Chapter Three: Counterplots

Private Henry Aiko, severely injured in his firefight with Barney and the Loved Ones, was flying high above the New Mexico landscape. On the stretcher beside him lay the delirious woman who was found in the Barneyian compound catacombs, impregnated with the horrid spawn of the Purple Demon. At the head of these two hapless souls sat General Brackenridge, commander of the strike-force that had attacked the secret retreat of Barney and his minions just the previous evening. He had left his lieutenant in command back at camp while he stayed at the treatment center, to see what he could learn from his wounded soldier.

The camoflagued helicopter sped past canyons and huge outcroppings of rock. The pilot radioed in their position and within minutes a shallow mesa was raised off its foundation, revealing a secret landing pad amidst a scattering of rolling dunes and brush. The helicopter landed, and the massive rock structure was rolled back into place by invisible lifts and cranes.

"Stay with us, Aiko, " said Brackenrdige, resting his hand on the young private's shoulder, " help is on the way".

A team of medics rushed to meet the helicopter, and its occupants were immediately taken to the emergency room of the underground field hospital. After the young woman and Aiko were taken into the surgical area, Brackenridge was met by an older man, with a puggish face and combed-back hair. He was also a general.

"General Brackenridge, I'm General Shearson of the 17th, " he said, shaking Brackenridge's hand. "I'm in charge of the deployment forces here and am willing to provide you with any more back-up that you need".

"Good to meet you, General Shearson," smiled Brackenridge. "Trust me, I'll be calling on you again soon. I'm more concerned right now with my fallen trooper here, sorry if I seem preoccupied."

"No offense taken," replied Shearson. "Our scouting teams have plotted out some possible areas where Barney the Dinosaur may have escaped. Satellite photos show activity in several sections of the adjoining desert, we've sent detachments out there but I've yet to hear anything".

"Keep me posted, General, any news right now would be fine." Brackenridge began to relax more and started to notice the activity about him. "Perhaps you would be so kind as to show me around, Shearson? I've heard a lot about the secret underground Barneyian Demolition Headquarters, but I'm not up on what you have here".

"Of course, Brackenridge, come this way," smiled Shearson. "We're pretty damn proud of our work out here".

Shearson escorted Brackenridge to the reconaissance room. In the dark circular chamber, Brackenridge could see large outlined maps and graphs, while radar and sonar beacons reasonated in the background. Mappers and technicians scurried about, recording the movements of blips and lights on the illuminated screens.

"All of our satellite tie-ins and scout detachments report here," said Shearson, gesturing towards the control panels. "Through this system we've charted the movements of dozens of Barneyian cults across the nation. If you look at some of our sky-graphs carefully, you can see the hazy forms of Barney himself". The older general picked up a photograph and showed it to Brackenridge. "This shot was taken four days ago, see the third blob from the left? That's Barney. The one to the left is Baby Bop, while in the lower left corner there's another monstrous form. Our experts are trying to decide if that's BJ or just an unusually large Loved One. Pretty good shot considering it was taken by a satellite floating in the stratosphere, huh?"

"What are the long, flat objects off to the right?" asked Brackenridge.

"Trucks. About seven of them. The odd thing is, they appear to be carrying dirt or sand, nothing else. No weapons, rations, or fuel. Just soil of some kind."

"It was this photo that made the Pentagon crew send me out there, wasn't it?"

"And you're still wondering why now and here, aren't you?" Shearson asked, sucking in his lip.

"If you would be so kind, sir."

Shearson crossed his arms and leaned back against a console. "General Brackenridge, Barney and his Special Friends have been up to a lot of unusual things lately. There's the deal with the trucks carrying soil, but it gets weirder. Our spies beamed back a message, saying that Barney took a leave of absence early in the television season, and came out here. That's why there's been nothing but reruns lately. Apparently, Barney has taken a lot of his own money and purchased some plans from the Russians".

"Plans for weapons?" asked Brackenridge.

Shearson shook his head. "No, plans for a satellite that proved to be a total piece of junk. We can't figure it out."


"During the Space Race of the fifties, the Soviets drew up dozens of plans for an orbiting satellite. In 1957 they succeeded, with Sputnik. But there were many failed attempts, and Barney the Dinosaur just purchased one of them for $15 million dollars. Supposedly this prototype went into orbit and stayed there for only five hours before collapsing on itself and exploding back towards earth."

The two men sat in silence. Finally, Brackenridge spoke up. "So Barney's got tons of soil, plans for a satellite that can't keep a stable orbit, and is hiding out in southern New Mexico. Any other strange information?"

"Yes," sighed Shearson, shifting his stance. "When we sent investigators to Barney's last known retreat in Dallas, we found nothing there but a copy of Howard Hughe's epic film, 'The Conqueror'. Barney had been watching it. It's a movie starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan, if you can believe that. Barney evidently had been watching it for some time. None of us can figure it out. We were hoping with this latest raid, you and your team might run across a clue or two".

"Strange," muttered Brackenridge. "Hopefully we'll learn more in the next few days".

"Let me take you down to our sanitarium and treatment center," said Shearson, rising from the console. "We've got some Barney-cultists, or Sponge-Minions, held down there. This should prove interesting for you". The two men entered an elevator and descended into another level.

