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Day Of The Barney

Topic: barney

Day Of The Barney

Mrs. Thompson kissed her two children, Jenny and Robby, and sat them before the television set. Their eyes widened and gleamed as the picture faded in, revealing the one who had become a dear and cherished friend over the last few months. Mrs. Thompson smiled at their captivated wonder, and went to the kitchen to prepare dinner. As she readied the vegetables for stir-fry, she peered into the living room and watched the blubbery, purple dinosaur prance and roll across the screen.

"Silly fat reptile," she muttered, and went back to her preparations.

If Jenny and Robby were annoyed by her remark, they made no sign of it. Instead, they listened and watched in rapt attention to Barney the Dinosaur, who was being broadcast live from the nation's capitol. The plaza was filled with thousands of wide-eyed youths, who wriggled and squirmed for a closer look at the Purple One. Off to the wings, the green dinosaur known as Baby Bop giggled and preened, occasionally blowing a kiss to the children in the crowd. Finally, following a light song and dance about sharing, Barney sauntered up to the podium and spoke: "Hello, all my friends out there! I'm so happy you could make it to my special concert. Have I told you lately how much I love you?

Children world-wide simultaneously burst, "I love you too, Barney!"

The Purple One giggled and for a moment appeared to blush. "Love is such a wonderful thing. Especially the love you and I share for each other. I also want you to know how much of a special friend you are to me. Are you my friend also?"

The response was thunderous, rising from the kids in the plaza, across the living rooms scattered across the nation.

"YES!"

"Well, that's wonderful!" reeled Barney. "But do you know what, kids? I have something really, really sad to tell you." He sighed, letting his immense, dead eyes roll to the floor. "Not everyone is Barney's friend....some people don't even want you to be my friend."

Protests and cries began to rise collectively within the entranced mass. The Beast of Purple quieted them with a raise of his hand. He continued: "There are people who don't want me to love you, and want to take you away from me. These people are very bad, and want to hurt your loving friend Barney. Some of them may be people who are very close to you. But do you know what?"

The audience of children silently yet anxiously awaited the answer. An unholy stillness had fallen upon the crowd. Many of the adults began to feel isolated, targeted.....unwelcome.

"None of them, not a single one, loves you as much as I do. I'm your only real friend in the world. I really love you, I do! But these bad people don't. Some of them may be your neighbors. Some of them may be your teachers. And some of them....."

"Who, Barney, who?!?" shrieked a young girl from a barricade.

"...some of them may be _your_ parents!"

Immediately the children began yelling and crying, their teeth and fists clenched in rage. Security guards who had been trying to keep the children back behind the lines began to fidget uneasily, as the sea of wide-eyed, growling, gurgling children began rising against them. Some guards broke from the line and ran down the street, screaming hysterically. Others tried to push the youngsters back but were pulled in by grasping, clawing hands. The cries were horrible. One guard, as he was being simultaneously crushed and pulled apart by the mindless horde, looked back upon the stage. The Purple One and his green sidekick were laughing and dancing demonically about the platform, which was now spattered with blood and torn clothing. Next moment the world went dark and the guard was lost forever amidst the torrent of violence and unholy chanting...

I love you, you love me..... let me have your family..... with a quick stab or kick, we'll set the children free.... don't you know you were meant for me.....

Mrs. Thompson finished washing the vegetables and figured either Jenny or Robby could take out the trash. She walked out into the living room only to notice the children were gone and the TV station was giving a dull, whining tone and a test pattern. "Jenny? Robby? Are you here anywhere?" Perhaps they've gone outside, she thought. She returned to the kitchen and looked upon the counter. Her tinsel-steel paring and slicing knives were gone. But they were there just a moment ago, she thought. Then, just as a flash of steel slashed across her legs and another just above her waist, she heard a muffled giggle and caught a glimpse of purple and green out the corner of her eye. She collapsed into a pile of her own entrails and blood, her life seeping into the tile. As the world faded to a lifeless grey, she heard a familiar tune sung by two familiar voices...

I love you, you love me, let us join with Lord Barney.... with a great big kiss and hug, from me to you.... let's purge the world of adults too....

Mrs. Thompson stopped breathing.

"He's NOT a silly fat reptile!"

Day Of The Barney II Aftermath

Chapter One: Thirteen

Jeremy Phillips awoke to the sound of rumbling thunder, and for a moment, reeled in fright. The sky above was a turbulent black mass, occasionally lit by a silver flash of lightning. His fear quickly abated when he remembered his Barney doll lying beside the pillow. He firmly tucked it under his chin, rolled back under his dingy green blanket, and slept on the cave floor with several hundred other children in the cavern. As he snuggled close to his purple plush companion, he began to think back to how he came to know Barney. It all began so many years ago, in a time completely unlike the one he lived in now. He remembered the television show, the feature-length movies and videos, the merchandise, and the ever-assuring presence of the best friend a kid could ever hope for. Most of this happened before the Great Act of Love. The Great Act of Love was defined by some as a cataclysm, though these were the skeptics. Jeremy had actually heard an adult call it a holocaust, though he never understood what the word exactly meant. All he remembered was one weekend afternoon, and a call to duty that raised the voices and arms of thousands of children to purge the world of a menace that threatened the peace and love between Barney and the children. They killed every adult they could find that day. Barney had planned it well. He knew for a long time how all the adults of the world were trying to keep him and the children apart. Instead of giving in, the Purple One arranged a live, satellite-broadcast concert presented from the nation's capitol. The turnout was enormous, as Jeremy remembered it. Across the country, wide-eyed children gaped at the screen in awe and joy at the antics of the fat purple dinosaur and his companion, Baby Bop. Then, in a wise and calculated fashion, the one known as Barney unleashed his will upon the world, calling attention to those who opposed him. Every child carried out the Great Act of Love, as it would soon be called, without hesitation or remorse. The night turned blood red, broken by the screams of adults. By dawn however, a blissful serenity had settled upon the carnage. Jeremy wasn't sure what happened next. That was all six years ago. Or was it seven? He was so much younger then. He did know that Barney and Baby Bop came again to unite all the children, and took them under his care and guidance. They told stories and played games with the children, and gave each and every child a Barney doll and blanket. The videos were shown every day, and though the children were left to forage for their own food, it was plentiful because of the vast fields of grain Barney raised with the help of his nameless faceless servants, known as the Loved Ones. Jeremy had never known of or seen a Loved One until well after the Great Act of Love. They were mysterious creatures, who spoke no language and communicated in curious grunts and coos. They were squat, bulky creatures donned in purple and green robes. They frequented the caverns and tunnels that laced the landscape. Jeremy often saw them scampering about with their wooden torches, often carrying odd bundles up to the lair of Barney and Baby Bop. They weren't as loving or caring as Barney. As a matter of fact, they practically avoided all interaction with the children. The other group Jeremy knew of were the Bad Ones. The Bad Ones were simply adults who had survived the initial slaughter stemming from the Great Act of Love. No one was sure how many had survived, but Barney and Baby Bop assured everyone that they were evil, and would come in the night and put poisonous spiders under your pillow if you so much as looked at one. This frightened the children immensely, and Jeremy hoped to God (Barney?) that he never met any. But despite all the talk of Loved Ones and Bad Ones, Jeremy cared most for his group, known as the Special Friends. The Special Friends was an inclusive group, for any young child could be a Special Friend. Barney had deemed this early on, and it was a title every child of the caverns carried with true pride. Jeremy was especially proud this evening. This was the last day he would be twelve-years-old. Tomorrow, he would be thirteen. Actually, so would his twin sister, Fran, and his best friend since second grade, Cameron. It was well known that it was a very special day indeed when a Special Friend turned thirteen. The three of them were to see Barney tomorrow night, for a "special gift". What it would be, no one knew. No one ever came back to tell anyone else.

