Spoilers for Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Cracking Contraptions.
VII and Epilogue
Marcus L. Rowland
"Oh 'eck!" said Wallace. Harmony pushed him into the house, keeping hold of his arm, and grabbed Giles by the hair and pulled him after her.
"Bloody hell, woman!" shouted Giles, trying to scramble to his feet. "That bloody hurts!"
"Good," said Harmony, kicking the door shut.
Downstairs Gromit listened, and gave the group trapped under the cheese cover a worried look. Was it his imagination, or were they getting bigger? He looked at the stairs, looked at the reducing ray, and hesitated.
From upstairs came a cry of "Help, lad!"
Gromit gave the ray a last look, then turned and ran up the stairs.
"Where's he going?" said Xander, watching Gromit leave.
"Damned if I know," said Robin, "I heard a kinda low roar, must have been Wallace shouting from upstairs. I guess if a normal-sized person heard us talk we'd be squeaking like bats. Whatever, it couldn't come at a better time. One more heave and we'll get this thing onto the wedge."
Vi leaned into the mesh and shoved again, and the men hastened to help. With a last effort the cover slid onto the wedge-shaped wood chip and lifted from the floor. In the end Vi had to pull on the mesh to keep it from sliding off the end.
"There isn't much room underneath," said Robin. "You could get out, but I think Xander and I are trapped here."
"You're right," said Vi, sliding underneath with difficulty. She heaved upwards, but even with Slayer strength the weight of the mesh dome and the books on top of it were too much for her.
"See if you can get the books off," said Xander. "They're only balanced there, a good shove might tip them off,"
Vi climbed up the mesh and pushed up with all her strength. The books wobbled, rocked away from her, then rocked back and hit her on the head.
"You all right?" asked Xander.
"Should stop seeing stars in a minute," said Vi. "I need more leverage, the top of this thing is flat, it's stopping them from rocking off."
There was another roar from above.
"Get one of those big nails, that ought to do it."
Vi ran off across the floor, hurdling wood shavings and other obstacles, reached the work-bench, and trotted back with a huge nail on her shoulder. It looked like a solid steel bar about eight feet long.
"You okay?" Xander shouted as she came back.
"I'm fine," Vi replied, "but they left my phone on the floor, Giles tried to reach me four times. He must think we're in trouble."
"I've got news for you," said Robin. "We are in trouble. With any luck he's upstairs, that's what all the shouting's about."
Vi pried at the books again, using the nail as a lever. With a thud they fell off. Vi pushed the nail under the rim of the dome and pulled up; with the extra leverage, and without the weight of the books to hold it down, she easily held it high enough for Xander and Robin to scramble out.
Gromit peeked round the corner of the cellar stairs to see Harmony, in full game face, dragging Wallace and Giles into the parlour. He thought for a second, then ran downstairs again, grabbed Vi's cross and a stake, and ran up again. He didn't spare a thought for the prisoners, who were ducked down behind the cheese cover.
As he disappeared from view Vi said "Whew... I thought he was gonna spot us."
"I think he's got other problems," said Robin. "That was your cross he just grabbed."
"My cross? It didn't burn him?"
"He's not a vampire," said Xander. "Or a vamp-dog. We've seen him in daylight."
"So what's the cross about?" asked Vi, as they trekked across the floor towards the work-bench.
"We know there's a vampire in town," said Robin. "Maybe demon-dog and cheese guy need a cross to control it."
"And we're still stuck at the size of an action figure," said Xander.
"I don't know," said Vi, hefting the nail again and comparing it to her own height. Without them really noticing it seemed to have shrunk, and now looked about three feet long. Or rather, they'd grown in proportion to it. "Make that Barbie sized."
"Or GI Joe," said Xander.
"What good is that?" asked Robin.
"Means we're getting bigger," said Xander. "Even if we don't grow much more for a while, a Barbie with Slayer strength ought to be able to do some damage. And with the right tools so should we."
