Keeper of the Spatula

Chapter 19: Near the Inferno

Soon, SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward reach the volcano and began to climb up the heated mountain. SpongeBob being the most excited of the three, climbed up the fastest. “We’re here! We’re here!” he shouted eagerly with each climb. “You hear that, Hoagie? You’re only minutes away from being freed!” he let out a giggle and once again said, “Freed...! Freed…freed.”

Suddenly, his smile disappears and his climbing slows down which allows his friends to catch up to him. Patrick stopped next to him and asked in concern, “What’s wrong, SpongeBob?”

SpongeBob shook out of his daze and answered, “Oh, nothing. I’m fine.”

Squidward climbed next to him and spat, “Then stop dawdling and let’s get a move on. The sooner this nightmare ends the better.”

They continued their climb up the volcano and eventually reached the top with a large flat surface at the ring of the mouth that had smoke coming from inside.

“Wow,” Patrick said tiredly as he stood at the top. “Climbing a volcano can really make a guy perspirate.” This was proven when he lifted up his arm to show his armpit sweating.

Squidward’s forehead even began to sweat which he wiped with his arm. “Let’s just hurry and throw that spatula in. I can really use that blizzard now.”

“Sure thing, Squidward. It won’t take long.” SpongeBob assured with a nod as he took the spatula out of his pocket and walked over to the edge of the volcano by himself.

He stopped and glanced over the edge to see boiling lava inside. He gulped and looked at the spatula. “Well, Hoagie, I guess this is goodbye.” He told the spatula, “We’ve really been through a lot together, and you still make the most delicious krabby patties I’ve ever eaten. I know you’re scared, but I have to throw you into the volcano now. It’ll free you from the spatula and from my mind.”

He extends his arm over the edge, about to drop the spatula into the lava. But before he can let go of the spatula, he talks to it once again, “It’s a shame though. If you were alive, we could’ve made the finest krabby patties together, and share ice-cream, go to the movies, make krabby patties together, spend a day at Goo Lagoon, make krabby patties together, go jellyfishing…” as he goes on, his eyes slowly widen with madness and retracts his arm back with the spatula, “…make krabby patties together…go bike-riding…keep krabby patties together.”

He holds the spatula close and gets an enraged scowl as he speaks in a spiteful tone, “Oh, I see it now. Everybody wants me to get rid of you…cuz they’re all just jealous.” He glares even harder as he tightens his grip on the spatula. “You were right, Hoagie. They don’t care about our patties, they only care about themselves.”

From near the cliff, Patrick and Squidward were standing far behind as they watch SpongeBob finish their duty. But after a while, they notice the sponge was taking longer than he should have.

“SpongeBob!” Squidward called out to him. “What’s the hold up? Did you toss that thing yet?”

At this, SpongeBob immediately turned around with an uncharacteristically dark frown on his face and the golden spatula still in his fist. This seemed to startle them a bit, seeing SpongeBob having not done what they came all the way to the volcano to do.

“SpongeBob?” Patrick timidly asked. “I think you forgot to throw the spatula into the volcano.”

“No, Patrick Star.” SpongeBob spoke in a stone cold voice. “I’m keeping Hoagie with me.” He smiled weakly and held the spatula close to his cheek. “We’re gonna be together forever and ever, and we’ll make all the krabby patties we want and no one will ever soil their beauty again!”

Squidward grabbed a hold of SpongeBob’s shoulders and spoke to him in a desperate tone, “Get a hold of yourself, SquarePants! That’s the spatula talking! Go throw it into the volcano now!”

“NEVER!” SpongeBob shouted as he stepped back from Squidward’s grip. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? If you can’t have Hoagie, no one can, is that it?”

Squidward became disgusted by his irrational accusations, “You sick little freak.”

“But if you don’t throw the spatula into the lava, we can’t do all the things we said we were gonna do.” Patrick pointed out. “We’re best friends.”

