This tale begins, as all good ones should, a long time ago, in a land far away. In this land there lived the most terrible and evil of all creatures ever dreamt of by children and adults alike. He was the Muffin Man. He stood six foot two inches and had jet-black scales all over his body. He cloaked his disfigured face under a black and gray JT paintball mask and hid his eyes with Terminator's sunglasses. His left hand was that of a monster bearing giant razor sharp claws. His other hand was the only part of humanity left on him, a man's hand that he concealed under a batting glove.
He had for quite some time been kidnapping children and keeping them in his lair. In the middle of a dark room, decorated with butcher's equipment covered in blood, sat a small pink tea table. There he would sit the children, one at a time with three stuffed animals as to make the children feel more at home. He would place in front of them imaginary tea in a white plastic teapot and a rather disturbing looking muffin. He would encourage them to eat the muffin, which they always were inclined to do. He would then leave the room, closing behind him a large metal door with a reinforced glass window in it. From there he would watch.
The child would soon fall to the ground spasm in back bends, clench their fists and then in a scene identical to that of Aliens, a raccoon would burst out of their chest, climb to the ceiling, and into the ductwork. There they would feed off the blood still on their coats, and wait longing only to satisfy the will of the Muffin Man. Once the Muffin Man had amassed his army he unleashed them upon the fair city of Sherwood.
Here in the city of Sherwood the sky burned red, fire engulfed all that once grew and humanity neared its end. Ash fell like tear drops as the setting sun cast an eerie red glow on the burning buildings of down town, and a rather petite blond, Okina Iowa, stood nervously in front of her TV crew. She lifted the microphone slowly to her lips as she almost cried, "People… you can see the horrible site down town. What started as minor scrapes and bites has turned into hell on earth. The raccoons have laid siege to our fair city. If there were ever a time for super heroes this is that time. The raccoons seem…"
She was interrupted as she fell to the ground screaming and holding her legs, the camera too fell shortly after followed by the muffled screams of a grown man. The last images to haunt the screen were that of Okina being dragged off the bottom of the screen, she looked to be falling in slow motion. With a look of abject fear in her eyes she thrashed wildly. White and black blurs shot past the camera, Dabs of blood hit the lens, then static.
The League of Inconceivable Heroes sat in their plush den gawking wide eyed at the television. They all knew that they had to do something, but none would speak up. They sat there as they always did, fairly scared. After all they were not really heroes at all, they were fairy tales, and they knew it. The people only revered them because a longer time ago, in the same place, they once had to band together to capture Rumplestilskin and end his spree of kidnappings and awkward games. The people so happy to have their children back set them up in a gaudy mansion upon the hill, surrounded by both a moat (which they saw as fashionable at the time) and a giant rock wall (to keep big bird out). The front yard was graced by a bronzed tinker bell fountain, which stood pouring Aquafina water into the marble pool. The interior of the mansion was so nice, plush and purple none of the fairy tale heroes wished to leave.
Now in this house all the heroes that helped with Rumplestilskin lived. Peter Pan, still a kid, yet tired of sleeping with other kids that kick in their sleep brought his apathetic self there only to kid around. He would laugh and play all day flying about, his shaggy blond hair taunting Rip Van Winkle. Rip Van Winkle decided to stay so that he may fish in the fountain and sleep on the giant pillows. Everyone knew he was a latent alcoholic, ever since he left for some forty odd years to drink in the hills. He came back with some outrageous story about little men and booze, none but Anansi believed him. Anansi, he was a spider, Anansi, he was a man, Anansi, he was a lazy one do little less he can, loved to lounge around and do absolutely nothing. Humpty Dumpty stuck around solely for the breakfast cuisine, mostly bacon and eggs however he wanted them served. The others found this strange but Humpty loved his eggs. Being that Jack was a common name all fairy tale Jacks came to live in the house, perhaps to confuse the others, perhaps to confuse those that try to follow this tale. Jack Frost resided in the freezer ever since he lost his hat, Jack of the Beanstalk loved the lavish accommodations though he could easily afford his own. Jack, Jill's brother was tended too when ever he took it upon himself to bash his head on something, Jill as well. From their cashmere couches and pillows they watched the horrible images upon the television, trying to avoid each other's eyes, especially the eyes of Jack of the Beanstalk.
