Written by: Charles Gray
Disclaimer: Baloo, Rebecca Cunningham, Don Karnage, Kit Cloudkicker, Molly Cunningham and WildCat are (c)1990/1991 Walt Disney Company and are being used without premission. The writer has made sure that all material represented here is not used for profit and is used with the upmost respect to Disney and the Tale Spin team. All other characters are the property of the writer.
The sun shone down on the playground at Cape Suzzette central park, children playing, and adults walking, enjoying the sun as they made their way about another lazy Sunday afternoon. Down in one part of the park, near the lake, three friends enjoyed the afternoon.
“C’mon Jereem.” Molly said, a bit crossly. “You have to finish this set... remember, the doctor said every day.”
“Yes Mother.” Jereem said, puffing a bit as he walked. Behind him, Michael smiled at Molly.
“I doubt that she would make a good mother, Jereem.” Molly put her hands on her hips and glared at the tiger.
“And why is that?”
“Well for one thing, you don’t have enough patience,” Molly snorted. “and for another...” Michael trailed off.
“Yes.” Molly prompted him, her look implying that the reason had *better* be good.
“I’d hate to be the husband that had to come down and pick you up after you got arrested for beating up the other parents.” Molly made a face at Michael.
“Don’t mention it.” The tiger replied..
“There!” Jereem said, coming up to the bench where he had started from thirty minutes before. He sat down in it gratefully. “I can sit, and listen to my muscles scream.”
“Does it hurt that bad?” Molly asked, abruptly concerned.
“No.” Jereem said, waving Molly and Michael to the bench. “The first few days in the hospital... that hurt.” Molly said nothing. Jereem hadn’t let her or Michael visit him during that period. “But later, it just ached... like it does now.” He stretched his leg, looking odd with the light brace in place of the heavy metal one that he had worn ever since Molly had met him.
“Why didn’t the doctors do something for the pain?” Michael asked.
“They did, when the broke the leg, to set it right again.” Jereem said. “But you can’t exercise when you’re doped to the gills. Don’t worry, I’ve had much worse.” He said, not noticing Molly and Michael’s look. They both knew where the “much worse” had come from.
“Well, you’re walked a lot better then you ever have,” Molly said, “So I guess the doctors must be doing something right.” Michael laughed.
“Well, I’m glad they meet with your approval.” He said. Molly gave him another look.
“Now what did that mean?”
“Nothing! Honest!” Molly glared at him, then turned around and looked out at the harbor.
“Oh Michael...” She sing songed. Michael exchanged a look with Jereem.
“You never did answer if you wanted to go cloud surfing.” Jereem was looking at the tiger and he saw him turn several shades of green.
“I don’t think granduncle would approve...” he said faintly.
“I thought he didn’t mind you flying...” Molly said teasingly.
“He doesn’t... when I have a plane around me.” Molly turned around and looked back at the tiger.
“So if I just ask Baloo, there would be no problem with you surfing???” Michael opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again. Jereem saved the day.
“Well, I’m ready.” The coyote said, getting up. Molly turned to look at Jereem.
“Yes, already. Molly trust me, I know my limits... geez, first you force me to walk all over the park, and now your trying to keep me on the bench.”
“I was not!” Molly said, huffily, “I just don’t want you to mess up your leg.”
“Well with the exercise I’m getting, that won’t be a problem.” Jereem said.
“Speaking of exercise...” Michael said, “Your school is also off tomorrow, right?” Molly and Jereem nodded. Michael smiled. “So your parents wouldn’t mind us staying out late tonight?”
“Why?” Molly said.
“Remember that old museum... the one above the subway station?”
“Yeah, they’re gonna tear it down. Why?”
“Well,” Michael said, “I they have a bunch of really interesting murals and stuff, that they can’t remove, cause they’re part of the ceiling. I was going to sneak in and get some photo’s.”
“You? Shere Khan’s ward... sneak?” Molly said. “I thought that was below you?”
“Well, you always try to get me to do silly things like cloud surfing... I like taking pictures.” Michael said.
“We could get in trouble.” Molly said, “Mom’d ground me forever.”
“Well, that settles it then.” Michael said, “If you’re worried about it, well I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”
“I am not afraid!” Molly said. “Going in there for a bunch of photo’s you can get in a gift shop is stupid!”
“I didn’t say you were afraid... those were your own words.” He turned to Jereem, “Did I say anyone was afraid.”
“Leave me out of this.”
“I’m going to go!” Molly declared. “You bring your camera’s and we’ll see who’s afraid. Jereem! Are you coming?” The coyote sighed, running his hands through his hair.
“I suppose... somebody’s going to have to be around to call the firemen...” Molly and Michael glared at him.
“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?” Jereem just shook his head.
“Never mind... Isn’t that the museum that is supposed to be haunted?” Michael laughed.
“Jereem, I don’t believe that you are so credulous... Some superstitious hobo’s got into the old pneumatic subway tubes and heard moaning... obviously the sound of the wind.” Michael said, looking superior.
“I don’t know...” Molly said, “Baloo’s had some pretty interesting ghost stories.”
“How many after a stop at Louie’s’?”
“Most of ‘em.” Molly said, she opened her mouth, then closed it. Her mother had never spoken of her “date with a ghost” after that first night.
*and besides that was after a late flight with Baloo to Louie’s,* the golden bearcub thought.
“See,” Michael said. “Nothing to worry about. Now, we’ll meet back here at 8:00.” Whistling, he walked off.
“I have a terrible forboding about this...” Jereem said as he waved goodbye. Molly poked him in the ribs.
“you are coming, aren’t you?”
