Stuff That Happened to Thing #5
Part 16: Captain Continuity and the Magic Tea Kettle

Last time, Lord Villain was defeated. An army of...something approached. Suspense built until there was no more room to build suspense without encroaching on surrounding wetlands and other protected environments. There was a whole lot of suspense.

"Whew," Thing said, and grinned. "Now that we're back to what should have been episode 15, we have some time to figure out what to do about the monster that was chasing us a minute ago." Then he noticed the recap at the top of the page and his smile vanished. "Except that, as I now recall, at the end of episode 14 we were about to be attacked by an army of -" Thing #5 began, and almost immediately they were overrun by -

"Wait, I'm confused," said Hwango the Indistinct, interrupting the narrator.

"Anyway, there's this army thing," said Albat, prompting the narrator and trying to get things back on track.

"Which episode is this, now?" Hwango said, oblivious to Albat and the narrator.

"Well, the title is right for episode 15, so this is where we resolve the events that should have taken place in that episode," Thing said.

"Look, can we forget about all that and deal with this army of things please?" Albat said.

The army was pouring into the room. Token Female Member began hacking them to pieces with her sword, and Paranoid Boy jumped up on top of a table full of torture implements and started screaming. Captain obvious leapt into the fray and began pounding on their adversaries. Thing, Hwango, and Albat continued to argue about continuity.

"Quick!" shouted Captain Obvious, "we have to get to the Master of Apathy, Thinks Ahead Man, and Jessica!"

"There's too many of them!" Token Female Member shouted, because it was cinematically and theatrically appropriate. It was also, however, inaccurate. Her sword sliced through the ranks with brutal efficiency, and between her efforts and those of Captain Obvious, the army of -

"Ooh, he's going to say what they are!" squealed Hwango.

Shut up! The army was defeated with relative ease.

"Hrm, that was disappointing," said Thing #5.

"And anticlimactic," added Captain Obvious, sounding a bit disappointed himself. Just then, Jessica's lumbering form lumbered into the room.

"That's a lot of lumber," commented Hwango.

Jessica was carrying the wounded Thinks Ahead Man, and the Master of Apathy trailed along a few feet behind her, gazing blankly into the distance.

"Hey, shouldn't your exoskeleton still be overloaded?" Token Female Member asked.

"Well, there was this horrible continuity disaster that scrambled two episodes, and we managed to slip it in as a smaller continuity error while everyone was distracted. Thinks Ahead Man is still wounded, though," Jessica.

"We must away to our secret headquarters so he can recover!" shouted Captain Obvious.

"Did you just use 'away' as a verb?" Thing asked in disgust.

"Well, yes," admitted Captain Obvious. Thing #5 wept quietly into his hands as Hwango shook hands with Captain Obvious.

"It was an honor to meet you," Hwango said, smiling brightly.

"Thanks, Hwango," Captain obvious said. Then, because he was Captain Obvious, he added, "You're quite frighteningly stupid, and your friends are obviously insane." Hwango's smile widened, and he nodded cheerfully. "And now - Legion Away!" he shouted, and leapt through the doorway.

With that, the Legion of Thwarting followed close on his heels in a classically dramatic fashion, except for the Master of Apathy, who blinked a couple of times, shrugged, and then followed after them at a slow walk.

Hwango waved to them until they rounded the corner of the hallway, and then set off through another door.

"Where are you going?" Albat asked.

"I'm going to go exploring!" Hwango said.

"Oh, no you're not," Thing said. "I've had enough of this stupid castle. We're out of here."

Albat picked a cutlass out of the barrel of swords stuck in one corner of the torture chamber. "Ah, so that's where I got this from," he said. "I had wondered about that."

"Marvelous. Now that you're armed, and future events of the previous episode have been explained, let's leave this dreadful place," Thing said.

"It's not that dreadful," said Albat. Then he remembered that he was standing in Lord Villain's torture chamber. "Well, this room is, I suppose."

"Ooh! Buttons! Lights! Levers!" Hwango said from the next room. Thing drew a massive scimitar from the barrel of swords and marched purposefully into the room with Hwango. Horrible screaming followed soon after, but Thing noticed it behind him and slew it with the scimitar before it could start making noise.

"Did you just kill Horrible Screaming?" Albat asked, staring at the strange corpse on the floor.

