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Fan Fics

The Mouseyville Horror
by Jennifer Lynn Weston


Opening Scene: Acme Labs after dark. P&tB, in their cage, are having a harder then usual time getting out: someone’s put a combination lock on their door. Brain is pressing an ear against the back of the lock, while Pinky has one arm stretched to the front, turning the dial.)

Brain: Slowly, Pinky... Stop! Now turn it the other way.

Pinky: (complying, but with little enthusiasm) Tell me again why we’re doing this?

Brain: So I can get to the lab equipment, to resume work on my latest scheme for Global Domination.

Pinky: Oh, yes. We lure Meryl Streep to a movie shoot in Four Corners, on that one day of maximum sunspot activity, and...

Brain: No, that was last week’s plot.

Pinky: That’s right! It fell apart when Meryl decided she needed more time to perfect her Navajo accent. So now we’re going to try to build some gizmo to reverse the polarity of the earth’s magnetic field, to throw the world’s navigational systems into disarray. Or is it the one where we...?

Brain: Stop!

Pinky: It’s just that, once in a while, I’d like to spend a night in...

Brain: I meant stop turning! (Pinky stops) It’s too late now- we’ll have to start all over!

Pinky: (abashed) Sorry, Brain.

Brain: (edgy) Never mind! Give the dial a double spin and resume turning to the right. Only this time try to remember, when I say ‘Stop’.... (sound of a car noisily coming to a halt, just outside)  Now what?!

(The mice peer out the adjacent window. The offending vehicle is a rather battered van, with business name and phone number emblazoned on the side.)

Brain: (reading) ‘Skid and Matty Krok, Dealers in Exotic and Unusual Rodents’? What business could they have here, at this time of night?

(As he speaks, two shadowy figures wearing miner’s helmets emerge from the van, go to the next window down, and proceed to pry it open with a crowbar.)

Pinky: Maybe they’re just not very smart. They don’t seem to know about doors.

Brain: (alarmed) They’re burglars!

(The burglars enter the lab and begin searching it by the lights of their helmets.)

First Burglar: Are ya sure we’re gonna find anything in here, Skid?

Skid: I’m sure, Matty! This place has been doin’ experiments on mice for years; they’re bound to have some odd-lookin’ ones.

Brain: (sotto voice) Pinky, we’d better get out of sight! (They hurry to the far corner of their cage, where Brain pulls back the liner.) Get under there, and stay quiet!

(Spooked, Pinky obeys. Brain is about to do the same, when he’s suddenly caught in the glare of a helmet beam.)

Matty: Hey, Skid! Looks like we just hit pay dirt!

Skid: (doubling the illumination as he comes over) We sure have!

(Skid quickly opens the cage with wire cutters, reaches in and grabs Brain.)

Brain: Ehh...!  (His outcry is stifled as a wide finger covers his mouth. Skid lifts him from the cage and drops him into a clear plastic tennis ball cylinder, then the two intruders exit the same way they came.)

Pinky: (from beneath the liner) Brain? Is it safe to come out yet? (Pinky cautiously pokes his head out, to find he’s alone in the lab.) Brain! Where are you?

(Pinky looks outside to see the Kroks getting into their vehicle, and gasps in dismay as he recognizes Brain’s silhouette inside the cylinder. Desperate, Pinky seizes a nearby pencil and hastily copies the phone number from the van onto the cage floor, before the vehicle sputters away.)

(Cut to the van’s interior. Matty is driving, as Skid turns on the overhead light. Their faces are those of infantile jerks.)

Skid: A good night’s haul, Matty! (He lifts the cylinder to examine their acquisition close to the light. Brain glares angrily.)Lookit that huge head! Reminds me of an apple on a stick! An’ that face is just what the old man ordered!

Matty: An’ how ‘bout that tail? Like a pink lightening bolt! How many traps did he get it caught in?

Skid: I think the old man’s gonna give us more then a c-note for this one!  (Both men laugh.)

Brain’s Thought: These yahoos abducted me because they think I look strange- they have no idea how intelligent I am. I’ll probably stand a better chance of escaping, if I don’t let them know. (He folds his arms, his eyes narrowing with resolution...)

(Back in the lab, Pinky has the phone off the hook, and is stamping in the Krok’s number. It rings, Skid’s recorded voice answering.)

Skid’s Voice: This is Skid and Matty Krok’s Dealer and Supplier of Exotic an’ Unusual Rodents, ah, place. Call us back some other time when we’re in. (click & dial tone)

Pinky: (slamming the receiver down in frustration) How am I supposed to know whether they’re in, before I call? These guys really aren’t very smart!

(Pinky begins wandering all over the lab as he tries, very hard, to think.)

Pinky: I can phone again... but what if Brain escapes, and gets to a telephone, and tries to call me? I should keep the line open... But, if I don’t call Skid and Matty Krok’s Dealer and Supplier of Exotic an’ Unusual Rodents, ah, place, how can I find out where they are? On the other hand, if Brain calls me, he will tell me where he is, so I won’t need to... But what if Brain doesn’t escape and find a phone? Then how will I locate him?  Brain would know what to do, if he was here! Except,
if he was here, I’d know where he was so he wouldn’t have to call me. But, he isn’t here, and that’s the whole problem, and I can’t decide what to do!

(He’s made his way all around the lab and back to the phone. Hopelessly confused, he huddles down beside it.)

Pinky: (miserably) Oh, Brain, I really miss you!

(Cut to the Krok’s noisy van, pulling up into a seedy-looking parking lot at the back of a seedy-looking warehouse. The only other vehicle present is an elegant black limousine. The Krok brothers emerge, carrying Brain in the cylinder, and approach the limo. As they draw up to it, a back window rolls down and a small, hard-faced man- who looks a lot like James Watt- sticks his head out.)

Man in Limo: Well, what have you got for me this time?

Skid: (fawningly) I think you’ll like it, Mista Skuz! (Holds up the cylinder. Skuz produces a pocket light and examines Brain critically.)

Matty: Is that yer ‘Grouchy Mouse’, or what?

Skuz: He’s not cute enough. I need cute for this project.

Skid: Why, sure he’s cute! Taka look at them big pink ears, an’ big
feets! Don’t it just make ya wanta hug him ta pieces? 

(Brain shudders visibly.)

Skuz: I suppose I could use him for back-up. I’ll give you seventy five.

Skid: Aw, Mista Skuz! After all the business we’ve done? A hundred fifty.

Skuz: A hundred twenty five.

Skid: Sold! (He shakes Skuz’s hand vigorously, to the latter’s obvious distaste.)

(Skuz hands Skid the bills, Skid hands Skuz the cylinder, the Kroks return to their van and both vehicles drive off.)

(Inside the limo, Skuz sets Brain on the seat beside his briefcase, carefully wipes his hands off with a handkerchief, and takes out a cell phone.)

Skuz: Hello, Denny? I’ve got a likely candidate for the Grouchy Mouse role. He has a good scowl, though he doesn’t look especially smart. (Brain’s scowl gets even better.) We’ll give him the ‘screen test’ tomorrow, same as the others. And, Denny? Run up a hot bath for me to take the minute I get back. Dealing with those Krok brothers always makes me feel like I’ve stepped in something! (He snaps the phone shut, pulls out a cigarette and lighter, and settles back for a smoke.)
(Brain looks over his surroundings. He notices the big corporate logo on the briefcase; ‘SKUZ STUDIOS  Movie and Television Production’, and rubs his chin thoughtfully.)

Brain: ‘Skuz Studios’- where have I heard that before? (Image waver to indicate Flashback...)

(Dissolve to Acme Labs, where Pinky is watching television while Brain writes something complicated in his notebook. But Brain finds himself being distracted by all the noise from the show-  crashings, clobberings, and a squawky voice repeatedly shouting “Geewizzits!” followed by canned laughter. Brain sets down his pencil and marches over to Pinky, who sits beside the remote.)

Brain: Pinky, what exactly is this program?

Pinky: It’s the ‘Superpizzaman Show’!

(Brain gives it a look. The show apparently consists of people taking pratfalls for no apparent reason, teddy-bear creatures doing odd dances, and the clownishly-costumed Superpizzaman throwing pizzas into bad guy’s faces. It’s all accompanied by frenetic music and an intrusive laugh track.)

Brain: Tell me, does Superpizzaman ever say anything other then “Geewizzits” ?

Pinky: Oh, yes, Brain. Sometimes he says “You’re through, you villainous scum!”

(Right on cue, “You’re through, you villainous scum!” issues from the set. Brain checks the translucent logo in the picture’s lower right corner.)

Brain: ‘Skuz Studios’- how apt!  (Brain steps on the remote’s mute button.) Pinky, I’m going to have to draw the line at your watching such unmitigated garbage.

Pinky: But, Brain...

Brain: Don’t argue with me! If you must spend your time watching cartoons, at least watch cartoons which display some iota of substance. (Pinky, tho not entirely sure of Brain’s meaning, punches a button into the remote, and the TV changes to a much-less-kinetic image of Periwinkle the Longhorn, and his pal Socky the Jackrabbit.)

Socky: And now...

