The door burst into splinters. The plump, blubbery Loved One technicians ran in terror as the bandaged and shrieking monstrosity tore across the room, flailing blindly and destroying everything in its path.
One unfortunate Loved One stumbled upon the steps, and was immediately clutched by the fat, purplish beast. It looked into the monster's dead eyes, partially hidden by blood-stained tape, and cried. The next instant the monster shoved the Loved One into its mouth and snapped it apart.
Dr. Copernicus staggered out of the central chamber, a blood-stained scalpel tightly clutched between his fingers. Several humans emerged from the tunnel entrances with rifles.
"Shoot it!" cried the Doctor, “shoot it now!”
The humans levelled a forceful barrage against the beast, bullets ripping into its sagged, purplish flesh. It roared in agony and fell upon the stone floor, gasping for air in the smoke-filled chamber. It looked up at Dr. Copernicus.
"...won't you say you love me too........." slurred the abomination. It closed its eyes and went limp against the laboratory floor.
Dr. Copernicus turned and saw Dr. Krupper smiling in the doorway. "Yes," replied Copernicus. He didn't like the smugness in Krupper's voice.
"You see now that it's not so easy," said Dr. Krupper, "We are working on a forbidden project, and must make do with what we can acquire."
"This is the fourth Barney-human hybrid I've developed," said Dr. Copernicus. "By my estimation the first one should've been a success." He scrunched his brow and thought a moment. He turned to Krupper. "Tell me, where have my human subjects come from?"
"Well," began Dr. Krupper, "to insure secrecy we obtain your specimens from half-way houses, homeless shelters, and occasionally right off the street. People whom no one would miss, at least not immediately...."
"That's the problem," snapped Dr. Copernicus. "You've been giving me subjects unfit for laboratory use. Those kinds of people are malnourished, often mentally unbalanced. For this gene-splicing process to work, I need a more healthy, stable individual."
"Out of the question!" cried Dr. Krupper. "The Church of Purple Love must remain secret! We have teachers, lawyers, programmers, parents, even politicians registered within our clandestine ranks. Those people promise power to our Assembly. I will not risk it all just because you want us to go out and capture you a 'real' person. You will make do with who ever we assign you!"
"You will give me a better specimen or Barney, the Purple Lover and Savior, will not come again. I remind you that is why all of your 'specialists' are down here, using up what little time and money we have. All I want is your permission, Krupper. Leave the specimen up to me. I'll find someone to make the leap."
Krupper sat and thought for a few moments. He watched the operations team pick up the bullet-riddled corpse of the Barneyian clone and saw its pinkish blood seeping into the floor drain.
"Who are you going to use?" he asked.
* * * * *
Barry Clements watched the last of his pupils leave, waving at them as they boarded the bus. He checked his watch. 3:30 pm. This was his fifth year of teaching the second grade and he still barely got the children out on time. Frankly, he loved the work and would keep the children around all day if he could. A dedicated teacher, he was well regarded by the faculty as well as the students of Brookburg Elementary.
Leaving the school building, the dark-haired man threw his books into his Mazda and rolled out of the lot. He tapped his fingers to an old Santana tune and waved to a few more children gathered on the corner waiting for the crossing guard to arrive. The children waved back at Barry, and the teacher smiled warmly and continued home.
As he thought back on his years, he realized that for one incident, his record as a teacher was spotless. He had never struck a child, lost his temper, missed an appointment with a parent, and evaluations were always favorable. As he drove home, he remembered with keen precision the incident that happened his first year that may have well got him kicked out of the teaching profession all together.
It was just a month after Jeremy Phillips had made a public appearance on a television talk-show, retelling his accounts with Barney the Dinosaur and the Purple Holocaust. He raised an amethyst globe to the cameras, that revealed the semblance of Barney encased in the jewel, screaming in horrified silence. Cheers and applause broke out immediately from the live audience.
When it was mentioned the next day by one of the youngsters in class, Barry had defended Barney, saying that no creature was evil who preached love and kindness. Rather, Jeremy Phillips and his sister Fran should both apologize for the hurt they had inflicted in banishing Barney from the world. Barry then began to sing the opening chords of the Barney-theme song, until he realized his class was staring at him in awestruck silence and discomfort. He collected himself and immediately changed the topic to homework, but the distrusting look in his students’ faces told him he had said too much, too soon.
The next day he was called into an emergency meeting with the PTA.
It was the most painful three hours of Barry's life. Amidst the accusations and furor, Barry repeatedly apologized and restated himself. When it was over, Barry and Mr. Watters, the school principal, had a small talk. Mr. Watters told Barry that he was an excellent teacher, but one more mention of the “Purple Horror” in class would be inexcusable. Barry was put on temporary probation for the rest of the year.
Barry still felt the Purple Holocaust had been a massive hoax. That Barney and Baby Bop were actually friends of all mankind. Wasn't love and caring essential to the world order? Even the reputed atrocities and cruelties Barney had inflicted upon the world wasn't enough to sway Barry. Yet he agreed to keep quiet about those beliefs.
As Barry parked his car outside his house, he noticed a tall, gaunt man standing outside his driveway. He was dressed in a purple trenchcoat and smiled at Barry. The two men approached each other and shook hands.
"Barry Clements," said the man, "I'm Dr. Ian Copernicus. I have an exciting proposition for you."