TOTAL RECALL



By Gary Curtis

Powerpuff Girls created by Craig McCracken. All related characters owned by Cartoon Network.

 

ONE

 

"It's a good thing I have this much hair," the assistant to the Mayor of Townsville thought wryly to herself. "If I brush it just right, no one will notice that I've pulled half of it out!"

To say Sara Bellum's morning hadn't gone well would be an understatement. She and her boss had been spending the past hour in his office, reviewing promotional videos that were intended to boost the city's virtually non-existent tourism industry. Her recommendations and those of the image consultant she'd found had obviously been not to the mayor's liking. He had practically snored through the two excellent videos that advertised the best the area had to offer. The mayor had his own ideas, and now she was stuck sitting through them...and at twice the expense she'd budgeted for, too! While the little man grew more enthusiastic after each successive promo, she did her best to keep it in, but as soon as this little episode was finished...

What they were watching now was the worst. There were quick shots of the Powerpuff Girls, along with some half-human, half-robot male creature, stopping robberies and pounding monsters into oblivion. The Powerpuff Girls, she could see, but what did this guy have to do with her city? Then, when the final monster had been dispatched into space, she saw what it was all about. The shot zoomed into a close-up of four very pleased-looking creatures congratulating one another, and Bellum saw and heard the unmistakable visage and voice of the famous action-flick actor.

"Hasta la vista, baby," he said to the vanishing monster, then turned to the camera as the three smiling 'Puffs floated next to him. "With dese kinduhgotten cops on duty, Townsville is da safest place to visit!"

"Oh no!" Sara put her hands over her face, cringing, and watched the rest from between her fingers.

Blossom smiled and said, "So come to Townsville and have a monstrously good time!"

Bubbles batted her eyelashes and said pleadingly, the picture of innocence, "We know there are other places you could go on vacation."

Buttercup took over in her usual friendly-but-with-an-attitude demeanor. "But if you keep Townsville in the running, man, you won't get a raw deal. Try us out. We guarantee-"

"You'll be bock!" the three girls shouted together with glee.

"Hey, dots my line!" the famous actor rumbled, and the promo ended with all of them laughing.

"Well, Ms. Bellum, whaddaya think?" Mayor said with obvious pride, from his big, padded desk chair.

Sara stifled a groan, knowing her boss expected some kind of response. He was, in fact, looking at her with one eyebrow raised.

"Mayor, I think you could have spent a little less on this."

"Less?" the old man said in shock. "Why, Bernie Bernstein only charged a third of his usual producer's fee. Part of his court-ordered community service, don't you know."

"I should have known," the redhead said under her breath.

Indignant, Mayor said grumpily, waving at the dark TV screen, "The man did us a favor. I'll have you know it was a real coup getting that guy to star with the Girls. Why, he's the last action hero there is, not counting the Girls, of course."

"Speaking of coups, Mayor," Bellum said, deftly changing the subject. "You still haven't thanked me for talking Townsville out of running you out of office after your little tantrum last month. Over a stupid toaster!"

"That's what I pay you to do."

Furious, Bellum growled, "You carried me to the top of a skyscraper and then you let go of me!"

"Oh, yeah. Well, that wasn't my fault, it was the Professor and his darn Chemical X."

That much was true. But, on top of his 'Equalizer' stunt that had practically destroyed the city a while earlier, the citizens were beginning to have serious doubts about their elected official. She didn't know yet just how much.

Of course, he was oblivious to any of it. "Now that that's settled, shouldn't we be working on my re-election campaign?"

Startled, Bellum cried, "What? Mayor, the election isn't for another two years!"

"Nonsense, my good woman. A re-election campaign starts the moment you get elected. Everyone knows that."

True again. Based on performance and those annoying monthly polls, the latest of which had shown his approval rating down another six points. But not in the way she knew her employer meant it, an active campaign: Public appearances designed for nothing else than to make him more visible. When the exact opposite was what she felt was needed right now. Let him sit in his office while the city did its business, hopefully without any additional PR disasters. Of which she felt the promo videos were one. She tried one more time to dissuade the old coot.

"All right, Mayor, I'll look into it. Now, about the last tape we just watched. Don't you think it's a dumb idea to play up the fact to potential tourists that the city is besieged by crime and monsters and that it even needs superheroes?"

The Mayor was rather annoyed. He leaned forward in his seat and adjusted his monocle, looking out at Bellum over the top of it. "Don't change the subject. Get started on my campaign. Get me on all the talk shows."

He paused and pondered for a bit. "Hey, isn't the new Air Force base opening soon?"

"You mean the one you blew up?"

He waved that aside. "No, that was the old one. We kinda needed a new one anyway, dontcha think? Set me up for the ribbon-cutting."

The scary thing was that he really believed everything that came from his mouth. He pointed at the VCR. "And start getting that video out there."

Bellum knew she'd get nowhere trying to change his mind. She rose slowly from her chair, sighed, "Yes, sir," and headed for her office.

 

TWO

 

The following week started out badly. Within days of the video making its first appearance on television in major cities, the mayor's office was bombarded with calls from irate Townsville travel agents. Not only were vacationers not coming to Townsville, but many who had planned a trip to the sunny, white-sand beaches or the cool, scenic mountains were canceling. Townsville's monster problem was known about by some, as were the Powerpuff Girls. But advertising it as a tourist attraction was proving to be Bellum's worst fears come true. Without telling her boss, she ordered the video pulled, and the two she had helped develop were run instead.

At the military base ceremony, with a large gathering of dignitaries on hand as well as several TV crews filming, the mayor performed his duties without incident. But after Bellum took the large scissors before he could do anything harmful with them, he spotted a big red button on a control panel. His finger reached out toward it while asking, "What's this for?"

The base commander was a two-star general in full uniform. Through a painted-on smile, he said, "It's a dead man's switch." He then muttered under his breath, into the mayor's ear, "Touch it and you're a dead man."

Unfortunately, the state-of-the-art audio equipment picked that up, as the mayor's finger jerked back. The film, run along with that older tape of the reason why the new base was new, was big news that night and for days afterward. Bellum wanted to delay her boss's scheduled TV talk show appearances to give it time to die down, but the old man insisted on getting himself 'out there'. Much of Townsville was becoming even more convinced that the man already was, and too far. And outside of Townsville...many of those visiting dignitaries went back to their own towns with a story to tell about the bumbling old fool.

 


 

Bellum had drilled into the man's head the need for him to stick to the script she had prepared. He was only to give stock answers to questions about his policies and plans for the future. She had enough experience at this to make those answers sound fresh and not like the usual packaged political mumbo-jumbo. She was a good coach, too. He was doing a pretty good job so far.

One of those questions was 'Why was he acting like a campaigner when the election was two years off and not a single potential challenger was in sight?' The rehearsed answer was that he wasn't campaigning at all. He felt he wasn't as accessible to the people as he wanted to be, or thought he should be. These appearances were one way to accomplish that. So far, the answer had been good enough and the interviewer had gone right to the next question.

But one particular host was a cut above the rest, and the popularity of his prime-time show Hard Knocks with Matthew Kriss was testament to it. Kriss had the ability to cut through the gobbledygook and ask the probing questions, and he also knew how to stroke someone's ego to best effect.

"Come on, Mayor, this has all the earmarks of a campaign tour. Why don't you just admit that you're starting your campaign a bit early? We all know how much you care about the people, Mayor, that you're a people person at heart. Just tell us, why now?"

From her seat in the 'Green Room' of the studio, Sara cringed. "No, Mayor, don't! Just repeat the answer and get to the next question!"

But Kriss' charm did what the host wanted. The Mayor suddenly seemed less stiff, more relaxed. "You bet, Matthew! I love the people of Townsville! After two years of kissing bad guy butt, I just can't wait to get out there and start kicking a few babies!"

 


 

The show excerpt was picked up nationally and the mayor's little faux pas, while obviously seen as one, still made him, and Townsville, look bad. The top-rated late-night comedian opened his monologue the following Monday with, "The President got some surprising poll numbers over the weekend. If the election were held today, he'd win with an astonishing 87% of the popular vote. Of course, that's against the Mayor of Townsville..."

After the laughter subsided, he concluded with, "The Office of Homeland Security is looking for the other thirteen percent."

 

THREE

 

Princess Morbucks was angry, but even more, she was worried. And with good reason. She had never seen her father so upset. He fumed and sputtered and finally threw the financial newspapers aside in disgust, muttering about 'that nincompoop' and how much business the man was costing him. Her financial well-being was at stake, too.

Daddy Morbucks owned interests in a wide variety of businesses. Construction was a big one. What with the monster attacks and all, his companies were always building. But he also owned insurance, and the losses in the property casualty sector offset some of those profits. New construction, in the form of new companies setting up shop in Townsville, and the homes for the families that came with them, and the stores and services that these newcomers would support. This was where he counted on the growth you had to have to succeed.

He owned a number of other concerns, from heavy and light manufacturing to retail, travel and entertainment. All of those were beginning to suffer from the bad publicity the city was getting. But all he could really do was complain and sputter and fume.

Princess had other ideas. She knew all about bad publicity. Her own little stunt in buying the Mayorship had backfired. The bad publicity the mayor had gotten for selling his office for candy, of all things, hadn't hurt her father too much. It had died down pretty fast. The bad publicity her little fanny had gotten had taken longer to go away. Thanks, once again, to those stupid Powerpuff Girls. That was because she had gone about things the wrong way, without doing her homework. Money equaled power, but you couldn't just throw it around anywhere. You had to throw it in the places it would do you the most good.

Getting control of the mayor's office was still something she intended to do, because power also equaled money. And right now, something needed to be done, before the Morbucks fortune suffered any more damage.

