Disclaimer: This story was written as a blind chain. Each staff member only received the paragraph ahead as context. Below is the hilarious result.
Laura Cuzman (Library Assistant, Adult Services)
Snackman was having the worst day of his life. After stopping by an office cubicle to save yet another human from low blood sugar, he received not so much as a thank you. “Even Daredeviled Egg gets more credit than I do, and he’s been visited by Recallman from the Health Department more than 6 times!” he thought to himself in frustration. He was tired of being taken for granted and even scolded by the other members of the Buffet League. Just yesterday Captain Barbecue shared an impassioned speech on how snacks were ruining this generation. He was promptly awarded the city’s highest honor for bravery by the Mayor himself. With the Captain’s smoldering good looks and tangy charm, it came as no surprise, but the words remained seared in Snackman’s mind. And now, he was late for yet another Buffet League meeting. “I’m not sure why I even bother” he muttered to himself as he opened the door to their Hibachi Headquarters. Immediately, he knew something was wrong. The room was in shambles and there were sear marks on all the chairs. He strained his ears for signs of life and heard soft sobs coming from underneath the table. Sure enough, Seltzerman was hugging his legs and shaking uncontrollably as carbonated tears fizzled from his eyes. “What happened?” Snackman asked as he helped him from underneath the table. Seltzerman was unable to speak but handed him a crumpled piece of paper. It read:
To the Mayor and all city inhabitants,
We have kidnapped your beloved Buffet League. They are in a safe place. As long as you comply with our demands they will not be hurt.
Your new city leadership,
Keto Kingpin, The Invisible Carb, and Asperdame
Snackman was stunned. “How could this happen?” he asked. Seltzerman took a deep breath and finally found his voice. “It all happened so fast; we were not prepared to fight back.” He took another deep, shaky breath and suddenly his eyes opened wide. “You! It’s up to you to save us! You’re the only one that can!”
The sudden weight of this realization made Snackman feel faint. But then, another realization hit him. This was the chance he’d always wanted! This was how he would prove to the city and his fellow League members that he was still relevant; he was still important; he was still a hero! With renewed purpose, Snackman hatched a foolproof plan…
Melody Noel (Senior Library Technician)
But, to ensure the Buffet League's safe return, Snackman would need backup. The League members had been kidnapped, so he would have to enlist help from his friends, Ms. Poppy Corn, Sergeant Sardine, and Fickle Pickle. He called a meeting immediately to discuss how they would carry out their rescue mission. "I don't know," Fickle Pickle squelched right after Snackman had laid it out and wrapped it all up for them, it was practically a sealed deal, "sounds dangerous. We're not really superheroes." "Yeah," Ms. Corn readily popped in. She was an aspiring actress, her dream was to be in the movies, not battling the evil forces of Keto Kingpin, The Invisible Carb, and Asperdame. Sergeant Sardine wiped his slick brow, "Come on! Where's your fighting spirit! If we don't save those overgrown meals, who else will? I've got 11 other guys who can back us up right now!" He called his little army to attention and they hopped out of nowhere, ready to support him. "Now that's what I'm talking about! Come on guys! Poppy, they could make a movie out of our rescue mission! You as the star of course." She sat up straighter, she was liking what Snackman had to offer now. "And Fickle Pickle, don't you want to choose to do something heroic?" Fickle Pickle stuttered, "Well, I d-don't know. I'm n-not used to making decisions." "Well now's your chance to be heroes! What do you say? Are you with me?" Sergeant Sardine saluted him; his little army packed in tight around them. Ms. Poppy Corn nodded enthusiastically now, already envisioning herself on the big screen. Finally, Fickle Pickle agreed, for now at least. Yes! Snackman finally had a rescue team.
