Chapter 8: But still, they come
"Fred I'm so sorry about what I did at the diner, but knowing what I did and how Shaggy's helped me, I think things are changing, I'm changing, Shaggy's the one I..." talking to Fred wasn't the same as talking to Velma she desperately wanted to talk to her about Shaggy. "I think Shaggy's the one I…" She was cut-off by Scooby howling. The next second they were on their feet and running out of the greenhouse, someone was in trouble.
They arrived at the orchid house to find Harold and Marilyn tugging at the doors, Scooby was trying to dig his way into the building. As soon as Fred and Daphne arrive Scooby franticly implored them to help.
"Scooby, what happened? Where's Shaggy and Velma?" said Daphne. Fred looked in through the window but it was too dark to see anything.
"It seems that they were captured by the plant creature but we have the place surrounded so it couldn'tt escape," said Harold. Fred and Daphne looked at each other and smiled. Together they kicked the orchid house doors off their hinges, despite the smell Scooby was the first inside.
"Velma!" Their torches scanned the interior for their missing friends.
"Jeepers there they are!" Daphne pointed to the far corner of the room where two familiar figures lay wrapped up amongst long alien-looking leaves while plant tendrils were stuck to their skin. Between them lay a small piece of glowing rock.
They all rushed over, the plant material was dry and crumbly both Shaggy and Velma looked pale and drawn as if the plant had sucked them dry. While the humans freed Shaggy and Velma Scooby found a broom and nudged the glowing rock out of the way.
"What happened to them?" said Fred as he eased a semi-conscious Velma into a sitting position.
"Many plants have narcotic properties, now let's assume that the creature is a predator, it might use a narcotic of some kind to subdue its prey, but obviously a diet of humans doesn't suit it, thankfully," said Marilyn as she checked Velma over.
"It was trying to eat them alive!? That just too cruel," said Daphne holding Shaggy close to her.
"Nature isn't cruel, just indifferent," said Harold with a sad sigh "We'd better get them some food and water to bring their electrolytes back up."
Harold looked in his pockets and found some fruit bars and a bottle of water, both eat the bars slowly as if on autopilot then shared the water. It took a while but eventually both Shaggy and Velma were up on their feet though neither seemed to be fully aware of their situation, it was as if there were still half asleep.
"Perhaps they just need some time to wake up," said Marilyn.
"Possibly, but we've been here over an hour. Perhaps they just need something to remind them," said Daphne.
"Velma? Velma dear?" Harold spoke slowly are carefully.
"This is yours," he placed her deerstalker hat in her hands.
"Thank you for the nice hat Father I will wear it all the time," she placed it on her head, it fit perfectly.
"Shaggy, do you want something to eat?" said Daphne holding his arm.
"No thank you Daphne, I do not fell hungry at the moment the snack bar was more than sufficient. I understand we have an on-going investigation, I am keen to see it resolved."
Fred and Daphne shared a look of concern and worry, something was dreadfully wrong with their friends.
"Listen," said Shaggy. Everyone stood around quietly and soon a faint rhythmic knocking noise could be heard from outside.
"We need to go," said Velma. She and Shaggy walked slowly out of the orchid house with the others hot on their heels.
As they walked in seemingly random directions everyone tried to talks to Shaggy and Velma, tried to jog their memories but all to no avail, It was as if they were in a trance and being summoned by the knocking noise. Finally the random walking stopped as they began to head in a more-or-less constant direction.
Daphne walked along with Fred both having failed again to get through to Shaggy and Velma.
"Freddie, something's wrong with Shaggy, he's not my Shaggy, I don't feel the same around him, I miss his calming ways, quiet strength and his adorable smile," whispered Daphne.
"Yeah good point, Velma's not the same either; she's not her warm and cuddly self anymore."
Since when has Shaggy been either calm or strong? thought Fred.
Velma, warm and cuddly? Yeah right. thought Daphne.
As their eyes adjusted to the dark Harold saw a faint glow out of the corner of his eye coming from the trees they were heading towards. The noise also seemed to be coming from that direction.
"I can't see it," said Daphne.
"Don't look at it, took to one side and you'll see it."
"I'm not sure what difference that will make, jeepers I can see it."
"Old astronomy trick, let's go see what's going on."
