Hotel Mario: Revisited

By Heavy Mole

Looks are Deceiving, When Koopas are Involved; or, Itís Not Easy Being Green:

With the princess securely in his clutches, Bowser Koopa felt assured that his latest plot to dispatch the Marios would proceed, as is said, without any bumps along the way; he did not suspect that her sudden disappearance would quickly become conspicuous to the already exasperated Mushrooms living in Castle Toadstool.

In sympathy with his exasperated impulses, and with the prompting of his old companion Toadsworth, Toad was invigorated to action and set aside a raging dinner dispute to search for the missing princess.

As for the Koopas, it seemed that the family was ready and eager to take the hotel scheme to its next logical step (whatever that might have been). After the plan was revealed for the vague, eliptical strategy it was, however, the children became disconcerted. Moreover, they were unaware that Toad had just made his way into town, and was about to discover a lead that would further ďruffle the feathersĒ of this new Koopa plot...
 

"Sorry about that wait. Hereís your short stack... oh, and I got you this morningís paper, too."

Toad looked up from the placemat maze he had been assiduously working through and acknowledged the waitress. "Hey, thanks Mel."

She set the pancakes on the counter and handed Toad his paper. He quickly skimmed through and, finding what he wanted, discarded the remainder without a thought. Having satiated her customer, Mel returned to the kitchen to resume her duties.

Toad reached for his glass and took a sip.

"Ugh..." he said, recoiling slightly. "Shouldía got da milk instead..."

This was a typical dilemma for Toad when he ate at IHOP. Milk and orange juice were the only suitable beverages to have with something like pancakes, and the choice between the two seemed clearer from a distance; orange juice seemed more appropriate at night, he reasoned, since it feels so peculiar to have milk after daylight. Apparently, this was not the case.

The beverage question was merely one of several potential problems involved with eating at the self-proclaimed International House of Pancakes. When first he heard of it, Toad espoused the idea of a twenty-four hour breakfast diner. At the time, he believed that this franchise may have been the next big thing in chain restaurants. After a few years of patronage, however, his enthusiasm had waned; his new verdict was that the concept was... okay . Thatís as far as he would go with it, though. And while breakfast at night was a novelty, milk after dark seemed to be taking it overboard.

In any case it was a most acceptable alternative to Dunkiní Donuts and especially Tim Hortonís (which seemed to be masquerading under several different monikers). Besides, he had become good friends with the waitress, whose company he had been enjoying on a weekly basis for a period of several months. Nestled with a stack of pancakes and the Sunday funnies, this fruit drink was a wedge in his bunch of bananas.

"Hey, Mel!"

After a few seconds, Mel came out to address his concern.

"What?"

"Hey... uh... can I get some milk insteadía dis?" he said, looking down at the glass.

Mel gave him a perplexed look. "Is there... something wrong with it?"

"No... no, itís just... ya know..."

"No, what?"

"Well..." Toad thought of what to say. "I don't know... orange juice is just so strong ... it's the drink ya always regret gettin', ya know?."

"... Okay. Iíll just get you some milk-"

"Hey, Mel, I got a question for ya," Toad interrupted.

"... Okay."

"I always wondered... are you related to Toadette?"

Mel groaned, and became noticeably vexed. "Toad, look, I donít have time for this-"

"Nah, itís just a quick yes or no-"

"Okay." Mel paused for a moment. "No... no. Iím not. Not in any way. Donít even let the thought enter your head-"

"No need ta get upset, I was just askiní-"

"No, you know what, Toad? I get this question all the time. Just because Iím a girl, and Iím a Mushroom, I must be related to Toadette, right?"

"..."

"You know what? I donít even really know Toadette. Never met her. But still , everyone always asks Ďoh, is Toadette niceí? Or, Ďare you two best friendsí?"

"Well, uh..."

"I am sick and tired of living in her shadow! There is no connection between us!"

"All right, geez, sorry..."

Mel stormed into the kitchen to get a glass of milk. Toad looked away and went back to Beetle Bailey, figuring it would cheer him up. A moment later, she came back in.

"... Look... listen, Toad," she sighed, "I... Iím sorry... Iíve been under a lot of pressure lately and I guess I just snap sometimes..."

