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The Crossover

Felicity was the producer of the documentary. Every Monday morning the whole street was expected to congregate in a conference room and she’d tell us the filming schedule for the week. She’d stand up the front with a PowerPoint behind her. Tacky graphics. Occasionally we’d need to learn a script. But most of the time it was expected we act naturally, just with watered down language to keep it family friendly. It’s difficult to pay attention in these meetings because it’s always so mundane – merely “administrative matters”, to quote Felicity. In other words, rather meaningless ramblings, while anything important is sent to us directly by email. To my knowledge, the Count gets an excel spreadsheet of the week’s numbers-of-the-day every Sunday. Elmo gets sent the day’s letter at 8am every morning. We figure Felicity just likes the sound of her own voice. Naturally, I was expecting another soporific morning, but today was different. Again, Felicity was standing up the front. But she was smiling more than she usually does.

“So”, she began, “we’ve very excited to announce that today we’re filming an official Star Wars crossover episode”. She was standing in front of a PowerPoint with the iconic Star Wars logo behind her.

“Haven’t we already done this?”, Big Bird said, “those two robots visited us, right?”

“No, this time it’s going to be a bit different. This time, one of you is going to have the honour of duelling Darth Vader in a lightsabre battle!”

“Elmo doesn’t want to fight Darth Vader! That sounds scary”

“Relax”, Bert said, “it’s not like they’ll be real lightsabres, eh-eh-eh-eh-eh” 

“No, I’m afraid they’ll be real”, Felicity said, “now I’m gonna hand out a brochure of FAQs for those of you who have any further questions”

“Will there be cookies?”

“So, what’s the deal?”, I asked, “are they just going to add the lightsabres in post?”

“I feel like a stuck record here. No, they’ll be real, Oscar”

“Do lightsabres taste like cookies?”

“But you were obviously joking. Hang on, I’m sorry. I don’t get it”

“Everything’s explained in the brochure”

“Cookies?”

“Wait. So, sorry. What? You mean one of us is about to die?”

“I wouldn’t have such a pessimistic attitude, Oscar. Who knows? One of you might whip out some cool moves and beat him”

“Is this a financial thing?”, I asked, “because if you can’t afford to pay us all I’d rather just get fired”

“Don’t be down, Oscar”, Big Bird said, “This could be an exciting opportunity for one of us”

“Hooray! I love opportunities”, said Ernie

“This is unbelievable”, I said

“So which one of us is it? Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh”

“We don’t know yet. We’ve sent a poll out to the children. They’re currently voting on which one of you they’d like to see ‘in battle’, so to speak”

“And if we refuse?”, I said,

“Oh my God”, the Count said, “you’re so uptight, ah-ah-ah”

“What happens if we refuse?”

“Well it’s Darth. If you don’t defend yourself he’ll just kill you”, and she laughed, “so anyway, that’s it for today– there’s only one item on the agenda, so rather a short meeting, all in all. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves. I’ll be back in about an hour with the results from the poll! Toodle-oo”

“Can’t we go with you?”, I asked

“Studio policy, I’m afraid. We don’t want any of you running away”. She strutted out of the room and shut the door. It beeped on her way out.

“Wait a minute”, said Big Bird, “did she just say he’s going to kill one of us?”

“Jesus fuck”, I said, “who the fuck does that bitch think she is?”

“Hey now, don’t swear”, Ernie said,

“Well who do you think it’s going to be?”, Big Bird asked

“Let’s not speculate,” I said, “that’s just unhealthy”

“Elmo wants it to be Oscar”

“Oh fuck you, you used-tampon?!”

“Jesus, not this again, you two”, said the Count

“I’m just going to say from the outset, eh-eh-eh-eh-eh, that if the kids choose Ernie then I’m fighting with him. Us two stick together”

“Aw, thanks, Bert! I’ll fight with you too if you’re chosen to die”

“Elmo makes a good point”, Big Bird said, “the kids really don’t like Oscar if that reassures anyone”

“Oh, fuck off!”, I said, “they literally use ‘Elmo’s Song’ to torture people on Guantanamo Bay”

“Elmo thought we agreed not to bring that up”

“Everyone quiet”, Cookie Monster said, “me know there lots of anxiety in room right now but we need to stay calm”

“Ah-ah-ah, like you ever gave a crap about anyone but cookies”, the Count said

“He’s right”, Big Bird said, “regardless of who’s chosen we all know it’s Cookie Monster who deserves to die”

“One arsehole, ah-ah-ah”, the Count said, pointing at Cookie Monster,

“Hey, me love cookies and friends the same. There isn’t quota on love!”

“Okay, I think we’re being a tiny bit harsh on Cookie Monster”, I said, “why not the Count? He adds nothing to the show”

“For the record, I do add things to the show, I add-”

“Don’t say it”

“-numbers. Ah-ah-ah!”

“Look, erm, guys!”, Ernie said, “we really don’t need to be speculating about this. Nothing we say now will change who the kids vote for. If we’re truly spending our final moments with someone in this room, we should be sharing thoughts of love, not hatred”

“He’s right”, Big Bird said, “we need to love, not hate”

“That’s the way, Big Bird”, said Ernie

“No, me can’t do this,”, Cookie Monster said, “two seconds ago Big Bird was verbally abusing me, and now he has audacity to act like moral high ground?!”

“Hey, I was just agreeing with Ernie. I can apologise if you like?”

“How about you just stop agreeing with what everyone says!”