As they got closer they could see patches of purple-green light amongst the trees and undergrowth, finally they could make out glowing leaves, branches and puddles of water. Faint glowing tendrils ran over the floor and up the trees.
"Do you think we should get that Wolfie guy, after all he's the head gardener?" said Fred.
"This didn't come from your local garden centre Freddie," said Daphne.
"What do you think?" said Fred turning to Harold and Marilyn.
"I've just seen something out of the corner of my eye," said Daphne in a very controlled voice.
"Oh really what?" said Marilyn.
"Something I wish I hadn't seen," replied Daphne.
"Goodness me what could it be?"
"Something that tells me it's time to run away, look!" Daphne cried out and pointed into the gloom. Their torches illuminated a mass of writhing tentacles heading towards them.
Harold took out his magnifying glass and looked at the creature.
"I believe Daphne is correct, we don't need to collect any more evidence to conclude that is it time to run away," he turned to Marilyn "after you dear."
"Thank you Harold." Velma's parents ran off at an angle from where the creature was heading, Fred and Daphne respectively hauled Velma and Shaggy onto their shoulders and ran after them.
The creature chased them all around the trees and then in and out of the greenhouses, despite Velma's father's insistence of stopping and opening the door for Marilyn they managed to eventually shake the creature. They ended up hiding in one of the gardeners shed a short way down the hill from the orchid house.
"It seems to be moving around the greenhouses," said Marilyn peering carefully through the window.
"We need a trap," said Fred.
While Fred and Daphne looked through the shed for things they could use Marilyn kept watch. Harold was trying to jog Velma's memory by playing 'guess the next prime number' a game they used to play when together when he walked her to elementary school. They would see a number – a house number, part of a car registration plate, then race to be the one to say the next prime number after that. Scooby kept trying to get a reaction from Shaggy by reminiscing about snacks they had made themselves over the years.
"We've got glue, webbing, planks of wood and assorted gardening tools, that must be enough for something Freddie," said Daphne.
"Yep, I'm thinking some kind of sticky webbing, those tentacles will easily get out of a regular net."
"Nice Freddie, hmmm I think we could do what a spider does and only make part of the next sticky, that way we can run through the trap and the creature wouldn't suspect a thing."
"Good idea, let's start getting this thing ready." With that Fred and Daphne set to work assembling the components of the trap. Half an hour later they were ready, while Scooby corralled the ever distracted Shaggy and Velma to stop them wandering off, the rest set up the net midway between tow greenhouses.
"Shouldn't be too long now," said Daphne as they walked away as conspicuously as possible.
"I think it is still around here," said Harold.
"How's that?" said Fred.
"Because it's just over there," said Harold.
"Time to run!" said Fred.
"What an excellent idea Harold, shall we?" said Marilyn as the rest ran off.
"Yes, I think we shall." He replied and they set off after the others.
They led the creature a merry dance for a while, not wanting to make it appear they were leading it in a particular direction. Finally Fred gave the signal and they headed for the trap. Thankfully Shaggy and Velma had found their legs and were running for themselves albeit lagging a bit behind. As they ran in silence Daphne noticed something.
"I hear squeaking, do you hear squeaking?"
"Yes, regular, repetitive, speeds up when we do, slows down when we do," said Marilyn.
"Sounds like the wheel on my old wheelbarrow," said Harold.
"Get ready we're nearly there," said Fred.
"Which side was the safe side?" said Daphne.
"Left," said Fred.
"But we're coming at it from the other side!" said Daphne.
It was too late, everyone bar Shaggy and Velma piled into the sticky side of the net and were soon hopelessly entangled. There was a short pause before someone spoke.
"Daphne dear," said Marilyn quietly "does this frequently happen with one of young Fred's traps? I know I'm new to this but I'm not quite sure how this will help us."
Daphne just stared into the gloom you and me both.
The creature slowed as it approached them, finally it stopped and fell over, now everyone could see it for what it was, a mass of rubbery tentacles on a concealed wheelbarrow. Two figures with scarves concealing their faces emerged from behind it. Bothe were dressed in dark cloting, one was taller than the other.
"Bra-vo the ever triumphant Mystery Inc win again I guess we'd better surrender," the taller crook, male judging by his voice, glanced at his companion as he slowly clapped his hands.
