The Snuffs

The exact time that I finished this story, and its immediate sequel The Great Poppy Street War, is uncertain, however it was during the summer of 1981 just as my creative juices were beginning to flow. This is the first story featuring the Snuffs (name changed here from Smurfs to avoid copyright infringement) and their nemeses the Shorties, who were both very popular at the time. Why I latched onto them I don't know, but I suspect it had to do with their oh-so-smarmy nicey-nicey aspect promoted in the TV cartoons / commercials. Being the contrary type, I wanted to show the "real" side of them and of Poppy Street. The Snuffs would be a focus of my warped creativity for the next six years.
Copyright © Harold Reynolds, 1998.

The Snuffs before the arrival of Papa Snuff were much different from the Snuffs we know today. Without him, they were like Poppy Streeters, only somewhat more vicious. The Snuffs are three apples tall (about a foot or so), blue and have little vestigial tails. They are masters of the low blow, the gang-up and rubouts and have a fascination for anything sharp. They are also crack shots and very handy with all sorts of "equalizers".

The Snuffs first appeared from a grove of magic mushrooms, made magic by a drunken wizard passing through. In his random babblings, he cast a spell and passed out. Out came 200 Snuffs which were highly intelligent, very industrious, and peaceful. Periodically the mushrooms produced more Snuffs to replace those who had died in accidents, etc. This continued for some time until a great wizard Snuff created the Clone Machine System with a series of powerful spells after the flight to the island. These machines replaced anything that met a violent death and put it a minimum of ten feet away in open air where death was not likely to happen immediately. They also reclaimed the bodies and blood after a time, if nothing had happened to them, like ingestion.

The Snuffs then ran across humans, who launched a war of extermination against them. As a result, the Snuff population retreated to a large, mostly forested island, depleted to about 100 strong. The great wizard Snuff, who was still alive, installed the Clone Machine system here, buried well below ground level, but died before the spell could fully come into operation. Not all the Snuffs went to the island or settled in the one village; there were a few other ones scattered about the island which did not have clone machines. The Snuffs now spent their time fighting each other in the village.

The Coming of Gargamel

Dawn broke in the little Snuff village hidden in the forest with the staccato chattering of a machine-gun, followed by the bang of a mine and the scream of the unfortunate Snuff who had stepped on it. A relatively peaceful start. A patrol of ten Snuffs, led by Hefty, was sneaking down a dark alley, at the end of which there was the village square. They burst out, surprising an equal number of Snuffs led by Grouchy.

"I hate battles!" snarled the latter, opening fire. The square was raked with bullets and those not under cover were shredded, sending gore flying all over.

"Thank goodness for those clone machines," muttered Hefty, just before he was blasted. He reappeared 20 feet away in an empty house which, like the others, was built like a bunker and could withstand anything thrown at it. He found a loaded grenade launcher, stuck it through a slit window and proceeded to decimate Grouchy's forces with flashes of gore.

It was now time for breakfast, so Hefty gathered what men were left and began eating the corpses--raw. Naturally, the Snuffs had long ago become immune to food poisoning and other nasty things carried in dead flesh. The group had to eat on the run because Greedy's gang attacked. Suddenly, an idea struck him. His clone ran under a white flag to Greedy and asked if he would like to join up with him so that they could conquer and rule the village together. Greedy was hesitant.

"Just think what would happen if we had peace," wheedled Hefty. "We could actually have real food again!" Greedy began wavering. "Cake! Cookies! Apple pies! Plum pudding!" Greedy was salivating so much he could barely talk. The two gangs pooled their weapons and launched an attack on Handy's territory. The latter was forced to recruit Clumsy and Grouchy to help stop the "Hefty Menace". Hefty and Greedy got Snuffette and Vanity, the other three got Lazy and Farmer Snuff, and so on. The war, which had been in progress for six months after the wizard's death, was now bloodier than ever, with the village divided between Hefty and Handy. Because of the erratic clone relocations, Snuffs and arms and ammo caches kept popping up everywhere and the organized battles always degenerated into shoot-'em-on-sight battles. Casualties were always heavy and Greedy got killed several times while stuffing his face with corpses.