"What do you think we'll get?" asked Fran, as they walked up the glistening cold steps.

"I don't know," replied Jeremy. "Maybe we'll get a life-size Barney doll!"

"No, it's got to be better than that," said Cameron, adjusting his thick glasses and lanky red hair. "If no one comes back, it means maybe we're going on a vacation, maybe to Hawaii or China!"

The three of them hoped that the Loved One clambering ahead of them would say something, but it simply gurgled and kept climbing up the crude rock stairwell. It clutched its torch with a thick, leathery glove.

"I'll bet it is a vacation!" squealed Fran, the excitement rising in her voice. "I hope we get to choose, I want to go to Europe, that's where mom always-"

Fran caught herself. Ever since the Great Act of Love, no child was to ever mention their parents. While it made Fran sad, she wouldn't want to hurt Barney's feelings. He loved her just as much as her mom and dad ever did. Even more, he said.

The three children talked excitedly among themselves as they climbed the immense stairwell. Finally, they came upon a landing which opened out to a great open plain. Jeremy was the first to notice the bizarre sight ahead. He let out a short gasp, which drew the attention of Fran and Cameron.

Across the wide plain stood an ornate building, many stories high, and shrouded in thick ivy. It was apparent that this building was once white, but had been sloppily repainted in varying shades of purple and green. Great flocks of birds flew amidst the rubble, and scores of autombiles littered the landscape, rusting and shattered.

Cameron was the first to identify the structure. It was the nation's capitol. The Loved One sensed the children's awe and squealed at them. The children followed, their gaze still locked on the grotesquely painted building. When they got to what was formerly the White House, they again reeled in amazement. The whole structure was painted in the same fashion as the capitol, the steps flanked by torches and statues of Barney. The children entered the building, and the huge armored door swung shut behind them.

"Hello, all my friends! Happy thirteenth birthday to you!" The fat purple dinosaur giggled and wobbled over to the three children. He gave each one a warm, enveloping hug. The children reacted joyfully, and cried, "We love you Barney!"

"And I love you too. I'm so happy to be with my Special Friends. Especially on such an important day! Let's sing a song!"

The children and Barney sang "Happy Birthday" several times, and danced around the room that was once called the Oval Office. From a darkened corner, a small ensemble of Loved Ones played the music, on poorly tuned and rusty instruments. The children didn't mind. They were here with their very best friend, Barney. And who could forget. "Baby Bop! There you are!"

The green, baby-eyed dinosaur scampered into the room, holding three-small birthday cakes. "I'm here. Oooohhh, I just _Loovveeee_ parties!" She proceeded to hug the children and incited them to blow out the candles on their cake. When they did, she ecstatically jumped for joy and squealed with delight. The children blew out their candles and gorged themselves on the cake. Within minutes, they had eaten every last crumb. Children's enthusiasm has no limit. It came to no one's surprise when the children asked about their Special Gift. Barney and Baby Bop both laughed warm-heartedly.

"But of course you'll get your Special Gift! How could we forget that?" said Barney, folding his arms over his immense abdomen. "Baby Bop, how about taking Fran to see her surprise?"

"Gladly!" squealed Baby Bop. "Come with me, Fran, you're just gonna love this one. It's every young girl's dream come true!" And with that, she took Fran by the hand and led her hurriedly out of the room. Fran could barely get a chance to look back at the two boys and wave goodbye. The next moment she and the bubbly green dinosaur were gone.

The two boys were puzzled, but excited. "Barney, you mean Fran gets a different Special Gift than us boys?" asked Jeremy.

"Why yes she does, Jeremy. But don't worry, your gift is just as special. All I want you to do right now is hold very still." The next moment Barney took a thick slab of charcoal and wrote "13" on the boys' foreheads. He then nodded to the Loved Ones in the corner, and they left the room with their instruments. Only one Loved One remained, and he brought a cloth-wrapped bundle to the Purple One. "Okay, Jeremy and Cameron, I want you to kneel on the floor and close your eyes. Then I'll give you your Special Gift!"

The two boys looked at each other, but both believed in Barney. Why would he do something bad to them? They kneeled on the floor and closed their eyes. Both began wondering what they would be getting. A ticket for a jet ride? An envelope filled with money? The possibilities were staggering to a young child's mind.

From behind them, the boys heard Barney unwrap the bundle. A moment later, there came a curious sound, the sound of metal chafing against leather. Something wasn't right. Jeremy flung himself forward, just as a swishing noise came down upon him. He hit the floor hard, and he heard Cameron hit the floor alongside him. He opened his eyes and stared at Cameron. His head was chopped off. Jeremy screamed in terror, and in his fright rose to his feet and ran straight into a wall. He hit with tremendous force and he felt the wind knocked out of him. He fell back on the floor, and stared into the severed head of his best friend since second grade. He screamed again, and looked up at Barney, wielding an immense, blood-stained machete. The fat squalid reptile looked back with a puzzled look.

"Why Jeremy, you weren't supposed to peek! When you play a game, you should always play by the rules. Rules are what makes a game work." Barney giggled and motioned with his arm. "Now come back here and close your eyes. It'll be fun!"

"You....you killed..C-C-Cameron!" cried Jeremy, tears running down his face. "You-you're gonna kill me too!"

"Why Jeremy, why would I do that? Cameron's not dead, he's just playing a pretend game! If you had played the game right as he had, you'd be having fun pretending like he is!"

Jeremy stared back at the lifeless head of Cameron. A small trickle of blood flowed out of his nose, and his thick glasses were shattered. Smeared around the dead boy's mouth was pink frosting. Sensing Jeremy's fear, the Purple One returned the machete to its sheath and gave it back to the Loved One.

"There, Jeremy. I've put the scary knife away. I'm sorry I scared you. I'm sure Cameron is sorry too. Now come on back here. I'm not going to hurt you, Jeremy. Don't you know how much I love you?"

"I...I....I love you too...Barney" muttered Jeremy, his eyes still locked upon the battered head on the floor. He slowly rose up, and began walking towards the bloated purple dinosaur.