“Yes.” Jereem looked at Molly, “We’ll go in, Michael will get his photo’s, and we’ll leave, right?”
Rebecca was finishing up the day’s fuel tabs, muttering about unscheduled pit stops on the part of the Seaduck and it’s pilot. The door opened up and Molly walked into the office at H&H.
“Molly! Back from the park so soon?”
“We were going to be doing something else tonight, so I came here for a bit.” The cub said casually... perhaps too casually. Rebecca looked at her daughter.
“Michael has a new camera, and he wants to take some photo’s. Boring.” Molly said, flopping down on the couch. Becky relaxed.
“Well, that can’t be too hard to do... when does he want to get started?”
“That’s a little late to be taking photographs... remember, you have to be home by 9:30.” Molly looked at her mom.
“I’m 12, mom. Could I come in late this once? Jereem and Michael are right there... and it’s not like we’re going to pirate island.” Rebecca bit her lip. “And you’ll have the apartment to yourself....” Molly continued. “didn’t I see a note from Stanley on the desk?” Rebecca covered the note.
“Now don’t eavesdrop, or eavesread, young lady. Yes I do have an invitation to a movie with Mr. Gabblegooker.”
“Then everything works great!” Molly turned to her mother, using her most persuasive voice. “You can go see a movie, and after Jereem and Michael and I finish the pictures, we can go see one too, and eat dinner. There’s no school tomorrow, so there’s no need for me to get up early, and the walk will help Jereem’s leg.” Rebecca considered. Michael certainly would be with a Khan industries driver, so Molly would be chaperoned.
“OK, OK.” Rebecca laughed, “But you’re to be in at 11:00 sharp, young lady, or I won’t be so willing the next time. Molly laughed and gave her mom a peck on the cheek.
“Thanks, Mom. I gotta go get ready... bye!”
“Don’t forget, 11:00 PM, young lady!” Rebecca yelled at the retreating bearess. Then, shaking her head and smiling, she picked up the phone.
“Hello... Stanley? I just came into a pair of unexpected movie tickets, and I was wondering ...” She said in her sweetest voice.
Molly got ready in the apartment. Instead of her normal bare feet, the bearess chose some heavy boots, since she had no idea what the floor would look like. The rest of her clothes she kept just about the same, choosing a slighty ratty set of overalls, just incase. Besides, mom wouldn’t notice a few extra stains on all the oil stains from when she helped out wildcat with the Seaduck. Molly crushed a twinge of guilt. Besides, she hadn’t lied to her mother... though Rebecca might not see it that way.
Pursing her lips, the bear decided to leave her airfoil, but take the tool kit.
*They’re tearing it down, so nobody’s going to mind if I bring back a few souvenirs.*
Deep, deep under Cape Suzzette, a familiar voice raised itself in glorious inspiration of its troops.
“Yes! I, Don Karnage in my magnificence self, will now utterly be maneuvering out those foolish type Cape Suzzetters, yes-no?” In one of the abandoned pneumatic tubes, the flamboyant fox gestured to his bedraggled followers, as he pointed to the low ceiling with his sword, after nearly decapitating Maddog with it while pulling it out of its sheath.
“But... aren’t these tunnels haunted?” Said one particularly nervous pirate, a lemur.
“No these tunnels are not haunted.... besides, why would a ghost be interested in your insignificant type bodies? Come, come, we have much looting and shooting to do!” With that, Don Karnage marched with invincible enthusiasm, towards what he knew was the culmination of his attempts to rob Cape Suzzette.
The sun was sinking beneath the horizon when Molly walked back up to the park, now more or less deserted. Jereem was standing there, but Michael was no where to be seen.
“Jereem, where’s Michael?” Molly said looking around.
“Behind you.” Jereem said, pointing. Molly turned around to see Michael puffing up the way, burdened down by a variety of odd equipment.
“I thought we were going to take pictures... not make a movie!” She said, looking doubtfully at the boxes, lenses, flashes and light meters.
“We are, but this,” Michael said, gesturing to the equipment, “Is how a professional does it.”
“Oh?” Molly said, “and do you know how to use that?”
“Of course? This is the 40mm lens with the dark attachment and this is the flash unit, but first of course you have to use the light meter to get the proper setting for the exposure gauge and...” Michael continued on, rattling off his method for taking a picture, while Molly looked amazed, and confused by the flow of information.
By the time they reached the museum, the sun had gone down completely, and the city lights had come one, bathing the buildings in the artificial glow of the street and store lights..
“.... and that’s how you get ready to take the first shot.” Michael finished, looking at the other two. With a start, Molly shook off the somewhat glazed expression that had come over her face.
“I’ll stick with Kodak.” Jereem said, earning a horrified look from Michael.
“What got you into this, Michael?” Molly asked. Michael grinned.
“Well first, it’s a hobby that I can do myself, and where the only thing that makes it work is my skill... so I don’t have to worry about people telling me how wonderful I am.” He paused, “Secondly, it’s a great way to kill a slow afternoon when you’re alone.” Molly smiled and grabbed his hand, pulling him towards the building.
“So how do we get in here?” She asked, then turning around to Michael. “What about your guards? If mom finds out that I’m here...” Michael grinned.
“Don’t worry, I’ve gotten some experience in avoiding my guards. If we get back by 11:00, nobody will know a thing.” He looked up at the building. “There’s an opening in the fence behind the building, and a couple of the windows are open. I was here once before, but I didn ‘t have a chance to get in,” He led them around the fence, to the hole in the fence, and then took out several flashlights. Jereem had already provided himself with one, and Molly had her small work flash, but the heavy duty security flashlights were appreciated nonetheless.
