Superkid and the Mutant Plants

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The Mother of all Mutants

As can be expected, the journey to the lair of the ultimate monster was not a walk in the park. More appropriately, though still an understatement, it was a madcap dash through a minefield with giant swinging blades, jets of fire, and a giant rolling boulder. In their macabre race to ultimate doom, they dodged deadly darts, sidestepped sinuous snatchers, and bypassed beleaguered beasts. Dr. Red was jerking the wheel all over the place, his neck so thick and gnarly it seemed he was going to tense himself into a tree. The karate woman was tense as well, but she had her body as relaxed as though she was sunbathing at the beach… not a bad picture there. Doctor Red, once again, had to admire her for her cool and collected demeanor.

From the back, Superkid yelled, "How much further?"

The diabolical doctor couldn't admire Superkid's cool and collected demeanor if he tried. It so irked him that the upstart little super punk had to act in control even when his life was in the doctor's hands. He roared with as much venom as he could, "We should be there in five minutes or less! Provided the traffic isn't bad!"

But of course traffic was. As they got closer and closer to their destination, the number in Vena's legions got larger and larger - and the members of the legions themselves. It was no longer an option to bash the wicked vegetation as they had been doing previously, which had entangled the plants in the vehicle's radiator, quickly making it look like an overly dressed float in the Christmas parade. With the mutant plants becoming larger and larger, they were forced to make detours to avoid collisions.

Suddenly, a tree crashed onto the road as though it intended to end their frantic dash for survival, which as a matter of fact was exactly its intentions. But the evil doctor was not about to lose the record for surviving the longest in a 180 mph dash. He slammed the horn-brake and spun the wheel, sending the vehicle into a drift and leaving dark tire marks in the asphalt. Right when the bumper was about to slam into the malicious tree, he stomped on the gas, giving the tree something like a friendly hip bump before peeling out of there.

"That was close!" Derrick wheezed. The near miss had knocked the breath out of him. He was still recovering from the chunk ripped from his chest. The good doctor had succeeded in using the spider's web to patch it up.

"We're not out of this yet," Dr. Red told Derrick grimly. "In fact, we're headed deeper into it."

"And whose idea was it again?" Derrick flicked his eyes accusingly at each of the passengers.

"If you had a better idea…" Superkid began irritably.

Before things could get tense between our hero and his friend, Dr. Rowenna E. Doublin cried, "Oh my goodness! Look!"

Everyone obediently looked forward.

"No, I mean, look above us!"

So they did. They couldn't discern much since their vehicle was rushing so fast - just a bunch of tan blurs. But after a few times of flinging their vision ahead and following the target as it passed overhead, they discovered what had horrified the psychiatrist.

"They're the Poolingtonians!" Derrick cried.

"In cages," Darrin added.

If we were to get to a higher and stationary vantage point, we would see that this was exactly what they were looking at. And because I am so much more eloquent in my descriptions than most of the characters in that vehicle - with the exception of Doctor Rowenna E. Doublin, Doctor Red, and Black Belt… and maybe Superkid… which makes up most of the party, which, I guess, means I'm only more eloquent than two characters…

Just forget what I said. I'll just tell you what the townsfolk were doing in cages suspended in the air.

Remember everyone who had all been under attack by their plants coming to life? Well, this is what happened to them when the plants got them: they were put in tumbleweed cages, which were suspended above the streets by thick, woody vines that supported themselves over the rooftops of the buildings. Needless to say, it was a life-changing experience for them. Families huddled together in those cages, terrified and wondering what would become of them. At least, that was the case for most families. There were other families who found the pressures of survival too much and turned on each other like wild animals. There were couples too: some who had bitterly broken apart found themselves in the same boat - metaphorically - had their bonds renewed by this metaphorical boat, and eventually fell back in love; and some couples found that their true love was a complete and selfish jerk who was only in it for their own self-seeking interests.

There were long-lost brothers reunited, rebellious teenagers who learned that they could rely on their parents' wisdom, and even an old reclusive man who reached an epiphany.

While humanitarians might want to explore the stories that were ripening in these cages, we're going to focus our interests on the shallower aspects of this setting - the one where good and evil were banded together - purely out of circumstance - to combat the threat of floral invasion for the good of the entire world.

Dr. Rowenna - being a humanitarian herself - cried woefully, "Oh, those poor people. They must be terrified out of their wits!"