Ashley Ajayi (Librarian, Adult Services)
After arriving in Paris, the rescue team assembled in the lobby of the Hotel de Crillon. The chandeliers hung from the hotel's high ceilings like beautiful glass sculptures. The plush purple velvet furniture and exotic floral arrangements added to the luxurious atmosphere. "This place is fancy," said Fickle Pickle. "This is just my style," quipped Ms. Poppy Corn, "Oh how I'd love to shoot a romantic movie here." Despite the relaxing locale, Sergeant Sardine was all business. He sat down at an empty table, unrolled a blueprint of the hotel, and began to delegate duties. "Ok, so first we'll go down this corridor, then we'll take the service elevator up to the top floor. This hatch will lead us to the rooftop." The group studied the blueprint as Sergeant Sardine continued, "Snackman, you will be in charge of the repelling equipment. Ms. Poppy Corn, you will handle our surveillance tech and explosives. Fickle Pickle, you will be our lookout." Fickle Pickle had a worried look on his face. "Don't worry Fickle," Snackman jumped in, "You'll be fine." Sergeant continued, "the Buffet League are being held in Room 316. We'll repel down in the dead of night at 2am, stick one of Ms. Poppy Corn's tiny explosives on the window, then burst through with smoke bombs. After that, it will be hand to crumb combat until we get the Buffet League out of there." Fickle's eyes were wide open. Sergeant Sardine rolled up the blueprint, stood up and put on his dark shades. "Those bad guys will regret ever messing with the Buffet League."
Lori Carson (Senior Librarian, Technical Services)
The next morning, Ms. Poppy Corn awoke in a luxurious SleepyTime pod. She had almost forgotten that she was in a fancy hotel in Paris until she opened her eyes. This is how life should always be, she thought. The pod, the view, the massage tub, the cute carrots who carried her bags for her… a girl could get used to this. If only she could ditch the rest of the Buffet Club. They had some grand rescue plan, but she was just here for the amenities. She also had a sneaking suspicion that the creepy pickle was into her. She caught him staring at her a few times. The last time, he had winked and done a little dance. As if! Yes, she had to create an excuse to go her own way before things got out of control. She arose from the pod, stretched, and floated lazily into the kitchenette to make coffee. Maybe she would order room service. It was all being charged to the Buffet League, so why not? Maybe one of those carrots from yesterday will bring it up to her. She started the coffee maker and pressed the blue Room Service button by the toaster. “Room Service, this is Cosmic Carrot speaking.” Ms. Poppy Corn smiled and lit up her first Tacky Tube of the day. Yes, this was going to be quite an adventure.
Amy Gideon (Librarian, Adult Services)
Pickle Pete, as his intimates called him, stared at his reflection in the mirror and knew that he looked good. He adjusted his ten-gallon cowboy hat, twirled his little fake mustache that he had painstakingly glued to his nonexistent upper lip, and posed with his fingers as double guns in front of the mirror shining his best debonair smile that he was sure Ms. Poppy Corn would love. Last night he had showed off his dancing skills under the Paris moonlight; today he would show her his confidence and style as the Buffet Club enacted the first stage of their daring rescue plan. If he could pull off this rescue, she was sure to fall in love with him...and of course the very fate of the universe would once again be safe from the sinister Snack Attack Crew. While he supposed the universe is important, he couldn't help but think that it wouldn't be worth living in if he didn't have his beloved Poppy Corn at his side. Now if he could just convince her of that.
Dana Bjornstad (Senior Administrative Assistant)
Pickle Pete called in the other members of the Buffet Club to begin their plan to rescue Princess Pepperoni from the nefarious Count Charcuterie. Carly Carrot, whose superpower was that of attraction, would lure the Count into the walk-in freezer where they planned to trap him and hold him until the Condiment Constable arrived. Perhaps Pete’s beloved Miss Poppy Corn would be so impressed that she would join their club!
Jessica Harden (Library Tech)
The plan was set, everything in its place. Except there was one problem. No one in the Buffet Club had hands! How were they going to get the freezer open to trap the villainous Count Charcuterie? No one had any ideas. Not Carly Carrot, whose superpower was attraction, or Gary Gourd who was known for his squashing power. Pickle Pete, metaphorically, scratched his head. What were they to do?