Kent Robison Sr. couldn't figure it out. His two children, Trina and Kent Jr. had been acting odd lately. He supposed young children should be happy sometimes, but all the time? In fact, their happiness included singing, dancing, and eating "healthy snacks".

But it wasn't just that the children seemed happier than usual, it was the nature of their happiness. Somehow, it didn't seem normal, or even appropriate. Trina and Kent Jr. made great pains to share their food and toys with him, and they seemed perfectly happy to let their dad do whatever he wanted. At night, he could hear them sing one song, over and over again. Something that went on like, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family" or something like that. Kent Sr. didn't like it one bit. Maybe a taste of his belt would take care of their stupid attitude. It never failed before.

The wiry, tall man stepped out of the ramshackle house and called his children. "Kent! Trina! Get in here right now! You and I are gonna talk!" He slid off his belt and cradled it tightly in his reddened fists. He went back into the kitchen and awaited the youngsters.

Moments later, Kent and Trina both came in, smiling broadly and giggling.

"Hi dad!" beamed Kent Jr. "I love you!"

"I love you too, dad," chimed Trina, "won't you say you love us too?"

"I don't know what the hell has gotten into you kids," grumbled Kent Sr, "but I'm gonna take care of your little prissy attitudes right now!!" He uncoiled the belt and raised it high above his head. The children's frightened squeals invigorated him. He clenched the belt and prepared to swing it across their upheld arms, but then-

"My, my, don't you know you can harm someone swinging your belt around like that? Maybe we should all find a much safer game to play!"

Kent Sr. abruptly turned and saw an incredible sight. It was huge, purple, grotesque....and it was smiling at him. His mouth dropped wide open.

Trina and Kent Jr. went ecstatic, and gleefully ran towards the blubbery beast. He embraced them both with stocky arms and giggled.

"What the hell are you?" asked Kent Sr., backing away.

"It's Barney, our new friend!" answered Trina, fondly squeezing the purple dinosaur's plush waist. "He's lots of fun to be with!"

"I love Barney," added Kent Jr, fondly rubbing the beast's stomach.

"Well, I say this Barney is just some giggling freak!!" yelled Kent Sr., bringing the belt back above his head, "and he's gonna be a dead one in just a few minutes!"

The children screamed in fright as their father lunged towards Barney, brandishing the thick iron buckle. In a frenzied blur, the grinning dinosaur struck the man hard, and sent him reeling back against the stove. Rusty pots and dirty dishes clanged loudly, as the force of the impact knocked the air out of Kent Sr. The man fell to the ground, cursing and wheezing.

Barney knelt down to Trina and Kent Jr. "You two better go watch my program, it's own right now. I think your father and I are going to have a stuuuppeenndousss conversation!"

Trina and Kent Jr. smiled widely and ran into the living room, giggling happily. Barney turned to their father, breathing hoarsely and covered with dust. "Hit me with your best shot, you worthless chunk of cheap white trash!" the Purple Demon said merrily.

"Go to hell," muttered Kent Sr., wiping the blood off of his cracked lip. The next instant the man made a full running charge towards the Beast of Purple and was immediately flung backwards as if he'd been hit by a freight truck. There was a sound of snapping bone and breaking tile as he landed.

"And that's a point for meeee!" beamed Barney, wobbling about in glee.

Kent Sr. lay on his back, gasping for air. Pain racked his entire body and stars danced wildly before his eyes. He then became aware of a hot, trickling sensation seeping across his back, paired with a tingling sensation at his right shoulder. He clutched at it and made a gruesome discovery.

His right arm was gone.

"Excuse me, but are you looking for this?" chuckled Barney, dangling the injured man's arm playfully about. "Maybe I should give you _a hand!"

"Oh God, oh God, what...are you?" cried Kent Sr. He could not take his eyes off of his dismembered arm, and a cold panic began to overtake him. He began to whimper in fear and shock.

"Come now, " chirped Barney, dropping the arm upon the blood-spattered floor, "I hate to see my Special Friends upset! Do you want me to take the pain away?"

"Yes, oh yes, make it go away! Please!"

The plump purple reptile sauntered over to the injured man. "I know, we'll play doctor! I'm gonna open my mouth, and you say, 'aaaahhh!'" Barney lifted the frantic man and shoved him into his immense jaws.

Kent Sr. shrieked like a panicked beast and thrashed about as Barney's perfect teeth clamped down over his torso, snapping it like a frozen twig. Blood sprayed out of the Purple Demon's mouth, and entrails seeped down his chin. The hapless man kicked about with his remaining strength, but to no avail. Within minutes the human was chewed and guzzled to pieces. Barney smiled a broad grin, his teeth stained red and black. As the murderous reptile slumped into a kitchen chair, he could hear Trina and Kent Jr. laughing and giggling from the next room. The children were hopelessly hypnotized by the lovable antics of Barney and Friends, blaring loudly upon the television.

Barney belched, and began to clean up the excess blood and flesh strewn about the kitchen.

@ Copyright 1996, Brian Bull

Click here for Chapter 4 of Death Zone Purple