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This story was unfortunately inspired by a game the character Batgirl on LambdaMOO first introduced me to. I may have taken great poetic licence with the rules of the "Moose" game, and any blame for this should not be placed on Batgirl, or myself, or on El Nino.

The Ravenous Moose, or Munch, Munch

Part One, In Which We are Introduced to the Moose and the Meal, Which Includes Items Not Just of A Vegetable Nature.

Once in a town there were a few times a very hungry moose visited. This was a town in the middle of Nowhere because it used to be known for its logging and mining industry, until they chopped and dug until there was nowhere around to hack and unearth. So now it was a town filling up a space in the middle of Nowhere, waiting for tree seeds to grow and garbage to degrade so it could start all over in the same way. In the meantime the lumber mill was a Grand Mall for the town to occupy time and future money in, and a very clean FastFood Stop stood next to the useful Empty Mine Dump. Motorists on their way from Somewhere to Somewhere Else would pass through and stop briefly at this town in the middle of Nowhere, and leave behind their own future money and empty out their pockets to help fill the mine.

One day, the moose visited. Moose eats cigars. But, but. The moose certainly didn't come from Somewhere Else, although the moose arrived in approximately that direction, taking a short cut through the 24-Hour-Tire-Sale-Fill-'er-up Station. Moose eats tires. Vulcan, vulcan. Moose eats west. Sunspot, sunspot. The early Fall, early morning sunlight leaned through mist and smoke and dust to splash havocous rays across moose rack and shank; proportionately splindly kneeknobbed legs exed and doubleyoud shadow bars along asphalt, concrete and the slatty walls of Aunt Teak's Crockery and Reappropriations of the Past. Moose eats fog. Low, low. Moose eats dust. Genesis, genesis. Moose eats smoke. Tired, tired. Moose eats knees. Buzz, buzz. Moose eats shadow. Mimic, mimic. Moose eats X. Here, here. Moose eats W. Tulips, tulips. Moose eats Autumn. Clockwork, clockwork. Moose eats morning. Oversleep, Oversleep. Moose eats asphalt. Quake, quake. Moose eats concrete. Scab, scab. Moose eats China. Careful, careful. Moose eats Antiques, Uncle waits, uncle waits. By this time, the moose seemed to have its fill, as it lumbered away, pausing to nibble on a few flowers, at which point a milkman spotted the moose, who then turned a corner and out of sight. Moose eats dandelions. Drunk, drunk. Moose eats Violets. Ow, ow. Moose eats daffodils. Tickled, tickled. Moose eats milk. Smile, smile.

The residents of the town in the middle of Nowhere awoke that afternoon and found themselves in Winter. Those who had stopped overnight on their way from Somewhere to Somewhere Else found that they couldn't go any further as their cars had no tires, there were no smooth roads, and the way west didn't seem to be there. The town officials harumphed and scratched their heads and chewed their lips and wondered why they also had the urge to stick lit up weeds in their mouths. The town had never looked so clean. Every building and room had a bright starkness to them. A cat sat and mewled at no shadow under it. A dog chased its own tail. Chimneys and engines and cigarettes emitted no smoke. Flames burned and flickered and glowed far, as there were no shadows holding them back. Our Lady of the Perpetual Burning Tire Dump lost most of its congregation. The letter X had disappeared; the local theater of ill repute was now carrying only rated films; the hospital healthily just Rayed ill visitors. The Letter W was appropriated by the Letter M. "Ecited Tomspeople Monder Mhat Mreaked This Mackiness," broadcast the next afternoon's edition of The Morning Nems. Mild Milly's Saloon broke out in ugly fights in the evening. No one remembered about drinking milk for breakfast, as there was no morning to drink it in. The milkman was quickly given a job as a bicyclerepairman. No one remembered about the china in the cupboard as on Sundays everyone ate at the Fast Food Stop. Folks on their way to Somewhere Else from Somewhere were overwhelmingly charmed by this town with cheap gasoline, natural streets, immaculate brightness, and so they bought more useless necessities at the Grand Mall and didn't notice that when they left, it was straight back to Somewhere. Once the town had got hold of decent sunglasses, and relearned how to walk with no knees (the Malk became THE dance sensation back in Somewhere), things had just begun to calm down when the moose returned.