The three carefully snuck inside, avoiding making any commotion that might alert a passerby. As Michael had said, several of the ground floor windows were ajar, and they let themselves into the dusty first floor of the museum. Molly turned on her flashlight, looking around the empty main dome, the light turning the dusty cobwebs to glowing curtains. As Jereem came in the dust raised by their feet gathered around them, motes dancing in the light.
“Ah-CHO” Molly sneezed explosively. “How long has it been since someone’s been in here?”
“I think about five years.” Michael said, “C’mon, the tube station is below the main dome... I think I know where the stairs are.” They walked, following the tiger, through the dim recesses of the building.
“I think I remember the story.” Jereem said. “A curator brought back some kind of idol from a far land.... One day they found him, dead, and the idol gone. After that, the weirdness started.”
“Thank you very much, Jereem.” Molly said. “Now please stop it.”
“I’m just repeating what I heard.... Not a single night watchman would spend the night here after that.”
“Jereeeeeemmmmmm!” Molly said.
“Don’t worry. A ghost has never harmed a person.” Michael said positively.
“And you’re experienced at that?” Molly asked him.
“Well, it stands to reason... have you ever heard of a ghost hurting someone... scaring him yes, hurting no.” Jereem looked at the two.
“Of course, there is another answer to that.”
“What?” Molly said.
“Only people that ghosts don’t want to hurt live to talk about it.”
“JEREEM!” Molly shouted. In the distance, there was a crash of something falling. Molly, Jereem and Michael, all jumped. “What was that?” Molly asked.
“Probably something that was ready to fall anyway, but your voice caused it to fall.” Michael said calmly... perhaps overly so. He didn’t protest when Molly walked closer to him and put her hand in his. Jereem walked on the other side, but ever so often whipped his flashlight around to illuminate the dark corridor behind them.
Molly began to nervously examine her surroundings. Much of the furniture had been removed, and what remained was covered by time stained sheets and shrouds of dust and cobwebs. The occasional exhibit case still remained, many of them shaped unnervingly like coffins.
“Ah, here we are!” Michael said. He gestured in front of the trio, where the corridor opened into a vast space, larger then the entry dome where they had come in. Molly directed her flash into the air, seeing the beam get lost in the dark recesses of the colonnaded dome. Dim, dust covered tapestries and paintings on the inside of the dome moved sluggishly in the air, cheery scenes being mutated into something quite different then the painters had intended. Michael walked forward, and directed his flash down the broad stairs. The stairs continued, until a turn in the tunnel took them out of the sight of the beam. Molly looked down.
“Do you feel that draft?” She asked,
“It’s probably just an opening in the tube system somewhere.” Michael said.
“OK, you go first.”
“Ladies first.” Molly glared at Michael.
“You dragged us out of here, so you go first, or we go home.”
“Oh for the... Fine!” Michael said, walking down several steps. Long before he got to the first landing, he turned around and looked up at the other two. “Joining me?” Molly stepped down, as did Jereem. The three stopped at the first landing peering down the rest of the way. Curtains of cobwebs blocked them, and Michael stepped forth, popping his claws, and slashed downward.
“Michael... you idio-<cough-gasp> “ Molly dissolved into coughing as the dust, suspended in the webs, came free, filling the stairwell with dust motes. For a moment, the three simply coughed and choked, the curtains of falling dust cutting the visibility to zero. “Will you PLEASE THINK!” She shouted. “There could have been spiders in there!”
“Of course not, Molly,” Michael said condescendingly, as he futilely tried to brush the dust off of his clothes. “Live spiders don’t infest cobwebs.”
“Oh, really?” Molly said, “Then what’s on your shoulder?” It was a dead spider, or at least the husk of one, but Michael cleared at least four feet in his leap, as he desperately brushed it off.
“That <wasn’t> funny.” he said, as he came back down.
“Yes it was,” said Molly, looking up and grinning. As Michael’s tight jawed expression began to crack into a smile as he said,
“...Well yes it was but...”
Molly and Michael turned at a cough from Jereem.”
“Michael?” Jereem asked. The coyote had directed his light down the rest of the stairwell, apparently free of the dense cobwebs, while the other two had argued.
“The tube station closed before the museum. Right?”
“Yes. They kept the lower level open for some exhibits, and other such, but not many people went down there. Why?” Jereem pointed to the floor.
“There were no tracks above us, and the cobwebs came along time after both the museum and the station were closed... so why are their tracks here-- not covered in dust?” Molly and Michael both looked down, seeing that there were dozens of tracks, some wearing shoes, and others barefoot, marching right up to the cobwebs, then stopping. Not turning around and going back down the stairwell, just ending, with no sign of what had happened to the owner. Molly stood up and shone her flash down the stairs, but there was no sign of anything else unusual, and the tracks faded as the amount of dust on the steps went down.
“What now? Michael?” Molly turned to Michael. She really wanted to leave, but she was *not*, going to be the one to call this off.
Far below the feet of the kids, Karnage was raising the flagging spirits of his soldiers..
“Come! Cowardly type flunkies. Just imagine the valuable knickity nacks you will be able to give your commanders glorious self! This is not time for polite thoughts! On!” he turned to march. “Besides, now those annoying type fighters and cliff guns won’t be able to be shooting at me!”
“But cap’n,” One of the crew interrupted. “We don’t have our own fighters either...what will we do with the police!”
“Do not be bothering me with the nonessentials.” The pirate chief said airily, when suddenly an odd sound came down the tube.
“Wlllllll Yu.......... plsssthnk.....” It hissed, before dying out, lost in the darkness of the tunnel.