During this period of strife, Gargamel and his cat Asriel arrived in the forest. Gargamel was a balding, two-bit, evil, shabby wizard whose spells constantly backfired. He had just made himself scarce from Poppy Street City at the south end of the island. For a celebration, he was supposed to set off large quantities of fireworks. He was renowned for his beautiful fireworks--when they worked properly. In this case, the first one exploded, setting all the others off in one colossal detonation that killed six thousand spectators. Both Gargamel and Asriel had taken the usual precautions of being far away and were saved from the effects of the blast. They also were saved from the effects of the wrath of the city's residents by the distance and ran off.

"Well, it was pretty," he mused.

After a day and a half of travel into the hills, the two encountered an old, run-down castle. Inside they found a large library of spell books and a well-stocked lab. Gargamel pulled out a book marked "Transformations" and randomly read a spell.

"Ooble gooble wabba wump!" A chair, which his finger had been pointing to, turned into a puddle of slime. There was no food in the ancient fridge, so they went a-hunting, Gargamel with his trusty machine-gun. They had wandered in the forest for half a luckless hour when they heard shooting in the distance. Following a path, the wizard and the cat turned a corner and saw the little Snuff village, racked by one of its major battles, and saw a Snuff get blown up and reappear elsewhere. Gargamel's mouth was gaping when a desiccated Snuff accelerated up, out of the village and into his mouth. He was surprised.

"Hey, these things are good, Asriel!" he exclaimed. The two marched swiftly through the cleared zone around the village, grabbed some corpses and stuffed them into a sack. By now the Snuffs had noticed the pair towering over them and did what they normally did in strange situations: opened fire. The attackers howled in pain and Gargamel opened up with his machine-gun. Snuffs and blood spurted everywhere, clogging the already-strained storm sewers and creating lakes of gore. However, the Snuff heavy artillery blew them up.

Gargamel and Asriel reappeared at the edge of the village and hastily vanished into the forest and back to the castle. There, Gargamel attempted to modernize the fridge with the "Transformations" book. He turned it into, in succession, 200 pounds of dirt, a bureau, a cord of wood, six barrels of "Old Overcoat" and finally an as good as new electric refridgerator. With more spells he created an electric generator, an oven, a sink, repaired the plumbing and turned the castle into a fortress as an afterthought. Then they ate supper.

Back at the Snuff village, the Snuffs were busy recovering from Gargamel's attack. With fighting stopped, the clone machine repossessed the bodies and gore and generally prettied things up. Handy called a meeting in the square.

"Friends, Snuffs, countrymen! A new menace has arrived. You saw that man, doubtlessly a wizard, attack our village and take some corpses away to eat! We must be ready when he comes back so we can track him to his lair and blow him up!"

"But Handy," said Brainy, "to be effective against him, we must grow up to human size! How can we do that?"

"I have created a clone machine that will increase us and our possessions to human size in one go. From then on, the regular clone machine should take over and keep us that way."

"AHA!" came a loud voice suddenly. "THERE you are!" Gargamel's towering form appeared over them.

"Here goes!" said Handy loudly and pressed a button on the podium. The entire village blew up with a single huge explosion. Gore and body parts sprayed all about, some being flung for miles. A large cloud of dust and smoke rose and slowly dispersed, revealing the brand-new village with the brand-new Snuffs. Gargamel's face fell as he surveyed the scene, but instinct and years of experience made him turn about and run away at full speed, with the Snuffs hot on his heels, some with artillery.

The wizard groped desperately in his many deep and often secret pockets and found ten grenades, which he threw in rapid succession and reduced thirty Snuffs to fertilizer and red "paint". While they were regrouping, he strung several razor-sharp trip wires at varying heights and intervals along the path, as well as planting some land mines under some leaves. To culminate his "surprises", he placed some of his "special" fireworks along the path near the clearing where his house/fort was. He promptly made good his escape into the building.

Harmony, Dreamy and Vanity were at the head of the new column. They were barrelling down the path when suddenly they discovered that their legs were missing below the knees. They writhed on the ground in agony, spurting blood, until they were mercifully shot by their comrades. Several other Snuffs got decapitated when they stooped to search for more wires. Their bodies staggered around fountaining blood until they collapsed. Wire cutters were rushed to the area and the wires were cut as soon as they were found. A total of twenty more wires were found, by twenty now-dead Snuffs. A little further on, another wire was found, this time by Lazy. A loud clattering ensued and ten Snuffs were reduced to piles of bleeding meat. The land mines were found soon after, with even more death and destruction resulting.

