Welcome to the Twelfth installment of -

(Winner of 16 UKE Awards)

Please send all comments to pepe.k@eudoramail.com

The following story concerns the Toonsters' freshman year of Acme Looniversity at college level. This tale of mystery is best read from the beginning - the other parts are available at HKUriah's TTA Fanfic site, among others. I suggest you read it from the start or you'll not know what's transpiring.

This story contains many references to music, some of which you may be familiar with. It contains and was inspired by the music of Danny Elfman's film soundtracks. In order to enhance this experience, I've made notations as to where each specific piece of music fits into the story. If it's available to you, I'd *strongly* suggest getting the CD or cassette tape, so that you'll not only read the story, but hear it happen as well.

All the music is available on CD. Most is from Danny Elfman's Original Motion Picture Soundtrack "EDWARD SCISSORHANDS" (#MCAD-10133) and MUSIC FOR A DARKENED THEATRE - Vol. 2 MEN IN BLACK (#CK 68859) , BATMAN (WB 9 25977-2) and Franz Waxman's classic film score of "THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN" (SSD 1098). No, I don't make a living selling music for 20th Century Fox or MCA but this music is incredibly beautiful, IMHO and well worth it.

"THE ODD COUPLE" was written by Neil Simon.

I'd like to thank HKUriah, Thorne, Andy Fox, Dennis Smith, Franz Waxman and Danny Elfman

This story is dedicated to my Beloved Wife.

In Remembrance of those who were killed in the Terrorist Attacks
of September 11th, 2001. May they rest in Peace.

And to the eternal memory of my beloved cat, Jellylorum
- Born September 16, 1986 - Died November 8, 2001

And now - Part 12 of -

- "A Time To Weep"

Chapter LII


Fifi was jarred awake on Sunday morning by a tumult of tons of metal being dropped right outside her window!

"Qu'est que c'est?!"

She found the answer approaching her Cadillac home in the form of a bulldozer! The huge metallic monster was leveling the Acme Junkyard. All that was left was a tall stack of flattened cars and her own house. In shock and horror, she watched the clanking diesel machine plow into the tower of old autos and bring it crashing to the ground! A huge cloud of dust and filth billowed into the air towards her like a wave and she frantically rolled up the windows of the old pink Cadillac to escape the flying debris! Then she ran outside though the opposite door, still in her nightgown. The dust and diesel fumes made her cough and she covered her face with her tail as she ran around to confront her attackers.

"STOP!! Mon Dieu! What do vous theenk vous are doing?!?" she yelled at the driver.

"He's doin' exactly what I told him to do" said Montana Max from the shaded beach chair where he lay while he watched from the sidewalk.

He wore a construction helmet and sunglasses as he lounged under a beach umbrella, sipping a tall glass of Jolt Cola.

"But zees eez mah home!" the skunkette cried, marching angrily over to him, her fists on her hips.

"Not anymore", Monty said leaning back comfortably," It's mine now! GROVELY! Get rid of that ol' heap!"

"Yes Sir" mumbled the stiff butler at the bulldozer's controls.

He shifted the controls in his white gloves and the tracked vehicle rumbled towards Fifi's pink Cadillac. She quickly leaped in front of it, forcing him to stop.

"Vous cannot do zis!! Ah ave lived 'ere for yearz! Ah rent zis property!"

"Not anymore ya don't! I bought this whole junkyard and I'm turnin' it into something important!"

"Like vat?!" she demanded, turning an angry shade of red.

"I dunno. How about a flea collar factory?!", Max said smugly laughing, "Or a deodorant factory?! AH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!"

"ZAT DOES EET!!" Fifi shouted angrily.

Her blood boiled as steam shot from her ears and Fifi curled herself into a U-shape, aimed her tail at the rotten rich kid and blasted him. A green cloud of skunk musk covered Max, blocking him from view. As Fifi turned in satisfaction however, she didn't see what she would have expected. An electric fan blew the stinky cloud away, doing two things. Firstly, it revealed Max to be wearing a plastic, environmental hazard suit and a gas mask. Second, it blew Fifi's La Fumes right back in her face.

"Sacre Pew!" she said wilting from her own ammunition.

"HA HA!", laughed Monty," Little did you realize that I anticipated your attack and wore my HazMat suit! Run her over, Grovely!"

"Sorry sir. I draw the line at committing roadkill." Grovely told him sedately, "It t'isn't in my butler's contract."

"WHAT?!" raged Monty.

Grovely held up a lengthy contract, so lengthy in fact, that it unrolled past the billionaire brat and into the street.

"Article 7, paragraph 92, extract 70,455B - and I quote, "The butler shall butle, not commit crimes. The employer (that's you, Sir) cannot order the employee (that is I, Sir) to squash any living toons with a vehicle of any sort whatsoever."

Max threw off his gas mask and stomped furiously over to shove his manservant out of the bulldozer.

"Well it's a STUPID regulation! Scram! I'll take care of this myself-!"

(Batman Music #2 "Roof Fight")

As he grabbed the controls, Max felt something unseen grip his body and quickly haul him out into the air!

"Hey! What's happening!?!" he cried in shock as he was lifted straight up into the sky.

Tense metallic music bounced and crashed as he shot up above the houses - one hundred - two hundred feet in the air!

"HELP!! SOMEBODY GET ME DOWN!!" he yelled, his eyes bulging as his ugly, gap-toothed mouth shouted.

Monty's sudden ascent stopped and he gasped as he looked down from the tremendous height. It was as if an invisible hand held him suspended in midair. The music calmed momentarily.


Abruptly, he felt it let go of him.

"..Mommy!.." he squeaked before the music gonged and he plummeted earthward! His falling body spun and twisted as he screamed, watching the cement sidewalk coming to meet his face! As he prayed in midair, the force grabbed him again, sling-shoting him back up high into the sky!

Below on the ground, a single finger pointed upward at Max, controlling his rise and fall. The finger waved up and down and Monty went up and down seventy-five feet through the air like he was a yo-yo.

"WhoaooOOOOOooooOOOOooOOOOoooooOOOO!!" hollered Monty as he spun wildly. "CUT IT OUT! I"M NOBODY'S YO-YO!!"

The finger stopped and began to twirl in circles. Max rotated madly, becoming a blur like a weather vane in a cyclone. He quickly grew air-sick.

"Mother a' Mercy! I'm gonna HURL! PLEASE!! STOP!! I GIVE UP!!"

The wild rotations stopped and Max heaved a sigh of relief. His face regained it's color momentarily, till he noticed that he was still moving - upward. The music grew ominously quiet as he reached an altitude of over five hundred feet. His color drained away again as his body was up-ended, pointing his head at the pavement far below.The overhead view he saw of the entire neighborhood terrified him.


But the unseen force did not drop him. It pulled him - straight towards the asphalt below! He flew vertically down towards the street as his pulse and the music pounded in his his head!

"AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!" bawled Monty, closing his eyes and expecting the end. Just short of the ground, he was pulled sideways and flew right towards a large dark figure, screeching to a halt and dropping to the ground with only a slight bump.

Towering two meters over him stood Doctor Lord before his front door, his bloodshot eyes blazing with anger. Electrical arcs danced on his massive, black eyebrows. His wicked rows of sharp teeth gnashed in a death's head grimace and his fearsome triangular white-pupiled eyes stared like daggers at Max. Clad entirely in black, Lord threw open his full-length cape as the evil music climaxed with the roar of a cathedral's pipe organ. This vision of Death petrified Monty!


"...I'm just taking what's mine" Max quavered in a tiny voice.

"YOURS?!?" the glaring skunk roared.

With a swipe of his arm, Lord swept his cloak aside with a snap, his bushy skunk's tail rising behind him. The three, lightning-like silver stripes shone like platinum with powerful electrical charges zig-zagging up to where a glowing silver ball of energy was building up. Max cringed as he watched Lord's tail become frizzed out with static electricity, the hiss and crackle of raw power sizzled in his ears as Lord's charge built up towards release! Lord hunched forward, his fists clenched, aiming the dazzling sphere of light at Monty. As he prepared to fire, Fifi ran up, distracting him. Fifi looked into his eyes and saw them change from viciousness to embarrassment. He looked uncertainly away and then discharged the globe of power, sending it rocketing over their heads. The speed and sheer heat of it's passage through the air created a momentary vacuum that crashed back together like thunder! The ball of lightning struck the fallen pile of old cars, which glowed fiercely for a split second like a supernova before vaporizing into nothingness! A small smoking residue of molten metal was all that remained.

Monty watched what had almost been his own immolation in terror, then turned to find Lord's withering glare upon him again.

"What _do_ you have to say for yourself, Infant?!!" growled the Doctor.

Monty shivered and his eyes grew wide in panic. He froze with a shocked look of embarrassment on his face and looked down.

"...I wet myself" he whimpered.

Lord rolled his eyes in exasperation, raised his fists heavenward and yelled something in an ancient, guttural language. Although upset, Fifi grew nervous at her Grandfather's behavior.

"'Ee - how you say? Bulldozer-ed mah junkyard - and 'ee waz going to bulldozer-ed moi too!" she explained quietly.

Lord threateningly leaned down nose to nose with Monty.

"_Why_?" he demanded maliciously, his predatory teeth gnashing, his hot breath on Monty's face.

Every part of Monty trembled but his voice, as he tried to recover any dignity he might have left.

"I..bought this property..and I'm..turnin' it into a parking lot...If ya can't pave it ..- uh..why save it?.. heh...heh.."

Lord's sinister eyes became deadly silver slits.