"Yup. It's a play on words thing. We do it all the time," he remarked. Then he jabbed Hwango with the scimitar. "Get away from all that stuff before you make even more of a mess of this story. I swear, if I ever get my hands on the author I'm going to beat him silly for this ridiculous continuity-scrambling storyline. It's been horrible."

Trust me, no one is more sorry about it than I am. Um - ignore that. Anyway, Thing dragged Hwango away from the siren call of blinking lights and large red buttons before he was able to do any more than look at them. They left the torture chamber via the same door through which Thing and the others had entered it, and began to retrace their steps out of the castle.

The three of them walked in silence, because that way I don't have to come up with pointless, filler dialog for the time they spent leaving the castle. Eventually, they came to the back door of the castle, and Thing kicked it open, because he likes kicking things. At last they stood once again outside the Castle of Infinite Despair.

Thing #5 noticed a mobile coffee stand set up not far away. The sign above it proclaimed proudly that its coffee came from only the finest coffee mines, and that a cup of it was "Guaranteed to Instantly Addict You to Caffeine."

Thing shrugged, decided that he could always use more caffeine, and ambled over to the coffee cart. Actually, he realized when he was halfway to the cart that he was ambling, decided that he looked stupid when he ambled, and strode purposefully the rest of the way.

"A cup of your finest mangled bean beverage," Thing ordered. The girl behind the cart produced a steaming cup of dark brown liquid that one can only assume was coffee and placed it in Thing's waiting hand. Thing handed the girl $3.27 and a lump of fire coral as payment, and then began walking away from the castle. Behind him, the girl gave an outraged squeak.

"That's it?! That's my appearance in the story?! That sucked!" she screamed. "Do you have any idea how long I spent on my entry?!"

"What are you talking about?" Thing asked her.

"I entered a contest to appear in the story and won - but now I find out that my role is nothing but a woman who sells you coffee! To hell with that - I'm going to try to take over the world with an army of undead robot mushroom people, and you'll just have to try and stop me. That will be a heck of a lot more exciting."

"Hrm. Actually, they might make good leaders. What are their policies on education and tax reform?" Thing #5 said.

"What? You can't mean that you really want me to succeed taking over the world with an army of undead robot mushroom people," the girl said incredulously.

"Can't I? It sounds like such a good idea!" Thing #5 said.

"But, I don't even have an army of undead robot mushroom people!" she said, clearly frustrated.

"What?! You mean, you got our hopes up for nothing?" Hwango interjected, profoundly disappointed.

Suddenly, a door in the scenery crashed open, and another furious girl appeared.

"I can't believe you put her in the story instead of me! My entry was 10,000 times more sincere! And that bribe I sent in!" she screamed.

"Who are you?" Albat asked.

"I'm -"

"Hey, is this going to be like that army of things that no one ever got to say what they were? You know, the army of -"

"There was a contest?!" Thing #5 said, returning as close to his senses as he ever dared to come. "A contest to appear in the story?! And people entered?!"

"Yeah, I did. And I did it because I wanted to be an important part of the grand tapestry of literary genious that is the story! Not because I wanted to sell you coffee!"

Thing started at her in horror.

"'Grand tapestry?' 'Literary genious?' Is something wrong with your brain?!" Thing looked down at the coffee in his hand, thought about who had prepared it, and dumped it out in the street. "I'm not drinking anything made by anyone with judgement so obviously and fundamentally flawed."

"Hey, you can't talk to Traci that way!" the second girl said, after which she punched Thing in the face. Thing staggered back a few steps clutching his wounded nose.

"Chelsea, are you crazy?!" the girl who was apparently Traci exclaimed. "Think about who you just hit!" Chelsea looked uncertain for a moment. Thing was just standing there glaring at her with his hand still on his nose. Albat cautiously stepped closer to Thing and whispered to him.

"They're fans. Possibly our only fans. Remember Rule One of gaining popularity - Never Kill Your Fans," Albat said. Thing glared at him and lowered his hand from his face.

"I hate this job," he said. Then he turned to Chelsea and Traci, and said, "I apologize for my harsh words. You are obviously both beings of refined and enlightened taste. If you will excuse me, I must now go vent my not inconsiderable rage in a manner that will not diminish our fan base." He then turned and, screaming incoherently, began to tear chunks of stone out of the castle wall with his bare hands.

"I still say that was lame," Traci mumbled.

"Could have been worse. At least I got to punch Thing #5 in the nose. Not everyone can say that," Chelsea said.