“Was that... the ghost?” Maddog said, cowering back.
“No it was not the ghost!” Karnage snarled, “It was your own cowardly bones going shiver shiver.” He paused, then stepped back. “Take the lead, confront your childish fear of ghosts face to face” he poked the flunkie with his saber. “As I stand back to admire your brave foolhardiness.” Maddog timidly advanced, torn between fear of the darkness in front and his commander in back.
The three kids were still on the landing, with Molly and Michael glaring at each other. Jereem stood watching the two, while occasionally looking up and down the stairs.
“I am not coming all this way, getting dust into everything, and then going back home with my tail between my legs because of some tracks in the dust.” Michael declared.
“Fine!” Molly shot back, “Then let’s get this finished so we can get a soda. This place is miserable.”
“Then hurry.” Jereem said, “Michael, how many shots do you want?”
“Oh, at least a dozen... I was going to clean the dust off the murals....”
“Well, it seems that there isn’t much dust after this landing... maybe the air currents are stronger down below.” Jereem said, looking down with a doubtful look on his face.
“Well, lets go then.” Michael said, handing his flashlight to Molly, and beginning to fiddle with the cameras. Molly glared at him as she took the flashlight and walked with him, occasionally starting at small noises.
Coming out into the train station, the three kids all stopped short. With little dust, and almost none of the signs of decrepitude in the museum above, the station looked like it was waiting to open, with hordes of silent travelers waiting to walk down the stair they had just come down. There was even a train car, sitting where it had been left so many years before, when the old pneumatic network had been closed in favor of the newer subway.
Molly looked around, shining the flashlight here and there. the silence, and the cleanness of the platform disturbed her more then the rooms and stairs above had. She kept whirling around, feeling eyes on her from the dark corners and shadowed ticket booths of the station.
Michael, now that he was at his objective, seemed invulnerable to the creeping unease, happily setting up his camera, while looking about for the best items to take pictures of. Jereem walked over towards Molly.
“He’s happy.” The coyote said, looking over at Michael.
“Yeah. I wish it was contagious.” Molly said wrapping her arms around her body. She shivered.
“ I don’t like this place.”
“It feels... I don’t know. I just don’t like it.” Molly said. She hated the feel of being underground... cloud surfing let you see, at least.
“I wonder if the idol is down here somewhere?” Jereem said. Molly turned and glared at him.
“Will you be quiet about the idol? it gives me the creeps.” She blinked as a explosion of light filled the chamber from Michael’s camera.
“Wonderful!” Michael said, “Now for another... picture....” he trailed off and walked towards one of the murals.
“Michael....” Molly said. “You don’t have to look at them here... we can look at the pictures once you get them developed.
“Molly?” Michael said in a curiously calm voice. “Could you and Jereem come over here, please?” She and Jereem walked over to Michael and stood by him.
“What is it?” asked Molly. Micheal pointed.
“In the brochure I got, that mural was a horse race.” Molly looked up at the mural. It still was of a horse race.... and the horses were..... eerily moving.
“Well, that’s very interesting. Ready to go everyone!?” Molly said with a huge smile on her face. Michael was the process of packing his gear.
“Right. Well, I’ve got enough photos to do me for a while. What about you, Jereem?” Jereem was looking around.
“Do you hear anything?” He asked. Molly and Michael paused, then listened. They heard.... footsteps, and people murmuring.... a lot of people murmuring.
“What the-!” Michael leaped back as on the floor in front of him, barely visible in the light, they saw footsteps form in the light covering of dust. A sound of brakes and a blast of wind came down the tube.
“I-I’m leaving.....” Molly said, as Jereem and Michael turned and walked, with her to the door. Molly grabbed Michael’s hand, then grabbed Jereem’s hand for good measure. They walked, then ran towards the stair. Molly’s flashlight was in her pocket, but Jereem’s and Michael’s were working well enough.... well enough to show that they were getting no closer to the exit, no matter how fast they ran. Michael grabbed Molly, she grabbed Jereem and they sped up.
Finally, Michael slowed down.
“Ca-can’t keep going-” he panted, as Molly and Jereem stopped next to him, equally out of breath. Molly glared at the stair landing, less then 50 feet away, just like it had been when they started running. Another train whistle sounded in the tunnel behind them, this time accompanied by a voice informing all the non-existent passengers that the train would be arriving in 3 minutes.
“I really don’t want to be here when the train arrives.” Molly gasped.
“I don’t want to be here at all.” Jereem said.
*this is something that usually happens to Baloo... What would he--strike that.* Molly sighed. On the other hand... presuming that Baloo couldn’t run away he would...
“Guy’s, we gotta find that idol.”
“WHAT!?” Jereem and Michael said.
“Well, if it’s down here, it’s causing the weirdness, so we get it, and the weirdness ends.” The bearess said, putting her hands on her hips. Jereem pushed up his glasses.
“One, we don’t know where the Idol is-” The lights of the chamber, dead for many years, flared on down one tunnel. Jereem sighed. “And two, the closer we get to it, won’t the weirdness get worse?” Michael urgently pointed up the stair. A stream of spectral figures, dressed in a long out of date fashion, were proceeding down slowly, coming towards the kids.
“OK, we are leaving.” Michael said, turning towards the lit tunnel.
“And three,” Jereem said, walking with Molly and Michael. “What if it is leading us on to a hideous death.”
“Well, I’m not being led to a hideous death.” Molly declared, marching along.
“Well, I guess she doesn’t want to be led to her death... she wants to leap headlong into it.” Michael said, walking with them, and trying to simultaneously watch in front, to the sides, and behind him.