Periwinkle: Hey, Socky! Watch me pull an armadillo out of my hat!

Socky: But that trick never works, Periwinkle! I don’t know why you keep trying it.

Pinky: (smiling, as tho this is something he identifies with) This one does sound better.

Indeed. ‘Socky and Periwinkle’ is a classic.

Pinky: Haha! Did you see that? Periwinkle just pulled a polar bear out of his hat!

Brain: And did you notice? You didn’t require prerecorded laughter to tell you it was funny.

(Satisfied, Brain returns to his notebook while Pinky continues to watch with enjoyment.)

(Waver and Dissolve back to Brain in limo, now regarding the briefcase logo with considerable distaste.)

Brain: Just what kind of game is afoot here?

(Outside shot of the limo pulling up to the gate at Skuz Studios [which looks like a cut-rate version of the oft-seen WB Studio lot.] The limo pulls up to the Production building, Skuz goes inside with briefcase and cylinder in hand, and steps through a door labeled ‘Animal Holding.’ The room is dominated by a long counter, upon which sit six mouse-size cages. Brain looks into them as he’s carried past. The first four contain one mouse apiece, each with a cute-looking abnormality; extra-pudgy build, long droopy snout, shaggy gray fur, big round black ears. The fifth one seems empty. When they reach the last cage, Skuz carelessly deposits his briefcase on the counter [which cracks open and spills some papers, but he gives it no attention], transfers Brain from the cylinder into the cage, and locks the cage door.)

Skuz: There- that’s almost all the mice we need. And I want that bath- Denny had better have it ready for me!

(Skuz exits. The instant he’s gone, Brain goes to the lock and tries his usual trick of picking it with his tail, without success.)

Brain: Drat! It’s a better quality lock then Acme Labs usually gets.

(A small rustle from the adjacent, seemingly empty cage, distracts him.He looks over to see a rather pretty brownish mouse, evidentially female, emerging half-way from a cardboard tube to regard him quizzically. She has white feet and underside, and large brown eyes. Despite himself, Brain is intrigued.)

Brain: (glancing at the nameplate on her cage) You’re named Diplo. A white-footed wood mouse, to judge from your coloring. And, unlike your fellow inmates, there’s nothing peculiar about your appearance.

(Overcoming her shyness, Diplo emerges, reveling she has two identical tails.)

Brain: (repelled) Eew! I stand corrected! (He returns his attention to the lock.) I require something with greater stiffness. (Brain tears off a strip from the cage-liner, folds it into a hard rectangle, and tries that, with no better luck. The watching Diplo goes to a corner of her cage and digs beneath the sawdust, bringing up a hairpin, which she carries over in her mouth to offer to Brain.)

Brain: (pleasantly surprised) Why, thank you, Diplo! (He reaches across to her cage to take it, giving her an appreciative pat on the head.) You’re smart, for a normal mouse. At least mentally normal.

(Diplo beams. Brain tries the pin on the lock and immediately gets it open.)

Brain: (flinging back the door) Now, to locate a phone and call Acme Labs!

(He sites a phone at the end of the counter and is about to start for it, when something on one of Skuz’s spilled papers catches his eye. His curiosity getting the better of him, he lifts the paper and reads, with growing disgust.)

Brain: “Outline for proposed new Children’s program, ‘Mouseyville’, target group ages three to eight.... will feature cast of lovably unusual live mice, lip-synching to be added... Each mouse to have name to identify plot-function: including ‘Happy Mouse’, ‘Gadget Mouse’, ‘Silly Mouse’, ‘Grouchy Mouse’ (Brain grimaces in recognition), ‘Smarty Mouse’, ‘Strong Mouse’ and ‘Girly Mouse.’” Only one female? Any intelligent seven-year-old would know that’s an unworkable demographic ratio! (Fed up, Brain drops the paper, picks up another.) “List of Inexpensive Laugh-Track Sources...” (Brain’s eyes widen in dismay. He throws back the briefcase lid, pulls forth more items.) “Manual of 150 Popular Cartoon Plots- Just Add Names for Easy Script Production.” “List of Proposed Mouseyville Catch-Phrases; Select One and Add to Script At Least Once Per Page...  ‘Mouseyrific’, ‘Fanmousetic’, ‘Mouseyonderful’, ‘Geronimousey’...” (Brain looks ill, but steels himself to remove the final item from the briefcase; a thick sheath of loose papers.) ‘Marketing Strategies: Mouseyville-Related Toys and Merchandise.’ (Brain peels off  page after page of really crummy-looking ‘Mousey’ objects.) They’re putting more effort into this, then into developing the show ?!

(Dazed with horror, Brain stands amidst the scattered papers. Music begins to play, very like that in the ‘Who Am I?’ number, from ‘Les Miserables’. Brain’s expression firms, and he begins to sing.)

Brain:  What to do?
  There will be consequences, I expect,
  From treating growing minds with no respect...

  Someday I’ll rule the world, I know,
  I made that promise long ago
     But shall it be a world of dolts and fools?
  ‘Cause nothing in their viewing pasts
  Gave them a thought, or honest laugh,
     For ‘Show kids slop, Make money’ are the rules!

  What to do?
  I must admit my course is clear to me,
  Though it may cause me further agony...

  I can’t pretend I’m not involved
  Or that it’s someone else’s job,
     For my role in this, I must make repairs,
  Despite the risk I’ll stay this tour,
  Derail their works ‘till I’ve made sure
     This vile exploitation never airs!

(As the music swells to the climax, Brain raises a fist and vows to the heavens:)

  I Will See It Through!
  I Will See It Through!

(Rising Shot; from overhead view of Brain and the holding room, through the roof of the building to show overhead view of Skuz Studios, then all the surrounding land including an adjacent metropolis. Brief pause, then Falling Shot, toward the city, gradually centering on a single building which becomes identifiable as Acme Labs, through the roof and overhead view of the lab where Pinky still waits anxiously beside the telephone. Cut to side view of Pinky and phone. The landscape visible through the window behind him shows daylight just breaking.)

Pinky: He’ll call, he has to call. What if he doesn’t call? Should I try to call him again? What if he tries to call me just then? He’s got to call...

(The phone rings. Overjoyed, Pinky knocks the receiver off.)

Pinky: Oh, Brain, I knew you’d call! Why didn’t you call sooner?

(Cut to Brain at the studio phone, somewhat startled by this outburst.)

Brain: I’ve been rather preoccupied, Pinky. I’m phoning from...

Pinky: Are you all right? Where are you? Did you see any of the sights? Is the food there as good as...

Brain: Pinky! If you do not cease this nonsensical jabbering and let me speak, I shall extend an electronic arm over the telephone wires and hurt you!

Pinky: Oh, sorry, Brain, sorry! But I’ve been worried sick, and I couldn’t make up my mind what I should do, and...

Brain: What you should do, Pinky, is be quiet and listen. (Silent pause) Pinky? Are you still there?

Pinky: I’m just being quiet, Brain.

Brain: Very well. To answer your concerns: I am unharmed. My kidnappers sold me to a low-budget television-production company called Skuz Studios, which I have observed to be situated just north of town, where I am currently located. (sardonic) And no, I have not had any opportunity to sight-see, or to sample the local cuisine.

Pinky: That’s too bad. But are there any highways nearby? Can you get back that way?

Brain: I’m not leaving just yet; there’s something I have to do here.

Pinky: Poit! You’re going to use their broadcasting equipment to beam out subliminal messages to take over the world!

Brain: I might consider that plan at a later date, Pinky, but I’ve put global domination on hold for now. My present concern involves making the world a fitter place for my rule.

Pinky: Zort! Are you going to use all those all those towers and flashy TV lights to build a giant year-round Christmas tree?

Brain: I swear, Pinky, you can be the most aggravating... I don’t have time for this! Listen: I can’t explain everything now, but I require something from the Lab. I need you to bring my mechanical suit here. It’s stored in the basement.

Pinky: (reluctant) Brain, you remember what happened the last time I tried to drive it.

Brain: Yes, I remember. Just take a few practice walks around the basement before you start off- it’s vitally important that you get it to me with all possible speed. Preferably today. (hears sound of someone approaching the room) Just do your best, Pinky- I’ve got to go now!

(Hastily Brain hangs up, runs to his cage and shuts himself in.)

(A rather dim-looking guy enters, pushing a rolling cart before him. With no great care, he proceeds to load all the mouse cages onto the cart.)

Dim Guy: Time for your screen tests, mices.

(Diplo apprehensively ducks into her cardboard tube, as her cage is lifted. Brain’s cage is loaded last, so roughly that he bumps his head on the bars. Dim Guy pushes the cart out the room and down the corridor.)

Brain: (rubbing his head) I certainly don’t want to remain here any longer then necessary- I’ll just have to hope Pinky gets here soon.

(In the basement of Acme labs, Pinky is taking the mechanical suit for a test spin, with imperfect results. The suit’s movements suggest those of an individual who’s had quite a few too many.)

Pinky: I’m not sure I’m ready to take this thing on the road- but Brain said to hurry!

(Pinky aims the suit toward the basement door, starts it forward, and ducks.)

