Zombies in the Endzone
Written by argonaut :: [Monday, 31 October 2011 12:30] Last updated by :: [Thursday, 15 May 2014 16:06]
ZOMBIES IN THE ENDZONE
A Scooby-Doo Mystery
SCENE: The Huxley College football field. Night. There’s a full moon in the sky and an autumn chill in the air. Fred, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are huddled – no pun intended – in the endzone, between the goalposts, surrounded by eleven dark, hulking figures in varsity letter jackets, with gleaming yellow eyes and lifeless gray skin. The figures shuffle forward, drawing the circle ever tighter around the teenage sleuths and their canine companion …
“Well, gang,” said Fred, tugging nervously at his ascot, “it looks like we’re the ones who’ve been trapped this time.”
“Like, you can say that again,” quavered Shaggy.
“But we can be glad about one thing,” said Fred, ever the optimist. “Daphne’s not here, so at least we know she’s safe.”
“You’re kidding, right?” snorted Velma. “Danger-Prone Daphne? If I know her, she’s probably-”
Suddenly a voice rang out in the crisp night air. It was a voice they knew – a girl’s voice …
Fred blinked. The zombie lumbering toward him suddenly flew back, yanked off its feet by a dainty hand grasping the collar of its varsity jacket.
Daphne was standing in the endzone, holding one of the behemoths aloft on an upraised arm and clutching another by the front of its jacket. “Unnececssary roughness!” she called. “Fifteen yards!”
Her friends stared, open-mouthed, as she swept her arms around, flinging the two-hundred-pound zombies halfway toward the fifty-yard line, where they lay groaning in the moonlight.
Next moment, the other nine behemoths were upon her, their voices lifted in angry growls. Two of them staggered back as Daphne’s fists pummeled their abdomens. With a sweep of her leg, she knocked two more off their feet. The remaining five were swarming round her, clawing and snarling. “Hee-yah!” Daphne sprang spinning into the air, swinging her leg around, felling her assailants with the toe of a $400 designer shoe.
In just a few moments, it was over. Daphne stood casually brushing the sleeves of her lavender minidress while her opponents lay scattered across the moonlit gridiron.
“Gosh, Daphne,” said Fred. “You were amazing!”
“Thanks, Fred,” Daphne cooed.
“Like, don’t look now,” said Shaggy, pointing down the gridiron. “But it looks like those guys want a rematch.”
It was true. Several of the hulking figures were already lumbering back toward the teenage sleuths, while others were staggering to their feet.
“Don’t worry, gang,” said Fred. “I’ve got a plan. Velma, go get those bungee cords from the Mystery Machine. Shaggy, Scooby-”
“Relax, Fred,” said Daphne, stepping forward. “I can handle this.”
Bending her knees and raising her arms over her head, Daphne sprang upward. Her friends craned their heads back, staring in amazement, as her jump carried her toward the crossbar ten feet above the ground.
“Jinkies!” said Velma.
Daphne had always been a bit of a klutz, but now she moved with the grace and precision of an Olympic gymnast. Hanging from the crossbar, her legs extended at right angles to her torso, she pulled herself up and swung around the bar – once, twice, three times – before executing a perfect dismount, snatching the bar from the uprights as she dropped to the ground with feline grace.
Daphne’s green eyes gleamed in the moonlight as she stood holding the crossbar aloft in one hand. Slowly, she lowered the bar, grasping it with both hands as she held it out in front of her. The next moment, she was charging down the field, her red hair streaming behind her, her scarf fluttering like a pennant in her wake.
Her opponents had no time to turn and flee. Leaning forward, Daphne drove the crossbar against their midriffs, knocking them down like so many bowling pins. “Oof!” “Ow!” Landing heavily where they fell, they lay sprawled across the field, gasping for breath and nursing their bruised limbs.
Standing on the fifty-yard line, Daphne placed her foot on one of the prostrate figures as she raised the bar triumphantly overhead. “Yes!” she shouted. Flinging the bar aside, she took out her compact and stood smoothing her windswept hair with one hand while she inspected her reflection in the mirror.
But her victory cry was premature …
“Daphne!” shouted Fred. “Look out behind you!”