“You see?” Karnage said triumphantly. The crew had come to an intersection, and by the map Karnage was now consulting, it would lead them directly to the old station, under the museum. “Now are you not ashamed of your unmanliness?” Then, he looked back down the dark tunnel. Maddog followed his gaze.
“Captain... did you have someone follow us?” the whiny pirate asked.
“What kind of ignorant question is that?” Karnage said, “and what kind of pirate would be making the big windlike noises, and have a big flashlight?” The wind in the tunnel was rising, as the glowing point far down the tunnel began to grow in size, with a moaning sound accompanying it.
“Capn....” Maddog said, “That sounds like a...”
“yes, yes, what is your unimportant observation?”
“Subway train???” Karnage suddenly looked, his eyes widening as the spectral train burst upon the pirates.
“Run!! Runaway now, make way for me to check the front like space!!” The pirate leader screamed, running over Maddog as the train chased them down the tunnel.
Halfway down the tube, the kids heard what sounded like a group of people screaming in terror.
“OK... back to the station.” Michael said.
“What about the ghosts back there?” Molly asked.
“I don’t’ think...” Michael shook his flashlight in irritation. “That’s odd, I just put new batteries in today.” The light in the tunnel was also fading, as Michael and Jereem clicked their flashlights on and off, to no avail as the beams faded out into the darkness.
“Molly, Try your light.” Jereem said, looking around. Molly took out her pocket flash and turned it on. The light came on, then faded out to nothing, just as another sound echoed through the tunnel.
“Right. Now we have to go back to the station.” Michael turned around, and sucked in his breath. The tunnel that had been behind them was now gone, their own tunnel dead ending into a wall. The last of the light died, leaving the three standing in pitch darkness. “Maybe another one of these tunnels?” The tiger asked.
“Ah, Michael, Jereem?” Molly said, looking behind them.
“What?” The two turned and looked past where Molly’s voice had come from. Down the tunnel, the lights of an onrushing car were visible... and getting closer. Much closer.
“If anyone has a good idea, other then dying, now would be a great time to say it,” Michael said in a small voice.
“Yes, actually I have an excellent idea,” Jereem commented. “RUN!” Just as they turned to follow his advice, the lights of the train went out, plunging the tunnel into darkness. Then there was a confusion as the howl of the train, (still echoing despite the fact that there *was* no train), smashed over them. Then, Molly got a confused impression of someone much bigger then her smashing into Michael, and separating her from the others.
“Maddog, get your ugly type paws off of my wonderful self type!”
“Capn’, I’m over here!”
“Let her go-ow!”
A torch was struck, in the now silent (at least of ghostly noise), tunnel. Holding it up, Don Karnage saw an odd scene. An, oddly familiar female bear cub was sitting on Maddog’s back, holding his arms in a full nelson, behind her, a tall tiger cub was fighting a losing battle with Dumptruck who was trying to tuck his elbow into his ear-- a poor fit. Karnage crossed the tunnel in two strides and lifted the cub off of his flunkies back.
“Thanks, Cap’n.” Maddog said, before Karnage kicked him in the tailbone.
“And that is for being your own miserable self!” He jerked his head back, avoiding Molly’s flailing fists, and handed her to another pirate, a large ape.
“Now, Children. I, the dreaded pirate Don Karnage will be asking you impertinent but timely type questions, which you will answer!” He paused, “What is this ghostly type fraud you are importuning on my cowardly type crew?”
“Oh right!” Molly said, trying to squirm out of her captors grip, “You’re just trying to run a scam, like you did on Baloo!”
“Baloo? They annoying type bear.... un momento...\” Karnage peered at the cub for a moment.
“You are that small copy of the loud type business bear person!” He said, “What are you doing here... where is that bear!” he said loudly.
“Let me go!” Michael said, struggling.
“Shut up, squirt!” Dumptruck replied. Karnage looked at Michael.
“And who are you...”
“I’m Michael K-ah, Michael Kanasta.. .yes Michael Kanasta at your service.”
“What kind of name is that!” Karnage paused, “In fact, what are you doing here!”
“We came to take some pictures?” Michael said, indicating the gear still festooning him. Karnage peered at the cameras.
“What is down here to take pictures of?” He said. “You are trying to play the fox for the chicken.. yes/no?”
“I have no idea what you just said.” Michael replied.
“Well, you are obviously terrified out of your tiny mind by my glorious presence!” The fox replied, striking a pose. Molly peered at him. He beamed. “Are you not impressed by my carriage?”
“Actually... you look fatter then I remember.”
“You remember incorrectly.” He said airily, waving his torch. Karnage made a sign, and Dumptruck brought Michael over to him. “Now why did Baloo send you to take pictures of me?” He paused, “For I am the only thing here worth taking pictures of, yesno?” He reached down and plucked a camera from Michael, and then opened it up. “This will make a wonderful family type photo-yesno?” He said, motioning the others to bring the kids into the camera view, Karnage snapped several shots. “This will go well for my collection, yes?”
“Hey, that films expensive! who’s going to pay for it?” Michael said, before Karnage glared at him.
“You are, Mr. Poker.”
“Again with the insignificance arguments.” Karnage clicked the camera again but this time the flash failed to go off. “What is wrong with this thing?” He asked.
“Oh, you need a recharge.” Jereem said, as he walked into the light, coming from a tunnel that seemed to slope downward.. He was holding one of Michael’s flashes... a large flash. Molly and Michael looked at him.
“Jereem! Why didn’t you run away!!” Molly said.
“Remember, the way to the museum disappeared?” Jereem said reasonably. Karnage walked towards him and held out his hand.