(Outside shot of the suit crashing through the door, and lurching down the road like a well-dressed Frankenstein’s Monster.)
Pinky: Wa-aaa-aah! )

(Pan to the front side of Acme Labs, where two police cars are pulled up, lights flashing. Inside, three cops inspect the scene of the burglary, while Sergeant  Monday questions the Acme Lab manager.)

Monday: You’re certain nothing was taken except the two lab mice?

Manager: I’m sure, Sergeant Monday. We’ve done a full equipment inventory- all present and accounted for. It’s weird! I wouldn’t have thought those mice were worth anything to anybody but us.

Monday: You might be surprised. We’ve actually had three similar reported instances of mouse-stealing this month. The common element is that the animals were of unusual appearance.

Manager: Come to think of it, so are ours! One of them has an oversized head and a crooked tail; the other’s kind of gawky, with a big snout.

Monday: It fits the pattern. We suspect there’s some kind of underground rodent-dealing ring behind it. Boy, would I like to collar those scum bags!

Cop Beside Counter: Sarge? You might want to have a look at this. There’s a phone number written on the floor of the damaged cage.

(Monday comes over, his eyes narrowing as he studies Pinky’s scrawl.)

Monday: I wonder- could anyone possibly be that stupid...?

(Dissolve to close-up of Matty Krok’s evilly grinning face. Pullback to show he’s acting as mouse-handler at the ‘screen test’. The studio mice are being removed from their cages one by one, and placed in a white cardboard box ‘stage’ for test-filming. A camera crew, including lighting techs and director, do the filming, the results of which can be seen on a bank of small TV screens. Currently, it’s the shaggy gray mouse. Beyond the cameras, Skuz and his Associate Producer Denny watch the proceedings. ‘Denny’ is short for ‘Denise’- she’s larger then Skuz, and, though his subordinate, not entirely under his sway.)

Matty: (prodding the gray mouse with a pencil end) Come on now, look like yer havin’ a good time! Jump around a little!  (The mouse jumps to avoid the pencil.) There, now, don’t that look like Happy Mouse, Mista Skuz?
Skuz: (weary tone of a man who doesn’t expect to find any better) He’ll have to do, I guess.  (Matty lifts Happy by the tail and returns him to his cage.)

(Brain takes note, as Denny leans toward Skuz’s ear.)

Denny: (low voice) Mr. Skuz, I’m not sure it was such a good idea to hire Matty Krok to be our ‘mouse wrangler.’ He’s likely to get us in trouble when that Humane Society observer arrives. (wrinkling her nose) And his personal hygiene leaves something to be desired, too.

Skuz: If you know anyone who’ll work cheaper then Krok, I’d be happy to hear about it.

Denny: Mr. Skuz, sometimes it’s worth spending more, to get someone who can do the job well.

Skuz: When you are the Studio Head, that will be your decision to make, Denny. In the meantime...

Denny: I know. I meant no disrespect, Uncle Harold.

Skuz: (testily) Denny, please. Inside this studio, it’s ‘Mr. Skuz.’

Denny: Yes, Mr. Skuz.

(Brain has no chance to listen further, for Matty lifts him from his cage and deposits him, none too gently, into the ‘stage’.)

Matty: Awright, Grouchy; try ta look like yer in a bad mood. (Brain has no trouble complying. But Matty gives him a poke with the pencil anyway.)

Director: (checking Brain’s image on the monitors) That’s the best one so far.

Skuz: Grouchy’s in, then. Next mouse!

(Matty puts Brain back, but neglects to lock the cage. Brain watches intently, as Matty opens Diplo’s cage and takes out the cardboard tube where she’s cowering.)

Matty: Mista Skuz, I gotta warn ya that this mouse is gonna need special incentive. She’s a wild mouse we caught inna game refuge, an’ she don’t like bein’ in the open.

Skuz: Just do whatever you have to, to make her preform. She’s our best candidate to play Girly Mouse- that double tail is a real draw! (Behind him, Denny frowns.)

(Matty dumps the obviously terrified Diplo onto the stage. As predicted, she promptly runs to find cover. Matty uses the pencil to try to drive her in front of the camera, to Brain’s increasing revulsion.)

Matty: Just hold still, Girly! (When she continues to try flee, he bops her on the nose, making her yelp.)

Brain: (enraged sotto-voice) Barbarian!

(Brain kicks open the unlocked cage door, leaps onto the stage, seizes the pencil from Matty and gives him a hard rap across the knuckles.)

Matty: OW!  Why, you little...! (He cuts himself off when he hears Skuz applauding.)

Skuz: Hilarious! You didn’t mention your mouse could do that trick, Matty.

Matty: (thinking fast, for once) Well, I figgered you’d find it funnier if ya wasn’t expecting it, Mista Skuz.

(Brain, looking fierce as a movie-poster warrior, still stands with pencil at ready. Diplo, just behind him, looks up at him worshipfully.)

Director: The brown mouse is holding still now. Close in! (A very flattering close-up shot of Diplo appears on the monitors.)

Skuz: Perfect! We’ve got our Girly Mouse. All we need to do is keep Grouchy in the vicinity when we film her.  And I’ll instruct our screen-writer to include that pencil-clobbering bit in the scripts.

Denny: (checking clipboard) That leaves just one rodent to cast: Silly Mouse.

Skuz: Oh, yes. Matty, I want you and Skid to try to ‘acquire’ a good candidate for Silly by tomorrow- we’re scheduled to begin filming then. (to himself) I need a smoke.

Matty: Ah, no problem, Mista Skuz! I’ll jus’ put these last two away.

(Matty starts to reach toward Brain and Diplo, but Denny, suspecting he’s planning some retaliation against Brain, intervenes.)

Denny: I’ll take care of them. (She gently picks up the two mice and sets them safely in their cages.) You’ll be treated better once the Humane Society observer is on the job, I promise.

Brain’s Thought: Evidentially, there are some individuals of integrity working at this studio. That’s the element for me to focus on. (Brain glances at a clock, fidgets impatiently) Where is Pinky, anyway?!

(Cut to exterior shot of Skuz Studios, as the mechanical suit, now considerably worse for wear, lumbers up the road toward the gate. Close in on Pinky, looking apprehensive, as he stamps futilely on the brake petal.)

Pinky: This brake was working when I left the Lab!

(The suit collides with the gate bar, does a somersault over it, and crashes into a clinking clattering collection of cacophonous junk. The entrance guard, who’d evidentially been napping, pokes his head out to check on the racket, but, seeing nothing moving now, settles back in.)

(Pinky crawls from the wreckage, bruised but otherwise intact.)

Pinky: (worriedly viewing the remains of the suit) I don’t like to think what Brain is going to say when he sees this...

(From behind Pinky, a great sweaty hand reaches down to grab him. Pinky finds himself looking into Matty Krok’s gap-toothed grin.)

Matty: Well, watta we have here? A real likely candidate ta play Silly Mouse!

(Matty laughs uproariously. Pinky, frightened, tries to shrink even further  into his fist...)

(Cut to Animal Holding Room, where Brain paces in his cage, pondering. Unnoticed by him, Diplo, in her own cage, keeps in step with him.)

Brain: (thinking out loud) Associate Producer Denny evidentially disagrees with Skuz’s priorities, but, she is Skuz’s niece. Family loyalty is liable to override other concerns, so she’s not the most suitable candidate to take into my confidence. A more probable recruit would be some employee in one of the creative positions, who genuinely wants to do quality work, and is unhappy about the way this “Mouseyville” project is developing. But locating a likely candidate is problematic, while my movements are so restricted.

(A little tired from pacing, Brain sits down against the wall of his cage. His eye falls on the grid of the ventilator shaft, at the end of the counter. He frowns thoughtfully... Then he smiles, and begins to laugh. Turning, he sees Diplo has come up behind him, and has snaked her two tails into his cage to tickle him behind his ears.)

Brain: Haha! Stop that, Diplo! I’m attempting to formulate a plan.

(Controlling his laughter, he pushes the tails away. Diplo smiles at him winningly.)

Brain: I deduce that’s your way of thanking me for intervening on your behalf. In fairness, I should admit to experiencing some personnel satisfaction from the combat- I had previous reasons for making retribution against Matty Krok.

(Diplo continues to smile, waving her tails playfully. Moved, Brain reaches into her cage to take her face between his hands.)

Brain: Listen, Diplo; I feel foolish saying this when I don’t even know if you understand me... But when the time comes for me to leave this place, I’ll make sure you escape as well. No boorish troglodyte with a pencil will ever again...

(The door-handle turns; Diplo dives for her tube while Brain quickly assumes an Ordinary Mouse position. Matty Krok saunters in, with Pinky clutched in his fist. When he catches sight of Brain, Pinky looks like he wants to make a joyful noise- but refrains, when Brain hastily presses a finger across his own mouth. Matty deposits Pinky into Brain’s cage.)

Matty: We’re runnin’ short on cages, so you two’ll have to double up fer now. (He locks them in, looking vastly cheerful.) Wait’ll I tell Skid, I caught the perfect mouse fer Silly, right inside the Studio gate! (As he leaves, Brain pays close attention to his words) No need fer another ‘job’ at Rodent World, or Far Out Pets, or Sirius Studies, or Acme Labs...

