::The safety curtain slides away to reveal a horse-cart and a stack of soapboxes. A murmur of uncertainty goes through the crowd as some tinny sounding piano music begins to play. Altogether the scene looks and sounds like something from the late 19th century::

 

:Friends…are you troubled?

 

::At once the top of the soap boxes flip open and up comes Mr. Spumoni. He’s dressed in a red and white striped jacket with a straw hat and a very fake looking artificial mustache::

 

Spumoni: Do you have trouble sleeping? Are your eyes blurred? Do you mumble to yourself and keep having visions? These are all symptoms of Rescue Rangerous Epical Fan Fictious, the 'Epic Length Fan Fiction Syndrome.'

 

::In the audience a few people chuckle, while a few more make worried sounds::

 

Spumoni: Yes good people, Epic Length Fan Fiction Syndrome is one of the most persistent complaints found in the Rangerdom! While we all enjoy reading longer pieces of fan fiction all too often we aren’t prepared for the mental, physical and even spiritual ramifications of our addictions!

 

::He makes a wide sweeping gesture with a cane that suddenly pops out of an adjacent soapbox::

 

Spumoni: Be not concerned though, for there is a treatment! Indeed, if you were to try…

 

::He whaps the side of the horse cart with the cane, and at once down falls a banner proclaiming “Dr. Spumoni’s Short Story Serum”::

 

Spumoni: …you would be able to get your daily requirement of Rescue Rangers Fan Fiction without losing contact with your family and friends for weeks at a time! Yes, the use of short stories is an ancient solution to the affliction, and here I present to you some of the most valuable extracts of the genre!

 

Chip (laughs, from the audience): Ha! I get it, Spu’s supposed to be a Snake Oil Sales…man…oh dear

 

::Chip looks to Gadget. Her fingers are dug deep into the arm of her chair. This is very disconcerting, as the stuffing is starting to fall out. He slides over to the far side of the chair and attempts to become inconspicuous::

 

Gadget: Excuse me…

 

::She stands, her eyes focused on the salesman on the stage. She makes her way up the aisle, more than a few eyes in the room noticing her leaving. Spumoni, continuing his diatribe, doesn’t seem to notice::

 

Spumoni: Yes friends, receiving your Rescue Ranger Fan Fiction goodness has never been easier than with “Dr. Spumoni’s Short Story Serum”, as now you can partake of tales of our Rangers in less time! Yes dear Rangerphiles, no more staying up until the small hours of the morning! No more wandering through your school or workplace with tired and darkened eyes! No more spending your entire day wondering about sub-plots while you are operating heavy machinery…

 

::At that cue, Gadget re-emerges into the hall of Rockefeller Center. Whispers become murmurs that leap into yelps as they see what accompanies the inventress. With her is a large contraption that looks particularly unhealthy for anything down-range of its trajectory, namely the rat acting the part of a salesman who is gallivanting about the stage upon which her darkened eyes are affixed::

 

::The concern in the room grows noticeably, though Spumoni remains oblivious. Racebest screams and runs from the room, many left therein appreciating his grasp of the seriousness of the situation::

 

::Up on the stage Spumoni, fighting with his false mustache while continuing the skit, is unaware of the immediate threat to his well being::

 

Spumoni: Proven time and again in clinical studies, namely the Story Board, Rescue Ranger Short Stories have long played an important part in the creative diet of the Rangerdom! Past favorites have included A Lass in a Lamp, May Day Mayday, the popular flavors Case of the Nabbed Necklace and Last Call at the Acorn Café, and the classic versions The Clash of Two Cousins and Foxglove wa otaku desu!

 

Click

 

::In the audience panic erupts as Gadget prepares to unleash the ferocious looking device upon her unknowing tormentor, the vacant look in her eyes growing as she sights the device::

 

Spumoni: But wait!

 

::The gray rat continues, blissfully unaware his rapidly approaching doom::

 

Spumoni: There’s more! Dr. Spumoni (doctor here meaning slippery salesman) is proud to announce that there is to be a new flavor added as well! Will it be…

 

::As Spumoni reaches for a bottle marked with the name of the first nominee Gadget fires her weapon! Flame leaps across the stage…just missing Spumoni who has turned to pick up one bottle!::

 

Spumoni: Our first possible new flavor is Darkwing at Hot Topic by pupspals, a deliciously smooth flavor with a cinnamon twist!

 

::At this another arc of flaming death barely misses Spumoni as he wheels about dramatically::

 

Spumoni: Perhaps you would prefer a bit of a twist of something special? Maybe it shall be Foxglove’s Magic Show by Stainless Steel Rat!

 

::Once more Gadget unleashes her machine, and once more consuming ruin is hurtled at the salesman that torments her soul! By fractions he unknowingly avoids her once again, but his coat tails are now enflamed::

 

Spumoni: Is it getting warm in here? Anywho, another possible choice would be The Last Rangerphile by Dr. Indy, a sweet tonic indeed that does wonders for the constitution!

 

::The audience panics as Gadget gets ready to fire once again. Spumoni is in the middle of the stage and she has him dead to rights, but in her state no one dares approach. As Spumoni reaches for the next bottle her hand rests on the trigger. But as he lifts it to read something happens::

 

Spumoni: Huh…Chipmunks Standing in a Doorway by Mr. Spumoni

 

::Spu stares at the bottle and as he does the heat from his now flaming coat melts the wax holding his false mustache in place. It falls away. Gadget looks up, the spell on her broken, and as Spumoni’s coat reduces to ash in one poof, she sits back hard in the chair, unaware of her own actions::

 

Spumoni: And here we have A Nightime Conversation by Silver Shadow, an excellent blend reminiscent of the summer breeze on a warm summer evening.

 

::With a flourish of his hand, Spumoni whips out the envelope::

 

Yes friends, today’s special involves one of these nominees! Step right up, step right up, step right! Come get yourself the 2007 Golden Acorn Award for Best Short Story! Why it’s none other than The Last Rangerphile, by Dr. Indy!

 

::The audience doesn't applaud at first and Indy sticks his head out to be sure that no danger awaits.  Meanwhile Gadget looks to her left and right::

 

Gadget: Golly, what's wrong?  I thought everyone liked his story.

 

Chip: Oh, that's not it, Gadget.  We just wanted to wait until he comes out.

 

Gadget: Oh, that makes sense.  Come on out, Indy, and get your award!

::Indy steps out as the crowd applauds.  Some of the Rangerphiles who left start filtering back in as they hear the positive sounds from the audience.  Indy holds up his hand for silence as he reaches the podium and takes the award from Mr. Spumoni::

 

Indy: Friends, thank you.  I really enjoyed writing this story, more especially as it's a celebration of us all.  I truly believe there will never be a last Rangerphile, and I think that message resonated pretty well.

 

::Indy leans in toward Spumoni and whispers::

 

Indy: Do you think she's really recovered?

 

Spumoni: Gads, I hope so…

 

::Indy resumes speaking to the audience::

 

Indy: Thanks again, and now let's have a couple of stage hands out here to move this wagon.  Spumoni borrowed it from one of the sidewalk salesmen and he needs it back by—

 

::The look returns to Gadget's eyes::

 

Indy: On second hand, Spu, you steer, I'll push!

 

::With Gadget in chase, the winner and presenter haul for stage left.  Many sighs of relief echo through the place once the mouse inventor is gone::