Daphne turned. Two of her opponents had risen shakily to their feet. Now they were lurching toward her, arms outstretched, poised for a double tackle. Her teammates winced as the two behemoths threw themselves at her. There was a loud thud, then another …
Yawning, Daphne slipped the compact back into the pocket of her minidress. Her tacklers staggered back, stunned, as if they’d hit a brick wall. They stood swaying dizzily for a moment, then fell heavily to the ground as Daphne stood glaring down at them.
“Piling on,” she said. “Fifteen-yard penalty!”
By now the other members of Mystery Inc. had come running up to her.
“Way to go, Daphne!” exclaimed Fred.
Daphne was stooping over one of the prostrate figures. “And now,” she said, “let’s see who these zombie football players really are.”
“Hey!” Fred protested. “That’s my line.”
But Daphne ignored him. Grasping the zombie’s scalp, she pulled off a rubber mask, revealing the scowling face of …
“Chad Curtis?” her friends exclaimed in unison.
“But he’s Huxley’s starting quarterback,” said Velma.
“That’s right,” said Daphne. “And all these other so-called zombies are his teammates.”
“I don’t get it,” said Shaggy, scratching his head. “Huxley is favored to win Saturday’s big game.”
“Yes,” Fred chimed in. “Why would they try to get it called off?”
“Uh, guys?” said Velma. “Aren’t we forgetting an even bigger mystery? Namely – how did Daphne get so strong?”
“Yeah,” chuckled Shaggy. “Like, you were tossing those big bruisers around like pom-poms.”
“That?” said Daphne modestly, though a smile twitched at the corners of her mouth. “That was nothing – really. But if you want to hear the story …”
Her friends nodded eagerly.
“Well, right after Fred suggested that we split up to look for clues …”
* * * * * * * *
THIRTY MINUTES AGO …
The athletic department occupied a two-story building in the Gothic style next to the gymnasium. Daphne shivered slightly as she glanced up toward the roof, where a stone gargoyle crouched ominously, silhouetted against the full moon. The entrance was locked, but Velma had hacked the college’s computer system and Daphne had little trouble overriding the security code with her smartphone.
Slipping into the building, she crept along the shadowy corridors, turning every doorknob and shining her flashlight along the walls and ceilings. The offices were locked, the building was silent. Daphne was about to leave when she noticed a glimmer of light at the end of a hallway. It was coming from the bottom of a stairwell.
Slowly, cautiously, she descended the stairs. Her steps took her past the first floor and into the basement. The light was coming from an open door at the far end of the corridor. Keeping to the shadows, Daphne tiptoed down the hallway and peeped into the room.
It didn’t look like the kind of room you’d expect to find in an athletic building. It looked more like a physics laboratory. Worktables were cluttered with electronic gadgetry and computer monitors, and a long console, bristling with levers and dials and blinking lights, occupied the wall to the left. A heavy steel door with a small window was set into the opposite wall. And hunched over the console was a slightly-built man in a white lab coat. His head was turned slightly, and Daphne could see his thinning gray hair, his high forehead, his thick glasses …
It was the assistant athletic director, Dr. Randolph.
Daphne’s eyes darted round the room, noting every detail, until they came to rest on one of the worktables, where amid a tangle of wires she spotted a pair of rubber masks – zombie masks …
So Dr. Randolph is behind all this, she thought. I’d better get out of here and find the others.
But just at that moment, loud footsteps echoed down the stairwell. Daphne’s heart raced as she looked around for a hiding place, but the bare hallway offered no opportunity for concealment. She pressed her back against the wall, trying to shrink into the shadows, but she knew it was hopeless. “Danger-Prone” Daphne was living up to her nickname – again …
Two broad-shouldered young men in varsity jackets turned at the foot of the stairs and came striding down the corridor. Daphne recognized Chad Curtis and Greg Buchanan. Unable to hide, she decided to brazen it out.
“Hi, guys,” she said, stepping from the shadows and walking briskly toward the stairs. She tried to keep her voice level. “If you’re looking for Dr. Randolph, he’s right in there.”
She started to brush past them, but Chad darted in front of her. “What’s your hurry?” he said, grinning down at the pretty redhead. “Stick around. We won’t be long.”
“Yeah,” said Greg, eyeing Daphne wolfishly. “There’s a party at Tappa Kegga Bru. Why don’t you come with us?”
Daphne smiled, fluttering her long eyelashes. “Thanks, guys,” she said. “But I’ll have to take a rain check.” She tried to step round Chad, but just then a voice came from the other end of the hallway.