The vehicle's passengers were suddenly terrified out of their wits when the asphalt exploded and a row of thorns the size of medieval pikes emerged, pointing straight at them!

Every one of them screamed - except Superkid, of course. He popped his cape's hose into his mouth, grabbed Derrick, Darrin, and Doctor Rowenna by the collar and puffed as hard as he could. Black Belt reflexively jumped to her feet, preparing to leap from the doomed vehicle. Dr. Red, who had neither Superkid's airlifting abilities nor Black Belt's reflexes and maneuverability, could only slam the horn-brake and pray for a miracle.

The thorns arced down, punching through the engine and immediately halting the vehicle. Superkid, having blown his balloon to full capacity, went flying into the air with his three passengers in tow. Black Belt also went flying, having launched herself on impact. Dr. Red was left to pitch forward onto his steering wheel with a nasty crack to his nose. His nose began to bleed and a shiny purple lump started to grow on his forehead. He wasn't wasting time bawling about his injuries, however. He immediately fumbled with the car door as enormously thick vines emerged from the crater and shot towards him.

"AAAAAAAAAARGH!"


Meanwhile, Superkid and his friends - and the psychiatrist - had flown safely past the pikes but were now sinking.

Derrick screamed, "Go up!"

"Can't…" Superkid grunted. "Balloon is - grunt - full… there's just - grunt - too much weight!"

"It's me, isn't it?" said Dr. Rowenna. "I'm jeopardizing the mission with my weight. Perhaps you should drop me and at least save yourselves."

"No!" Derrick wheezed. "I'm the one bringing us down. I've been putting on a little weight since second grade," which was a silly point to make, but the psychiatrist had saved his life and now seemed a good time to repay the favor, so he said, "Drop me instead, just… don't forget me…"

"But you're young," the young doctor protested. "You've yet to live your life! So many opportunities are open to you! It would be a shame to waste them all!"

"But you're too beautiful to die!" Derrick cried.

There was a brief moment of silence. Then Dr. Rowenna E. Doublin whispered in a stunned voice, "You really think I'm beautiful?"

Derrick shook his head, a bit stunned himself. "Ever since you saved me… well… see, no one else but you really cared when I got hurt…"

Superkid had had enough of the little soap opera going on beneath him, so to solve their problem of who was going to be sacrificed for whom, he dropped them both.

"Aaa - oof!" The landing had been surprisingly soft and squishy - not to mention the fall hadn't even been that long. Derrick and Dr. Rowenna blinked bewilderedly into each other's eyes until Superkid and Darrin landed next to them with a squish.

"You two better get up," Superkid told them. "This is some dangerous territory we're in."

The streets were almost entirely covered in plant material. Enormous roots the size of Roman columns periodically breached the fragmented surface and branched into adjacent streets. The buildings were thick with leaves the size of queen-sized mattresses - which were on sale at Fluff'd Goose for 39% off. What little sunlight there was filtered through all the hanging cages that creaked gently in the breeze. This place definitely had an ominous feel to it. A "welcome to your doom" sort of air.

Darrin gulped. "This is kind of creepy. I feel like I'm being watched." He turned, glancing around in paranoia. "Where are they all?"

"Could be a trap," Derrick suggested as he graciously helped the psychiatrist to her feet.

"Possibly," agreed the superhero, surprising Derrick. "But if that's the case, shouldn't the trap have sprung by now?"

If there had been a trap to spring, Superkid's provocative statement would have sprung it. With this unexpected break from predictable irony, his question went unanswered.

"I guess we should get moving," he said at last.

"But which way?" Derrick cried. "Are you saying we should try to get out of here and find safety or go find Vena who will probably eat us?"

Before our hero could so much as give Derrick an exasperated look, Dr. Rowenna E. Doublin cried, "What's happened to Jennifer? And that other doctor?"

"I'm sure they're fine," Superkid replied, starting to climb over a beached root.

"After that horrible crash? You don't suppose those oddly developed plants have captured them, do you?"

"If that's the case," Superkid told her with a grim smile, "we'll have to rescue them."


When the vehicle had been speared to a halt, Black Belt had pushed herself off, launching right over the barricade. She curled herself just before her landing and rolled into an alleyway. She sprang to her feet to find herself facing a mass of moss about as big as a car but much lower to the ground with four bricks at its corners acting as legs. It stomped these legs in challenge and let out a half hiss half gurgle, "Re-e-e-e-e-e-ed."