“Go over there and stand with you other small type prisoners... and I will take a family portrait.” Jereem walked over, and Michael looked at the flash.
“Jereem... that’s only for outdoor use....” Jereem smiled and closed his eyes, as did Molly and Michael.
“Awww, look, they’re frightened.” Maddog said, just as Karnage pushed the button. The mother of all flashes erupted into the room, causing the pirates to shriek. The two holding Michael and Molly dropped them, and the kids took off.
“Anywhere but here!” Michael shouted back to Molly, as they took off down the sloping tunnel. Meanwhile, Karnage, still rubbing his eyes, was kicking the other pirates, getting them into some type of order.
“After them!! After them!!” He grabbed another flashlight and turned it on.. “They make me very very angry!” as the whole horde took off after the three.
The three kept running. Molly’s pocket flash was the only light they had, and at least it was working now. As they ran, Molly began to notice a stench, and the ground under them began to fill with water.
“Is this the sewer?” She asked,
“Impossible!” Michael said confidently, “The sewer wouldn’t connect to the tube lines.”
“And a ghost is just an old story?” Molly shot back.
“Guy’s...” Jereem said, noticing the lights of their pursuers, following them.
“Well, I think we should try to find a way back upaaaaiiiieieeee!!!!!” Molly shrieked as the tunnel suddenly went from partially wet to very wet, and from a 10 degree slope to a 50 degree slope. Her legs went out from under her, and she went sliding down the tunnel, yelling as she tried to grab on to something. Her flash went spinning out of her hands, and vanished into the muck, as Karnage’s crew added their panicked shrieks to those of the kids.
Molly saw several other splits in the tunnel, saw Jereem vanish down one, and then was dumped out into a vaulted chamber, lit dimly by fungi covering the walls and living off the miasma. A moment later, Michael came sliding out after her, slamming into the bearcub.
“OUCH!” Molly yelled. “Michael...”
“Sorry, lets get out of here!” He said, turning to pull her to her feet just as Maddog and Dumptruck, followed by the other pirates, came sliding out of the tunnel, ending up in a pile with the kids on the bottom. After a few moments, the pile was resolved into a circle, with Molly and Michael at the center, holding on to each other.
“Now... Annoying type children... you have... you have....DIRTIED ME!” Karnage shouted, ineffectually dabbing at his stained clothes. “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TERRORIZE CAPE SUZZETTE LOOKING LIKE THIS!!!.... No photographs.” he finished, putting the camera away. Molly glared at Michael.
“Well, now, even if we survive this, I am going to be grounded forever.”
“So this is my fault?” Michael asked Molly, irritatedly.
“Hmmmm......” Molly said, exaggeratedly. “I don’t know... why were we here? To take some pictures with your STUPID camera!”
“It is not stupid! I might mention that riding out of the back of a plane, with only a silly little airfoil between you and death... now that-”
“Un momento....” Karnage tried to break in. Molly overrode him.
“Silly! Well if you think that, Michael Khan, then maybe you’re not as smart as I thought.” Michael opened his mouth, when Karnage put his fingers to his lips and silenced them with an ear piercing whistle. The two looked over at him.
“oops.” Molly said in a small voice.
“I am thinking that you will be worth many valuable nicknacks to Shere Khan...” He turned to his men. “You see, Men! this is what I knew would be here.”
“But, Cap’n.... you said we were going to rob a bank...”
“Are you contradicting your gallant leader?” He asked, glaring at Maddog.
“Good! Then do not be wasting my time with worthlesslike comments.”
Jereem landed on his back, and lay their for a moment. He looked around at the small chamber he was in, and sat up, wondering at the light that filled it. He turned around, and saw a small statue on pedestal, that seemed to be the source of the light. “SO, THOU MOTE OF DUST... THEE HAVE COME TO STEAL ME!” A booming voice came from all around.
“Ah.. no. Actually, I’ve come here because I fell down a hole, after being dragged out in the middle of the night to take pictures in a deserted haunted building and then be chased by pirates, and ghostly trains!” Jereem finished, taking a deep breath. Then, he felt a presence behind him. Turning, he saw a figure in black armor, advancing towards him. He backed up, then came to the wall. The figure came forward.
“Well, then, I’m Ibn Al’Haj, spirit of the statue, and I’m happy to meet you.” It said, shaking his hand until Jereem’s teeth rattled. Now, it’s voice was quieter, mellow and much less intimidating.
“Ah... thanks.” Jereem said.
“I want to thank you for a lovely time! It’s almost as fun as the time that tour of preservationists came through.” The being said.
“But aren’t you a... ghost?”
“Oh, don’t be silly. Ghosts belong to an entirely different union. I’m a Jinn, imprisoned in the statue by King Solomon.”
“Then why did you kill the professor?”
“Kill-? The being looked at Jereem for a moment. “I didn’t kill him... the git found me, brought me back to here, then got so thrilled with his discovery that he walked outside and got run over by a truck. Ever since then, I’ve been stuck here.”
“And if I rescue you? Do I get wishes?” The figure laughed.
“Nope... after the last twenty, ‘I want to rule the world’ Wishes, the union got together and changed the rules. Now, if you can convince me... like finding a less boring place then this.” Jereem considered the probable reaction of his or Molly’s mother, or Michael’s guardian to a genie, and shook his head.
“I really couldn’t... but tell you what, if you help us get out of here, then I’ll see if I can find you a better place... where there are more people along.”
“Excellent!” The figure said, then vanished. “You’ll have to pick up the statue yourself... I can’t move it.” It said.
“OK... Got it.” Jereem said, lifting the Jade figure.