“What’s going on here?” Dr. Randolph demanded.
Daphne made a dash for the stairs. “Grab her!” Dr. Randolph shouted. The next moment, a pair of strong hands seized Daphne from behind and dragged her, kicking and struggling, back toward the room at the end of the corridor.
Dr. Randolph frowned as the two athletes escorted Daphne forcibly into the laboratory. “You’re late,” he said severely.
“Sorry, Doc,” said Chad. “But hey – if we hadn’t shown up when we did, wouldn’t have caught this chick snooping around.”
“Point taken, Mr. Curtis. Mr. Buchanan, you’ll find some nylon rope in that box over there. Kindly secure our, ah, guest to that chair.”
Moments later, Daphne found herself seated on a folding chair with her hands bound behind her and several yards of nylon cord wrapped around her waist.
“That will do,” said Dr. Randolph. “Now listen carefully.” He pointed to a video monitor mounted on a wall. It appeared to be hooked up to a security camera on the football field. Daphne could see four shadowy figures moving stealthily across the gridiron. The images were dark and indistinct, but there was no mistaking Shaggy’s slouching posture, or Scooby-Doo’s slinking gait.
“Those inquisitive adolescents are snooping around on the football field,” Dr. Randolph went on. “The boy with the ascot is planning to set some sort of puerile trap. I’ve sent your teammates to frighten them off – permanently.” He picked up the rubber masks and tossed them at the two athletes. “Get over there.”
“Sure thing, Doc.” Pulling the masks over their heads, they hurried out of the room. Daphne heard their footsteps fading along the corridor and up the stairwell.
Dr. Randolph leered at Daphne. “Well, my dear young lady, I suppose you’re wondering what this is all about.”
“I’ve got a pretty good idea,” said Daphne coolly. “You’ve been performing some sort of strength-enhancing experiments on the football players, haven’t you? That’s how Huxley was able to rise from the bottom of the league all the way to the state championship. But then you heard that the state athletic commission was getting suspicious.”
Dr. Randolph scowled as Daphne went on. “They were planning to send somebody to investigate. You were afraid they’d learn about your experiments, so you had your players dress up as zombies and terrorize the campus. You figured that if the administration called off the big game against Darwin, the investigators would postpone their visit and that would give you time to cover your tracks. Am I right?”
“I had to!” snapped Dr. Randolph. “I couldn’t let them shut down my research – not when I was on the verge of completing the greatest invention of our age!” He waved his arm toward the long console. “Behold – the Transmogrifier 4000! With this machine, I can transform a 98-pound weakling into a super-athlete – super-strong and super-fast, with super-reflexes and super-coordination. I can buy a third-string farm team and take it all the way to the Super Bowl! Why, the endorsements alone will be worth millions!”
Daphne was only half-listening. Behind her back, unnoticed by Dr. Randolph, she was cutting away at the ropes with the nail file she’d managed to slip up her sleeve before the two football players tied her up. Just a few more moments …
There! She could feel the ropes falling away from her wrists. Dr. Randolph had turned to gaze proudly at his invention. Daphne flung the ropes aside and made a dash for the hallway …
“Eh?” Dr. Randolph grabbed a length of metal pipe from a table as he moved to cut off her retreat. Daphne looked round. Maybe she could get away through that other door ... She scrambled across the room and yanked the steel door open. Slipping through, she pulled it shut behind her. She saw that the door could be bolted from inside. She slid the bar into its bracket and turned around …
Her heart sank. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, she thought.
She was in a small empty chamber with bare metallic walls, illuminated by a light panel above the door. There was an array of what looked liked fluorescent light tubes in the ceiling, and a large switch, labeled “POWER,” in the center of one wall. But there was no other door, no window ... no way out. She was trapped …
Dr. Randolph was pounding on the door and glaring at her through the small window. His voice came faintly through the thick steel. “Come out of there!”
Daphne thought quickly as her eyes darted around the room. That switch ... Maybe it was the main power switch for the laboratory? Maybe she could use it to turn off the lights and escape under cover of darkness? It was a long shot, but it was her only hope. She reached out and wrapped her fingers around the bar …
Dr. Randolph was pounding harder and faster on the door. His voice rose to a crescendo of fury and desperation. “No! Stop! Don’t pull that switch!”