"Hey, donít worry about it," he replied, taking the milk. "We all got Ďdem days. Just look at da mother from Family Circus... thereís usually always somethiní wrong goiní on wití her life... but she always handles it with a smile and a quip. Aícourse itís also kinda creepy Ďcause ya know she must be suicidal or somethiní."

The waitress gave a gentle nod. "Itís... really sort of pathetic that the only life advice you have to give me is based on a Sunday morning comic strip..."

Toad made a gesture with his right hand, conceding the verity of Mel's observation.

She shrugged. "I donít even like Family Circus, to be honest-"

"Yeah, I was just using it as an example, I know itís... not that great..."

They paused for a moment.

"Cathy is pretty good," Mel stated. "I like Cathy-"

"Cathy? Ehk... too much emotional baggage... I can't take something like that in the morning."

"Humph. And I suppose youíd prefer Garfield?"

"Hmm..." mused Toad, with an expression of pensive astonishment. "Little bit too much shtick for me... and besides, I canít even look at it without being reminded of dat awful video game..."

"Oh, I heard about that..."

"Wizard of Id is all right. I really think a lotta people overlook it Ď Ďcause itís in that Prince Valiant zone..."

"Where you have no idea whatís going on, and thereís not a shred of hope that youíll find out!?"

"Yeah!"

Both fungi indulged in a hearty laugh, which was followed by a slightly awkward pause.

"Er... so..."

"Uh... what about Marmeduke?"

"Oh, well..." Toad began in a dignified tone, "I can always appreciate the antics of a gangly mutt, but I can never tell what it says in dat last cell. And frankly I donít care."

Toad leaned on the counter and gave the strip a contemptuous glance.

"See, look at dis!" he exclaimed, holding the paper up for the waitress to see. "In this strip, Marmeduke gets caught by the dog catcher in a potato sack! What a yutz!"

Mel suddenly became thoughtful.

"Actually... Bowser came in here today with one of his kids, and they had a potato sack with something in it."

This was piquant information for the Mushroom. Attempting to quell any sort of panic before it began, Toad asked further.

"Huh. Did he say anything, like, what he was doing, where he was going?"

"Well, first he was going on some diatribe about how, if he were in charge, one of the first things he would do is take the pretzels out of Chex Mix..."

"Well it makes sense. I mean, if ya wanted pretzels ya could just buy pretzels... Wow, that would be an amazing snack..."

Toad shook his head and took a sip of his milk.

"... Anyway..." she continued with slight irritation, "he started telling his son, in some detail if I recall, about how when he got the sack back to the castle that Ďall the gears would fall into placeí. He would have gone on more, too, if his kid hadnít told him to stop... It was quite a scene, actually..."

"Huh..."

"Why did you wanna know? Is there something going on?" Toad folded his paper and set it on the counter. "... Mel, I gotta run. Put dis on my tab..."

"Toad, there is no tab at IHOP. Please stop telling me to put things on it, itís getting annoying."

"Fine," he sighed. "Well, what does it come to?"

"$5.25."

"Erg... Okay..."

Toad retrieved an overstuffed wallet from his blue trousers and began to rifle through it.

"Iím sorry. I really gotta clean dis thing out..." he murmured to himself.

"Itís okay, take your time."

He continued to look through his junk-upholstered wallet. While he was able to appropriate the bills, he had some difficulty collecting the precise change.

"Letís see... gotta have a dime in here somewhere. Hold on..."

Unable to find what he needed in his wallet, Toad began to search his pockets.

The Mushroom had always been a bit apprehensive about going deep into these apertures; experientially, deposits of lint always tended to form there, and for our fellow, there were few feelings more disagreeable than accidentally picking up a soupcon of lint.

"... I hate lint." He groaned, looking up at the waitress. "Ya know da weird thing about lint? Itís always more disgusting the less there is of it."

Mel humored the Mushroom with a nod.

"I mean, itís great when thereís a lot of it... Ya know dat feeling when you peel away the dryer lint? Yeah..." said the Mushroom with a wistful sigh. "If you got like a big pile of dat stuff, I would just jump in... it would be incredible..."

The search continued. Still, no luck.

Toad proceeded to fumble around as he waited for the waitress to excuse him this small change. As a friend of Melís, and a patron of long standing, he believed this to be fair dispensation.

However, he suddenly found a dime in one of his back pockets.

"Oh! Here ya go! Iíll see ya later!"
 

