As the classical theme song played in the background, the opening shot is that of a book's spine where inscribed in gold lettering was "Messterpiece Theater". It rolled over and faded to a close up shot of a tabletop, fine oak and a silver bowl filled with Skittles. Fade to a large tome, an original edition of "Lord of the Rings", open wide on a pedestal and a purple sash draped down the center as a place saver. The camera pans to the right of the book to a bust of He-Man of the "Masters of the Universe" franchise. Moving aside from that, a silver tray piled high with unwrapped Twinkies and Ding Dongs. Moving further up the elegant table was a framed photograph of a teddy bear (two guesses as to who!) and just behind that, in a gold leaf frame, a picture of Queen Elizabeth herself. The camera panned over to a small row of books, personal favorites such as "The Picture of Dorian Grey" and "The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes."
The camera panned across a large display case, where rested several championship belts with golden emblems, such as the AWA International, AWA World Tag Team, NWA World Tag Team, SCW World Tag Team, and SCW Internet. Also in the case was an elaborate trophy for the Blast From the Past Memorial.
A bookcase was set on the far wall, and there, seated in an old English chair before it ands in front of a window looking out across the night skyline, was our host. Clad in a purple smoking robe and Grumpy Cat slippers. A bubble pipe in his hand and a crystal goblet of Cherry Coke on the table at his left. With an open book on his lap, he looked up to the camera and smiled.
"Good evening friends, and welcome to yet another edition of 'Messterpiece Theater.' I am your host, Joshua Kooky."
He turned his head for a close up shot and goofy smile.
"But then again, you already knew that."
He turned back to a long shot with the camera and closed the book on his lap and folded his hands atop of it.
"It has been awhile since our last story, has it not? Over three years to be exact, but you know how it is... copyright issues and all that."
"But we won't allow that to come between us and a frightfully good tale of the macabre, will we?"
He took a puff on his bubble pipe and watched with childlike glee as the bubbles floated up and popped, one by one.
"We come to you today on Halloween, for a classic tale of Whodunnit. A story I like to call..."
"AND THEN THERE WERE NONE
aka TEN LITTLE TEDDY BEARS"
Spooky, huh? This sort of tale has to be, especially when it's being told on the spookiest day of the year! No, not Income Tax Day ya sillies! Halloween! And this is a very special time because we come to you on Halloween for this very special story! And can you imagine a better location for such a story than a (seemingly) haunted mansion on an island in the middle of the crashing ocean? With a storm brewing and winds whipping around?
I know! I'm rambling but you have to set the mood! There's an art to telling these stories, don't you know!
And here we are, at Autumn
Grove Grave Manor! On Autumn Grove Grave Isle! Nothing sinister here, I assure you! Inside this Victorian abode was a gathering of friends ... well, acquaintances ... oh who are we kidding? A gathering of greedy people looking to cash in on the recent passing of one Baron Gabriel Von Tallywhacker... (snrk!)....
The lovely newlyweds Ben and Evie Jordan...
Seemingly innocent Mme. Christina Rose with the funny facial ticks...
Bubble and childlike Candy...
Mistress Boobie (BOBBIE!) Dahl and her mancake, Just Artie...
Glamorous Mme Mikah and her erstwhile friend and companion, Kris Ryans...
And of course, the sultry but superb femme fatale, Miss Alicia Lukas...
The folks are gathered together in the lounge of Autumn
Grove Grave Manor, some seated, some standing ... all anxious, as the executor of the estate, one Mister Despayre, was just finishing the reading of the will.
Despayre adjusted his thick rimmed glasses and said, "So, with the passing of the late Baron Gabriel Von Tallywhacker..."
There was a snort of pained and restrained amusement, and heads turned to find Mister Benjamin Jordan holding his nose with eyes clenched tightly shut.
Despayre continued, "Each of you has been left a portion of his vast, vast estate. Well, everyone except for Artie there. He's a nobody and just here because of Bobbie."
Bobbie patted her mancake on the shoulder in sympathy as the reading went on.
"Each of you meant a great deal to the Baron -- again, except for Artie -- so rather than choose just one of you or make you fight for one big prize in the pit, the Baron in his infinite (and now dead) wisdom, has agreed to divide everything up equally -- provided ..."
Everyone leaned in with eager expressions.
Despayre went on, "You all spend one night, this night, here. In his home."
