Two-Tone Trouble

Warner Brothers Studios, Present Day

Daffy was even more excited than usual as he showed Bugs the new gadget he'd gotten from ACME. "It's a time machine, Bugs!" he said. "And it's all ours!" Daffy hugged the large device as it sat in its unpacked crate. "Come on, pal! Let's take it for a spin and find out who wins the next five hundred Super Bowls!"

Bugs looked skeptically at it. The machine was about the size and shape of a Porta Potty, with a large metal ring attached to its top.

"I dunno, Daffy. I mean, it is from Acme, and you know how much trouble Wyle E. always had with their gizmos."

"Ah, you're just too chicken," Daffy said derisively. "We'd only be gone for a few minutes or so…just to check out the sports almanacs. I got the instructions right here." Daffy held up a large blue book and began reading aloud. "Hmmm…quantum entanglement…field detectors…spatial symmetry, lemme see here…" Daffy leaned against the machine as he muttered to himself.

"Uh, Daffy…" Bugs cautioned, as he looked worriedly at a buildup of what looked like St. Elmo's fire along the ring.

"Quiet, rabbit, I'm tryin' to read here. Now, where was I…" at that moment, he was monetarily blinded by an intense flash of light that caused him to stagger backwards against some empty cardboard boxes. By the time his vision cleared, Daffy saw that Bugs was gone.

"Bugs?" Daffy looked around. "Oh, Bugsy? Hey, where'd ya go, pal?"

The universe seemed to twist itself around Bugs as he felt like he was being turned inside out. A hold seemed to open up underneath him and Bugs fell through it, head first.

"Yeeeeow!" Bugs landed with a crash. Still dizzy from his "Ride," he stood up and tried to get his bearings. At first, he thought there was something wrong with his eyes, because everything seemed grey and black. He squinted and saw that he was in an alleyway that opened out onto a street lined with storefronts and sagging apartment buildings. Then he looked down at his body and saw that he was as gray as everything else.

"Hey, what gives?" he said to no one in particular. "Why do I look like such a washout? Where am I, anyway?" He looked up at the flat gray sky, where a gray sun beamed down at him-literally, since it was smiling, as if in amusement at his predicament. "What are you looking at, Doc?" Bugs growled, causing the sun to suddenly duck behind a protective cloud.

Bugs shook his head. "Daffy, you really did it this time." Then he brushed himself off. "Well, I guess the first thing to do is to find out where I'm at-and then how to get outta here."

Having regained some of his usual self-confidence, Bugs walked out of the ally and began strolling down the street. He wasn't sure why, but for some reason he felt like whistling. The street looked like one he might have seen in any older city neighborhood, except that the cars all looked like antiques, and chugged, huffed, and rattled along with varying degrees of anthropomorphic effects that no modern 'toon would have touched.

"Hmm," Bugs said as he surveyed the scene. "I might be crazy, but I think that wacky duck sent me back in time to the two-tone era." Bugs glanced at a pair of cows with oversized black eyes as they sauntered past, followed by a Billy goat. A nearby movie theater advertised Frankenstein. From one of the apartment windows he could make out a cathedral-shaped radio swaying back and forth as it played ragtime-type jazz. He saw a nearby newspaper stand-presided over by what looked like an early version of Porky Pig-and borrowed a newspaper. Empire State Building Completed, World's Tallest, the headline read. "So this is what it was like, huh? Well, it might be good for a few laughs, but I gotta figure out how to get back home."

Bugs was still pondering how to do this when a dark-toned figure came running down the street-first by skidding around a corner, then coming headlong towards Bugs, knocking him over as they collided.

"Hey, I'm awfully sorry about that," the figure said in a squeaky voice. "But I was being chased…are you okay?"

"Oh, sure, Doc, no problem." Bugs stood up, rubbing the back of his head. Then he stared at the character. "Hey, I know you-you're Oswald the Rabbit! Boy, I cut my two front teeth on your cartoons!" He helped Oswald up. "So, what's all the hubbub, bub?"

"It's the landlord," Oswald said miserably. "He's been after me all day long, and now I've just about run out of room. I've been behind on the back rent ever since the stock market crashed."

"So, you're looking for a place to hide, huh?" Bugs said thoughtfully. "Well, not to brag, but I've got some experience in this area. Is there a paint store nearby?"

The landlord-actually a relative of Bluto, who lived nearby-snorted as he stomped down the street. Other toons scurried to get out of his way and find their own hiding places, as they all knew him and they all owed him money.

The landlord stopped at a crudely painted wooden sign. THEY WENT THAT-A-WAY, it said in large letters. Grunting, the landlord said, "Thanks, chum!" and followed the sign's direction arrow with a sinister snicker…

…and promptly fell down a manhole cover. Bugs and Oswald then moved in, sealing the cover tight, using Oswald's ears as natural riveters.

"And that, as they say, is that," Bugs said.

"Thanks pal. I don't know how I can ever repay you." Oswald shook Bug's hand. Bugs raised it up for a high-five, but Oswald just looked puzzled.

"Whoops! Sorry, Doc. Wrong decade." But even as he spoke, Bugs felt space beginning to twist itself around him. "Uh-oh! Here we go again!" The last thing he saw was Oswald watching with confusion before everything turned itself inside out…

Bugs landed with a thud on a concrete floor. Groaning, he opened his eyes to see Daffy looking down at him with concern. "Are you okay, pal? Where were you, anyway?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you." Bugs stood up. "As for that thing, my advice is to send it back to Acme. I told you not to trust their stuff."

"Yeah, yeah, okay. I figured that out after ya vanished." Daffy grunted as he began sealing the machine back in its box. But Bugs still had a worried expression on his face. "What is it, rabbit? Something else on your mind?"

"Well…there was something I left covered up, but I guess it'll keep…"

Later that night…

In the Tex Avery Memorial Center, Porky Pig was making his rounds as a security guard when he heard hammering underneath the building's polished floor. Suspicious, he turned his flashlight towards the sound. His eyes widened as one of the tiles popped up-and a large, beefy character climbed out. What surprised Porky even more was that the character was varying shades of gray. But it was his eyes that alarmed Porky. They might have once been comical, but now were dull, glowing white, almost ghostlike, as if they'd lost their sight ages ago. The character's clothing, once fine and expensive, was now in rags.

"Finally," the character growled. "Now I'll get that pipsqueak, and his buddy, too!" After looking around at his surroundings with apparent confusion, he took a step forward, only to find himself caught in the beam of Porky's flashlight. "No! Not the light!" The character looked down and saw that he was disappearing. "It's washing me out! Nooo!" Then he was gone, like a puff of smoke.

Porky stared at where the figure had been. "W-w-w-wow, I w-w-w-wonder who th-th-th-that was." But then he shrugged and continued on his rounds. Weird things happened when you were a toon, after all…