“Then follow me! Onward Christian Soldiers~!” the voice began belting lustily... and badly off key as Jereem walked forward, wishing for earplugs...
Back in the chamber, Karnage was dictating a letter to one of his men.
“Now! I, the dreaded pirate Don Karnage, will be willing to accept all your cash, planes and other wonderfulness in exchange for the return of your ward, and his small, annoying type girlfriend.
“Hey!” Molly protested.
“Silence... I am pontificating in my voice!” The pirate said, then turning around he continued. “In addition, I will even throw in a picture of myself so you can keep it and remember who it was who took all your nickity knacks.” Molly still glared at him, angry at the ‘girlfriend’ comment.
“And Furthermore... what is that awful type sound.” A groan echoed throughout the dome. The pirates looked up, just as a huge, vaguely humanoid figure began to arise from the muck, glowing red eyes blazing out from its head. The pirates scattered, leaving Molly and Michael backing up as the being walked towards them, the floor shaking with every footstep.
“OK, Michael...what do we do now?” Molly said, Michael pointed at a tunnel entrance behind the monster.
“Let’s run to that one. Maybe we can find Jereem and get out of here.”
“Stand! Stand and fight the monster for your captain!!” Karnage was screaming as the pirates let loose a volley of fire that hit everything... except the target. Molly and Michael were sloshing through the muck, keeping their heads down. Dumptruck chucked a bomb, that hit the monster, and exploded, blowing free chunks of muck, but doing no other damage. One chunk hit Molly covering her in it.
“Ewwwww!!” She spat slipping as Michael, himself more or less covered, helped her get up. They finally made it to the tunnel mouth, as Karnage finally pointed at them.
“Ignore the monster... GET THEM!” he screamed. Michael pulled Molly into the tunnel, where they turned and came face to face with Jereem, holding an odd looking glowing figurine.
“Hey, guys... I found the Idol.”
“GET RID OF IT!” Molly screamed, having had enough of weirdness. She grabbed it from Jereem and threw it back into the chamber. Karnage stopped short as he saw what she had thrown, then grabbed it as the monster disintegrated, returning to the muck.
“Hmmmmmmm....” He said, looking at the figurine. “This might repay me for all the messy type inconvenience...... And.. I will not have to run into any more giant type monsters...” He turned to the kids, still visible in the tunnel. “Today, I choose to be merciful... but do not think that this means that you should cease to be dreading to meet the dread Don Karnage.” he said, striking a pose.
“I still say he’s fatter....” Molly said, to Michael. The tiger, a smile fixed on his face, said.
“He’s going to let us go, Molly, let’s not make him angry.” Molly humphed, folding her arms, then ineffectually trying to brush herself off.
“You think I let you go! Hah! You have no idea where you are, small type pests.” Karnage laughed, “Come, men. Let’s leave these petty troubles to their losts.” He waved the pirates behind him and began to walk up another tunnel, not the one he had come through. His voice echoed through the room. “This will look veerrry nice on my mantle... yesno?”
“But Cap’n, we don’t have a mantle.” Maddog’s voice came back.
“Then you can steal one for your captain.”
“Oooohhhhhhhhhh......” Maddog’s dispairing groan was the only reply. Michael turned and glared at Jereem.
“You’ve given Don Karnage something that powerful... what if he uses it against the city?”
“Don’t worry, Jereem said, “It isn’t.”
“You mean it’s not the idol?”
“Well yes it is, but it and I had a talk... It’s lonely, and really wants some playmates, which is why it did what it did to us... I explained how a whole shipload of pirates would be a LOT more fun.....” Jereem smiled. Slowly, answering smiles grew on Molly’s and Michael’s faces. Then, Michael turned to the tunnel.
“Well that makes up for him stealing my camera... But how do we get out of here?”
“The Jinn said, follow this tunnel and it comes out by the bay...” Jereem said, handing Michael his flashlight, the last one they had. Later, Jereem would realize that the Jinn was having another joke on them... the tunnel did come out--after passing through the most disgusting parts of the network.
Later, (MUCH later), the three, looking more like bedraggled rats, came out of a opening and looked back at the lights of Cape Suzzette.
“Well, Michael, that was interesting.” Jereem said.
“Well... I did get some pictures...” The tiger said. Molly glared at the two of them.
“And I fell into ever hole and sump on the way here... look at this... they can probably smell us all over the city.”
“I told you to stay by me.” Michael said.
“Then we would still be lost! You wanted to go right at that last turn, remember!”
“Well, it might have lead to us getting out sooner.”
“We made it, guys.” Jereem said, stepping between the two. Michael and Molly grinned at him.
“Yeah, well we did.” Michael said.
“Maybe.... a movie next time?” Molly asked. “Something boringly normal, where nothing will happen?”
“Yes, I could like that.” Michael added. “And nothing sci-fi, either. I don’t want to go see something about monsters in the sewers!” Molly laughed.
“How about pirates and monsters in the sewers?” Jereem said.
“Why, you.” The city clocks began striking the time. Suddenly, what time they were striking became clear, and Molly paled.
“Ohmigod! It’s 11:30... I’m DEAD!” She wailed. “Jereem, Michael bye, see you tomorrow if I’m still alive and I’ll call you if I’m dead, bye....” The cub vanished down the street running full tilt for the apartment. Michael looked at Jereem.
“What about your mother?”
“Doesn’t get off work until 1:00. She doesn’t start with Mr. Khan until next week.” He paused. “What about yours?”
“I’m going to sneak into the tower,” Michael said, “Where my watchers think I’ve been all day.”
“How do you get past them?” Michael grinned.