They all knew in the bottom of their stomachs that Jack of the Beanstalk would speak up, he always did, that seemed to be the only reason he was there. Being independently wealthy, owner of a golden egg laying hen, and a harp of the gods, he really had no reason to stay in the mansion at all. He did however like to hear himself talk, and to sit on the giant purple pillows. Also being the son of a knight he never met, he felt it was his duty to try to lead his friends.
"Creatures of lore! We must heed this call of duty! The city burns and cries for us, who will stand with me?" Jack commanded brilliantly. The others however, just mumbled and continued watching the fifty-two inch plasma television broadcast images of death.
Jack edged them on with his dashing good looks, big eyes, square face and quite possibly too many teeth in his smile, "You know you wanna, it'll make you cool… and we can get a few more pillows I'll bet."
The prospect of more pillows roused the group, even Pan who shot up into the air and commanded, "To the weapons, dust, and wands locker!"
With that they all rushed towards the locker, all except Rip Van Winkle who had passed out on a couch with a bottle of Jack Daniels clenched in his fist. Jack of the Beanstalk thought it best not to wake him and hurried to unlock the locker. As Jack of the Beanstalk opened the top cabinet he whacked the younger Jack across the forehead and coldly onto the ground. Jill simply rolled her eyes, and grabbed a pail out of the closet. The rest of the group grabbed their weapons of choice and headed to the foyer.
Once fully equipped and grouped the heroes looked at one another seeing each other as they had not for quite some time. They stood proud, weapons in hand, eyes keen, and their hearts content on getting more pillows, erm, stopping the raccoons. They opened the giant oak doors and stepped out into the courtyard over looking the pillars of smoke and fires rising hot into the mid autumn night emanating from the valley below. As the smoke hit their nostrils and a chill in the air made their hair stand on end, they knew they were in for a battle of legends.
As our heroes walked onto the dusty streets of downtown they beheld the devastation in front of them. The buildings crumbled illuminated only by small lingering fires as charred remains fell silent as snow and covered the land in a blanket of death. The ash drifted from under their feet as they walked. The air fell silent as they walked to the center of town. There standing on the seal of the city they beheld their foe. The Muffin Man stood still cloaked in black chanting in a cryptic tongue, slowly the walls of the buildings started to stir and swirl in gray and black waves. The heroes looking on almost mesmerized came to realize the walls teemed with raccoons. Their masks caked with ash and blood they were the hounds of hell. As they began to encroach on our heroes The Muffin Man made a large swinging motion with his arms and bellowed, "They are mine!" With that the raccoons disappeared into the cracks and crevices of the decimated town.
The Muffin Man looked up with a cocked head, "I see the… 'Heroes'… have come to try to stop me. Your mortal weapons are no match against my wrath. When I am done with you your bodies will host my pets. I will eat your bones and wear your skin, prepare to die."
Jack of the Beanstalk stepped forward, "We do not fear you, you will fall at our feet and beg for our mercy cretin."
"Well then," the Muffin Man scoffed, "I will start with the nancy, Jill."
Jill taking the insult to heart, choked a little as a tear formed in her eye. A melancholy look came over her face as she started to cry and ran away sobbing.
"You truly are a monster," Jack said as he stepped forward.
Before anyone could think Pan descended on The Muffin Man from the sky his short sword glinting in the light of the fire. With one fell slice he tore a legion through the mask , terminator sunglasses and the eye of The Muffin Man who reeled over holding his face. Pan landed a few paces in front of him a cocky look in his eyes as The Muffin Man started to cackle.
Jack, Pan, and Humpty stood in disbelief as The Muffin Man looked up, his face ceiling itself, followed by the glasses and mask. "Fools, you can not harm me," he said as he stood.
"Holy shit!" Pan squeaked. Regaining his composure he thrust his sword at The Muffin Man who parried the attack and kicked Pan through the air. Pan landed, both his ego and his chest badly bruised. Still not being very mature, he too flew home.
Jack of the Beanstalk nodded at Humpty Dumpty who started to walk towards The Muffin Man. Suddenly a vibrating sword was stuck in the telephone pole beside Jack's head, and Humpty was shattered across the ground into hundreds of pieces. Jack looked in disbelief at his shattered companion, and shuttered at the twenty paces between him and certain death. He narrowed his eyes at The Muffin Man, and drew his sword. Then suddenly with out a second thought fell to the ground, collected Humpty and ran away.