Mikah was aghast, looking around at all the dust and cobwebs. "This old shack!?"
Despayre exclaimed, "The very same! The catch is...."
Everyone leaned in with eager expressions...
"The house is haunted."
Kris asked, "You mean with ghosts?"
All heads turned to the vacant expression on the face of Kris, and there was one giant mutual shaking of the heads. Despayre rolled his wide eyes and looked back to the will in hand.
Despayre mumbled, "One can only hope he keeps those looks. Anyhoo...! There is something else you should know!"
Everyone leaned in with...
Despayre exclaimed, "Oh STOP doing that! If any of you, for any reason, does not make it until morning..."
Christina says, "You mean if we choose to up and leave in the middle of the night."
Despayre bites his bottom lip, "Um, sure! If you don't..." **air quotes** "... make it until morning, that person's share of the money will be added to the collection to be divided with the surviving -- er, remaining, guests..."
All guests now have shifty expressions on their faces, realizing the stakes, and realizing how much cash there was to be had if they were the only one left. Alicia turns to stare at Kris who stares at Ben who turns to stare at his wife Evie who turns to stare at MJ8ikah who turns to stare at Bobbie who turns to stare at Artie who turns to stare at Candy who turns to stare at -- a mirror.
Candy jumps, "Eek! I mean, wait. Can we do that again??"
Despayre says, "Now! I want you all to please make yourselves at home. Feel free to explore the grounds and the house. And do get ready because Baron Gabriel Von Tallywhacker..."
A collective snort of suppressed laughter...
"... his very own personal chef, Chef Ariana..."
Despayre directs the guests' attention to the young woman in a chef's uniform and hat, with a crazy look on her face, complete with smile and one eye opened larger than the other, and a meat cleaver in her hand, stands against the far wall...
Her assistant, young Carter, stands beside her but his own attention was on his nails as he busied painting them a vivid neon purple. He extends his hand to examine his work and says, "Your funeral."
Which causes crazy Chef Ariana to turn and stare at him with her one wide eye even wider.
Despayre slips the will into his briefcase and picks it up in one hand, holding up his free hand. He said, "So just relax and enjoy your evening. This isn't the Hunger Games. Everybody can win! So, uh ... may the odds be ever in your favor. Night night!"
Despayre starts to walk past the guests and toward the door, prompting Ben to ask, "Wait, you're not staying too?"
"Are you crazy?" Despayre stops and looks at him as if he is. "I wrote this thing! I know what's going to happen!"
That being said, Despayre does the quickest 'fast walk' out of the room that anybody has ever seen. This leaves Kris to turn to his friend Mikah and ask, "What do you think he meant by that?"
Mikah just rolled her eyes heavenward.
Crazy Chef Ariana is toiling away in her kitchen, a vast and old-fashioned set up. She putting the finishing touches on the guests' dinner, standing over the hot stove with a H-U-G-E pot bubbling on the stove top, stirring the contents.
Mister Despayre peeks in the doorway and smiles, "I'm leaving now, Chef Ariana! Everything in order for dinner?"
A hand emerges from the surface of the evening meal, a hand with neon purple fingernails. Chef Ariana quickly pushes it back down with her wooden spoon and resumes stirring.
"Oh yes!" She grins. "Everything's fine!"
"Okey dokey! Bye!" Despayre takes his leave, the last thing seen in a small, ceramic teddy bear in a mummy costume on the back of the kitchen counter...
Upstairs, Candy emerged from her assigned bedroom, fully refreshed and prepared for a fun night and a good meal with some pleasant company. Well, company anyway -- tolerable at the very least. Wearing a pink tank top showing off her trim waistline, and tight blue jeans, she skipped out into the hall when she heard a multitude of whimpering sound.
She turned and her face lit up with an indescribably joy ... as at the other end of the hall was a large litter of puppies! PUPPIES!
Candy clasped her hands together, "Puppies!"
Yes, we just said that! Puppies from golden retrievers to dachshunds and everything in between. Candy lowered herself to bended knee and extended her hands, and the mass gathering of fur babies needed no other invitation! They ran in one huge puppy stampede and Candy's eyes widened as they pounced…
Ben and Evie Jordan emerged from their room, both dressed to the proverbial nines, suit and cocktail dress. And just to ease your sick minds, Evie was wearing the dress, NOT Ben! Ben, as always, offered his arm and Evie took it gratefully. They started to walk down the hall to the stairs when they saw the most curious site;
A wriggling, swarm of upright puppy dog tails that were wagging rapidly. The Jordan's approached curiously, and suddenly all the puppies' heads popped up and the little fur babies took off in all directions. Leaving the body of Miss Candy lying on the floor, the lights snuffed out from her eyes but a smile on her face.