The bicycle repairman was pumping air into the wheel of a Shminn in the cobblestone parking lot outside the Grand Mall when the clop clop approach of the moose froze his exertions. Moose eats coconuts. Chocoholic, chocoholics. He bit the ends of his moustache and felt a trickle of sweat stream down from his forehead. Moose eats moustache. Grroucho. grroucho. Baldfaced, bereft of the bounteous soupstraining walrus he'd cultivated since puberty, and having no knees to aid in a quick getaway, he accepted his fate and stood patiently near the ten-speed. Moose eats walrus. Shame, shame. Moose eats handlebars. Waste, waste. Moose eats Bicycle Repairman who used to be a milkman who used to dream of exploring for Dr. Livingstone. Exit, exit stage right. Moose eats bicycle. Brrbrr, brrbrr. The automatic doors whirred and swung open to allow the moose inside. Moose eats whirrs and clicks. Cuckoo, cuckoo. Moose eats 2 a.m.. Last call, last call. Barred from escape, those shopping and serving could only watch as the moose dug into a Grand Mall feast. Moose eats bars. Rapture, rapture. First went Aunt Teak's Mas Craft Emporium. Moose eats baskets. Whee, whee. Moose eats ornaments. Bulge, bulge. Moose eats Nativity. Give, give. Moose eats stockings. Pillory, pillory. Moose eats Santa. Ho, ho. Moose eats silver bells. Rhyme, rhyme. Moose eats wreaths. Havoc, havoc. Moose eats Christmas. No sale, no sale. The security cop, Aunt Teak's perturbed nephew, pulled out his very shiny revolver and aimed at the moose, shouting, "Stop at once, you, you, Moose!" Moose eats gun. Rats, rats. Moose eats nephew. Bless you, bless you. Now completely helpless, people panicked, rushing about the Grand Mall all helterskelter, elbowing askew each other and various mannequins, orange juice stands, perfume sample displays, political campaigners, and a very confused hot dog vendor. Moose eats Beatles. Let It Be, Let It Be. Moose eats elbows. Poke, poke. Moose eats Q. Wait, wait. Moose eats mannequins, crazy escape, crazy escape. Moose eats orange. Doorhinge, moorage. Moose eats perfume. Blub, blub. Moose eats petition. Signature, signature. Moose eats weiner. Rough, rough. Raising a velvety-horn-splayed head and blinking noncommittedly at the fare, the moose soon made the wise decision of making a quick short order of the meal growing larger in unimaginative digestion: the moose just devoured in three great gulps the whole of the Mall and loped off into the horizon, leaving the surviving townspeople even more completely bewildered and rather loparmed and loplegged. Moose eats Grand Mall. Pound pound. Moose eats Grand Mall. Seizure, seizure. Moose eats Grand Mall. And her dentures, and her dentures.

The Ravenous Moose, or Nevermore, Nevermore
Part Two, In Which The Moose Continues Eating, the Town Rallies Around, and a Moral Threatens Indigestion

Now fully aware of the cause behind the upheaval in their normal, everyday lifestyle and habits, and deprived of not only their main source of basic survival, but also their only known defences and the means to actually aim them, the townspeople squirmed and flapped their torsos to the main gathering place, the FastFood Stop. Not only could they survive for quite a long time on radiation-beamed processed meat, reconstituted potato pap, and carbonated corn syrup, all with a shelf life of fifty years, but it was the only food they could eat with no elbows. The stunned people ate silently, only allowing the grunts of tasteful food satisfaction, and the rumbling of stomachs partially digesting to interupt their pontification about what to do. Finally, the Town Sheriff pounded a floppy arm on a formica table and rumbled, "I'll call in the National Guard! They'll take care of this monstrous Moose!"

The hot dog vendor shook his head and laughed manically before pointing out, "And they'll just get eaten up!"