So she enlisted the help of a political science professor at Townsville University, an institution that received major donations from the Morbucks Foundation. She was able to impress upon the man his obligation to assist her. To wit:

"Find me a way to get rid of that stupid fool so I can legally be mayor, or I'll have my Daddy turn this whole place into a frat house!"

 


 

Two days later, she was reading the addendum to the city charter, written and put into effect by the mayor himself immediately after winning back his office from Fuzzy Lumkins in a wrestling match. The applicable sections were highlighted in yellow marker by the conscripted professor. She didn't need anyone to explain for her. She had done an excellent job writing her proclamation that put the Powerpukes out of business. She just hadn't thought it all out. But she could understand the stuff, thanks to all those hours of watching TV lawyers and infomercial legal disclaimers. There were only three short paragraphs that applied, but they said all she needed them to say:

"Heretofore, from this day forward, the challenge to a sitting, standing, sleeping or otherwise positioned Mayor, both popular or unpopular; and for Feasance, whether it be named Miss or Mal, or for high crimes, low crimes or in-between crimes, real or imagined, shall not be accomplished via a physical contest such as wrestling, mud wrestling, watermelon pit-spitting nor any other such activity, as it wouldn't be fair to people who aren't good at those kinds of things and might lose.

"Overturning the popular or unpopular elected choice of the people, for which it stands, shall only occur after, following and subsequent to the gathering of signatures of legal voters, on a petition requesting there be a vote held to recall the sitting, sleeping, or whatever Mayor and elect a new one. To be a valid petition the signatures collected must equal the number of swimming pools in the City of Townsville; and there better be a pretty darned good reason on the thing, too!

"Subsequent to, following and after the collection of the signatures, any citizen of Townsville may, by application and payment of the sum of $200, become a candidate for said office of Mayor, with a new election to be held no later than 30 days following, subsequent to and after the serving upon the present Mayor of the petitions, if you can find him."

Princess Morbucks smiled the biggest smile she ever had. And it would all be perfectly legal. No way were those Powerpoo Girls going to stop her this time!

 


 

It was childishly simple, really. Just look at the tax assessment rolls to see who owned a swimming pool. Then start knocking on doors.

"Hello, do you own this property and can prove it?"

"Yeah, what's it to you?"

"I'll pay you fifty dollars to sign this petition."

"For fifty bucks, I'll sign any dumb petition!"

"Here you go. Read it first."

" 'I certify that I am of legal voting age and that I own the swimming pool located at ___________________________. I think the mayor stinks and we should elect a new one right away, signed, __________________________________________.' OK, I'll sign it. Show me the money!"

 

FOUR

 

Princess Morbucks, wearing her super-suit, burst into the mayor's office with two dark-suited legal types flanking her. Each brandished a canvas sack overflowing with letters.

"I demand to see the mayor!"

The mayor was out of the office at the moment, or at least, not visible in the office. He was in the bathroom. Sara Bellum looked first at the two men, then down at the little girl.

"Oh, it's you. The mayor is occupied elsewhere at the moment. What do you want?"

Princess took the sack from the man to her right and tossed it at Bellum's feet. "Read 'em and weep!"

Bellum pulled a letter out of the sack, opened it and began to read. Just then, Mayor called out, "Ms. Bellum, we need some more TP in here!" From behind the letter, she smirked and said, "Hold on, sir, I've got some right here." To Princess, she said, "What the heck is this supposed to accomplish?"

"It's going to make me the mayor!"

"Oh, really. And just how do you think it's going to do that? There isn't any way to undo an election two years old. Who cares what people with swimming pools think? Looks like they, and you, little girl, are all wet!"

"Not according to the city charter, I'm not!"

Bellum was incredulous. "What? What are you talking about? I drafted the most recent version of the city charter!"

"Not the one I saw," Princess replied smugly.

Sara suddenly felt an ominous chill in the large office. It could mean only one thing...

"Mayor! Get out here, now!"

 


 

Princess continued to smirk between her two cronies while an irate Bellum stood over her boss. He was sitting at his desk once again while she forced him to look at the computer screen, and the particular passages he had added to the charter without her knowledge.

"Mayor, what possessed you to do this?"

"Um...so nobody could challenge me to a wrasslin' match and take my hat again?"

"And the rest?" spat the furious woman.

"Oh. That's so if I ever lost I could get elected again without having to wait 'til the next election! Pretty smart, huh?"

"Oh, dear heaven! Yes, Mayor, real smart...until someone uses it on you!"

He didn't get it right away, but when he did, he addressed Princess directly. "Oh, so that's what this is all about, huh? Well, what's your offer? And it's gonna have to be a whole lot more than that so-called Turkish Delight. Why, I bet it wasn't even from Turkey!"

"Oh, dear heaven!" Bellum repeated.

Princess snapped her fingers and the man freed from his sack pulled out a fat wallet stuffed with bills. "My offer is exactly two hundred dollars." The man handed two C-notes to her and she walked to the desk and dropped them in front of the mayor's nose.

"Two hundred dollars, sir," Bellum said. "The fee for running against you."

He stared at them for a long minute, then his cheeks began to color pink and he leaped out of his chair and onto it. He drew out his own wallet, pulled out an equal sum of money and slapped it down on top of Princess' cash with a resounding smack.

"You're on! You think a young whippersnapper like you can beat an old warhorse like me?" He bent over and leaned down until the tip of his nose touched the girl's, and their eyes met. It forced her to take a step backward. "Well, you're welcome to try!"

Bellum still had some hopes of defusing this potentially destructive situation. "Sir, that won't be necessary," she said with more confidence than she felt. "The court will throw out those useless petitions once they discover that money changed hands!"

She suspected that the signatures had been bought, but she was only bluffing. Votes were always bought one way or the other, whether it be with cold, hard cash or worthless promises. Once the signature was there, it was valid no matter how it got there, short of coercion. But she hoped the rich brat didn't know that, and, in fact, Princess looked momentarily uneasy, her eyes asking her legal beagles if that might be true. Sara's boss, unfortunately, ruined the moment.

"You'll do nothing of the sort, Ms. Bellum, and that's an order! This tireless political animal never backs away from a fight!"

He hopped down from his desk and strode for the door to his private chambers. "Start the ball rolling, Ms. Bellum, and I'll review everything after I take my afternoon nap."

After watching him go, Bellum took her one remaining chance she thought she had: Trying to reason with the girl.

"Look, little girl," she said sternly. "Things are bad enough in Townsville already. Do you have any idea what a laughingstock we'll be if we have to hold a recall election? Think of the harm it could do to your financial interests!"

"What harm?" Princess asked, totally unfazed. "That hasn't already been done to Daddy's companies by that idiot of a man you work for. Townsville's already a laughingstock. It can't get any worse!"

Suddenly, her shoulder-mounted rocket launchers threw themselves out and into position.

"Nope! The only place to go from here is up, up and awayyyyyyyy..."

Bellum stood there, stunned, as the one man pulled out a checkbook and wrote her out a blank check to cover the damages. The man still holding his sack of petitions picked up the one from the floor, and the two left the office without saying a word. Their next stop was the Board of Elections, to file the necessary paperwork.

 


 

Sara's first step was to actually read the revised charter, and sure enough, it was all there in black and white. She could just revise it again, but the challenge was filed. Any revising would have to wait until after the recall vote, and if Mayor didn't survive it, that revising would be done by someone other than her, if at all. Her second step was to advise her boss of exactly what he had done, after he woke from his nap.

Upon waking and making another trip to the lavatory, he once again brought up the subject of his re-election campaign, stating that now it really was necessary.

"Uh, sir, I don't think you realize what you've done by changing the city charter. You can't be re-elected."

"I can't?" he asked, blinking in surprise from his desk.

"No, sir. What you did was to create two elections. One, to decide to get rid of you or not. Two, to pick your replacement. If you win the first vote, the second is meaningless."

"Gee, isn't that kind of dumb, to do 'em together like that? How can I vote for me and against me at the same time?"

"Well, sir, that's what you did."

He looked at his shoes for a moment before looking back at his tall assistant. "I guess this wasn't too smart, huh?"

"No, it wasn't."

He got out from behind the desk, not quite ready to give in to the reality. "Well, Ms. Bellum, all we hafta do is rewrite the stupid charter and fix it! Let's get right to it!"

She explained to him why they couldn't. He rephrased it in terms he could understand. "It would kinda be like shutting the barn door after the horse ran away, wouldn't it?"

It was then that she noticed his state of dress, and she chuckled. "Uh, speaking of that, sir...your barn door is open."

He looked down and grew pink in the face. "Oops." He corrected the problem.

"But to answer your question, sir...yes, it's too late now to do anything but hope the people of Townsville do the right thing. I'll run an ad campaign against the very idea of a recall vote, but the best thing you can do right now is to stay out of sight and let the city run itself."

 

FIVE

 

Townsville couldn't be concerned with the negative publicity it was getting because of the recall, on top of everything else. Election fever was running rampant. Already, dozens of potential candidates had applied and paid their fee.

Besides Princess Morbucks, a number of citizens had filed. Among them were many area businessmen and women, including the Hot Dog Vendor. Talking Dog also entered the race. On the other side of the coin, a few minor criminals also signed up. Even one monster was seen approaching the election office, application in hand.

News reporter Stanley Whitfield stationed himself outside, microphone at the ready, to briefly interview the applicants upon leaving the place. Hot Dog Vendor gave essentially the same reason for entering that all of the business people did. He had no chance of winning, but where else could you buy that kind of advertising for your business for two hundred bucks? His take was that as long as the Powerpuff Girls were around, it didn't really matter who was mayor. As long as the big stuff was taken care of, the city more or less could run itself.

Talking Dog had this to say: "I couldn't get elected dogcatcher. Conflict of interest. So I figured, why not Mayor instead?"

