Poppy Street in the Snow

Dated June 16, 1981, this is the first story I wrote that featured characters from Poppy Street. The brief and direct style is typical of the way I was writing at the time, which was in the last few days of Grade 9. Literary purists will note the utter lack of character development, which makes sense since I was only going for the mindless violence. 8-)

Note the reference at the end to the dead characters being recloned. I had to come up with the "clone machine" if I wanted my stories to go for any length. I never tried to provide a satisfactory explanation for how it came to be, save for a couple of sentences near the beginning of The Snuffs, it was just treated as a fact of life in this milieu.
Copyright © Harold Reynolds, 1998.

Ernie, to practise for the big ski race tomorrow, was skiing down the big hill towards the Bottleneck, a narrow passage between two trees. His nemesis and general enemy Bert was just ahead of him. On the ski lift above, Kermit and Grover watched the drama unfold. Ernie turned on the jets on his skis and zipped past Bert, only to collide bloodily with a tree. Bert was distracted and crashed into the other. The two began swinging their ski poles to the tune of obscene language and kept at it until they were run over by a gang of "innocent" kids going through the Bottleneck.

Searching desperately for a way to avoid the blood and violence the Poppy Streeters adored, one of the producers of the show had had the idea of winter sports, to show the audience the joys of skiing. The Poppy Streeters had different ideas.

There were three main gangs whose members were united against the other gangs but still enjoyed fighting amongst each other. Bert led the first one, whose primary members were Kermit, Grover and Big Bird. Ernie led the second, with Oscar the Grouch, the Snuffelopagus and Cookie Monster. The aforementioned and their gangsters were all dedicated to the overthrow of Bob and Susan's gang, who were the head honchos of Poppy Street and had been since the beginning. They decided that the slopes would be the perfect places for "accidents" to happen to them, and Bob and Susan knew it too. The only reason they were still in power was that they had an army of "innocent" kids, Gordon and Mr Hooper.

During the night, the gangs were not slack. They set booby-traps all over the race courses, and often in the same places, like the ski jump, without knowing it. By dawn, all was set. A splinter group of Muppets and "innocent" kids had formed during the night under the leadership of Guy Smiley.

The next day was sunny and cold. An hour after the contestants' breakfasts, the filming of the "Poppy Street Snow Special" was begun. The first event was the bobsled race. There were three bobsled runs, one for each old gang, which criss-crossed each other many times before reaching the end ten miles down. Two three-man sleds from each gang were poised on the brinks of their respective slides awaiting the starting signal. The race began with three bangs and a hail of blood and body parts as the judges unwittingly detonated their stopwatch-bombs. Down the slides went the sleds, their riders unable to see over the edges and wondering if they would collide at an intersection.

At one junction, Kermit, Bert and Grover's sled and Ernie, Oscar and Cookie Monster's sled were converging. Bert's sled made it first and Ernie, not one to miss a golden opportunity, made a sharp turn into Bert's lane. Whenever the sleds came within sight of each other, shots were exchanged from their fore and aft machine-guns. All along the bobsled runs, similar scenes were occurring with great regularity, with many a switch to different runs. There were the odd collisions and fights broke out until the sleds were untangled. All was going well until Guy Smiley and friends began dropping jet-propelled bottles of nitroglycerine down the runs from the starting points.

When the sledders saw them coming, they avoided them or very gently caught them with nets and turned them around, often to the surprise of a trailing adversary. At the top of the hill, Guy grinned with glee whenever he saw an explosion. One of his cronies was standing at the mouth of an entrance when a bottle shot out and hit him on the chest. The explosion splattered Guy with gore and caused him to topple into another entrance. He grabbed an upgoing bottle, turned it around and sped full speed down the icy chute on his stomach.

The first sled to exit the runs was that of Bob, Susan and Mr Hooper, despite all efforts to stop them. Then came Bert, Ernie and company, sliding on various parts of their anatomies, followed by pieces of their sleds and gunners. But of the 36 people in the event, only nine were blown up. When everyone was getting on the lift back to the top of the mountain, Guy Smiley shot from a run, still clutching the bottle, and steered himself towards Bob and Susan, who were well on their way to the top.

He was five feet away when the engine sputtered and died. He wailed and began a slow parabolic arc towards the ground. In a last desperate attempt, he flung the bottle at them, but missed by a large margin. Tumbling end-over-end, he plummeted into a snowdrift unhurt, much to the chagrin of the watchers. The bottle hit a cameraman and exploded with a flash of gore.

Once the Poppy Streeters had reached the top of the mountain, they donned their skis for the slalom race. This was uneventful, except for the occasional destruction of an "innocent" kid. The downhill race, however, was a real blast. Again the race began in a cloud of bloody shreds as the stopwatch bombs exploded. The three waves of skiers sped down the slope towards the Bottleneck. The idyllic atmosphere was shattered when Mr Hooper struck a land mine and erupted, splattering everyone. The racers goggled at the bloody crater in the snow. There were several collisions and more explosions. Cookie Monster was next, being spread around by another mine. The competitors began to get worried.

An "innocent" kid named Fred was in the lead. He was zipping towards the Bottleneck when he saw a trip wire ahead of him. He tried to jump but was too late, for his skis were under the wire. His body whirled around it and he landed head-first in the snow. Over the clattering of machine-guns, the blast caused by Fred could be heard, as well as seen because of the spurting blood. The Poppy Streeters were now blowing up with sickening regularity. A solid phalanx of Muppets who had somehow avoided death approached the Bottleneck. One by one they were blasted into bleeding pulps as they went through. The guarding trees became red and dripping, forming gory icicles. No Muppet survived.