A snap of her whip pulled out one of its legs from under it and sent it to the ground with a plop. As it struggled to its legs, Black Belt used the whip to yank out an old television set from the dumpster the moss monster was next to. The TV landed on it with a "squelch," spraying a good deal of its body all over the vine-covered walls. The four legs of moss still attached to the bricks lifted into the air and squealed angrily.

The walls suddenly came to life with bubbling sounds. Bricks began falling from the walls, clunking on the ground and clanging on the dumpster as moss of every color - green, black, blue, white, and dirty yellow - seeped out of the walls and flowed toward the legs.

A sight like this would fascinate most people and make them forget that it would not be good if the monster finished preparing itself and went after them. Then again, in most cases the monster would politely remind them to run once it was finished to counterbalance their destructive instincts. But Black Belt was not most people. She was highly skilled in combat situations, which included knowing when a foe is too tough - which was rarely the case for her - and thus was already gone before the additional moss formed with the legs. When the moss had formed itself into a massive blob - the bricks were forgotten somewhere in its center - it surged forward in pursuit of the intruder.

As for Doctor Red, Vena's target, he was running as fast as he could through the vine-riddled streets, firing at any plant that attempted to pursue him.

His Midair Tacker - henceforth MAT - is what had saved him from capture back at his wrecked vehicle. He had used it to tack the vines before they had reached him, their bodies slinging forward as though from a swing. He had tried to run back but that was when row upon row of spikes popped up to cut him off from his escape. His only alternative was deeper into the nest toward Vena. He realized that this was where Vena wanted him to go, but panic was preventing him from countering this, for mutant plants emerged from alternate routes, driving him down the path leading to their master. And since MAT tacked them in place, blocking any possible exit, using it didn't help Red much.

Deeper and deeper he ran where the foliage grew thicker and thicker and the air became darker and darker. He was getting close to the root of all this - quite literally - where awaited his destiny. There he would confront this menace… meet with his past… reach a turning point… make the decision that would affect the future of all of the earth for better or worse…

Destiny has a strange sense of humor sometimes.


Superkid, Darrin, Derrick, and Doctor Rowenna E. Doublin had run into the trap they were all so worried about and were now running for their lives A group of pumpkin heads, as well as giant dandelions, a swarm of flying nuts, cactus men, tree ghouls, and a troop of long-tongued tulips charged after them, screaming, "Re-e-e-ed! Re-e-e-e-ed! Re-e-e-e-ed!"

Suddenly, the psychiatrist tripped. When the three kids stopped to go back and help her, she screamed, "Go without me! I'll be fine!"

Unexpectedly, for the kids had not reached her yet, she was yanked to her feet when Black Belt swooped down, grabbed her wrist, and ran with her, all without stopping.

"Jennifer!" Dr. Rowenna exclaimed with joy. "You're all right!"

She gave no reply but continued dragging her psychiatrist along her breakneck pace.

The evil Dr. Red leaped over large loops of giant roots like he was in a demented environmentalist's version of the hurdles, stumbling more than once, only to get right back up again and keep running -

- Black Belt snapped her whip at mutants that got too close as she dragged Doctor Rowenna along -

- Superkid performed amazing midair kicks to clear their path as he and his friends continued their sprint -

- Doctor Red fought desperately for breath as he tried to maintain focus on the light at the end of the plant-constructed tunnel -

- Derrick began to stumble, feeling weak, out of breath -

- Black Belt whipped Dr. Doublin into her arms and sprinted for all she was worth -

- the leaves seemed to be closing in on Red as he ran faster for the light -

- the howling of the plant beasts was building, but Black Belt was quickly catching up to the three kids -

- Derrick suddenly tripped and stumbled forward, wheeling his arms in frantic circles -

- Dr. Red, so close to the light of freedom, shot himself faster -

- Black Belt caught up and tried to pass around the kids -

- Derrick caught the hem of her blouse as he fell -

- Superkid tripped over Derrick's flying leg -

- Darrin veered away to avoid the accident but tripped over his untied shoelace -

- the mad scientist leaped through the shrinking hole -

- and they all crashed into each other and fell in a jumbled heap.

The evil doctor, Red, scrambled desperately to get to his feet but something was pressing down on top of him. "Aaaaaaaaargh!" he growled.