"Impossible!" he declared.

Just then, Officer Pooch skidded around the street corner. Hanging onto his Keystone Cop's hat, he ran up to meet them, screeching to a halt on the walkway.

"Alroight-alroight-alroight! Whut's awl this then?!?" he said importantly.

"Yer just in time, Officer!" Max said overconfidently, "I was just-"

"Oh-Ho! Montana Max!" the canine cop observed pompously, "Yew boorgasfrat yew! So yer the cause of all this, are ye?!"

"NO!", cried Max pointing at Fifi, "This one was obstructing the legal acquisition of my new property -"

"'Ee bulldozer-ed mah whole junkyard!" interrupted Fifi, "And 'ee waz going to run moi ovair!"

"Yer property, eh?" sneered Pooch at Monty, "Fer yer infermation, Miss La Fume has lived here fer years, young mahn! ..Are you awl roight now, Miss Fifi?" he asked Fifi kindly.

"Oui, merci Officer" said Fifi pulling her nightgown and bathrobe around herself.

"Never mind that!", yelled Max pointing at Lord, "This one was gonna blow me up!"

But Officer Pooch had already stopped and stood gaping at the Doctor.

"...Well by awl the Saints in Purgatory!..Can it be you, mi'Lord?"

The Doctor recovered himself enough to say," Hello Daniel."

"Wull great heavens, Sir - we thought you was gone fer good!" Pooch said as they shook hands. "Naow whut's awl this about, then?"

"He scared the wits out of me!!" yelled Max, jumping up and down.

Officer Pooch looked with disgust at Monty's wet pants and said "Aye kin see that."

"Look! I bought this property yesterday, it's legally mine!" Monty said showing them legal deed papers.

The policeman read it gravely, sighed and said, "Well... it does appear ta be legal..."

Fifi felt her heart sink as the Doctor looked the document over carefully.

"It looks legitimate.."

"It is legitimate!" said a gravely but familiar voice.

Everyone turned to see a black stretch limousine standing at the curb. It's electric window had opened to reveal Roderick and Rhubella Rat smirking smugly in the rear seats. Monty ran up to meet them as their shady-looking chauffeur opened the doors for them.

"Tell 'em! Tell 'em you sold it to me! C'mon Rod, tell 'em I bought it!"

Roddy dusted off Max's grasp of himself.

"Don't be so nouveau riche`, Monty. Of course I sold it to you."

"Vat are vous doing 'ere, Rhubella Rat?" Fifi asked suspiciously.

"Slumming - obviously!", Rhubella tossed off sarcastically. "Nice polyester bathrobe, La Fume!" she sneered.

As Fifi gritted her teeth, the Doctor stepped forward.

"You say you sold this property to him?" he asked flatly.

Roderick sniffed disdainfully.

"Yeah. It was the last property I had in the "low rent district" and I couldn't wait to get it off my hands. What's the diff to you? "

Rhubella stared in surprise and then whispered into Roddy's ratty ear.

"Careful Roddy! That's Lord - President of Dynasty!"

Roderick's eyes turned into dollar signs as he grinned sheepishly.

"You mean the big head of Dynasty Systems?! Uh-heh! Maybe you'd like to buy it instead, Mister Lord?" he said hurriedly grabbing the deed from Monty.

"Hey! That's mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!" yelled Max, "I bought it fair and square!"

Before the two rich kids could begin to fight about it, Lord turned back to Officer Pooch.

"Thank you, no. Officer Pooch, you are just in time to stop a crime."

"I am, Sir?" puzzled the constable.

Lord turned and stood at Fifi's side on the steps.

"However - Miss Fifi is not the victim here -" he stated.

Monty and the Rats grinned triumphantly.

Fifi couldn't believe it till Lord said, "It seems Mister Max is the victim of this crime."

Monty's jaw hit the sidewalk, making his big mouth uglier than usual.

"WHAT?!?" he gaped.

Doctor Lord continued. "Mister Rat does not own this property - I do!"

"WHAT?!?" exclaimed everyone else.

"Vous do??" asked Fifi in a small voice, being the most surprised of them all.

"Since nineteen-twenty" Lord declared.

"But -" she stammered in shock.

"Heh-heh! Begoarrah! That makes him your 'Land-Lord'!" laughed Officer Pooch.

The Doctor's stare made the policeman lapse into silence. He glanced down at Fifi before continuing.

"However, I am willing to sell it at a reasonable price."

"What?" Fifi gasped in a shocked tiny voice.

Monty began to haul out his wallet.

"I paid a hundred thousand for it ta this no-good rat - I'll give ya fifty thousand-"

"Your purchase was illegal - this one won't be." said Lord drawing out a deed. "Fifi, do you have any money on you at all?" Lord asked quickly.

Fifi looked desperately in the pockets of her bathrobe, but only found four quarters.

"But... ah don't ave fifty thousand dollarz!" she cried miserably. "Only one.."

"Sold" Lord said taking the money and holding out the deed. "Sign here, here, here, here, here and here .. and here."

"NO! HEY, that's not fair!" yelled Max. "IT'S MINE! MINE! MINE!"

Fifi signed the paper as fast as she could and then in disbelief - took the deed in her paws. She gaped at the Doctor in joyous surprise as he continued.

"It's perfectly legal. Now then, Mister Rat is guilty of fraud."

Monty grabbed Roderick by the collar and exploded.


"Uh - you can't prove that! You got nuthin' on me!" Roddy countered.

"Oooh, Aye think we can, Mister Rat", Pooch said," Ye see - yew made a couple uh mistakes! Returnin' to the scene of the crime and admitting that ye done it - in front of witnesses no less!"

"Yeah!", grinned Max, "I heard it all!"

"Moi too!" said Fifi, hardly believing what was happening.

"I witnessed that myself personally" remarked Grovely, striding up.

"So?!", the Rat contradicted them, "It's just their word against ours - right, Rhubella??"

Though he nudged her with an obvious wink, Rhubella backed away.

"Uh..well - I knew nothing at all about any of this...really!" she said fearfully.

"No! No! Bella, baby!-" Roddy begged in shock.

"You also admitted it in front of an awfficer uh the Law!" Pooch declared, showing his badge.

"Well, waitaminute!", said the scared rat pulling out his wallet, "Ah heh heh...Maybe we can arrive at some - uh - kind of *arrangement*?" He smiled knowingly at the cop and waved a handful of cash.

"-Annnd - ye tried ta bribe me!" interrupted Pooch, "That'll run ye quite hard!"

"HOLD IT! You'll never make this stick in court!" said Roddy angrily.

Pooch wasn't phased.

"Oh aye think we will!..Ye see, ye also were dumb enough to admit it in front of a judge."

"A JUDGE?!? WHAT JUDGE?!?" the rat asked.

Pooch pointed calmly at Lord, who crossed his arms.

"Retired, actually" he told them.

The canine constable looked disappointed.

"Oh really, Sir? Tis a pity. I'd be proud ta be yer bailiff again, Sir?"

The Doctor shook his head and pointed.

"Book 'em Dan'l! Take him downtown. That was a good collar, by the way."

"Yes Sir! Thank ye Sir!" smiled Pooch as he handcuffed Roddy.

"Ha ha! You'll never make it stick, ya flatfoot!" shouted the wrathful rodent. "I'll be back out again in an hour! Ruby! Get my lawyer!"

"Oh, aye doubt that, Mister Rat", Pooch commented cheerily, taking his arm, "Just think! Soon ye can be doin' a good deed and rehabilitatin' in Community service!"

"Service?? You mean I'll have TO WORK?!?"

"Yep! Scrubbin' out garbage cans at Wiennie-Burgers. Come along!"

The rat fell to his knees and screamed into the air, "BEL-LA!!"

Pooch shook his head, "No tyme fer Brando impressions - let's go."

Roddy continued to struggle as Officer Pooch dragged him down to the station house.

"Wait! My lawyer can beat up your lawyer! ..No, NO! I'm innocent!..."

"Good!", yelled Monty after him, "Lock 'em up in the hoosegow! It's what that dirty, thieving rat deserves, that criminal -...!"

He suddenly found Lord and Fifi glaring angrily at him and immediately cringed back, grinning sheepishly.

"Ah heh heh..Uh..that was ..pretty good!.. The way you caught him and everything ..um..I'll see ya around sometime..." Max backpedaled as he backed away from Lord's withering stare. "Say! Lookit that! Roddy left his limo parked in front of yer house...Why don't I.. uh.. just get rid of it for ya? C'mon Grovely!!"

As the others watched, Max revved up his bulldozer and rumbled out of the junkyard and towards the slick black limo. Rhubella waved at the driver.

"Rodolpho! Look out!"

The chauffeur zoomed off down the street with the bulldozer roaring after it in hot pursuit. Grovely sedately followed as quickly and with as much dignity as he could. As they disappeared from sight, Rhubella found herself facing two fuming skunks.

"Now look!", she challenged," You'd be wise not to press charges against Roddy! We have powerful friends who'll make alot of trouble for you!"

"Ah don't theenk you're een a position to argue about eet!" Fifi said defiantly.

"And just what do you mean by that, you Acme Loo loser?!"

Art by Thorne

Before Fifi could come up with a stinging comeback, the Doctor suddenly spread his large black cape with a snap, scaring the resentful rat. With another snap, he closed it about himself like a bat and scowled coldly at her.

"We don't yet know of *your* involvement in this scheme. But that's easily solved." he said menacingly, as he leaned down to stare into Ruby's eyes.

Lord's white pupils flared for a second, then he smiled in a rather mean way.