He seemed somewhat eager to get away from the reporter, though, fidgeting and looking around nervously. When Whitfield asked him what was the first thing he'd do to improve Townsville, he answered rapidly, "Oh, more hydrants, definitely," before dashing off. "Gotta go!"

Practically every villain put his hands in front of his face and said, "No cameras!" leaving Whitfield and the viewers at home wondering how they thought they'd get votes without their faces being seen. Finally, the monster, not a very big one, squeezed through the door and came out, sending people scurrying away holding their noses from the stench. The yellowish three-eyed blob didn't look to be all that threatening of a fellow, not even when he smiled, showing off his razor-sharp teeth. Stanley politely sucked it up and weathered the smell.

"Well, here we have one of our many monster-type creatures, engaging in the political process. Can you tell us, sir, exactly why you're doing this?"

The creature had a rather pleasant speaking voice, actually. He looked directly into the camera while addressing Whitfield. "The name's Mike, Stan. Now, if you'll remember, not too long ago the mayor of this town kicked us monsters out of our homes without so much as a public hearing, and sent us here, where, if you'll recall, folks weren't too open to having us live. We didn't have much say in that, either. Everything worked out in the end, but it's high time us monsters had a say in things, dontcha think?"

"I see your point, Mike. Tell me, do you really think you've got a chance?"

"Of course not. I'm just hoping to prove that not everybody in Townsville wanted us out. I fully expect to get some people votes, too."

"Oh, yes," Whitfield quipped sarcastically. "The sweaty, smelly blob demographic, of course."

Mike grinned. "Exactly! That's why I'm doing most of my TV spots on Monday Night Football."

 


 

Speaking of advertising, Princess Morbucks had hit the ground running. She was being advised by the same professor who had found her the loophole. All over Townsville, billboards, posters and bumper stickers sported the same message: Purple lettering on a gold background, with a golden tiara perched on the first 'M'.

'Morbucks for Mayor. More Bucks for Everybody.'

Several of the more clever criminal candidates, who didn't happen to be running from the law at the moment, had old 'Wanted' posters of themselves slapped on telephone poles and boarded-up windows of empty buildings. Whatever crime they had been wanted for was pasted over with 'For Mayor', and observers were asked to send campaign donations to the candidate, care of City Jail.

Bellum's ad campaign was underway as well. In TV and radio ads, the recall was declared a bad idea that would lead to chaos in Townsville. But it appeared to be falling on deaf ears. Chaos in the form of crimes, monster attacks, Mojo Jojo, natural disasters and whatnot, were a way of life for these people. Polls showed the mayor losing the vote by a 2 to 1 margin. Princess Morbucks currently held the lead amongst the replacement hopefuls, with 31%. Her nearest competitor was Mike the Monster, with a surprising 12% of the likely voters favoring him.

Of course, by now, this story had gotten the attention of the Powerpuff Girls. It appeared that someone new would be calling them to duty on the Powerpuff Hotline. The idea that it might actually be Princess, and all of it legal this time, wasn't sitting well with them.

 


 

"Blossom, we gotta do something!" shouted Bubbles, after they saw the latest poll results on the evening news, just before their favorite show and bedtime.

"What can we do, Bubbles? We aren't old enough to vote."

Professor Utonium was aware of the effect this was having on his Girls. He, too, thought the whole thing was crazy and feared what might happen without the steady hand of Sara Bellum running things behind the scenes. He set his newspaper aside.

"No, Blossom, but you Girls aren't too young to help influence people's decisions. Why not get involved in the anti-recall campaign?"

"Yeah!" Buttercup said, perking up immediately. "We'll tell people to vote for Mayor, or else!" She uppercutted an imaginary reluctant voter.

"No, Buttercup," Blossom protested. "That's not the right way to influence anybody."

"But it works, and we don't have any money like Princess does."

Professor always stepped in to give a lecture when it was needed, and now was the time for one. "Now, Buttercup," he said firmly to his dark-haired firebrand. "Paying people for their vote with money or empty promises buys nothing but the vote of a selfish person. And threats do nothing but make people act out of fear. That's not the way to accomplish anything good. What you Girls can do is use your influence to convince people that they should vote for someone who has the interests of the whole city at heart. Maybe Mayor can't be Mayor anymore if he loses, but you can help him not lose."

Blossom nodded in agreement and smiled at her father. He was always so smart. But Bubbles didn't quite agree.

"But Professor, what if he loses anyway? Can't we see if we can find somebody else better than Princess?"

Buttercup liked that idea. "Yeah! There has to be lots of people that'd make a better mayor than her or some monster, or a stupid mutt!"

"Now, Girls, let's think positive. He hasn't lost this thing yet." Professor, as it so often happens, had not foreseen the direction his remarks were leading his kids. In their minds, they already saw Mayor losing and were more concerned with who might take over.

"And I know who'd be perfect!" Blossom said.

Her sisters smiled big smiles that said they knew, too.

 

SIX

 

"But, Ms. Bellum, why not?"

Bubbles asked the question as the three girls stood in Sara Bellum's private office at Townsville Hall. Blossom stood there on Bubbles' left, her mouth open in disbelief at the rejection of her well-reasoned and very thorough sales pitch. Buttercup, next to Blossom, couldn't believe it either.

Bellum sat forward in her comfy upholstered chair. "Girls, I appreciate your confidence in me to do the job..."

Buttercup interrupted. "A job you've already been doing, for crying out loud, so why not just do it for real?"

Sara sat back, then leaned back in her chair and sighed. "Look, Girls...it's like this. I am employed by the mayor. It's my job to do everything in my power to see that he stays in office. I can't be running ads saying he should keep being mayor and at the same time, be on a slate of candidates trying to take his job. Even if there's the chance he'll be replaced, which there isn't, it's a tremendous sign of disloyalty. I can't do what you Girls are asking."

"But Ms. Bellum," Bubbles pleaded. "If Mayor loses, Townsville will be in big trouble without somebody good like you."

"Isn't your loyalty to Townsville more important, Ms. Bellum?" Blossom asked archly.

"Great question, Red," Buttercup added. "How about it, Ms. Bellum?"

"I am being loyal," Bellum answered, clearly annoyed at the implication that she wasn't. Her demeanor softened. "Please, Girls, why not just help me help Mayor keep his job? The people will listen to what you have to say."

"We're counting on it," Buttercup said.

"What?"

"We're gonna start a 'Draft Ms. Bellum for Mayor' campaign," Blossom said, and added confidently, "And the people will listen."

Angrily, Bellum replied, "You will do no such thing! I am standing behind Mayor 100 percent!"

"Is that your final answer?" Bubbles asked.

"My mind is made up, Girls, " she told them firmly.

"So are ours, Ms. Bellum, " Blossom declared, just as firmly.

"What are you Girls planning?"

Buttercup answered with a half-scowl, "We're gonna look for somebody else!"

Blossom said sadly, "We're sorry to be your enemy, Ms. Bellum, but Townsville's future is too important to be in the hands of someone like Princess Morbucks. Mayor doesn't stand a chance with what she's promising everybody."

 


 

Blossom had a point. Princess was making huge headlines with her announced public works projects. In fact, one had already broken ground, a new library. Presumably with the family money, though a number of media experts doubted that would remain the case if she won. Some financial sleight-of-hand would no doubt see that money repaid at taxpayer expense. But it was working in the polls. Princess was now at 47 percent. Mike was holding steady at 12. Talking Dog had improved to 5 percent, and the others split the rest, no one getting more than two percent. The free day passes to Princessland Themepark being handed out all over town weren't hurting the rich girl's chances any, either. All of this attention going her way was overcoming what good Bellum's anti-recall ad blitz had accomplished. It was now 70 percent in favor of replacing Mayor. The Powerpuff Girls needed to act, and fast. Ten days of the thirty until the vote were already gone.


 

"I'm sorry, Girls. I can't be mayor. You decided to fight crime and evil on your own and I can live with that, but I can't be the one responsible for sending you into harm's way. I just can't do it."

"We understand, Professor, " they said as one.

Flying to their next interview, Bubbles asked, "Blossom, do you really think Professor would've been a good mayor?"

Her sisters sputtered into laughter. "'Course not, Bubbles! But we had to ask him first!"

 


"Girls, I really appreciate you thinking of me, but I'd miss being your teacher, and I don't know the first thing about running a whole city."

"Don't let that stop you, Ms. K! Neither does Mayor!"

"Buttercup!" chided Blossom, while giggling anyway. But the search would continue.

 


 

"Aw, c'mon, Mr. Whitfield," Blossom coaxed, looking at the TV reporter with her huge pink eyes. "You'd be a natural!"

"Everybody already knows you and trusts you," Bubbles said. "And you're really good at talking. You can interview yourself!"

"Yeah, think about it, Stan," Buttercup said, grinning. "If you were mayor, you'd be the first reporter on the scene of everything!"

Stanley Whitfield thought the whole thing amusing, but cute, nonetheless. "Thank you very much, Girls, but I kinda like the job I have now, and besides, I'd have to take a huge pay cut. But if you're really interested in a qualified candidate, why not try asking the mayor's assistant?"

"We already did," said Buttercup dejectedly. "She turned us down."

Always sniffing for a scoop, Whitfield's ears perked up like a bird dog's. "Can I quote you on that?"

 


'Mayor Gets 'No Confidence' Vote From Powerpuff Girls' was the news of the day, and not just in Townsville. Nationwide, the recall effort was being looked upon with derision by the talking heads and late-night pundits. They all thought it was a big joke and just couldn't see the importance of it to Townsville and the folks who lived there. For their part, Townsville seemed not to care what the opinion of the rest of the country was.