Abby Austin (Library Tech)
Pickle Pete decided they would try to get a message to Isla Ice Cream. Maybe with her help, they could open the freezer from the inside when the time came to trap the evil Count Charcuterie. Carly Carrot used her powers of attraction to find some paper and a pencil, and together they wrote a note asking for Isla Ice Cream's help. (This took quite a long time, considering they had no hands.) The next time new groceries arrived on the counter; they slipped their note into a box of popsicles. Now the Buffet Club just had to wait for Isla Ice Cream's reply.
Sarah Hammel (Library Tech)
Isla Ice Cream was busy unpacking and unloading the box of groceries when a slip of paper fell out of the box of popsicles. After putting everything away and grabbing the paper, Isla flipped it over and was confused when all she saw was “HELP”. Clearly there was someone out there that needed something, but she had no idea who or why or what it could possibly be. She decided to herself that she would ask Banana Brett or Daniel Danish the next time she saw one of them since the next Buffet Club meeting wasn’t for another week. A vision of Count Charcuterie flashed in her mind and she shivered from the evil emanating from even his image. There must be some way to stop him.
Haylee Harden (Library Tech)
There's no time to wait, Isla Ice Cream thought to herself, so she pulled out her phone in an instant. She started a group call, hoping at least someone would pick up. "Banana Brett! Daniel Danish! We have an emergency!"
Brett was the first to answer, sounding a bit groggy, "Ugh, what is it Isla? It's almost 1 in the morning..."
"I just received a distress note from my popsicle stash. We have to meet early for the Buffet Club, and it has to be now!"
"What? Now! At this hour?!" said Daniel, almost in a panic, "But we have our big entrance exams tomorrow, and I can't afford to mess up! You know how my sugar levels get when I can't get my Crème Brûlée technique right! It goes completely flat!"
"There's no time guys! I had another Brain-Freeze Blast, and it's telling me Count Charcuterie is behind it! We're meeting now!"
They hung up, the guys almost sounding hesitant in their agreement to meet up. Isla felt a twinge of guilt. She knew it was late, but she couldn't let the Count win this time, not when she almost had him in their last run-in with each other. She also knew that if this note meant anything, she knew the Count put it there for her eyes only; to tease her, especially now that her sister was involved with this mess. This is it, she thought to herself, the final countdown. "Hang on, Cheerilee, I'm coming..."
Sheri Smith (Library Assistant, Adult Services)
“You can stop glaring at me guys, this is critical!” Isla Ice Cream stood her ground in the Buffet Club’s headquarters.
“So is the entrance exam. Are you sure this isn’t just an attempt to keep us out of the academy?” Daniel Danish shot back.
“Yeah,” Banana Brett chimed in, “what better way for Count Charcuterie and his minions to control the culinary academy than to keep us from never getting in!”
“I’m sure you are right, but he has kidnapped Cheerilee!”
“What! Why didn’t you say so on the phone? Why didn’t you call the police instead of us?” Daniel questioned.
“We’ll get to that, but it was the standard don’t tell the police or else line. I don’t know where he has Cheerilee, but with your help we can get Cheerilee, have the police take care of Count Charcuterie, and ace the entrance exam in a few hours.”
“I suppose my infrared camera is part of this plan?” Brett asked.
“You know it! And since Daniel’s aunt works for the police, Daniel is in charge of communications so we can get the police involved either when we know it is safe or if things turn bad. We need to scope out the possible locations while not making Charcuterie suspicious. Are you both in?” Isla held her breath waiting for a reply.
“We’ll have to work quickly. Isla where do you think we should start and how do we not call attention to ourselves seeing as how it is 1:20 am?” Brett asked with determination.