"So it was 'Roddy's little joke on Montana Max', was it? And he told you about it on the way here and you both laughed at how you'd 'get back at that love-sick polecat' for skunking him in the Acme Bowl, hm?"

Ruby was shaken but not stirred.

"That's not true! I never said that!" she lied.

"Oui, vous deed!" Fifi told her, "'Ee can read your mind like a cheap novel!"

"Oh! Don't you dare read my mind!!" gasped Ruby, taken aback.

"True", remarked Fifi, "'Ee'd have to *find* eet first."

"I don't think you - or Roderick will be troubling us any further, Rhubella Rat." Lord said icily, as he rose to his towering height again.

"Oh? And just why is that?!" she demanded.

"Because I don't think you'd want one of your old associations revealed. It seems that you and I know someone in common...a certain Ms. Laika Romanov."

Ruby froze, her eyes staring in horror as she blushed bright red. Lord thought something to her. The horrified rodent began to sweat, but remained silent. Fifi stood watching, but was mystified at what Lord's angle was in this.

"Would you care to see Laika again?" Lord asked in a deadly whisper.

"No!!!" Rhubella begged.

"Then I trust you shall refrain from any more.. 'schemes'?"


"And stay on the straight and narrow..?" Lord said, over-pronouncing his consonants.

"You won't tell anyone?" the terrified rodent implored.

Lord smiled again in rather a mean way.

"I'm the most secretive person in the universe...Trust me" he said devilishly.

Ruby backed away from him slowly in fear, but did her best to remain composed as she walked away down the street in stricken silence.

"Trapped like a rat in a trap" the Doctor remarked in an odd way.

"Vat vas zat all about?" asked Fifi.

"Don't concern yourself. It needn't trouble you." Lord said turning about and heading swiftly for his door.

He was nearly through the door when Fifi's plaintive voice halted him.

"Grandpere`?......Merci." she called in a small but genuine voice.

Lord stood still for a long moment with his back to her. She watched his head move slightly, as if uncertain what to do. He seemed about to turn and face her, but did not.

"You'll...have to pay taxes on it now..." he said in an oddly apologetic way.

Then the door closed behind him and his granddaughter was left to ponder what had happened. She wandered back to her new property, staring in disbelief at the deed she held in her paws.


Chapter LIII

Fifi stared at the now empty lot, as if seeing it for the first time. With everything but her Cadillac gone, there was quite alot of space. With a smile and a skip, she looked over all of her new land and imagined what she could do with it. Perhaps a little house with a garden? Thinking of her dream house, the excited skunkette danced back inside to take a shower before church.

As she stood under the warm shower, Fifi thought of her future home, how she and Hamton could decide on the design of the house they'd live in and what their future married life would be like there. It would be wonderful to live right next door to her Grandpere`...or would it?

His behavior that morning had hardly been like the person she'd grown up with. She knew that he was strict about observing Sunday as the holy day of rest, but that didn't account for the obdurate way he'd faced down Monty and the rats. She knew something was wrong and decided to try to get him to talk. She closed her eyes and concentrated.

["Grandfather? Would you like to go to church with me?"] she thought to him in French.

After a long uncertain pause, his melancholy voice echoed back to her.

["... No thank you, little one...I'm not fit to enter His house today."]

Now Fifi felt genuinely sorry for having rebuked him the day before.

["Can I see you later?"] she asked.

["..Tomorrow, little one - tomorrow morning...Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow..."] he intoned as his thoughts faded away.

Fifi was about to think to him again, when another voice echoed in her head.


["Huh?"] asked Lord's startled thoughts.

["What? Who's that??"] asked Fifi.

But Lord did not answer and she heard nothing more. Puzzled, the lavender lass finished her shower in confusion. After drying off, Fifi put her hair up in a bun and put on her conservative blue dress for church. From her hat box high in the closet, she got out the small hat she'd inherited from her mother and pinned it into her hair. In the mirror, Fifi could see her mother's features in her own and smiled sentimentally.

"Chin up, Fifi!" she told herself, remembering her mother's words.

Art by Thorne

At Saint Georges' Church by the river, Fifi sat in the the back pew with the other young toons. Furball, Mary Melody and Bookworm sat with her, listening to Reverend Chasuble. The grey old dog paused, looking through his spectacles, before walking to the pulpit and reading in his quavering voice to the congregation.

" A reading from Ecclesiastes..Verse Three : 'To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose unto Heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.."

Fifi remembered the words. The last time she'd heard them they were spoken in French at her mother's graveside service.

"A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to break down, and a time to build up..."

She remembered sobbing onto Hamton's shoulder as her grief took away her strength even to stand up. She remembered looking into his wide, white eyes and seeing them filled with tears.

"..A time to gain, and a time to lose. A time to keep, and a time to cast away..."

She remembered being held back as she tried desperately to stop her mother's coffin from being lowered into the ground. She remembered her Grandpere` carrying her away crying from the scene. She remembered watching him weep in silence as they held each other.

"A time to keep silence, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate. A time of war and a time of peace..."

Fifi saw that her Grandfather loved her and that she should help him, but what would the joining of their minds truly mean in her life?

"I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that all should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be - hath already been; and God requireth that which is past."

Silence echoed in the church hall and colored light poured in rays through the stained glass windows as the congregation knelt, prayed and sang. Fifi thought and thought, wondered and worried. She remembered her parents and family.

Fifi walked back into the city towards home, chatting with Mary and Furball. She told them of what had happened that morning and how she'd become the landowner of her property. They listened to the church bells ringing in the distance as they reached the fence by the junkyard.

"That's a cute hat, Fifi", said Mary," I don't think I've ever seen you wear one before."

"Ah never ave, really...", Fifi sighed, "Eet waz mah mother'z.."

"Oh!...Ya know, I never really got to talk to you about that since you went away", Mary apologized, "Are..are you okay? To talk about it, I mean?"

"Ah'm all right."

Furball patted her shoulder with a sympathetic smile and she felt better.

"...It must have been so hard..", Mary paused and said gently, "I mean, well.. death is so very rare - practically unknown!"

"Hm...Eetz rare een zis Tooniverse...but not rare enough." the skunkette commented fatefully with a little shrug.

Mary had a little laugh, "You sound like Doctor Lord." she commented innocuously.

Fifi nearly stopped walking for a second, but then realized the truth of it.

Unfortunately, their conversation was interrupted as a long black limousine fish-tailed around a corner in front of them and screeched to a violent halt. As they watched, an exhausted Rhubella Rat ran up from behind it and dove inside. A distant rumbling followed close behind her. Her chauffeur peeled out, burning rubber as he jammed the car back into gear and roared up the street towards them!

With a yowl of panic, Furball leaped and clung onto the base of one of the wide wooden boards that made up the fence, trying with all his might to loosen it and get through. He looked back to see the speeding car swerving towards them on the sidewalk. As he struggled with the board, Fifi ran into him from behind, causing the board to spin around on it's axis as she sped underneath it. Furball revolved with it and found himself suddenly upside down on the top of the other side of the fence! As he clung to it desperately, Mary dashed under it as Fifi had done. Again the board spun madly, carrying the cat around and down through the fence again, just as the limo rocketed past, just missing him. The girls watched as Furball sailed past them through the air with a whistling sound to crash into the junkyard. The rumbling increased till the ground shook under their feet, as Montana Max was seen, still pursuing the limo with deadly intent in his bulldozer!

"COME BACK HERE YOU RASAFRACKIN RAT!! YOU GUYS OWE ME BIG!! I'M GONNA GET YA GOOD!!" raved Monty as he ran over parked cars and parking meters and ground them to scrap metal underneath his treads.

"What a sophisticated vocabulary Monty has." remarked Mary sarcastically. "See you later, Fifi!" she waved. "C'mon Furball, let's go." A tin can with bluish cat feet and a bandaged tail sticking out from under it crept out of the yard after Mary with a muffled meow. As they crossed the street, Grovely was seen striding by still dutifully following his employer with his snooty nose in the air.


Chapter LIV

With a sigh, Fifi faced the mansion and decided to speak to her Grandpere`. Feeling guilty, she knocked softly on the front door. The large metal rings swung heavily in her paws. She knew it was probably the wrong time to talk with him as he had always spent his Sundays away from everyone, but...

No one answered. She knocked again louder, but nothing happened.Fifi felt worse. He must be angry and wouldn't see her. She tried thinking in French to him.

["Grandfather? ...Are you there? ...Grandfather, I'm sorry.."]

Still there was no answer. Either he was gone or he was ignoring her. As Fifi turned sadly away, she did hear something in her head.


It was the same odd little voice she'd heard earlier. Puzzled, she thought back.

["Hello? Who is this?"]


["Who are you?"]

["..me..."] thought the peculiar voice.

A strange image of an odd pine tree was thought into Fifi's mind by whoever or whatever this voice was. The skunkette was startled.

["You are - what??"] she asked in bewilderment.

["..i inside...open door?.."]

Nervously, Fifi opened the ponderous front door and stepped back. She saw no one there - just the empty hall. As nothing happened, she cautiously poked her head inside, but still - there was nothing.

"'Ello??" she called fearfully.

Suddenly there was a flurry of dark movements and two bright yellow eyes popped up right before her! Fifi shrieked and jumped several feet into the air, then fell back on her bottom with a squeak!

["...hel-lo mistress.."]

Sitting there on the step was Pyewaket, Lord's black cat. The 3-D animal peered at Fifi blankly and curled her tail around her forepaws. "Are vous talkeeng...to moi??" Fifi asked aloud, scratching her head in puzzlement.

