The Creature in Your Neighborhood16 min read

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Originally appeared in Strip Mauled edited by Esther Friesner. 2009

“The Creature in Your Neighborhood”

Today’s Special Guest Star: The Man in the Moon


(The restaurant is full of boxes, with cans and other food items spilling out onto the floor. Bobby Bunny, Gobbler, Grumpus, and the Mall Rats are sorting more food into various boxes.)

MISTER JOHNSON: Thanks for your help everybody. I think we’ve collected even more than we did in last year’s food drive.

GOBBLER: One for poor. One for me! (Stuffs a box of spaghetti into his mouth) Yum, yum, yum. One for poor. One for —

BOBBY BUNNY: Gobbler, no! All of this food is for the poor!

GOBBLER: But me love spaghetti! (Pulls box and broken spaghetti noodles out of his mouth) Hm… me think maybe this spaghetti not done yet.

GRUMPUS: Spaghetti? Yuck! Unless it’s moldy old noodles in rancid garbage sauce, like Mama Grumpus used to make back in Grumpusland.

MISTER JOHNSON: Don’t worry, Grumpus. Mrs. Johnson baked you a special mildew mud pie to thank you for helping.

GRUMPUS: I hope it’s got plenty of dust and dirt in it.

MISTER JOHNSON: (Laughs) It does. She made apple pie for the rest of us. Then after we’re done, I thought we could go outside and use my telescope to learn about the moon. We might even get to see the Man in the Moon.

GRUMPUS: (Ducks into his trash can) Here, I saved these old banana peels for your food drive, and some green cheese with fuzz growing on it. At least I think that’s cheese.

MALL RATS: Cheese!

MALL RAT #1: Oh no. The cheese is totally moldy!

MALL RAT #2: That is so gross!

MALL RAT #3: A moment of silence for our fallen cheese.

(The Mall Rats bow their heads.)

BOBBY BUNNY: Nobody wants to eat that stuff, Grumpus!

MISTER JOHNSON: Thank you for offering, though. It’s always nice to share with people who are less fortunate.

(Confetti and trumpets herald today’s Word of the Day. A banner reading “SHARE” drops into view.)

BOBBY BUNNY: Congratulations everybody! We found the Word of the Day!

GRUMPUS: I hate the Word of the Day.

BOBBY BUNNY: But Grumpus, the Word of the Day is how we —

(Rolly runs into the restaurant carrying a ripped puppet arm. Threads, stuffing, and tufts of brown fur trail from the arm.)

ROLLY: Mr. Johnson! Mr. Johnson! Rolly was going to camp out in the back yard with Rolly’s friend Bobo Bear, but when Rolly got there, Bobo was… he was…

MISTER JOHNSON: What happened, Rolly? What is it?

ROLLY: (Wails) Bobo Bear was dead! All Rolly found was Bobo’s arm.

MISTER JOHNSON: (Worried) I’m sure Bobo is all right. Maybe this is a game, like when Rainbow steals Leslie’s nose.

ROLLY: No, no, no, no, no! There was stuffing everywhere and torn felt and fur and now Rolly needs to sing the therapy song. (Singing)

Therapy, therapy, therapy for me!

Rolly’s letters of the day are P, T, S, and D!

BOBBY BUNNY: (Takes the arm from Rolly) Look at the felt. This arm was bitten off.

MALL RATS: (Scream)

GOBBLER: Hey, no look at me! Me not sicko. Me eat only healthy foods from food pyramid. Grains and vegetables, fruits and milk and meat. And sometimes cake. Not people.

BOBBY BUNNY: Whatever did this, we have to find it… before it strikes again!



(Leslie is sitting on the back porch, feeding the squirrels who have gathered from the woods behind the house.)

LESLIE: Now, now, little friends. You do not have to argue. I have plenty of nuts for everyone.

(Squirrels form a circle around Leslie.)

LESLIE: That’s better. Isn’t it nice to relax at the end of the day by sharing a nice, healthy snack with your friends?

