Chapter Seven: Rapture

Trina and Kent Jr. awoke to the sound of squealing gears, the truck was braking to a complete halt. Kent Jr. checked his watch. Since leaving their house, he and his sister had slept for nine hours. What was going on?

The heavy iron doors opened at the rear cab, and the children squinted in the sunlight. They were greeted warmly by a familiar figure.

"Good morning, Trina and Kent! My goodness, you two really had a nice long nap!" bubbled the fat purple dinosaur. "We've arrived at my secret fun hideaway here at Carlsbad!"

"What are we doing here?" asked Trina.

"Trina curious! Wants to know what we're doing here! Curious!" gurgled Baby Bop, who appeared alongside Barney. "Think we should tell them, right Barney? Friends can always share secrets!"

"Oh Baby Bop, of course we'll tell Trina and Kent what we're doing. But first, I think we should all enjoy a delicious and healthy snack!" With that, everyone left the truck and made their way past a series of brush and rocks. Near a craggy outcropping, Barney bent over and shifted a purplish stone. Suddenly, a wide section of earth gave way with an ominous hum. Trina and Kent Jr. noticed there was an elevated lift built into the earth. Looking around, they also noticed they were probably a great distance away from any roads or highways. They were immediately scolded by two harried-looking Loved Ones, who seemed uncomfortable with being outside. The elevator, burdened with Barney, Baby Bop, the children, and a squad of Loved Ones and Barneyian Minions, quickly descended into the shaft.

When they all got inside, Trina and Kent Jr. gasped in surprise. They were inside an immense cavern, filled with monitors and screens. Railings and balconies stretched along dark, rocky walls and from the shadows they could hear the gurglings and croaks of Loved Ones.

"Welcome to my underground fortress kids!" chuckled Barney. "You and I are going to stay here and play fun games for a long time."

The idea made the children smile. "We love you Barney," they said in mindless unison.

"Well that's super-deee-duupper! And you know what, you two? You and I are going to meet a very special friend of mine. He came all the way from Canada to be here tonight, for a very special operation. "

"Is that him?" Trina asked, pointing to a human dressed in a purple and green robe, standing at the end of the landing platform.

"You are absolutely corrrectt! Trina and Kent, meet Jerome!"

The children smiled and greeted the human. He was a man in his early twenties, well-kept and appearing very excited. When Barney approached him, the two embraced in a very warm and powerful hug.

"I love you Barney!" yelled Jerome ecstatically.

"And I love you," replied the Purple Beast. "Are you ready for your operation?"

"Oh yes, Barney, yes! I'm all a jitter, waiting for you to make me a true disciple!"

"Then let's get a move-on!" squealed the pudgy purple reptile. With a wave of his hand, the entire ensemble embarked down a hall marked, "SURGICAL SECTOR". As they proceeded down the hall, the group broke into song:

I love you, you love me, time for Jerome's surgery With a little purple luck, we'll do it right And Jerome will be a wondrous sight!

Lieutenant McKalla had never expected to be relaying the news about a mediocre movie to her superiors. Yet, here she was, FAXing all available information to General Brackenridge about the 1956 movie, "The Conqueror". She and the available staff had watched the film several dozen times, hoping to know what Barney the Dinosaur's fascination with the movie was. It was simply a sloppy retelling of Genghis Khan, coupled with a love story and banal battle scenes. Nothing seemed clear to her now as she relayed critiques, plot summaries, cast and crew lists, _everything relating to the movie. Hopefully the general could come across something.

At the mobile reconaissance station, General Brackenridge reviewed all the information he had: the script from "The Conqueror"; the photos of the soil-laden trucks crossing over southern New Mexico; the blueprints of SYZ-18, the failed Soviet satellite that Barney invested $15 million in; a geographical map of the southwest region; and many more seemingly unrelated clues that were making him exasperated.

Brackenridge listened to the radio. A news report was coming in about a bizarre murder at a warehouse near Alamogordo. The foreman and all ten of his workers were found dead, many with crushed limbs. A regular superintendent could only relate the disappearance of several heavy crates painted purple and green, that a `Mr. Yenrab' had ordered stored sometime ago.

A strong gust of wind blew in, and Brackenridge was irritated at the dusty air filling the station. He was immediately reminded of the one truck that the Barneyian convoy had left behind, filled with soil, nothing else. When the Omega base crews had done an analysis, they discovered it was all highly radioactive.

And then suddenly, it dawned upon him.

Rising to his feet, Brackenridge hurriedly called into Omega Base. Lieutenant McKella answered.

"McKella, were there any other satellite photos taken of the southern New Mexico area within the past year, aside from the truck convoy?"

"I can check sir, though for the first half of the season, most of the relay signals were taken at night. Any shots we'd get would be too dark for any real detail," McKella replied.

"Lieutenant, find any photos or recorded images that reveal unusual movement in that region, if the satellite passed over in the evening, get Surveillance to enhance the images! No questions, just do it!"

"Yes sir," she replied. "Will you want any of these photos FAXed to your station?"