“Huh!” Evie said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone puppy nuzzled to death. Oh well…!” And she retook Ben’s arm and they stepped OVER Candy’s lifeless form and made for the stairs…
Ben added, “At least she went with a smile on her face?”
A ceramic teddy bear was on a shelf in the middle of a collection of colorful ceramic plates….
Mikah, of course, always took the longest of time to get ready for an evening. It didn't matter if she were hitting the clubs or going out to the movies, or even staying in some creepy haunted mansion. She had a reputation and image both that she was expected to maintain.
That was why we found her in the upstairs restroom, adjoining her bedroom. It would appear that she was not even close to being finished getting ready. She had just stepped out of a steamy shower, and had a fluffy pink towel wrapped around her body. She was currently in the process of adding a Fresh coat of peroxide to her long, beautiful tresses. It was indeed a painstaking process, but the end results were well worth it! Even if the fumes were getting to be a little bit strong.
A little bit too strong if you ask me!
Mikah wrinkled her nose and walked over to the window and she attempted to open it to get some ventilation and relieve herself of the fumes, but the window would not budge. Unseen by her, and on the outside, the window had been nailed shut, effectively stopping her from getting any fresh air circulating in the room.
“Are you KIDDING me!?” She exclaimed, and she stormed over to the bathroom door to open it as Plan B, but now it would not open! On the other side of the door, a hand was seen breaking a key off into the keyhole! This effectively sealed her inside of the room with no relief, and no hope for a rescue. Mikah tugged hard on the door handle, but it was of no use! She started to cough and hold her throat, when she started to pound her fist on the door!
“Help!” She exclaimed. “Is anyone out there!? Help!”
But seriously! Who was going to help Mikah?? The fumes from the peroxide continued to get stronger and stronger, as Mikah’s coughing and choking intensified. The fumes grew strong enough that she could almost see them, with that wavy ripple in the air surrounding her!
She staggered around and reached over the clawed foot tub and tried for the window again, when the fumes finally got to her. She grew dizzy and passed out, and fell head first into the bath water…
A ceramic teddy bear perched on the top of the door frame, ‘looking’ down at the drowned Mikah...
“Miks?” Kris Ryans walked into his friend’s bedroom and walked over to the bathroom door. He knocked on the bathroom door. “Miks? You decent?”
But he heard nothing. He tried the door but it too would not even so much as budge. He frowned and jiggled the handle, then his eye caught the sight of the key broken off into the lock.
“Now how do you suppose THAT…” But whatever he was about to say was cut off, as a rag soaked in chloroform was shoved over his mouth and nose….
Down in the kitchen, as Ariana had finished dishing out generous servings of her homemade blueberry curry, she opened up the freezer door to retrieve the dessert when ...
hand rose up from beneath the kitchen counter, holding a box of rat poison. Behind the Chef's back, the box tilted and a random bowl of blueberry curry got an unexpected and very dangerous added ingredient...
Alicia Lukas was ready. Alicia was ALWAYS ready. She stood in front of a large trophy case, the remnants of the good Baron Gabriel’s storied career in sports entertainment. Chock full of trophies and championship belts. She removed the shades over her eyes and looked at everything in the case with her head tilted just to the left.
“Hm, mine’s bigger.” She mused as she slipped her shades back on, and turned around and an unseen assailant swung a trophy right between her eyes….
Downstairs in the catacombs deep beneath the mansion, Alicia was dragged by a shadowy figure by the boot, down the arched hall…
Alicia was strapped to a chair, her arms, wrists and legs restrained. The figure stood back behind a large ‘wax’ furnace with a hose attached. The figure reached over and turned the release valve, and instead of boiling hot wax, it was liquid BRONZE that sprayed forth and toward the helpless Alicia….!
Having gotten ready for dinner, Bobbie and Artie arrived at the bottom of the steps in their classiest duds. Bobbie took Artie’s arm and they made for the dining room, passing by the very same trophy case as before when something gave Bobbie pause and do a double take. She took a step back and stared into the large case with a life size bronze ‘statue’ of Alicia Lukas!
