We’ve reached the halfway point in my current Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This is of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction, “Breaking the Barriers”. You can read the whole MiSTing here, and I hope you enjoy it. The mysterious portal that brought Carrie into the world of beloved animated series Reboot has returned, dropping her, Bob, Glitch, and the villain Megabyte in her Canadian hometown. And now — Megabyte has gone to the mall!
This was always one of my favorite MiSTings and the whole mall sequence is one of my favorite parts. I felt, at the time, like everything was landing well, and I still think so. The mall riffs have dated, but gloriously so. I couldn’t have written the jokes to be so late-90s/early-2000s if I’d tried. The host sketch to open this is also a weird delight. I kept up the conceit of playing out the Monopoly game while talking about other stuff. I think the Adam West jokes were from a first draft at a show-opener sketch that I could’t make work. But it served as a great introduction to Tom Servo’s thing. This sketch is packed with local riffs, and they’re based on Troy, New York, where I had just finished grad school. So the Latham Circle Diner, the 76 Diner, and the Chinese restaurant just south of it were real places. As the name suggests they were near, though not attached to, the Latham Circle Mall beloved in dead-mall … circles. Shalimar’s was this Pakistani-Indian restaurant in downtown Troy that I never ate at enough, but enjoyed each time I did, and am delighted to learn is still there. (Also the comic book shop across the street is still there, somehow.)
Kaya buns, meanwhile, are this kind of Malaysian/Singaporean treat, bread buns with sweet coconut jam filling. Also in the early 2000s Coke experimented with flavors like Lemon Coke, thus, the Durian Coke riff. Scooter Computer and Mister Chips (they’ve got the answers at their fingertips) was a set of public service advertisements ABC ran on Saturday mornings in the 80s trying to explain computers to kids. The “Kirsten to Bridge? Kirsten to Engineering?” riffs reference the legendary Stephen Ratliff Kids Crew/Marrissa Picard stories. I participated in the riffing on many of those. I’d like to share them, but I’m not sure if I ought without permission from the co-authors. At least the editor. (Where possible. Bill Livingston, one of the greatest MST3K fanfic writers of the era, died about a decade ago, for example.)
This segment closes on the riff “If Carrie had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened”. This was a line I put in pretty near every MiSTing I wrote for a long while. It was drawn from the Woody Woodpecker cartoon Bunco Busters, a cop show spoof, in which Woody keeps falling for Buzz Buzzard’s cons while the stern narrator tells us how this could have been avoided. Turns out I got the line wrong. The narrator says “If Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened.” The difference is tiny but it hurts me that I got it wrong. But it had been like fifteen years since I’d seen the cartoon, and it was basically impossible to watch videos online in 2002, even if Woody Woodpecker cartoons had been online. So I must live with a misquoted riff in, like, everything I wrote. Too bad.
Alex Trebek was from what is now Greater Sudbury, Ontario. This fact exhausts what I knew of the place in 2002 as well as what I know now.
[ SATELLITE OF LOVE DESK. The Monopoly set is still on the desk, with the pieces pretty well moved around; a few houses are scattered around the board, including one on Free Parking. GYPSY, CROW, and JOEL are waiting. CROW seems deep in thought. ]
MAGIC VOICE: Why is it always the guy whose turn it is who goes missing?
GYPSY: Would you notice if somebody else left?
JOEL: OK, we give him another minute then go on.
[ TOM SERVO pops up. ]
JOEL: Hey, Magic Voice, can I buy the Peanuts edition from you?
MAGIC VOICE: But you can’t do anything with it.
JOEL: I know, but I like Peanuts.
MAGIC VOICE: Give me a turn to think it over.
JOEL: Fair enough. Hey, Crow, buddy, you awake?
CROW: [ As JOEL nudges him. ] Oh! Joel, do we really know that Ariel (Disney’s The Little Mermaid) and Adam West were different people?
JOEL: [ Taken aback ] Well, one was a cartoon, who could sing, and who was surrounded by colorful and zany characters.
GYPSY: And the other was a mermaid.
CROW: Yeah, but did we ever see them both at the *same* *time*? And if we did, did we know the ‘Adam West’ wasn’t a robot or Alfred in disguise?
JOEL: Uh … well …
[ As ALL ponder this, TOM jumps up. ]
JOEL: Ah, Tom, it’s your turn. [ He rolls the dice. ]
TOM: Please, do not be alarmed by my presence!