"And now," said Harmony, sinking her fangs into Wallace's neck, with one foot on Giles' chest to stop him moving, "it's time for.... ewwwwwww!" She spat out his blood and grabbed a white lace anti-macassar from one of the armchairs and used it to wipe her lips. "Yuck! Cheese and... and carrots! What are you, some sort of demon?"
"Demon?" Wallace said incredulously. "Me?"
"Yes, you," Harmony and Giles said in chorus, then glared at each other.
"I'm no demon," said Wallace. "Admittedly I was a were-rabbit for a while, but..."
"Good lord," said Giles. "A were-rabbit? Really?"
"I got better," Wallace said defensively.
"Okay," said Harmony, "I'm not eating that, I might turn into a rabbit. It'll have to be you." She reached down and hauled Giles to his feet with demonic strength, as Gromit rushed in, wearing a heavy green waistcoat with an odd steel box in the middle of the chest and clutching a cross in one paw, and thrust the cross at Harmony's face. She recoiled from him, letting go of Giles and Wallace and backing towards the door to the dining room.
"Steady, lad," said Wallace. "Don't get too close."
Giles dived for his crossbow, as Gromit steadily backed Harmony into the dining room. She picked up a chair and threw it at him; Gromit ducked, but Wallace was caught a glancing blow and stood clutching his arm saying "Ow! Ow! OW!"
Giles rushed back in, fitting another bolt to the bow, and tried to get a clear shot as Gromit backed her towards the end of the table. "Push t'button," said Wallace, gesturing at the panel of controls at the other end of the table. Giles hesitated.
"T'button, push it," Wallace said again.
Giles hesitantly pushed the button. The machine on the table began to spin then lowered, facing towards the far end, and began to spurt blobs of grey ooze. But Harmony wasn't in its line of fire - as the first globule flew down the table she ducked to the side, grabbed a candlestick from the sideboard, and threw it at Gromit. He dodged, then pressed a paw to the mechanism on his chest. With a loud 'Sproiinnnnggg!' a boxing glove on a long spring came out, hitting Harmony between the eyes. She staggered back, apparently dazed for a second, and the next blob of goo hit her in the chest. She slumped in the chair, and another grey blob covered her face.
"Well done, lad," said Wallace. "The Bully-Proof Vest works a treat!"
"What will that stuff do to her?" asked Giles, trying to work out where Harmony's heart was under the grey goop as the barrage of ooze finally stopped.
"The porridge? Might slow her down a bit..."
"Porridge? Bloody hell..."
"Now there's no call for that sort of..." Wallace never finished his sentence. With demonic strength Harmony lurched from the chair and launched herself down the table at Giles. He fired the crossbow, hitting her in the shoulder, then pushed Wallace to one side, and himself the other way, as she slid past, lubricated by the pervasive grey grunge, and shot off the end of the table and out of the room, across the hall, and into the kitchen.
"Now that's something you don't see every day," said Wallace.
"Did you just hear a loud crash?" said Xander, as he and Robin sharpened the end of long dowel rods. They were still about six inches tall, and seemed to have stopped growing for a while.
Vi said "There's a fight going on upstairs. I think I heard Giles shout something."
"By the time we get up there it'll all be over," said Xander, looking at the cliff-like stairs.
"Then we need to be ready for them when they come back down," said Robin. "If Giles doesn't get things under control they'll come for us sooner or later."
"Okay," said Xander, looking around the clutter of the cellar. "Now here's my plan..."
A mechanical voice said "More tea, vicar?" and Harmony dodged the jet of scalding brown liquid. A rotund machine built to look like a chef followed her, fired another jet of tea at her face, then flipped its top open to reveal a frying pan on a hotplate. With a loud 'Twang!' the pan catapulted the eggs towards her. Harmony dodged again, shrieking, grabbed a rolling pin, and hit it. The autochef said "Knickers" and exploded. Harmony staggered towards Giles and Wallace, covered in soot and porridge, her clothing in tatters.
