Laying the Moral Groundwork

It is bad to badger witnesses. It is worse to badger witnesses with weasels. It is worst of all to badger witnesses with sharks, unless the witness can turn into a shark and fight back. Then it’s entertaining!

You can’t badger people with lasers. For one thing, you use lasers to zap people, not to badger them. For another, the lasers are the wrong color.

Some lasers are red. These lasers are made with red crystals.

Some lasers are blue. These lasers are made with blue crystals.

Some lasers are weasel-colored. There are no weasel crystals so these are made with non-crystalline weasels.

The cool thing about using a weasel-colored laser is that weasels are highly resistant to the energetic impact. If your target is standing in front of a weasel and you want to use a red or blue laser, then you must wait until the target moves. Otherwise you might hurt the weasel. With a weasel-colored laser this is not true. You can fire straight through your target and the weasel will remain unharmed.

This also has benefit in medical situations where you need to operate on someone who is laying on a bed of weasels. You can carve gently and surgically through such a person’s body and rely on the underlying weasels to squeak in mild discomfort when the laser touches them.

The reason this works is that weasels inherently reflect the color of weasels. If they didn’t then they would be invisible—all of the weasel-colored light that hit them would be absorbed and you would be unable to see the weasel. It is very very rude to shoot an invisible weasel with a weasel-colored laser, since this will highlight its deformity while simultaneously inflicting a terrible weasel-colored burn.

Perry Mason was the first lawyer to use a weasel-colored laser to solve crimes. (He was not the first detective to do so; that, of course, was Sherlock Holmes, who made detection into a science and could use weasel lasers to highlight even the smallest non-invisible-weasel clues. As he put it, ‘the weasel reveals the game.’ However, given the rising use of weasel-colored lasers in important court cases, Perry Mason’s contribution remains significant.)

Perry Mason first used the weasel-colored laser in his classic clash with prosecutor Hammerhead Durgan. Hammerhead Durgan’s reign of terror relied on his use of a shark-colored laser to reveal the various defendants’ moral flaws. Perry’s weasel-colored laser cancelled out the shark-colored laser, since sharks are a totally different color than weasels, allowing Perry to see through to the facts of the case. Durgan went into a blood frenzy, murdering everyone in the courtroom but the quick-witted Perry and his client. This left the courtroom permanently cursed. Anyone whose trial the justice system holds there transforms into a shark or a weasel when badgered, reverting only when asked a leading question. Some of these witnesses are never asked a leading question—they stay a badger or a shark forever, just like people who win third prize in a “turn into a dangerous animal” lotto!

Lotto makes the state a lot of money, which it can use to build roads and pay police officers. Turning witnesses into weasels is not as good—it’s illegal to sell the weasels or the witness chair, so the whole process is actually terribly expensive! That’s why it’s so important not to badger witnesses. It costs the state money it could otherwise use for fixing potholes, manufacturing parents for needy orphans, or for graft.

Don’t badger witnesses! A balanced budget depends on you!

(Not all the way better) The Passion of the Joy Thing

The joy thing is shaped like a fuzzy barrel: white, fluffy, and stout. A cowboy hat is canted on its head. A trenchcoat flutters about it. Its deelyboppers wobble.

“. . . it is an embarrassment to Washington,” seethes Cabinet Member Steve, “that such a thing should represent us. In the minds of the world, it is an American symbol, an American thing, because it chooses to fight for us. We are disgraced.”

“Perhaps,” says the President, folding his hands, “we can shoot it into the sun.”

“If we only could!” cries Cabinet Member Steve.

This is the hoary, dusty temple of the crocodile god. Susannah sprawls on its altar. Seventy worshippers in robes surround her, chanting profound and foul spells. The doors are great stone slabs, marred by weather. The walls are rimed with vines. The leader of the cultists lifts his knife and catches the light with it, his eyes growing sterner as he readies himself to bring it down.

BANG.

The doors slam open wide. Beyond them is the evening sky, the forest ground, the fading sun. In them, wrapped in a numinous limning of gossamer light, the joy thing stands.

“It’s not nice to stab people without permission,” says the joy thing.

Its trenchcoat flutters in a strange and sudden wind.

The head cultist looks up. He snarls behind his hood. He says, “It is godly and sacred, however. If you happen to worship the crocodile god. Which I do.”

The joy thing unlimbers its hat. The head cultist’s hands clench around the knife. The joy thing hurls the hat. It spins through the air and raps the knife from the head cultist’s hand.

Then cries the joy thing, “Alasta pampilenen!”

The heat of joy and brightness fills the room, and the chaunts that were chaunted to the crocodile god are chaunted no more.

The Embassy for Things stands beside the Canadian Embassy. Reporters seethe outside its door. The necessity thing comes out.

“Ambassador,” cries one reporter, “do you have a statement on the joy thing affair?”

The necessity thing’s voice has the sound of scratching chalk. “We do not consider the allegations against the joy thing substantive, but we are cooperating fully with Washington’s investigation. We have taken America’s request for a withdrawal of the joy thing’s diplomatic immunity under consideration.”

The great Nazi airship drifts ponderously across the sky. Its sides are blazoned with the symbols of the Reich. Its belly is swollen great with bombs.

The pilots are kicked back in their seats. One is halfway through a joke. “The second says, ‘The queen, she is impenetrable!’ And the third shakes his head vigorously. ‘No, no! That’s not it! She is impregnable!'”

This is translated from the German for your benefit, as the pilots laugh.

There is a thump. The joy thing has fallen from a biplane onto the window in front of them. It is hanging on to its hat with one hand and to a hook imbedded firmly in the glass with another. It smiles to them.

“When people ask you to be a Nazi,” it says, “just say no!”

There is a long frozen moment. Then, suddenly, both pilots are on their feet.