The cat's eyes half-closed and she purred, but the sound Fifi heard in her mind was like a funny little laugh!

["..mmmrrr! cats not talk!...*humans* talk...cats *think*..mmmrrrr!.."]

Fifi thought a moment and asked ["How is this possible? Is Lord listening to us?"]

Pyewaket walked blithely out of the house with her tail in the air.

["..master not here... he make mistake.."]

Fifi closed the door and followed her down the walk.

["He left his communications going?"]

The black Siamese sat by the fence staring at the street.

["..master out...leave thoughts going...master not right..we go your den, mistress?"]

["I suppose so. Follow me."] Fifi thought, slightly confused at never having talked with a real animal before.

Fifi walked to her door and looked back. Pyewaket had not moved, but still sat by the road, staring at nothing.

["It's over here",] the skunkette thought, ["Aren't you coming?"]

["..maybe...got food?.."]

["I don't have anything like what you eat. Is that all you want?"]

["..no... I come, mistress.."] thought the animal strolling over.

Fifi opened the door and waited, but Pyewaket showed no signs of anything being urgent, so the skunkette went inside. The feline finally looked in the door and sniffed suspiciously.

["Aren't you coming in?"] thought Fifi impatiently.

["..smells funny...different.."] thought the cat.

["I beg your pardon?"] Fifi thought indignantly.

["...smells like you...and your mate, mistress..."]

["My Mate??"]

["..yes..nice toon pig who petted me.."]

["Oh! Hamton"], Fifi blushed, ["We're not married yet."]

The cat cocked her head at a strange angle, her expression inscrutable. Apparently she didn't understand Fifi any better than Fifi understood her.

["..merf?..not have kittens?.."]

["Uh, no.."] thought the embarrassed skunkette with a nervous laugh as she changed the subject. [" Why do you call me "Mistress"?"]

Pyewaket finally padded in and leaped up on the back seat - in Fifi's favorite spot. She continued sniffing and looking around.

["..you just like master.. not like all others...i see - i know.. why i come to you.."]

["Why? What do you want with me?"] asked Fifi as she unpinned the hat from her hair and put it away.

The cat sat down and looked straight at her, thinking, ["...you help master?"]

Fifi stopped and sat down.

["...I will... As soon as I know what it will do to me."] she thought .

The cat put a paw on Fifi's thigh and said, ["..no...now... master need help..bad trouble come...bad.."]

["I know... but I don't think I'm ready -"] Fifi sighed.

["..must help master.. bad thing come...hurt master.."]

["Hurting him? I don't understand -"]

The black cat leaped up upon the back shelf and stared at Fifi closely.

[" ...in last dark time...bear toon go away...master make food for me... - then bad thing come..."]

[" You mean last night? Mae Bear left?"] the skunkette wondered as her face clouded a bit at the mention of the lady bruin.

["..yes..then bad thing come to master... he hurt.. fall down.. things smash..evil thing hurt master...eyes changing...evil thing try to take master.."]

["The Berserker!.. But what happened??"] Fifi asked.

["..it say cruel memories to master..master fight it... lose toon... become man...i try help master..no good...evil thing strong.."]

["He lost his toon form?"] Fifi guessed, ["What did you do??"]

Pyewaket stood up and leaned out to lick Fifi's cheek.

["..i try help...no good...master fight..eyes changing...much pain..."] The cat looked strange, as if trying to say something she didn't know how to.

["....master do......-human thing...hurting bad...eyes dripping.."]

"...'Ee cried?!" Fifi gasped aloud.

["..yes...cry. ...master fight...not get up...fight all dark time till light come back..not get up...not make sound all time.."]

Shocked, Fifi involuntarily picked up the cat and held her in her lap, petting her unconsciously like a teddy bear.

["You mean he was on the floor all night long?!"] she asked remorsefully. ["Why didn't he call for me? I could have helped him!"]

["..i ask master to let me go to you.. master say no.."] the cat blinked. ["..master say he hurt mistress enough.."]

"..Ah would ave helped heem..No wondair 'ee waz so ..so upset zis morning." Fifi said sadly, hanging her head.

Pyewaket looked up at her and rubbed her head against Fifi's paws. The cat's warm fur felt strange compared to her own - but the two shared the same feelings. Fifi petted Pyewaket and felt the pleasant vibrations as the cat purred, but was confused as the sound in her mind made her ask a question.

["Are you laughing? Or purring?"]

["..mmrr...same thing..mmmrrr.."] thought the black cat, staring at her with her unfathomable yellow eyes, her vertical pupils contracting to slits in the sunlight.

Fifi paused, deciding, then thought uncertainly, ["I will help him now.. Where is he?"]

["..not know...master gone out..."] thought the animal.

[" Where did he go?'] Fifi asked in frustration.

["..where go always on seventh day....master's sad place.."]

The skunkette was truly puzzled, ["His sad place?"]

["..yes..master show me once...i not understand..."]

Fifi had never been permitted to know why Lord spent his Sundays alone in total privacy. Here, perhaps, was someone who knew.

["Where does he go? What does he do??"]

["..goes to remember..strange place..i not understand.."]

["What is this 'sad place'? What's there? What does he do there?"]

Again the cat struggled to say something she didn't know how to.

[".. big place..very big...many - ..human things...flat faces...many.... .....foot things.."]

Pyewacket's thoughts made little sense, so Fifi asked: ["What does he do there??"]

The cat began to lick her shoulder, thinking: ["...walks...walks all time of light...speaks...i not understand..."]

["Who does he speak to??"]

The cat stopped licking herself and stared at Fifi.

["...no one there...dark...master make light...."]

Lord stood at a tremendous doorway carved from ancient rock. A huge symbol etched into it stared down upon him, as he folded his arms and closed his eyes in prayer. His toon shape wavered and blurred as he formed himself into his true form as Kirrik. He opened his eyes and stepped back as the door slowly opened, grinding stone upon stone. The deep, ancient cavern within yawned open, soft lighting slowly sprang up, flitting from gas lamp to gas lamp. The jets of fire rose and flickered, revealing the beginnings of a vast labyrinthian room - and the billions of objects within it.

Kirrik opened a Greek amphora filled with precious oils and anointed his forehead with it. From another clay jar, he took a sprig made of pieces of dried sage and balsam and touched it lightly into the flame of the nearest lamp. The leaves glowed and tendrils of smoke rose and scented the air sweetly.

Kirrik gazed out into the cavern and pointed the smudging stick to the four points of the compass, waving the dusky smoke and glowing embers to the four winds. He then raised both arms up in a circle and brought them down and together, drawing the bluish smoke down before him. As the smoke wafted up around him, he closed his eyes reverently and the rising smoke began to move, showing ghost-like reflections of his aura. It wavered, changing color and then took on the royal glow of the Purple Light, which shone brightly around him like the corona of the Sun. He opened his glowing white eyes and walked down to the cavern floor and the first two rows of glass cases that formed the labyrinth.

(The Bride of Frankenstein, #4 Funeral Processional March)

A solemn fanfare played from his mind as he began his stately, slow march through the endless maze of objects. The funeral march was utterly tragic, muffled drums and horns played against weeping strings.

Kirrik gazed at each group as he slowly walked. The first was a pair of ladies' toon shoes and a portrait he'd painted of his beautiful daughter, Josephine La Fume. Her smile was that of her daughter, Fifi. Next to that was a pair of worn toon slippers, a beret` and a painting of her husband Francois`. His wizened face smiled back with a glint in his eye. Next was Honorine`, Lord's final wife. Her sensible shoes and look of kind dignity made Kirrik smile as he looked upon her portrait.

Then came a toony pair of delicate, tiny red high heels. The canvas behind the empty shoes captured Red Hot's beauty perfectly and Kirrik's eyes began to tear. He walked on.

The next was a pair of tall, 3-D leather flier's boots and a black and white photograph of two World War I fighter pilots in fur and leather flight suits, standing together before a Fokker Triplane. The taller man stood arm in arm with his comrade dressed in fur, whose face was that of Kirrik himself. Beside it was a Maltese cross-shaped blue medal, a 'Pour Le Merite'. Next to the Blue Max were the names: "Manfred und Lothar von Richthofen".

Kirrik wiped his eyes, saluted and walked on.

High buttoned, 19th century shoes followed that and the face of a cheery, chubby human woman. Her painted gap-toothed smile touched his heart. He walked on.

On the other side of the isle were more portraits and more empty shoes. More of his loved ones whose painted eyes watched him walk by. More tenderly preserved shoes and remnants of friends long gone. Locks of hair, dried flowers, rings, tools and hand-carved hair combs all lay sealed under glass. He walked on.

As he walked, Kirrik resumed his form as Dr. Lord, his great silver eyes glazed with sorrow. He slowed and paused at a very small pair of wrinkled leather medieval pointed shoes. One of the tiny shoes was torn and stained. The painting was of a smiling, angelic little boy, whose bright eyes twinkled with joy. Lord's heart could no longer be stoic and his tears fell.

"Oh ...Willie!", he sobbed quietly,"..My little, little child!"

The taste of metal filled his mouth, cramps racked his stomach and something changed his music into a chilling threat.

A vile whispering voice in his head hissed, ["It was your fault that he died..You left him unprotected.."]

"Silence, you filth! I had to save his mother's life!!" Lord shouted bitterly.

["So you left him alone in the hut...You *knew* the wolves were prowling.."]

"I never ran so hard in all my life!! Leave me alone, you Devil!!" the skunk cried in anguish, holding his head in both paws.

["You _saw_ what they left of him..."] whispered the Berserker.