Jack kicked open the front door and fell to his knees holding Humpty, broken, in his hands. Since this was not the first time Humpty had been shattered, and knowing that all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again, the heroes had hired the Shakespearian inclined monkeys that wrote "Hamlet" to piece back together Humpty. The monkeys collected Humpty from Jack and went back to their typewriter filled room. The others looked at Jack from atop their comfy pillows where they nursed their wounds.
"Did you beat him?" asked Jill still sniffling and holding Jack's still unconscious body.
"Well, he fled, but I definitely don't think The Muffin Man is defeated," Jack said as he looked about the room trying to avoid the eyes of his companions.
"How in the world are we supposed to beat someone like that," Pan scoffed half-heartedly.
"Well tahas semple my frrriendsss," Rip Van Winkle said in a slurred voice slightly coming out of his drunken slumber. "Now back my dnay in, we faut Muffin Peoples… all daaay long. And theres only one really way, to um… beeet um. And, evveryone knows, that's freezenem… with Jack Frost."
"Well damn, Jack hasn't moved since he lost his magic hat years ago…" Jack, Jill's brother said blinking slowly.
"Annnnd we all no whooom had its now," Winkle stammered, "Simple Simon. Shur nuff picked it up onnn the way to that prince-ess he marrd."
Anansi, being ever so lazy saw that this would lead to another quest was quick to Interject. "You know mon, we don't have to go get that hat from Simon, I've got's dis magic do rag that'd work just fine mon."
With that Anansi wheeled Jack Frost out of the stand up freezer on a dolly into the middle of the room. He whipped out a do rag from his back pocket, opened it carefully and put it on Jack's head. With that a whisper took over the room, red, green, yellow and black snow circled the room. Jack Frost pointing with both hands at Jill said with a wink, "Ey mon!"
"Oh lord no!" Jack of the Beanstalk blurted and quickly whipped the do rag off of Jack's head. A snowman was left unanimated in the middle of the room, pointing and winking at Jill. "We're not taking any short cuts Anansi! Everyone, get your stuff together, we're going to see Simple Simon!"
Moaning the group of heroes gathered their things and walked out onto the cobble stone courtyard of their Mansion. Jack and Jill, Peter Pan, and Anansi boarded into the giant pumpkin stagecoach. Jack of the Beanstalk and Humpty Dumpty again pieced together took the drivers seat. They both took a rein and cracked them at the same time across the backs of giant rats who had transformed back to what they were supposed to be a long time ago. The carriages existence at all is due to some faulty magic at work. With that the heroes left the sanctuary of their mansion, moat, and giant wall.
Now the road to Simons castle is a long one. And Jack after two days feeling playful forgot that the stagecoach had no shocks. Giggling like a little girl he wheeled into a puddle sending a splash far into the woods, and Humpty flying off the back of the stage coach. Humpty landed quite conveniently on a giant rock and shattered himself again. Jack swearing pulled out a flare, which he shot into the air signaling the monkeys.
As our heroes pulled up the gravel drive way in the massive courtyard of King Simon's Castle short orange skinned servants with green hair quickly attended to the carriage. They opened the doors and bowed singing quite the catchy jingle as the Heroes stepped out of the carriage one at a time. Their feet hit the rocks almost in slow motion as the enormity of the castle seemed to envelop them. Down the long red draped staircase came the simplest looking man ever holding a scepter made of a shoe and a very styling hat upon his head.
"Greetings my friends, Four there are here, yet five there were set out from your mansion, Tell me, where is Humpty, for I much desire to gawk at him."
Jack of the Beanstalk muttered "Yea... about that... we got some really talented monkeys on that... But how did you know we were coming?"
"Quite simple my friends we spotted you six miles off in the distance three days hence. I should say your pumpkin travels slower than my goat. You should have walked. Now we have business to attend to."
With that they company headed into the castle. They walked down long white marble corridors followed closely by the servants salivating and ogling Jack and Jill. The king noting this warned Jack of the Beanstalk, "you may want to keep a watch on your children, ever since my servants got a hold of a blueberry looking girl they have craved the flesh of the young."