(Squirrels stiffen, then flee up the nearest tree.)

LESLIE: What is wrong, little friends? I bought these from Mr. Johnson’s restaurant. Is something wrong with Mr. Johnson’s nuts? Come back, and —

(From the trees comes a sinister growl.)

LESLIE: That does not sound like my squirrel friends.

(A shadowy form steps out of the woods. Only the eyes are visible: glowing yellow ping pong balls with slitted pupils. The shadow changes shape, dropping to all fours.)

LESLIE: That does not look like my squirrel friends.

(Leslie stands, dropping her bag of nuts, which spill across the porch.)

LESLIE: Hello there Mr. Wolf. Have you come to sh–share with the squirrels? Maybe you would like a d–different snack. I will go inside and look for wolf food to share. (Turns and opens the door.)

(The wolf charges across the back yard.)

LESLIE: Aaaah! Rainbow, there’s a monster in the yard!

(Leslie starts to go inside, but the wolf catches her by the foot and yanks her back. Leslie and the wolf disappear into the darkness. Screams fill the air, along with the sound of ripping felt.)

RAINBOW: (Opens the upstairs window and peeks outside) Leslie? Is that you?

(Squirrels leap to the roof and race in through the window.)

RAINBOW: (Comes downstairs and steps onto the back porch) Leslie? Oh, boy! It looks like it’s time to play “Follow the Rainbow!” That’s the game where I hide and Leslie tries to find me. But tonight it looks like Leslie is hiding, so I get to —

LESLIE: (Weakly) Rainbow? I’m over here.

RAINBOW: (Sniggering) You’ll never hide from me like that, Leslie!

(Leslie drags her mangled body from the trees. Her clothes are shredded, her limbs torn, and she carries her nose in one hand.)

RAINBOW: What happened to you? Don’t you know puppets are supposed to be dry–clean only? (Sniggers again)

LESLIE: Monster… attacked me. I called, but you —

RAINBOW: Hey, you’re really hurt. (Runs to Leslie) I’m sorry, Leslie. I was in the tubby with my rubber bath toys. Which monster did this to you? Was it Cepi Monster? Rolly Monster? Leemo Monster?

LESLIE: Those teeth. Those eyes. This was no ordinary monster, Rainbow. This was evil. Evil! It changed into a wolf, and —

RAINBOW: Oh, Leslie. Don’t you remember the stranger song? Come on, everybody. Sing along! (Singing)

Strangers with puppies and strangers with candy,

Strangers who act like they’re all nice and dandy,

Strangers who tell you your mother is near,

These are the strangers we always should fear.

LESLIE: (Regains her strength long enough to throttle Rainbow one last time) I tried to share with the wolf. “Share” is the word of the day. It’s the word of the day, Rainbow! The word of the day failed! (Collapses) The word… failed.

(Leslie dies.)

RAINBOW: Leslie? Leslie? (Slowly bends down to pick up Leslie’s nose)



(Googol the Mouse is at the computer, surrounded by Bobby Bunny, Grumpus, Gobbler, Mall Rats, Mister Johnson, and the Mathmagician. Bobby Bunny still carries Bobo’s arm.)

GOOGOL: (Races about on the mouse pad, clicking madly) The computer says the bite marks appear to be from a large canine.

GRUMPUS: It’s Woofers! I knew that giant mutt was rabid. I say we put her down!

BOBBY BUNNY: You leave my dog alone! She was safe in her kennel all last night!

MISTER JOHNSON: Let’s calm down, Grumpus. We don’t know Woofers did this.

GRUMPUS: That crazy canine is going to eat us all.

(Rainbow bursts into the room, carrying Leslie’s nose)

RAINBOW: It’s not Woofers! Leslie said it was a monster, a puppet who changed into a big bad wolf.

GOOGOL: A werewolf!

RAINBOW: Where wolf? In our back yard!

(Rainbow sniggers, then looks down at Leslie’s nose. Her laughter changes to low sobs.)