"It does that sometimes," said Wallace, as Giles tried to find another crossbow bolt. Dazed, Harmony lurched between them and back into the dining room, where Gromit stood by another bank of switches and levers, with the boxing glove and spring dangling down to the floor. As Harmony focused on him he snarled, and pushed one of the levers. Above her head a trap-door slid open. She looked up. As she did so the circular metal plate she was standing on catapulted her into the air, through the trap-door, and into Wallace's bedroom. As Wallace, Giles and Gromit listened there was a loud "Twangg!" and a series of clanking mechanical noises.
"That sounds familiar..." thought Giles.
Behind him the front door opened and Harmony came in, looking dazed. Somehow she'd acquired a baggy jumper, oversized rubber boots, and a crash helmet. She shook her head, flicking to game face and back to human two or three times, saw them staring up at the ceiling, and leapt at them. Gromit saw her coming out of the corner of his eye and spun round, with the boxing glove rising to meet her. She collided with it as she flew through the air, compressing the spring as she flew toward Gromit. When she was about a foot from him she jerked to a halt, the spring fully compressed, then flew backwards out of the dining room, across the hall, and into the kitchen again. There was another loud 'Boing!' followed by a cracking noise and a series of thuds, gradually getting quieter.
"Quick," shouted Wallace, "she's gone down the cellar steps!"
"Quick, lock the door," said Giles.
"You don't understand," said Wallace. "Your friends are down there!"
"What have you done to them?" snarled Giles, grabbing Wallace by the shoulders and shaking him.
"Gromit.. thought they... wanted to kill me... used the... shrink ray!"
"You shrank them?" shouted Giles.
"It was just temporary," said Wallace. "Until we worked out what to do."
There was a loud crash from below. Giles let go of Wallace and ran for the stairs.
There was a loud 'Boing' from above, and a pink-clad form dripping grey ooze pinwheeled down the stairs, thudding her head several times, and lay dazedly at the bottom.
"What the hell is that?" whispered Robin, crouched down with the others behind a mop bucket. "Some sort of chaos demon?"
"It looks like..." began Xander. The figure sat up, shaking off grey gunge, and took off her crash helmet, revealing blonde hair covered in more of the grey ooze. She vamped out then resumed her normal appearance, shedding more of the ooze. "...Harmony?" Xander finished incredulously.
"You know that vamp?" said Vi.
"Sure," whispered Xander. "Harmony Kendall, Sunnydale High class of ninety-nine."
"Figures," said Robin.
Giles came down the stairs, holding the cross in front of him again, followed by Wallace and Gromit. Harmony scrambled to her feet, tried to back away from them, and started to slide helplessly as she stepped into the oil Xander and Robin had spread at the bottom of the stairs. Vi stepped into the open with one of the dowel rods and threw it like a javelin, but there hadn't been time to balance it properly; it spun round as it flew through the air and hit Harmony blunt end first at waist level. She flinched back again, sliding some more, but it did her no harm.
"Quick," said a booming roar which the miniaturised trio could barely understand. "Launch Shopper Eighteen!"
Gromit jumped across the patch of oil and grabbed a complicated-looking remote control from a hook on the wall. There was a spluttering noise, like a lawnmower, and a three-wheeled shopping trolley lurched across the floor towards Harmony. She looked over her shoulder, saw it coming, and leapt up towards the ceiling, clinging onto one of the roof beams. The trolley stopped underneath her, side panels blew off, and two mechanical arms rose towards her ankles.
"Holy crap!" said Xander. "A vamp-eating trolley!"
"I think the arms are too short," said Robin.
Vi ran across the floor with her nail, jumped onto the trolley, then climbed one of the arms. Seeing her, Gromit stopped it moving. Vi shouted "Alley-oop!" and Gromit pushed one of the switches. The arm flicked her into the air and she grabbed for Harmony's foot, stabbing her in the ankle with the nail, and hanging on as Harmony tried to shake her off. Xander and Robin ran underneath the trolley, their own dowel rods extended, hoping that if she fell they could stake her before they were crushed.
Giles finally had a clear shot, but recognized their danger and hesitated. Harmony kicked out again, finally throwing Vi clear, and lost her grip on the rafters, spinning in the air as she fell towards the trolley, thudding into the canvas shopping bag head-first. Gromit hit the controls, and the arms grabbed her ankles and pushed her in.
