gonzo continued. "Brian, these are Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear, two of my best friends."
"Hi, pleased to meet'cha."
"Wow," Fozzie said. "You really come from outer space?"
"Sure do. Of course, we originally came from a planet, but that was a long time ago."
Gonzo asked, "What was our home world like?"
"Oh, it was a rough neighborhood. It was full of huge monstersyou'd call 'em dragonsthat liked to snack on us when they weren't stepping on us."
"Whoa," Gonzo said.
"Yeah. We evolved brains and thumbs as fast as we could, invented space travel, and got out of there."
"I'll bet. What planet was it?"
After a pause the sandwich said, "We don't know. That was so long ago we lost track."
Aghast, Gonzo asked, "How can you lose track of a whole planet?"
"When you're in space it's like losing track of one grain of sand in a beach. Besides, this was millions and millions of zotons ago. Who knows if we'd even recognize it if we found it again? Just like in the old song."
"What old song?"
"You know, the one you used to call us back."
Gonzo glanced around, and noticed that the conversation had acquired an audience beside Kermit and Fozzie. People of various species were watching from the stairway, and even the rats had stopped in mid-plunder. One had snuck under the table to see if Gonzo was controlling the sandwich from below. Self-consciously Gonzo said, "Er, I don't know what you mean."
"You know, 'This looks familiar, vaguely familiar... I'm going to go back there someday.' It's an old ballad about trying to find our home world. When we first visited this planet-when we lost you, Gonzo-we were setting a satellite in orbit so we could keep an eye on things without scaring the natives. Since then that satellite has been picking up bits and pieces of broadcasts and saving whatever looked interesting. We got the data back whenever we were in the neighborhood. Last time we got close enough, we heard one of our own songs! That was when we knew that you were still alive, so we came back to get you."
"Whoa," Gonzo breathed. He never remembered learning that song; he'd somehow always known it. It must have been part of the childhood he didn't remember.
"Listen, I've got to get off the line so we can get the rest of the data from the satellite. We'll be lined up again tomorrow, so how about we continue this then?"
"Okay. Oh, one thing-You haven't been leaving messages anywhere, like, say, using fridge magnets, have you?"
"Oh, nothing." Gonzo had suspected that the request for 'a party with lots of hot space womens, okay' spelled out fifteen inches above the floor had not been a long-distance message.
"Okay. Talk to you later."
The sandwich stopped speaking. Gonzo waited for a moment, then said, "You still there?" When it did not respond, he picked it up and began to eat it.
Fozzie said, "You're eating that?"
"Sure. It's my lunch."
"But it was just talking to you!"
Gonzo explained, "Not really. Brian was just talking through it. Like a walkie-talkie, but edible."
"O-kay," Fozzie said.
Several hens had been among the spectators. Now, seeing that the show was over, one came up to Gonzo and clucked at him. Concerned, he said, "She is?" The chicken nodded and clucked some more. "Okay," he said, and left the table.
The kitchen looked like the inside of a blender. Brightly colored, fruity-smelling masses were scattered around, and loops of bread dough festooned the walls and ceiling. The Swedish Chef was still working on his pöpøvër recipe. It looked as though he had been using gunpowder instead of baking soda in the pastry. But he was working from inspiration, creating and taking risks. Gonzo respected that.
"Gör din näsa skådåd?" the Chef inquired.
"No thanks, I'm good," Gonzo answered.
The Chef shrugged and went back to chopping up a grapefruit. Gonzo found a clean bowl and added a packet of dry oatmeal and some milk. He put that in the microwave for a minute, then stirred it up. He carried it out of the kitchen, picked up his sandwich-disappointing several rats, who had been warily approaching it, alert for signs of life-and went up the stairs.
He went up to the balcony where the chickens roosted. All but one had gone downstairs to eat. Gonzo set the oatmeal in front of Camilla and said, "You not feeling well, baby?"
She nodded and clucked listlessly at him, then pecked hungrily at the oatmeal. Her eyes looked tired and her wattles were pale. He sat in the next nest over and gently stroked her rumpled feathers. While she had her breakfast he ate his sandwich one-handedly. When she was done she clucked her thanks. He asked, "Now, what's wrong?"
She replied. He said, "You've laid lots of eggs."
She shook her head and squawked emphatically. Then she stood. There, in the nest below her, was a very large egg. Carefully Gonzo picked it up. It was heavy in his hands; he would guess it was twice the size of the eggs she normally laid. "Wow, no wonder you don't feel so good. Are you sure you laid this?" At her indignant squawk he quickly said, "Sorry, I didn't mean it that way. That must have been rough. I'll bet it's a double-yolker."
She tilted her head and clucked inquisitively. She had heard of such things, but none of the eggs she and her fellow chickens had provided for the others' breakfasts over the years had had two yolks.
He said, "Sure, I can candle it. Give me a minute." Carefully he placed the egg back in her nest, and she sat back down on it.
Gonzo went to his room and found a medium-sized box. It had a small circular hole in the top, and inside was a flashlight. He flicked it on to make sure the batteries were still good. He took this setup-which he had not used for years now; it had been a long time since any of the hens had needed an egg candled-to the balcony. Once there, he set the flashlight on its end and turned it on so it shone upward. Then he put the box over it so the light was only visible through the hole. He set the egg gently on top of the hole, making it seem to glow like a light bulb.
They both peered at the egg. Gonzo searched for the shadows of two yolks, but they weren't as distinct as he expected. Thinking that one must be behind the other, he turned the egg. The mass in the center was one single yolk, much larger than it should have been. It took up more than half of the space within the shell. And there was a dark spot on one side.
Camilla and Gonzo both stared in surprise. Then she clucked urgently and stood up. Carefully he picked the egg up in both hands and put it back in her nest. Camilla settled down on it again and fluffed her feathers. Gonzo sat beside her again and put his arm around her, not daring to speak.
All characters are copyright © The Muppets Studio, LLC, and are used without permission but with much respect and affection. This story is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9 at aol dot com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
If you like this story, please check out my website, "The Negapage," where you can find lots my works.