"There, there, Jeremy, we'll still have fun," said Barney in a motherly tone. He extended his chubby arms towards the child. "I'm not going to hurt you...I'm not going to hurt you...."

Jeremy walked between Barney's arms and rested against his fat belly. The Purple One wrapped firmly behind the boy, gently stroking his sandy hair. "...I'm going to kill you!" The next instant the arms locked onto the boy's neck, plump purple talons digging into his throat. Jeremy tried to scream, but the air was cut off and he could only thrash about wildly. Barney began giggling again, and as he proceeded to strangle the child, sang a lullaby:

I love you, you love me.... let me kill you Jeremy.... in another moment you'll be gone.... then my power will continue on....

Jeremy's tongue and eyes bulged tremendously, his feet kicking sporadically. Lights flashed before his eyes, and all he could see in between was the wide, moronic grin and lifeless eyes of the gigantic purple beast choking him. His lungs were bursting, and a roaring sound rushed through his ears.The next thing he knew, he was on the floor, gasping for air. He looked up and saw the fat bloated beast curled next to him, moaning in pain. He must've kicked Barney in a good spot, to have rendered him powerless. Jeremy began to crawl away, when he noticed the Loved One unsheathing the machete and scampering towards him. Jeremy quickly picked himself up and ran out the door. The Loved One paused, then dropped the machete and tended to Barney, who was still writhing on the floor in pain. Another time, perhaps.

Jeremy ran blindly through the hallway, he'd been here a long time ago when adults still occupied the building. He and his parents had been here on a tour, and true to a child's memory, he could remember a back entrance that would take him to safety, hopefully. Behind him he heard the muffled cries of Loved Ones, who were obviously chasing him. He knew immediately that he could outrun them all. When he tried the back lock, Jeremy found it to be open. He flung the door and ran out onto a back terrace. Through the darkness, he ran across an odd, lumpy surface. It was almost like running on a field covered with cantaloupes. It wasn't until he got on the far edge of the surface that he began to realize what the surface was. They were heads. Jeremy had never seen a more unholy, dark sight. In the silver rays of the moon above, Jeremy looked upon the hundreds of skulls that littered the terrace area. He gaped, dumbfounded at the scene, and kept running and running until he had cleared the last head by a wide distance. He was now in the ruins of a city, empty and quiet like a tomb. Jeremy looked back at the sinister silhouette of the capitol building and wondered how soon Barney and the Loved Ones would be out, searching for him. He began to fear for his sister Fran, and wondered what "Special Gift" she had been given by Baby Bop. All the time, his mind raced back to what he had seen crudely scrawled onto each head, and of his own age, the age of impending adulthood: Thirteen.

Aftermath - Chapter 2

Chapter Two: Withdrawal

The rain plodded steadily down the streets and alleys, and Jeremy learned for the first time what it was to be truly alone. He reclined on a pile of dusty blankets next to a short candle that provided the only light in the abandoned warehouse. Shattered glass covered the floor, and through the gutted ceiling, Jeremy could see the damaged, blackened beams that supported the high walls. It was his third week away from the caverns, and he wondered if he was even a Special Friend anymore. Of all the times he'd been betrayed by friends, the last one he suspected of doing it to him was Barney. Barney who took him, his sister, and his best friend up to his beautiful lair. To sing, to dance, to receive a "Special Gift". But it was all a horrifying lie. Barney had taken Fran away, left in the company of Baby Bop. He had killed Cameron with a blow to the head with a machete. And he had tried to kill Jeremy, by locking his arms around the throat, still wearing his idiotic grin and giggling. All of this, just because the three children turned thirteen. Jeremy listened to the rain dance upon the pavement, which was drenched with filth and rubble. It was only some years ago that adults frequented the streets, going about their way to work. Now it was still. Jeremy could not break the stillness, for were he to yell or sing or cry, it could bring about the attention of the Loved Ones. Many times Jeremy had spied them shuffling about the ruins of the city, looking for him, offering Barney dolls with one hand while clutching a torch with the other. They came mostly at night, and all Jeremy could see of them were their cloaked, squat bodies clad in purple and green. Jeremy prayed they would go away. Jeremy also feared the Bad Ones. It had been so long since he'd seen an adult, but he remembered the stories Barney and Baby Bop told of them. How they liked to pull the hair of children, and hit them without reason. It was this reason that all adults were to be shunned, if not destroyed. Jeremy prayed they would go away too. He was surprised that he had lasted as long as he had. For while he was alone, he managed to find decent shelter and other staples, mostly from ransacked buildings and stores. He dared not sleep in the same place more than once, lest he be found. He had come back to a few places he'd been before, only to sense that the Loved Ones, or someone, had been there too. Now he lay atop the stack of ragged blankets, wishing he still had his Barney doll. For some inexplicable reason, he missed the fat, bouncy dinosaur. The very creature that killed his friend and abducted his sister still had some emotional control over him, and it scared Jeremy. At night he could still hear the Barney love-song, playing over and over again until he broke down in tears. The chubby purple beast was the first creature that ever made him feel truly loved:

I love you, you love me, we're a happy family... with a great big kiss and hug from me to you, won't you say you love me too?

Then he envisioned the dead eyes and horrible laugh Barney chuckled while tightening his fingers around Jeremy's tender young neck. The relapse caused Jeremy to scream frantically, and his outburst lasted a full minute before he realized the danger he was putting himself into. When he did regain his composure, Jeremy blew out the candle and crouched by the window. He hoped to God (Barney?) that no one heard him. Jeremy stared out at the vast darkness, as the rain continued to fall. For a few moments, it looked like he was safe. Then, down a thick, crumbling alley, he saw a soft blur of light. This was soon followed by two, maybe three others, and they began closing in. The Loved Ones had heard the scream, and were eagerly scrambling over to reclaim Jeremy.

"No, no, go away," muttered the boy. He was terrified. The huddle of cloaked creatures came closer and closer. Jeremy grabbed the candle and a dusty blanket. He couldn't leave out the front, they'd see him for sure. His eyes raced over the destroyed room, when he noticed a flight of stairs. With some luck, it would lead to another building or even a fire escape. Jeremy scurried up the steps and watched from a dark pile of rubble. No more than a few minutes passed before the first Loved One entered the building. It stood only about four feet high, and gurgled to the others in a bizarre language. Soon it came to the pile of blankets where Jeremy had lain just shortly before, and felt the warmth. It nodded its head, and giggled. With a wave of its hand, it motioned the other three Loved Ones to search the area. One immediately started up the steps towards where Jeremy was hiding. Jeremy knew that his best bet was to remain hidden and quiet. He stood behind a battered crate, breathless. He watched in horrified fascination as the Loved One clumsily waddled up the stairs, waving its torch back and forth. As an offering, it carried a soft plush Barney doll in its other hand. The Barney doll was entrancing in an odd way, and Jeremy's first impulse was to walk out and take it. But his instinct kept him away. "I'll hide here and maybe they'll be gone soon," thought Jeremy. He had never liked the Loved Ones anyway. As long as he could stay hidden, he would be safe. The Loved One would look around briefly, then be gone. He was sure of it. All Jeremy had to do was stay still, and wait.