Pinky: (after the door slams behind Matty) Can we talk now?

Brain: Yes.

Pinky: (happily scooping Brain up in the usual squashing hug) I’m so glad to see you, Brain!

Brain: (barely getting it out) I’m gratified, to see you, too, Pinky, now, please, put me down.  (Pinky releases him, Brain pats his fur back into place.)

Brain: I had to cut you off, so that Neanderthal who brought you in wouldn’t learn of your capacity to speak. You didn’t talk within his hearing any time earlier, did you?

Pinky: I never got a chance to, Brain- there was a large sweaty finger across my mouth the whole while.

Brain: (flinching at his own recollection) No need to dwell on that! Just remember: it’s vital that you keep silent around humans in this studio. If they discovered our intelligence, there’s no telling what they might make us do.

Pinky: Why, Brain, that’s the first time you ever said I have intelligence!

Brain: The term is relative- but savor it while you can.

Pinky: So, what’s this plan you have, to improve the world?

Brain: Ah, yes. This studio, Pinky, is in the process of developing a truly execrable children’s television program, which I...

Pinky: Excuse me, Brain: what kind of eggs?

Brain: (slowly) A really, really bad TV show. The kind with one excessively-cute gimmick at the center, and formula for everything else.

(Pinky happens to notice the trio of posters on the opposite wall; one for ‘Superpizzaman’ and the others for equally cheesy-looking shows: ‘Turbo Terrific Terrier’ and ‘Red Hot Kumquat Coyotes.’)

Pinky: You mean, it’s like one of those programs you don’t want me to watch?

Brain: Precisely. (slamming fist into palm) And I intend to put this one out of production!

Pinky: (troubled) But, Brain, even if you disapprove, I think the studio’s right to make it is protected by the First Amendment of the American Constitution.

(For a moment, Brain stares at Pinky in amazement, then recovers his poise.)

Brain: Their legal right, yes, if not their moral right. However, Skuz Studios has also been engaging in Unlawful Deprivation of Property.

(Brain waves a hand down the row of cages.) I, and most of the mice in this room, I believe, have been stolen. At the instruction of Studio Head Harold Skuz.

Pinky: (frowning) Well, there’s certainly no justification for that! All right, Brain, I’m with you!

Brain: Yess!  (They high-four each other.)

(Brain reaches beneath the cage-liner to retrieve the hairpin.)

Brain: Now, the first thing I need to do is get to my mechanical suit. Where did you leave it?

Pinky: (suddenly self-conscious) Amm... Brain, about your suit...

Brain: (deadly monotone) What happened to it, Pinky?

Pinky: Well, it kind of got, broken.

Brain: Broken. Into how many pieces?

Pinky: About, two hundred.

Brain: (icy calm) I see. (turning his back on Pinky and walking a few steps away.) We will discuss this at a later time.

Pinky: (following) If it’s all the same with you, Brain, I’d rather get it over with now.

Brain: Very well. (He seizes Pinky’s snout and pulls his head down so their eyeballs touch.) Pinky, I am extremely disappointed that you were unable to conduct yourself in a more responsible manner in regard to the property I entrusted to you, and be assured; when I am in a position to construct another suit, I shall never allow you to borrow it again!

(Brain yanks Pinky’s snout down and releases it suddenly, so it oscillates like a fat man’s diving board. Pinky uses both hands to still the vibrations, smiles.)

Pinky: Thank you, Brain: I feel much better.

Brain: (starting to pace) Unfortunately, the loss of the suit greatly complicates my plan. I have information to impart, once I’ve identified a suitable individual. If I can not pass as a human to do so, I shall have to be especially resourceful in my method...

(Once more, the doorknob rattles.)

Brain: It’s Grand Central Station in here! Time to act like an Ordinary Mouse, Pinky!

(Skuz enters, followed by a long-haired young woman- Sharlay- who’s carrying a tote bag full of papers. As he leads her down the row of cages, Skuz names each mouse in turn.)

Skuz: Here is your cast, Ms Sharlay. The portly one is Strong Mouse, the snouty one Gadget Mouse, shaggy here is Happy, black-ears is Smarty... our Girly mouse is still rather skittish so you can’t see her very well, but she’s a wood mouse, with two tails.

Sharlay: (ducking her head to look into Diplo’s tube.) Hello! Aren’t you pretty! (Diplo, in the tube, looks slightly less apprehensive. Sharlay notices the nameplate) ‘Diplo’? From the Greek ‘diploos’, meaning double?

Skuz: (irritated at her for knowing more about it then he did) Yeah, whatever. My Associate Producer came up with that name; I’ve been meaning to remove that tag. (He does so.) So far as you’re concerned, she’s ‘Girly Mouse.’

Sharlay: (just a bit abashed) Yes, Mr. Skuz. ‘Girly Mouse.’

Skuz: And here’s Grouchy... (Noticing Pinky)  Oh! Come to think of it, that must be the  ‘Silly Mouse’ Krok just acquired for me. At great expense, he claims. (Peers closely at Pinky.) He looks the part, anyway.

(Pinky, flattered, seems on the verge of declaring ‘Oh, you’re too kind!’, but Brain cuts him off with a warning elbow-jab to the ribs.)

Skuz: All right, Ms. Sharlay, now that you’ve seen the mice, I expect you to have that shooting script on my desk by filming time. (Turns toward door.)

Sharlay: (gathering her nerve) First, Mr. Skuz, I wanted to talk to you about these, guidelines. (pulls the ‘150 Plots’ manual from her bag.)

Skuz: What about them? You can read, can’t you?

Sharlay: Mr. Skuz, I’ve had sufficient writing experience to do better work then this paint-by-numbers stuff. (She pulls forth a resume, which Brain peers at.) I can come up with original plot lines, my own dialogue...

Skuz: That will take longer! Kids don’t need originality; they like predictability.

Sharlay: Only to a point, Mr. Skuz. Also, I really think I can do jokes funny enough that we won’t need a laugh track...

Skuz: (getting irate) The laugh track’s already a go. Look, Ms Sharlay; all these decisions are based on extensive market research- you’re not involved in that part of production! All I need you to do is type up the scripts the way I instruct you to. If you can’t manage that, I can get a replacement for you within a day! Do I make myself clear?

Sharlay: (with control that doesn’t come naturally to her) You do, Sir.

Skuz: Fine! Then get back to the Writer’s Office, and have that script on done on time!

(Without another word, Skuz exits. Sharlay, tucking the papers back into her bag, watches him go with an expression that suggests a less-then-sterling opinion of him.)

Sharlay: (under her breath) You don’t think very much of children, do you? I sure hope you haven’t got any of your own!

(As she walks out, Brain looks after her, his old scheming smile in place.)

Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?

Pinky: I think so, Brain. But  “Sleet! Sleet! The gang’s all here!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Brain: (ignoring the foolishness) No, Pinky. I think I’ve just found my suitable individual.

(Dissolve to Sharlay behind a word processor in the Writer’s Office, typing disinterestedly. The open ‘150 Plots’ manual is before her, a fax machine beyond that. High on the wall behind her is a ventilation grid; close in on this as Brain appears behind it, regarding Sharlay purposefully.)

Brain: Sharlay?

Sharlay: (looking sharply behind her) Who’s that?

Brain: I am Calliope, the Muse of Eloquence.

(Having pinpointed where the voice is coming from, Sharlay regards the grid with  amused curiosity.)

Sharlay: The Muses are metaphorical. Who are you really?

Brain: All right, you’ve got me. I am simply a concerned party, unhappy to see you  debasing your writing talent by applying it to this substandard production.

Sharlay: (still eying the grid, but with her main attention on the conversation) Well, it isn’t  the sort of assignment I’d hoped for- but this is my first professional writing position. If I do a satisfactory job with it, it can be a stepping-stone to better things.

Brain: You’ve written two children’s books about animals, and had a short play produced. You’re already qualified to do more then, as you so aptly put it, “this paint-by-numbers stuff.”

(Sharlay is now intrigued enough to stand on a chair and peer directly into the grid. Brain sidesteps into a branching duct to keep out of sight.)

Sharlay: (speaking into the grid) How do you know all that?!

Brain: Does it matter? You know I’m right. You should do a script you can be proud to sign your name to. Once he reads it, Producer Skuz just might appreciate it enough to change his mind about forcing your use of those ‘guidelines’. And if he does turn out to be completely inflexible in the matter, wouldn’t you rather find out now? Before you’ve worked here long enough to compromise your self-respect?

Sharlay: (still searching the duct) Is there any chance you’re encouraging me to rock the boat, because you have some beef with the studio?

Brain: (just a bit chagrined) In fact, I do have a sound motive to create difficulties for this project. Do you recall those mice in the holding room? Most of them are purloined properties. Producer Skuz engaged a pair of miscreants, Skid and Matty Krok, to commit the actual thefts.

Sharlay: That’s a pretty serious charge! I hope you’ve got something to back it up.

Brain: I can tell you how to acquire the evidence to verify it. Simply call ‘Rodent World’, ‘Far Out Pets’, ‘Sirius Studies’ and ‘Acme Labs’, and ask them to fax you photos of the mice which were recently stolen from them. Then compare them with the “Mouseyville” cast.