“That’s a trade secret.” Jereem laughed, and shook his head, heading towards his own home, as Michael headed towards the tower. The tiger looked up at the tower, and thought.
*and besides, I have to figure it out, first.* He heard the sound of a car coming up behind him. He turned around and saw a black limo.... a very familiar black limo. It pulled up by him and stopped with a whisper of brakes. The driver got out, and opened the back door.
*Granduncle!?* Michael wondered if it was too late to go back and find Karnage...and ask the pirate to kidnap him.
“If you are ready, it is time to return home... and I would be very interested in your explanation....” Marching to his own execution, but maintaining his dignity to the last, the younger Khan entered the car.
Molly ran, out of breath, finally coming to the side of the building. She headed to the elevator, punched the button and waited for the door to close.
*OK, Mom the day went well, I just fell into a garbage can on the way home... and it tried to eat me.* Nope, wouldn’t work.
*I snuck into a deserted building, and ran into pirates, a ghost and had to get out through the city sewer system.*.... Maybe the first one was better, at that.
*We did some dumb things, and that’s why I look like this... how long am I grounded?* Molly settled on the last. It had the virtue of not being a lie... and she was going to get grounded out of this.
Her heart almost burst when she entered the apartment, pulling her shoes off and leaving them outside to avoid tracking on the rug. She went to the table and saw a note on it.
+“Sweetie, I’m going to be a little late with Mr. Gabblegooker, he made reservations for a late dinner. Hope you had fun! I can be reached at 555-1212, if you need anything.
Molly almost leaped for joy, then ran to the bathroom. She didn’t know how much time she had, but she had to have everything cleaned by the time mom got home. The clothes went into the washer and she dove into the shower, coming out in time to dump the clothes back into the dryer. Then she sat to work on the shoes, before going to the elevator, mop in hand.
Rebecca came home at 1:00. The evening had gone well, with Stanley telling his stories... which she had heard a dozen times, but the vigor and humor with which he told them made her laugh. She quietly walked in, wanting to avoid waking Molly. Padding by her daughters room, she saw her, tucked into bed, sleeping.
“They must have played hard, today.” She smiled. It was nice to see Molly having a normal, ordinary outing with her friends. Sometimes she had worried that bringing her up with Baloo, Kit, and Wildcat, not to mention the dozens of little disasters and adventures that were a daily occurrence at H&H, might have made it difficult to have a normal life... It was nice to see that she was wrong.
Chaos on the Iron vulture. The aircraft had come alive, chasing pirates all over the place, the plumbing was belting out barbershop quartet numbers, and the mess hall had been barricaded by crewmembers, terrified of gruel golems.
“Captain.. what are we going to do?” Maddog said, avoiding a snapping chair. Karnage stood, striding confidently to the main viewer.
“We will not let this annoyance type ghost interfere with my plots. I intend to sell the idol for....” The chair snuck up behind the pirate and latched on to his rear. “AIIEEEEE!!! Whatever our buyers will take for it... or maybe we will pay them to take it.” He paused running around, while trying to pry the chair loose. “Maddog, Dumptruck, help your glorious type captain!”
“Wow... Those kids really tricked us....” Maddog said. Karnage swung around so quickly that the two, and the chair they were pulling on, were flung into a wall.
“Perhaps, my mindless minions... but it is not only the hero types that can be clever.. yesno?” He pointed to the camera, the developed pictures beside it.
“What are you going to do with those?” Maddog whined.
“Why, send them back! I, Don Karnage do not steal from the children types...” He paused, “Unless it is candy and I am hungry, but that is a horse for a different day.”
A week after her adventure, Molly was sitting back at H&H, while her mother waited for Baloo to return from a cargo run. The week had gone well, and the movie they had gone to had actually gone uneventfully as had the lunch they’d eaten later. Jereem credited it to good living, and a bonafide miracle...which had led him to dodge a shower of fries fired from Molly and Michael. Later tonight, she and Michael were thinking of going to see another movie, alone since Jereem and his mother were out of town, visiting some family members, courtesy of an advance on her pay from Khan.
The postman’s van screeched to a stop at the curb, and Molly went out to get it. Coming back in, she perched on the edge of Rebecca’s desk.
“Gas bill, electricity bill, lottery ticket...” She looked up as Rebecca opened the lottery ticket, putting the bills behind the desk.
“I don’t have to pay them until the end of the month, so I’m not letting them ruin a nice day.” Rebecca said. Molly looked at the other two letters. One was addressed to her, and the other to Rebecca, but neither had a return address. Rebecca’s was larger then hers, and Molly had no clue who they were from.
“Here you go, Mom.” Molly said, before getting up. “I’ve got to get some stuff down town, and I’ll be back in an hour.” Molly waved at her, as Rebecca gave her daughter a kiss on the cheek.
Molly opened the letter on the way out of the building. She sucked in her breath as she saw the writing on the single sheet of paper.
+To the annoying small bosstype girl, it is I, the dread Don Karnage. You think to have escaped me? I will have a most terrible vengeance upon you, small beartype person. To see what it is, turn the page.+
*He kidnapped Jereem? He’s going to kill me?* Molly wondered, turning over the note to the next side. The typed words there were worse then she could imagine.
+I sent all the pictures, and a description of your exellemundo adventure to your even more annoying mother type mother. Arrivederci. Don Karnage.+
Molly started walking faster. She would be grounded for life. She hadn’t lied but... Mom could be unreasonable about those things at times. Maybe if she could get to the apartment Mom would have a chance to cal-
MOLLY ELIZABETH CUNNINGHAM!!!! MARCH RIGHT BACK IN HERE THIS SECOND,YOUNG LADY!!!!