GOOGOL: (Still clicking on the computer) The werewolf is a creature who changes into a wolf under the light of the full moon. They are strong, fast, and deadly. They can only be harmed by weapons made of silver.

GRUMPUS: So it’s the Man in the Moon’s fault? Who invited him to be today’s special guest star?

MALL RAT #2: It’s morning now. We should be like, totally safe, right?

GOOGOL: I am afraid not. According to this almanac —

BOBBY BUNNY: How do you spell “al–man–ac”?

GRUMPUS: Shut up.

GOOGOL: The almanac says the full moon is tonight.

MALL RAT #1: But Bobo and Leslie were eaten, like, last night.

GOOGOL: The moon must be full enough to trigger the change on the day prior to the full moon, which means it will likely do the same on the day after. So this werewolf may be among us for three days.

MATHMAGICIAN: Three! (Waves his wand, drawing a 3 in the air) Count with me, my friends. One! Two! Three!

GOOGOL: There is more. Now that the werewolf has tasted puppet, it will be hungry for more. I fear the creature will hunt us all.

(Everyone panics and runs away.)



(Crayon–drawn boards cover the windows and doors. Rolly and his pet gerbil Mo are hiding behind the bed. Rolly is busy coloring.)

ROLLY: (Singing)

It’s time to play in Rolly’s Room.

Hooray, hooray for Rolly’s Room.

Rolly loves Mo and Rolly loves you.

And now let’s all learn something new!

(Rolly holds up a bullet in one hand and a silver crayon in the other, studies the bullet, then colors the very tip.)

ROLLY: Hello, boys and girls! Today, Rolly is learning about werewolves. Like the werewolf who met my friend Bobo Bear. Googol says you have to have silver to stop a werewolf, so Rolly is making silver bullets.

(Rolly picks up a handful of colored bullets and begins loading them into an oversized revolver.)

ROLLY: Rolly is also learning about handguns. This is a Henson & Oz .45 caliber special. (Whispers) Rolly’s Daddy thinks Rolly doesn’t know the combination to the gun safe!

(Rolly finishes loading, spins the barrel, and sights the gun at Mo.)

ROLLY: But Rolly wants to know more about werewolves.

(The window rattles behind the boards. Rolly leaps to his feet and points the gun at the window.)

ROLLY: You stay the fuck out of Rolly’s Room, Mr. Macaroni! Rolly will fucking kill you! Rolly saw what happened to Rolly’s friend Bobo, and Rolly’s not going down like that. That’s right Mr. Macaroni. You stay over there in your pasta world. Touch those blinds again and Rolly will blow your goddamned head off!

(Rolly picks up Mo, who’s trembling. They sit back down behind the bed.)

ROLLY: (Muttering) Always peeking through Rolly’s window. Rolly thinks Mr. Macaroni is a fucking pervert.

(Rolly eyes Mo.)

ROLLY: Now Rolly wants to know if gerbils can be werewolves. Maybe Rolly should ask the computer.

(Rolly sets Mo down and points the gun at him, slowly backing toward the computer. A knock at the door makes him jump.)

ROLLY: Who’s there?

DEEP VOICE: I’m today’s special friend! I’ve come to —

ROLLY: (Shoots at the door) Nooooooooo! Rolly is too young and too popular to die! (Continues shooting) Eat silver–colored death, werewolf! You want more? (Reloads) Rolly will show you! Rolly will kill you, you fucking bastard! (Resumes shooting)

(Rolly runs out of bullets. The revolver clicks as Rolly continues to pull the trigger. Smoke rises from the barrel.)

DEEP VOICE: (Groans)

ROLLY: (Panting) That’s right!

(Rolly rips down the bullet–ridden boards and opens the door to reveal Tommy the Talking Tuba standing against the far wall of the hallway. White stuffing pokes through numerous holes in the tuba puppet’s body.)

ROLLY: Oh, shit! (Sets gun down) Tommy Tuba, are you all right? Those holes don’t look so bad. Rolly bets Mrs. Johnson could sew them right —

(Tommy falls, landing facedown on the floor. His back is a mess of shredded stuffing and felt.)