Sharlay: (thoughtful) All right, ‘Calliope’, I just might do that. But I’m telling you now; if this turns out to be a hoax... it’ll give me a very low opinion of you.

Brain: Fair enough. And, Sharlay: whatever my personnel agenda with the studio may be, I was sincere when I advised you to give proper respect to your abilities. Adieu for now.  (Brain scampers away down the duct.)
(Lips pressed thoughtfully, Sharlay returns to her word-processor. She contemplates the screen display for a few seconds... then, drops the ‘150 Plots’ booklet into the recycling bin, pushes ‘Clear,’ and begins typing with new enthusiasm.)

Brain: (making his way along the dimly lit ventilator system) There is some satisfaction in discovering that the time I spent learning to negotiate mazes at Acme Labs was not completely unproductive.

(Coming to the grid he wants, Brain pushes it open and steps out onto the Holding Room counter.)

Brain: Pinky! I’ve made some significant progress... (Noticing Pinky’s cage is empty) Pinky?

Pinky: Over here, Brain! (Brain spots Pinky by the cages further down the counter, obviously making friends with the other mice.) I’m just getting to know the neighbors.

(Brain starts down the counter to join Pinky, is delayed by Diplo bracing herself on the cage wall beside him, chittering a friendly greeting.)

Pinky: That brown one with the matched tails seems to like you, Brain!

Brain: Indeed. Diplo and I have been of some recent assistance to each other. (Brain gives her the usual petting on the head, to Diplo’s evident enjoyment.)

Pinky: (sweetly) Oh, Brain! You like her too!

Brain: (ever so slightly embarrassed).Yes, I suppose there is a certain bond between us. But, I have other concerns now. (He gives Diplo a final chin scratch and leaves her; she continues to follow him with her eyes.)

Brain: Pinky, to what degree are you able to communicate with these mice?

Pinky: Well, there are dialectic differences, but we’ve been able to tell each other a few jokes. (Demonstrating, he chatters at the pudgy mouse, who chatters something back. Pinky promptly falls to the floor, laughing uproariously.)

Brain: (dryly) Dare I ask what was just said?

Pinky: (barely getting it out between laughs) Sorry, Brain... I’m afraid... it won’t... translate!  Hahahaha!

Brain: (picking Pinky off the floor) Focus now, Pinky. Are you able to instruct the other mice to follow you on command?

Pinky: Yes, I should be able to do that. If they’re not busy doing something else. Zort!

Brain: Commendable. That will be extremely useful to my plot.

(Brain thinks a moment, then runs to fetch his hairpin and a small tape dispenser. He proceeds to unlock each cage, and fasten each door on the inside with a strip of tape.)

Pinky: Ooo, are you decorating the cages with elegant shiny plastic accents, Brain?

Brain: No, Pinky. Part of my plan requires that we be able to turn our fellow inmates loose on short notice, then instruct them to follow where we lead. This will be my signal for you to do so. (He makes a rotary motion with his arm.) Can you remember that, Pinky?

Pinky: I think so, Brain.

Brain: Repeat it, then.

Pinky: When you make your arm into a whirlywind (copying the gesture), I let all the other mice out of their cages, and tell them to follow us.

(Makes the requisite chittery command; all the mice take notice.)

Brain: Excellent! Now, the other thing you must do...

Pinky: Oh, Brain, I don’t know if I can memorize much more then that.

Brain: Don’t worry; the other role you have in this plan is very easy to remember. They’re going to take you and the other mice to the sound stage soon, to begin the first day’s filming. They will probably put you on the set first, to do your ‘screen test’. When that happens, I want you to behave in the most energetically ‘fun-fun, silly-willy’ manner you possibly can. And don’t worry about anything you break.

Pinky: (brightening) Narf! I like this part!

Brain: I thought you would. There’s just one restriction: laugh as much as you want to, but don’t speak.

Pinky: Act really silly-willy, laugh, don’t use words.

Brain: You’ve got it!  Just one other thing: if at all possible, try to keep an eye on Diplo for me.

Pinky: Aren’t you going to be there, Brain?

Brain: No. On my air duct tour of the studio, I noticed some items in the set’s Storage Room that I can make use of. I’m going there now, to prepare a surprise for our captors. And, I need to check up on another matter. (Distant sound of cart approaching) That’s your taxi! Quick, into the cage!

(Brain hurries Pinky to their cage, hastily locks him in with the hairpin.)

Pinky: Don’t I get the shiny plastic, Brain? How will I get out?

Brain: They’ll unlock you when they put you on the set. I don’t want any suspicions aroused before that point. (Brain rushes to the air grid) Remember what I said- no talking! (Brain vanishes into the duct.)

(Dim Guy enters and loads the cages once again. As he lifts Pinky’s cage, he pauses.)

Dim Guy: Hey, didn’t you use ta be shorter, with a big fat head?

Pinky: Haha! Big fat head! (remembering, he covers his mouth.) (muffled) Sorry! Forget I said that.

(Dim Guy looks momentarily startled, then decides it’s none of his concern.)

Dim Guy: Special effects- who can keep up with ‘em?  (Pinky’s cage is loaded and the cart wheeled off.)

Pinky: (murmuring to self) Don’t talk, don’t talk, don’t talk...

(Pullback shot as the cart is pushed down the hall, toward a door marked Sound Stage One.)

(Cut to another part of the studio; the Writers Office.)

(Within, Sharlay is taking the last of the printed Stolen Mouse pictures from the fax machine, and sliding them into her tote bag.  Without warning, Producer Skuz storms into the office, waving a script tagged with little yellow ‘stick ems’.)

Skuz: Would you mind explaining this to me, Ms Sharlay?

Sharlay: (taken aback, but answering evenly) That’s the shooting script you requested, Mr. Skuz.

Skuz: I didn’t request any such script as this! (opening it to first tagged page) Why do you have Gadget Mouse talking about how someday he’d like to give up building gadgets to become a sculptor?

Sharlay: It’s character development. I’m exploring what motivated him to become an inventor in the first place. Creative personalities often have...

Skuz: Kids don’t care about motivations! Gadget Mouse is supposed to produce gadgets when the other mice need them. Period!  (opens to next tag) And what’s with this ‘Andrew Jackson’ reference? No kid is going to recognize that!

Sharlay: (tightly) In the first place; many kids will. The ones who don’t can ask their parents about it, and find out Andrew Jackson was an American President notorious for his hot temper.

Skuz: We are doing an entertainment show here, not an informational one!

Sharlay: I don’t see that there’s any need to draw a rigid line between the two...

Skuz: Spare me your philosophies! (turns to another page) And on the hike, when Girly Mouse stumbles into the quicksand, you have her pulling a Camper’s Manual out of her pack, and figuring out how to get herself out!

Sharlay: Of course! That’s what I would do!

Skuz: Getting her out is the boy mice’s job! Girly’s role in the stories is to land in trouble so they can rescue her!

Sharlay: (getting mad in turn- this is a sore point with her) I’m drawing the line there-  what kind of message do you think that sends to the girls in your audience? That they can’t accomplish anything without male assistance? I won’t do that kind
of writing!

Skuz: Then you’re Fired!  You can just pack up your things, and those flaky post-modern ideas, and be out of this Studio by noon! (stomps out.)

Sharlay: (baffled) ‘Post-modern’?  (Deciding it’s not worth figuring out, Sharlay sighs just a little, stuffs her few items into the tote, and walks from the office.)

(As she steps out into the hall, Brain’s voice issues from the corridor’s ventilation grid.)

Brain: I overheard, Sharlay.

Sharlay: (somewhat reproachful) Hello, Calliope.

Brain: I regret that following my advice has cost you your employment.

Sharlay: (more forgiving tone) Well, don’t be too sorry. It probably wouldn’t have worked out anyway. (jerks thumb after Skuz) That man is really hard to get along with.

Brain: On a possibly more productive subject; did you manage to obtain images of the stolen rodents?

Sharlay: (voice dropping a bit) Yes. All of them. I’m on my way to the Sound Stage now, to make comparisons. At least I’ll get that much more use out if this. (She fingers her Staff ID badge)

Brain: I appreciate your efforts, Sharlay. And now I, too, have a mission to attend to. (sounds of Brain retreating further into the
duct.)

(Giving the grid a last searching look, Sharlay squares her shoulders, and turns left  down the hallway. Behind her, Denny steps into view from around the right corner, looking after Sharlay, and at the grid, with an unreadable expression.)

(Cut to interior of Sound Stage One. The mouse cages [where Pinky sits with hands clamped around his snout] are lined up to the left of the platform holding the “Mouseyville” set. The latter looks like it was designed by someone on sugar OD- all the Mouseyville buildings are shaped and decorated like fancy cupcakes, with smiley-face windows and doors, and cutsey mouse-related graphics on every possible surface. The filming and lighting crews are setting up to shoot it.)

Director: (addressing cameraman) Producer Skuz said they’re going to be
marketing models of all the Mousey Houses, so be sure you get clear shots of ‘em.