"Jeremy! Jeremy! This is your good friend Barney! Are you in there?" Jeremy froze. The voice had come from outside. "Jeremy, I know you must be really mad at me, but I want you to know that I'm sorry. I really, really am! I hope that you and I could still be friends. Don't you know that I miss you? So does Fran! How could you leave your sister behind like that?"

Jeremy watched as a tall, stocky silhouette came in. There was no denying who it was. Jeremy was suddenly filled with a tremendous urge to run out and embrace the fat purple dinosaur. "Gosh, Jeremy, it sure is dark and cold in here. Not to mention damp!" Barney lit a torch and examined the lower level. "So much dust and broken glass. Wouldn't you like to come back home? Tonight, we're having a lot of fun games and parties, and you're our guest of honor! I'll bet you'll have so much fun! There's ice cream and cake, plus lots of presents. In fact, if you come back to me right now, I'll make sure you get to lead all the games!"

No, no, no, thought Jeremy. He killed Cameron. He may have killed Fran. He'll probably kill you. Don't believe him. Barney lied once, he may do it again. Barney scratched his head and sat upon the blankets. "Jeremy, do you know why I'm out here tonight? Because I love you. You know, I never told you this before, but you are my favorite, favorite friend in the whole wide world. That's why I want you back. I'm sorry I was so bad to you before, but I promise it will never happen again. But if you love me too, and I know you do, you'll come running out here right now for a great big kiss and hug!"

"Barney, I missed you and I love you too!" cried Jeremy, coming out from behind the crate. Tears ran down the boy's cheeks and when Barney saw him, the plum-colored lizard extended his arms in a loving gesture.

Well that's wonderful!" exclaimed Barney. "Come on down, Jeremy, let's hug!" Jeremy started to dash down the steps but as he did, the Loved One who had been at the top of the stairs suddenly lurched at the boy and grabbed him by the arm. The boy screamed and struggled.

"Not now, you fool!" bellowed the dinosaur. Jeremy shrieked and fought with the Loved One, who had now dropped his torch and Barney doll, and was trying to get both hands on the child. The rotting, partially destroyed floor rocked and keeled below them. Jeremy managed to get his foot behind the Loved One and shoved hard. The next instant the cloaked creature fell through the damp, plaster wall and impaled itself on a sharp jutting metal beam. Its jagged razor edges slid through the Loved One like a knife through butter. The scream was bestial and piercing. As thick, pink ochre gushed out of the Loved One's wound, it spasmodically thrashed, clutching at the beam that emerged dead center of its chest. In its initial throes, it accidentally flung back its cloak, revealing the creaure hidden within. Jeremy gasped at what he saw. The Loved One was a horrid caricature, part human, part dinosaur. It was covered in sagging, pale red skin that was spotted with green and brown patches. Its eyes bulged with a serene, almost idiotic gaze. The teeth were smooth, perfect, and a creamy white in color. As the Loved One struggled in desperation, its thick, lumbering tail lashed back and worth, crumbling the wood below it. Finally, with a low, raspy groan, its eyes rolled back and thin trickles of pink and orange fluid seeped down its snout, nostrils, and chin. It was dead.

"Jeremy, don't be scared. Come back to me! I'll protect you!" Jeremy looked back at the Purple Beast. He sensed a certain falseness and anger within Barney, and started shuffling back away from the stairs. The dinosaur edged near the steps, and hesitated. Jeremy immediately realized that Barney was afraid to go any further. His massive bulk would probably cause him to fall through the rafters. Jeremy ran back towards the rear half of the building. He immediately heard more scampering up the steps, and he knew the other Loved Ones were after him. He picked up a brick and hurled it at the closest one, and hit it square in the face. It growled in anger, and reached under the folds of its cloak, producing a rusty hatchet. It flung it at Jeremy, who managed to duck in time. The blade whizzed by, embedding itself into a thick beam. Jeremy found a window and looked down. There was a fire escape. He promptly scrambled down it, the Loved Ones close behind. Several times they clutched for him, but he was too fast and agile for the creatures. At the bottom, he jumped off the landing and into a dumpster filled with paper and cardboard. He pulled himself out and tore down the street, the rain drizzling upon him. In the distance he heard a high-pitched plea. "Jeremy...come back....don't you know I love you...?"

The next day Jeremy found himself in a sporting goods store. He quickly went to the camping rations and tore open the flimsy packets of dried food and snacks. The boy ate voraciously, and gained his senses. No way was he ever going back to being Barney's "Special Friend". The events from last night certified that. But now it was time to face up to the problem, rather than keep running away from it. He still had his sister Fran to consider. What if she was still alive? And what of his friends he left behind? Soon some of them would be turning thirteen, and facing the same fate as Cameron had: headless and forgotten. Jeremy knew that he'd have to come back to the caverns and face the Purple Beast. If he stayed out here, he'd most likely be hunted and killed by Loved Ones or even the Bad Ones. It was a no win situation either way. Best to go down fighting, as his uncle had once told him. The sentiment burned in the young boy's mind, and he liked that. As Jeremy cleaned himself at a small puddle, he began wondering how he'd best prepare for another (and possibly final) encounter with Barney, Baby Bop, and the minions known as the Loved Ones. He seemed to recollect something about the sporting goods shop and walked back inside. He went near the back area and stopped. He found what he was looking for. On the walls were various rifles, shotguns, and hunting knives. Jeremy sucked in his breath and began removing them from their mountings. It was time to prepare.

