Rating: R for brief language. I'm sorry, I just can't stop Puck from being foul mouthed. I did try.
Genre: Cracky flangst
Warning: Lewis Carroll's bizarre and cheerful poem turned rather sinister. Reference to past character death (Mrs Hummel).
Spoilers: Up S208, Furt.
Disclaimer: Not my sandpit, I just play in it.
Summary: There's a reason why no-one in Lima goes outside after dark.
Author Notes: Slightly alternate timeline whereby the Hummels and Hudsons live together as in Furt, but the Karofsky thing never happened so Kurt never left McKinley. And Carole still owns her old house – she hasn't found a buyer yet, or something like that.
Headlines from the Lima News:
24th July 1990
Mysterious Creature Attacks Lima, Ohio!
Citizens are warned to stay indoors after dark
10th June 1990
Vigilante Groups Hunt For The Unknown Killer
Still no trace to be found
13th November 1990
Strange Animal Still On The Loose
Local authorities have 'no course of action left to take'
12th January 1991
Creature Nicknamed "Jabberwock" By Residents
Zoologists confirm unknown species
29th October 1993
Jabberwock Can't Be Killed
Local huntsmen locate Jabberwock but are unable to wound it
26th July 2000
10th Anniversary of Jabberwock's First Kill
Citizens tell the tale of the creature's effect on their lives
7th March 2002
100th Victim of Jabberwock Claimed
Leaves behind husband and 8-year-old son
26th July 2010
20 Years On – Can Anything Be Done?
Our correspondent discusses the mysterious Jabberwock
28th July 2010
20 Years On – Should Anything Be Done?
Champion cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester explains how the Jabberwock chlorinates the gene pool
9th August 2010
Scientists Develop Vorpal Sword
New weapon for practical Jabberwock defence – are we safe from the terror?
Kurt Hummel had tidied his room as much as he could, and cleared a large space on the floor. The boys of New Directions were coming over in just a short while, and he wanted everything breakable to be out of reach. He had offered to host their group number rehearsals as his basement was plenty big enough for all six of them, and besides, as Finn already lived there, it cut down on people needing transport to get there. Still, he despaired at Mr Schue sometimes – setting a group number on the Friday before a Bank Holiday, asking them to perform it on the Tuesday. Where did he actually expect them to rehearse?
Now he was working on getting his father and step-mother to stop fussing and let him and Finn wait for the others to arrive in peace.
"You don't want to be here while New Directions is rehearsing, Dad, trust me. You and Carole go over to her old place like you planned and have a night to yourselves for once. Stop worrying! You can trust us not to wreck the house," Kurt reassured his father.
Finn chimed in, "Yeah, Papa H, Kurt's really strict about stuff like coasters and chips and dip and things. He'll make sure no-one makes a mess and I'll make sure no-one breaks anything."
Kurt resisted the urge to roll his eyes at that comment, since Finn had more of a tendency to break things than any of the other member of the club. Instead, he started to chivvy his father and Carole towards the door.
"Come on, get going. You want to be there well before dark."
"Sunset's not for three hours yet, Kurt. You don't think I'd forget that, do you?" The two Hummels shared a significant look that Finn didn't quite follow – Burt looked almost reproachful as he looked at his son.
Kurt smiled a watery smile and nodded. "No, I don't really think that. I just worry about you, with that thing out there."
"Kurt, Carole's vorpal sword is still at her house, and you know that ours is right by the front door, okay? You and Finn both know how to use it if the Jabberwock comes knockin', and I'm guessin' that most of the guys do as well, alright?"
"Yes, Dad." Kurt shooed him toward the front door. "Now go on! Have fun!"
Burt raised a hand to the two boys at the front door, joined his wife in the car and drove off.
A short while later the rest of the boys arrived. The rehearsal went much as expected – a large proportion of it being spent persuading Kurt that no other male member of New Directions would ever willingly sport a feather boa. Their rendition of Poison was just about reaching Kurt's satisfaction, even despite the lack of feathers, when he glanced up at the small window. It was nearly sunset.
He shrieked loudly, causing the boys to nearly jump out of their skins (not that they would ever admit it). When they realised the reason for his panic, they made haste to depart as soon at possible. None of them wanted to risk being caught by the Jabberwock. Artie's dad had recently agreed to let Sam to drive his car, to give Artie more freedom when it came to meeting his friends, so the two drove off promptly. Mike leapt onto his bike and pedalled off like he was in the Tour De France – he didn't live far away, so they weren't too worried whether he would make it in time.
Puck, however, was another story. His car simply would not start. After the fourth attempt failed, Kurt hurried down from the doorway, where he had been standing to see everyone off. He gestured through the car window to Puck to pull the hood release catch. Puck did so, with a mildly confused expression on his face.