Back at the castle, Gargamel was desperately thinking of ways of preventing the Snuffs from overrunning it. He transformed Asriel into a human to give him a hand. Then, he had a perfectly evil plan. He looked for and quickly found a volume on explosions. With some magic ingredients from a cupboard, the two mixed up a cauldron of a foul, green glop.

"Bubble, bubble, evil brew," chanted Gargamel, "explode all things that are blue! In a circle, thousand feet, from my castle, tout de suite!" The broth burped once and a bright yellow line appeared around the building, with signs posted every twenty feet. Fortunately, neither Gargamel nor Asriel had blue eyes. A cup and saucer did explode, though, as well as a patch of flowers outside and a rabbit which was eating them. The Snuff army was warily creeping along the path until they reached another trip wire. Before he could be stopped, Clumsy fell over it. A hissing sound, accompanied by flashes of light began. Everyone save Clumsy ran.

"Ooh, what pretty fireworks! Come and look!" The rest cautiously peeped out and "ooh"ed and "aah"ed at the giant Roman Candle. When it ran out, the running fuse lit a large Volcano. It fizzled, uttered a high-pitched squeal and blew up, sending shrapnel flying everywhere. Snuffs were cut up like salamis. Blood ran in rivers and streamed off trees.

"Oh no!" shrieked Snuffette. "I see another one! And another! They're all around us! Run!" But it was too late. The panicking Snuffs were blasted into a goop that had a consistency of strained turnips. Vegetation and trees were chopped up by the blasts and this was mixed with the liquefied Snuffs and bloody muck to form a very nauseating sight. Gargamel and Asriel, who were watching through binoculars, barfed because of it. Fortunately, the window was open. Once the Volcanoes had ceased erupting, the Snuffs ceased dying and being cloned and gathered up their scattered weapons. It took half an hour to clean them off.

Once they were done, they marched to the yellow line.

"Do not cross this line unless you want something to happen to you!" Farmer Snuff read. Poet Snuff promptly trotted across the line and stood on the other side. Without warning, he exploded, coating all with a fine, red spray. He reappeared at the end of the contingent. Others tried, but with the same results.

"Okay," said Handy, "set up your your guns along the line. Greedy! This is NOT the time for a snack!"

"Sorry," mumbled Greedy with a spray of cake crumbs. Ten minutes later, Handy gave the order to fire. The guns fired and Asriel returned fire while Gargamel investigated an idea.

"AHA! The perfect and ultimate weapon! Cafeteria food!" He conjured up a whole pile of stuff such as lasagna, egg rolls, fish and chips, burgers and hotdogs. "Hmm," he said, studying a label on a sandwich. "Property of Poppy Street Central Secondary School. Excellent! The deadliest variety known!" He loaded the special catapults and fired. The "food" did more damage than the Volcanoes did. One burger was powerful enough to knock out a howitzer and take several Snuffs with it. A red fog formed between the two factions because of the deaths.

"Good grief! They're throwing cafeteria food at us! We're doomed!" exclaimed Greedy.

"Not yet!" said Painter Snuff. "I managed to catch some stuff that didn't explode and cloned it. Now let's give Gargamel a taste of his own medicine!" The Snuffs' catapults fired and, through the fog, they saw the fort blow up. Jokey gasped:

"What firepower! Imagine what the rebellions at Central must be like!" He stashed some away for later use in his "presents".

The Snuffs continued firing until they were sure the fort was destroyed. They then picked up their weapons and returned to their village, singing their song, which consisted of lots of "la's". In the fort, the clones of Gargamel and Asriel lay in the rubble. All the spells had stopped working and most of the books had been destroyed. The wizard packed what was left in a large suitcase.

"I hate Snuffs!" he snarled for all to hear. "I'll get you! I'll get all of you if it's last thing I ever do!" The two squished off to find a new house while the Snuffs laughed.

The Coming of Papa Snuff

The Snuffs, on their return journey, had to take a different route to avoid the bloody messes left by Gargamel's booby-traps. Fifteen minutes of quick marching brought them back to the familiar, but larger, bunkers. By mutual consent, which hadn't existed for ages, they agreed to have a big party for the rest of the day. All weapons were locked up in each Snuff's private armoury. Food and beverages, mostly intoxicating, were laid out on huge tables in the village square and the revelry began. Lazy fell asleep while leaning against a bunker and slowly slid to the ground. Vanity set up his self-portrait collection for all to see and gave Jokey a swift kick when he caught him adding moustaches.