Aftermath - Chapter 3

The last rays of sun crept under the horizon, immersing the devastated skyline in sullen darkness. A small figure clad in a purple and green cloak warily made it way towards the caverns, just below the main plaza of a structure once known as the White House. The cloak covered the figure very loosely, and several times the being had to stop and readjust the garment. If one were to inspect the figure closer, they would realize the cloak had a huge gaping hole through the back of it, and the wearer was a child barely in his teens. Were one to look beyond this, they would see the child brandished several broad hunting knives, a semi-automatic pistol, and sawed-off shotgun. Jeremy Phillips had come to settle a score with a certain purple behemoth named Barney. Jeremy had trouble moving for several reasons; the cloak kept sagging and slipping, threatening to either trip him or reveal him to be what he truly was and not a Loved One; the weight of his munitions and armanent grew increasingly heavier with each passing moment, causing the youth to pause for breath every few hundred yards; and the utter fear and apprehension of facing Barney and his evil minions was wreaking its toll on the boy. Jeremy felt he had no choice. It would either be him or countless other children before him, suffering the same fate Cameron had, or the unknown circumstance that Fran was now in. Jeremy felt ready as he could, he had fired a gun for the first time yesterday, killing a Loved One in the process. He could see the squalid beast now, foraging in the city ruins, looking for him. He had woken to its gurgling noise, and crawled out of hiding for a closer look. The Loved One was alone, and appeared lost or confused. Certainly it must be a trap, thought Jeremy. No Loved One had ever travelled through the city alone before. But as time passed and he continued to watch it, he realized that it was indeed by itself. And by the time he realized this, the Loved One sniffed the air, turned around, and saw Jeremy staring at it from the street. It gave an ungodly cry, pulled out a short, spiked club, and ran towards Jeremy. The next moment, Jeremy stood amidst a cloud of smoke and stinging vapor. His ears were ringing, and he felt the heavy weight of the pistol in his hand. His arm felt numb, and he began to realize just what had happened. He looked upon the ground and saw the twitching, corpulent body of the Loved One. A moment later, its eyes sunk back into their sockets, and its entire body slumped. Jeremy had killed. Jeremy could not understand why he felt no remorse. He remembered how he cried when his cat, Snooper, was euthanized at the veterinarian. How he cried when his parents left for vacation. How he cried when he couldn't play with his friends because it was past his bedtime. Those times were long ago, but Jeremy rememebered them well. And he felt great sadness. Yet he felt no sadness for this wretched creature that lay still and oozing pasty pink blood out of its wound. Perhaps it was a good thing, if Jeremy meant to do what he planned that night. Presently, Jeremy neared the White House plaza. He had kept careful track of the days and time, he knew that it was time for the Imagination Game. Just before bedtime, Barney would entertain the children by singing and playing, and the Imagination Game highlighted the entire evening. All of the children would be there. So would all the Loved Ones, to monitor the children and play the music. There was no better time to return. The first thing Jeremy had to do was find his twin sister, Fran. After so many weeks, he was curious to know what Baby Bop had done to her. As he once again crossed the wide field of skulls, he feared the worst. He dared not look at the decapitated heads for too long, lest he see Cameron's lying there, with his shattered glasses and frosting-smeared mouth. Off in the distance, Jeremy could hear the faint strains of music and laughter. The nighttime games and songs had begun. He climbed the back steps of the building and gently pried open one of the cold metal doors. He gazed down the dim, carpeted hall and walked in. He adjusted his cloak over his head, so if seen, he'd stand to be mistaken for a Loved One. As expected though, he saw no one. Jeremy remembered that at the thirteenth birthday celebration, Baby Bop had taken Fran outside the party room and down the hall somewhere. He figured that if it was a common route, maybe there would be more impressions marking the path. He eventually came to a well-worn, dirtied trail of carpet, and cocking his pistol, followed it down a corridor and around a passage that led to the cellar. He was surprised at what he saw. It was a paved, insulated cavern with smooth walls and brightly lit hallways. Flanking each hallway were sets of thick metal doors with wide, square windows. Jeremy sat silently and listened. From behind many of the doors were odd, gurgling noises. Some were shrill cries, other were soft murmurs. Occasionally, the clanging of metal tools could be heard, and Jeremy observed a row of long tables on the far end of the hall, covered with bottles, linen, and blankets. Jeremy was in a nursery. He cautiously made his way to one of the doors and peered in the window. He saw a young girl sleeping on a metal bed, surrounded by flowers and Barney dolls. Her stomach was enormously swollen, and Jeremy noticed movement within her abdomen. Something about the scene made him uncomfortably ill. He ran down the hall, peering in each door as he passed along them. Many of the rooms were the same. Young teenage girls in varying degrees of pregnancy, yet with stomachs unnaturally huge for any normal child. Jeremy remembered his aunt who visited him at his house one day, she was almost ready to give birth. But her stomach was never as large as the girls he had seen in the basement. What were these people giving birth to? Jeremy saw tags on the doors, crudely written in crayon. Names of the expectant mothers. Jennifer. Molly. Susan. Linda. Victoria. Talia. Beth. Brenda. Gretchen. Prudence. Sarah. Where was Fran? Jeremy ran down an adjoining corridor, one that had a metallic tinge in its smell and color. At the middle junction, he saw a brightly lit room, visible from a huge sheet of reinforced glass. Jeremy neared closer, and peered in. The sight within made him shiver. Arranged in neat rows of clear acrylic cribs were newborn children. But they weren't any children as Jeremy knew. They were large, fat, gelatinous creatures with puggish snouts and large, sedated eyes. Their skin hung in great reddish folds, covered with green and brown spots in random patterns. From under their immense, pale bellys hung thick, scaly tails that whipped around clumsily. Most of the infants had already begun teething. Their teeth were smooth, creamy white, and perfectly cropped. The horrid mass fumbled in their cribs, chittering and gurgling, staring stupidly back at the terrified boy. Now Jeremy knew who the Loved Ones really were and where they came from. He supressed the desire to scream in terror, and scampered down the hall, hoping to find Fran. He wasn't quite sure where one particular corridor would lead, but he followed it in the vain hope of finding his sister. At the end of it, he saw a door with a sign on it. The word on the sign was unknown to Jeremy, and it was scrawled clumsily with a red crayon: MORGUE. The smell was overpowering as Jeremy walked in. The room was enormous, and painted in an institutional grey-blue. Only a few of the room's fluorescent overhead lights were on, and they flickered sporadically. Arranged in straight columns were gurneys with sheet-covered lumps upon them. Summoning up his courage, Jeremy lifted one of the sheets. Whoever it was, she had been dead for sometime. The skin was a marbled white, and the eyes were glazed and dilated. She had long brown hair and faint red freckles dotting her cheeks. As Jeremy looked further, he noticed a great recession in her stomach, and lifted the nightgown. What he saw made him violently ill. She had no stomach left, and there were signs that indicated something had burrowed its way out from within the cavity. This young woman had been the unfortunate mother of a Loved One, like many others laid upon the cold steel gurneys of the morgue. Jeremy ran frantically down the corridor, forgetting that someone could hear him. He ran down another brightly lit hall, past another nursery. From behind the glass, Jeremy could hear the evil spawn gurgling and crying. His only wish was to escape from this unimaginable horror. He looked about the corridors in a complete state of dread and confusion.

"Jeremy! Is that you?"

Jeremy froze. Slowly he turned around. It was Fran. She stood outside her door, clad in purple and green pajamas. She looked well kept and groomed. She smiled and ran towards him. "Oh Jeremy, I've missed you so much!" Jeremy ran towards his sister and the two embraced. He was amazed at how well she looked. She stood back and stared at the guns and knives he carried. "Jeremy, what is all that? Why are you back from China so soon?"

"China? You mean they told you I went to China? Don't you know what happened to me? To Cameron?"

"Barney told me you went away to China, and that you would be back real soon," she replied. "But look at me. Baby Bop and the Loved Ones have been giving me so much love and attention since my birthday. I feel just like a queen."

Jeremy looked at his sister. She looked far cleaner and healthier than he did. He remembered the last words he heard Baby Bop tell Fran before leading her out of the Oval Office: "It's every girl's dream come true!"

