Stiffy2K
a collaborative story
Chapter One - The Beginning

All the residents of Spondyville breathed a sigh of relief on New Year's Day 2000, when, contrary to media speculation, no major Y2K problems occurred; only a few extremely minor problems were reported. Life seemed to merely continue on, unaffected ny the change in the calendar.

But oh, dear readers, if you only knew the whole story. If only the "powers that be" in the federal government had not tried to cover up the true events of that year's end night.

The fact is, a myriad of unspeakable catastrophes WERE poised to strike right in the heart of Spondyville on January 1, 2000.  Massive chaos and ecological disasters were averted only at the very last minute by the unselfishly heroic actions of a single brave Snowspondy.

What follows is the true account of the night Spondyville almost DIDNT enter the year, 2000.

It was a dark and stormy New Years Eve afternoon, and Stiffy the Snowspondy was trying to get in a quick nap so that he wouldn't miss the midnight festivities again this year.  Last year he had made it right up to 11:45PM, before drifting off to sleep in his recliner, and waking up at a very un-celebratory 4:37 AM.

But the end of a century doesn't come around every year (or every 98 years for that matter), and the end of a millennium, well, that hardly EVER comes, so Stiffy was determined not to miss this year's version of the annual dropping of the anti-inflammatory pill from the top of the Marie-Strumpell building in Spondyville's Ankylosinger Square.

The Millennium celebration this year included a number of unique one-time events and a special Millennium Anti-inflammatory pill gilded in gold-salt.

However, while a blissfully unaware Stiffy was attempting to nap, sinister forces were hard at work. In an elaborately furnished underground bunker several miles below the surface of Spondyville, the evil mad scientist and part-time philatelist, Dr. Payneful Lowerbackus was putting the finishing touches on his ominous plans to take over the world, rule the internet and corner the stamp collecting market.

The Key to Dr. Lowerbackus's master plan was the deployment of a handful of extremely sophisticated androids he called Spondy-bots. These realistic appearing doppelgangers had, over the years, infiltrated top-secret government agencies, internet start-up companies and the U.S. post office, and were now poised to do Dr. Lowerbackus's bidding on a moments notice.

What made these spondy-bots so hard to detect was that, unlike most robotic creations, whose absolute physical perfection was always a dead giveaway to their non-human status, Dr. Lowerbackus had given each and every spondy-bot a severe arthritic condition and a metal cane, (with a hidden explosive device that could be triggered by saying the secret code: T-N-F)  The arthritic condition allowed his mechanical stooges to more easily blend into a crowd of ordinary humans ... especially those humans that lived in and around Spondyville.

The Mad Doctor's nefarious plans were to be implemented on three fronts simultaneously.  First, a sophisticated computer virus would be triggered at midnight on Spondyville's three largest Internet service providers, Spondyville Online, CompuSpondy and MicroSpondy-8.0, which would then spread the virus throughout the World Wide Web whenever someone signed onto the cyber-auction site, Spond-E-Bay. Meanwhile, a Spondybot operating undercover in the cable TV division of Spondyville's most successful media conglomerate AS-NBCBS, would plant evidence implicating cable television as being responsible for the computer virus that crippled the Internet. The information would come to light by sabotaging Today Show weather man Al Roker's TelePrompTer, replacing his usual "Here's what's happening in your neck of the woods" tagline with the bogus accusation, which Mr. Roker, would be forced to read it in its entirety, (due to a shameful kidnapping of his entire family.) Needless to say, Geraldo Rivera's crack news investigation team would take it from there. The ensuing outrage by the ISP, would, in Dr. Lowerbackus's malevolent scenario, lead to a retaliation of massive proportions, wherein the entire cable industry will be wiped from the face of the earth by nuclear missile attacks launched from North Korea, (one of the evil doctor's partners in crime) and targeting every orbiting communications satellite and transmitting tower in the world.

The final blow that Dr. Lowerbackus planned to make his domination of the world complete, rested among the Spondy-bots planted in the major post offices around the country. These Spondy-bots would deliver the coup de grace by "misplacing" all the Spond-e-bay-related correspondence between sellers and buyers, then cashing in all the missing postal money orders, thereby throwing the world economy into complete and utter chaos. This would allow Dr. Lowerbackus' mechanized minions to stage universally synchronized coup d-etats throughout the civilized (read panic stricken and entertainment deprived) world.

Around 2 pm (Spondyville time), our unsuspecting hero awoke from one of the best naps of his life (oh the irony!), and slowly made his way down to Ankylosinger Square, which was already fairly well packed with revelers. If only he knew what horrors awaited him ... and them.



Chapter 2

Stiffy, still a little drowsy from his nap, decided to stop for a cup of iced java at the Spondyville Stirbucks. The place was packed, but he finally found a chair at a small table at the back. He smiled at the other Spondy already there and asked if he might sit in the other chair.
The Spondy nodded his head affirmatively, and pulling out the chair said, "Please sit down," in a somewhat singsong voice that Stiffy found surprising. It didn't have the cool, melodic cadence familiar in Spondyville.