"True," Traci replied "Most of the people who do that probably die before they get a chance to say anything."

"And at least you got lines," complained a sentient pastry who had also asked to be included in the story, in spite of the fact that the contest had already ended.

Through their comments, Thing #5 continued to vent his rage upon the blameless stone. Eventually, Thing calmed down enough to stop tearing apart the castle. Some time later, he calmed down enough to stop screaming as well. Albat emerged from behind the large chunk of stone he had selected as cover and walked up to Thing.

"So, I was thinking..." he began, but Thing interrupted him before he could get any further.

"Liar!" Thing shouted, turning on him with a feral gleam in his eyes.

"I think we're going to be on a space station," said Hwango. Thing quickly turned to face him instead.

"Why would we want to go to a space station? What possible motivation could we have for going to a space station? How would we even get to said space station even if we wanted to?" he ranted. "I'm not ranting!" he screamed, "I'm formally making a record of my objections to the next events in the story!"

Just then, the continuity disaster sent another ripple of effect through the story. Things #5, Albatross the One, and Hwango the Indistinct found themselves standing inside a room with metal walls and floor. Through a large window to their left they could see the blackness of space, speckled with the light of distant stars, and the vast form of a planet below them. Well, below from their point of view, anyway, what with it being space and all.

"So we're on a space station now, eh?" said Albat.

"This is the worst episode ever!" compained Thing #5. "And that's really saying something! Do you guys remember Episode 31? What a nightmare." Thing #5 considered for a moment what he had just said. "I'm going to chalk that statement up the continuity disaster as well, but only because the other explanations frighten me."

"Wheeeeee!" Hwango...said? Squealed? I don't know. Something. Anyway, he went running off through the only obvious doorway, into another part of the space station. He stopped short next to another window, through which he could see a spacecraft attached to the station. He noticed an airlock door further down the cooridor which looked like it would lead to the ship.

"Hey, look - a space ship! Let's get on!" Hwango said. He ran towards the airlock and tore the door off with his bare hands. Thing was alarmed by this sudden display of superhuman strength, until he noticed that the door appeared to be made of cheese. He considered commenting on this oddity, but then decided that if he brought attention to it that the story might dwell on it for several paragraphs. He decided to let the matter quietly die instead. The matter slumped against the wall and peacefully passed on to the place where matters like that go when they die - probably someplace warm and sunny.

"Wait, remember all those scattered bits of exploded space ship parts from last, next episode? Whatever," said Albat.

"It hardly matters. We obviously survive to discuss the situation," pointed out Thing #5.

They boarded the spaceship, and Hwango began to excitedly press buttons. A humming noise began to echo through the ship.

"Is someone humming?" Thing #5 asked.

"I thought it was the engine," said Albat, but then he noticed the Hwango was quite obviously humming. Then he made a kind of metallic clanking noise and a whooshing sound, and the ship disengaged from the docking port and drifted a few feet from the station. Hwango pressed a few more buttons, pulled a few levers, and produced a startlingly realistic impression of a mooing cow.

"Um, Hwango," Thing said, "Why are you providing the sound effects?"

"We're low on cash," Hwango whispered conspiratorially, "The author asked me to help out."

"I see. And that last lever is supposed to go 'moo?,' is it?" said Thing, looking critically at Hwango.

The ship began a slow, unthreatening descent towards the planet's surface in spite of, or perhaps because of, the mooing lever.

"Hey look," said Albat, "the episode is almost over. How can that be? The ship hasn't exploded yet!" The three of them waited a moment for the ship to spin out of control and explode, but it defied standard comedic timing and stayed resolutely intact.

"This is unsettling," said Thing #5. "Worse, it is a strange new form of unsettlement that actually leaves me mildly unsettled. Not like that old form of unsettlement, to which I have long since become immune."

"I thought Hwango was also supposed to play with some sort of Doomsday Continuity Gizmo," mentioned Albat, looking around the cockpit of the spaceship for something that resembled a doomsday device.

"You don't think that part got lost in this whole jumbled mess, do you?" Thing asked.

"Possibly," said Lord Villain.

Thing #5 had just enough time to don an outraged expression before the ship exploded.

What will happen to our heroes after the ship explodes? Will they perhaps go on some kind of quest up an evil mountain? Tune in next time, when the story will be once again be filled with fantastic excitement, amazing wonders, and other nouns with applicable adjectives.

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Feel free to send me questions, comments, and doomsday devices.

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