"You know cars?" he asked, getting out as Kurt started to rummage around his engine.
"Puck, where did you get your tyres from?" Kurt asked in a bored tone, slightly muffled with his head inside the engine block.
"Hummel Tyres and- oh… Burt Hummel's your dad?" Puck was more than a little horrified to find out exactly whose lawn furniture he had nailed to the roof.
"It's not exactly a common name, Puck."
"Yeah, but he's… and you're so…"
"Gay?" Kurt suggested, fiddling with some part of the engine that Puck couldn't identify.
"I was gonna say fancy, but whatever. Can you fix it, dude?"
Kurt straightened up. "I could, but…"
He gazed at where the sun was slowly dropping below the horizon.
"There's no time tonight. It'll be dark in a few minutes." Kurt turned to the Mohawked teen. "Get inside the house. You'll have to stay tonight." Kurt's sentences were short and tense.
"Dude, I've got to get ho-"
"Puckerman, get in the damn house. Now." Kurt's voice remained at the same volume, but as he spoke that final word, he just seemed to radiate power. Puck obeyed.
Finn was surprised to see Puck return to the house with Kurt. He looked up from preparing his grilled cheese sandwich curiously.
"Hey man. How come you're still here?"
"Car's broken. Kurt said-"
"It's nearly dark and I won't let him drive after sundown. We can't afford to lose him again, his voice is too good to waste," Kurt said, going over to the sink and washing his hands thoroughly.
Puck looked at Kurt incredulously, somewhat taken aback that Kurt would talk about him so matter-of-factly, as though he wasn't there. As though Kurt wasn't afraid of him.
"Hey, Kurt?" he said, meaning to tell him off in some way. Only, not tell him off. Badasses did not 'tell people off', they taught people lessons. With their fists. Or with anything else that came to hand.
"Yes, Puck?" Kurt looked over at him, looking bored.
It was then that Puck realised that he was in Kurt's house, and Finn would definitely stand up for Kurt if Puck tried to muscle in on him. Stupid baby brother crap. He lost his thread of thought. "Uh…"
"How eloquent. Well, if that's all, I'll let you two get on with your Hello, or World of Witchcraft, or whatever mind-numbing game it is you paw away at all evening. I'm going to go and see that everyone else got home safely."
This Kurt did, standing over by the window, glancing out at the growing darkness as he texted each of the evening's guests, not settling until he'd received a positive response from each one.
Puck and Finn quickly got into a game of Halo, but Puck couldn't concentrate. There was something about the way Kurt was hovering over his phone, anxiously waiting until he got confirmation from each of the Glee guys. It was like he was expecting the Jabberwock to appear at any moment.
Now Puck wasn't stupid. He knew that the threat of the Jabberwock was a real one. He knew that more than a hundred people had been killed by it in Lima alone. But to be peering out of the window every thirty seconds at though it might randomly appear? To later bring up a pile of magazines and read them in the corner of the room, within sight of the big front window? That was overkill.
When eleven o'clock rolled around, Kurt put down his magazines and started to gather sheets and pillows for Puck to sleep on. By quarter past, he had shooed both Puck and Finn from the couch (who had been seemingly engrossed for the past three and half hours) and made up some semblance of a bed.
Finn headed up to bed with a "Night, guys," as Puck reluctantly volunteered to help with the couch.
"Hey dude, you want a hand with that?"
"No, thank you. I get the feeling you'd be more a hindrance than a help when it comes to making beds."
Puck shrugged. "It's what I do in bed that impresses the ladies, not how well I fix the sheets up."
"Really." Kurt managed to get an impressive amount of disinterest into just two syllables.
"Hell yeah. The Puckasaurus always-"
"Puck, I'm really not interested in the sordid details of your sex life." Kurt cut him off quickly.
"Whatever, dude. Hey, thanks for making this up for me."
Kurt nodded in response, then moved to gather up his magazines. He waited there, magazines in one arm, while Puck clambered into the makeshift bed.
Kurt pulled a face as Puck entangled himself in one of the sheets, and strode over, deftly untwisting the linen with his free hand.
Puck grinned. "You're such a mother hen."
Kurt straightened up, his back rigid, his shoulders tense. "I had to look after my dad when he… wasn't well. I got used to it."
Puck nodded, a look akin to sympathy in his eyes. "Musta been rough, dude. I always had to look after my kid sister when she was sick."
"Yes… well, that's what happens when you're missing a parent. Once you're old enough you kinda have to fill their shoes."