ROLLY: Uh, oh. Rolly forgot Rolly was firing hollow–points. (Slams door, grabs gun, and runs back behind the bed) Now Rolly wants to learn about disposing of evidence.



(Bobby Bunny is standing with Peter the Pretendisaurus under the light of the street lamps.)

PETER: I don’t know, Bobby. I’m afraid of the dark.

BOBBY: There’s nothing to be afraid of, Peter! Remember, I’m the only one who can see or hear you. That means the werewolf won’t be able to see or hear you either! All these years everyone has said you weren’t real. Well, when we take care of that werewolf, they’ll have to admit you’re real. Won’t that be fun?

PETER: I’m not sure. I heard the werewolf got Leslie and —

BOBBY: You’re a giant dinosaur. You’ve got nothing to be scared of. And when it’s all over, we can share some of my delicious carrot cake.

PETER: I do like carrot cake.

BOBBY: I know you’re scared, but we did a whole episode about being afraid. Remember?

PETER: That’s when you brought me my night light. (Smiles) You said, “When you’re feeling all afraid, just smile ’til those feelings fade!”

BOBBY: That’s right, Peter! This will turn things around for both of us. Everyone will know you’re real, and I’ll be the hero who figured out how to stop the werewolf. I’ll be the star again, like in the old days before Rolly came along.

PETER: I’ll do it! I’ll face my fear. (Glances around) But… you’re going to come with me, right?

BOBBY: I wish I could, buddy. But the werewolf can see me, remember? Don’t worry, all you have to do is sneak up on him and pow!

(Bobby swings a fist, spinning himself around.)

PETER: Okay, Bobby. I’ll do it for you, because you’re my friend.

BOBBY: That’s great! Thanks, friend!

(Bobby scampers away, disappearing into one of the houses. The door slams and locks behind him. Peter begins trudging down the street.)

PETER: Smile ’til those feelings fade. (Forces a smile) All right. If I were a werewolf, where would I be?

(Peter reaches the end of the street and turns the corner. Dogs bark as he passes.)

PETER: This isn’t so bad. The moon is like a big night light… a big scary night light that turns people into werewolves. Maybe a song will help me keep my smile. (Singing)

If I were a werewolf, where would I be?

Where would I be, oh where would I be?

If I were a werewolf, where would I be?

Could werewolf be hiding from me?

And if I were a werewolf, what would I wear?

What would I wear, oh what would I wear?

If I were a werewolf, what would I wear?

Do werewolves wear more than just hair?

PETER: Gosh, it’s awfully quiet out here. Hey, I’ve got a joke. What do you call it when two dinosaurs crash their cars? Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! (Laughs) And what do you call a dinosaur who snores? A Stegosnorus! (Laughs louder) It’s working! I’m not afraid anymore!

(A shadow lumbers across the street ahead.)

PETER: (Whispers) Was that the werewolf? (Louder) Oh, right. I forgot it can’t hear me. I wonder where it’s going. It ran down Oak Street, toward the post office. Maybe the werewolf wants to mail a letter!

(Peter wanders into the empty parking lot. He peeks around the mailboxes, then approaches the rows of parked mail trucks behind the building. He stretches his neck past one of the trucks.)

PETER: I found you! Pretendisauruses are good at hide–and–go–seek. Boy, you’re a scary looking monster. Bobby said to get you. Hm… Pretendisauruses are herbivores. That means we eat plants, and we don’t have sharp teeth or claws like you. I guess I’ll just have to —

(From behind the truck comes the sound of sniffing.)

PETER: Uh oh. Bobby Bunny said nobody could see me or hear me. He didn’t say whether anyone could smell me. Maybe I should — (Screams)

(Cloth tears, and stuffing flies into the air above the trucks. Peter staggers back, his head torn from his neck. He runs several paces, crashes into the back of the post office, and collapses.)