"Mhat if me feed them our NeM Super Delue Tmo-Pound BB Chunky Slurpee?" offered the FastFoodStop manager, "It seems to be uite a hit with the teenagers, and keeps them from running around for an hour or so aftermards." Intrigued with this possibility, the townspeople quickly ordered up a round.

About ninety minutes later, the Sheriff suggested from his stupor that maybe calling up the Governor to just airbomb all of Nowhere in the hopes of hitting the moose would be the best solution. Joe's Hardmare owner, Joe Hardmare, then posited, "I think this Moose is a creature born of our innermost fears and aspirations. Me fear not having enough to eat, Me aspire to keep on surviving even after using up mhat me've thought me'd almays have." They all attempted to ponder this seriously, and were about to get to the point of believing the moose out of existence, when the FastFood Stop manager served up another round of Uickee Meals. Having run out of styrofoam plates and wax paper wrappers, the townspeople were forced to continue to sate the hunger grown from anxiety by eating off the FastFood Stop tables and counters. The slurping and smacking and broad licking of grease stains mixed with soda off the tables harmoniously melodized the town Anthem, "It's All Mine." Filtering through a cloud of burnt brain cells, Aunt Teak first felt a tickling in her memory, and then an itching of cohesive connections to form a Plan To Save The Town!

"I've got it!" the old biddy squealed, "A plan to save the tomn!" The rest of the mob listened as she explained, "There's a reason our High School's Mascot is a Goat. Long ago, before there mere garbage bags, only one thing could take care of our trash: goats. Back in those days, every home and business had one. You just threm it all out the back door and them goats'd cham 'em all up. They'd eat anything: TV dinner trays, babies, books, dirt... I bet they'd could even eat a Moose! Nom that there's the Mine, there meren't no need of goats to take care of our garbage, and that's mhy me've got this FastFood Stop right next to the Mine Dump, mhich, come to recall, is mhere Jimmy's Goat Farm used to be--"

"--Uiet nom, Auntie," interrupted the FastFood Stop Manager, "Me've got to act fast! Uick, Billy, go and fetch the goat! It's the only thing that can save us!" And so, Little Billy, the Mascot Keeper and Groomer, bravely scrabbled himself down to the High School Stable and rode the goat back just in time to meet the returning moose.

Billy gasped at the blank patch of no town the moose had already chomped away. Moose eats patch. Quilt, quilt. Already gone was the Coffeeteria and Library, the Tomn Clock, Main Street, Joe's Hardmare Store, Matt's Moratorium and Meat Market, and The Mater Treatment Plant next to the Good Ol' Smimming Hole. Moose eats library. Noisily, noisily. Moose eats coffee. Ground, ground. Moose eats clocks. Handy, handy. Moose eats Main Street. Thoroughly, thoroughly. Moose eats hardware. Nuts, nuts. Moose eats meat. Hello, hello. Moose eats water. Filter, filter. "C'mon Gruffy," urged Billy with a knock of his ankles, and, tears in his eyes, he rode on up to the place he and most of the town had always considered home away from home. Moose eats tears. Rip, rip. There, the moose was considering the last portion of this smorgasborg in the middle of Nowhere when the goat snuffled and bleated. The rest of the town cheered at the goat's arrival, a few of them shouting, "Get it, Gruffy!" and "2, 4, 6, 8, Grab yer Grub Before It's Too Late!" Moose eats goat. Rap, rap. Moose eats Billy. Club Sandwich, club sandwich. It was only a matter of time before the rest of the town realized it was all over. Moose eats Aunt. Picnic, picnic. Moose eats Joe. Eat at, eat at. Moose eats Sherriff. Badge, badge. Moose eats FastFood. Ptui, Ptui. Moose eats Dump. Da-dump, da-dump. Moose eats town. Ghost, Ghost. Moose Eats Nowhere. Fast, fast.

Nowadays, folks in Somewhere really just had to turn right around and find themselves Somewhere Else. And some time, they knew, the moose would pick up the scent and visit for a snack, so, thinking this would keep the moose at bay, they made sure they took care of what they had by only using what resources could be easily replenished and recycled. We never will know if this would work or not, for: Moose eats the rest of the story.

The End, the end.

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