Bonnie's backpack hit the floor with a thud and she was out her bedroom door in a flash. It was Friday, and in the Anderson family Friday dinners out were a well-established tradition. Bonnie had even greater anticipation for this week's outing, as it was the last weekend of summer. The little girl would be starting kindergarten on Monday morning, although she would still be spending her afternoons at Sunnyside with her mother; and she was hopeful that maybe a special treat was in store, such as a movie or a trip to the arcade, in celebration of the big event.
The toys listened for the family's car to pull out of the driveway, before coming to life and resuming their earlier activities. They failed to notice, however, the rustling that was coming from the little blue backpack by the door, the bag shaking as the zipper slowly started to open. As soon as they heard the zzzzzip from across the room, the toys immediately stopped what they were doing and walked toward the backpack cautiously, waiting to see who or what would emerge. Had Barbie and Ken stowed away for a surprise weekend visit? Had Bonnie been permitted to borrow some random toy for a few days? Or could she possibly have brought a new toy home for good?
Pointy black fingers grasped the top edge of the bag, as first two grey horns, then a purple head, and finally glowing red eyes came into view. It didn't take Bonnie's toys long to realize exactly who they were dealing with. As Buzz's arch-nemesis wriggled himself free from the backpack, the space ranger struck a defensive pose and prepared for what he believed was an inevitable confrontation. Jessie grasped her boyfriend's arm, anxious yet ready to back him up if the need arose, while the other toys looked on nervously.
Zurg glanced around the room, as his vision adjusted to the light. Scanning the faces of the toys who were staring back at him in disbelief, he finally caught sight of a familiar one.
"Buzzie! My boy!" he exclaimed, extending his arms affectionately as he traveled towards the dumbstruck space toy, who stood, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, not quite knowing how to reply.
Jessie tugged on Buzz's elbow, completely confused by the warm greeting. "Buzz, why does he think he's your Pa? Buzz?"
"What?" The space ranger turned to his girlfriend and attempted to process what was happening. "In the series, he was my father," Buzz explained, aside. "Kind of like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Apparently, this Zurg has chosen to see me as his son rather than his enemy."
"Well, at least we don't have a fight on our hands," Jessie reasoned.
By this time, Zurg had approached Buzz and Jessie at the foot of Bonnie's bed. He pulled his perceived-son into an awkward embrace, then stepped back at arm's length, his hands on Buzz's shoulders, looking him over.
"My, how you've grown, son! So tall and strong!"
The other toys, gathered in a semicircle around the scene that was unfolding, all stared in dismay. Buzz wrested himself free from the deluded toy's grip.
"I think you're mistaking me for another Buzz Lightyear toy… Zurg. I don't believe I've ever met you before," the space ranger politely stated.
"Please, call me Dad," Zurg insisted. "So, who do we have here?" He shifted his attention to Jessie. "Son, do you have a girlfriend you didn't tell me about?"
"Yes – well, not that I didn't tell you about – but this is Jessie." Buzz gently placed an arm around her waist, half in introduction, half in protection.
"Really, Buzzie, a cowgirl?" Zurg scoffed. "You, a decorated Captain, the hero and pride of Star Command, and the best you can find is a cowgirl? You could have had your pick of the galaxy!"
Jessie's face twisted in rage as Buzz tightened his grip on her waist to restrain her.
"Now, hold on a minute. I love Jessie, and we're very happy together. Besides, we're toys. I have never been to Star Command nor met anyone from another planet. I really think you're confusing me with another Buzz."
"Nonsense," the emperor brushed him off. "I'd know my Buzzie Boy anywhere! And we have so much catching up to do!" The space ranger rolled his eyes and let out an exasperated groan.
Woody, who was sympathetic to his best friend's plight, stepped forward in an attempt to divert Zurg away from Buzz.
"Howdy – uh, emperor – I'm Woody," the cowboy introduced himself to the taller space toy. "Welcome to Bonnie's room. How are things at Sunnyside?"