(Everyone has gathered in the soccer field. Most carry improvised weapons, including baseball bats, letter openers, shovels, axes, and in the case of Bobby Bunny, a giant silver tuna.)

MISTER JOHNSON: Everyone settle down. This is the third night, and the moon will be rising soon. As long as we stay together —

BOBBY BUNNY: We’re going to share the danger.

GRUMPUS: You mean we’ve brought the danger here!

MISTER JOHNSON: Now Grumpus, we don’t know the werewolf is one of us.

GRUMPUS: What werewolf? I’m talking about that freak Rolly. I heard what he did to Tommy Tuba.

ROLLY: (Wearing a straightjacket) Rolly didn’t do nothing! Don’t listen to Mo. He’s a lying bastard snitch!

RAINBOW: (Still holding Leslie’s nose) Leslie used to play the tuba in marching band.

ROLLY: You hear me Mo? You can’t prove anything! Rolly will kill you, you little rat!

MALL RAT #1: Hey, that’s like totally racist.

MISTER JOHNSON: I know we’re all frightened. I’m frightened too. Maybe if we share our feelings, we won’t be as frightened anymore.

GRUMPUS: Shut your man hole. Your kind is always trying to tell the rest of us what to do, and we’re sick of it.


GRUMPUS: You know. Fleshies! You and your fleshy family ought to go back where you came from and leave the rest of us alone!

GOBBLER: No, no, no! Mrs. Johnson make delicious pies. Strawberry, apple, key lime… yummy, nummy pies!

BOBBY BUNNY: Stop it, all of you! We have to concentrate on the werewolf problem!

GOOGOL: Imaginationville has never been troubled by werewolves before. We should figure out how this creature came into our midst.

GRUMPUS: Let’s see, who do we know with strange occult powers? Someone whose magic never does what it’s supposed to?

(Everyone turns to stare at the Mathmagician.)

MATHMAGICIAN: It wasn’t me, I swear!

MALL RAT #3: Your unnatural magic totally could have brought that thing here.

MATHMAGICIAN: “Unnatural”? You’re a talking rat! (Draws his wand) Stay back! Don’t make me draw upon the power of He Who Must Not Be Counted!

MAN IN THE MOON: Hello, everybody!

ROLLY: This is all your fault! When Rolly gets Rolly’s gun back, Rolly’s going to put some new craters in the Man in the Moon!

MAN IN THE MOON: Don’t blame me! I just shine my beautiful light and—

RAINBOW: Hey, what’s wrong with Gobbler?

MAN IN THE MOON: Oops. Sorry…

GOBBLER: (Doubled over in pain) Me hungry. Me hungry… for bunny!

(Gobbler’s body twists into the form of the werewolf. He jumps through the air, impossibly high, landing on the fleeing Bobby Bunny.)

BOBBY BUNNY: Help me! Somebody help meeeee!

GOBBLER WOLF: Yum, yum, yum! (Sound of ripping cloth)

ROLLY: Rolly bets you all wish you’d let Rolly keep his gun now! Now all Rolly can do is sing the dismemberment song!

MATHMAGICIAN: One, two, three, four, turn this wolf into… a drawer!

(Glowing numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 appear from the Mathmagician’s wand and begin marching toward Gobbler Wolf. The numbers scream as Gobbler Wolf tears them apart.)

GRUMPUS: A drawer? You’re such a putz. (Ducks into his trash can and pulls the lid shut)

ROLLY: (Singing)

Arms and legs, arms and legs,

Flying through the air.

Screams and screams and screams and screams

And corpses everywhere.

MISTER JOHNSON: (Swings his shovel, knocking Gobbler Wolf back) We have to work together!

MALL RATS: Charge!

GOBBLER WOLF: (Pops Mall Rat #1 into his mouth, swallows, then belches)

RAINBOW: Hey, Gobbler! You’re still hungry? Taste the Rainbow, you son of a bitch!

(Rainbow throws Leslie’s nose, hitting Gobbler Wolf in the face.)