"The games up for sure, better just get what's coming to us, namely that orchid. Hand it over Dinkley," said the second one, female judging by her voice.
"Never," said Harold and Marilyn in unison.
"That orchid is very rare, it needs to be preserved for humanity," said Harold.
"We don't profit from this, we're scientists…" said Marilyn but she was cut-off.
"I've had enough of this bull," the smaller crook took out a gun and held it against Velma's head; she showed no reaction "give me the key to that orchid now or she gets a new hole to breathe through."
Reluctantly Harold reached inside his jacket pocket to get the key to the orchid case. He looked up at his daughter one more time; some things were beyond a price. He stopped when he saw movement behind her, something was heading towards them.
"Freddie," whispered Daphne in terror as she followed Harold's gaze behind the crooks.
"Oh my word," said Harold.
In the silence they heard the sound of movement, there was a faint slithering noise accompanied by something that was almost, but not quite, speech. The crooks saw the expressions of surprise and fear in the other and looked over their shoulder. Everyone stopped and stared at the small orange-green alien creature which was heading towards them, a little over 5 feet high with rectangular pale-blue eyes and long tentacles where a human would have arms and legs, behind it there appeared to be a trunk or mass of some kind moving behind it. The alien shuffled towards them, making soft chittering and knocking noises, its tentacles gently squirmed as it moved. The crook with the gun turned to face it. As it if knew the threat it now faced it reared up to over 12 feet tall, it was roughly triangular in shape, two tentacles on each side of its body, two in the middle with four tentacles which appeared to now function like legs, the body was covered scaly-leafy skin. The tentacles writhed angrily, it growled with a polyphonic alien voice. With shaking hands the crook went to point the gun directly at the alien it knocked the gun away with a vicious swipe from both of the middle tentacles. The crook staggered back, clutching their arm in pain.
"Ulll-laaaah!" The alien roared in triumph and headed towards Shaggy, Velma and the two crooks.
Chapter 9: The Day The Garden Stood Still
The alien headed towards the gang, tentacles writhing and lashing out at those standing free, its angry noises filled the air. Everyone panicked bar Harold and Marilyn who having got over their initial surprise were now studying the creature. Shaggy, Velma and the two crooked were so spooked by the creatures attack that they ran full-speed into the sticky side of Fred's trap and became stuck like the rest of them.
"Interesting behaviour, parallels with many Earth creatures' threat displays," said Marilyn as the alien approached them.
"Indeed, I wonder how it will react when it doesn't get the behaviour it is expecting. If we had a mirror we could determine its level of intelligence," said Harold.
"I think this will qualify for a paper in 'Nature' don't you agree dear?" said Marilyn.
"Yes and one in 'Science' as well, providing we don't become the subject of a paper on its planet. Perhaps we could co-author one with it," replied Harold.
"That's a very good idea darling. And later on perhaps we could also arrange a joint symposium..." she stopped; the creature towered over them now.
It would be menacing where it not for the fact that the top half appeared to be shaking with laughter.
"Jinkies, mum, dad, just listen to yourselves," it gibbered in its alien voice.
"Jinkies!" exclaimed various members of the gang.
"Hmm, perhaps junkies is a universal greeting amongst intelligent beings," said Harold.
"Indeed, I always thought so," Marilyn straitened herself up and faced the creature "Jinkies fellow sentient life, we greet you in peace."
The top half was now laughing so much that it nearly fell off. The creature shrunk back down and split in two. The small one with the pale blue eyes walked forward and took off its head.
"Velma?" A few seconds later the other part of the creature split in two to reveal Shaggy and Woflie.
"Shaggy?" surprise was evident in their voices as they looked. Daphne didn't notice Fred sag with relief or wipe away a tear on seeing Velma; she was too busy dealing with the sudden surge of emotions from seeing Shaggy.
Velma's mood darkened and she stomped up to her double and snatched the deerstalker from their head.
"I'll take that if you don't mind," she asi as she put it on her head it sunk down to just above her glasses she then reached out and pulled wig of the trapped 'Velma'.
Likewise Shaggy pulled the fake goatee of his double then the scarves of the face of the two crooks.
"These are the people who offered us money for the orchid a few days ago," said Harold.
"Wanna bet they're also behind the attempt to kidnap Velma," said Daphne.