It was of no concern to the Powerpuff Girls. They had met with no success in convincing anyone to enter the mayoral race, and they had lost three more days. Whoever they found would need time to get a campaign going. Time was running out. In desperation, Blossom came up with one more possibility. Her sisters thought she was nuts, but they finally saw her logic and agreed to take a shot at it.

 


 

When he finally stopped laughing, the green-skinned evil genius who called himself Mojo Jojo looked at the three small girls who usually brought him to fits of simian rage.

"You cannot be serious."

"But we are, Mojo," Blossom said as she and her sisters stood in his living quarters. She certainly appeared to be serious, and none of them, to his finely-tuned sensitivities, seemed to carry a trace of guile.

"Well, in that case...the answer is...mpphhhffttt...buahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!"

One white-gloved hand reached out to Bubbles for another tissue from the box she was holding. Buttercup, in disgust, kicked one soaking one in the pile under the chair he was sitting in, roaring and holding his sides.

"Come on, I knew this was a waste of time!"

"Wait, Buttercup." Blossom placed her left hand on Buttercup's shoulder. "Please, Mojo, hear us out!"

Wiping his eyes, Mojo waved his free hand for her to go on. "By all means, Blossom, do not let me stop you. This is the most fun I have had since...never!"

"Weeeell, we were thinking that if you were mayor, you would finally be in control of Townsville like you always wanted, and then maybe you'd see that it isn't all fun and games when someone tries to wreck what you worked so hard for."

"Oh, I see," said Mojo agreeably. "So what you are saying is that I do not know the frustration of seeing something you have a great deal invested in be destroyed? Of days and months of hard work rendered useless in mere seconds? Of-"

"Yeah, Mojo, that's what she said," Buttercup snapped, cutting him off.

"Well, then, Buttercup, you are correct. I do not know what it is like to have everything I have labored for ruined by three little mutants who ruin everything I have labored for! Do I?!"

"Okay, you made your point."

Mojo stood up suddenly. "No! I will now make my point! I, Mojo Jojo, will not rule Townsville by votes, I will rule by decree!"

"Decree this!" Bubbles shouted, winding up to smack him one. Blossom stopped her in time. Surprised, Mojo stood frozen, his finger still pointing skyward from making his point.

"Forget it, Bubbles, he's not worth it," said the red-haired 'Puff.

"Yeah, let's get outta here," Buttercup muttered, and they turned and floated to leave. At the door, Mojo called out to them.

"You should run for mayor, Blossom. I would vote for you."

Blossom spun around. "You would?"

"Indeed! It would bring Mojo great pleasure to seize control of Townsville from you accursed Powerpuff Girls!"

Thus began another long, repetitive spiel they never heard the rest of. As they flew away from his lair and toward home, Blossom didn't hear her sisters complaining.

"Maybe I should run for mayor!" she said aloud, but more to herself than anyone.

"What?" Buttercup shouted ahead to the lead girl, and caught up with her effortlessly. "You can't be mayor!"

"Why not?"

Buttercup couldn't think of a good reason that wouldn't also apply to her. "Uh...because...I'd be just as good a mayor as you!"

"Oh, really," Blossom replied, crossing her arms.

Not to be left out, Bubbles said, "I'd be just as good as either of you, and I'd be even better 'cause I'm the most popular!"

Buttercup shouted, "You are not!"

"Oh yeah? What about that contest I won on TV?"

"Oh, in that case, Bubbles," Blossom countered, her voice dripping with sarcasm, "Then Scooby Doo should run 'cause he's even more popular than we are."

Buttercup laughed, "Yeah, everybody knows that stupid thing was fixed."

"Well, I'd still be a better mayor than that mean ol' Princess."

"Who wouldn't?" Buttercup agreed.

"Any of us, that's for sure," Blossom said, not realizing she'd said the opposite of what she meant. "And if nobody else wants it, maybe we should try. Just one thing, Girls, no dirty campaigning. We only say the things we will do to make Townsville a better place, and no pointing fingers at anyone else...uh, you know what I mean."

"Yeah," Bubbles agreed. "I really hate that. We should be nice."

"But I'm talking the truth when it comes to Princess," Buttercup said.

Blossom agreed with that. "Yes, we can challenge an opponent, but just stick to the facts. But we have a bigger problem than getting elected. First, we hafta get in the race, and that's up to the professor."

They raced home, and when he asked them if they had any luck finding a qualified candidate, they excitedly replied, "Yes, Professor! We found three of them!"

"That's wonderful!"

"But they're gonna need your help, Professor," Buttercup told him.

"Well, Girls, I'll help any way I can!"

"Great, Professor!" Blossom cried. "We need six hundred dollars."

"Six hundred dollars?"

"Yeah. Two hundred for me, and two hundred for Blossom, and two hundred for Bubbles."

"For us to get in the race, Professor," Blossom explained.

Before he could protest, Bubbles said, "And when one of us is mayor, we're gonna declare a 'Professor Day' for the bestest Dad in Townsville!"

What father could argue with that?

 

SEVEN

 

Princess Morbucks spit her mouthful of eggs Benedict all over the silk tablecloth, and the bold headline of the Townsville Tribune that read, 'Powerpuffs Enter Recall Ruckus'.

She stood up and threw the paper onto her plate. "Clean this up!" she barked to her servants. "And bring me a new paper. Now!"

Her face turning purple, she retreated to her bedroom with her cup of cocoa. "How dare they! They're gonna ruin everything!"

Once the paper was brought and the article read, she reached for her French-style phone next to her enormous bed and hit the speed-dial button for her campaign manager. "Get me the latest poll numbers!" she shouted into the receiver.

The results weren't as bad as she was expecting, but she knew they would change unless she did something about those Powerpuffs. She was still in the lead, but they had cut into it. Right now, she was ahead at 32 percent. Bubbles had captured second place from Mike the Monster with 18, Buttercup was next with 14. Blossom trailed her sisters with 12. Mike had slipped to fifth with 9. Talking Dog had lost three of his five points, presumably to animal-lover Bubbles.

One thing working to her advantage is that the pro-'Puff vote would be split three ways. Quickly doing the math in her head, Princess could see that, of the Girls' combined 44 points, only 15 had come out of her lead. The rest had come from the others. Many of them weren't even running a campaign. They had only bought some cheap, temporary notoriety. One interesting fact was that the combined total for the villains hadn't slipped at all, remaining at 7 points. It seemed that birds of a rotten feather were sticking together. Something to keep in mind...

Another thing in her favor, the way this thing worked, is that the winner needed only to have the highest vote total, not a majority. So long as she stayed ahead of the most-popular Powerpuff, she would win.

And the little finks being in the race might not be such a bad thing, after all. The early numbers showed Townsville now in favor of recall, with the Girls in the picture, 3 to 1.

Still, they might spoil the whole thing for her. One way they had no hope of competing was with cash. She knew she was treading on dangerous ground, but it had to be done. She was erasing her tracks as she went, but still...

After her bath and change of clothes, she went to her computer and logged in to the email account Daddy used, rarely, for directing how his 'discretionary' funds were to be spent. She had gotten the password from the butler with a large bribe. One thing she knew was that the recipient of those directions was to never reply to the emails, and was to immediately delete the ones they received.

This discretionary account, containing millions and millions of dollars, was one her father used to 'quietly' see that certain things he wanted got done. Like in Citysville, where, unlike Townsville, government was both more competent and less honest. Palms needed to be greased for Daddy's companies to do as much business as they did.

She sent an email to the fund's director, instructing that person to see that an additional $7 million be transferred to his daughter's personal account. So far, she had secretly taken more than twenty million of Daddy's money. He never bothered to check and see how much he had there and would never know it was gone. She'd put it back, of course, once she was mayor and had control of the city purse strings. Daddy didn't know, either, how much money she had in her account, but he'd never believe she had as much as was in there now. If he looked at her statements, he'd demand an answer, but he'd never look.

She immediately deleted that email, then logged out. She then called her campaign manager back and told him to announce, quietly, another new project funded by Morbucks money. Perhaps a new skating rink in Pokey Oaks. It was best to not make a huge deal out of it, but let it be known just the same. Showing off her wealth wouldn't sell as well as understated benevolence. Her father knew, of course, that she was spending some of her 'own' money on these projects, just not how much, and questioned her wisdom, but other than that, he hadn't objected to it, or to her running for mayor. Once she got in, it couldn't be anything but good for business, and who knew, maybe she'd even change.

She'd worry about what she was going to do or not do after she got in. First, she had to win. To that harried college professor, over whose head still hung her threat, she said, "Find a way to knock out those Powerpuffs!"

"Legally, I presume," the man said with a trace of sarcasm. He didn't like his 'boss' much.

"Of course legally, you ninny! They don't know the first thing about power and how to use it. Find some way to show off my talents!"

"How about a debate?"

"Excellent! I can talk my way out of anything!"

"One can always hope," he thought but didn't say. "I'll start working on it today."

 

EIGHT

 

By design, the debate was scheduled for just two days before the vote, to give Princess the maximum benefit from the positive 'bounce' a debate winner always got. In the days leading up to it, she continued to run her TV ads, which were the only ones appearing, with the exception of the one Mike had promised. No one else could afford them and everyone wondered where a monster came up with the cash for a prime-time TV spot.

To make matters worse, the Powerpuff Girls' best opportunity to speak out on their positions, immediately after saving the day when the media was right there, was something they were prohibited from doing. Furthermore, the press couldn't even cover the stories in any detail, other than to state the plain facts, or be accused of not giving 'equal time' to the other candidates. No such thing as 'free' coverage during an election. You had to pay for it. Those were the rules, and it hurt the Girls.

