Devil's Food

By:  Mark J. Hadley

CHAPTER 1: "A Taste of Townsville"

            The City of Townsville…but our story begins far beneath the city, deep underground, far from the prying eyes of the townsfolk.  For within the bowels of the Earth lies the lair of the most wretched evil in the history of mankind, the pure embodiment of all that is wicked and corrupt across the world, ever thirsting for power, ever hungering for torment…the one who never sleeps, and whose name dare not be spoken aloud.  The nefarious being known only as…Him…

            Pushing the door open from the back, the fiery red form of Him strode into the room, carrying a piece of paper with a report.  He rubbed his claw thoughtfully as he sat down on the couch alongside the cave wall, studying the report.  He spoke with a smile in his usual, high-pitched tone of voice, "Hmmm…all seems to be well in that section of the world.  Nothing like a daily regiment of evil to whet my appetite for the time being.  Now…on to Townsville…"

            Setting the report aside, the remote control for the television in front of him materialized in his claw, and he switched it on.  The image of Stanley Whitfield came onto the screen, and he spoke, "…as yet again, the day was saved, thanks to the Powerpuff Girls.  Mojo Jojo, who had apparently bit off more than he could chew this time, will be going off to prison once again.  His rampage earlier was stopped by the girls when they…"

            Angrily leaning forward, he growled at the screen, "Those little brats are always ruining things!"  Sitting back, he steepled his claws in front of himself and narrowed his eyes, continuing, "Townsville has the greatest potential for evil in the world, and yet it's evil output is almost zero, thanks to the Powerpuff Girls!  They've been seeds in my teeth for too long now!  The time has come for their demise…but how…?"

            While he pondered this, the girls flew onscreen next to Stanley, who turned to them and said, "The city has your gratitude, Powerpuff Girls.  You three are the sweetest trio in town…how does it feel to be loved by all?"  Him scowled at that remark as Stanley thrust the microphone out in front of Buttercup for a comment.

            "Well, what can I say?" Buttercup shrugged.  "You've got good taste, Townsville…"

            Stanley returned the microphone and said, "There you have it…now, back to you, Lauren…"

            Him sat up a little, looking at the screen curiously, then clicked a button on the remote.  The image backed up a little and replayed part of the conversation…Buttercup said, "You've got good taste, Townsville…"  He backed it up again, "…good taste, Townsville…"  Backing it up once more, "…good taste…"

            A slow smile spread across his face as he switched the TV off, and he said with some glee, "Yessss…the town does have good taste, doesn't it?  And I think it only fair that you should have even better taste, hmm?"  Standing up and spreading his arms out, dark swirls of energy surrounded his arms in a black, inky cloud…he cackled, pointed his arms up towards the ceiling, blasting a pillar of black-red energy into it.  The power spread up through the Earth, up through the base of Townsville, spreading invisibly up until it finally reached its targets and surrounding them, completely beyond their notice…

*          *            *

            The Powerpuff Girls said goodbye to Stanley and the camera crews, and flew off into the sky above the city.  Blossom was a little spattered with mud, from the fight, and thought, Hmm, I'll have to take a bath when I get home.  "All right," she said, surveying the scene below, "one more sweep, and we can call it an evening, okay?"

            "I'm tired after that fight," Bubbles sighed, "and hungry.  Can't we just go home?"

            "Yeah," Buttercup said.  "I wanna see that news report when it airs."

            "I promise, after we make one last check, okay?" Blossom assured her.  Bubbles smiled and nodded back, and the three of them continued their patrol.  Everything seemed quiet, until they passed over Townsville park, and heard a faint sound below, coming from the trees…a faint 'mew' sound…

            Descending for a closer look, Bubbles spotted a small white cat stuck in one of the trees, and said, "Don't worry, little fellah!  I've got ya!"  The cat mewed happily, and Bubbles carefully scooped the cat out from the branches, lifting it free from the tree.  The cat licked Bubbles' face appreciatively.

            "Good work, Bubbles!" Blossom called down.  "Now, put him back down on the ground, and let's get ready to go back home, okay?"