As happened from time to time, Roy found himself wrestling with insomnia. There were few things that made him more uneasy than a sleepless night, which, of course, only compounded his problem; his fear of not falling asleep kept him awake. Having only just drifted off, he was suddenly disturbed as someone's quiet knocking punctured the stillness of the room.

"Roy... R-o-o-o-o-y!" came a voice from behind the door.

Sitting up, the shaded Koopaling glanced at the doorway, interrogating it in minor disbelief. Subtly aware of his dozy stupor, he wasnít prepared to rule out the possibility that he had simply imagined the knocking, or the voice.

"Hey," he mumbled, "who's there? Is dat you, Salesman?"

Forsooth, there was more knocking. Sobered by reality, Roy became irritated; who had the guts to disturb his, without this, already disturbed slumber?

"What? Whadídya want?!"

A face poked in through the doorway. It was Wendy.

"Roy, I had a nightmare..." she began in a whisper.

"Oh, for cryiní out loud..."

Wendy ambled in and, aware of the inconvenience she was causing her brother with his occasional sleeping trouble, gingerly seated herself at the foot of his bed.

"... It was about the Marios again," she continued. "I dreamt that they came and did terrible things... First they killed Bowser, and then they came after us... hunting us like we were animals... just, no empathy in their empty stare..."

Wendy presented her case before Roy, in the hope that it would justify her unexpected visit and, at the same time, assuage her brotherís aggravation.

"Eh... you were probably drinkiní orange juice before you went to bed again..." Roy concluded.

"Well, I didnít want to have milk."

"Why?"

"Itís weird-"

"Whatís da problem? Just have milk..."

"Itís weird having it at night..." his sister whined. "I donít like it... and itís got that horrible aftertaste... it just stays with you all night... itís like it goes sour in your mouth..."

Roy groaned. "Geez, whatever." He impatiently waited for his sister to continue.

"... Well... can I stay with you tonight?"

"No, no," Roy objected, "weíre not doiní this again-"

"Come o-o-o-n!"

"All right, look, I know this plan stinks, but thereís a- wait..."

Roy stopped mid-sentence and perked his head. He could faintly hear what seemed to be the sound of someone quietly screaming, which was gradually becoming louder.

"What the..."

Suddenly, in a green flash, they saw Bowser running by the doorway Wendy had left open, clutching his leg.

"CHARLIE HORSE! CHARLIE HORSE!!!"

Both Koopalings paused, staring at the doorway. After a moment, Roy continued.

"Yeah, so da plan stinks. It's lookin' pretty ugly..." He paused and thought for a moment. "Iíve already asked Ludwig what we should do, and we came up with a plan of our own."

"What is it?"

"Okay, look. Well, the whole thing is we use da princess to get da Marios to come to our... Ďhotelsí - which by da way Iím still not sure what to make of - and once theyíre in there, they get lost, or killed or somethiní, right?

"Yeah?"

"Well, if castles ainít gonna stop da Marios, what in da world is a hotel gonna do? I mean, you tell me!"

Wendy shrugged, and waited for Roy to continue.

"All right, so hereís da Ďplaní so far: we capture da princess, and basically wait for da Marios to come to our hotels and kill us. And... whateverís in those hotels is basically just puttiní off da thrashiní, making it like torture."

"..."

"It gets betta. Since we gotta wait for the other Koopalings to drop da princess off if they fail, in no specific order, that means we canít go anywhere, either. And since we canít go anywhere, we have no idea whatís going on - if the other Koopalings failed, or succeeded, or are lyiní  in pools of their own blood or something."

"Roy, Iím really scared!" said Wendy, with a quivering voice.

Noticing that his sister was beginning to get upset, Roy moved over to console her.

"Itís all right, Baby Sis, I gotta plan, remember?"

Wendy looked up at Roy.

"Ludwig told me that, we let the plan start out as normal, to avoid upsettiní Dad. Bowserís gonna tell us tomorrow morning who gets da princess first, so... I go and wait by their hotel, and instead of waiting for Ďdem to drop off the princess, I take her myself."

"Okay..."

"Da Marios come to my hotel," he went on to explain, "and I just give up da princess. Weíre done. Then we can just say that the plan failed."

"Do you think itíll work?"

"Well," said Roy with an air of uncertainty, "we can only hope."