Cameraman: Geesh, doesn’t that guy think about anything besides merchandising?

(Beside the mouse cages, Matty Krok is setting out rows of tiny accessories- a red polkadot  bow, miniature leopard skin, green eyeshade, mortarboard, etc.- under the unamused eye of Jon, who wears a prominent Humane Society Observer badge. Jon is African-American, barely more then half Matty’s size, but not about to take any stuff.)

Jon: Now explain to me exactly how these items are to be used, Mr. Krok.

Matty: (condescending) It’s simple, Mista Jon. We stick this one, (lifts the red bow) on Girly Mouse’s head, an’ this (lifts mortarboard) onta Smarty Mouse, an’...

Jon: I get it. What kind of adhesive do you intend to use?

Matty: This one. I don’t see no problem wi’ it.

(Matty hands Jon a crumpled glue tube. Jon unrolls it to find a strip of masking tape blocking the back label. Jon peels this off, raises the tube and reads loudly.)

Jon: ‘Warning: Avoid All Contact With Eyes And Skin.’

Matty: (less embarrassed then annoyed) Well, we never had no trouble with it before. An’ they’re just mice!

Jon: (looking Matty straight in the eye- he’s dealt with this type) I’d better make something clear. The whole reason I became a Humane Society observer is because I believe that animals- any animals- used in media productions deserve to be treated decently. If I catch this studio in non-compliance of the guidelines, I will make report to the proper authorities, and I’ll include your name, and you will be brought up on charges. (pokes Matty in the chest.) Do we understand each other?

Matty: (tightly angry) Yeah, we do, already!

Jon: Then get yourself down to Stores, and bring back an approved tactile adhesive.

Matty: (going, while muttering to himself) I gotta talk ta the old man, about getting that pipsqueak replaced.

(Just as Matty reaches the Sound Stage entrance, Sharlay enters.)

Matty: (reflexively) Hello, Nurse!

Sharlay: (barely glancing at him as she passes) Grow up, Junior.

Matty: (fuming a moment, before calling after her) Well, you’re too fat!

(Sharlay ignores this completely. Matty exits, chuckling at his own cleverness.)

(As Sharlay approaches the mouse cages, Jon politely steps in her path.)

Jon: Pardon me, Ms; I just need to make sure you have official business with the animals. (Sharlay points out her badge, Jon checks it.) You’re a writer here?

Sharlay: Well, to tell the truth, I just got fired. Creative differences with the producer- he didn’t like me straying from the prescribed formula.

Jon: From what I’ve seen of the production so far, I can believe it. (low voice) Between you and me; if any of my kids start watching this show regularly, I’ll be concerned. (normal voice) But I’m not here to do a critique, just to supervise the animal handling. I guess you want to take a last look at the mice?

Sharlay: That’s about it.

(Jon gestures permission, and goes back to inspecting the mouse accessories.) (Sharlay peers into every mouse cage, while
surreptitiously checking the pictures poking from the top of her tote bag. With every comparison, she frowns more deeply.)

Sharlay: (sotto) Calliope was right- these are stolen mice! I’m calling the cops.

(Without another word, Sharlay leaves the Sound Stage. As she steps out, Dim Guy comes in with a large cardboard box, labeled ‘Mouse Costume.’)

Dim Guy: I got the costume for the “Mouseyville” narrator!

Director: We’re not using that today- just stick it into Storage.

(Dim Guy turns toward the Storage Room door, to the right of the Set.)

(Inside Storage, Brain is just completing his rearrangements. The Storage Room has banks of  speakers and TV screens on either side, including some quite large ones, and a big cabinet dominating the far wall. Brain is atop the left bank of sets, [where the usual handy ventilation grid is]; he’s used string from a ball of twine to turn two filming cameras w/ microphones toward the wall, and has hooked up a little control switch to both of them. He flicks this to ‘On’, steps to the first camera, notes his picture now on every set on the right wall.)

Brain: (speaking into microphone) Testing! (His voice resonates through the room. Nodding with satisfaction, Brain goes to the second camera. We can see, tho he can’t, his image stepping into view on the left-wall sets.)

Brain: Testing! (Same audio result.)

(Dim Guy enters the room with the box, is slightly surprised to see Brains on every left set. Seeing this as a chance to confirm what the camera shows, Brain waves, and Dim Guy unthinkingly waves back at the TVs. Brain steps out of camera range, smiling.)

(Shrugging, Dim Guy sets down the box and returns to the Set, leaving the door slightly ajar. Noticing the ‘Mouse Costume’ label, Brain uses the ball of twine to lower himself down to the box, opens it to find a human-sized blue plush costume with a comical mouse head.)

Brain: (hefting the costume and dropping to the floor with it) I can make use of this, too!

(Brain pushes over an adjacent wastebasket, starts removing crumpled papers and stuffing them into the body of the costume. As he does this, he can hear, through the partly open door, what’s going on on the Set.)

Director’s Voice: Lose that adhesive for now, Matty. First we’ve got to give ‘Silly Mouse’ his screen test. Just put him on the platform.

Matty’s Voice: Right away, Mista Director. (Beat) Hey, quit it, mouse!

Director’s Voice: Try to get him to hold still, Matty! (small smashing sounds)

Pinky’s Voice: Hahahaha!  (medium smashing sounds)

Director’s Voice: (louder) Matty! What are you doing?

Jon’s Voice: You just be careful how you use that pencil, Mr. Krok!

(Having completed the body stuffing, Brain attaches the head, rolls several little paper cones, and sticks them in the mouth to give it sharp teeth.)

Matty’s Voice: (starting to sound desperate) I don’t know what’s got inta him, Mista...Hey! What are you... Stop that, ya crazy mouse!

Director’s Voice: Somebody call Producer Skuz! This animal has gone berserk!!

(From the Set comes even louder clunks and crashings, accompanied by a rising hubbub of alarmed human voices, punctuated by Pinky’s screaming laughter.)

Brain: (dryly gratified) It would appear that, for once, Pinky is carrying out his instructions flawlessly.

(Cut to Producer Skuz, hurrying down the hall with a cell phone at his ear and cigarette in his mouth.)

Skuz: I’m on my way- but just what do you think I pay you people to do, pull me out of meetings? With representatives of the most cost-effcient toy manufacturers in China? Yes, yes; I’ll be there in a minute! What are we trying to do, set a record for things going wrong in one day?!

(Reaching the Sound Stage One door, Skuz stows the phone, gives the ‘No Smoking’ sign a dirty look before discarding his cigarette, and charges in. Everyone in the room is staring, aghast, in the direction of the “Mouseyville” set.)

Skuz: All right; just what is the big prob... (His voice chokes off, and he also stares.)

(Pan to the former “Mouseyville” set, now reduced to low heaps of garishly-colored fragments. At the center of the ruin sits Pinky, rocking and laughing merrily, despite the several small bumps on his head.)

Skuz: What in the name of James Cameron happened here?!

Director: I don’t know, Mr Skuz! We put ‘Silly Mouse’ on the platform to do his screen test, and he... (At loss for words, Director gestures at the results.)

Skuz: (turning on Matty) You told me that mouse was trained!

Matty: (shaken) I kept hittin’ him wit the pencil, Mista Skuz, but all he did was laugh!

Skuz: (voice completely disproportionate to his size) Do You Know How Much It’s Going To Cost To Rebuild This Set !?!

(Matty is spared having to answer, by the sudden urgent entrance of Skid Krok.)

Matty: Oh, pardon me, Mista Skuz; I gotta talk ta my brother.

(Matty gratefully hurries over to the right to confer with Skid, while, in the background, Skuz starts issuing clean-up orders. Matty’s relief is diminished by Skid’s first words.)

Skid: (sotto) Matty, did you drop any kinda business card or anything, when we did the ‘Acme Labs’ job?

Matty: (also sotto) No chance a’ that, Skid! We don’t have business cards.

Skid: You musta dropped somethin! Because I just got a visit from the cops- they say they found our phone number in the lab!They searched our place, an’ didn’t find nothin’, but that Sergeant Monday said they might be back.

Voice of Sergeant Monday: And here we are.

Skid and Matty: (whirling toward voice) Huh?!

(Monday, with six substantial cops behind him, enters the sound stage. Some ways beyond them, Sharlay also comes in, wanting to see this.)

Monday: (lifting his badge to show Skuz and the film crew) Police, Sergeant Monday. We just got a phone tip, that all the recently-stolen mice we’re looking for are ensconced on this Sound Stage. And we have reason to suspect Skid and Matty Krok are the parties who stole them.

Skid: (smiling nervously) Ah, come on, offissa. Ya can ask anyone who knows us an’ they’ll tell ya; we ain’t ‘responsible’!

Matty: (same expression) Yeah! We was outta the country last Thursday... no, that was last Friday... an’ the Friday before, too! There’s gotta be some mistake!

(As they speak, the Kroks, shoulder to shoulder, back in the direction of  the Storage Room door, still partly open. With all attention on the Kroks, no one notices as Brain emerges from behind that door, carefully positioning himself against the wall beside it.)

Brain: (hissing whisper) Pssst! Skid! Matty! In here!