            Bubbles flew down to the ground to let the cat go.  The cat wouldn't leave her arms, though, and instead, licked the side of her face a few more times.  Bubbles giggled and said, "Wow, you're a friendly little kitty, aren't you?"  The cat licked her some more as if to answer, and she added, "I can't keep you, though…I gotta let you go…"

            As Bubbles started to pull the cat away from her, she suddenly yelped and dropped it, holding her hand over her cheek.  The cat landed on its feet and stared up at her.  Blossom curiously asked, "What's wrong?"

            "He bit me!" Bubbles exclaimed, still holding her cheek.

            "What?  No way!" Buttercup said, shaking her head, as the two of them descended to land next to Bubbles.  Blossom carefully lifted Bubbles' hand away from her cheek to take a closer look…there was a tiny indent where she was bitten, but she wasn't hurt.  The cat, in the meantime, just sat there, not taking its eyes off of Bubbles.

            Blossom finished examining the spot and said, "It looks like you're all right…you should be a little more careful when handling strange pets, Bubbles."

            "But it was so friendly!" Bubbles protested, then glanced down at the cat again.  The way it was just sitting there staring at her was kind of creepy, in a way, so she added, "Let's just go home, ok?"

            "Fine by me," Buttercup said.  "It's almost time for dinner anyway."  The girls nodded to each other and took off.  The cat watched them leave, licking its lips for a moment, then scampered off further into the park…

*          *            *

            The girls arrived home just in time for dinner, and the Professor greeted them at the door, "So, how was your day?" he asked them, as they came inside the house.

            "Not bad," Blossom said, flying in next to her sisters.  "We stopped Mojo again…this was, what, the hundredth time?  You'd think he'd get the picture by now…"

            "Indeed," the professor said.  He noticed how Blossom was a little muddy and said, "Tough fight, though?"

            Blossom shook her head, "Nahh, nothing we couldn't handle.  I'll need a bath after dinner, though."

            Buttercup sniffed the air and said, "Mmmm…what's for dinner?"

            "A new vegetable soup I came up with," the professor said proudly.  "I think this is one of the best combinations I've made yet!"

            "It smells delicious, Professor!" Bubbles said with a smile.

            The professor nodded, sniffing the air as the girls flew past him, "Yes, it's my most aromatic…hmm…"  He sniffed the air some more and sighed happily, "It's even better than it was earlier…it's one of the most pleasant aromas I've ever encountered…"

            Taking their seats at the dinner table, the girls waited as the professor returned to the kitchen, bringing a pot back with him containing the soup.  He was still sniffing the air, with a curious look on his face, as he brought it over and set it down on the table.  The girls each flew over with a bowl, and he ladled the soup out into their bowls one at a time…he eyed them peculiarly for a moment, but the girls didn't notice.

            The girls started eating the soup, but the professor just watched them, only taking a very small sip of the soup himself.  Blossom stopped eating for a moment to comment, "This is great, Professor!  You've really outdone yourself!"

            "Yes…thank you…" he said, absently stirring his soup some more.  His gaze never strayed from the girls, and he slowly licked his lips hungrily as he took another sip of soup.

            Buttercup glanced up for a moment and noticed his blank stare, and asked, "Professor?  Are you okay?"

            He blinked a few times, and held his hand over his forehead, saying, "I'm fine, just…a little hungry I guess…excuse me!"  He suddenly stood up from the table and hurried out of the room.  The girls stared at him, then glanced at each other quizzically.

            "Hungry?  But…why didn't he finish dinner then?" Bubbles wondered.

            Shrugging, Buttercup just returned to her soup, while Blossom looked at the doorway where the professor had run off.  She thought, I wonder what's wrong?  Hmm…

            "Blossom!" came the professor's voice in the distance, sounding like it was coming from upstairs.  "I prepared that bath for you!"

            Looking back down at her soup, she realized she was pretty much done anyway, and got up from the table, saying, "Okay, coming…"  She flew upstairs, heading for the bathroom, just as the professor was coming out.  He smiled and nodded at her, and she smiled back, going inside and closing the door behind her.  As the professor had said, the bath was already full of bubbling water.