CROW: We’re not. We want to know if you’re buying the Disney edition.
TOM: Yes, I am Thomas Servo. I come to you from the “real world”! In it, you are all the beloved characters from a famous television show.
[ Two beats. ]
CROW: All right, Tom, and where are you going with —
TOM: I’m new to this world! Don’t fear me.
GYPSY: He’s not gonna buy the title.
JOEL: [ Giggling ] So would you like some of our un-real food?
TOM: Why, yes, please.
JOEL: OK. So what do we give a visitor to our reality?
CROW: Ten seconds to go or pass.
GYPSY: How about a RAM chip?
JOEL: Or a block of cheddar cheese?
TOM: White Castle burger would be nice.
CROW: Roll for Cambot, Joel.
[ CAMBOT quickly nods. JOEL rolls; he moves the piece. ]
JOEL: You know what I’d like, my first meal in a new dimension? A thick chocolate shake.
CROW: Fine, then. Kaya buns.
GYPSY: Hey, that’s my square. [ JOEL takes $80 from CAMBOT’s pile and gives it to GYPSY. ] Maybe we should take him to a restaurant?
JOEL: Old Country Buffet for somebody from another dimension?
TOM: I’d be fine with Popeye’s too.
CROW: Now, see, I’d say the Latham Circle Diner or Shalimar’s is more representative of our reality.
GYPSY: Or the 76 Diner, on Route 9.
JOEL: The Chinese buffet just south of there.
[ JOEL rolls, advances GYPSY’s token. ]
MAGIC VOICE: The one with the pizza slices? And the Philly cheesesteaks?
JOEL: That’s the one.
TOM: Yes, this will do nicely.
CROW: Ok, you going to drive, Joel?
JOEL: Yeah, let’s go.
[ JOEL starts to leave; GYPSY and CROW follow, leaving TOM alone. ]
MAGIC VOICE: [ A moment behind GYPSY ] Shotgun!
CROW: [ Leaving camera ] Aw, you always get shotgun.
JOEL: [ Leaving camera, voice fading ] The rules are the rules. Hey, what’s with this Adam West/Little Mermaid thing?
GYPSY: [ Off-camera, fading ] Usually you think like that at the start of the day’s experiment.
CROW: [ off-camera, faint ] I don’t know, it just came up is all.
[ Several beats. ]
TOM: I don’t think I’m interacting with this reality well.
[ TOM looks around. ]
TOM: Hey, the Coca-Cola edition’s mine! Crow owes me!
[ MOVIE SIGN flashes ]
TOM: And now we’ve got movie sign too… JOEL!
[ 6.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. ]
[ THEATER. TOM is by himself. ]
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
TOM: It’s a very confused trail of ants.
> Part Eighteen
TOM: This was the original title of Part Twenty-Two.
> As Megabyte wandered through the crowd, he wondered if
> everything about him had changed.
TOM: You ever feel like the world’s Manhattan and you’re Greater Sudbury, Ontario?
> He certainly felt different. His
> normal viral impulses had given way to stronger and stranger ones.
TOM: He’s becoming a compulsive spender.
> For some reason, all these people surrounding him, seemed like prey.
TOM: Even his bunny books seem empty to him.
> Yet, they only talked to and interacted with each other. He could see
> no evidence that anyone looked upon him as a predator.
TOM: Maybe Canadians just don’t naturally distrust mall-walkers.
> And he also
> had this knowledge that he was now able to infect them, but not as a
TOM: So interdimensional portals give you a lot of exposition?
> Unsure of these feelings, he simply continued to wander
> through the crowds.
TOM: And he’s attacked by a focus group that wants to know if he likes new Durian Coke.
> As Carrie and Bob ran into the crowd of people, they began
> looking for Megabyte.
TOM: He’ll be easy to spot, since he’s the only guy at the mall with a proper name.
> "Can you see him?" Carrie asked. "No." Bob
[ JOEL, CROW file in. JOEL cracks open a fortune cookie. ]
TOM: About *time*, guys.
JOEL: "Your friends are often surprised by your kindness."
TOM: That’s an ambiguous fortune.
CROW: It’s your cookie, Tom.
[ JOEL feeds the cookie pieces to TOM. ]
> "He’s no where in sight." "Maybe we should split up and look
> for him that way." Carrie said. Bob thought about that for a second.
JOEL: Scooby, Shaggy, and Velma can check the basement. We’ll check the attic.