Most people Puck would have beaten up if they'd so much as mentioned his dad, but for some reason, he didn't mind Kurt doing it. Maybe it was because they'd both grown up missing a parent, so Kurt got what it was like, even though the circumstances were so different. Puck's dad had run out, and Kurt's mom…
Puck realised that he didn't actually know why Kurt's mom had died. He remembered the weeks back in elementary school when Kurt had shown up every day clutching his pink Power Ranger, with tears reddening his cheeks for most of the day. He remembered being jealous that Kurt got to have his action figure in class, and the teacher taking him aside to explain that Kurt was allowed it because things were hard for him just then.
"Yeah?" Kurt had turned back toward the basement door and taken a few steps when he'd realised that Puck had drifted off to another train of thought, but he slowed when he heard Puck's voice.
"How did she die?"
Kurt stumbled slightly, but didn't turn round. "The Jabberwock," he said in a low voice. "She ran out of gas just off the I75."
That explained why Kurt was so paranoid about the night time.
"I'm sorry." Puck's voice was low.
"Thank you." Still Kurt did not turn round.
Another fact clicked into Puck's mind. "That's why you left the Cheerios."
Kurt turned around, a questioning frown on his face.
"After Sue did that thing about the Jabberwock. Some bullshit about the gene pool."
Kurt flinched visibly at the suggestion. "Yes," he said quietly. "That's why I left the Cheerios. She said that my mo-" Kurt's breath caught in his throat, and he came dangerously close to dropping that magazines on the floor. "She said that my mother was too stupid for her own good and we were better off without her." The words tumbled from him in a flood as he dumped the magazines on the coffee table and sat down in the armchair with a thunk.
He'd had to work so hard to keep his dad from seeing the headline on the local paper. Kurt recalled the feeling of emptiness as he'd read the article, the feeling of hatred for the creature that had done it, the feeling of despair that he could do nothing to avenge his mother's death. Instead he just had to listen to yet another spiel about how the bad things in his family's life were totally their own fault.
Puck was still reeling from Kurt's revelation. "She said that about your mom?" Even he wouldn't sink that low. Moms were off limits.
Kurt sniffed, holding back tears. "Not specifically. She was talking about all its victims. But still…"
"Yeah, man, I get it. That sucks." Puck could appreciate how much something like that would hurt Kurt. "But you know what she's like, dude. She just doesn't think if what she's doing might actually hurt someone."
"Remind you of anyone?" Kurt asked sarcastically through his sniffles.
"Low blow, Kurt." Puck had forgotten that the pale teen's reknowned cattiness was only exacerbated when he was upset.
"I guess. Still… low blow."
Puck glanced over toward the front door. There, as in all households in Lima, was a vorpal sword. Only recently developed, they were supposed to be the only effective weapon against the Jabberwock – those few hunters who had seen it and escaped had reported that bullets had no effect on its leathery hide.
Puck looked from Kurt's dejected face to the window. Nothing seemed out of place on the streets of Lima, but he knew that out there, somewhere was the creature. Preying on all those who crossed its path, it was a deadly thing indeed.
Puck had grown up in fear of the Jabberwock, as had all the kids in Lima. The nightly threat to his friends and family was enough to make his blood boil. When the vorpal blade had been invented, he had thought that finally someone would go and take out the wicked creature, but no-one had. The fear of the beast was too deeply entrenched in all of Lima's residents. All of them, bar one.
Puck made up his mind. "I'm going after it."
"Are you insane?" Kurt asked him, enunciating every syllable of the last word with absolute clarity.
"Kurt, I'm the most badass kid in this town. If anyone can take it on, it's me."
"Do you even know how many hunters have tried to kill it, Puckerman?"
"Some, I guess. But they didn't have the vorpal shit, did they? No-one's gone after since, like, springtime."
"Look, Kurt, I know what I'm doing. I've got my Fight Club, I've got my nunchucks – I can handle this, alright?"
Kurt shook his head in utter disbelief.
"What?" Puck asked, insulted.
"Did no-one ever teach you, Puck? 'Beware the Jabberwock, my son, the jaws that bite, the claws that catch'?"
"Maybe if I'd had a dad I would have had someone to tell me that. But I didn't, so I'm going."
With those words Puck strode out into the night, vorpal sword in hand. Kurt's eyes followed him to the door, then widened as Puck flung it wide. He had thought it was just a prank, he hadn't realised that Puck was actually going outside to hunt for the Jabberwock. To do so would be madness, certain death.
He yelled these very facts at Puck through the hastily opened window. Puck stood back up from where he'd been rummaging in his car to wave his flashlight in Kurt's direction. "I'll be fine, dude. Just you wait and see."
Kurt yelled after him in desperation as the Mohawked figure retreated into the gloom. "Come back here! You'll be killed!" When no response came back, he yelled again, "Fine then! But you had better come back in one piece! And I am not going to be the one who tells your mother!"