There was only one person who made it to the finish line in one piece. She broke the tape, which triggered hidden machine-guns. The bullet-ridden corpse was blown onto the thin ice of a small pond, which broke. Bubbling red, the cadaver sank out of sight. On the hill, body parts steamed and spurted. Most of the snow turned into red slush before it refroze.

The Poppy Streeters at the top of the hill, however, were unperturbed by this gory loss of life. It was quite commonplace back home. They were busy preparing for the ski jumping competition. In this, all the surviving main characters and other ones would see how far they could go. The Snuffelopagus was volunteered to go first. When he was halfway down, someone pushed the waiting Big Bird. He had just caught up to the other when they rocketed off the end and landed on the caretaker with an audible squelch. The two grabbed places on the lift, bloodstains visible. Bert was to go next. He was just about to push off when an explosion rocked the ski jump. He quailed.

"Aw, go on!" sneered Oscar. "It was just a harmless explosion. Nothing could possibly happen!" There was another bang and the icy ramp upon which they were waiting tilted 80 degrees and everybody slid down in three heaps. The first contained Big Bird and the Snuffelopagus, who had fought their way to the front. They became the world's first organic volcanoes when they slid over a pressure bomb. Blood, feathers and fur sprayed everywhere.

There were more explosions as the other piles hit bombs and mines. Bodies and bits of ski jump were thrown all over the place. Then the bottom supports of the jump were destroyed and several Poppy Streeters foolish enough to be caught on the hillside were decapitated, skewered or vivisected by flying boards. When the smoke had cleared and the gore had frozen, it was found that none of the major characters save Big Bird and Snuffelopagus had been killed. Some were bruised, cut or uninjured. It was lunch time.

During lunch, Ernie, Bert and Guy Smiley were sitting at the same table discussing various ways of knocking off Bob and Susan. Since the next event was a mystery to all but the surviving judges, the three had no fixed plans. Then, the objects of their discussion walked in and announced:

"The next event will be a snowperson-making contest!" Everyone sniggered at the word "snowperson".

"What's a snowperson?" asked someone.

"If you have to ask, you wouldn't understand," smugged Susan.

"If someone made an effigy of you, it would be a snowthing!" The eaters roared with laughter. Susan pulled out a submachine-gun and began spraying bullets all around. The crowd pulled out their guns and fired back. The battle continued until the bell summoning them to the next event honked.

This event took place in a large forest clearing at the top of the mountain. All were wearing mini-skis for speed of movement. Ernie, Bert and Guy Smiley's gangs, after building their snowpersons, began building massive snow forts, using small heaters to change snow to ice. The floors were sanded to avoid slipping. Seeing what they were up to, Bob and Susan rapidly emulated them. Within the hour, both sides had six forts.

It was Oscar who threw the first snowball. The battle raged, everyone was having loads of fun and yet little physical harm was being done. Many modified weapons helped: crossbows, catapults and slingshots. Kermit realized that the war would continue indefinitely unless something was done, so he packed some snow around a grenade, pulled the pin and fired it from his crossbow. It hit a turret of Susan's fort and detonated, destroying it and its occupants with a gory flash of snow. The others caught on. Soon the forts were blasted to bloody chunks of ice, snow and corpses. Artillery barked and Poppy Streeters exploded. The battle was now being fought hide-and-seek style in the forest. Oscar was rubbing out any "innocent" kids within range of his anti-tank gun when one sneaked up from behind and dropped a star-shell into his garbage can. There was a white flash and Oscar's scorched and mutilated corpse rocketed over the trees, dropping bits and pieces all the way.

Bob and Susan, with help from re-enforcements, took the offensive. The Muppets decided to fall back to the nearby city of Bongoville to meet their re-enforcements. They strapped skis to their artillery and sped down the treed slopes. Ernie was at the end of the retreat and racing for his life. Behind him were four "innocent" kid thugs who shot at him whenever they got the chance. Ernie suddenly broke through the forest and saw the highway ahead. Using the momentum he had built up, he easily jumped it. Just as the thugs approached it, a huge trailer truck rounded the bend. Ernie stopped to see if they would make it. He saw them make wild leaps...and heard four distinct splats and saw gore and ski equipment spurt over the top. He moved to one side and a mangled head oozing brains landed where he had been standing with a plop.

By the time Ernie had raced to the city, it had been fortified and a crude wall built around it. Bob and Susan's first thrust was massacred, but before the Muppets could regroup the kids and adults breached the wall and moved in. The battle had become a full-fledged war. Tanks and artillery duelled viciously, killing all in their paths. TV cameras whirred.

Grover and 20 Muppets (originally 40) were patrolling a street with their bazookas. They turned a corner and ran into a patrol of kids. All 30 of the latter were blasted to bloody shreds. This attracted a tank squad. The two groups exchanged fire and five minutes later the six tanks were blazing hulks and Grover had five men left, all bloody. Scenes like this prevailed throughout Bongoville. After two hours, all that was left were burning buildings and tanks. Corpses and body parts were lying everywhere in pools of congealing or frozen blood. All that was left of Grover was a dogtag stuck to a wall by a tendon.

Guy Smiley, somehow, had survived the carnage. He sneaked aboard the cameramen's plane before it took off for Poppy Street. When it arrived, he parachuted out over the city. The clones of the dead Streeters, made as soon as they were killed, were waiting and saw him bail out. Guy was hit by a flack shell and disintegrated, soaking all below with his insides. His clone appeared on the ground, all ready for the next show. It, too, got drenched, much to his outrage.

"Spoilsports! Party poopers!" he shouted, but was ignored.

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