(The brothers turn, see the beckoning door, promptly dash inside and lock themselves in. As most of the police converge on the door, and one officer directs the muttering studio staff back, Brain manages to make his way along the wall to a clear space in view of Pinky. Brain raises an arm and makes the ‘whirly-wind’ gesture.)

Pinky: It’s time to set the Neighbor Mice free!

(Pinky happily leaps down to the cages, flinging the doors back and giving each mouse the ‘follow me’ chitter. Brain joins the group just in time to open the last cage; Diplo’s. Though concerned about the commotion, Diplo immediately bounds to Brain’s side.)

Brain: A most laudible performance, Pinky!

Pinky: Thank you, Brain! Ah, is that good?

Brain: Yess!  Now bring our friends this way!

(Brain hurries the mice over to a floor-level air vent, pulls back the grid and leads them all inside.)

Brain’s Voice: (fading out in distance) Now, Pinky, when we get to the cameras, I’ll need you to...

(Cut to interior of the Storage Room, where Skid and Matty are bracing a sturdy chair under the doorknob, ignoring the racket of pounding fists.)

Monday’s Voice, from outside: Just what do you two think you’re doing? There’s no exit from that room!

Skid: (jeering) Yeel never take us alive, Copper!

Matty: Hey-hey! Good ‘un, Skid!

(Neither man observes the line of mice emerging from the air duct onto the left bank of TV screens, and approaching the two cameras. Two new modifications have been added; lengths of twine running down to the light switch, and to the latch at the top of the big storage cabinet door. Brain stands, with Diplo and Smarty, in front of the first camera. At his gesture, Pinky and the remaining mice take their positions at the second camera.)

Monday’s Voice: Come on, boys. This stunt won’t do you any good.

Skid: (continuing to jeer) You can’t get us, Copper! We’re gonna hold out in here ‘till King Kong comes!

Matty: Or maybe even longer!

(Brain yanks the string to switch off the lights; suddenly the room is lit only by the eerie glow of the television banks.)

Skid: Hey! Why’d ya shut off the lights, Matty?

Matty: I didn’t! I thought you did!

Brain: (speaking directly into his camera’s microphone, in his most sternly authoritative voice) Skid and Matty Krok!

(The aforenamed miscreants start, looking frantically about the room for the source of that resonant vocalization.)

Skid: Who is that?

Matty: Yeah! Who is that?

Brain: It is us, the Mice!

Pinky: (sounding the harshest he’s able to) Yeah! Us, the Mice!

(The other mice begin to make chittering rodent noises- amplified, this has a most disquieting effect.)

Brain: We mice don’t like the way you’ve been treating us.

Pinky: That’s right! We don’t like it at all!

(Brain throws the switch to activate the cameras- Skid and Matty suddenly have huge angry images of Brain and Pinky glaring at them from either side.)

Matty: That’s Grouchy an’ Silly!

Brain: (pointing accusingly) You, Skid Krok, abducted me from Acme Labs, because of my large head. You compared it to an apple on a stick!

Pinky: (also pointing) And you, Matty Krok, stuck a big finger over my mouth that tasted like pencil lead! You should wash more often!

Matty: (getting unnerved) It’s gotta be somethin’ the cops are beamin’ in!

Skid: (same condition) But-but how’d they know about all that stuff?!

(The heads of the other mice appear beside Brain and Pinky, baring their teeth aggressively, chittering more loudly. Skid and Matty begin to emit frightened ‘eee-eee’  sounds, just like Sid in ‘Toy Story.’)

Brain: We have all been stolen from our homes, prodded with pencils, used in degrading and painful ways- for Your profit!

Pinky: Though I did rather enjoy the part where I got to smash up the...

Brain: Quiet, Pinky!  For your crimes against Mice, Skid and Matty Krok, you must... Pay The Penalty!!

 (Brain signals; Pinky reaches down and pulls the second piece of twine. The storage cabinet door unlatches and creaks open, revealing the mouse costume, erect and with arms outstretched. In the dim lighting, the paper-cone fangs and claws look most convincing. And as the figure starts to fall from the cabinet, it’s resemblance to an attacking giant mouse is immistakable.)

Skid and Matty: (completely freaked)  AAAAAAHHHHHHHHGG!!!!!!

(Skid and Matty bolt from the room so fast they collide with the waiting officers,  knocking everyone to the floor.)

(In the Storage Room, the mice celebrate with triumphant high-fours, muzzle-rubbing, and congratulatory hugs.)

Skid: (panicked) Don’t let him get me! Don’t let him get me!

Matty: Save us! Save us from the mice!

Monday: (picking himself from the floor and brushing off) Grown men, afraid of mice?

Skid: Jus’ get us outta here! (throws a terrified look toward storage room)

(Monday steps into the room- a moment too late to see the real mice disappearing into the air duct- turns on the light and takes a curious look around. But there’s nothing there except a crumpled blue plush heap on the floor. Monday shrugs, returns to his men.)

Monday: Officers, since these clowns are so anxious to leave the area, book ‘em with Failure to Cooperate with a Police Investigation. For now.

(The four burliest cops handcuff Skid and Matty and lead them out- they’re only too happy to go.)

Monday: Now, where are these allegedly stolen mice?

Jon: (noticing Pinky and Brain leading their rodent troop back out of the floor air vent) They’re all over here, Sergeant.

(Monday steps over, pulls from his pocket a paper with pictures of the missing mice, makes a quick comparison.)

Monday: Confirmed! Skid and Matty will do time for this! (To Jon) Son, could you please put these mice in their cages, so we can return them to their proper owners?

Jon: I’ll do that. (He proceeds to, handling the animals with proper care. Brain, deciding he has reason to remain at liberty a bit longer, slips away toward the platform.)

Monday: (turning to Skuz) Do you want to explain how your studio came to be in possession of six purloined rodents, Mr. Skuz?

Skuz: I am shocked, shocked, to discover the handlers I hired in good faith have been procuring animals by unlawful means!

Denny’s Voice: (cold) Are you really, Uncle Harold?

(Unnoticed until now, Denny has come in, carrying a folder which she now hands to Sergeant Monday. Monday opens it, frowning as he reads.)

Monday: This looks like a communication from you to the Krok Brothers, saying you want to engage their services, because you know they’ll use ‘any necessary means, not limited to legal’, to get the specific kinds of mice you need.

Skuz: (glaring at Denny with angry disbelief) You took that from of my personal files!

Denny: I overheard a conversation between Ms Sharlay and an informant. I had to check it out for myself.

Skuz: After all I’ve done for you! All the time you were just waiting for a chance to stab me in the back, so you could take over!

Denny: (sternly regretful) On the contrary, Uncle Harold. I’ve been more supportive then I should have been, of decisions you’ve made that weren’t in the best interests of this studio, or our audience. I’ve taken on duties that aren’t in any Associate Producer’s job description, because you’re family. But when you start involving Skuz Studios in seriously illegal activities... I know very well, Grandfather would never have approved of that!

(This hits home. Skuz flinches, looks toward the other studio workers, who also appear resentful. The police officers are scowling, getting ready to move in. Skuz steps back, toward the Set platform, bumping into a spotlight pole.)

Skuz: (dangerously low voice) Just one question, Denny. Who is this ‘informant’?

Brain: (jumping onto the platform) I am!  (Everyone stares)

Denny and Sharlay: (simultaneously recognizing the voice) Calliope!

Pinky: (in Jon’s hand) Does this mean we’re allowed to talk again? (Jon doesn’t know who to be more surprised at.)

Brain: I did it, to put a stop to this! (kicks a piece of the destroyed set- a miniature ‘Welcome to Mouseyville’ sign post) There’s already more then enough mind-fogging toy-infomercials around, masquerading as entertainment for juveniles!

Skuz: (unnaturally calm) Yes, it all makes sense now- the day you got here was the day this place started coming apart at the seams. I should have avoided acquiring experimental animals.

Monday: Harold Skuz, I’m going to have to place you under arrest, for Conspiracy to Commit Grand Larceny.
(For a moment Skuz looks on the verge of surrendering... then suddenly he whirls and seizes Brain. To everyone’s horror, he snatches a cigarette lighter from his pocket, and holds it under Brain’s face.)

Skuz: Everybody back! Or the rodent is toast!

Pinky: (still in Jon’s hand) Oh, no! Brain!

(The one mouse still loose on the floor, Diplo, is not only horrified, but furious. She dashes to the spotlight pole behind Skuz and begins to climb, entwining her two tails about the slippery pole for leverage.)

Denny: Uncle Harold! You can’t!

Monday: (keeping a cautious distance) Mr. Skuz, put that animal down. You’ll only make your situation worse!

Skuz: How much worse? I’m not going to get the chair for murdering a mouse, now, am I? But I’ll take real satisfaction from it!

(He moves the lighter closer to Brain, who nervously tries to turn his face away.)

(The determined Diplo reaches the top of the spotlight, just above Skuz’s head, and crouches like a cat preparing to spring. Brain, seeing her, lets out a gasp.)

Skuz: (turning attention to Brain) What’s the matter, mousey? Didn’t expect me to play so rough? (His thumb tightens threateningly on the lighter switch. Brain swallows.)