He also set up his mirror collection to augment his personal hand mirror, while Jokey set up his collection of trick mirrors across the way and then started giving out his "presents" to the gullible Snuffs. Clumsy constantly stumbled over and crashed into things until Dreamy, Hefty and Poet Snuffs grabbed him and tied him to a chair. Snuffette fed him by hand because she thought he was cute. At another table, Greedy was stuffing his face with whatever he could reach. The party organizers had anticipated this and provided a special table which cloned the food as fast he could eat it. After an hour, he passed out. In the general atmosphere of happiness (except for Grouchy, who was having one of his best sulking spells ever) Hefty and Handy formally agreed to end the war. Then, someone arrived. He was a Snuff, increased to human size by the clone machine, and wore a red cap (not white like the others) and clothes and had a full white beard and moustache. Greedy and Lazy were kicked awake.

"Who are you?" asked Brainy in the hush that fell.

"I am Papa Snuff," said the newcomer, "the sole survivor of a village of Snuffs that was wiped out by humans. I have walked for ten days in search of the Lost Village of the Snuffs, which is this one, and was attracted by the sounds of revelry. I would like to stay with you because you are the last of our kind." The others conferred for a little bit.

"Seems fine with us," said Snuffette. "The houses may take a bit of getting used to because we just finished a long civil war." She told him of what had happened after the great wizard Snuff had died and the quick descent into violence and backstabbing. "We were debating about what the new designs of the houses should be."

"I have pictures and plans of the houses of my previous village in my pack," said Papa, taking them out. "They look like mushrooms to blend in with the forest floor, although their size will make them somewhat conspicuous to any human passerby." Suddenly there was a tremendous rumble and the village blew up for the second time that day. After the red fog had settled and the bits of masonry and gushing body parts had stopped falling, the recloned Snuffs gazed around them in speechless astonishment.

The first thing they noticed was that they had shrunk down to their normal size. All around them, houses shaped exactly like the ones in Papa Snuff's plans were placed. They were scattered around a central space like a fairy ring, with a couple of rings of houses surrounding a large, grassy, central space. The Snuffs rushed off to their new houses, which even had name tags on the front doors, babbling excitedly. Even the usually unflappable Papa and Grouchy were scooting around, with Papa finding a big, well-equipped lab with everything a magician could wish for. All of the Snuffs drifted back to the central area, gabbling excitedly.

"QUIET!" bellowed Papa Snuff. They shut up. "Does anybody have any idea why this happened?" Handy spoke up.

"I think it was the clone machine. Remember the one I made to make us human-sized? Well, the field of power was only for 99 Snuffs. Papa's arrival overloaded it and it blew. I believe, judging by your lab, that you are a good and powerful magician."

"It seems strange that this happened just as he was showing us his plans," interrupted Brainy in his usual offensive way.

"That may indicate that he is even more powerful than even he realizes," retorted Hefty. "I nominate Papa Snuff to be the new leader of the village!" Every Snuff cheered wildly, even Grouchy, a sure sign of acceptance. Harmony gave him a triumphant fanfare which, as usual, was horribly off-key and made everybody wince.

Thus began the Golden Age of the Snuffs. It was a time of happiness, peace and prosperity for the village. Under the guidance of Papa Snuff, the River Snuff was dammed and a small hydro station built. A bridge was also built so that the Snuffberry patches on the other side could be reached easily. Jokey kept things lively by dishing out explosive "presents" to the ever-gullible Snuffs, who would always have them blow up in their faces. He also planted booby-traps of the messy but non-lethal type. Lazy was always trying to avoid work and was often bawled out for sleeping on the job. His favourite hiding place was the well, where he would sleep in the bucket. Whenever Jokey found him there, he would drop one of the more explosive of his "presents" in and it would send him rocketing up, often to crash into the pulley support at the top. Brainy liked lording over the other Snuffs when Papa Snuff wasn't around and saying that Papa Snuff would or, usually, wouldn't like what they were doing. The others found this very annoying and were constantly throwing him away from them. Generally, the Snuffs did as their names implied.

This period of happiness and contentment lasted for nearly a year. Then Gargamel was spotted by Snuffette and Grouchy as they were picking Snuffberries in the woods and she was seducing him. They hurried back to the village, Snuffette cursing her foul luck.

"Oh, Papa Snuff!" she wailed with a melodramatic wave of her arms. "Gargamel's back in the forest looking for us! What shall we do?" She grabbed Grouchy as he was trying to sidle off.

