Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Right Answer

I normally abstain from presenting a "right" answer to the Friday Challenge, but once in a while I can't resist. In response to the 12/28/07 Challenge, then, and perhaps in a fit of lunacy, I wound up writing the following.

If you missed it, the setup is that over the protests of frightened environmentalists, JOGMEC (the Japan Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corp. ) has launched a project to drill into and extract the frozen methane clathrate found in the Nankai Trough, about 30 miles off the coast of Honshu. Something has gone terribly wrong, though, and a thrilling plot has been developed and run to climax. Herewith, we present the final scene.


"I'm melting. I'm melting! Oh, you horrible children! What a world, what a world." With a final faint but hideous cackle, the evil hag vanished forever, leaving behind only a tall black conical hat and a pastel-colored pantsuit in an untidy heap on the floor.

Former President Gomer was thunderstruck. "Goll-lee! I always said she was a witch, but I never guessed she was a real witch! And all it took was a little water to make her go away. No wonder she was so afraid of rising sea levels." He shrugged, then shook his head. "Well, it just goes to show, you can be married to someone for forty years and still not know the first thing about 'em."

Daphne brushed the Former President's hand off her thigh and turned to the group with a smile. "Shaggy? Scooby? It looks like your usual clumsy cowardice has once again saved the day. How about a Scooby Snack?"

"Yeah yeah!" the boy and the dog responded together.

"Me too!" said Former President Gomer.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Magruder had pushed his Smokey-the-Bear hat back on his head and was scratching his scalp. "There's just one thing I still don't understand. If she was the Global Warming Witch," he pointed at the heap of clothing on the floor, "then who's that?" He turned and pointed at the Environmentally Displaced Snowperson, who roared and struggled briefly in the grasp of Magruder's deputies, then realized it wasn't working and gave up trying.

"That's easy," said Freddy, as he stepped up behind the Snowperson. "Professor Hayakawa discovered a cheap, abundant, and environmentally safe source of energy. Who is the one person in the world who stood to gain by keeping that discovery a secret?" Freddy grabbed the fur on the top of the Snowperson's head, gave it a triumphant yank, and the mask came off.

"The Former Vice-President!" Sheriff Magruder and Former President Gomer shouted together, the latter with bits and crumbs of Scooby Snack flying from his open mouth.

"Not exactly," said Velma, as she stepped up alongside Freddy. "You see, the real Former Vice-President was genuinely frightened when the Environmentally Displaced Snowperson first appeared. After that, though, you never saw both of them together in the same place at the same time. At first we thought this meant the Vice-President was disguising himself as the Snowperson, but then we found that clue in the old hotel room and realized it was the other way around. The Environmentally Displaced Snowperson had kidnapped the Former Vice-President and was taking his place! Which means that the real villain can only be—" Velma grabbed the hair on the top of the former Vice-President's head, gave it another hard yank, and this time the second mask came off.

"Zarthag!" Former President Gomer shouted.

Magruder's jaw dropped. "The adorable baby polar bear?"

"No, no," the former President corrected, "he's really the Ursinoid ambassador from the moons of Jupiter! It's like, Area 51 and all that stuff." He turned to Zarthag. "Dude, I thought you said you came in peace."

"That's what he wanted you to think," Velma said.

"The truth," Freddy added, "is that he was sent here to trick us into destroying our own industrial economy, reducing our own population, and triggering a new ice age, so that the Earth would an easy target for the Ursinoid invasion fleet!"

Zarthag snarled. "And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids and your stupid dog!"

Magruder set his hat back on squarely his head and nodded firmly. "Okay, I've heard enough. Deputies, take him away." He turned to the Ursinoid ambassador and favored him with a grim smile. "Zarthag? We've got a nice escape-proof cage waiting for you in San Franscisco!" Magruder and the deputies marched out the front door, with Zarthag, still snarling, pinned firmly between them.

Former President Gomer watched them go, and then shook his head sadly. "The poor Former Vice-President," he said with a sigh. "He was kind of a bore, but all the same I'm gonna miss that big dumb jerk."

"There's no need for that, Mister Former President!" a familiar deep and slow voice boomed from the next room. The side door opened, and in stepped—

"Albert? Is that really you?"

"Yes, Mister Former President!" the real Former Vice-President said with a hearty grin. "Zarthag thought he might still need me as insurance, so he was keeping me tied up in the old abandoned sushi factory! That's where the kids found me and set me free. Thank goodness we didn't sign the Kyoto Treaty! I only hope there's still time to undo all the damage that my evil double did!"

"Good grief," the Former President muttered. "Less than a minute of him talking and I'm bored already."

"How about it, kids?" the Former Vice-President asked as he turned to the gang. "Are you ready to go out there and save the world? Then follow me! Mindlessly and without question!" The Former Vice-President turned and lumbered out the front door, and with a happy shout of Yeah!, Freddy, Velma, and Daphne ran after him.

Former President Gomer hung back. "Sure thing, Albert. You just go right on ahead. I'll catch up with you in a minute." As Shaggy brought up the rear, the Former President caught his sleeve.

"Say, Shaggy?" Gomer asked, as he held up a snack. "These Scooby Snacks of yours are really groovy and all, but I'm thinking they'd taste even better with a little -- er, oregano, if you know what I mean. Any idea where a deserving guy might find some good herbs?"

Shaggy did a double-take at the former president's broad wink, and then broke into a grin. "Sure thing, Mister Former President! Why, I've got a couple of pounds out in the van!"

"A couple pou—?" The Former President smiled even more widely, then nodded, draped an arm around Shaggy's shoulder, and gave him a buddy-hug. "Shaggy," he said, "I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Together, the two of them walked out the front door. The Great Dane followed them out, pausing in the doorway to lift his head to the sky and let out a full-throated bay.

"Ruby ruby rooooooo!"