Jeremy swallowed hard and asked his sister, "Fran, what was your 'Special Gift'?"

"Barney and Baby Bop are going to make me a mother!" Fran replied joyfully. Her eyes sparkled with excitment and her whole body cringed with excitment. "Barney says it won't be much longer until I'm ready, then they're gonna put a specially created baby inside my body, isn't that wonderful?"

"Oh, no...." said Jeremy, his voice getting strained. "No, Fran, don't do it! Look, let me tell you what happens to those who bear children for Barney. They're dead. And their children, they aren't normal. They're monsters! We've got to get you out of here Fran, you'll die if you stay. Barney killed Cameron and he tried to kill me. He doesn't love you, he'll let you die!"

"No!" shrieked Fran, covering her ears. "Don't tell me such things. Barney loves me, and I'm going to be a happy mother! A happy mother, Jeremy!"

Jeremy reached for his sister. As he did though, a green scaly arm grabbed his shoulder. He was pulled behind and looked into the baby-like eyes of Barney's sinister companion, Baby Bop.

"For shame, Jeremy, making your sister cwy like that! Don't you know it's not nice to lie? Shame, shame, shame, naughty Jeremy!"

Jeremy thrashed and hollered, but the green and pink dinosaur held on with uncanny strength. Baby Bop motioned Fran to return to her room, but the girl only wandered back halfway. Baby Bop latched both hands onto Jeremy's shoulders and shook him violently.

"Bad, bad, Jeremy-boy! No manners for sister! Wait'll I get Barney down here, he'll teach you to be so bad! Do you know what happens to bad, bad boys? Do you?"

Jeremy stared in stunned horror at the squeaky-voiced reptile. He could only shake his head.

"They get the blade, they do! Bad boys get cut! Deep, deep, deep cut!" And with a motion smooth and silent as the wind, Baby Bop pulled a thin, tapering dagger from under her blanket. She thrust it toward Jeremy's wrist.

Jeremy caught her by the hand, and the two fell upon the floor, struggling. She began giggling demonically, prying the dagger closer to Jeremy's tender young skin. From behind, Jeremy could hear his sister screaming. The next moment he pulled his other arm free and unstrapped his Bowie knife. He thrust it upward, meeting soft green flesh. Baby Bop gave a shrill cry and staggered back. The knife had lodged deep into her shoulder. She desperately tried to pull it out, screaming profanities and inaudible curses. Jeremy leveled his pistol at her and fired. The impact of the shot flung the green and pink dinosaur several feet backwards. The recoil knocked Jeremy flat against his back. When Jeremy recovered, Fran was kneeling over him. "Jeremy! Jeremy! Are you okay?"

Jeremy slowly rose and stood, rubbing his arm. He looked down the hall at Baby Bop. The giggly dinosaur lay flat in a puddle of pinkish ooze, motionless. "Jeremy, you....you killed Baby Bop!"

Jeremy put his arm gently on Fran's shoulder. "Sis, you need to see something". The two of them hurriedly dashed past Baby Bop's body, and over to the morgue and nurseries. Putting it mildly, Fran was mortified at what she saw.

"I can't believe it, " she muttered. "I was going to have one of those? And die from it?"

"That's not even half of it," said Jeremy, reloading the pistol. He dumped the empty cartridges upon the floor and snapped the chamber back into place. "Barney and Baby Bop have been killing older children for years. Their heads are in the back plaza. He must not want any of us growing into adults."

Fran and Jeremy quickly made their way out of the cellar. At the foot of the stairs, Jeremy carefully aimed his gun at a set of pipes and cords lacing the ceiling. He fired several shots into them, causing steam and sparks to spray everywhere. The lights began to flicker madly, and the two children ran up the stairwell. Once at the main doorway, Jeremy and Fran pushed furniture and other heavy items against the metal doors. Smoke and steam began seeping from the cracks. Beyond the door, the children heard bestial screaming and clawing noises at the barricade. They hurried outside.

Jeremy and Fran caught their breath upon exiting the building. He could tell his sister was shaken and scared. He put the gun back under his shirt and talked to her. "It's gonna be okay, Sis, it's gonna be okay".

"I want my parents back," she said. Her voice lacked emotion, she had been through enough. "What do we do now?"

Jeremy looked at his sister, then back at the White House. Great plumes of flame poured from the building. The entire scene was bathed in a hellish glow of gold and fiery red. He remembered his shotgun and slid it out of his coat pocket. "I need to see Barney", he said. Off in the distance he could hear the singing of children.

Day Of The Barney II:

Aftermath - Chapter 4

Barney the Dinosaur appeared especially merry that evening, his dance carried a heavier step and bounce than usual, and his singing more jubilant than before. Were he to realize that Jeremy Phillips was back that night, he may have been less exuberant. In fact, were he to know of the destruction of his secret nursery, the mass extermination of the Loved One infants, and especially the death of Baby Bop, Barney would not be happy at all. One would suspect he could fly into a murderous rage, though the very thought seemed absurd.

But for the moment, Barney reigned triumphant. Hundreds of children danced in mindless abandon around the flanks of the fat purple reptile, while the cloaked musicians huddled in the center of the cavern, playing flighty melodies on rusted instruments. The whole scene was a chaotic sea of purple and green, and the air resounded laughter and singing. Were anyone to venture back out into the outer plaza above the cavern lair, they would be astounded to see the former White House shrouded in flame and smoke.

"Hey kids, isn't this some fun?" giggled Barney. "Playtime is always a good time. It's like having a circus in your very own home!" Acknowledging the cue, the Loved Ones in the band picked up their instruments and began playing "A Circus In My Home", while Barney donned a ringmaster's hat and coat. The children watched in amazement as the dinosaur began juggling and singing of the wonders under the Big Top. Outside the cavern entrance, Jeremy Phillips rechecked the shotgun and adjusted the sheath containing a serrated hunting knife. He pulled the ragged purple and green cloak over his head and hands, then began making his way down the stairwell. His pistol lay with Fran, who he had instructed to stay behind outside the main plaza. While she did not care for the heavy firearm, they both agreed she may need protection. Jeremy ran a few movie scenes through his head, movies that featured a lone warrior against an overwhelming foe. He had particularly liked the Rambo movies, though his mother lectured him heavily about the needlessness of violence. His uncle showed him the entire series when he spent a weekend at his apartment once. Jeremy knew he was nowhere close to Rambo, and he wondered what the stoic war- veteran would've done against a fat purple dinosaur who smiled a lot.