As a result, Princess' numbers held steady at 31 percent. Bubbles had slipped a bit and Blossom gained a few points, and now the three Girls were in a virtual tie at about fifteen percent each. Blossom was the only one of the Powerpuffs that concerned Princess at all. She could make a speech if she had to, and she was the one most likely to keep her head in the heat of a debate. Buttercup would come unglued and want to start a fight, which Princess was counting on, and Bubbles would probably burst into tears. Great for the sympathy vote, but not good for showing off your leadership skills. Should Blossom give a strong performance and draw from her sisters in the final days, Princess felt she could hold off the pink 'Puff. And if not, she had a card up her sleeve, one nobody knew about. Well, not nobody. The nobodies involved knew, of course, but their silence had been bought and paid for.

So, there really wasn't much going on in Townsville aside from Bellum still running her anti-recall ads and the Girls putting up the handmade posters they and their friends at school made. Mike the Monster made a few appearances around Townsville, which drew decent crowds, but mostly of curiosity seekers. Reaction to him was mixed, with many in the crowd shouting, "Monster, go home!", "Take a hike, Mike!" and "Take a bath, Mike!"

The real action was taking place away from Townsville. National media continued to cover the story, and laugh at it. The idea of a city being run by children, and it now looked certain that the winner would be a child, had the whole country scratching their heads and being glad they didn't live in Townsville. The citizens were aware of this, too. They did get cable, after all. Most could care less what others thought of them but, in one home in particular, the reaction was not so benign.

"Who the heck are these people to judge the way we do things?" Blossom wanted to know.

"They should mind their own business," Bubbles agreed, and she usually wasn't one to pay attention to anything but children's fare on TV. The campaign had raised her interest, and everyone's, in the larger world around them.

"Don't listen to 'em, Bubbles," Buttercup grunted. "They don't have to live here if they don't wanna. Who needs 'em, anyway?"

"Now, Girls," Professor Utonium interjected once more. "That's what makes America great. Every one of us has the freedom to believe what we want and say what we want. But with it also comes the freedom to reject what we don't like and to make up our own minds. Never forget that in a lot of places, people are told what to think and believe."

"But aren't all those people telling everybody what to believe?" Blossom asked, pointing at one of the commentators.

"Yes, they are. But nobody's forcing you to believe them. Just as on election day, nobody is forcing anyone to pull a lever they don't want to pull."

"For all the good it's gonna do us," Buttercup muttered. "Princess is gonna win."

"Think positive, Buttercup," he said, but he wasn't so sure she was wrong. And it was largely because none of the Girls had a clear advantage, and that was due to the way they had been behaving. So he felt it necessary to say, "I want to say something else, Girls. I'm proud of the way you've handled yourselves through this whole thing and not said unkind things about each other to score points, and, win or lose, you're still winners because of it. When you go into that debate in a few days, I want you to remember that and not give in to whatever might get said. Even if Princess becomes the new mayor, you three will still be the Powerpuff Girls and you'll still be a team. Don't forget that."

"We won't!"

 

NINE

 

The night of the televised debate was finally here. In the dressing room at the largest auditorium in town, the Girls fidgeted nervously in their seats while makeup was applied and the director gave instructions of where to look when it was their turn to speak. Princess sat in her chair, not acknowledging their presence at all. The rich girl looked supremely confident as she sat being pampered by her hand-picked attendants. The director cast an annoyed look at them, and her. They were the only ones there at the moment. As of yet, Talking Dog and Mike hadn't shown, and the director was eyeing his watch nervously. It was almost seven and things were scheduled to begin at eight.

Out in the auditorium, some of the evening's crowd were filing in and taking their seats. They would be entertained by watching the crewmen set up the stage. Between where the Powerpuffs were to sit, left of center, and Princess' spot, center stage, was a huge wooden bench, designed to hopefully hold the bulk of Mike the Monster. At the far left edge of the stage, from the audience point of view and to the immediate left of where Bubbles would be, was a small stool upon which Talking Dog would sit. They were the only six candidates who had responded to invitations to participate.

To Princess' right, at right-center stage, was the large desk where the evening's moderator would sit. Taking up the remaining stage space were the seats for the panel of three, who would ask the questions. All were empty at present. In front of the two groupings' seats, candidate and panel, were long, low tables upon which sat water pitchers and glasses. The moderator would have his own, on his desk. For Talking Dog, a dog dish sat on the floor near his stool.

Many of Townsville's noteworthy citizens would be in attendance in the choice seats in the front rows, less for the event itself than to be seen, especially on television. Notably absent were the sitting Mayor and his assistant. It was to be expected. Mayor had largely remained out of sight, just as Bellum had advised him to, spending much of his time tending to his prized rose garden. The city had not suffered any setbacks in his absence, something that was on the minds of some that night.

All the major broadcast and cable networks had crews on hand to broadcast the debate. However, only one planned to carry it live. The rest were planning to run the high, or more likely, low points of the evening at the appropriate news hour for each. The one exception, unfortunately, was The Comedy Channel, who had its top 'reporter', political pundit Frank Allen, on site to add his running commentary to the spectacle. Allen, of course, was famous for his book attacking the even more-famous conservative radio talkshow host Lush Rambeau, the best-selling Lush Rambeau is a Huge, Obese Prevaricator.

Finally, as the starting time drew near and the auditorium was nearly full, the candidates were led out by a young, smartly-dressed blonde woman in a gray dress, white blouse and navy blazer. Princess was first in line and she nonchalantly took her seat as if appearing in front of a crowd was something she did all the time. Applause for her was polite. She had chosen to wear, instead of her usual school attire of pleated skirt, blouse, jacket and ascot, her yellow and black supersuit.

The Powerpuff Girls came out next, to much louder applause, which brought the briefest look of annoyance to Princess' face. Blossom led the three sisters, and was the only one who seemed unfazed by the huge crowd. Bubbles froze for a second and Buttercup almost stumbled into her before catching herself. She looked slightly awed herself as the woman took them to their chairs and got them seated. It wasn't that the Girls weren't used to performing in front of a crowd or cameras, but the situation; unlike anything else they'd experienced. While a crewman clipped a microphone to each of their collars, Bubbles appeared to be extremely nervous, looking around everywhere. Blossom leaned to her right, across Buttercup, and appeared to the crowd to be trying to calm her sister. Princess looked cool as a cucumber and continued to ignore them.

While the director, now changed from t-shirt and jeans to formal wear for the show, moved about giving hand directions and verbal ones only those in the first rows could hear, the moderator and panel of three came out on stage. Surprising no one, Stanley Whitfield had been chosen to be one of the panelists. He took the chair nearest the moderator's desk. Surprising everyone, Sedusa came out to gasps from the audience and a few wolf-whistles. No doubt Allen was going to have a field day with his commentary.

Bubbles' mouth fell open. Buttercup stood up and shouted, "What's she doing here?" Blossom yanked her back into her seat and gave her a stern look. No one but Princess and her sisters heard her say, "I guess every side gets heard. It's only fair, I suppose." Princess just gave the woman a brief, supremely bored look.

Sedusa made sure to exaggerate her movements, swaying her hips as only she could, as she made her way to sit next to Stanley and cross her fishnet-stockinged legs. The reporter did his best to keep his eyes looking to his right.

The third and final panelist was the typical man-in-the-street, just your average guy who you saw all the time but never knew the name of. In fact, when it came time for the introductions, the moderator would tell everyone that the man had chosen to remain anonymous, so as to be a true representative of the average Joe. He was not overly tall, not really thin or fat, and wore your average, plain blue business suit. Oddly, his matching hat he never removed from his head.

"Do we know that guy?" Buttercup whispered to Blossom while leaning toward her.

"I think I've seen him hanging around the hot dog cart," Blossom answered. Bubbles continued to sit there looking somewhat bewildered by it all.

The director had his own mike and boosted the level on it as he strode to center stage and stopped. He raised his arm with his watch on it to his eyes and lowered it.

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, we're about to get started here. It seems two of our candidates haven't shown yet, and we're just going to have to start without-"

Talking Dog came racing out from the wings, stage right, saw Sedusa and stopped in his tracks to stare at her. It turned out that someone backstage had already wired the canine candidate for sound. "Hey, can I sit on her lap?"

"Down, boy," said the director loudly to some laughter, and got the pooch's attention. He pointed to the stool. "Now, sit!"

Talking Dog walked only as far as the middle of the stage, then stopped and sat down. He tossed his head toward the director. "Get a load of that jerk. Show some respect, buddy, or I'll leave you the same tip I left that crummy cab driver on the way over." To the audience, he said, "Sorry I'm late, folks. I just had the cab ride from heck. There was stuff on the seat that smelled so bad even I wouldn't roll in it. And you wonder why we stick our heads out the window."

Then he trotted to his place, took a long drink and hopped up onto his stool. His presence seemed to get Bubbles to loosen up a bit. He exchanged a greeting with her but nobody heard it because the director had quickly ordered the mikes silenced. It would've been drowned out by the audience's roaring laughter, anyway.

After it died down, the director cued the various film and sound people that the show was about to begin, then he announced, from the wings, the evening's moderator, the retired elder statesman of Townsville TV news, McNeill Lehrer. The stocky white-haired man of about 65, dressed in a dark blue suit with white shirt and red tie, strolled out to thunderous applause and went immediately to his desk. He sat down and clipped on his own microphone, and also inserted into his ear the tiny wireless receiver that he'd be getting communications from the director with, such as when to stop for commercial breaks. The director gave a final hand signal and commentators began commentating, for whenever their viewers around the country might see what was shown. All of Townsville was watching, live, on every broadcast outlet in town.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen," intoned Lehrer in a stentorian baritone. "And welcome to tonight's debate between the candidates for this unprecedented election. One of them hopes to become Townsville's next mayor, if the vote to unseat Mayor is successful. First, I would like to introduce our three panelists for tonight. On my left is a man known to all, a man who learned everything he knows from me, Mr. Stanley Whitfield."