"Sorry," Doctor Rowenna E. Doublin gasped. "But I can't get up - cough! - something's on me…"

"That's me," responded Black Belt unapologetically. "I'd be able to get off you if there wasn't someone on my back."

"I'm trying," said Superkid, "but my leg is caught."

"My arm," Derrick whimpered. "It feels like it's going to break…"

Darrin, the only one to avoid the collision, pushed himself off the thick ivy, which came off his shirt and pants with a sound like Velcro. He hurried over to the entangled ball of villains, hero, and friends and helped to untangle them all. Superkid was the first one up, the first one to look up, and the first one whose jaw opened up.

Black Belt was next. She spotted Superkid's odd position and looked to see what was going on. Her mouth didn't fall open - a shame since she had such beautiful teeth - but her eyes did widen and she began coiling her whip.

Then the good doctor stood up. She glanced up with them and then gasped, "Oh my word!"

Derrick struggled to his feet. He gaped when he looked up and nearly fell backward into a knot of giant leaves.

Darrin tried to help the evil doctor up, but he refused his hand. So Darrin turned, saw them looking, looked himself, and then gasped, "Holy cow!"

The diabolical Doctor Red was the last to get up. He was about to run but when he spotted all five of his companions - for want of a better word - in the same position - and looking stupid, in his opinion - he couldn't help but look to see what had caught their tongue. Then he joined them in their dumbfounded staring and squeaked, "Vena!"

That's right. They were staring at the source of the mayhem - the mother of all mutants - the mutated Dionaea muscipula - Vena. And she was staring back at them.

She had a strangely curious look on her enormous face as though they were unexpected guests to a tea party. Very strange since she had absolutely no facial features to speak of other than a giant toothy mouth. But when Dr. Red squeaked out her name, she turned.

None of them had time to react. Vena just suddenly slammed her hands on the ground, cracking the asphalt and knocking everyone to the ground with the tremors. She reared back her head and shrieked, "RE-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-ED!" It was such a tremendous sound - nearly head-splitting in volume. Then, before any of them could recover, she snatched the diabolical doctor and heaved him screaming into the air.

"Oh no!" Dr. Rowenna E. Doublin screamed. "Someone save him! She's got him! She's got him!"

Superkid immediately puffed up his balloon and lifted into the air. Black Belt sprang forward, using the thick roots and the eaves of the ruined abandoned post office to catapult herself up the body of the mutant plant.

Their efforts were immediately thwarted. Thick but stubby vines popped out of the giant flytrap's body and swatted the karate woman down, and Vena's main hand slapped Superkid away from her like he was a fly… you know, because he was so small and pitiful. We'll ignore the fact that she eats flies for the sake of the simile. In any case, this showed that they were no match for her. She was simply too big and too dexterous.

"How are we going to beat that thing?" Derrick cried.

"We'll need a miracle," Darrin said grimly, watching Dr. Rowenna help Black Belt unsteadily to her feet. The martial artist had slammed her body several times as she had fallen from Vena's body and she looked shaky.

Without the two biggest nuisances in her way, Vena could now devote her full attention to her prize: the nefarious Dr. Red. She screamed his name again, the sound waves peeling all loose articles back, including his cheeks. The smell of her breath was like decomposing animal but Red wasn't about to tell her that; after all, it's never a good idea to insult a woman.

"RE-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-ED!"

The man in question trembled in her hand, his arms clamped firmly to his side, making his weapon useless. He waited for her wrath to fall upon him like thunderbolts from heaven… or a giant tanker. She was a lot bigger than he remembered; she could easily have swallowed him whole without him even touching her throat! But she simply held him there as though waiting for his response.

Derrick turned on the spot as he gazed up at the scene happening above them. "What's going on? Did Doctor Red get eaten yet?"

"Yeah, what's going on?" Superkid groaned as he limped to the group's side. When Vena had swatted him, he had sailed headfirst into giant mutant pine tree. It had taken him a while to wrestle it into submission and he certainly hadn't walked away without any scars. Remind me to tell you about it later.

In the meantime, Vena watched the mad scientist for a while longer before she hissed again, "Rrre-e-e-e-ed." Then she waited.