"Gargamel!" exclaimed Papa with a flourish, turning a blind eye to what she doing with Grouchy. "We must organize a search party and follow him to his new lair!" He ran off waving his arms and shouting, determined not to let her upstage him. She hauled Grouchy back to her house to finish the job. A few minutes later, Painter, Brainy, Jokey, Hefty, Clumsy and Vanity had been rounded up and left with Papa Snuff. After a short march they could hear Gargamel cursing and soon found him.

"Come out, Snuffs! I know you're here somewhere! I need lunch, preferably Snuff sandwiches! I'll find your village some day! ARGH!" He said the last thing because he had blundered into a hawthorn bush. "Asriel, let's go home. We'll look for them after lunch." He extricated himself from the bush and marched off, with the Snuffs and cat following. They came across another old, beaten-up house that had a three-story turret on the left-hand side. In he went and the Snuffs climbed a vine to peep in a window. "The best way to get Snuff meat or to at least shorten the life of a clone is to set booby-traps all over the forest! They won't have a chance!" he cackled. The Snuffs scrambled down except for Clumsy, who got stuck and then fell on the rest.

"Well," said Papa as they marched double-time to the village, "since Gargamel can set Snuff traps, why can't Snuffs set Gargamel traps?" When they arrived, the word was spread. Soon the normally idyllic village was echoing to the sounds of hammering, sawing, forging and the occasional explosion and scream as bombs went off accidentally. The Snuffs then rushed off to populate the forest with their creations.

Harmony nearly ran into Gargamel on his rounds, but ducked into a bush and began playing "Flight of the Bumblebee" on his trumpet, though it could have been called "Fright of the Bumblebee" by the way he played it. The off-key "music" scared the wizard and the rather stupid cat and they bolted into one of Grouchy's traps. They stumbled over a trip wire and a ten-ton weight fell and squished them to a pulp.

"I hate messes!" said the nearby Grouchy gleefully, trying to lift the weight with a pulley system. It separated from the ground with a noisy slurping sound and he proceeded to scrape the mud, blood and bits of pulverized organs off the bottom. The new Gargamel and Asriel continued on their rounds, encountering one of Jokey's "presents" and discovering that it was a shrapnel bomb.

The next morning, the two baddies checked the traps and found a goodly number of dead Snuffs which, for some reason, the clone machine hadn't taken. These he collected. In the process of getting them, the two got killed six times by knives, a pit with spikes in it, trip-wired machine-guns and land mines. The Snuffs, on their daily hunt for Snuffberries, were killed in great quantities. After a while, the adversaries gave up on the more exotic of the traps and settled on Old Faithfuls, land mines that made a victim fountain like a red geyser. The entire forest was flooded with them and it became not uncommon for a Snuff, Gargamel or Asriel to get killed as many as 50 times during a stroll. The undergrowth and indigenous scavengers flourished because of the sudden supply of fertilizer and food. The Snuffs even developed a game, the object of which was to see how many times he/she could be destroyed during a specific time. Even Papa participated. A month later, Gargamel decided something else would have to be done with the little blue creatures.

"Those miserable, rotten Snuffs!" he ranted. "They've put so many mines in the forest that now I don't know if I'm stepping on one of theirs or one of mine!" He began giggling at his own pun. Suddenly, the earth trembled. A voice roared:

"Bigmouth hungry! Want goodies!" Gargamel quailed.

"Oh, no! Not him! He must have followed me from the city! Hide, Asriel!" But it was too late. The huge ogre crashed through the door, made a beeline for the fridge and began stuffing his face. Then he had a flash of inspiration. "Bigmouth! I know where you can find all the goodies you can eat! There's a little Snuff village not far from here that has tons of them! All you have to do is find it!" Gargamel had never had any luck finding the thing.

"Okay," said Bigmouth. "I look for village. Go now." Off he went, pausing every so often to snuff the air. The wizard and the cat followed at a distance. Every few minutes, one of the three would step on a mine and blow up, to reappear elsewhere. This made following difficult and soon Gargamel had lost the ogre. When he realized this, he exploded with rage several times.

Bigmouth eventually found the village, despite the frequent detours caused by mines. When the Snuffs saw him coming, they panicked, save for Papa. He calmed them and Bigmouth bellowed:

"Bigmouth hungry! Want goodies!"