"STOP IT!!! LEAVE ME!!!" screamed Lord as he staggered.

["Look at them! All of them are DUST! You'll never see any of them again! Not ever! NEVER!!"] the evil one said, condemning him. ["You're all alone - Forever! Fifi will never accept you ! Never!!"]

"They're NOT gone! I remember them! All of them! As I swore in the

Beginning - they shall live on in me! As long as I exist, I Shall remember

and Never forget them! Their memory - their lessons - Shall Live Forever!!"

["Dreams! You have Nothing but Dreams!"], the Berserker told him, ["The only thing who you'll *always* have - is me."]

Lord fought back to his feet, sweating, his eyes bright as the Sun. He summoned his strength and the Purple Light formed round about him. It flowed through him like flames, sending the beast back to it's lair.

"Fifi loves me and I love her! My granddaughter and I shall defeat you someday! Love cannot be destroyed! It is more powerful than YOU!!

The Berserker fled back to the lower depths, but left it's sneering sting.

["...Someday...she'll be just ..like...me......"]

The Purple Light blazed in the cavern! The fire in Lord's soul erupted from his heart and raced skyward to explode everywhere, flooding the gigantic grotto with all the power of his rage! His voice thundered off the stalactites, causing a few to fall.

"NEVER!! You shall *never* get her!" he vowed! "This I swear before God!!"

The outpouring of his fury was quenched by the soft caress of the Purple Light till it was extinguished, leaving only the comforting feeling of softness and warmth as his frenzy was silenced. Lord regained his composure, closing his glowing eyes and folding his hands in prayer.

""Pater noster..."

The cavern echoed with Lord's rich voice as he said the invocation, the paintings and relics of his wives and children, lovers and friends were the only witnesses to it.


Again, he turned to his lost ones and walked on. The multitudes of empty shoes faced him, all without owners. The rows of them continued on endlessly, stretching to the horizon, making him seem small by comparison.

Lord walked on and on.


Chapter LV

That afternoon, Fifi fussed in her kitchen over the French toast she was making for brunch. Their telepathic communication having mysteriously ended in mid-sentance, Pyewaket hung around; lolling in Fifi's closet, sunning herself in Fifi's favorite chair and generally laying on anything that didn't yet smell like herself. The cat took great interest in Fifi's cooking; sniffing at it and getting underfoot, but she turned up her nose when offered a taste of it.

Soon Hamton arrived at Fifi's house carrying his backpack full of books. While they ate, he was delighted to hear the story of how she'd become the sole owner of her property and soon they were discussing what she should do with it.

"Building a good home is a solid investment!" smiled Hamton. "A ranch house would be nice..a place we could live in when we're..married?" he blushed with excitement. "A big place with a yard and lotsa room? - And - and a built-in vacuum cleaner system?!"

"Zome place weeth a proper den and a muzique room..and a few bedroomz, yes? And a beeg formal garden?" said Fifi clasping his hands.

Pyewaket turned her head from the window and stared at Fifi knowingly. She cocked her head at a funny angle and began to purr. Fifi watched her and reacted indignantly as the cat laughed at her but kept it to herself. She could practically hear the cat thinking: "..oh? not mates, huh?"

"And a family room?", suggested Hamton happily, "We uh...should think of the future, you know?"

Pyewaket purred louder and plumped down on the window sill. Hamton reached over to pet the cat and scratch under her chin, oblivious of what the feline was chuckling about.

"What a happy kitty she is!" he said innocently petting her.

"Oui", Fifi remarked irritably, "She seemz tres` pleased weeth herself."

Pyewaket rolled on her back, purring loudly at Fifi's predicament and rolled off the window sill onto the red car seat. Biting her tongue, Fifi opened Hamton's bag and looked though it as they sat together on the seat with Pyewaket.

"Deed tu remembair to bring along zee book ah asked tu about?"

"The one on the Red Baron? Sure!" said Hamton, eagerly wanting to share his passion for aviation history.

Hamton opened the book and flipped through it till he came to a picture.

"He was the top scoring ace of World War One! He shot down eighty enemy planes! - well..eighty-three actually. A victory had to be confirmed by other pilots and he shot down three planes when he was still just an observer."

He handed Fifi the book and pointed, "That's him."

Fifi almost let a gasp escape as she saw the face in the ancient black and white photograph - it was Kirrik! The fur flying suit and leather flying helmet could not conceal his austere features and faraway, fateful eyes. Again, Lord had been truthful with her.

She read the introduction:" Zis book about Germany'z top scoring air ace ov World War One does not purport to be zee definitive work on Manfred von Richthofen...Such a book will nevair be written because zere eez much uncertainty about hiz life and exploits zat can now nevair be resolved... Zee mists ov time have folded forever on significant aspectz ov zis man and hiz activities and key people have long since died or been killed..."

Fifi stared at the picture as the realization set in. That picture had been taken over eighty years ago and yet this was the same man who lived next door - her own grandfather. She looked at more of the book as Hamton glowed with information.

"He flew a red Fokker triplane just like Dr. Lord's, but what most people don't know is that he scored most of his victories in Albatros type fighter planes. He was a terrific teacher of fighter tactics and the commander of his "Flying Circus - Jagstaffel 11."

"But what about ze man himself?", Fifi asked, "What waz 'ee like?"

Hamton paused for a moment, "Well..nobody is really too sure what he was really like. ..He was pretty much a loner by nature. ..Quiet, an aristocrat, a sporting gentleman and a clean fighter. He was an expert marksman in shooting and won many of his country's medals like the Blue Max. He wrote a book - "Der Rote Kampfflieger" ..uh, that means "The Red Air Fighter". See, while everyone else painted their airplanes with camouflage to hide them - he painted his bright red so everyone would know it was him."

"'Ee kept to heemself?" asked Fifi, searching for similarities, "Who were hiz friendz?"

Hamton was a bit confused, but told her, "Well... he didn't really have many. The pilots in his command knew him as a great and watchful leader..I guess the only one he was close to was his brother Lothar von Richthofen. Most everyone he knew was killed in the war."

"'Ee had a brother?" asked Fifi, seeking a loophole in Lord's life story.

"Yes", answered the pig, "But his brother was killed in an air crash just after the war ended -"

"And what 'appened to zee Red Baron?"

"Oh, he was shot down in 1918 over France...nobody's really sure who got him - the RAF claimed that Captain Roy Brown got him in his Sopwith Camel, but it's more likely that he was hit by some Australian machine gunners on the ground - we'll never know. The Allies respected him enough as a gallant enemy officer that he was buried by them with full military honors."

"'Ee waz killed..and buried??" she asked mystified.

"Yes," he said, showing her another photograph, "See, the British and Australians covered his grave with tributes of flowers and wreathes and dropped the picture to the Germans to let them know.."

Hamton paused, wondering.

"It's funny. Many people saw him get shot down, but nobody really knows why it happened."

"What do tu mean, Hammy?"

"Well, he knew how dangerous it was to get so caught up in a fight that you forget where you are ..And he knew how dangerous it was to fly low over enemy territory...but he did it anyway... Almost like he didn't care."

Fifi thought of Lord's attempt to destroy himself in the desert race. Probably he was trying another way out - or was he?

"'Ee waz buried? Where?"

Hamton looked at the book and read, "A small bare cemetery in Bertangles, France. That night, the local villagers tried to destroy the grave, tearing down the cross the British had made for the Baron, destroyed the flowers and tried to dig up the body with their hands, so incensed were they at this German being laid to rest in their cemetery."... But why do you wanna know all this?"

Thrown for a moment by the question, Fifi cautiously answered, "Uh... well ah just..wanted to know how eet all ended."

"Like it did for most fighter pilots of the First World War -", Hamton concluded, "Mysteriously, violently...and all too quickly... Nobody knows what happened to many of the great aces.. Max Immelmann, Albert Ball, the great French ace Georges Guynemer was *never* found. People said he flew so high that he just couldn't come down! Another French ace, Charles Nungesser tried to fly across the Atlantic Ocean after the war - and he and his plane just disappeared!"

"Well ah'm glad we don't ave wars 'ere een our Tooniverse" Fifi reflected. "Ah wouldn't want to lose tu, cherie" she smiled, taking his hand.

"Then we both better be careful when we go back to the the Civil War in Reality, hmm?" Hamton said blushing. Then he grew serious, "..I couldn't stand to have you hurt."

Fifi paused, thinking of her own probable immortality, but returned his sentiments fully.

"..Don't tu worry about moi, mon conniechon`. Just tu *be* careful, yes?" she said snuggling him.

"Doctor Lord said that if any of us get lost back there, we'll be trapped in time forever" Hamton worried.

"'Ee also said zat 'ee would not want to chance losing us." Fifi said reassuring him.

"That's true", he agreed, "he gave Bugs his word that he wouldn't lose any of us."

"Zen don't worry!" Fifi said playfully. She ran her purple fingertip slowly down the center of his forehead to the tip of his snout, saying "You'll _never_be_alone."

Fifi beeped Hamton's nose, making him giggle. Just then, Pyewaket meowed loudly to be let out and stared into Fifi's eyes for a long moment.The skunkette stared back and lost her cheery expression - remembering her grandfather's urgent need of her. Hamton rose and opened the door, giving the cat a friendly pat as she slipped outside and scampered back to Lord's mansion. Fifi looked at his good-natured smile and turned away, wondering if she could handle two such strong, life-commitments to both her Grandpere` - and to her one true love.

"...You'll _never_be_alone..." she thought prophetically.

"Something wrong, honey?" he asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.