In his usual friendly manner, Stiffy inquired, "Are you new around here or just visiting for the holidays?" This question elicited a peculiar response as the stranger hoisted himself from the chair using a distinctive gold-tipped cane. Without a word of explanation, he quickly wound his way through the tables and left the shop.

Stiffy was really puzzled. What had he done to offend the stranger? Perhaps he was ready to leave anyway and hadn't heard Stiffy's question. Stiffy found it hard to believe, but continued to ponder as he drank his iced java. He was soon joined by his brother, Spiffy, who had just entered the coffee shop. The brothers were actually twins born a day apart, who had been separated at birth. A chance meeting earlier in the year at the Spondyville Ice Rink brought them together. Friends noted their remarkable resemblance soon after Spiffy moved to Spondyville. But that's a story for another day…

As they began to talk about the plans they had made for the gala evening and discussed their happiness in being together on this wonderful occasion, the encounter with the stranger was forgotten. After finishing their drinks, they decided to walk around the Square and look at the decorations strung between the light poles, all shiny and silver, and the clever displays in the shop windows celebrating the coming Millennium.

On the next corner, standing in front of the Spondyville Dry Goods Store with its "circa 1880" date proudly displayed above the entrance, they saw three Spondys huddled together and speaking animatedly to each other. Stiffy didn't recognize them, which wasn't surprising, since there were many visitors in town. But as they moved closer, he thought one of them might be the Spondy who had left his table at Stirbucks so quickly. They were so engrossed in what seemed to be an argument, that they didn't notice Stiffy and Spiffy passing by, but the unfamiliar voice quality of the three as they heatedly spoke, convinced Stiffy that one of them had been his table companion at Starbucks.

"That's an unusual accent," said Stiffy, as they moved down the street, "I wonder where they're from?" Stiffy decided not to say anything about his earlier meeting with one of the strangers, and they continued their walk around Ankylosinger Square. As they approached the post office with its 1879 cornerstone freshly polished for the eventful midnight extravaganza, they were pushed apart by a hurrying figure moving past. From his gait and the distinctive gold-tipped cane he was wielding like a weapon in front of him as if to clear his path, Stiffy recognized his now-familiar Stirbucks Spondy.  Motioning to Spiffy, Stiffy moved as quickly as his fused bones would allow, through the door and into the post office.

Although the place was busy, the space wasn't large, and as they looked around there seemed to be no trace of the belligerent and rude Spondy. "Where could he have gone?" Spiffy pondered aloud, as the two SnowSpondys stood together. "He was certainly in a hurry, that's for sure," Stiffy replied, as puzzled as his brother.

There was a long line at the counter where special stamps were sold, with people waiting to buy the commemorative stamp created to mark the Millennium. The two SnowSpondys could hear grumbling along the line and noticed that there was no one behind the counter to wait on customers. Suddenly, a door behind the counter opened, and an older, gray-haired Spondy limped out, leaning heavily upon a cane. He began helping the waiting customers, and, as Stiffy and Spiffy moved closer, they could hear him speaking in the same singsong voice that they had heard earlier among the three arguing Spondys. Stiffy's coal black eyes suddenly focused on the cane that was leaning against the back wall where the old Spondy had earlier placed it. It was the same gold-tipped device Stiffy had seen twice before that afternoon. Surely this couldn't be the same Spondy who had left the table so hurriedly at Stirbucks and had been seen later arguing with the other two. He had been much younger, Stiffy was sure-- with dark hair, not gray-but his voice was the same, and the very distinctive cane he used was the same. Stiffy pondered what this might mean. Was this, if fact, the same Spondy? And if so, what was he doing here in disguise and working at the Spondyville post office?

Stiffy decided to find out more, so he got in line at a different counter where his old friend, Hiram, was working. Spiffy understood what Stiffy was doing and joined him in the line, and they gradually moved up toward Hiram. When they reached him and greetings were exchanged, Stiffy gestured toward the gray-haired man behind the commemorative stamp counter and asked, "New employee?" "Government issue," responded Hiram with sarcasm in his voice. "The Washington bigwigs didn't think that we Spondyville folks could handle the once-in-a-lifetime Millennium stamp sale, so they sent their own guy to do it." Stiffy nodded in sympathy and took the roll of stamps he had purchased from Hiram. "See you tonight then," he said, and walked outside with Spiffy.

Stiffy and Spiffy had made plans to join friends for dinner at Spondyville's best restaurant, formerly the 'Spondyville Roaster', but recently renamed 'The Millennium 2000'. They were to have a leisurely dinner there at 6:00 pm and then move on at 8:00 pm to the opera house, (circa 1901), where a live theatre presentation was to be performed. The title and starring entertainers had not been divulged, making it even more anticipated. Of course, the rumor mill had been working overtime, but amazingly, the secret had been safe despite of the Spondyville underground gossip line. Then it would be on to Ankylosinger Square where a gala event had been planned, complete with bands, singing and dancing. All this was in preparation for the dropping of the giant, luminous anti-inflammatory pill which was to occur at exactly midnight. This would mark the extraordinary triple turning-new year, new century, new millennium-and the beginning of the glorious year 2000.   But something ominous hung in the air …
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