"Dooley noted," Jack said as he ushered the children ahead of him. They stepped through walnut doors wide as two grown men into an enormous room outlined with cathedral windows and filled with a table long enough to sit fifty on either side. At the head of the table Simon took a seat beside the most beautiful woman ever. They made quite the odd pair but she seemed to like the cut of his jib. Simon motioned for all to sit and they did looking at the green velvet drapery seeming to dance across the ceiling. At once the King bashed his shoe on the table.
"My friends I know why you are here. As you all know I keeps what I finds and I intend to return none of it. The hat that sits upon my head will not leave this castle easily."
Jack of the Beanstalk spoke up, "Well then my King, my group will lay forth what fine brandishings we have for the fabled hat."
"Aye, you have my pail," Jill said almost cutting Jack off.
"and my axe!," Jill's brother said.
"and my sword!" Peter Pan added as he stood to his feet.
"and a bean" Jack of the Beanstalk said as he nodded arrogantly towards his comrades.
"Well these are nice indeed," Simon said as he looked over the goods laid upon the table, "But they will just not do."
"No indeed," his wife added in a ditsy tone, "We have grown quite accustom to the hat, it goes well with the castle. Brings out the windows."
Jack looking concerned quickly made a decision, "Then my king, you may have this foot ball helmet filled with raisins as well."
"Still not good enough." Simon said coldly as he eyed Jack.
"Well then," Jack retorted, "You may have Anansi."
"What the hell?" Anansi chocked, as he looked around shocked.
"Deal," said Simon and handed over the hat.
Upon the heroes return to their mansion they found not only that the monkeys had reassembled Humpty but they also had a completed version of "Pericles and Timon of Athens." After a quick reading of the Play, a few short renditions and teatime the heroes once again wheeled Jack Frost back into the middle of the common room. Jack of the Beanstalk walked to Jack with a swagger and placed the black top hat upon his head.
Again a whirr filled the air, tingles went up everyone's spines and frost grew on their eyelashes as dazzling blue and white snowflakes zipped around the room. When all had settled Jack Frost stood before his friends. His blue silk tux with long tales covered his ice hard body, his hat sat magnificently upon his head, and he held a long ice cane in his left hand. From his entire body a cold frosty mist fell to the floor and crept about the feet of the other heroes. He raised his coal black eyes to his friends and smiled, "Thanks for getting my hat back, it's so cold with out it."
All the heroes stood in reverence of Jack Frost until finally Jack of the Beanstalk spoke up. "My friend, much has happened since your hat feel off and blew down the driveway and we let Simple Simon pick it up. We probably should have gotten the hat but… look at these pillows… Any way, your archenemies has returned. The Muffin Man amassed his army and attacked the city."
"First of all, let me ask how long did my hat sit at the bottom of the hill?" Jack Frost asked with an agitated look.
"Um, probably no more than, like a week or two…" Jack said looking at the ground.
"Yea… it really wasn't a priority after we stuck you in the freezer a few weeks after the hat flew away… erm, days, a few days after the hat flew away." Humpty mumbled.
Under his breath Jack Frost mumbled something incoherent yet clearly annoyed as he turned on the plasma television. Upon it he witnessed the horrors the Muffin Man had unleashed upon the city. Few buildings were left standing, and fires seemed to envelop everything in site. A tear grew in Jack Frost's eye that quickly froze as he ordered the heroes out the door. "Tonight," he said, "We have to salvage what is left of the city, and save those who yet have hope. Tonight we run down that hill."
"But the pumpkin carriage is so much nicer," Jill whined.
"No, you're running your fat ass down that hill… now lets go!" Jack ordered.
With that the heroes grabbed their weapons and started to run down the hill. Well they tried to run down the hill… they made it to the end of the driveway… and had to walk, all the same they were on their way.
Walking back into the center of the annihilated city the heroes looked once again upon their foe. The Muffin Man, like a statue, stood where the heroes had left him, upon the seal of the city. Jill noticed that the Muffin Man did not look scathed but decided it was a bad time to point that out to Jack of the Beanstalk. As the feet of the heroes unsettled the fallen ash the walls again began to teem with life. This time the Muffin Man only cackled and nodded towards the ill-equipped group of heroes. Black and gray fur began to pour down the side of the buildings into the streets and cross walks. A circle of beady little eyes quickly enclosed the heroes.