The cavern echoed with the chanting of children, and the torch-lit shadows covered the walls with eerie figures and shapes. In the middle of this pranced the Purple One himself; inciter of riots, killer of children, father of monsters, maker of a world marked by terror and insanity. Jeremy had feared that the closer he got to Barney, the weaker he would become. But as the weeks had progressed, he felt stronger than he ever had before. It was the lack of Barney-videos, the absence of his plush purple doll and blanket, and the time spent away from the Purple One's songs and false displays of affection that brought the boy to his senses. But maybe it was more than that; what if Barney's power only extended to young children? What if impending adulthood, with its major physical and mental changes challenged the control he wielded over the minds of the young? It would certainly explain the need to kill children on the brink of adulthood. Was it this that impelled Barney to kill Cameron and almost Jeremy on their thirteenth birthday? Could Barney simply be afraid of a childs' change of life? Jeremy had little time to ponder these questions, for as he cleared the landing, he came across a Loved One. The creature paused for a moment, confused. Jeremy, hoping his human features were not visible to the bloated, dwarfed monster, bowed his head and froze. The Loved One responded by gurgling out a few inaudible commands, and notioned Jeremy to follow. The two of them cleared another landing, and entered the circle of musicians playing for the children. Jeremy sat at the edge of the circle, terrified. What did they want him to do? The Loved One who led Jeremy to the circle lifted the lid to a rotting old trunk and produced a flat, tightly-bound drum. He gave it to the boy and notioned for him to sit down. Jeremy sat between two Loved Ones playing the banjo and lute, and began to pound in rhythm with the music. It was a song about eating a balanced diet, and its hypnotic monotony began to entrance Jeremy. He managed to shake it off, though, for he kept thinking about Cameron and what lay in store for the rest of the children. The folds of the cloak hid Jeremy's hands completely, though he knew that he looked extremely undernourished compared to the plump, blubbery creatures around him. On occasion, he caught the Loved One across from him staring, as if it were suspicious. But as long as he kept still and kept playing, Jeremy knew he'd be okay. He began to notice an odd texture about the drum, and upon closer inspection, saw several fine hairs protruding along the surface. In the upper corner of the instrument was a navel. The disguised boy swallowed hard, and kept promising himself he'd be alright. Jeremy lost his self-assurance when he saw Fran making her way down the stairwell. She was still clad in her purple and green pajamas, and had wrapped herself in a Barney blanket. Jeremy could not believe it. Was she reverting back to her unquestioning devotion to the Purple One? Hadn't she believed what he had shown her in the cellar?

"Why, look everyone, it's Fran!" Barney hollered.

Jeremy felt the world falling apart. His sister ran down the stairs and into the crowd of children. "Oh Barney, I've missed you so!"

"Why I've missed you too, Fran. Say 'hello' to Fran, everyone!" said Barney, who cradled the young girl between his fat, stocky arms. The mass of children all waved, and smiled. The young girl hugged the purple dinosaur, a tear rolling down her cheek.

"Barney, are you really doing these terrible things to us? Why must so many of us die?"

The bloated reptile paused for a moment. In the somber lighting of the cavern, one would be uncertain whether the dinosaur's coloration changed to a vibrant shade of scarlet or not. He relaxed his grip on Fran. "Why Fran, I have no idea what you're talking about. I bet you just had a bad dream is all. Don't you know how much I love you? I wouldn't hurt a hair on your head or anyone else's? I think you better get back to sleep, you need your rest!"

Fran stepped back from Barney. "Jeremy never went to China. He said you killed Cameron and tried to kill him. Only because they turned thirteen. Then I saw those things in the nursery, the Loved Ones, and then I saw the girls who were made to bear your-"

"Get this kid to bed!" stammered the dinosaur, his head twitching nervously. "She's obviously had a real bad dream, and that gives me a great idea for a song! Off to bed, Fran, goodnight!"

Jeremy watched as a Loved One rose from the ensemble, it was the one who had been staring at him since he joined the circle. It pulled a set of chains from under its cloak, an iron muzzle hanging from the end. It was going to take Fran back upstairs, back to the White House cellar, where it would see the fire and the dead charred bodies of its kin and suspect that perhaps it was her doing and maybe-

Jeremy stood up and blocked the Loved One's path. It halted, then Jeremy flung back his cloak, revealing his human features. It was long enough to surprise the creature while Jeremy slid out the shotgun and fired. The explosion blossomed into the darkness, splattering the Loved One's ochre against the rest of the musicians. It happened so suddenly that it never issued a scream. It merely flung backwards upon the cave floor, and twitched for another moment. The rest of the Loved Ones in the ensemble scrambled away into the crowd of children, who screamed in terror and surprise. Taking advantage of the moment, Jeremy slid another cartridge into the smoking chamber and reclipped the shotgun. Unfortunately, Barney had seized the moment as well. When Jeremy turned back to face the Beast of Purple, the reptile had seized Fran and clamped his talons along the base of her fragile neck.

"Why Jeremy, what a wonderful surprise! I think you know everyone here, why did you shoot my friend, the Loved One? Don't you know that guns are dangerous? Put it away, Jeremy, and Fran won't be hurt."

"No," replied the boy. "You let her go first. I don't want to kill you Barney, but I'll shoot if I have to. You aren't going to kill any more of us."

Barney giggled. "Look here, everyone. Jeremy is threatening me, your old pal Barney. I've done nothing wrong or bad. It's him, shooting my friends and he'll probably kill us if we're not careful!" It was noticeable that the dinosaur's voice was strained and quivering.

"Let her go!" yelled Jeremy. He looked at the mass of children, huddled in fear on the cavern floor. Many clutched their Barney dolls and looked at him with pleading wide eyes. Jeremy hesitated for a moment, then collected himself as he pictured their delicate skulls littering the back plaza of the White House outside.

Fran struggled, but Barney had a firm grip upon her throat. "I have an idea!" said the plump lizard, "let's sing a song we all know and love. Maybe that will make you feel better, Jeremy." He motioned for the cloaked musicians to come back, and they slowly picked up their instruments and began playing an all-too familiar melody. It was the Barney love song.

"Stop it!" cried Jeremy.

Barney had chosen the song for several reasons. Mainly, it was the most recognized and entrancing song he could arrange. But it was also sufficient to distract Jeremy while a Loved One who was previously guarding the back entrance came around from behind the boy.

I love you...you love me... we're a happy family........

The entire crowd of children joined in, while Barney swayed in rhythm, his hands still clasping Fran's neck. Jeremy was completely disoriented. As he listened to the music, he wished to liberate his sister and the rest of the children, but at the same time, he wanted to join in and sing a chorus himself. Harsh reality awakened the boy when the Loved One grabbed him from behind and clutched for the shotgun.

"Yes, yes, get the gun away from the boy!" commanded the chubby reptile. In his excitement he released his grip from Fran, who ran over to the aid of her brother. The three struggled for control of the weapon, while Barney conducted the body of youngsters who were entirely hypnotized by the music and the dinosaur's swaying.

Fingers clutched for the trigger, while the barrel rocked crazily in many directions. The Loved One kept hitting away at the two children, who were steadily wrenching the gun out of its grasp.

With a great big hug and kiss, from me to you... won't you say-

In a desperate attempt to reclaim the shotgun, the Loved One yanked hard, the trigger meeting flesh and slamming the hammer. The three fell backwards, as Barney's right arm exploded at the elbow.