David Black (Senior Librarian, Technical Services)
Deep in his fortified bakery, Count Charcuterie was manning the main oven. Due to a large turnover, he was understaffed. Due to an even larger turnover, he was struggling with his baking sheets. Perhaps he should have given into staff demands for more dough, but it was too late now. He needed to continue to maintain the fiction that he was simply an impecunious epicurean with a new passion for baked goods. So, caught up in his tasks the Count hadn’t noticed Cheerilee begin to loosen the ropes that bound her wrists behind her back. Besides, sweating in the stifling bakery had given her a bit of a soggy bottom and she was well past done. She had been kidnapped long enough she told herself. If she were to escape, she would have to cook up her own plan. Cheerilee knew, without a doubt, that her companions (a word that meant “one with whom you break bread”) would not flake on her. But she feared that Daniel, Brett, and Isla were no match for the crusty Count. Her one hope was that if she could turn all the ovens in the secret bakery to “Broil” that the heightened heat signature would be noticeable. Well aware that Banana Brett would find some way to employ his new infrared camera, she depended on him to spot the anomaly. She hoped that Daniel’s aunt, Detective Danish, could marshal all the resources necessary for her rescue. Her enemy now was Thyme. The Count was scouring his kitchen for his fresh Thyme to season a focaccia loaf and had turned away from his ovens to gaze over at a very impressive rack. Bursting with spices, the rack was right over Cheerilee’s head.
“Oh, I see my little crumpet that you were trying to escape” the Count oozed. “No matter, no one would hear your cries for help from here.”
Mayra Diaz (Assistant Director)
How did she end up in this mess? She relived the moment of her captivity with dismay. She was a careful planner; her life was orderly. This is not how she thought her new career would start. The last time she faced such fear was back in college when she accidently overstayed her welcome at a frat party, that turned into a riot when armed co-eds showed up and shot up the place with bullets and tear gas. Why was this happening, how could she manage to escape this horrendous situation? As she continued to wiggle her hands free of the ropes, she noticed a can of wasp/hornet spray. On the label it stated that it had a 15-foot range in it! She could get her hands free and shoot the count with the bug spray! “GOD, I hope this can is not empty!” She had to try!
Rachel Rodriguez (Librarian, Adult Services)
Taking one, two, three deep breaths, she began to slide free of her bonds. As soon as her right hand was free, she reached for the wasp spray and giving it a tremendous shake, pointed it at The Count and pressed the trigger button down. A frothy white jet of acidic fluid shot forth, intent on attacking the nervous system, paralyzing. His face contorted as the acrid spray hit him in the mouth and he cried out, his tongue flailing at the taste of it. Had it not been so terrifying, it might have been comedic to watch her captor draw his hands up, attempting to remove the oily, filmy poison.
But it had no other effect. Looking at the can, she saw that it was effective only against wasps and hornets. She rolled her eyes.
Robin Howell (Library Tech)
“They don’t make poisons like they used to” The Count said to her after wiping the vile fluid from his mouth and chin. He grabbed her free wrist and secured it back to where she had been tied just moments previous.
“When I was a child, we used arsenic to get rid of the rats.” He tightened her other bindings, intent on not letting her escape again. “Of course, we also used it as a pigment. You think lead in your water is bad, try having arsenic in your wallpaper.” He flitted around the room, pulling a chair over near her and rummaging through a cabinet.
“I do miss those days. Arsenic may be tasteless and odorless outside of the body, but once ingested, it grants the blood a deeper metallic taste than that of iron.” He brought over a silver cup and knife, setting them on the small table next to where she was bound, before sitting down himself, crossing one leg over the other and reclining slightly.
Jen Bojkov (Senior Librarian, Youth Services)
"There is something to be said about the good old days." continued The Count. "So much easier to find- well, let's just call you an offering. "He adjusted himself more comfortably in the chair so as to better pontificate to his unwilling audience who lay in the bed beside him- wrists bound. "No cell phones, no internet, no amber alerts." He sighed, "Ah well, the problems grow with age and when one is immortal- there seems to be no end in sight." The Count carefully adjusted the silver cup and knife he had placed on the bedside table. "I suppose it is time to begin."