After calling the authorities Shaggy and Velma set to work freeing their friends and Velma's parents.
As soon as Scooby was freed Shaggy turned his attention to Daphne and together with Scooby quickly freed her from the sticky net. It was the bravest thing he'd done in a long time; he reached out and held both of her hands in his.
Whereas Shaggy and Daphne were reserved Velma leapt into Fred's arms as soon as he was free, her arms were wrapped round his neck, he held her up buy the waist, her feet dangling a few inches off the ground.
"What happened Mr. Wolfie?" said Marilyn as she removed traces of glue from her clothes.
"I found these two locked in the old coal cellar," said Wolfie indicating at Shaggy and Velma.
"We all came up with the plant monster suit," smiled Velma proudly over Fred's shoulder.
"Like who'd of thought all those years of watching B-movies together would come in useful," said Shaggy.
"Chance favours the prepared mind as Pasteur would say," said Harold.
It wasn't long before the police arrived and carted the crooks away. In that time they got word from the police lab that traces of explosive had been found in the crater and that the meteor was just a lump of pumice which had been dipped in luminous paint.
"Home time everyone," said Fred as he took Velma's hand. .
Harold and Marilyn headed off towards the car-park with Scooby in tow, he was hoping that they had another bag of snacks with them. Fred and Velma followed, walking hand-in-hand while Shaggy and Daphne brought up the rear.
Daphne looked at Fred and Velma and stopped dead in her tracks, putting her hand to her mouth. "Jeepers, I've got it!"
"What?" asked Shaggy, almost walking into the back of her "You've cracked this case? I think we already did that Daph."
"No, I've cracked the case."
Shaggy just looked puzzled and scratched his head, if they hadn't solved the case what had they just done?
"It's Velma, Velma is the answer?"
"Velma was trying to steal the orchid?"
"No Shag, Velma's the one seeing Fred." Daphne pointed at the pair ahead of them.
"You knew, how?" Daphne rounded on him.
"Man's intuition," said Shaggy as he began to move back, slowly at first then picking up pace.
"Man's intuition? Man's intuition! There's no such thing as man's intuition! Norville Rogers you come right back here!" Daphne shouted after him, seconds later she was in hot pursuit.
He almost made it to the car-park but was overtaken and she tackled him to the ground, somehow the ensuing rough and tumble their lips locked together and play acting rapidly turned into a serious make-out session though it to a while for either of them to grasp the implication of what was occurring. Shaggy pulled Daphne to her feet just as the others arrived, but not before they all saw what was happening.
Velma saw that Daphne was looking at her, then she realised she was holding hands with Fred. Games up, might as well get this over with she thought and took a step towards Daphne.
"Daph, I have something to tell you."
"OK, what is it?" said Daphne, Shaggy tensed ready to intervene if necessary, though he didn't think it would be.
"I'm, I'm the one seeing Fred," she whispered. Immediately after saying those words Velma recoiled slightly, despite what had just happened the incident in the diner meant she still feared Daphne's reaction, she stayed that way for a few seconds but the expected onslaught both verbal and physical never came. She peeked out between her fingers.
Daphne gave her a little smile "I know Velma, I'm glad you told me and I understand why you didn't tell me before. I'm over that now, in fact I think I've an admission to make as well," she glanced at Shaggy, giving him a bashful smile.
"Let me guess you've got someone to take your mind of Fred," Velma looked down at the non-existent space between Shaggy and Daphne and their joined hands, both of them gave an embarrassed smiled.
Finally it was time reaffirm their friendship with a gang-hug. Then it was time for the the firls to do what they had been wanting to do for some time.
"There's a few things about Shaggy you need to know," said Velma taking Daphne by the arm and leading her away towards the van.
"Ohh do tell; then I'll give you the inside track on Fred."
"Man we are so doomed," said Shaggy quietly, Fred just nodded.
They piled into the van; Velma sat next to Fred with Daphne next to her. As Fred drove off Daphne and Velma were whispering to each other, with Daphne occasionally looking round and Shaggy just to look at him. While this was going on Scooby looked at the new seating arrangement.
"Rut re're rill rat rhe rack," he said to Shaggy.
Shaggy shrugged and reached into a secret compartment for a box of Scooby Snacks "So what's new Scooby Doo?"