Wallace ran across the floor, sliding in the oil and narrowly missing Robin and Xander, and pulled the tarpaulin from the shrouded shape at the end of the cellar, revealing a gleaming red rocket, about twenty feet high, with a sloping ramp up to a small cabin. Gromit steered Shopper Eighteen towards it and up the ramp, the motors protesting at the excess load and steep climb. For a second it teetered on the edge of the hatch, then fell into the cabin. Wallace slammed the door closed, spun a locking wheel and sprinted down the ramp, as Gromit dropped the remote control and ran towards the rocket, pulling a box of matches from one of the waistcoat pockets.
"Run for it," shouted Wallace, sliding back towards the stairs, with Xander, Robin and Vi not far behind. Harmony appeared at one of the portholes, banging on the glass, as Gromit finally managed to strike a match and get the fuse lit, then ran after them towards the stairs.
"Amateur astronaut?" shouted Xander.
"Guess it wasn't a misprint!" said Robin, puffing for breath.
"Oh 'eck," said Wallace, abruptly changing course (and narrowly missing Vi) and pulling down on a switch. With a rumbling noise the ceiling over the rocket began to open, as smoke and sparks began to pour from the base. On the shelf, unnoticed, a solitary mouse pulled on dark glasses and waved a handkerchief at the rocket. There were more thuds and the noise of something breaking inside the cabin, then with a deafening roar it rose into the air and vanished ino the night sky.
"Well," said Wallace, "that all came out quite well." Gromit looked at Giles, holding a crossbow aimed at Wallace's head, and the diminutive trio who stood with sharpened dowel rods aimed at his ankles, and wasn't so sure.
"Well, I suppose nobody was really hurt," said Vi, finally restored to full size and sipping a cup of tea. "And we've got rid of Harmony and her minion."
"There's still the vampire chickens," Giles said gloomily. "After that little chapter of accidents they'll probably run us out of town."
"Vampire chickens?" said Wallace, munching on a cheese cracker. "You'll have to find out where they roost."
"I guess," said Xander. "Any idea how?"
"Dare say Gromit could sniff them out." Gromit shook his head, not at all keen on the idea, took a Bourbon cream, and dunked it in his cup.
"And the eye?"
"I think Harmony trod on it," said Robin, who was still only four feet tall and rather annoyed about it. "It was only grapefruit-sized when we were fighting her."
"Easy build another," said Wallace. "Give me a month and a few more pounds of that meteor rock, and I'll get another one ready for you. I've thought of a few improvements..."
"Great," Xander said insincerely. "Talk to Robin about funding."
"Where exactly will Harmony end up?" asked Robin. "Wouldn't want to dump her somewhere they weren't ready for a vampire."
"We never had time to change t' settings of t' autopilot," said Wallace, peering out of the window, "so unless she breaks something...." He gestured towards the window, where the full moon was starting to rise over one of the neighbouring houses. "Mind you, might be a bit short of fuel to get back..."
Harmony stared out through the net curtains that covered the porthole. She glared at the sun-drenched Lunar landscape, taking care to stay back from the harmful rays. Outside Shopper Eighteen was slowly spinning round hand-in-hand with a curious machine that looked like a gas cooker with wheels on the end of spindly legs. She gloomily chewed on a piece of the cheese her mechanical minions had brought in for her; for some reason it seemed to be keeping her alive, though it was nowhere near as good as blood.
"Well," she said eventually, watching the mechanical dance, "I'm glad someone's happy."
Below decks, in the engine compartment, a dozen mice wearing hard hats and sunglasses were staring at a battered paperback entitled 'Wormhole Travel for Beginners'. Maybe something could be done. They'd always wanted to try their hands at multi-dimensional physics, and the Moon was positively littered with useful components, debris from several decades of space travel. They were pretty sure that with a little work they could have the technology...
Authors note: The full set of Cracking Contraptions short films is available on DVD. Brief descriptions of them and the other Wallace and Gromit films can be found on the Aardman Animation web site, with downloadable images, film clips, etc.
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