> "O.K." he said, "But, I’m giving you Glitch’s extension peice. If you
> find him, call me through Glitch. Don’t confront him alone."
CROW: Yeah, that advice will last for seconds.
> blushed at his concern for her well being. "Thanks," she said, taking
> the extension. "I’ll be careful."
MAGIC VOICE: [ Startling JOEL, TOM, and CROW ] Fifteen seconds until Carrie is captured. Fifteen seconds.
JOEL: [ Recovering his composure ] I knew that.
TOM: Did *not*.
> Bob smiled shyly, then did
> something really unexpected. He stepped close to Carrie, and kissed
> her gently on the cheek. "I don’t want you to get hurt."
CROW: But it is, after all, Ape Law.
> whispered, then turned and entered the crowd. Carrie just stood there
> for a moment, shocked and pleasantly surprised.
JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Boy, this couldn’t be any better, nothing could possibly happen to me now …
> *I’m glad Dot’s not
> here.* she thought, *Or I’d be in BIG trouble now.*
CROW: [ As Carrie ] I’m glad I started wearing high heels today. And this chic tight skirt, sure, I can’t run, but I look great!
> Smiling, she took
> off in the other direction to look for Megabyte.
TOM: [ As Carrie ] It’s going to be a nice easy shift, and good, ’cause it’s just two days until my retirement.
> As Bob ran swiftly through the crowd, his mind raced at an
> even greater speed.
JOEL: Did you know the fastest computer in the world is a PDP-11 that’s been dropped from a helicopter?
> *Where did that come from?* he wondered, *Why in
> the world would I kiss Carrie, and never Dot? Is she so different?*
TOM: [ As Bob ] Maybe it’s me. Maybe *I’m* Carrie, and she’s Dot. Does that make sense?
> His mind was a flurry of questions as he realized something. He
> didn’t even know what Megabyte looked like as a human.
TOM: Just because he’s the Guardian of Mainframe doesn’t mean he can handle a Kaybee Toys.
> Carrie hadn’t
> told him. *Well, no wonder,* he thought, *After what you did, how
> could she be thinking straight?*
JOEL: ‘Cause girls turn stupid when they kiss.
> Bob knew Carrie liked him. He
> turned, deciding to see if he could find her.
CROW: You left her ten seconds ago, how hard do you have to look?
> *Wait,* he thought, and
> pulled Glitch from his pocket. "Glitch," he said, "communication to
JOEL: Kirsten to Bridge?
> Glitch beeped, then processed the request. After a
> couple of seconds, it beeped again, this time, puzzledly.
JOEL: Kirsten to Engineering?
> unsuccessful. No reply.’ Glitch displayed. Bob stared at the screen in
CROW: Bob’s the kind of person who hangs up on the second ring.
> "Glitch, trace location of extension." Glitch displayed a
> small map with a blinking dot.
TOM: You’re here, and she’s got the traveller’s cheques there.
> Closing Glitch, Bob ran to the spot it
> had shown him. Looking around, Bob couldn’t see Carrie anywhere.
CROW: I bet he wishes he had traceroute up and running now.
> Then, he looked down at the ground. There was Glitch’s extension, and
> it was crushed.
JOEL: Absolutely heartbroken!
> The gravel on the ground showed signs of a struggle.
TOM: Yes, Carrie’s pager fought back brilliantly.
> *No!* Bob thought, then something else caught his eye. Picking it up,
> he realized what it was.
CROW: Shiny things are pretty!
> It was a broken necklace, bearing the name
TOM: [ As Bob ] Somebody else had a "Mouse" necklace too!
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
CROW: Couple more pieces and we can make a Lego axe.
> Part Nineteen
> Carrie struggled and fought against Megabyte, trying
> desperately to break free.
JOEL: She should trace a little green marker around his edge.
> "Now now," He rumbled, "You know that
> won’t do you any good."
TOM: You’d think this could attract the attention of the mall cops.
> Carrie continued to fight, hoping to loosen
> his grip enough that she could slip away. *If I can just get to Bob,
> or tell him about this somehow!!*
CROW: [ As Carrie ] Oh, why couldn’t I have been pulled into the world of Scooter Computer and Mister Chips?
> she thought, *He could get me out of
> here.* Megabyte dragged Carrie behind one of the generator trucks,
> and set her on the ground. "If you scream," Megabyte said,
TOM: You’ll be in SOOOOO much trouble…
> punishment will be very severe." Carrie’s eyes widened as he spoke.