“It’s not my fault I don’t have a frontal lobe, Cookie Monster! I couldn’t think independently if I tried my absolute hardest. My bird anatomy has really fucked me”

“Well how about me play you a little violin! Oh, wait? That’s right. Me don’t even have certified anatomy. How about you volunteer to fight Darth Vader, BB? Or are there now limits to what you do and don’t agree with?”

“Well, it doesn’t work like that. I’m a bird, so I’m not submissive to any old command. I just flock”

“Yeah, you flock alright. You flock, fuck, idiot”

“Hey, I’m not an idiot – don’t call me that! The PC expression is differently brained”

“Look, we’re thinking about this the wrong way”, I said, “nobody’s going to die as punishment for being annoying. Do we even know how this poll is phrased? Maybe the kids will be voting for their favourite character?”

“Elmo still thinks Oscar should die!”

“For Christ’s sake, Elmo. I know you hate me, but you really need to let it go”

“Let it go?! Did anyone hear what he just said to Elmo?!”

“Can you two please be quiet for once?”, Ernie said

“She was Elmo’s only and true love!!”

“It’s been three decades, Elmo. Get over it. And can I just point out, she came after me. Not the other way around”

“Elmo has an idea. Elmo thinks that maybe we can subvert whoever the children vote for and just make Oscar fight Darth regardless of what they say”

“Me like this idea”, said Cookie Monster,

“Whoa! What the hell, Cookie Monster?”

“Me no longer the targeted one, so I like”

“Are you serious?!”

“Elmo thinks that we could swap puppeteers. Maybe we get Oscar to start controlling whoever the children choose, so it has their appearance, but it’s actually Oscar”

“I don’t know”, said Ernie, “some philosophers don’t even believe our ‘puppeteers’ exist”

“Ah-ah-ah! How are we going to develop the technology to swap puppeteers if we can’t even prove they exist?”

“Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh, I don’t like this idea. If the kids choose Ernie to die, I do not want to make love to Oscar’s body, even if it’s Ernie inside”

“Cookie Monster?! We went to school together! Why aren’t you saying anything?”

“Me feel no shame! Me just not want to die”

“Wait, is that true, Bert? You wouldn’t have sex with me if I looked different?”

“Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh, well of course not, Ernie”

“Wait, so how would you feel if I put on weight?”

“Oh my God, don’t make this a thing, Ernie, eh-eh-eh-eh-eh. We’ve known Oscar for nearly our entire lives. You have to agree it’d be really weird”

“Say, we still haven’t even figured out if anything like that is even possible”, said Big Bird, “maybe if we swap puppeteers our identity and consciousness won’t even change”

“Elmo wants to know the current research on where our puppeteers are located so we can get Oscar killed”

“Ah-ah-ah, there are two main schools of thoughts. Subism and intism. Subism believes they are underneath us controlling us with wires, while intism believes they’re literally inside of us, wearing our skin like a costume”

“So does nobody think Cookie Monster is worthy of death after his total lack of sympathy for anyone but himself?”, I said

“Ah-ah-ah! We’ve known this since forever, Oscar. You’re the only one who defended him before”

“Okay, I retract my defence”

“Me ask what fresh hell?”

“Elmo thinks we should maybe have a more formal voting process and still get Oscar killed”

“Yes, yes! Me not fight Darth!”

“I’d be happy if either of them died, ah-ah-ah! But before we do anything, we need to decide if we’re prescribing to subism or intism”

“Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh, can we all please shut up and consider maybe we should swap puppeteers with Felicity! She’s the real villain, not any of us”

“Felicity is different species”, I said, “it wouldn’t work”

“Look, you guys”, said Ernie, “we’re all here talking as if there’s one of us who deserves to die! But do you really think anyone deserves to die?”

“Yes, Elmo maintains Oscar deserves to die”

“No, Ernie’s right,” I said, “an eye for an eye is bullshit. Let’s just get Cookie Monster killed and be done with it”

“No”, said Ernie, “we need to stop pretending we have control and wait for the results”

“I’m sorry”, I said, “but I really want to save my own skin if I’m the one chosen”

“Your skin is literally the only thing that won’t be saved, Oscar”, said Ernie

“And me will definitely die in this scenario? Well I refuse”

“Ah-ah-ah! You can’t even decide if you’re an intist or a subist, Oscar! This technology is well beyond our capability”

“We have to try!”

“Can’t you all see how pointless this is?”, Ernie said

“And what do you suppose we do then, you fucking genius?”, I asked

“Let’s just sit, and wait for the kids to decide”

“Oh, so now we’re just pompom-ball dildos in a line waiting to get fucked by kindergarteners”

“Look, for these last few minutes, this conversation has been a toxic splurge-ball. I say we play Quietest for the Longest, for just a bit, and if it makes us feel better then I say we keep playing”

“Oh, I love this game”, said Big Bird

“Elmo thinks that’s the dumbest thing he’s ever-”

“Starting-”

“-heard”

“-now”

I spoke immediately. “I really think there’s a more mature way to discuss-”

“Ba-ba”

“So we’re just gonna bottle it all-”

“Ba!”

“But we can’t-”

“Shut up, Oscar!”. Then, I finally shut up.

Turns out, we were good at this game, but it was scarier when nobody talked. There certainly wasn’t love in the room either. I wondered then if it’d hurt to get killed, or if it’d be quick. We kept exchanging glances as it got closer to the hour. We spilt into some small talk, occasionally. We just wanted it to be less scary. But Ernie always had to dial it back.

I don’t want to die, and I refuse to believe he have no control.

I suppose we just have to wait.

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Three 2021

FARRAGO MAGAZINE EDITIONS FIVE AND SIX AVAILABLE NOW!

Our final editions for the year are jam packed full of news, culture, photography, poetry, art, fiction and more...

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