"That's not the way to start a conversation!" exclaimed Brainy. "It's not pol..." He was squelched. Papa whispered:

"Get all the explosives you have! Bigmouth can eat anyone out of house and home!" They rushed off and rushed back.

"I've got a surprise for you, Bigmouth," said Jokey, giving him one of his "presents", an oversize shrapnel bomb. The ogre ate it in one gulp. He then proceeded to eat some "pies" (land mines), "candy canes" (painted dynamite), "caviar" (powdered TNT) and "muffins" (plastic explosives), washing it down with "mineral water" (nitroglycerine). Papa Snuff then gave him a "pineapple" (a live grenade) and said:

"Now run along, Bigmouth. We have no more for you." The ogre tottered off. Five seconds later, there was a huge WHUMP as all 60 kilograms of high-explosives detonated and Bigmouth turned into an expanding ball of fire and gore. The clone got the hint and ran.

The months passed. Gargamel tried all sorts of ways to get the Snuffs and find their village. He started catching them alive, but by doing so initiated frequently bloody raids by the others to rescue them. The Snuffs became easygoing and industrious under Papa's rule, unafraid of anything. This period of tranquillity lasted for several years until one day Papa had to leave.

"My little Snuffs," said Papa to the meeting he had called in the central area, "I have to go to the Mumble Mountain to gather some magic roots and herbs that only grow there. I expect to be gone for a couple of weeks, so behave yourselves. Good-bye."

"Good-bye, Papa Snuff!" the others chorused, except for Lazy, who had fallen asleep again. They waved until he was out of sight and then began to drift away.

"Wait!" cried Brainy. The others stopped and turned. "While Papa Snuff is gone, you will be needing a leader. I nominate myself." The announcement was greeted with yawns and snickers.

"Yah, Brainy," jeered Greedy, "you couldn't lead Bigmouth to a candy factory!" This remark generated gales of laughter and the crowd broke up. Later, Brainy rounded up Hefty and took him to his house. He sat behind a large desk and said:

"Hefty, I am the rightful leader of the village while Papa Snuff is away, and I want you to be master of my bodyguard. Go outside, grab the first Snuffs you see and bring them back here." Hefty went out and returned a few minutes later with Dreamy, Harmony, Handy, Poet and Farmer Snuffs, who saw something very hilarious. It was Brainy in a king's robes. "I am now King Snuff, your lord and master. STOP LAUGHING! I want you to go home, get all your weapons and bring them here!" To humour him, as well as perhaps get some excitement, the others did as requested. "You are now my personal bodyguard. Harmony, play the summons!" He did so, off-key as usual. Brainy's house overlooked the central area and he strode out onto his balcony.

"I am King Snuff, your lord and master," he said imperiously.

"No you're not!" shouted Jokey. "You are Brainy the Idiot, windbag supreme!" The others laughed.

"The first thing you shall do is build my palace."

"The first thing we'll do is throw up!" heckled Snuffette, doing so. Brainy ignored her.

"Work will commence immediately. Guards, get them moving." The six stoolies and twenty others, all with burp guns, trooped out and prodded the dazed Snuffs to work.

The job was done in three days of hard, round-the-clock labour. During these days, many of the Snuffs began grumbling as the shell-shock and the novelty wore off. Others remained "loyal" to King Brainy I. After the palace had been built, the Snuffs were organized into labour gangs, each guided by a guard. They were given very little spare time. In this time, though, Snuffette contacted Vanity, Clumsy, Greedy and Painter Snuff, all of whom were against Brainy, and told them to meet her outside the village that night. They did, by the dam, and Snuffette spoke.

"We must do something about that Brainy! He's getting more and more despotic every day!"

"We'll have to stage a coup, and soon," added Greedy, "before he decides to take away our weapons. Perhaps we could get them from our allies and us and stash them out here."

"No, wait," said Painter. "If we launch an attack, just the five of us, from outside, the others could attack from the inside." A plan was soon worked out. The next day, word was spread around to the friendly Snuffs and all was prepared. Then, something unexpected happened. Jokey wandered up to Hefty, who was guarding the front door of the palace.

"Hey, Hefty! I've got a present for ya! It's a surprise!" he said. Hefty pulled the ribbon and the shrapnel bomb detonated, blasting him to shreds. The Hefty clone appeared behind the laughing Jokey, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and dragged him into the building and before King Snuff.

"Sire, this creep gave me one of his "presents", but it was a shrapnel bomb and killed me!"