JOEL: He’s not a very good makeout artist.
> *Oh, God!!* she thought. Megabyte was no longer a virus, but he
> wasn’t human either.
TOM: Not to suggest that all Armani-wearing white guys are evil inhuman monsters out to destroy the world.
CROW: There are nearly two dozen guys who aren’t.
> He looked normal, except for one thing. He had
> fangs. *Just like a…Oh No!!* Carrie’s mind raced. Only one kind of
> creature had teeth like that, but they weren’t supposed to exist.
CROW: They’re not real, like Megabyte.
> They were myths!! *He’s a….a ….Vampire!!* Carrie’s mind screamed
> at her. She sat unmoving as Megabyte removed his hand from her mouth.
TOM: Oh, sheesh… now cut that out!
JOEL: I dunno, I could buy it when the computer pulled Carrie into "Reboot," but this is getting kind of out there.
> "Good." he said, standing up straight. Carrie looked up at him.
> "What do you want with me?" She asked him. He chuckled richly. "You
> are the bait to catch a Guardian." He said.
JOEL: You and this can of mealworms.
> "You are my ensurance
> that he will send me back to Mainframe."
TOM: You just *left* Mainframe.
> He thought silently for a
> few seconds, then smiled, evily. "Maybe even to the Supercomputer!"
CROW: Did he even have to *go* to the mall?
JOEL: His plan was to get out of Carrie’s bedroom, lose Carrie and Bob, wander around, find Carrie and Bob, and get to Carrie’s bedroom.
> Carrie pulled her knees up to her chest, and hugged them
> tightly. *What am I going to do?* she thought, *I can’t let this
TOM: Dare him to squeeze into a wireless networking card!
> She started to try and come up with a plan. If she could at
> least get him away from the Carnival, that would help.
CROW: What good luck — outside the Hudson’s Bay they just opened a new "World of Garlic and Silver Bullets"!
> She looked
> over at Megabyte. he was turned, looking at the Midway, expecting Bob
> from that direction.
TOM: We all expect Bob from one direction or another.
> *Maybe I can get away by going around the other
> way.* She straightened her legs, silently, then tried to stand up.
CROW: With her legs straightened that’s kind of tricky.
> "I wouldn’t try that if I were you." Megabyte said, not even turning.
> Carrie looked at him, surprised. *How did he know?* she wondered.
JOEL: He’s got eyes in the back of his head!
TOM: It’s not well known, but Megabyte *is* a Mom.
> Suddenly, Megabyte was hit in the chest by a flying brick.
CROW: Ignatz Mouse is *way* off base this time.
> stumbled slightly as Bob came racing around the corner of the booth
> beside the truck. "Alright, Megabyte."
TOM: I’d give Carrie ten bucks to put Dig Dug here instead.
> He said, "This ends here!"
> Megabyte picked up the offending brick, and casually tossed it to the
> side. "Now, Bob."
JOEL: You could have hit someone with that. In fact, you did!
> He rumbled, "If you want your friend returned in
> one peice, I suggest you take me into the Supercomputer."
CROW: And, uh, any supplies of Krazy Glue you have would be appreciated.
> over, Megabyte caught Carrie before she could even attempt to run.
> Carrie turned to Megabyte.
TOM: [ As Carrie ] Oh, yeah, big strong guy, you can catch a girl who’s *sitting*.
> "I don’t care what you do!" She shouted at
> him. "I would rather have you kill me then see you get into the
JOEL: [ As Bob ] Don’t look at me, I don’t know how you get into the Supercomputer from here.
> Megabyte smiled evily, and Carrie began to tremble
> with fear.
CROW: [ As Megabyte ] Run that first part by me again …
> "I don’t have to kill you," he said, "I have another
> ability I can use."
TOM: He can apply his extensive knowledge of Gilbert and Sullivan.
> Carrie’s eyes widened in fear as he once again
> clamped his hand over her mouth. He lifted her off the ground
> slightly, and pulled her head to the side.
JOEL: Bob’s got other things to do this scene.
> Smiling quickly at Bob, he
> opened his mouth, revealing his long fangs, then his head descended
> towards Carrie’s neck.
CROW: How does he know to do that?
> *Nooooo!!!* Carrie’s mind echoed Bob’s scream
> as she felt Megabyte’s fangs sink deeply into her skin.
JOEL: We’re veering dangerously close to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" territory now.
TOM: If Carrie had gone straight to the police, this would never have happened.
[ to continue … ]