Artie observed, “I guess the Baron was an Alicia Lukas fan?”
“Ugh!” Bobbie huffed and grabbed her man cake by the arm, pulling him along down the hall, not noticing the tiny ceramic teddy bear on a glass shelf beside the statue’s head...
Kris slowly woke somewhere in the lower levels of the mansion, groggy. His mind still feeling the effects of the chloroform. He tried to move, then realized he had been practically mummified with duct tape to a chair. It was dark, so he was unable to see, but he could make out the shadowy outline of a figure standing before him with a large stuffing machine from Build-A-Bear. Only instead of stuffing, it had been filled with -- teddy grahams.
“Mmmph!” Kris tried to protest … oh yeah. Did I forget? His mouth had also been duct taped shut!
Kris struggled but was secure as the figure approached him, holding the vacuum hose from the machine in ‘their’ hand. The figure reached with their free hand and RIPPED the tape from his mouth, prompting…
And the hose was stuffed into his gaping hole of a mouth! The figure then switched on the machine and stepped onto the peddle… and Kris fought mightily as the content of the machine was sucked down from it, through the hose, and into his mouth!
It only lasted seconds, and soon his struggles ceased. The hose was removed from his mouth, leaving it filled with teddy grahams that spilled out…
On the perch of the machine, rested a ceramic teddy bear...
In the grand dining room of Autumn
Grave Manor, Christina Rose, Bobbie Dahl and Artie, and the Jordans (Evie and Ben) sat around the dining room table in their assigned spots. They supped on a delicious (HA!) blueberry curry, and chatted amongst themselves, taking notice of the missing guests…
“Where IS everyone?” Artie asked as he looked at the empty place settings, each one still with a full bowl of curry in its place.
“Probably got ‘scared’ of the…” Bobbie air quoted. “Ghosts, and took off. Oh well…” She took another bite of her delicious curry with a slightly coppery taste to it. She dabbed at her lips with a cloth napkin, then pushed her chair back.
Artie asked, “Where are you going?”
“To see if the cook has any naan bread.” She answered as she headed for the swinging door that separated the dining room from the kitchen. “What good is curry without naan bread?”
“True!” She heard Ben agree as she stepped into the kitchen to find it empty. Spotless, but empty. She frowned and held her arms out.
“Ugh! Good help and all that…” Bobbie started to explore the kitchen in search of her precious naan bread, mentally taking note of the missing cook. “Maybe she had to take a dump…” Bobbie casually observed as she opened the cupboard doors, one right after the other.
She then opened the gaping fridge to find it chock full of unique ingredients from an even more unique chef. On instinct, she opened the stand-in freezer door beside it -- and there was the cook! A ghastly smile on her face as she hung from a meat hook, a tiny ceramic teddy bear tucked into her apron pocket.
“I guess this means no naan bread?” Bobbie sighed as she shut the freezer door and turned to walk away...
“They’re all against you, you know.”
Christina frowned from where she sat at the vanity table with the extra large mirror, running a brush through her plum colored hair. She looked around, uncertain if she had heard something or not.
“None of them like you, you know.”
“What…? Christina frowned as she set her brush down and stood up. She turned around and looked about her room, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. It was the same style with the same furnishings as everyone else had, and there was no one else in the room, save for her.
“She told me so you know it has to be true.”
“Who…?” Christina found herself asking before she realized what she was doing.
“You know who.”
“Stop…” Christina pleaded, clenching her eyes shut as her fingers tore at her hair.
“Why do you let her say things like this?”
“Why do you let her turn them against you?”
“I said STOP!” Christina cried, but the taunting was relentless.
“She wishes you had never been born!”
“The moment you step foot off this island, she’ll take all of the money!”
“You have to stop her…”
“You can’t LET her…!”
Christina finally screamed and grabbed two axes placed on hooks on the wall (convenient, huh!?) and she started swinging!
“Christina?” Ben knocked at her door. He had changed from out of his suit, and into a Superman latex outfit that showed it all - INCLUDING his pulse! Not because it was Halloween, mind you. But because it was a little fetish of his wife’s and before they slept tonight, he thought they could play Lois and Superman and …
Forget it. It’s because it’s Halloween!
