Synopsis: There's a serial killer on the loose, and he murders his victims with . . . cupcakes?
Disclaimer: I, unfortunately and as much as I wish I did, do not own Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, Ellen Greene, Swoozie Kurtz, Field Cate, Orbit the dog, or Jim Dale's voice. They belong to themselves and to their family members. I am just writing about them because Pushing Daisies is an amazing show that I'm happy to be a fan of! =)
Chapter 1: Surprise
Young Ned was nine years, fifty-one weeks, six days, and twenty hours old when he was lying in his bed, awake and thinking. The next day would be his tenth birthday and, although in past years it had been a wonderfully enjoyable experience for him, this year it would be full of dread. His mother was dead (again), his father was still missing, and the girl he loved— the girl he called Chuck— was many miles away; there was no way for him to have a happy birthday. Instead, Young Ned would be sneaking around the halls of the Longsbury School for Boys with his one companion, his dog Digby, whom he could not touch for Digby would be dead in an instant if he did.
Not looking forward to the day ahead, Young Ned tried to think of happy things. He thought of Chuck, whom he hadn't seen in months, giving him a specially wrapped present just for the occasion. He thought of his home, decorated with streamers and balloons in bright, joyful colors. He thought of his mother baking him a triple berry pie with his name on it, like she had every year, just for him to savor. If only last year, Young Ned thought, wasn't their last year celebrating together.
So Young Ned took Digby, and they ran away to his now vacant house, which he sometimes did, and sat on the floor of the living room where the sofa had once been. He closed his eyes and imagined the house covered in paper decorations, the aroma of sweet pie in the oven drifting from the kitchen, and the feeling of being loved and wanted. He smiled, but when he opened his eyes, his happiness was once again a memory and he was still alone and abandoned.
It's nineteen years, eleven months, four weeks, six days, and twenty-three hours later, and Young Ned is now the Pie Maker. He was lying in bed, asleep and thinking about how nice it was to be loved and wanted again, when the bedroom light flashed on and a kazoo sounded in his face. Startled, he awoke suddenly, screaming for a moment. The girl called Chuck, who had been dead until Ned brought her back to life, was sitting on the ground next to his bed. Standing over her, Olive Snook, who was in love with the Pie Maker, had a kazoo between her lips. Her face was bright and excited as Ned rubbed his eyes.
"Surprise!" Chuck said warmly. Ned blinked a few times before he asked, yawning, "What's the occasion?"
Olive removed the kazoo from her mouth. "Are you kidding? Your birthday, silly! How could we forget?" Chuck stared at her in disbelief until Olive admitted, "Okay, I didn't even know today was your birthday. It was Miss Forget-Me-Not over here who remembered." She nudged Chuck with her elbow.
"We have a present for you," Chuck said. "Come downstairs to the Pie Hole."
Ned was silent and sat up. "What?" he finally said. "It's the middle of the night."
Both ladies were standing over his bed with wild smiles and pleading eyes. "Come on," Olive urged. "You can sleep when you're dead!" Ned and Chuck secretly giggled at the irony of this statement. Olive wasn't aware of the Pie Maker's gift of bringing dead things back to life with just one touch.
Olive reached out for Ned's hand to help him up. Ned towered over Olive, and he pulled his hand away from hers. He didn't want to hold Olive. He liked her and was fond of her, but he didn't possess the same feelings as she did. The Pie Maker loved another: Chuck; they were childhood sweethearts, and sadly their first kiss had been their last. If he even accidentally stroked her skin against his, she would go back to being cold and dead again, forever. So Ned and Chuck were extra cautious around each other. Still, the love they shared for one another was true, and they tried to make it work.
Olive Snook knew this— not the part about Chuck's death or Ned's ability— yet she longed for his love more and more everyday.
Ned's arm automatically froze at his side, and he stood kind of hunched over. Chuck skipped toward the doorway, waving her hand, signaling for them to follow.
Once inside the kitchen of the Pie Hole, Olive had her hands over Ned's eyes as best as she could since she was so much shorter than him, even standing on her toes. "Okay," she was saying, guiding him. "Open!"
Ned looked down at the counter he had stopped in front of. There was a perfect pie with "Happy Birthday, Ned!" written on it. The Pie Maker just stared. He had been smiling, but now his grin had faded into a depressed frown.
Chuck, anxious to break the stunning silence, said, "It's triple berry, so it's exactly like the ones your mother would make for you every year." She leaned on the other end of the counter. When Ned was still facing down, she began tilting her head to the side and peering up at him. "Ned?" she nurtured. "Something wrong?"