Kurt slammed the window shut and slumped down on the couch. There was nothing he could do but sit and wait, and worry. And also marvel at what a deep sleeper Finn was. Seriously, how could anyone have slept through that?
Puck headed out into the dark October night. He'd grabbed his letter jacket on the way out, so he wasn't cold, and the adrenalin rush that he was finally doing something about Lima's nightly terror kept him bouncing on his toes. No-one would call him a Lima loser ever again if he was the one to kill the Jabberwock.
He wandered up and down Lima's empty streets, the light from his flashlight illuminating the street five yards at a time. It was deathly still. Absolutely silent, his footsteps the only sound to be heard for miles.
The first hour passed quickly enough, the anticipation keeping him sharp and alert. But gradually, as the hours rolled by, Puck grew disheartened. Here he was, prime meat for the vile creature, and it was just ignoring him. He realised he was growing careless, not looking quite so thoroughly as he should be. He glanced around his surroundings. He was in a graveyard, the long low slabs forming perfect trip hazards should he have to run. He made his way to the edge of the open space, finding a large tree set slightly in from the surrounding woodland to rest against. He stood at its base, leaning against its sturdy trunk. He could just about see the edge of the treeline in the gloom. From his position, he could also see the graves, the simple grey stone markers seeming to glow in the moonlight.
He thought of Kurt's mother, lying somewhere nearby. How much of her had been left to bury after the Jabberwock had got to her?
Puck's gruesome line of thought was interrupted by a burbling noise from the trees. He pointed his flashlight at the source of the sound. There, whiffling its way towards him, was the Jabberwock, its eyes bright, a flaming orangey gold.
Puck didn't hesitate. He lunged forward, brandishing the vorpal sword. His first blow went deep into the creature's shoulder joint, causing it to recoil, its fetid breath almost making him pass out. He struck again, this time plunging the blade into its belly. It made an unholy noise as it made to swipe at him with a massive claw, but Puck was too fast for it. The third stab went straight through what must have been the creature's heart. The Jabberwock stumbled backwards, its claws clutching frantically at its body. It fell to the floor, and with one final, decisive blow, Puck struck off the Jabberwock's head.
He kicked a few of the creature's flailed limbs off the graves on which they had come to rest, then picked up the head of the beast. No-one would believe he had done it unless he brought them proof, and there was no way anyone else was going to take credit for this.
Jubilantly, he ran back to Kurt's house.
Kurt was sitting bolt upright, fidgety and unrested, in the living room, when he heard the whooping noise from the front of the house, quickly followed up by the sound of pelting feet. He flew to the front door, ready to throw it open to allow Puck entry and then slam it in the face of the creature that was sure to be close behind him. He opened the door a crack, and was amazed to see Puck standing triumphantly in the dim light. He opened the door a little wider.
"What the…?" Kurt looked him up and down. Puck was grinning broadly, and had something held behind his back.
Puck raised his left hand. He was holding something hideous, toothy… a head. It was definitely identifiable as a head. Not a human head, or any animal Kurt recognised, but definitely a head.
"That, Kurt, is a Jabberwock." Puck gestured with his bloodied sword, then held it out, hilt-first, to Kurt. "One Jabberwock's skull, teeth and all. The rest of it's in the graveyard."
"You mean, you…?" Kurt was struck dumb.
"Check it out, man. Am I the badassest stud that ever lived or what?" Puck attempted to flex his guns, but the contents of his hands made it awkward.
Kurt slowly opened the door wide. "You've actually… done it. You killed the Jabberwock," Kurt said, trying to comprehend what had happened.
"Sure did." Puck's smug grin could probably be seen from Jupiter.
Happy realisation flooded over Kurt. Immense relief coupled with unadulterated joy was his only excuse for his next action. He dashed forward, threw his arms around Puck and kissed him full on the mouth.
Puck stood there dumbly, flashlight and monster's head still in his hands. Kurt realised what he was doing and pulled back. "Oh god, I'm sorry. I can't believe I… please don't hit me."
The smug grin was back, even wider than before, if that was possible.
"Don't worry about it, sweetcheeks. I know I'm unresistible. 'Noah Puckerman, slayer of the Jabberwock' – could anyone be more awesome than that?"
Kurt blushed an interesting shade of puce.
Puck chortled as the pair went back into the house, to attempt to wake up Finn and tell him what had happened. To no avail, however – Finn would not wake for man nor beast. And believe me, Puck tried both most insistently.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxsome foe he sought -
So rested he by the Tum Tum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And, hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Author's Note: I am well aware that 'unresistable' is not a word. However, I doubt that Puck is :-)