RAINBOW: This is for you, Leslie!

(Gobbler Wolf charges. Rainbow grabs Grumpus’ trash can and whirls around, clubbing Gobbler Wolf and knocking him down. Before Gobbler Wolf can rise, Rainbow screams and raises the trash can overhead.)

RAINBOW: Take that! (Pounds Gobbler Wolf) And that! And that and that and that!

GRUMPUS: Hey, knock it off! I’m trying to hide in here!

RAINBOW: None of you understand! (Continues to bludgeon Gobbler Wolf) Leslie’s dead and I never had the chance to tell her how I —

GOOGOL: We need silver. Grumpus’ can will not be enough. Even now the monster rises again.

RAINBOW: (Determined) I don’t think so.

(Rainbow slams the can to the ground and rips off the lid. She lifts Gobbler Wolf from the ground and stuffs him headfirst into the can.)

GRUMPUS: (Muffled) Hey, what are you doing? Get out of my can! Beat it, you! Argh!

MISTER JOHNSON: Come on, everybody!

(The Mathmagician picks up the lid and hammers Gobbler Wolf into the can. The survivors throw themselves onto the shaking can, trying to hold the lid in place. Slowly, Grumpus’ shouts die down, and the can goes still.)

MISTER JOHNSON: Grumpus? (Starts to lift the lid)

ROLLY: Nooooooo!

MISTER JOHNSON: The can is empty.

MATHMAGICIAN: Doesn’t Grumpus’ trash can lead to Grumpusland?

(The others stare into the can in silence)

ROLLY: Yaaay! Rainbow shared the werewolf with the Grumpuses!

MISTER JOHNSON: Grumpus might still be alive. We should try to rescue him. That’s what friends do.

MATHMAGICIAN: You go right ahead, buddy.

ROLLY: Grumpus wasn’t Rolly’s friend. Grumpus was an asshole to Rolly.

RAINBOW: (Panting and crying) I’ve got tools back at our… at my house. I could rivet the lid shut.

GOOGOL: We should plate the can in silver, too. That will seal the werewolves in Grumpusland.

MISTER JOHNSON: Where are we going to get that much silver?

(Rainbow picks up a torn ear, all that’s left of Bobby Bunny.)

RAINBOW: Puppet insurance.



(The survivors of Gobbler Wolf’s rampage are gathered together at the front counter, drinking milkshakes and eating pizza. Most are armed. They jump nervously at the slightest sound.)

MALL RAT #2: (Softly) Isn’t this the part where Grumpus tells a totally lame story to his pet slug?

ROLLY: Rolly hated those stupid stories. Rolly thinks Rolly should tell the story. Everyone likes Rolly best anyway.


MALL RAT #3: But we have to tell a story. Otherwise we can’t —

RAINBOW: No! Stories won’t change what happened. Evil doesn’t care about the word of the day. (Looks at her hands) Some things don’t wash away in the tubby.

GOOGOL: Has anyone stopped to think about what will happen if the Grumpuses find another way into our world?

MATHMAGICIAN: (Waving his wand) If Gobbler infects even one Grumpus, then there will be two. If they infect two more Grumpuses, and those werewolves infect four more, that makes eight. Eight werewolves! If those eight werewolves… (Wand begins to smoke)

MALL RAT #2: Poor Gobbler. I don’t understand how he became a werewolf in the first place.

GOOGOL: He must have been bitten some time since the last full moon.

MISTER JOHNSON: But who bit him? None of us changed when the moon came out.

MATHMAGICIAN: There have been one, two, three, four special guest stars since the last full moon. It must have been one of them.

GOOGOL: We must find them and figure out which is the werewolf. Once we do —

ROLLY: (Slams a silver–bladed survival knife into the counter) Then the Word of the Day will be kick ass!

MALL RAT #3: (Whispers) That’s, like, two words of the day.

(Rolly glares at Mall Rat #3, who cowers. Everyone gathers their weapons and heads out, leaving the empty restaurant behind.)

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