But Daphne ignored him. Crossing her fingers, she pulled the switch …
Her guess was wrong. The lights did not go out. Instead, the tubes on the ceiling began to hum, bathing the room in a strange purple glow. Daphne felt a tingling sensation spread from her fingers and toes up along her limbs and through her entire body. She felt dizzy, light-headed. Stretching out her arm, she laid her hand on the steel door to keep herself from falling. But the dizziness passed as quickly as it had come.
“Jeepers!” Daphne’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. She saw that her fingers had gouged four deep grooves in the surface of the door, as if the steel were as soft as modeling clay. As she continued to press against the door, it began to crumple, separating from the frame with a piercing metallic groan. Incredulous, she pushed harder. The door buckled. The heavy bolt snapped. The hinges popped loose. And the steel slab fell crashing to the floor of the laboratory.
Dazed, Daphne stepped out of the chamber. Dr. Randolph was hunched over the console, desperately flipping switches and turning dials. “Too much, too fast!” he muttered. “Must shut it down ... “ A high-pitched humming noise filled the room; wisps of smoke were drifting from the console as it began to tremble, then shake …
“Dr. Randolph!” shouted Daphne. “We’ve got to get out of here! That machine is about to explode!”
Dr. Randolph did not turn round. “No!” he shouted, waving his arm impatiently. “I’ve got to save my invention!”
Daphne did not argue. She dashed over to the console, wrapping her arm around Dr. Randolph’s waist as she ran past and flinging him over her shoulder. A leap carried her across the room and out the door to the hallway. Turning, she raced for the stairs just as a sudden explosion shook the basement. Dark smoke billowed from the laboratory. Fire alarms began to wail throughout the building.
Daphne ran up the stairs, two steps at a time, with Dr. Randolph still slung over her shoulder. A pair of security guards were hurrying into the lobby as she reached the first floor. She paused just long enough to set Dr. Randolph down gently. “Sorry, boys!” she said as she rushed past the two guards. “No time to talk!”
The next moment, she was out in the chilly night air, running for the football field, a lavender streak the moonlight.
* * * * * * * *
A row of police cars was parked on the sidelines, red lights flashing. Police officers were escorting the chastened football players off the field in handcuffs as Daphne finished her story.
“You ran all the way from the athletic building?” said Fred.
“That’s, like, on the other side of the campus,” said Shaggy.
“I know!” Daphne’s eyes were shining with excitement. It had all happened so quickly that only now, finishing her story, was she beginning to realize what had happened to her. “Isn’t it amazing?” she squealed.
“Jinkies!” said Velma. “So Dr. Randolph’s invention turned you into a super-athlete?”
“It sure looks that way,” said Daphne. “But now that the machine’s destroyed ... “
Chad and Greg were still sitting on the fifty-yard line, nursing their bruised limbs. “Well, guys,” said Fred. “It looks like Huxley won’t be playing in the finals after all.”
“Aw, we would’ve beat Darwin easy,” muttered Chad. “If it hadn’t been for you nosy high-school kids.”
“And that insanely hot chick in the little purple dress,” added Greg. He leered up at Daphne. “So what do you say? Once my dad pays my bail, we can still make it to that party.”
“Hmpf!” Daphne tossed her head and turned aside as a police officer hauled Greg to his feet and slipped a pair of handcuffs on his wrists. “Call me!” Greg shouted over his shoulder as the policeman escorted him to a waiting patrol car
“Well, gang,” said Fred, as he and his teammates headed back to the Mystery Machine. “I’d say this calls for a celebration.”
“If by ‘celebration’ you mean ‘getting something to eat,’ then I second that,” said Shaggy. “ ‘Cause Scooby-Doo and I are, like, starving. Right, Scoob?”
Scooby-Doo wagged his tail eagerly. “R-right, Raggy.”
Velma was squinting at the screen of her iPad. “There’s an all-night pizzeria a few blocks away. We can be there in five minutes.”
“Five minutes?” wailed Shaggy. He pulled a jar from the pocket of his baggy trousers. “Good thing I’ve got these pickles to tide us over, huh, Scoob?” Grunting, he struggled to loosen the lid. “Oh, ma-a-an ... “
He handed the jar to Daphne. “Say, Daphne, how about using those super-muscles to open this for me?”
NEXT WEEK: Daphne joins a beach volleyball team to help her friends unravel a maritime mystery!
Don’t miss … "The Phantom Pirates of Buccaneer Beach!"