“You’re wrong.” SpongeBob objected with a glare. “Hoagie and I are best friends now. He said he’d be with me forever if I didn’t throw him into the lava.” He stroked the spatula’s metal. “He’s my fellow fry cook and we’ll never let anyone ruin our beautiful krabby patties ever again!”

He laughed madly and twirled around with the spatula held in the air while Squidward and Patrick could do nothing but stare haplessly as SpongeBob succumbed to the spatula’s power. But then, a scream was heard, and they all turn to see Plankton had climbed up the volcano and screamed madly as he jumped atop SpongeBob’s fist that held the spatula.

Plankton then struggled to pull the spatula out of SpongeBob’s fist as he shouted, “Gimme! Precious…spatula!” and out of sheer desperation, he bit SpongeBob’s thumb, causing the sponge to cry out in pain and release the spatula into his grasp.

Plankton laughed maniacally at finally having the spatula in his possession. However, SpongeBob refused to let the spatula go so easily. After shaking off the little bite Plankton gave him, he ran forward and grabbed one end of the spatula and started fighting with Plankton over it. As they move around with it, SpongeBob shouted, “NO! Hoagie…mine!”

But they soon stumbled backwards towards the edge of the volcano and the two fell over the side as Squidward and Patrick gasp in shock.

SpongeBob screamed and lost his grip on the spatula, but managed to grab onto a ledge that hung above the lava. However, Plankton held onto the spatula and grinned in triumph as he fell. “It’s mine!” he yelled in joy, “IT’S FINALLY MINE!” He laughed maniacally up until he and the spatula fell into the lava.

Afterwards, the lava in the volcano started to boil and smoke as it started to rise. SpongeBob still hung onto the ledge and sweated profusely in fear and heat as the magma nearly reached him. He closed his eyes, fearing the end- until two hands grabbed a hold of his arms and pulled him back up.

Squidward and Patrick pulled SpongeBob back on the ledge of the volcano just as the mountain erupted and spewed lava from the top like a fountain.

Surprisingly, from out of the lava, Plankton also flew out, albeit all scorched and blackened with the tip of his antennas lit with small flames. He flew through the sky like a comet with a blank look on his face. “Well…” he uttered in defeat. “I suppose it’s better to quit than let it overcome my life.”

As Plankton flew all the way out of the Arctic, more lava erupted from the volcano and black smoke reached the sky. Among the smoke, a sparkle of gold flickered and from out of the mouth of the volcano, eerie green mist flew into the sky and suddenly vanished into nothingness now that the soul of Hoagie Grindulas was free from the cooking tool and free to never possess anyone’s mind again.

“I can’t believe it.” SpongeBob’s voice spoke as he, Squidward, and Patrick lay flat on their backs on edge of a cliff that was on the side of the volcano. They were surrounded by a river of lava running down from the top which gave them no way to escape. But nonetheless, SpongeBob continued speaking cheerfully to his friends as he stared up at the ash-filled sky, “Hoagie’s free from the spatula and my mind. Free from that imprisonment and free to rest in peace. We did it.”

“Yeah…” Squidward somewhat agreed.

Patrick smiled and replied, “That’s right.”

Squidward sighed and added, “I guess this what victory feels like when I’m traveling with you two.” But then he heard sniffling and turned his head to see SpongeBob crying. “SpongeBob, what’s wrong?” Squidward asked in concern.

“Well, I don’t really know how to feel about it.” SpongeBob answered sadly as he cried softly. “Even though Hoagie was a fry cook like me, he wasn’t as good a friend as I thought he was. He lied to me, made me feel anguished, and he made me treat you guys like dirt. Not to mention, he used me to mistreat the thing I love most in this world.”

Squidward thought SpongeBob crying over something as simple as that was not important, but nonetheless spoke to him, “Look, SpongeBob, he’s gone now and he can’t possess you anymore. If it makes you feel any better, he nearly got to me too. Plus he’s more irritating than you are.”

SpongeBob wiped away his tears and asked, “Really?”

“Sure.” Squidward responded with a shrug.