"Thank you, McNeill, " said the reporter after the short laughter. "Though I haven't quite forgotten everything you have." That got even more laughter, and a slight frown from Lehrer that suggested maybe the two men hadn't always been best of friends. All of it was going over the Girls' heads; Bubbles still looked very uneasy up there on the big stage.

"Next," said the older man, "In recognition of the fact that even lawbreakers have a voice in today's diverse society, we have the mistress of disguise, Sedusa."

Her black tresses snaking about her head but otherwise behaving at the moment, Sedusa crossed and re-crossed her legs and preened for the camera.

"And finally, a man who needs no introduction, because he doesn't want one. So we'll just call him 'Joe Average'."

The third panelist smiled and tipped his hat. Lehrer then faced the audience. "Before I introduce our candidates, I have an announcement to make. I've just been told by our director that Mike the Monster's campaign manager called a short time ago and said Mike won't be with us tonight. It seems that, at a campaign stop on Monster Island this afternoon, Mike was confronted by a group of angry monsters and unfortunately, uh...eaten."

Many gasped, including Bubbles. Some cheered. Buttercup exclaimed, "Cool!" Blossom frowned at her and said, "Buttercup, that's terrible!"

"That's politics," Princess said, shrugging and reaching to pour herself a glass of water.

"Well, um, yes," said Lehrer. "Well, everyone else is here, so please allow me to introduce them. Though I must say I am astounded by the fact that we have not a single adult amongst them."

"I beg your pardon?" huffed Talking Dog. "I am six years old, which, in human years, is-"

Any debate over that was ended when Princess sputtered and spit out her water all over herself. "This isn't water! Someone's trying to poison me!"

Lehrer picked up his glass and gave it a quick sniff. Without missing a beat, he smiled and said, "I think the kiddies got the grown-ups' water by mistake. We'll be back after a quick commercial break."

Comedian Allen's studio producer was right on the ball, and the comedy channel's viewers were treated to an ad for vodka. Just another highlight of many more to come.

 

TEN

 

During the break, two stagehands removed the unfortunate Mike's seating arrangements.

"Our format for tonight," Lehrer began, after all the introductions were made without further event, "is, first, our panelists will be asking questions of our candidates. The person asked will have one minute to give their answer. The other candidates may give a thirty second rebuttal. Following this Q and A session, the candidates may question each other, with the same rules in place. Finally, each candidate will be allowed to make closing remarks. We will begin with Sedusa."

"What I wanna know," she said, "is what're you brats doing up past your bedtime?"

"Please address your question to a specific candidate." Lehrer reminded her sternly.

"All of 'em! They're all no good brats. Oh, not you, Princess."

Princess' scowl turned into a "that's more like it" smug smile.

"Ooookay, I will give that question to Buttercup," Lehrer said, looking at the Powerpuffs. "I don't see Professor Utonium in the audience. Where is he?"

"Ah, he's home in his lab, like always. He's probably not even watching."

"Of course he's watching," responded Blossom. "But I want to end any suggestion that the Professor is a bad parent for letting us be here without him. On the contrary. Our record of service to the community without his presence speaks highly-"

Lehrer interrupted. "You aren't the issue. Please stay on-topic. Bubbles? Do you have anything to add?"

"No," she answered meekly.

"Very well then. Mr. Average, next question from you."

"Hey!" Blossom shouted. "You said we got to rebut!"

"You did, to Buttercup. Sorry, one per customer. Mr. Average?"

"Yeah," the man said. "As a representative of the basic average citizen, I'd like to know if we could skip the questions and get right to the personal attacks part. That's what I came to see!"

Many shouts of "Yeah!" came from the audience, and, no doubt, from a good number of homes. Sedusa stood up and yelled, "I wanna see those bugeyed creeps pulling each other's hair!" That got an even bigger response that Lehrer quieted down with, "All in good time, all in good time...now, Stanley, your turn."

"Yes. I have a two-part question for Princess Morbucks."

Princess sat up straight, anxious to show herself off. She was tired of the nonsense.

"Princess, you were already mayor for a short time. Your first official act was to legalize crime in Townsville, which, needless to say, wasn't very smart. Why do you feel this shouldn't disqualify you, and, should you be elected, what will you do differently?"

The rich girl seemed not at all concerned about that rather large blot on her record. "Thank you, Stanley. I do admit to getting some bad advice when I asked our former mayor if it would be a good idea to lower the city crime rate by eliminating crime altogether, which my plan did, you have to concede. He could have easily said it was a terrible idea but he just said 'Yeah, whatever,' and went on stuffing his face with candy. I've learned from my mistakes and, if I'm elected, I won't do that again! As you all know, the Powerpuff Girls took advantage of it by robbing me blind!"

The moderator thanked her and told her that her one minute was up. "Rebuttal, anyone?"

Three hands and a paw shot into the air. "Yes, Talking Dog?" said Lehrer.

"Just wanted to say, that explains where they got the stuffed clown they gave me to chew on when I stayed at their house for a week. Never could figure out why it said Princess on the back."

All three Girls shot him a dirty look. Princess leaped out of her chair. "Mister Giggles! Why, you!"

Sedusa, Joe Average, and a good portion of the audience jumped up, pumping their fists and yelling, "Fight! Fight! Fight!" Lehrer found it necessary to restore order by pounding on his desk with a large mallet he pulled out from somewhere.

"Thank you. Bubbles, you have a rebuttal?"

She and Buttercup were still scowling at Princess. "It was the only way to make her fix what she did!"

Buttercup grunted, "So we forgot to give her stupid doll back. Like you can't afford a million more of 'em."

Blossom smiled. "Good point, Buttercup. At least she's spending her money on good things for Townsville now, and I'd like to commend my opponent for that."

"OK, no more rebuttal. Next question, if I could have an intelligent one."

Whitfield jumped in. "Yes. This is for each of the Powerpuff Girls. What is the first thing you'll do as mayor, if elected? Bubbles first, then Buttercup and Blossom."

Bubbles had to think about it for a bit, until prompted by Lehrer that she had just fifteen seconds left. "Oh! I'd plant flowers, lots of flowers!"

"Is that it?" barked Princess.

"No. Then I'd plant lots of trees and then more flowers, and maybe fix up the zoo?"

"Sheesh," muttered Princess. "Whatta ninny."

"Save the personal attacks for when I tell you you can," warned Lehrer. "Buttercup, your turn."

"The first thing I'll do is get some new video games for the mayor's office. The ones he has now are way too easy. No wonder I kick his butt all the time."

Lehrer had to pound the table. It didn't stop people at home from laughing, however. Blossom was eagerly looking at him for her chance; he just waved the go-ahead.

"The first thing I will do as mayor is get rid of that ridiculous clause in the city charter that's led us to this wasteful and divisive election."

That drew some loud applause, and this from Lehrer: "I do believe that's the first sensible thing I've heard all night."

"Hey, no editorializing!" yelled Princess. "It isn't ridiculous to want to get rid of a complete idiot and give the people of this city somebody who knows how to get things done like a Morbucks does."

"All right, I'll accept that as a rebuttal. Do we have another question?

"A follow-up question for Blossom," Whitfield said. "Blossom, I take it you're running for this office somewhat reluctantly."

"Yes, Stanley, I am. Mayor is the best man for the job 'cause he knows how to find good people to help him, like Ms. Bellum. He might make mistakes, but doesn't everybody? We tried to find some grownups who would be good mayors but we couldn't. I'm running because Princess as mayor is an even bigger mistake."

"Oh yeah?" the girl said, trying to keep calm. "Let's see if your allowance'll buy a new library for the city and all the other stuff I'm doing!"

 

ELEVEN

 

"Well, I'm outta here," said Talking Dog, hopping down from his stool and heading to the wings.

"Where are you going?" thundered Lehrer. "No one's ever walked out of one of my debates!"

The mutt stopped, turned, and waved a paw towards Princess. "Who can compete with that? To be honest, I didn't really wanna be mayor. My agent told me the product endorsement offers'd come rolling in if I did this thing, and he was right. Now, I'm getting out of here while I still can and watch the fun at home where it's safe. See ya!"

Off he went, leaving everyone bewildered. "Well," drawled Lehrer, "that's one candidate who's definitely no political animal. Don't know exactly what he was expecting here, but...on to the next question."

Joe Average stood up. "Enough with the questions! Free-for-all time!"

"I gotta question," Sedusa said. "Hey kid," she called over to Princess. "How much are you selling pardons for?"

"Huh? I never said anything about selling pardons."

"You should. You'll get more votes."

"She can have the bad guy vote," Buttercup snorted. "They won't be out for long, anyway."

"I'll take all the votes I can get," Princess retorted, adding snidely, "Especially now with that monster being gone, you're sure to get the stinky vote."

"Oh, now you're gonna get it!" Buttercup hopped down from her chair and started for Princess. Princess jumped down, too, and with the suit she had on, looked fearless. Blossom wrapped her sister in a bearhug.

"Yeah! Yeah!" shouted Joe Average. "Let 'em go!"

"Shut up, you idiot!" Sedusa screamed, and one of her locks picked the guy up and dropped him back in his chair. "I want to see the Powerpuff Girls going at it!" It looked like she might get her way.

"Let go of me, Blossom!" Buttercup struggled to get loose. Bubbles was casting her own threatening looks at Princess. Blossom finally picked Buttercup up and threw her down on her chair. "Sit down and shut up, and that's an order!"

She turned and said, "Mr. Lehrer, can't we just have a nice debate?"

Lehrer took a big gulp of his 'water'. "If it kills me, and it just might! Now might be a good time to take a commercial break, and we'll try restore some sanity in the meantime."