"Affirmative, McKella, and cut no slack in doing so. I think I may have that fat purple scumfreak figured out! "

Two hours later the FAX machine began to hum and chirp. A series of photographs crept out of the bay-feed, and were immediately snatched-up and scrutinized by the anxious general. The enhancement showed everything Brackenridge wanted to know. He stepped out of the station vehicle and relayed an order to Garret.

"Garret," he said, sweating profusely, "call in our troops and have them prepped for one hell of a battle. We're shipping out from here as soon as Surveillance relays to us the last-known possible coordinates of Barney the Dinosaur and his cult. Come with me into the strategy room, we've got to get the purple s.o.b nailed and fast!"

Trina and Kent Jr. stared in fascination. Strapped to the surgical table, Jerome appeared happy and carefree. Beside him stood Barney and a Loved One assistant, who was cradling a handful of odd metallic instruments. Barney peeled back his green surgical mask and gently cooed into Jerome's ear.

"Are we comfy?"

Jerome giggled with uncontrollable glee. "Yes, I can't believe it's going to happen! Barney, thank you, thank you!"

"When I'm through with you, Jerome, you are going to look stuuuppeendouss!"

With a snap of his chubby fingers, Barney signalled the Loved One to inject an orange liquid into Jerome's cheek. Jerome flinched a little, then suddenly, his entire face collapsed into a drooping pile of flesh.

"Don't worry kids, this is a relaxant, to help Jerome's muscles rest." Jerome began snoring. The two children giggled in amusement.

Trina looked about. No one else was giggling. The room, dark and metallic, was filled with odd devices and containers. There were also a fair number of Loved Ones and Barneyian-cultists surrounding the operating area. Trina wiped the grin off her face and did her best to keep composure.

"Face-locks, please", said Barney. The blubbery Loved One pulled an intricate set of wire braces and hooks from the tiny metal platter. Barney inserted the four shiny hooks around the corners of Jerome's mouth. "Aaaannddd uuuppp!" sang Barney, stretching the odd-device back around the unconscious human's head. When the face-locks were stretched as far back as they could go, Barney fastened them in back with a series of clasps, then let Jerome's head rest back upon the table.

Kent Jr. couldn't believe his eyes. "Whooooaaa, that's something else!"

Trina was also amazed. Jerome's mouth had been stretched apart to reveal his shiny, perfect teeth, the surrounding skin pulled into a broad smile. Barney chuckled at the children's reaction, then reached for a vial containing a milky substance. He set about injecting it with a needle into Jerome's neck, sinal cavities, and chin. The sight made Trina and Kent Jr. cringe.

"What will that do, Barney?" asked Trina, her face scrunched in repulsion.

"Why this chemical will make Jerome's face tighten forever into this beautiful smile that you see here!" beamed Barney, handing the needle over to the Loved One. Within seconds, everyone could see Jerome's skin harden and tighten. Jerome's face would be smiling forever. Barney quickly undid the face-locks. The grin was frozen perfectly into Jerome's tender features.

"And now the pretty part! Please, please please, let me see!" shrieked Baby Bop, breaking through the crowd.

Barney chuckled. "Please excuse Baby Bop kids, she always likes this part." With that, the bloated Purple Demon removed the lid off of a wide plastic container. He hung it from an overhead brace and inserted a series of tubes and stems into the bottom of it. At the end of the tubes were shiny metal mouths which Barney proceeded to plunge into Jerome's tender pale skin.

"Changes! Jerome changes, like a chameleon!!" gurgled Baby Bop ecstatically, dancing in circles and rocking her head back and forth. Trina and Kent Jr. watched on as purple fluid began seeping through the tubes and stems, emptying into Jerome's unconscious body. It was not long before patches of purple began appearing under the human's flesh.

The children were speechless. Here was a human being, being changed into a Barneyesque creature! As they looked on, Barney grabbed an electric razor and started shaving the hair off of Jerome's body. Thick tufts of hair drifted to the concrete floor, as Jerome's flesh began turning a more solid shade of violet.

When Barney had finished shaving Jerome's hair off, and the man was a vibrant hue of purple, the chubby dinosaur took out the tubes and applied bandages and compresses to the gaping holes. "And now, the final touch!"

In a process similar to the injection of the dye, Barney now administered a thick, lardy substance into Jerome's lanky frame. Trina had seen something like this on a television show once, called liposuction. But Barney was doing it in reverse. The plump reptile was actually _injecting massive volumes of fat into his friend's body.

The process continued for almost two hours, but the children never lost interest. At the conclusion, Jerome was revived and allowed to see himself in the mirror.

The young man screamed. Trina and Kent Jr. leapt back. Was Jerome terrified? The next instant the scream turned into a childish squeal and tears welled up in the man's eyes. Jerome turned from the mirror and faced Barney, who was now removing the surgical mask and gown.

"How can I ever *thank* you?" gushed the man.

"No thanks are necessary, just let me know how much you care and love your friend Barney!"

Jerome wobbled over, purple, grinning, hairless, nude and obese. He wrapped Barney in a great big hug and the lizard replied in turn by kissing the human lovingly on the head. It was a tender moment experienced by all in the room. As the children looked on, Barney gave a wink to the two and whispered, "you're next".

@ Copyright 1996, Brian Bull

Click here for Chapter 8 of Death Zone Purple