Red had been petrified at the thought of meeting his end. He still had so much malice to unleash on the world - so much misery and chaos to spread - so many people to wrong. Even while in the grips of Vena, he hadn't wanted to at least have a quick and painless death. He wanted to live! And he had prayed for some miracle that would spare him - some hand of fate to swoop down and intervene on his behalf. And as the seconds stretched without Vena making any move to snuff out his life… he began to hope.

"…Vena?"

Vena's other hand came up to grip him. A new wave of terror rushed through his body as he thought she was going to squeeze him until he popped like a pimple. Then his terror was drowned in a tide of astonishment when she brought him closer, turned her head to the side, and began rubbing her head against him! On top of that, a deep, rumbling sound emerged from her throat - or stem, if you prefer - that vibrated throughout the entire town. It sounded very suspiciously like a purr. Vena was purring!

"Oh my goodness!" Doctor Rowenna E. Doublin became overwhelmed with tears.

"I don't believe it." Superkid shook his head.

Derrick held up his finger to ask a question. "So wait, so the reason all the plants came to life - the reason we were being chased all over the place - the reason we were attacked by ugly trees, dandelions, and that telephone pole was because this thing wanted to be Doctor Red's friend… because it missed him?"

"I guess so," Darrin replied. "Which means, I guess, it's all over now! Our lives can go back to normal! All he has to do is tell this thing to put all the plants back to normal and bingo! Happily ever after!"

Superkid nodded thoughtfully. "Huh. I guess you're right. Maybe the answer is that cheesy - er - easy."

And so it seemed. Once Dr. Red realized that Vena wasn't going to eat him, he became chagrined and apologized for abandoning her. "How could you eat me, huh? After all that I did for you. I guess I just panicked and wasn't thinking straight." He climbed onto her head and kissed her fondly. "But now that we've straightened out this misunderstanding, I'm going to take good care of you, yes I will!" He rubbed her head and she purred louder than before.

The good doctor smiled happily though she still had tears in her eyes. "I just love happy endings. Now let's get everyone down so we can all have happy endings." She squeezed Black Belt's shoulder, who grunted painfully in return.

So Derrick yelled up to the doctor on the enormous Dionaea muscipula's head, "Hey Doctor! Tell your plant to let everyone go!"

Dr. Red, startled out of his fondling, peered curiously down.

"Come on! Tell it to let everyone go so we can go home!"

But the wicked doctor's brain was now busy cogitating. They wanted him to tell Vena to let the townsfolk go. He had the power to tell Vena to let everyone go. But if he had that power then he also had the power to tell Vena to not let anyone go! But his power stretched far beyond that… oh yes, considering everything Vena had done in her search for him, she possessed an incredible amount of power… and if he controlled her, he controlled that power…

"Hey doc! Are you listening?"

He smiled diabolically. "Every word! Although, you're a little hard to hear from up here. Bring them up, Vena!"

She obediently snatched them up. Derrick gasped, "Hey! Be careful with me!" They were raised to Vena's eye level - or at least, the level where her eyes would be if she had them - where Dr. Red could look down at them. Superkid looked up at him and noticed the mad doctor was in a familiar stance: his legs apart, one foot in front of the other, and his hands clasped together and rubbing slowly against each other. This could only mean one thing: he had an evil plan cooking in that twisted brain of his. The fact that the sun behind him enhanced his imposing figure only increased our hero's sense of foreboding.

The evil Doctor Red grinned at the three of them clenched in Vena's vine fist. He declared, "Ah, that's better! I want to thank you boys. You really helped me. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have made it up with Vena. I'm in your debt." He chuckled, "Funny thing is I hate being in debt. But that's easily fixed."

"You've got money?" Derrick asked. Darrin and Superkid though had a feeling they knew what the solution was. And it wasn't money.

It wasn't. The malicious man with the esteemed title replied, "There's no need to pay back the debt if you're not around to be paid." Laughing at the look of horror on Derrick's face, he commanded, "Vena, DINNER TIME!"

Vena obliged, throwing her mouth open wide like those puppets with the huge mouths, nearly throwing Dr. Red off. He managed to grab her trichomes before he fell. But Superkid and his friends weren't so lucky. They were tossed into Vena's cavernous mouth, Derrick screaming and Darrin yelling. Then she clamped her mouth shut - Red was almost catapulted off her head - and swallowed.

Down on the ground, Doctor Rowenna E. Doublin gasped and then screamed, "YOU MONSTER!"

The only reply she got was a malicious laugh that echoed throughout the town of Poolington.

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