"..Non..", she said uncertainly," ..Nono. Let'z get to studying."

They spent the afternoon practicing the methods of amorous chasing as prescribed in their textbook by Pepe Le Pew. Hamton insisted on a measure of privacy, so they found their way to the Acme Forest and were soon bounding after each other amongst the trees. Fifi was perfectly adept at the leisurely bouncing and had no trouble at at all in catching Hamton every time, but he proved to be a bit too bouncy. Prancing about on all fours just made the poor pig bump into trees and soon he found himself ricocheting around between the tree trunks. Fifi raced after him as he came boinging through a familiar clearing with a mailbox, a tire swing and a door in the top of a tree stump.

Buster looked up at the roof of his burrow where he and Babs stood rehearsing a scene from "The Odd Couple" for acting class.

"Hey, did you hear something?" he asked Babs as she stood reading the script, dressed as the fussy Felix Ungar.

"C'mon Buster! Don't step out of character! We gotta get this right!"

"Okay, okay..." he said turning back into the slovenly Oscar Madison.

Buster stalked up to Babs, wagging a finger at her and adopted a grouchy voice as he stuck the stub of a cigar in his mouth.

"Felix! I'm crackin' up! Everything you do irritates me! And when you're not here - the things I know *gonna* do irritate me! ..You leave me little notes on my pillow. I told you a hundred times, I can't stand little notes on my pillow..."We're all out of Corn Flakes. F.U."...It took me three hours to figure out that F.U. was Felix Ungar! -"

The metal hatch on Buster's door-stump rang as Fifi bounded on top of it.

"There! Did you hear that? Somebody's at the door" Buster said as Oscar.

"Well, be a gentleman and see who it is!" Babs ad-libbed as Felix.

Buster opened the door just in time to get flattened by Hamton as he bounced by on his bottom.

"Sorry Bus-terrrr!" the pig called back as he continued to bounce along like a beach ball gone out of control.

Buster stood dazedly with miniature pigs spinning around his head. He unsquished himself just in time to have Fifi bound on top of him as she pursued Hamton.

"Come back, mon leettle peeg de` grease! Ah am coming for yooo!" Fifi called, not noticing that she'd sent Buster falling back down the hole.

Babs looked down at the trampled heap of rabbit on the floor and shook her finger at him, while shaking her head in disgust.

"Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.."

Buster's mangled finger rose from his flattened form and wagged back.

"Don't point that finger at me unless you intend to use it!"

As Hamton and Fifi returned to her house, they saw Rhubella Rat's limousine parked on the street corner. Rhubella seemed to be conducting business with a black toon cat who wore a little derby hat. He gave Ruby a large whistle in return for cash.

As the pig and skunkette watched, there was an approaching rumble as Montana Max turned the corner, still intent on running Rhubella down with his clanking monstrous bulldozer!

"AH HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA! I gotcha now, ya dirty rat!" roared Monty as he charged straight for Ruby and her limo.

Ruby blew her new whistle and the black cat walked jauntily across the road, crossing Monty's path in an extremely business-like manner.

As the bulldozer rumbled towards Ruby and shook the ground - two round black bombs fell out of the sky and into Monty's hands!

BOOM! One bomb exploded in Max's astonished face, blackening it and blowing off the scruffy hair from that side of his head. Dumbfounded, he looked at the other bomb as it's fuse burned down - and didn't go off! After heaving a sigh of relief, Max laughed scornfully at it and stuck out his tongue.

BLAM!! The second bomb blew the hair off the other side of his head, leaving him with a smoldering Mohawk haircut, a burnt tongue and a shocked face.

"HEY! What's the big idea?!?" yelled Max at the cat.

"Nothin' personal, Pal", shrugged Bad Luck Blackie, "Just doin' my job."

Rhubella's limousine zoomed away and Monty roared off after her around the corner as Fifi and Hamton chuckled After the car and bulldozer disappeared, there was silence, then a screech of tires, a whistle and a sudden heavy crunch as an ocean liner fell from the sky.

"..Oooo...that smarts..." they heard Monty say. After they crossed the street, Grovely calmly followed after his employer with a whisk broom and a dust pan.

"Oh, Master Monty!" he said in exasperation, "I'm always having to pick up after you!"

After they had dinner at Weinnie Burgers, Hamton went to his dorm room to clean up the mess Plucky had made. He was surprised to learn that Shirley had actually spent the day there and was even more surprised that his room-mate hadn't been zapped to a frazzle.

Fifi lay reading Hamton's book on the Red Baron that he'd leant her, learning more and more about Lord's past life. She read of the time he'd been shot in the head and went spiraling down from twelve thousand feet before recovering miraculously and landing his Albatros fighter plane without damage. She read how although he'd been a national war hero with women clamoring to get his picture - he'd been a shy, aloof man who sought no fame and said that the Kaiser was a bore. She read his combat reports and saw that he had been an avid and deadly hunter.

Some of it made sense... some did not. How could he have had a brother? How could he have been pronounced dead and then literally escaped from the grave?

She'd tried to contact him mentally several times with no success and the silence didn't make her feel any better - not that her Sundays had ever been particularly joyous.

The mansion remained dark until she had crawled into bed and was dozing. Unseen by Fifi, a single candle burned in the mansion's chapel where the statue of Red Hot stood. Lord knelt silently before her, his black cape covering him like a shroud. No sounds echoed in the quiet, except the whispering candle flame. Nothing moved at all except Pyewaket, who lay beside him - her yellow eyes staring as she twitched the tip of her tail. Lord's eyelids rose, his silver eyes glinting in the candlelight. Then the Purple Light materialized around him, faintly lighting the silent chamber. He didn't move - didn't breathe - as the purple color snaked out from him. Like a mist, it flowed out through the walls; through stone, brick and mortar - and to the outside. The purple tendrils made their way across the lawn in the silence to Fifi. Her eyelids fluttered and closed as she fell asleep - and the light glowed like a storm cloud over her face. The two skunks breathed it in, becoming totally enveloped in it's shimmering rich color - and as one being - peacefully smiled.


Chapter LVI

Fifi awoke on Monday morning to the sound of Arnold's motorcycle arriving in Lord's driveway. He waved briefly to her before entering the mansion. Remembering that they were to meet here today for their first inter-dimensional trip, she ate hurriedly and was getting dressed when the caffeine from her glass of cola kicked in and she realized that she could contact Lord now.

["Grandpere`? Are you there?"] thought Fifi.

There was a substantial pause before the Doctor answered. It seemed he was busy with someone.

["Yes, little one. Make sure you dress warmly today. "] came his thoughts, echoing from nowhere.

["...I'm...I'm sorry Grandpere`. I didn't mean to hurt you...I want -"]

["I know..We'll talk later today, I promise. But now we have much to do. Hurry over! And bring your bathing suit and some shoes!"] he thought quickly to her before cutting off their communications.

Fifi looked at what she'd put on and went back to her closet.

"At least he'z not az upset az yestairday" she thought happily as she pulled off her blouse and put on a pink cashmere sweater and her designer jeans.

["Fifi, bring your riding habit!"] Lord suddenly thought to her, making her jump.

["Okay, you don't have to shout..."].

She thought to ask why, but he'd already stopped sending to her. With a shrug, the skunkette pulled out her treasured riding clothes from the back of her closet. She pulled on her knee-high riding boots and her red frock coat and found her hard black riding helmet in a hat box. Into her black purse she threw her new red bikini she'd brought back from France. Rather than carry it, she put her hair up in a bun and slipped on her riding helmet, admiring herself in the mirror. As she was about to rush out the door, she remembered that her riding gloves were in the same hat box and put them on as well. She spied her riding crop and winced as she wondered if she should really bring it. She'd never had the nerve to use it while riding, so perhaps...

Hamton opened the door for her and she saw the other Toonsters arriving.

"Good morning!" he said, surprised. "Gee, you look nice in that."

Buster and Babs stood waiting at Lord's front door with Calamity, Furball, Fowlmouth and Mary Melody as Plucky and Shirley walked up.

Plucky saw Fifi's outfit and called out sarcastically, "Say, what are you made up for? Halloween is *next* month!"

Fifi smiled in a rather mean way - and picked up her riding crop before walking out with Hamton to join the others. They all were wearing more clothes than they usually did, except for Gogo who was walking up and down the vertical side of the mansion.

"I hope this trip isn't too bad," the Dodo quipped putting on sunglasses and squirting banana oil on himself, "Reality is simply terrible for my complexion!"

"Say! What's it like? I ain't never been dere." asked Fowlmouth.

"Eh, don't worry", Buster told him, "It's just uh...a little different, that's all."

Just then, Wakko Warner arrived, pedaling an invisible bike and ringing it's invisible bicycle bell. The Warner kid sadly moped his way up to the group.

"Hey Wakko, what's wrong?" asked Mary.

"..I've had better days.." he told her sadly looking up at the mansion.

"What's with the riding get-up, Feef?", asked Babs jokingly, "You going fox hunting?"

Fifi shook her head, "Deedn't Gr-...Deedn't Docteur Lord ask anyone else to bring zere stuff for 'back ov horse riding'? 'Ee asked moi to breeng mine."

"Like, he told me we'd be swimming er sum junk, but didn't say anything about horseback riding, ah'm sure." said Shirley shaking her head.

"Umm, he thought it to me, Fifi", Hamton said reassuringly as he pointed to his boot-covered trotters, "But how did he know you have a riding habit?"

Fifi didn't have an answer she could tell him and squirmed a moment just as Arnold opened the front door to usher them all inside.

