The Even More Mysterious Mrs. Friend

By Birch Griesse

It was a few weeks before Thanksgiving and Stu was working down in his basement, modifying an old invention of his. Its name was Mr. Friend. A long time ago he had introduced Mr. Friend to the Rugrats. Things hadn't worked out the way he'd planned. Somehow all of his toys had ended up as broken parts, scattered all around the backyard. Since then he hadn't really gotten around to working on it much any more. But now, here he was, perfecting the doll in the workshop in his basement.

Stu was very proud of the toy. It had sensors that could detect potential playmates, over one thousand fun phrases, and moved almost like a real person. It was originally made to look something like a funny clown, but Stu was now trying for a different look. The doll now came in two styles: a girl doll with a pink bow and dress, and a boy doll, with a blue hat and overalls. He had just finished his work on the girl doll, Mrs. Friend.

He pressed the yellow flower-shaped button on her dress. She stood up, did a little twirl and said, "Let's go play with dress-up clothes and tie our hair in pretty bows. Be safe and look both ways before you cross the street and don't be mean and step on other people's feet!"

Satisfied, Stu turned the doll off and set it aside. He grabbed Mr. Friend and pushed the button on his overalls that looked like a baseball. The doll got to his feet and said, "Let's go play with bouncy balls and never make prank phone calls!"

"Perfect!" Stu cried, "I can't wait to show Tommy!"

Just then Didi came downstairs carrying a basket of laundry.

"What are you working on now Stu?" she asked.

"Presenting the new and improved Mrs. and Mr. Friend!" He said loudly, holding the dolls up high for Didi to see.

"Haven't you tried that once?" she asked, "It took the whole week to get the yard cleaned up!"

"Well, these are different. I've been working on improving them. This time they aren't going to end up all over the yard. They are going to end up all over the shelves of toy stores everywhere! And we'll be rich! And I'll finally be able to buy that fancy tool set I've been wanting. I promise."

"That's very nice dear, but I had better not see doll parts lying around my lawn. Now come help me with the laundry," Didi said.

Meanwhile, Tommy and his friends were out in the backyard playing jungle. Tommy was a lion, Phil was a monkey, Lil was a flamingo, Chuckie was a parrot, Kimi was a leopard, and Dil was an alligator. They were playing in the thick bushes that lined Tommy's fence. At that time, Tommy was trying to climb up the bush to the top branches where Kimi already sat.

"Come, on Tommy, you can see the whole backyard from up here!" Kimi called down. Chuckie watched nervously as Tommy's foot slipped.

"Be careful!" he cautioned.

"Don't worry ... almost there," Tommy said as he struggled up the bush.

He reached his hand up toward Kimi. She grabbed him and pulled him up.

"You can see the whole yard from up here!" said Tommy, "Come on up guys!"

"Uh, I think. I'll just, uh, look for some wormies down here," Phil said.

"Me too," Lil agreed.

"And I'll just be, um, sitting here, uh, on the nice safe ground," Chuckie told him.

"Hey," suggested Kimi, "Why don't we go make mudpies!"

"Yeah!" Phil and Lil cried.

"Fine with me!" Chuckie agreed.

"OK," said Tommy, starting down the bush.

He reached the lowest branch and jumped to the ground. Kimi was still half-way up the bush. She hung by her arms from the branch.

"Weeeeeeee!" she screeched as she dropped from the branch. She landed with a soft thud and crawled out of the bushes, Where the other Rugrats were already digging up mud. She sat down next to Chuckie and joined in.

Soon they had collected enough mud.

They imagined that they were in the kitchen of a fancy restaurant. Lil was shoveling mud onto a pan, which was really a Frisbee, and Phil was patting them out and setting them in a pile on the counter next to him.

"Hurry, Chef Lillian, the hungry costumers needs their mudpieses!" Phil commanded.

"I'm hurryin'!" Lil said impatiently.

"Chef Tommy, you be the mud-patter. Chef Chuckie, you put the dandelionses on. Chef Kimi, add the antsies!" Phil ordered.

"OK!" said the Rugrats.

They went to work on their jobs, and soon they had made several mudpies. Then came the best part...

"Time to eat!" Phil announced. The Rugrats cheered.

They each grabbed a mudpie and dug in.

"This is the best mud I've ever tasted!" Phil praised.

Back in the basement, Stu had just finished making all of the finishing touches on the Friend dolls.