(Diplo launches herself, landing jaws first on Skuz’s thumb, chomping HARD.)

Skuz: YEEOWW!

(Skuz flings out his bitten hand, sending both lighter and Diplo flying. Diplo slams into the wall, sliding limply to the floor.)

Brain: DIPLO!

(Monday and the two cops rush Skuz- one of them grasps his hand and forces him to release Brain. Brain immediately jumps to the ground and races to Diplo, now laying motionless. He tenderly cradles her head, an anguished expression on his face. Jon, with Pinky, also hurries over, followed by Sharlay.)

Monday: (looking over from where the cops are hand-cuffing Skuz) Do you need any help there, Son?

Jon: (kneeling to carefully examine Diplo) I have a veterinary degree- I can handle it.

Brain: (sick with anxiety) Will she be all right? (Pinky, similarly upset, moves behind Brain and sets hands on his shoulders.)

Jon: There’s no serious injuries. She’s just knocked out.

Sharlay: (poking her finger into the wall’s padding.) It’s lucky for her, these are sound-insulated walls.

(Diplo’s beautiful brown eyes slowly open, and she smiles bravely up at Brain. Brain is relieved beyond words.)

Pinky: (hugging Brain around the neck) Oh, thank you, Diplo, thank you! You saved Brain’s life!

Sharlay: (admiring) Who’d have thought such a shy little mouse would have such courage?

(In the background, the fuming Skuz is hauled away by the police, Monday reading him his rights as he goes. Beyond them, the crew proceeds to clear away the mess.)

Jon: I should take Diplo to the Humane Society clinic, where she can get some medication and rest undisturbed. She’ll probably be fine by tomorrow morning.

Sharlay: I live near there. (to Pinky and Brain) Perhaps you two should spend the night at my place. We can pick up Diplo first thing after breakfast.

Brain: (grateful) That would be most appreciated.

Sharlay: Well, I do owe you one. You’re my Muse.

(Sharlay produces a clean handkerchief, folds it to make a soft bed. While she’s doing this, Denny comes up to them.)

Denny: How is Diplo?

Jon: I think she’ll be okay. She just has to sleep off the shock. (He eases Diplo onto the handkerchief.)

Denny: I’m glad. And, Jon, I needed to talk to you.

Jon: (standing, with Diplo in hand) What about?

(Sharlay also stands, tucking Brain and Pinky carefully into the top of her tote bag.)

Denny: With the, departure, of Producer Skuz, I’m now acting Head of this studio. And I want to avoid any trouble of this sort in the future. I’d hoped you could use your Humane Society resources to provide me with a list of legitimate animal suppliers and handlers.

Jon: No problem. Will you be wanting replacement mice?

Denny: Not at this time. I’m canceling the “Mouseyville” production. (rolling eyes) I honestly think it’s the most ill-conceived idea for a series my Uncle has ever had.

Pinky: Even worse then ‘Superpizzaman’?  And ‘Red Hot Kumquat Coyotes’?

Denny: Even worse. (to Sharlay) I think, for our next project, I’d like to do an ‘entertaining-and-informative’ show about animals, based on your children’s books. Could you possibly convert  them to script form?

Sharlay: Certainly!

Denny: Good! You are officially rehired as writer- try to have a script ready by next week. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a clean-up to supervise. (walks back to Set)

Sharlay: (giving Brain a bemused look) I guess that’s Mission Accomplished, Calliope.

Brain: My name is Brain.

Pinky: And I’m Pinky!

Jon: Well, Brain, Pinky; let’s be off to the clinic. (to Sharlay) Can you give us a ride?

(Jon and Sharlay leave. Sharlay considerately carries her tote bag high, so Brain can keep Diplo in sight. He smiles at her encouragingly. Diplo returns the smile, before dropping off to sleep. Brain continues smiling a moment, then turns his face away, completely melancholy.)

Pinky: You should be happy, Brain- your plan worked! And Jon said Diplo is going to be all right.

Brain: It isn’t that. (He closes his eyes, murmurs to himself) I can’t think about it now. I’ll have to think about it tomorrow...

(Pullback shot of Jon and Sharlay getting into her car, driving from the Studio. Cut to outside shot of the Humane Society clinic. The car pulls up, Jon gets out and carries Diplo inside, Sharlay drives away.)

(Time-lapse image of night falling over the clinic, the moon crossing the sky, sunrise.)

(Resume real time. Sharlay’s car parks in front of the clinic again. Close in as Sharlay gets out. Pinky and Brain are in the passenger seat, Brain looking sadly resigned.)

Sharlay: Perk up, Brain; be glad that she’s fully recovered. (glancing at Pinky) And try to keep Pinky out of trouble, ‘til I get back.

Brain: I will.

(Sharlay shuts her door and goes into the clinic.)

Pinky: (regarding Brain with concern) Are you sure you want to do this, Brain?

Brain: It isn’t a matter of wanting to. It’s a matter of, recognizing reality.

Pinky: But if the gene splicer...

Brain: (haunted expression) Don’t even bring that up! You remember what the results were, the last time I tried to use it that way.

Pinky: But that won’t happen with Diplo- she already loves you.

Brain: Yes. And I have, similar feelings for her. But the fact remains; even if I did give her comparable intelligence, we would still belong to different worlds. Diplo is a wild creature- she could never be happy living in the lab. And can you even imagine me spending my whole life scampering among dead leaves, scratching out burrows, nosing around for seeds?

Pinky: (downcast) I guess I understand. It just seems so...(trails off)

Brain: (equally downcast) Yes. It does.

(Sharlay emerges from the clinic with a small cardboard carrying case, Jon seeing her off at the door. Brain smiles in anticipation at her approach. Sharlay opens the passenger-side door of her car, and carefully releases Diplo from the case.)

Sharlay: Look who’s here, Diplo!

(Seeing Brain, Diplo eagerly runs to him, setting her paws on his shoulders and nuzzling her face against his. Brain returns the embrace in kind; for a moment the two appear completely happy. Pinky, just beyond, looks more regretful then ever.)

(The following scenes are shown while Brain sings a VO, to a tune resembling ‘My Heart Will Go On.’ Sharlay drives out of the city, her passengers nestling behind their collective seat belt. Diplo, looking fully content, rests with her head against Brain’s shoulder, her tails playing about his ears. Brain, trying to enjoy these last moments with Diplo, pats her head. Pinky says nothing, but stays supportively close. The car drives past a Game Refuge sign and into a forested area; Diplo, catching the wilderness scent, lifts her head and sniffs with interest. The car parks beside an ‘intermediate growth’ wood, the passenger door
opens and Diplo enthusiastically leaps forth. Brain and Pinky follow at a more moderate pace. Sharlay watches them sympathetically, but stays in her car, to allow them privacy.  Diplo frisks joyfully about in the leaf litter, pausing briefly to sniff at rocks, twigs, mosses and herbs, as if greeting old friends.)

Brain VO:  Born in the shade of deciduous forest
 No other place is your home,
 Though you have moved me, I can’t keep you by me,
 I must continue alone...

  I have, a World to win,
  Sometimes that’s a harsh fate to bear,
  I can’t, discard it for you,
  No matter how much I may care...

 Each time I look on a woods or a wildflower
 I’ll be remembering, true;
 A mouse with two tails and the heart of a Hero,
 Never another like you...

  You make, me wish I could be
  Content to live under the trees,
  I will, go on as I have
  But I’ll mourn for what never could be...

(The last line fades out over an image of the happily romping Diplo vanishing from sight among the trees, as the two lab mice watch. Brain’s ears droop to their lowest setting; Pinky sets a consoling arm across his shoulders.)

Pinky: I guess you were right, Brain. More then anything else, Diplo needs to be in her natural habitat. (Brain wipes away a tear or two.) So, I guess now it’s back to the lab, to prepare for tomorrow night?

Brain: (distracted) I guess.

Pinky: Or maybe you won’t feel like taking over the world for a while...?

Brain: (rallying) On the contrary! Taking over the world is more imperative then ever! (Pullback shot, emphasizing the beauty of the forest.) This planet needs a ruler who will see to it places like this are always preserved, for Diplo and her kind! Even if I never see her again, I’ll want to make sure her home is safe.

Pinky: This is a game refuge- isn’t it already safe?

Brain: The point is, I want to be the one who keeps it that way. Come!

(Brain marches back to the car. Pinky follows, slightly confused but glad to have his old Brain back.)

Pinky: On our way out, Brain, do you think we could pick up a game or two? Maybe ‘Monopoly’?

Brain: (as they climb back into the passenger seat) That isn’t exactly the kind of game they have here, Pinky.

Pinky: How about table tennis, then?  (Sharlay leans over and shuts their door.)

(Cut to shot of Diplo in the woods, hearkening to the distant sound of the engine starting. Suddenly realizing she’s alone, she hurries back toward the parking area, just in time to see Sharlay’s car drive out of view. Diplo’s expression saddens, but there’s also a trace of determination in it, as if she’s thinking, ‘Someday...’)

(Closing shot of Diplo in sylvan paradise, continuing to gaze down the road, her two tails curled into a heart-shape.)

THE END (?)

 

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