As the swarm of bloodthirsty raccoons circled the group they put their backs to each other ready to defend themselves. Pan lifted off of the ground and began to flail his sword into the raccoons. Little paws, dismembered limbs, masked faces and blood began to fly. The rest of the heroes began to try to assault the wave of raccoons. They seemed at first to have the ability to quell the little monsters. Suddenly the raccoons started to leap onto the heroes from the building tops, screaming as they crashed into the ground and the heroes. Their razor sharp claws dug into the heroes skin before they could be bashed away.
All of a sudden Humpty looked up, his umbrella in hand and a horrified look upon his face. A falling raccoon smashed through his face and shattered his body onto the ground. Raccoons scurried to try to loot the corpse and steal the little pieces of shell. The other heroes watched in horror as the little pillagers scampered about wielding pieces of shell like little daggers. Jill took a piece of shell to her face leaving an inch long gash. With that she fell to her knees, dropped her weapon and held her face in both hands sobbing, "My face… My beautiful face!"
As Jill's brother Jack, Jack of the Beanstalk, and Peter Pan tried to fend off the wall of raccoons they seemed to lose ground every second. The raccoons would dart in, thrash, and run off chewing on small pieces of flesh. It seemed as if the heroes' time in this land far away was coming to an end, their story far from a fairy tale ending, more of a morbid feast.
Just then Jack Frost cried, "I must end this!" He unbuttoned his tux and tipped his hat to the Muffin Man. "So we meet again old friend."v "Aye, I've been waiting for you, Jack Frost, We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete," The Muffin Man says with cold eyes. "When I left you I was but the learner; now I am the master."
"Only a master of death," Jack retorts.
"Your powers are weak, old man," The Muffin Man says as he inches towards Jack.
"You can't win, Muffin Man, I'm simply too cold for you, I am more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
With that the two ran at each other yelling in a tongue never heard before by man. They collided sword to cane in a brilliant white flash. Their teeth gritted as they looked eye to Terminator sunglasses. Suddenly a shockwave of cold exploded from their collision knocking all the heroes to the ground. The blast blew the raccoons from their bodies like dust from a dried flower. Birds fell from the sky shattering on the ground, all that was left green and alive crystallized. For a mile in any direction any standing building froze and with one giant blast exploded into shards of ice.
As the frost settled to the ground the heroes sat amazed at the blast. Slowly recovering from the shock and the cold they looked in the direction of the battle. There the Muffin Man stood toe to toe with Jack Frost who stood unmoving, frozen absolutely solid. Jack Frost reared back his cane, its tip reflecting the moonlight and swung hard at the Muffin Man. With a loud crack the Muffin Man fell to the ground in a thousand pieces. Jack turned to his shocked friends, and as he walked back to them spoke the most profound words any of them had ever heard, "Ass hole."
As the heroes stood around on the icy ground talking about what had just taken place Jill screamed and pointed in the direction of the Muffin Man's corpse sickle. The heroes turned and looked. Slowly the pieces were melting and pooling back together. First a head started to form from the liquidus mass, then a neck, arms, torso and legs. Slowly the Muffin Man began to take definite shape. The heroes readied their weapons as the looked on in amazement. Suddenly without warning the Muffin Man fell over dead, his internal organs never really coming back together quite right.
"Well that was anticlimactic," Peter Pan said. With that they all turned and began their trek home wishing they had ridden the Pumpkin Carriage down to the city.
Now like all good fairytales I'll go ahead and tell you how all the heroes and people lived happily ever after. Well not too happy, seeing as how only eight people survived the icy blast and ravenous raccoons. However upon returning to their mansion those eight people gave the heroes a mighty welcome. The people held in their arms great luscious pillows which the heroes took with a smile, and the mayor, who of course always survives to give the key to the city to the heroes did just that. He gave the key to the city to Jack Frost, and though the city was all but destroyed, and the key worthless it looked mighty fine hanging on the wall in the mansion. And what of the raccoons you ask? Well, having their minds freed from the control of the Muffin Man acted on their last command ever. They ran to the woods to make their homes, and to this day have carried out the largest crime spree ever, stealing absolutely anything and everything that happens to be shiny.