He looked up, his face absolutely miserable. "I'm sorry, but this whole thing is making me feel uncomfortable." His face resembled that of a pug or a bulldog. "It's nothing against you guys. I really appreciate the gesture, but," he sighed. "But I don't really like my birthday."
Chuck and Olive were staring at him, frozen and speechless. "I'm sorry," he repeated. Then, he left the kitchen and returned to his bedroom.
All was quiet for a minute. Chuck, Olive, and Digby, who had followed them into the diner also, traded glances. Finally, Olive said, "What a party-pooper!"
Meanwhile, Emerson Cod, Private Investigator, was in his office at this same late hour. Ever since he visited the Pop-up Book shop and got a book entitled "How to Make Your Own Pop-up Books," he had been working all through the night, producing his own. He was giddy about his latest creation when the phone rang at this unreasonably odd hour.
"Emerson Cod, Private Eye," he said seriously when he picked it up. He paused as he listened intently to the client on the other end. Then: "Of course. It's at the top of my to-do list. I'll start first thing tomorrow morning," and he hung up, chuckling.
Early the next morning, Emerson was at the Pie Hole just as Ned was unlocking the doors. "I need your help," he said following Ned into the diner.
Ned paused, his eyes shifting briefly. "Does your needing my help require . . . touching?" When he asked this, Ned softly pointed at nothing. They were still unsure of what exactly to call Ned's talent; usually it was "touching" or "waking."
"Nah," Emerson said slowly. "I just need your help changing a light bulb. Oh, and here's a bright idea: why not using your magic hands to help me talk to someone while you're at it? Of course this involves 'touching!'"
The facts were these: Marissa McMuffy was fourteen years, six months, twenty-two days and eleven minutes old when she was at school, enjoying a pretty tasty cupcake for lunch. Seven minutes later, a group of girls and a teacher found her resting in her chair, not breathing.
"Are they sure she wasn't alive?" Chuck asked during their usual corner booth briefing. "Are they sure she isn't narcoleptic? Or maybe she fell into a coma?"
"The girl is fourteen. She has no known history of weird sleep disorders or anything like that," confirmed Emerson. "And she wasn't breathing yesterday, and she's not breathing today. I'm gonna go ahead and say she's dead."
All the while, Ned sat facing Chuck and Emerson, his arms tightly folded across his chest. It had been some time since he had awakened a person, and he actually wasn't ever too fond of it. But he needed a distraction from the day's event, so he agreed to help with the case.
Ten minutes later, the three of them were at the City Morgue, where the coroner received his usual bribe of $52 from Emerson.
"Alright," Emerson said, removing the sheet from the girl's face. She was big for fourteen, and looked like she was in a peaceful sleep. "Do your thing."
Ned stepped toward the girl and set his watch for one minute. Then he touched her forehead, and she awoke, her mouth open.
"Marissa McMuffy?" Chuck said.
"Yeah?" Marissa responded. "Where am I?"
"You're, um, kind of dead." The Pie Maker tried his best to put it delicately. She had had so much of her life ahead of her.
Marissa gasped. "What? Oh!" She pondered for a moment. Then: "How'd it happen?"
"You were eating a cupcake," Chuck answered, standing over her now.
"No way! Ooooh!" she shrieked in fury. "Trisha Trent can go die! That witch!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Ned said. "Who is Trisha Trent?
Trisha Trent, Marissa explained, was the biggest witch in her school. She didn't like Marissa because she "bit on the hefty side" and often tormented her for sitting alone. Yesterday was Trisha's birthday, and, in an out of character act of kindness, she offered Marissa a vanilla cupcake with lavender frosting and pink sprinkles. Trisha walked off smiling. Marissa, who often could resist such a decadent dessert, was much too depressed that Jack Mackey had turned her down again and hadn't noticed that this particular cupcake had a rather strange aftertaste.
"And I guess now I'm dead," Marissa finished. "Trisha should be here instead."
"You seem to have a lot of hard feelings toward Trisha, huh?" Chuck said.
"Twenty seconds," Ned warned.
"Marissa, do you have any last wishes or requests?"
"Yeah," Marissa said in a rush, "tell Jack Mackey and my mom that I love them. And, oh, talk to Keith!"
And with that, the Pie Maker tapped Marissa once more.
"So I'm assuming we go talk to this Trisha girl?" Emerson suggested sarcastically. "Considering we got four people to talk to." He annoyingly eyed Chuck.
"Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike waking people for you?" Ned said out loud, to whom, though, not even he was completely certain.