"Now I can test it on the kids! I wish I could see their reaction, but Grandpa will have to tell me all about it after I get back from the Annual Cheese Show. Our cheddar / Swiss cheese mold, shaped like Reptar! I can't wait! The grand prize is a year's supply of assorted cheese! Yummmmy!"

Stu picked up his dolls and went outside to show the Rugrats. They were now digging tunnels in the sandbox. Phil was lowering himself into one.

"How is it?" Tommy called down to him.

"Neat!" said Phil.

"Kids!" Stu called, "I've go a surprise for you!"

The Rugrats climbed out of the sandbox and ran over to Stu. He pulled the dolls from behind his back and set them down. All of the Rugrats, except Kimi and Dil, gawked at the toys.

"Introducing!" Stu announced loudly, "The new and improved Mr. and Mrs. Friend! They are the ideal doll for children, with motion sensors to detect potential playmates, over 1000 fun phrases, life-like movements, and they interact with children and each other! Have fun with Grandpa and your new friends, kids!"

Stu turned on the dolls and walked away. Grandpa was sleeping in a lawn chair under the porch. And the Rugrats watched the Friend dolls, with fear.

"Cool!" said Kimi walking closer to the dolls.

"Kimi don't!" Chuckie warned.

"Aw, don't be silly, Chuckie, it's just a doll!" Kimi protested.

"Chuckie's right!" Tommy told her, "That doll's bad!"

Kimi backed away. Just then the dolls jumped up. The Rugrats screamed and ran away from them. Kimi stayed. "Oh, they don't look so scary!" she said. Just then the Mr. Friend grabbed Superthing and started trying to pull it away from her.

"Never play with pointy things and don't take Mommy's pretty rings!" it said.

"Let go of my Superthing!" Kimi yelled at the doll.

But at that time Mrs. Friend walked right up in her face saying, "Don't flush down the toilet things of Daddy's and do not make your parents maddies!"

Kimi screamed and jumped up, sending Mr. Friend flying. She ran over to where the other Rugrats were hiding in the bushes.

When she got there she saw that Tommy was sitting up in the top branches of the bush. He was holding a squirming Dil in his arms. Lil was halfway up, too.

Kimi grabbed the lowest branch and pulled herself up. Then she started climbing up the rest of the bush. She reached the top not long after Lil and then Phil came up. Chuckie was scared.

"I think maybe I'll just stay down here..." Chuckie began.

"Chuckie! It's safer up here!" Tommy called down.

"Oh, fine!" Chuckie said as he started up the bush.

He reached the top and sat down on a thick branch, both hands grasping the branch in front of him.

"Phew!" Tommy sighed in relief, "Mr. and Mrs. Fiend will never find us up here. Lil was peeking out through the leaves.

"Guys!" she whispered, "Mr. Fiend is coming this way!"

The Rugrats were quiet, hoping that Mr. Friend wouldn't notice them. Chuckie gripped his branch tighter. The Rugrats watched breathlessly as Mr. Friend entered the bushes. He looked up and his sensors detected their presence.

"Don't climb trees that are too big and never touch a dirty pig!"

Then the top of its cap opened up, and a black wire with a hook on the end shot up. It attached itself to a branch, and the doll started to rise.

"Oh no!" Tommy cried in terror, "Its coming up the tree!"

The Rugrats rushed to climb down the other side of the bush.

And while all of this was going on, Mrs. Friend had climbed through the basement window and was now turning on of all of the other Friend dolls . They all climbed up the stacks of newspapers to the window, and were pouring out of it. The Rugrats gasped when they saw them all heading toward them, saying weird things. What were they going to do?

"Wh-wh-what will we do now?" Chuckie asked weakly.

"Maybe we could go hide in the sand tunnels," Phil suggested.

"Good idea!" Tommy whispered, and they all made a dash for the sandbox. They dived into the tunnels and hid.

"Do you think we'll have to live here forever?" Chuckie asked.

"No!" Tommy said, "We can't just hide! We've got to get rid of all of those mean dollies! Once and for all!"

"Uh, you go ahead," said Phil, "We'll just stay in here."

"Yeah, me too," Lil added.

"Count me in," Chuckie agreed

"Well, then I'll just have to fight them myself!" Tommy said, bravely.

"Wait!" cried Kimi as he was climbing out of the tunnel, "I'm going with you!"

"Thanks," Tommy thanked her, and they crawled out of the tunnel, ready to face the Mrs. and Mr. Friends.

To Be Continued

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