SpongeBob’s smile came back and Patrick patted his shoulder. “And I think you’re a better friend than Hoagie is. And I would never use you.”

“Thanks, Pat.” SpongeBob replied with a smile as he held Patrick’s hand. “And I know you’ll always be the perfect best friend for me.”

“Look,” Squidward said as he turned his head toward them. “I love to interrupt the sappiness, but you do realize that we’re stuck here?”

“Oh yeah.” SpongeBob remembered as his smile faded. “I don’t how we’re gonna get back to Bikini Bottom.”

“And I really have to go to the bathroom too.” Patrick mentioned.

Squidward groaned loudly and his eyes water. “So this is how it all ends. Us stranded here and forced to die.”

As he began to cry, SpongeBob took his tentacle in his hand. “I guess you’re right.” He said with a small smile. “Maybe we are gonna die.”

Squidward stared at him, puzzled, while SpongeBob grabbed Patrick’s hand as well. “But you know what?” he added. “I’m okay with it.”

As SpongeBob lied there, holding each of his friends’ hands, he smiled up at the sky and continued on, “We’ve been through so much together this past week and did a good thing for someone who needed our help…at the cost of me feeling his selfishness in my heart. And if we’re really supposed to die now after all of it, well…I’m glad that it’s together with you guys.”

After SpongeBob’s little deep emotional speech, Squidward suddenly tightened his grip on SpongeBob’s hand and looked back up at the smoke-filled sky with his eyes still watering. “Yeah…” he muttered in sadness, “Sounds great.”

“Will I be able to go to the bathroom after we die?” Patrick curiously asked.

“We sure will, buddy.” SpongeBob answered optimistically as he softly closed his eyes. “We sure will.”

Many hours later, SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward had passed out while still trapped on the volcano. The three were still holding each other’s hand, never having let go. As the three lied there unconscious, a strange wind suddenly began to blow in the ash-filled sky.

SpongeBob began to open his eyes and sat up, having noticed this. As he looked up at the sky, he began to hear a strange whirring sound as well. But then, he noticed the wind began to pick up and the sound grew louder and louder.

Then through the ash, a bright light suddenly shined, which SpongeBob had to squint to even see. He wasn’t sure if he should warn the other two of its possible danger or not worry about it.

But this all changed when the ash blew away in the wind and a helicopter came into view right over his head. The loud sound of the chopper woke up Squidward and Patrick as they stare up at it.

“Ahoy, boys!” a familiar voice called out.

The three stare up at the helicopter in agape to see its side door opened and inside was none other than Mr. Krabs.

“Mr. Krabs?!” the three asked in shock to see the crab smiling and waving to them.

“He’s alive!” SpongeBob shouted in joy as he stood up.

The crab laughed as he stared down at his employees. “Long time no see!” he shouted down at them. “I wasn’t sure I’d ever find ya!”

“Mr. Krabs!” SpongeBob called out to him. “We did it! The spatula’s gone now!”

Mr. Krabs sighed in relief, happy to finally be free of the burden of that cursed spatula. He called back to the group, “And with that, I think it’s time we all returned home!”

He lowered a rope ladder from the helicopter, and SpongeBob, Squidward, and Patrick all cheered as they began to climb up. Once everyone was safely inside, Squidward immediately took a seat right next to a dented cash register and sighed in relief, “Heaven at last.”

“Squidward sure likes being dead.” Patrick commented to SpongeBob.

“You’re not dead, Patrick.” Mr. Krabs pointed out. “I happened to save you three from that horrible fate.”

“We’re glad to see you’re okay too, Mr. Krabs.” SpongeBob told his boss with a smile and hug. “What happened to you anyway?”

“Well, it wasn’t a pretty sight.” Mr. Krabs contently explained. “Cashie an’ me barely escaped with our lives, we did. Kobra…not so lucky. But that doesn’t matter now cuz we’re headin’ back Bikini Bottom!”

The pilot, Ranger Dave, smiled as he looked back at them and began to drive the helicopter and take its passengers back home to Bikini Bottom.

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