 


 

During the break, he read everybody the riot act, except Blossom and Whitfield. It quieted Buttercup down. Bubbles looked almost ready to cry. When things resumed, he turned once again to the reporter.

Whitfield said, "For Princess Morbucks...your philanthropy is quite admirable, but at the same time might be seen as trying to buy votes. In fairness, I should add that the Powerpuff Girls are trading on their record of service to the community. They are loved by most of Townsville's citizens and might enjoy an advantage, so your actions seem fair, even if not truly altruistic. Having said that, and given the history of animosity between you, they are still vital to the city no matter who wins. If you are elected mayor, can you put that history behind you and work together?"

Princess was once again coolly at ease. "Why, of course we can. As mayor, all I'll be doing, as the person running the city, is asking them to do their job. If they can't work with me, it's all on them. And besides, Townsville will be a lot safer with four Powerpuff Girls."

"No way! I'll never take orders from you and you're never gonna be a Powerpuff Girl! Never!" Buttercup was out of her chair again and halfway to Princess, who, this time, didn't move a muscle. Not out of fear, but unconcern.

Blossom stopped her sister again, but waited for Bubbles' reaction: "She's a bad Powerpuff Girl and mayor, too, and I'm not listening to you!"

"Blossom, your rebuttal?" prompted the moderator.

Still struggling with Buttercup and winning once again, which sent a subliminal message to those watching, she answered, "We can work with Princess. If Princess is the mayor, we will respond to calls for help just as we always have. We are the Powerpuff Girls and a Powerpuff Girl does the right thing. We will do our job." She gave her sisters stony stares before continuing. "As for Princess being a Powerpuff Girl, she isn't qualified to be one, and if she insists on getting her way and endangers Townsville and its citizens because of it, it's all on her."

"Princess, I'll allow a brief response to that," Lehrer told her. He was calling her bluff and she knew it. She'd lost on that point and to insist that she, too, would be a good Powerpuff Girl might cost her the point she had won. Blossom had seemed to concede that she might, in fact, be their boss. Once she was, she could get her way then. It wasn't hurting that the other two Girls were putting on a miserable performance in demonstrating leadership. Blossom was doing pretty good, but not good enough to overtake her. Her confidence grew, and she might score even more points with a 'nice' response.

"No, I agree with Blossom that we can work together."

"Excellent," snapped Lehrer. "We're finally making some progress. But not enough," he said. "We're running way behind schedule, so we will cut off questions at this time and after a commercial, we'll open up a brief period for the candidates to address one another. Then we will have the final word from all of our hopefuls."

 


 

When the show started again, the three panelists would be gone and things repositioned slightly. The unused chairs were removed and Lehrer's desk was now to right of center stage. Princess was closest to him, just left of center, and then the three Girls. Without the two rabble-rousers on stage, one rooting for the Girls and one against, Lehrer might be able to end things on a peaceful note, and then retire for good from moderating. He'd seen a lot but nothing like this.

While waiting, he talked quietly with the kids with everyone's microphones turned down.

"Blossom, you were starting to explain why your father isn't here tonight."

"He's home working in his lab, like Buttercup said, and he's watching us on TV down there. But I wanted everybody to know that he only let us do this because he knows we'll act like proper little ladies." She shot her sisters a sideways look when she said this; they averted her gaze.

"Well, so far, you have...mostly. Let's try to keep it that way."

He didn't bother asking Princess, nor did she seem to care. He knew, anyway. Children with that kind of arrogance got it from parents who were that way themselves and either knew what she was doing and supported it, or didn't know and didn't care. He thought he knew which it was.

All of it was a moot point anyway. His mind was long ago made up to vote against the recall and let Sara Bellum keep running the show as she had for years. Half of him actually wanted a big dust-up in the finale, in spite of what he'd just said to them.

 

TWELVE

 

"All right, candidates. You may now ask one another questions for five minutes, and then we will have each of your closing remarks, and that will end this evening's debate. Bubbles, you have been fairly quiet tonight, so we will give you the first crack at your opponents. Fire when ready!"

Bubbles turned in her chair to face the others. "I wanna ask both Blossom 'an Princess why they think they're so good." The irritation in her voice was plain.

"Why not me, huh?" Buttercup snapped.

"'Cause you're not that good. You won't be a good mayor at all!"

"Oh, and you think you will?"

Part of the crowd gasped and part eagerly sat forward. This is what they'd been waiting for. Lehrer tried to regain control.

"Buttercup, the question has been asked. You'll have your chance."

Princess sprang at the opening. "I have no idea why Blossom thinks she's so good, or why any of you think you can run this city. But I'm a Morbucks. We know how to get things done. How many five-year-olds can you name that can get a multi-million dollar building designed, funded and halfway built in less than a month?"

"I know this five-year-old can knock it down in two seconds!" Buttercup growled.

"Oh, yes, you are good at breaking things. But not much else. Lucky you were born with superpowers, because without those, you wouldn't be good at much at all. Let's see..."

She counted on her fingers. "Bubbles...you're only good for drawing pictures and crying."

Buttercup grinned at her blonde sister. "She's right about that!"

"Why, you!"

"And Buttercup, you're good at getting dirty and starting fights."

"I don't start 'em, I finish 'em!"

Princess ignored her. "But at least that's more than Blossom, here. All she knows how to do is go around acting like her you-know-what doesn't stink."

Bubbles went from angry to giggling and Buttercup laughed out loud. Blossom, though, never lost a beat. "Actually, it doesn't, so don't blame me. Must be all that 'everything nice'."

Even the comedy channel guy couldn't top that one. It brought the house down. Princess grew pink in the face, struggling to keep her anger in check.

When things quieted somewhat, Lehrer said, "Now, where were we?"

Blossom said, "It's my turn to answer Bubbles' question, but I get the feeling Buttercup wants to attack me, too, and so does Princess, so why don't they just go ahead and I'll answer everybody at once when I state why I think I'm the best qualified, when they're all done."

"No can do, Blossom. Save it for your closing statement."

"Well, then, Bubbles, all I can say is that yeah, I do think I'm good and I think you know why."

Bubbles stuck out her tongue. Buttercup shouted and pointed, "Y'see? That's what I'm talkin' about! Miss Goody Two-shoes here!"

"Could you state that as a question?" coaxed Lehrer.

"Sure. Buttercup, why are you gonna be a better mayor than these other three losers? 'Cause I don't have these big fancy expensive plans like Princess and I'm not a big bossy know-it-all like Blossom and I definitely ain't no crybaby! Nope, I'm just gonna sit on my duff and play video games and stuff like Mayor does and stay the heck out of the way and let Ms. Bellum run Townsville. And fight crime and monsters."

Buttercup got some very loud applause and she raised her hands in a motion that encouraged more. "Yeah! Go me!"

Then she said, "I got a question for Bubbles. Who do you think's gonna vote for you 'cept a bunch of crybaby little picture drawing, flower planting, tree hugging, more flower planting crybaby loser crybabies, huh? So why don't you just go cryin' home?"

The place went silent. Even Princess gasped. Bubbles mouth began to quiver, then her face crumpled and she started to bawl at the top of her lungs. A few people started booing Buttercup.

Lehrer cringed. "Oh no. Not the Ed Muskie Maneuver. It never works."

Princess was thinking the same thing, which would've shocked the oldtimer. Her old man was barely a teenager when that instance of political suicide took place.

"What? What'd I say?" Buttercup wanted to know. "I only told the truth!"

"You didn't have to be so mean," Blossom said. "That's the difference between you and Mayor. You're a hothead."

"Yeah, you big, hothead meanie!" Bubbles shouted through her tears.

"Yeah, yeah, so why don't you cool me off with your ice-breath, Miss Perfect?"

Princess smiled to herself. "Hah, they're both toast now! They'll still get some votes from all the Blossom-haters out there but no way can Blossom get enough of theirs to beat me now! I won't even need the villains I paid to drop out of the race and get their backers to vote for me! Hahahahahaha!!!"

"I'm ready to give my statement now," she said with calm and confidence.

"Any more questions?" Lehrer asked. The Powerpuffs appeared to be through asking questions and, to the political experts watching, through, period. Blossom had held up pretty well but the other two had come apart at the seams and doomed any chances they might have had. Princess appeared to have it sewn up, if the pro-recall numbers stayed anywhere near their current level of 7 to 3 in favor.

"Any objection to Princess going first?" Blossom shook her head no. The other two continued to glare at each other, Bubbles still sniffling and wiping away tears.

Princess smiled to the cameras that were pulling in for a tight shot. "I'm looking forward to your support this Tuesday, when, together, we head into Townsville's shiny, new future..."

Only the comedy channel cut to Buttercup's 'finger down the throat' gesture.

"...Under my leadership, you can look forward to even more of the prosperity that the name Morbucks has stood for. With my ideas and my Daddy's companies, you can't lose. Just like it says on all my campaign stuff, Morbucks for Mayor means more bucks for everybody."

"Thank you, Princess Morbucks," intoned Lehrer.

"Can I be next?" Blossom asked, waving her hand like she was in school. Buttercup made a face.

"Sure, why not?" said the moderator.

"Thank you, sir." Blossom stood up, causing the camera crews to mutter under their breath as they readjusted.

"Before I start, I want to say that the sad thing is, we really need Daddy Morbucks to be successful here in Townsville, but if Princess wins this election, Townsville will go backward instead of forward."

"Hey!" Princess shouted. "You can't do that!"

"Blossom, no personal attacks in your closing statement," Lehrer said, wagging his finger.

"Sorry. But I really believe it. You see, everybody, none of us, me and my sisters, really wanted to do this. We think Mayor's done an OK job and we like life here in Townsville just the way it is. But we had to, 'cause if Princess gets in we're all in a lot of trouble. The best thing anybody can do is vote to let Mayor keep his job. Don't vote for me, or Bubbles, or Buttercup, but whatever you do, please don't vote for Princess."