"Ho ho Hefty," giggled Brainy. "Can't you take a joke? Let him go." Jokey replied graciously.

"Oh, thank you sire! Here's a present for you!" Brainy pulled the ribbon and was vivisected by another shrapnel bomb. "Take him away to the dungeon!" shrieked the clone. "Publicly announce his sentence!" Harmony blatted the summons and the Snuffs gathered.

"For giving King Snuff a bomb, Jokey has been sentenced to imprisonment until he dies a natural death!" said Harmony.

"I hate King Snuff!" shouted Grouchy.

"BOO! Let him go!" added Clumsy. The crowd became restless, but was then dispersed by the gun-toting guards. Later, the rebel gang gathered under the dungeon tower window. Snuffette whispered:

"Don't worry, Jokey, we'll rescue you! Vanity will throw up an axe so you can chop away the masonry. Now get back." Ten nerve-wracking minutes later, the masonry was chopped away and the bars bent out. Greedy threw up a grappling iron with a rope attached. Just as the convict was sliding down, Handy rounded the corner.

"Sound the alarm! The prisoner is escaping!" Snuffette gunned him down and the six Snuffs ran off. Shots came from behind them and Grouchy rounded a corner in time to hew a guard to pieces.

"Come on! I'm on your side!" he said. In the failing light they rushed out of the village and into the forest. They found their cache of weapons and made camp.

"We attack at dawn!" said Clumsy as they fell asleep. In the morning, they had a hurried breakfast of Snuffberries and water and prepared for the attack. Dawn broke and the Snuffs stood at the top of a hill to view the situation. To their surprise, they saw that a wooden palisade had been erected all around the village. They brought two mortars to bear on the palisade and fired. The logs were torn apart by the blasts and the Snuffs charged in with the guns in tow.

Chaos broke loose. Snuffs were running about every which way, most carrying weapons. Lazy and twenty others were engaging the guards at the entrance and the two mortars of the rebels were set up again and began pounding the building. A spray of machine-gun fire forced them to seek shelter, but it was soon stopped. Then, the muzzle of a 135-mm howitzer stuck out from a turret and fired. The shells' clouds of shrapnel diced the Snuffs and gore flew.

Then Grouchy and several others came back with a 40-mm field gun and bazookas and proceeded to demolish the castle with sprays of masonry and gore. But by then, the loyalists had established themselves in the north end of the village and attacked, supported by more artillery, bazookas and recoilless rifles. The battle raged, just like in the good old days. Snuffs kept popping up in all sorts of places and houses were blasted into bloody rubble. Gore flew in sprays as the rebels desperately tried to capture alive Brainy, Hefty, Handy, Dreamy, Poet and Farmer Snuff. They did grab Dreamy once when he appeared in the middle of their lines, but he, Snuffette, Vanity and Painter were blasted by a shell and he was lost.

The war settled down into a stalemate, with neither side being able to defeat the other. They fought for the remaining week and a half until Papa Snuff returned. When he saw what was going on, he rushed into the fracas waving a white flag. The word quickly spread that he was back and slowly the fighting stopped. The Snuffs slowly trickled to the devastated central area and gathered around him. Many were blood-stained and/or smoke-stained and all were heavily armed. They shuffled uneasily and sheepishly under his accusing glare.

"Really!" he said. "I never thought that this would happen again! What's been going on here?" He was annoyed at missing all the fun. Brainy was shoved forward.

"It was his fault!" accused Lazy. "Him and his megalomania! As soon as you had left, he declared himself "King Snuff" and took control of the village!" He then continued with the details.

"Ha ha ha," giggled Brainy nervously. "Don't look at me like that! It was fun, wasn't it?"

"Brainy!" thundered Papa Snuff, "that was not a smart thing for you to have done! You and Hefty shall be punished accordingly!" Suddenly, the village appeared around them, with the exception of the castle. "Brainy shall be Clumsy's personal servant for one week and Hefty shall be Lazy's personal servant for one week." The culprits gabbled in protest.

"Thank you, Papa Snuff!" cried the other two joyously. Lazy promptly ordered Hefty to carry him home.

Thus ended the rule of King Snuff. Life returned to normal after the week had passed. Lazy rather missed having someone carry him around, but was forced back to work by Papa. This bit of peace only lasted for a few months. Then the Purple Pieman set up his fort in the far reaches of the forest. But that's another story.

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