(The Bride of Frankenstein #11 "The Creation")

As a shivery piece of music began in their heads, Arnold urgently beckoned them all inside and closed the door, corralling them into the long hallway.

"Ach, dere he goes again vith der music! Hurry everybody!" the Deutch dog whined nervously, "Come vith me quvickly!"

"What's up, Arnold?" asked Buster as the group hustled down a corridor towards an elevator door.

"I don't know - eetz zuh Docktor! He'z very impatient today about sompting! I don't mind it ven he talks loud - but ven he *tinks* loud-"

["Hurry up, Arnold!"] came Lord's sudden commanding thoughts through everyone's heads, making them cringe.

"See vat I mean?" said Arnold as the Toonsters stepped into the large elevator.

The shivery, nervous music grew in urgency as the doors closed behind them all and the elevator descended into the earth. Down, down, down it went - deeper and deeper underground and a rhythmic mechanical pounding was heard, sounding like the heartbeat of a giant. The Toonsters grew tense.

"Where's this thing goin'?" asked Plucky.

Arnold gulped and said anxiously,"..You'll see."

Just then the elevator reached the bottom of Lord's underground complex and the doors slowly opened. The Toonsters stared in uneasy awe at the strange sight that greeted them. The tense music climaxed with an evil gong.

Before them lay a huge primitive laboratory. Gigantic and dangerous- looking electrical machines lined the great stone walls, climbing to the mechanical ceiling fifty feet above. Giant ball electrodes hung in groups above the number of control consoles. Heavy old-style electrical knife switches stood ready to activate the dark, bizarre devices. Thick copper cables wrapped ancient waffled ceramic insulators. Enormous iron control wheels and hand-grip levers were mounted on the central control station. A huge round, metal platform stood on a central pedestal and seemed to be the focus of the titanic mechanisms.

The laboratory seemed a strange mixture of the old and the new. Many machines looked antiquated and worn from years of use. Others looked brand new. Row upon row of beakers and scientific glassware filled with odd chemicals and foul-smelling liquids covered old experimental tables and bubbled and smoked like a witch's kitchen. Electrical cables and bare wiring was everywhere. Lord's music underscored the disturbing surroundings.

As Arnold ushered the Toonsters into the monstrous room, jets of steam frequently shot from pressure valves from the massive turbines and generators, nearly hitting them. Plucky scrambled to wrap himself around Shirley, quaking with fear.

"Forget it, I don't wanna go!" the duck whined.

"Like, cool yer jets, Plucky!" Shirley told him confidently, "It'll be okay..I think..", said the loon even though she felt goosepimples creeping up her back.

"Hammy? Deedn't we just see zis movie?" Fifi whispered nervously.

Hamton's voice trembled and his knees knocked as he stared about fearfully.

"Y-y-y-yeah! It's like the lab of D-D-Dr. Frankenstein! Oooooh!"

"Come in! Come in!" said Dr. Lord turning from a boxy black control panel. "We're ready to begin."

In his black and scarlet frock coat, the tall skunk commanded the scene.As the Toonsters timidly looked at their surroundings, Lord's attention was distracted by the other toon already present.

"Doctor, I must speak with you" said Andy Fox in an officious tone of voice.

Lord swiveled around like a cobra facing it's prey and looked at the red fox who stood below him on a catwalk above the lines of plasma coils. The music from Lord's mind became more peculiar and the constant mechanical heartbeat made everyone edgy.

Art by Murray Mouse

"Lord, I'll tell you frankly that I find this scientific facility a bit unsafe." Andy told him. "Anyone using it might easily be electrocuted."

"This is not a "scientific facility" - it is *my* laboratory and *my* equipment", the Doctor said coldly, "Furthermore, it is not for *anyone's* use - it is for *my* use _alone_. You are here to learn to operate it as I do, so that you will be safe."

"But it's dangerous! There's electricity arcing everywhere and dangerously high mega-voltage flowing through these obsolete machines!" the fox insisted.

"These "obsolete machines" have functioned perfectly since I built them decades ago. They serve their purpose well enough." declared Lord, his piercing eyes staring down like a watchful vulture. "The electric arcs are necessary and provide me assurance - I don't believe in burglar alarms. If anyone but myself attempts to use this transport - they'll be fried before they know what hit them - for the power here.. is measured in megatons - not mega-voltage."

The red fox in the white lab coat was a bit phased and said "Good Lord!"

"Thank you" said the Doctor only half-jokingly.

The canid scientist rolled his eyes, but continued to press his case.

"It's your project, Doctor. I'll do as you ask but I absolve myself of responsibility. I'm just concerned for the students' safety and well-being."

"Don't worry, Andy", smiled Lord, "I understand your position. If you watch me and do what I showed you already, then everything will work and no one will come to harm."

"Very well... but you must at least admit that these Jacob's ladders are useless - they don't do anything but make zapping noises! They serve no scientific purpose whatsoever!" Andy pointed out.

"True! In their usual *small scale* they have no function", Lord admitted, "But - *large* scale models ionize the air juuuust right! Now stand by to bring up the power!"

Andy shrugged and turned to his task, adopting a hunched stance, dragging one foot and making a silly face.

"Yes, Master." he said out of the side of his mouth.

"I heard that." remarked Lord, countering the joke.

As he walked cover to a desk next to the wall, the Toonsters split up as their curiosity drew them to look at everything. Calamity rushed about like a kid on Christmas morning. Fifi crossed up behind the Doctor to speak to him quietly.

"I'm so glad you came back!", he whispered, not turning to face her, "You don't know what this means to me!"

"Ah..ah'm sorry", she said hanging her head, "Ah deedn't know how bad eet waz for tu -"

"I can't bear it anymore!", he whispered, his anguish rising, "It's been so very long! I need you desperately!"

"Ah promise ah'll help - ah'll be here for tu - Ah just need to know -" she whispered, feeling terrible.

Lord's shoulders trembled with emotion and he hunched over the desk.

"I dream of you, darling! I wake up calling your name - and you're never there! Oh, why did you leave me, my love?!", he implored," How could you leave me so alone!?! Why??"

Fifi was deeply disturbed and whispered in surprise, "..Grandpere`..??"

At her voice, Lord suddenly spun round to face her in complete shock with tears in his eyes. As he gaped in embarrassment, Fifi saw a photograph of Red Hot on the wall behind him - it was what he'd been speaking to!

The two relatives stared at each other in silence and astonishment, not knowing what to say or do. Then Lord lowered his eyes and blushed a deep crimson.

"..I'm sorry!...I thought...please forgive me!" he begged before walking away past her, deeply ashamed.

Fifi turned as he walked grimly back to the central controls, wiping his eyes and hiding his feelings of shame. She didn't know what to do.

Calamity popped up in front of Lord with a huge grin and a sign.

"WOW! Incredible place you have here! What's your power source?"

In way of an answer, the Doctor snapped a few switches and a nearby television monitor crackled to life. Everyone crowded to look at the screen. The image it showed was indistinct, parts seemed far away and blurred. It showed an underground complex where something immense moved. A giant disk slowly rotating on a central spindle and pulsing slowly with red light. The pulsing light matched the heartbeat of the place. The music glowed with awesome and wondrous promise.

"Isn't it amazing, Calamity - that lying there, miles underground - is a perpetual motion machine!" the Doctor exclaimed intensely, his eyes almost maniacal. "You can't see all of it ... it's over one mile in diameter!"

Andy Fox came forward to stand with the other Toonsters to stare in wonder at the fantastic sight; the monstrous wheel turning like some leviathan millstone, pounding out that eternal heartbeat.

"No wonder you measure in megatonnage" said the fox warily," Where is this thing? And how does it work?"

"The hottest power of an exploding solar system!" Lord said, too thrilled to listen, grasping the controls with fervor.

"Doctor? You haven't answered my question." Andy told him politely.

Lord turned to the fox to stare at him, his eyes like steel. The music paused.

"It is my secret." Lord stated with finality.

The expectant music returned as Lord strode to the center of the central platform where a large control console sat, bristling with massive levers and switches.

He turned to the group and said commandingly, "Time to go!"

The pounding heartbeat and the electrifying music grew powerful as Lord pulled a lever and practically shouted "The Cosmic Diffuser!"

As cymbals crashed in their heads, a immensely tall framework of huge metal concentric rings descended from high overhead to focus over the platform where Lord stood. At the same time, the mechanical ceiling panels rolled back, opening the whole room to the world above. Fifi saw the sky above the open field next to Lord's mansion and blinked as the sun blazed in.

"What's that? A giant 'No-Pest' Strip?" asked Plucky.

Lord and his music ominously glared and growled at the sarcastic duck.

"Silence!!", he shouted angrily, "Onto the Platform!"

The Toonsters gulped nervously and crept carefully onto the twenty foot wide metallic disk and stood with the Doctor around his console. The three couples stood together, looking uncomfortably at each other.

"Everyone hold hands!" the Doctor ordered "And get comfortable." The Toonsters joined hands with each other, forming a ring, while Lord kept his on the controls. He pulled a big knife switch and there was an electric hum.

"Hey! I can't move my feet!" Buster cried.

Everyone but Lord struggled to get loose till he said, "You're not supposed to. Just relax and hold tight!"

As everyone tried to relax as best they could with Lord's mighty and compelling music booming in their heads, he poised himself over two buttons.

"Fire One! Fire Two!" he shouted as each button sent two long metal poles skyward from the floor to the ceiling on either side of them.

The flagpole-like rods stood to one side of the Cosmic Diffuser and the hole that had opened above them in the roof. The massive metal structure rose right above where the group of toons stood!