Gabriella Gonzalez (Library Assistant, Adult Services)
It is one thing to process the amount of change in the world that one sees in an average, human lifespan. Radical advancements from the eradication of smallpox to the advent of the internet were seen in my grandmother's lifetime alone. How would society change over my lifetime if I could make it out of this room with my soul intact? The everyday revolutions humans experience when most of us only have seventy to eighty years to live are normal. Expected, almost. Change is almost mundane when you think about it on such a grand scale. It was almost perverse how the Count had cheated death by sheer accident, witnessed five centuries worth of humanity's transformations and trials, and yet his only wish was to selfishly extend his life even further. The Count pressed the knife up to my neck, placed the silver cup to my lips. "Drink this." He ordered. "I do not have much life to live if you don't."
Samantha Underwood (Library Tech)
I kept my mouth closed, pressing my lips together as tightly as I could manage. The smell emanating from the cup burned my nose and made my eyes water. The Count looked at me, exasperated, and pressed the knife more firmly into my neck. "I won't ask again." he said with a growl, his dark eyes boring into mine with an intensity I had never felt before. I closed my eyes and with a silent plea to the universe for help, drank the contents in one revolting gulp. A small sob escaped my throat and as I waited to feel some change or difference in myself, I noticed the Count looking more and more uneasy with each passing moment. "Something's wrong," he said, as he examined the cup, "it should have worked by now!" and without a second glance at me, he stormed out of the room, locking the door behind him.
The Conclusion (Laura Cuzman)
Watching all these things unfold from the window, Snackman couldn’t believe he had been sidelined yet again. “What did I tell you about being more assertive?” he could hear his mother’s shredding voice in his head. She was right. His entire life he wanted to be a hero but never thought himself good enough. In a moment of clarity, he realized that he wasn’t just good enough, he was better. “When in doubt, always go back to your fruits” he heard his mother say again.
“Of course!” he thought to himself. “I’m Snackman! Count Charcuterie is just a fad! He would cease to exist if not for me!”
Relying on all the courage he now felt in his heart, he jumped through the window, landed directly on top of the Count, and started to pummel him until all that was left was a pile of rotten blue cheese. Cheerilee was terrified and quite frankly, impressed. As soon as Snackman untied her ropes, she threw herself at him with what little strength she had left as he caught her in his metaphorical arms. “My hero!” she cried. And for the first time in a long time, she felt safe. And then everything went black.
A few years later…
Fickle Pickle Pete: After months of silly dances and briny anecdotes, his beloved Ms. Poppy Corn finally agreed to a date. Even at his most charming, she was not impressed; that is, until she laid eyes on his breathtaking hilltop mansion. Who knew pickles made that kind of dough?
Mrs. Poppy Corn Pickle: Yes, she married the pickle. What else was she to do? She was accustomed to a certain way of life and he was more than happy to keep her in the lap of luxury. Besides, his quirky ways were slightly less annoying when she had not one, but three saltwater pools and a jacuzzi to bring her comfort.
The Buffet Club: It turns out Keto Kingpin, The Invisible Carb, and Asperdame were not the criminal masterminds they thought they were. Not only did the Mayor refuse to give in to their demands, but the city inhabitants also didn’t seem to care that the Buffet Club had been kidnapped. A new vigilante had emerged, Vegan Viper, and she had grown in popularity within days. After some persuasion from the Buffet Club’s enigmatic leader, Captain Barbecue, they all decided to join forces against this new and unexpected threat.
Daniel, Brett, and Isla: After finally passing their culinary exams, they graduated with high honors and decided to open a trendy restaurant right across from the Hibachi Headquarters. Their landlord was a pale, sickly sort of fellow who smelled like mold, and seemed eerily familiar. The rent was cheap, and the location was prime, so they chose to ignore any peculiarities. Besides, with the Buffet Club so close, what did they have to worry about?
Snackman: Soon after the daring rescue, Snackman and Cheerilee were happily married in a quiet ceremony overlooking the Seine. He went back to serving the inhabitants of the city with a newfound passion. The mayor never recognized his bravery, the Buffet Club still took him for granted, but for the first time in his life, he was perfectly content.