“Emergency! Emergency!” they shout in translated German. “It’s the joy thing!”

Joy and brightness wash over them.

The explosion of the zeppelin can be seen for more than one hundred and fifty miles. The pilots and the passengers drift down on their parachutes like so much tiny soot.

“What will happen to it?” asks the necessity thing.

Agent Pullet shrugs. “Its adventuring will be . . . curtailed.”

One thuggee is strangling Mr. Jenkins. The other is strangling his omelette. Thuggees like strangling things.

“Please,” whispers Mr. Jenkins. “Please, I have a family.”

“Ha ha,” laughs the thuggee. “We will send them your head!”

“And these hashed browns,” says the other thuggee. “I don’t like Denny’s hashed browns at all.

“Please,” says Mr. Jenkins. Then his eyes close and he sags back.

A waitress approaches. She is carrying a silver tray. On the tray is the joy thing.

“Kali save us!” cry the thuggees, strangling cords falling from their hands.

“You shouldn’t play with your food,” declares the joy thing. “Alasta pampilenen!”

The food at that Denny’s is surprisingly good, even today.

“I don’t understand,” says the joy thing.

“You are requested,” the lawyer thing says, “to appear before the secret tribunal in seven days. If you don’t, you will be hunted down, locked in a box, and thrown in a volcano, in accordance with the terms of the Compassion and Conscience Legislation.”

“Helltrousers,” the joy thing slowly blasphemes.

The kitten is drowning. It is sinking beneath the quicksand and drowning.

“Take my hand!” shouts Angus. But the kitten can’t hear him, doesn’t understand, or possibly just doesn’t have the strength.

Angus lets out a little more line. He inches closer to the kitten. His line snaps. Angus and the kitten go down.

There is a silence.

Then they are rising, the three of them, Angus, kitten, and joy thing alike, rising through the quicksand and muck. The joy thing has puffed into a giant fuzzy ball, increasing its buoyancy. They cling to its fur.

“Sure is a good thing you were swimming around in that quicksand,” Angus says. “This kitten and I might have been goners!”

“Don’t play in quicksand,” the joy thing says.

Then it turns. It walks away.

“Hey!” says Angus. “Hey! Are you okay? You didn’t do that, um, that alasta thing.”

The joy thing is gone.

“I have done only good,” says the joy thing. “I have sought only justice. It is not my fault that my public image is not suitable for your cause.”

“In these days,” says Agent Pullet, gently and heavily, “a thing is not a thing, but what others see in it. You will be fired from a cannon into the heart of the sun, in accordance with provision 81 of the CCL.”

“Fudgeweasels,” swears the joy thing, unable to find the words to convey the immensity of its feelings, scatology and blasphemy alike deserting it in this moment of its greatest need.

They load the joy thing into the cannon.

They swivel the cannon to face the sun.

“The sun isn’t a toy,” says the joy thing. “Don’t shoot things into it!”

The cannon fires, and that is the end.

Sometimes, when the sun is shining, remember the joy thing. It is still up there. Its deelyboppers are aflame. Its fur is burning. It is not alive and so it cannot die, and it loves you.

It would wish you well.

The Division1

1 inexplicable unless you have seen an abundance of Japanese animation or comics, though no less accurate for all of that.

It is the beginning of time, and all the animals are lined up before the Presence to receive their special gifts.

“Weasels,” says the Voice. “You shall receive the backing of a strange, mystical organization that may or may not have the best interests of the world at heart.”

The weasels scamper with joy. Then they scurry off to the secret underground base. They show their ID. They are escorted inside. There, the grand weasel glares down at them. He intends to wring every drop of performance from them. Their youthful idealism is simply grease for the gears.

“Prairie dogs,” says the Voice. “You shall receive the ability to transform from your normal, ordinary clothing into special fuku by barking.”

The prairie dogs peek up from their holes. Then they sink back down. It’s so embarrassing! Why couldn’t the Voice have chosen someone else for this socially awkward destiny?

“Elephants,” the Presence thunders. “You shall be stalked by a mysterious bishounen. He may be your lover, or he may be your greatest enemy.”

The elephants pragmatically consider this. One trumpets. Elephants don’t really like losing their head over mysterious bishounen. Then suddenly he appears. He has a swirly cape. He has a mask. He’s stunningly cute. All reservation is lost. Little hearts appear in the eyes of all the elephants. They toss their heads and trample one another in an attempt to get to him. Then, just as suddenly, he’s gone.

“Rabbits,” says the Voice. “You shall receive the ability to combine into a giant super-rabbit. One of you can form the head. Four of you, the legs. Optionally, you may combine with a sixth rabbit for reproductive purposes.”

The rabbits twitch their noses thoughtfully. That’s a useful power.

“Amoebae,” murmurs the Presence. “You shall go to special boarding schools, where each of you will have a harem of adoring aliens.”

The amoebae wriggle with glee. Then, one by one, they realize that they reproduce asexually. This diminishes their anticipation.

“Leeches,” the Voice asserts. “You shall be secretive and romantic vampires, drinking the blood of humanity. No one shall understand your pain.”

The leeches sink below the surface of the water, dodging the terrible rays of the sun.

The Voice drones on, and to each their gifts; and one to each and all the animal kinds; all save people, who hid from the shadow of the Presence and received no gift at all.

“It would have just been something perverted,” people mutter, but that’s really just sour grapes.

ConBust Stick Figure Theater #2

Bonus/”filler” content

It is Cheese Weasel Day.

The stage is quiet. The stage is dark. The stage is hushed.

The legendary Kathryn steps out.

She clears her throat.

She sings the Cheese Weasel song.

She steps back behind the curtain as the audience roars its applause.

(You too can hear the Cheese Weasel song at http://www.fastrat.com/cheese_weasel.wav.)