            Getting out of her muddy clothes, she went over and dipped a foot into the water.  She drew it back, though, yelping, "Yeeeee!!"  Frowning, she turned to the door and shouted, "Professor!  The water's too hot!  It's boiling!"

            "Really?" the professor said, "I'm sorry…my mistake…"

            Shaking her head, Blossom turned on the cold water until it cooled down, and reached for the shampoo, squirting some out into her hands.  She stared at it oddly for a moment, feeling it in her fingers, then lifted it up to her mouth and took a small lick.  Widening her eyes in surprise, she examined the bottle, and shouted, "Professor, what happened to the shampoo?  There's only a bottle of barbecue sauce up here…"

            His voice came back, "Uhh…dunno…"

            Sighing in frustration, she slid into the now-cooled water and just washed with the soap.  Just an honest mistake, I guess, she thought…Still, there's something odd about the way the professor's acting, but I can't quite put my finger on it…

            She had barely finished her bath, and was drying herself with a towel, when she heard the hotline buzzing in the other room.  She quickly threw on a fresh set of clothes, and rushed out…Bubbles had already answered the phone, and was saying, "A robbery?  We're on it!"

            As she hung up, Buttercup flew up to them and said, "So?  Where's it at?"

            "The bank again," Bubbles told them.

            Blossom nodded, "All right, let's go!"  They hurried out of the house, heading for the bank.  En-route, Blossom asked them, "Did it seem like the professor was acting…I dunno…strange to you?"

            "Not really," Bubbles answered.  "Why?"

            Rubbing her head for a moment, she said, "I don't know…maybe it's nothing.  Anyway, I can't worry about that right now…we've got to stop that bank robbery!"

*          *            *

            They arrived at the site, and as expected, the robbers were still present.  They were just coming out of the doors, when the girls swooped down on them.  Startled, they opened fire with their guns, but the bullets just bounced off as usual, and the girls quickly knocked the weapons from their hands.  Buttercup closed in on one of them, ready to swing a punch.

            That robber grabbed onto her other arm, and suddenly clamped his teeth down on it.  Buttercup was a little surprised by this move, and tried to shake him off, but he was clamped on tight, "Hey, leggo!"  Blossom and Bubbles had finished knocking out the other two robbers when they noticed the last one with Buttercup, and quickly flew over to help pry him off.

            Once he was off, Buttercup kicked him away into the wall of the bank, then held her arm where he had bit her, "Ow…that weirdo!  What was he doing?"

            The manager of the bank came out, as a group of onlookers formed a circle around them.  The manager walked up to Blossom and said, "Oh, thank you, Powerpuff Girls, thank you for saving the day yet again!"  He lifted Blossom's hand and kissed it courteously.

            Blossom gave him an odd look, and said, "Uh…sure, no problem…"  She looked away and noticed that the crowd was eyeing the three of them strangely.  Before she could say anything about it, though, she noticed that the bank manager, who was still holding onto her hand, had suddenly bared his teeth, and she quickly yanked her arm away with some alarm, as he bit down harmlessly on the empty air where her hand used to be.

            "What the…?" Buttercup started to say, but then noticed that the crowd was closing in towards them.  They were reaching out, with odd looks on their faces.  "Uhh…Blossom, something's not right here…"

            "They look hungry," Bubbles observed, as the three of them backed away from the crowd, until they were back-to-back with each other.  The people in the crowd were licking their lips, and a few of them even produced knives and forks from who-knows-where.  Bubbles added, "Mayyybe we should get out of here…"

            "You're right…retreat!" Blossom ordered.  The three of them flew up together away from the crowd, getting some distance between them and the crowd as they soared over the city.  Blossom said, "Back to the professor, hurry…something funny's going on, and maybe he can help…"

*          *            *

            Him watched them fly across the city on his television, and sat back, grinning widely, "Yess, fly back to your professor, girls…I'm sure he'll know what to do…"  He cackled gleefully, "Oh, I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when the professor does what I think he'll do!  This is all simply delicious…but not as delicious as they are now!"

TO BE CONTINUED…