She paused to take a drink of water, then hastily added, "I'm not finished," before Lehrer, or Princess, could react.

"But I know some or maybe even a lot of you still want Mayor out, so, if you still feel that way after hearing this, then I am asking for your vote on Tuesday. Now, I don't know the first thing about running a big city. I might have superpowers, but I'm just a little kid, for crying out loud, and whatever Princess says, she's doesn't know how to do it either. She's just in it for selfish reasons. My sisters can't do it either. I think I'm the best person for the job, and here's why...

Now her sisters were staring at her intently. Bubbles was going to hear straight from Blossom's mouth just how highly her sister thought of herself.

"In my role as leader of the Powerpuff Girls, I have learned one very important thing. I can't do it alone. No leader can. What any good leader does is surround themselves with good people. That's what I do, and that's what I will do if I become your next mayor."

Blossom now looked away from the cameras and at her sisters. "That's what I mean when I say I think I'm good, you guys. We're all good, or at least we try to be. We're a team, and if I win, you'll be a part of my team. I can't fight crime and monsters all by myself and I can't be mayor all by myself. I'll just be in charge, and the one that gets the blame when things go bad. Kinda like what Mayor is going through now."

Her sisters looked down at the floor. She said, "So, in closing, I just wanna say, vote to keep Mayor mayor, or vote for me. Thank you."

Some of the crowd gave her a standing ovation, but many remained sitting. Whether her speech would sway enough voters to her side, was still highly in question. The other two Girls still had speeches to give.

"OK, who wants to go next?" Lehrer asked when it was quiet again.

Buttercup stood up. "Blossom's right. I'd stink as mayor. Not as bad as Princess'll stink, though. Any of you guys that were gonna vote for me, vote for Blossom." She turned toward the moderator. "Can I go home now?"

"Not yet. Don't you have anything else to say?"

"Oh. Yeah. Sorry, Bubbles, I didn't really mean all that stuff I said."

"Me either." Bubbles stood up and she and Buttercup hugged each other. Then she hugged Blossom and said, "You can have my votes too, Blossom."

Bubbles turned around and smiled brightly, changing her mood, just like that. "Thank you everybody that supported me, but please vote for Mayor or Blossom and not for Princess."

"C'mon, Bubbles, I'll race ya' home!" Buttercup cried and before anyone realized just what had happened, they were gone.

No one could believe what they'd just seen. Lehrer had never seen anything like it in all his years of covering politics. Princess was the first to move.

"Hey, they can't do that!" she shouted. "They can't just give their votes to her like that!"

"No, they can't," Lehrer agreed. "But they can ask."

"Worried, Princess?" Blossom said, smiling at the rich brat.

 


 

Bubbles and Buttercup were home before Princess had time to react. They flew into the living room and found Professor Utonium on the couch, watching the debate. Startled, he turned around and stared at them. "Uh...Girls..." He recovered fast, though, and frowned. "Bubbles, Buttercup...I like the way this turned out, but what did I tell you Girls about not attacking one another? You forgot you were a team!"

"No we didn't, Professor!" Bubbles giggled, then she and Buttercup latched onto each other and laughed until it hurt. Professor sat there scratching his head.

"Oh, Professor, " Bubbles finally was able to sigh.

"This was one of our best plans yet!" yelled Buttercup with delight.

 


 

"What?" Princess said, not liking something in Blossom's tone of voice. She seemed too smug. "No fair! That's a dirty trick! You planned this whole thing!"

"All's fair in politics, Princess," Blossom laughed.

"No it isn't! Now I'll need all those villains' votes I bought!"

"You what?" said Blossom and Lehrer, at the same time thousands at home said, " She what?"

"Um, that I was thinking about buying but it would be wrong so I didn't," the little girl said with a smile she didn't feel.

 


 

Alone at the Morbucks campaign office, the university professor sat in disbelief, staring at the small set on his desk. "She did what?"

He thought back to a conversation they'd had. Or, rather, something she'd said that he'd only answered in his head.

"I can talk my way out of anything!"

"One can always hope."

He smiled, but not for too long. She'd blame him, of course, and exact her promised revenge upon him and the school. Time to launch a preemptive strike.

 


 

Princess angrily threw her mink jacket on the floor as soon as she strode in through the massive front door into the lavishly decorated foyer. She fully expected whatever lowly servant there was to hurry to place it on a hanger. Instead, she saw Daddy staring down at her, not looking too happy. He took her by the left ear.

"March!"

To his office and his computer he led her, and he pointed at the screen that displayed his secret slush fund.

"Explain!"

 

THIRTEEN

 

It wasn't all that close. Blossom's appeal had fallen short. Not for mayor, though. Just the recall vote, which Mayor lost 55 to 45 percent. Blossom had won handily, with 65 percent of the vote to 15 for Princess, six each for her sisters and the rest, scattered amongst the rest. Even the late, unlamented Mike still got some. Blossom Utonium, age five, was Townsville's new mayor. The idea of a recount wasn't even considered. Her sisters were very excited about the swearing-in ceremony that would be held without delay.

The cherry on the sundae was running into Princess at the voting booth at Pokey Oaks High School the evening of the vote. They saw her while Professor Utonium waited in line to cast his vote for Mayor, and Daddy to protect his investment. The Girls said nothing to her, but they enjoyed immensely the sight of the pillow strapped to her sore backside. She never looked at them.

At noon the next day, outside Townsville Hall, Blossom stood on the steps with the judge, Mayor, and Ms. Bellum. The crowd was as large as expected, with even more press from all over covering the story now. Townsville was being ridiculed far beyond what it had received 'til now, for putting a minor child in elected office.

Blossom had given a short statement to the media, outlining her plans for the day. She would make three major announcements, but other than saying she would choose a vice-mayor, she said nothing about them. Now, as her family watched proudly, she placed her right hand on the Bible and took the solemn oath. Mayor took off his hat and sash and handed them to her. She put the sash on but laughed and handed his hat back. That made the old man happy. In fact, he didn't seem too upset at being kicked out of office. Bellum didn't seem too displeased, either. The expectation was that Blossom would simply pick her, let her go on running things uninterrupted, and just be a figurehead while she and her sisters did their jobs as the Powerpuff Girls and went to school and played with their friends and did all the other things little girls did.

Blossom had other ideas.

 


 

"Thank you, Mayor, and thank you, Townsville, for giving me the chance to see my vision through."

It dawned on many, as Blossom's words echoed across the plaza surrounding the steps of the seat of power, that they really had no idea what that vision was; Blossom hadn't said exactly what she would do as mayor.

"As I said, I have three major announcements. Number One. I am getting rid of that dumb revision to the charter. You're gonna have to wait 'til the next election to get rid of another mayor around here! No more recalls!"

A huge cheer went up at that.

"Number Two. I am choosing as my assistant, and the one who will take over if I can't do the job..."

Why she stopped, no one understood. What drama was there? Everybody knew who it was going to be.

"...Mayor!"

There were shouts of "No!" and those of fans of Mayor's, including Bubbles and Buttercup, who shouted, "Yay!" But they were drowned out by the chorus of, "What?"

"But we just threw him out!" protested a loud-voiced man near the podium.

"I know," Blossom said nonchalantly. "But I'm the mayor now and I can do whatever I want! What do you say, Mayor?"

"I don't know, Blossom," the old man said. "It sounds like a pretty hard job. I'm not used to hard work."

"Oh, you won't have to do much of anything, sir, I promise!"

"Well then, I'll take it!"

The crowd was stunned and horrified, mainly at how much the little girl suddenly sounded like Princess.

"I told you it was a mistake to vote for me! Hahahahaha!!!! And now, for my final announcement. Get ready, folks, 'cause it's a biggie!"

The predominant feeling was one of, "Oh, no! What have we done?!!"

"I hereby resign as Mayor of Townsville!"

Blossom took off the sash and hung it around Mayor's neck. "You've got your job back, sir! If you don't mind my asking, I hope you give Ms. Bellum hers back, too."

 


 

The relief was soon replaced by demands for an explanation from those who felt cheated and that Blossom had made fools of them. They wouldn't let her leave.

"Ok, I'm sorry if anybody doesn't like what me and my sisters did, but we had to get Mayor and Ms. Bellum their jobs back. Townsville just wouldn't be the same without them. That's why we asked everybody to vote to keep him, but we needed a backup plan just in case. All you have to do is look at how smoothly the city has been running for the last month to know we did the right thing."

"Yeah!" shouted much of the crowd. Townies were quick to forgive.

Buttercup squeezed in front of the mike. "And if Mayor goofs up once in a while, so what? It makes life interesting around here!"

"Yeah!"

Bubbles pushed her way in. "And to all you people out there that aren't in Townsville that made fun of us 'cause of how we do things, I just wanna say, phbbbbttt!"

"YEAH!!!"

 


 

Princess Morbucks' campaign manager was cleaning off his desk in the empty office, throwing useless campaign materials onto the floor that was a mess already. He'd been watching the coverage from downtown while doing it. He had to turn the sound down to answer the phone.

"It was you that ratted me out to my Daddy, wasn't it?" screamed the voice through the phone. "WASN'T IT?!!" He had to hold it away from his head.

"Well, Daddy says I can't do anything to your lousy school, but just you wait! I'll find some way to make your life miserable, you fink! Just you wait!"

On and on she ranted, but he never heard the rest as she talked into the dead phone. He gently hung up on Princess, then looked back at the TV screen and the happy people on it.

Smiling broadly, the professor pumped his fist. "YEAH!!!"

 

The End

 

Story written September 15 - November 2, 2003

 

Leave a Review Read Reviews

Return to Story List

HOME