As they watched, the Doctor reached for a heavy, round central lever. With a glint of madness in his eye, Lord slowly turned it, bringing up the power! The monstrous heartbeat grew louder and more insistent! Everyone's hair was standing on end as the music chilled them.

"This is the part I like!" the Doctor said with a grin.

The heartbeat of the machines grew louder and louder and faster as Lord turned the dial. The giant perpetual motion wheel spun faster and faster! The glow of the read-outs on the apparatus grew brighter as the Doctor called out the readings.

" Point five megatons..point eight..one megaton!...Two!......Five!!"

Quickly he reached for four heavy, grip levers and yanked them down hard, one after another - and the bizarre machines of the laboratory sparked to life with a roar!

A bolt of artificial lightning leaped from either of the two metal poles, joining to form a gigantic spark gap between them! It hung there a moment, then Lord blew on it and it rose up the poles like a flame, forty feet to the top, hissing and zapping! It broke at the top with a terrible snap and another spark formed above them at the bottom again, rising as the other had. This began to happen every few seconds as the giant Jacob's Ladder warmed up from the immense electrical charge.

Pulses of golden sparks rained down through the rings of the Cosmic Diffuser above the Toonsters, who cringed at the display of raw energy. Whirling dynamos sparked and flashed as circuits closed. The plasma coils hummed and the cooling tubes smoked from the freezing coolant pumping within them. The glowing diffusion globes blasted the air above their heads at the base of the Cosmic Diffuser. From the top of a rectangular engine near the open roof, a veritable waterfall of sparks rained down thirty feet to the floor! Focused ray projectors flashed blinding beams of red and blue light, throwing the scene through wild optical contrasts and making everyone blink dizzily. The electric arcs flashed between the beach ball-sized ball electrodes, creating the strobing effect of multiple bolts of lightning!

Andy Fox watched the gages on his control console in alarm and found he had to shout to be heard above the tremendous electrical din.

"POWER IS AT FIFTEEN MEGATONS!" he yelled to Lord.

"MORE POWER!!" the Doctor ordered, turning the dial higher.

"THIS IS DANGEROUS!! warned the fox as he increased the power levels.

"I KNOW! AIN'T IT COOL?!!" Lord ginned and laughed maniacally.

Most of the Toonsters shivered with fear.

Wakko and Gogo looked at each other with a smile, put on sunglasses and said "Wicked, Dude!"

Fifi was nervous from the danger, but more scared at her Grandfather's frenzied behavior. He was enjoying this just a little too much.

Plucky shut his eyes and cried "Wake me when it's over!"

Hamton trembled, but held an arm around Fifi tightly.

A succession of waves of lightning and sparks crashed like rolling thunder! Fifi could feel the air vibrating against her chest as the shock waves struck!

"ASCENSION!!" shouted Lord triumphantly, as he pulled another lever.

The round platform rose majestically toward the hole in the roof - the Jacob's Ladder and the Cosmic Diffuser rising above it. The Toonsters watched the laboratory disappearing beneath them as they ascended smoothly upward. Andy Fox waved goodbye as he disappeared from sight. The music and that booming heartbeat built to a electrifying intensity! The metal apparatus rose through the opening and the platform followed below it, coming to rest at ground level.

What had been a lovely morning in Autumn was now a dark and windy storm. Black clouds moved swiftly down upon the area as the air pressure dropped.

["ELEVATING Z'EYE!"] Lord thought and shouted to the fox below in the lab.

From another opening in the grassy field arose a mammoth device on a tower. A wide ceramic octagonal panel topped the spire like a giant lollipop.

["ROTATE Z'EYE!"] shouted the Doctor, as he threw another knife switch.

The pounding of the perpetual motion wheel became deafening as the huge panel flipped slowly over sideways to stand parallel to the ground. As it turned everyone caught sight of the panel's face. It shimmered with a thousand images at once like a television screen trying to capture the whole universe at once. The music and the images swirled around each other as a billion particles of light danced and sparkled. Everyone looked up and marveled at it.

"God's Eye??" Hamton guessed, having to shout to make himself heard.

"Right!" Lord said pointing at the awesome machine that now stood over the Cosmic Diffuser which towered above them.

"Gosh...It's beautiful!" the pig said in wonder.

The wind picked up, whipping at them all and thunder filled the sky as lighting began to strike. Lord's eyes glowed white as he set the coordinates into the control panel and his fur frizzed up with a static charge.

"Howl, Howl, Howl!! " Lord shouted at the storm madly, "O, You are men of stones! Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so that Heaven's vaults should crack!"

Fifi recognized the quote, but was still scared at his seemingly wild actions. Soon she had more to worry about, as the music grew positively threatening!

As the tempest raged around him, Lord's silver stripes danced with electric charges and as the Toonsters watched, he shuddered with effort and fired a bolt of lightning from his tail up into the ever changing face of the Z'Eye panel! The crack of thunder stunned everyone, but the thunderbolt made the face of his target begin to glow with power!

As he built up to another charge, the Doctor shouted, "Come Shirley! Fire into it!"

Shirley didn't understand it but prepared to do as her Mentor commanded, releasing Plucky's wing and Babs' hand to concentrate her energies.

Lord fired a bigger thunderbolt from his tail, making the Z'Eye change color


"Hit the center!" he yelled over the wind.

Shirley raised her finger and shot her own power into the Z'Eye. It glowed, but less than when Lord's thunderbolt hit it.

"Again!!" the Doctor barked as he watched her progress.

Shirley zapped it with a stronger beam of power, the type she used on Plucky when she was really mad at him. Plucky and the others winced knowing how much power Shirley was expending against her target!

"Again!! Full Power!!" Lord insisted.

The Loon summoned all her strength, raised both arms and fired a thunderbolt like Lord had done - cracking the air with thunder! The Toonsters cheered as Shirley's power made the Z'Eye turn pink!

"Good girl!" Lord shouted with praise as Shirley joined hands with her admiring friends again.

Lord fired once more, this time; a powerful blue thunderbolt from his hand that ripped the air in two with a deafening blast and turned the Z'Eye purple!

As the music and the storm came to a climax, Lord took the controls again.

"That did it - hang onto each other! STAND BY!"

Cheered by witnessing Shirley's success, everyone linked arms and looked up through the Cosmic Diffuser's sparking rings and the Jacob's Ladder's rising waves of electricity and into the fully charged Z'Eye above as it stared down upon their smiling faces.

Lord pulled a lever and shouted "OPEN!!"

The God's Eye did - expanding to an oval shape and throwing tremendous shock waves across the stormy sky all the way to the horizon! The blast over their heads resounded like the crack of doom and the clouds above it parted as though a passage to Heaven had opened!

From the Z'Eye streamed down laser-like beams upon the group, the sparkling rays encompassing them!

"HERE WE GO!!" exclaimed Lord as he grasped the final lever!

Everyone held held each other tight in expectation as he pulled it down.


The light beams grew blinding as the music soared and the mighty Z'Eye descended from above them, hovering down, focusing it's transferal beams tighter and tighter on them. In a flash, the Toonsters de-materialized! By the time the Z'Eye reached the ground - the Cosmic Diffuser, the Jacob's Ladder, the platform and it's occupants had disappeared.


Chapter LVII

Below in Lord's laboratory, Andy Fox stood powering down the machines. He retracted the Z'Eye and closed the roof's panels. The heartbeat of the Perpetual Motion wheel diminished to it's normal level and all the noise and sparking ceased. Of the platform or the Toonsters there was no trace.

The fox looked up to the ceiling overhead and said "I hope they'll have a good trip! Their first time......"

He shook his head and was about to leave when something soft brushed his leg.

"Mrrrrow!" said Pyewaket, looking up at him expectantly.

"Oh great!" said the fox in exasperation, "Doc didn't say anything about being a cat-sitter too!"

He looked at the cat who scampered off to the door, then looked back, expecting him to follow her. Andy shrugged and followed.

"Okay, where do you keep yer smelly cat food?"

Across the vast reaches of space - in another dimension - the Toonsters and Lord were materializing in a grand old room. They still held onto each other tightly and Babs and Plucky were still screaming at the top of their lungs when all of a sudden they could see and hear again.

The group of toons found themselves inside a tower - the Cosmic Diffuser and Jacob's Ladder were still standing over them - but everything looked .... just wrong! Things seemed dark and dull-colored and overly detailed, but that wasn't their immediate concern.

They all felt heavy and ungainly, as if they were made of lead. Plucky, Arnold, Shirley, and Buster and Babs all collapsed to the floor like bunches of cooked broccoli. They all looked about and breathed in the strange atmosphere and most of them began to cough a bit before recovering.

Lord walked slowly over to a pair of French doors in the dark, wooden walls. Light streamed from under the curtains covering them.

"Where are we?" asked Buster getting up painfully. He noticed that things sounded slightly different - including his own voice.

"Welcome to Reality." Lord told them and threw open the doors.

The room was bathed with strong sunlight and everyone shielded their eyes. Gradually, they all got up and walked carefully over to the opening. What they saw was astounding to them!

They were looking out a balcony window looking out on a meadow of wild flowers and tall pine trees. Horses grazed in a pasture surrounded by green mountains. The heavy air was sweet and tinged with the scent of balsam trees and felt slightly cold.

The Toonsters stared out at what they had only seen in photographs - our Earth - our world. They stared in wonder.

"W-where are we, Doc?" Babs asked in astonishment.

Dr. Lord turned and said calmly "Vermont."


Look for the next Chapters of -


coming to you soon.