As Fran pinned the Loved One against the floor, Jeremy pulled out the serrated hunting knife and slid it firmly under the Loved One's chin. It cleared it's oral cavity and the blade tapped the inner surface of the creature's brainpan. The half-human/half-reptile creature gurgled and died immediately.

The multitude of children screamed as Barney slouched forward, clutching his shattered limb, which was spraying pink blood violently upon the floor and himself. The creature fell to his knees, reeled back, and let loose an unearthly howl that echoed frightenly against the ceiling of the cavern. He saw the childrens' fear and realized that his power was endangered. With great effort, Barney regained his composure and desperately pleaded with them.

"Children! Please, don't be afraid! It's still me, your old friend Barney! Don't cower away, don't you know I love you? " He paused and grimaced in agony, then stood up. "Why, I'll take myself to a doctor, and fix me up...remember our songs about doctors, kids? They're our friends....like I'm your friend...." The children cowered even further when he leaned toward them, his hand clumsily clenching the broken, bleeding end of his forearm. "Dammit, you worthless little bastards, come back to me! Come back to me!" The creature hissed and growled at the children in frustration, then shifted his gaze upon Jeremy and Fran, who were watching in horrified astonishment.

"You sniveling little brat-bastard! It's your fault! You came to rob me of my precious children, and murdered my spawn! I'll kill you and your slut-sister!"

Jeremy gaped in terror as he looked at the squalid purple creature, gasping in pain and hate. Barney's eyes had taken on an evil, reptilian look and his teeth, once clean and smooth-edged, were now jagged and yellowish. The creature rose on its haunches and plodded towards the boy. Jeremy instinctively raised the shotgun, leveled it at Barney's face, and pulled the trigger.

The round sputtered and smoked. The cartridge was a dud. The next moment the purple monster lunged upon Jeremy, his thick talons sinking into the boy's chest and legs. Jeremy screamed and thrashed wildly, trying to keep the dinosaur's teeth away from his soft stomach. The creature cursed and began muttering guttural phrases and sounds. The boy frantically hit at Barney's eyes and snout, while the reptile thrashed away at his clothing, tearing away the cloak and dousing the child in pink, pasty blood.

"I'm going to rip every ounce of flesh from your bones, boy! I'm going to break your spine and eat you alive, I'm going to take your lungs and wrap them around my-"

The next instant, a clap of thunder broke through the frenzy. The fat dinosaur's body shuddered and froze. It rolled off of Jeremy and fell upon its back. A thin trickle of blood seeped from its nostrils and its entire body slumped. Jeremy staggered back upon his feet and saw his sister standing before him, clutching the pistol he had given her earlier outside the White House plaza. Thin blue smoke rolled lazily out of the barrel.

"I shot Barney, Jeremy," said Fran. "......I shot Barney".

Jeremy put his arms around her and gave her a firm hug. They stood there for a moment in silence. Then they both turned and cautiously made their way over to the fat, blubbery body of Barney.

The creature's breathing was faint and raspy. Tears flowed from the corners of his eyes. Blood seeped from underneath him, and his body was getting cool and wet. He cocked his head towards the children, fixing his gaze upon the two, and muttered sadly, "Why won't you love me anymore?" The next instant he was dead.

Fran dropped the gun to the floor, and leaned against the cavern wall. "I want to go home".

Jeremy examined his wounds and looked back upon the crowd of children, who stood in silence. "We'll go home", he said. He motioned the rest of the children to follow him and his sister up the rocky stairwell.

As dawn broke over the desolate horizon, Jeremy led the children out of the caverns. The children huddled in awe and amazement. Many hadn't seen the light of day for years.

Day Of The Barney II: Aftermath - Epilogue

It was five years ago that Jeremy and his sister Fran had killed the Purple One. Barney, propagator of lies and false love, had met his fate at the hands of two children on the verge of adulthood. Now the world was returning to normal.

Jeremy sat at the window of the coffee shop, sipping hot chocolate and watching the cars drive by. In the distance he saw the familiar silhouette of the Capitol building, which was now restored to its pristine white and cleared of the horrors that lay within. The White House, though completely destroyed, was being steadily rebuilt since the cellar had been cleared of its ghastly debris.

The waitress came by with the check, he placed a couple of dollars upon the table and left, waving to her and smiling. Though he had not learned her name, she and her husband had been among the first of adults they had met when the children left the caverns. It had been an awkward encounter; it seemed that the adults were as fearful of the children as they had been of them. But as time passed on, life resumed its rightful path and many families were reunited. While many adults had been killed during the Great Act of Love, many more had escaped the onslaught by prowess, chance, or in many cases, mercy. Barney's influence had destroyed many adults, but several had seen the evil early and prepared for the holocaust.

As Jeremy walked down the sidewalk, he was greeted warmly by many of the shopkeepers and businesspeople, it was widely acknowledged that he had played a major part in the Purple One's downfall. His sister Fran had her share of admirers too, in fact she still received invitations to this function and that, along with the occasional wedding proposal from men she had never even met.

While Jeremy and Fran had yet to discover what had happened to their parents during the Great Act of Love, they remained hopeful that one day they would be reunited. But for now, the two lived together in a comfortable duplex on the east side of town. Checking his watch, Jeremy waited at the corner and boarded the bus a few minutes later that would take him home. The bus was filled with adults, and he took comfort in that.

Were it not for some of the rubble and missing adults, it would almost appear that Barney never even existed. Then again, city ordinance made every step to make it appear so. Once the government was refounded, it was unanimously decided that all Barney and Baby Bop paraphernelia was to be promptly and completely destroyed. The color purple would never be quite a popular color again, unless it was a distinct shade different from that of Barney.

Then there was the question of the Loved Ones. It was hoped that many were killed during the destruction of the nursery. It was also hoped that most were in the caverns at the time they were sealed off by carefully arranged explosions last summer. A bounty was placed for any Loved One captured, dead or alive. A few had been taken in, but they were always dead and cold by the time they were brought in. Most hunters couldn't stand the sight of the creatures, and destroyed them out of a sense of loathing. It was also reported that some parents were telling their children that Loved Ones still survived in the city sewers, and that if they were bad, the creatures would come at night and take them away. Jeremy didn't know what to make of that.

The bus arrived at a cool, shady intersection and stopped. Jeremy stepped out and made his way home. Upon unlocking his door, Jeremy was met by an unusual sight: two birthday cakes sitting on the table, their candles lit and shining bright. On the other end of the table sat Fran, smiling.

"Happy Birthday, Jeremy".

He laughed. "It's not our birthday, what are you-" He paused. There were thirteen candles on the cake.

"I though it was time for a real celebration. Then maybe we can plan to send you to China for real", she said, pushing the cake towards him. Jeremy sat in silence. Words escaped him. He looked back at her, made his wish, and blew out the candles. A moment later, she did the same. The two siblings looked at each other, and laughed.

"Thirteen," she said.

"Thirteen," he answered.


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