“I heard yelling. You okay…?” But at the touch of his knuckles, the door opened slowly with a loud creeeeeak! (Spooky, huh!?) Ben frowned and looked around the room, before his eyes went to the floor, and the mess that had once been Christina Rose!
“What’s going on?” Evie said from behind her husband. She stepped up beside him, squeezing herself in and looked at the gruesome remains. “What. The….?”
“This is the first time I’ve seen someone get into an axe fight with themselves…” Ben observed. “And still lose.”
The Jordans looked at each other, then casually stepped back out into the hall and closed the door behind them.
A ceramic teddy bear rested on the top of the vanity mirror, looking down at the remains of Christina Rose...
Ben and Evie then walked down the hallway and paused at the door of the room Bobbie would be sharing with Artie for the night. They could spot a dim light on beneath the door so Ben turned to his wife and asked, “Let’s see if they want to have one more drink before we turn in.”
“Ugh! Fiiine!” Evie exclaimed, preferring to hurry up and get started on their DC Universe bit of foreplay. Ben knocked on the door, and it too opened and the Jordan swerve startled at what they saw in front of them.
A VERY much dead Bobbie Dahl (courtesy of rat poison infused blueberry curry) in the full cowgirl on the bed, on top of an equally dead Artie! A trickle of blood escaped the corners of Bobbie’s lips, evidence to the poisoning, while Artie’s facial features were blue, and his eyes bloodshot.
“Whatever got her…” Ben whispered as he stepped into the room to examine the scene. “... got him too.”
“Doubt it.” Evie added as she joined her husband with a critical eye. “It looks more like the two were… you know.”
The Jordans joint shuddered before Evie continued.
“... when whatever got her, got her. On top of him. And he obviously suffocated.”
Ben turned from Evie to the dead couple, then looked up and frowned.
“I’m not sure who got it worse in the end?” he said, to which Evie added, “Neither of them. I don’t think either had a chance…”
“That’s not what I meant Eves and you know it!”
There were two tiny ceramic teddy bears in the room, one on Bobbie’s posterior, the other stuffed between poor Artie’s pursed lips...
Ben stood in front of his and Evie’s full-length mirror, admiring the way he looked in his latex Superman outfit. Ben was not the arrogant sort. He did not get the whole “love me for my looks” routine, and he also did not understand why Evie thought he looked like the perfect Superman either…
Okay, okay! But the simple fact was, the outfit Evie bought for him did make him look the part … a little bit, and Ben took just a moment to try and see what it was that his wife saw.
A moment too long.
Ben started to move away from the mirror when he felt the already skin-tight outfit getting even tighter. Ben’s eyes opened wide and he turned to call to Evie who was in the shower, freshening herself up for him, but all he could emit were gasps. His tanned skin started to ripen into a deep red, and he stumbled around until he collapsed and fell to the floor!
One more pained gasp, perhaps two -- and it was over. Ben lay there on the floor, Kryptonite not the enemy of this Superman, but a vacuum hose was attached to the leg of his costume, and the suction caused the latex to grow tighter by the second until he had literally no room left to expand his chest to breathe.
A mere moment later, Evie emerged from the bathroom in a haze of steam, dressed herself as Lois Lane.
“Well…?” She called out in a seductive lisp, but she got no answer. “Ben?” She started to say when she saw him laying there on the floor, his eyes open but seeing nothing. She gasped and fell back against the door frame, a hand covering her mouth…
“No…” Her eyes watered as she took one halting step after another until she was standing over his body. She looked down at him -- then reached down and lifted his cape -- so that she might get one last look at those perfect buns her husband had…
And the tiny ceramic teddy bear in his clenched fingers...Morning - the very next day
The front double doors to the grand mansion estate opened up, and the lone survivor, the only guest left, Mrs. Evie Jordan, stepped out onto the porch to take in the cool breeze from the ocean and the lovely, rising sunrise.
Evie looked straight at the camera and smiled.
“I bet none of you saw THIS
coming, did you?”
She turned on one heel with a satisfied smirk and walked back into the manor and shut the doors behind her…
And down on the coast, along the never ending grassy plain, Despayre was having a pleasant breakfast picnic with his bestest friend, Angel. Despy was about to take a bite out of his breakfast burrito when his eyes opened wide.
“Did you hear that!?” He asked Angel … whose paw rested on a small detonation trigger.