"Sunnyside?" Zurg was taken aback by the reference to the daycare facility. "Oh, things are as usual there. But I don't want to talk about Sunnyside; I want to spend time with my son."
Dolly walked up to join Woody. "Well, chances are you're here for at least the weekend, so you've got plenty of time for that," the rag doll interjected. "Why don't Woody and I here give you a tour of the place? Might as well make yourself at home."
Before Zurg could protest any further, Woody and Dolly whisked him toward the door and out into the hallway, pointing out the house's landmarks along the way. The rest of the toys scattered and went back about their business.
As soon as the coast was clear, Buzz leaned against Bonnie's wicker toybox and slumped wearily with his head in his hands.
"What're we gonna do?" Jessie asked him. "We gotta put up with that the entire weekend? What if she brought him home for keeps?"
"That's just great, another space nut," muttered Mr. Potato Head, as he and the Missus walked past the couple.
The space ranger looked helplessly at his girlfriend. "I honestly don't know. The only time I ever encountered another Zurg was at Al's Toy Barn, and on the trip to the airport. But he thought another Buzz was his son, not me."
"Where's my Buzzie?" Zurg's voice boomed as he returned to the room, followed by Woody and Dolly close behind. "We have so much to talk about!" The two friends shrugged their apology as the emperor hurried toward Buzz and Jessie.
"Just call me Buzz, okay?" The space ranger laughed uneasily. "Only Jessie can get away with calling me Buzzie," he mumbled.
"Aww, but you are my Buzzie!" Zurg reached out to pat Buzz's cheek, but the space ranger recoiled just in time. Unfazed by his supposed-son's standoffishness, the emperor continued with his fatherly affections, making reference to Buzz Lightyear of Star Command as if it were fact and asking pointless questions which Buzz answered tersely, his patience wearing thin. After what seemed like an eternity, the space ranger was mercifully spared by the sound of the Andersons' return.
"Places, everyone!" instructed Woody. Buzz quickly ushered Zurg back into the bag and resumed his original location with the others.
"Hi toys! Guess what? We went to Pizza Planet!" Bonnie rushed into the room and went straight for her backpack. She unzipped it and pulled out Zurg, waving him above her head.
"Look who I brought home! Mom said I could borrow him for the weekend. He kinda looks like he goes with Buzz." She reached for Dolly on the bed. "But I think the evil witch needs a new sidekick!" She cackled, indicating Dolly's voice, and ran around the room, making the two toys fly.
"Bonnie! Bedtime, sweetheart!" Mrs. Anderson called from the hallway. "We have to go school shopping tomorrow."
The little girl set Dolly and Zurg down and proceeded with her nighttime routine. Moments later she returned, teeth brushed and wearing her pajamas. Her parents hugged and kissed her goodnight, and she arranged her toys for bed.
"You stand here," she positioned Zurg on her nightstand, "because you don't look very cuddly."
Buzz and Jessie were relieved to be among the chosen toys tucked under the covers that night, although they would have been much more comfortable if they had also been out of Zurg's line of vision. As soon as Bonnie drifted off to sleep, Jessie rolled over to face Buzz and kissed him playfully on the nose as she cuddled closer. The space ranger looked over his girlfriend's shoulder and saw his nemesis-father watching and waving at them from his post.
"I wouldn't do that, Jessie," Buzz whispered. "He's watching us."
"Then what do ya suggest we do? Sneak out?"
"No, that'll never work; he'll follow us. I can't take any more interrogation today. Just go to sleep, or at least pretend to. Close your eyes."
Jessie sighed, but knew Buzz was right. The couple snuggled together under the covers, trying their best to convince Zurg that they were sound asleep. After a few minutes had passed, Buzz cracked an eye open slightly to see if Zurg was still watching. Sure enough, the emperor met his gaze, and the space ranger snapped his eye shut hastily. 'Blast,' he thought, 'he never gives up!'
Before long, feigned slumber became real, as the space ranger and cowgirl found one sure way of escaping, at least for now, from their unwelcome visitor.