Dr. Batorius: And now, to present
the award for "Best Story," here's Monterey Jack!
::Applause. Monty strides to the podium in his tailor-made tuxedo::
Monty: It takes a good storyteller to know a good story. That's why they picked me, Monterey Jack, ta give out this here award tonight. A good story's gotta have action, adventure, derring-do, mystery, romance, humor, and, of course, a wee bit o' cheese at the end. Like the time I traveled to
::As Monty continues his long-winded speech, we see Chip, backstage, starting to panic. Dale and Zipper are also nearby::
Chip: Oh no, not again! This happens nearly every year! Why do we let Monty present awards? Zipper, go get that emergency piece of cheese. We've got to stop this right now!
::Zipper salutes and flies off to the fridge in the green room. As he opens it, though, all he finds in the drawer is a note that reads, "Dear Monterey Jack, I.O.U. one piece of emergency cheese. Love,
Chip: No cheese?!? What are we going to do now?
Dale: No problem, Chip! I know what to do!
::Dale pulls out a bottle of perfume that was stored inside his jacket as Chip looks on incredulously::
Chip: Why in the world do you have a bottle of perfume in your jacket? Actually, no, wait, I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that. . .
Dale: It's all part of being a super-spy, Chip! This perfume is great for a disguise I've got worked out. And happily, it's the same brand that Desiree Delure uses! Watch!
::Dale spritzes a bit into the air and Zipper fans it with his wings so the fragrance floats over to Monty::
Monty: But of course, the zany zebras from Zimbabwe wouldn't let us get away with *that*, so they. . .they. . .
::He suddenly gets a whiff of the perfume. His eyes glaze over and steam comes out of his ears, and he quits his speech, still clutching the sides of the podium. A few seconds later, the curtains rustle behind him and a high-pitched voice that is trying to sound Australian comes out, even though Monty's lips are not moving::
Dale (trying to sound like Monty):Uh, crikey! Blimey! Uh, too-rah-loo! Uh, stories are some bonzer, uh, things, crikey! Anyway, here are the nominees for best story, bloomin'! They are:
Gadget in Chains, by Loneheart! A dingo ate my baby!
May Day Mayday, by Dave White. Put a shrimp on my Barbie! Or Ken!
Gadget's Hiccups, by Greyhound Bus & bloomin' Pupspals!
The Ranger That Never Was, by Indy! Danguh, danguh, danguh!
On a Wingnut and a Prayer, by Stainless Steel Rat, that blighter!
A Bat and a Chipmunk, by Lightindark76! That's not a knife!
The Lost Rangers, by UrthQuake! *This* is a knife!
Dale: And the winner is. . .
::A brown hand, obviously Dale's, comes from under Monty's shoulder, holding the envelope, as another similar hand comes from beneath his other shoulder. While Dale is trying to do the "My arms are actually Monty's" trick, he forgot to take Monty's actual hands off the podium, so it just looks like Monty grew some chipmunk arms from beneath his shoulders. Dale's hands fumble with the envelope for a bit, but finally get it open. For a second, Dale's head can be seen behind Monty as he peeks over his shoulder to read the name::
Dale (trying to sound like Monty): Ah, crikey! The winner is Gadget in Chains by Loneheart AND On a Wingnut and a Prayer by Stainless Steel Rat!
::A thirty-something man walks out to the podium with his head down, as if looking for something. He is wearing a blue, off the peg suit that almost fits. His hair is light brown, his skin flushed as though embarrassed or drunk. He wears black wire-frame glasses. When he reaches the podium he looks up and flinches at the sight of the audience as though he hadn't expected to see them. He forces himself to smile, revealing what can only be called British teeth::
Loneheart: Um, hello.
::He begins in a raspy but quiet voice with an English accent::
Loneheart: My name is Bruce and most of you have known me online as Loneheart since about the year 2000 or so…I decided to come and collect the best story award as myself, in person so to speak, because the Best Story Award means something special to me.
::Loneheart takes a long breath::
Loneheart: Gadget in Chains has been entered in every Acorn Awards since 2001. The cast and I have won our share, but we've never been eligible for Best Story before, because the story wasn't complete until 2006. It's amazing how the time goes by.
::Loneheart blinks at the audience, as though surprised by it himself::
Loneheart: I want to thank everyone who read the story, because knowing that people have read the story and been entertained by it makes it all worthwhile. Gadget in Chains was at times a difficult story to write. At times it is a difficult story for some of Gadget's fans to read. I like to think it's a story about a rescue: the rescue of a person who has done terrible things in the past from a future in which they continue to do terrible things.
::Loneheart pauses to let his words sink in, then continues::
Loneheart: Others might prefer to see it as a story about a terrible, crushing, injustice. It would be nice to think we could overcome such injustices if we encounter them, but that isn't always possible. Writing with Gadget and the others has been tremendous fun. It was great giving Geegaw the 'screen time' he deserved, working with a character like Ratigan, and meeting new people like Bubbles McGee, Jennifer Talbert-Hall and, yes, even Margo Haggs.
::There is a shocked gasp from the audience::
Loneheart: But the best thing of all about writing this story was the readers. Swapping emails with Indy, who agreed to edit for me – a mammoth task on a story like Gadget in Chains – and Chris Fischer who contributed some great art. I loved it. Thank you everyone.
::Loneheart scratches his nose as though he's forgotten something. Then he remembers: it's time to get off the stage::
Loneheart (happily): That's it!
::Content, he walks off….absentmindedly leaving the Golden Acorn behind. Stainless Steel Rat walks up now::
SSR: It's quite a thing sharing a platform with a writer
like Loneheart. I'm glad you liked my story enough to
give this honor, and I hope my future writing proves that your choice was the
right one. Thank you so much!
::With the speeches over, the focus returns to Monty—or rather to who's behind Monty::
Dale (trying to sound like Monty): Uh oh! I smell some bloomin' cheese, luvs! Gotta go eat it!
::Dale tries to make it look like Monty turns around and exits the stage through the middle of the curtains, but since Monty is bigger and heavier than Dale expected, they both end up toppling backwards through the curtains, leaving Monty's feet exposed, sticking out the bottom of the curtain. After a second or two, the feet get dragged through the curtain as well::