"Do the others know about this plan?"

"They donít need to. And we want this to be as believable as possible, so..."

"Okay, okay."

"... Feel better?" Roy asked.

"I guess... I just hope Iím not the first Koopaling..."

"I kinda hope itís Lemmy..." affirmed the pink-headed Koopa kid.

"Nah, I think Larry."

"Oh come on! Youíre telliní me youíd rather see Larry die a tortured death than Lemmy?"

"Well, I mean, if I had to choose..." said Wendy, nonchalantly. "He just obsesses over things, itís annoying."

"Well, yeah, but Lemmy complains a lot. He says that Iím a jerk because I wear sunglasses indoors."

"Okay, so ya want him dead Ďcause he called ya a jerk?"

"I donít want him to die," Roy explained, "just... in a situation where one of us had to go, it should be him. Hit for da team. Datís all Iím sayiní."

"Well, hopefully it works out for one of us."

"Yeah."

A brief pause followed.

"Well, I guess I should head back..." yawned Wendy.

"Yeah, yeah, go get some sleep or somethiní."

"All right. Good night, Roy, and thanks."

"Yeah, whatever..."

Wendy got up and left the room, allowing Roy to resume his familiar struggle.
 

Meanwhile, cloaked under the shade of a moonless night sky, a pair of travel-weary capricorns confronted the drawbridge of Castle Koopa.

"Well, here we are!" Toad announced.

The Mushroom's companion nodded, poised himself, and raised his staff toward the entrance of the castle; he commanded it to open with a theatric flair, and, suddenly, a transparent ray fired from the staff, encompassing the drawbridge. The door gradually began to lower and, before long, the castle was accessible, even to a Mushroom.

"Hey, thanks Skeletor!"

"Oh, anytime Toad. But you remember the deal..."

"Yeah, yeah," conceded the Mushroom. "Iíll have da princess waive da gambling debts..."

Skeletor began to roll his fingers menacingly. "Yes... and with those debts out of the way, He-man is as good as finished!" he cackled.

"Yeah, hehe..." Toad returned, in nervous, mock laughter.

"HAHAHA!"

"..."

"... Well," Skeletor said, as his laughter petered out, "I guess I'll be off..."

"Hey, uh, Skeletor, could ya do me a favor?" Toad asked.

"Er... maybe..."

"Well," Toad continued, somewhat bashfully, "I always wanted ta dance on a drawbridge as it was being pulled up, like dat guy from Castlevania IV, so..."

"Hmm..." Skeletor thought. "Well, I guess I could do it, but, uh..."

"How would I, uh..."

"Yeah, how would you get back out of the castle..."

"Hmm... Guess not."

There was an awkward pause.

Toad chuckled to himself. "Hey... good thing it wasnít a portcullis, eh?"

"Yeah, yeah," Skeletor replied, nodding.

"... Well, anyway-"

"Yeah, I got stuff I gotta do... so..."

"All right... well, see ya later..."

After much lingering, the two parted ways. Toad turned on his heels and made his way into the entrance of the castle.

Although, for many years now, a relatively large family had been dwelling under its roof, Castle Koopa ached from neglect. There were piles of junk everywhere; abandoned home-renovation projects greeted the traveler sporadically; litter boxes were scattered about the hall, despite the fact that (to Toadís knowledge) the Koopas didnít own any cats; most of the walls were bedaubed with mildew, giving the space an unmistakable scent. As he perambulated down the hall, Toad couldnít help noticing that one of the rooms was actually engulfed in a raging fire; evidently, someone had simply sealed it off with a few sandbags, as if they intended to come back to it.

Most of the traps that had once been lain for the Marios were decrepit and out of use. Miniature statues of Bowser, which once fired laser beams at unsuspecting trespassers, were now as addled and disfunctional as two-year-old Digipets.

Mountains of soda cans and pizza boxes suggested that the old labyrinths were now only used for X-Box LAN parties, and the only Dry Bones Toad encountered were literally dry bones. Even the Whomps had gotten lazy.

"Eh, whatever..." mumbled a Whomp who refused to fall as Toad passed under him.

As the Retainer began to reflect on how awkward it must have been for the Koopas to run into these old minions, he (literally) stumbled across a cardboard box. After he scanned the room to be certain he hadnít accidentally signaled his arrival to anyone in the household, he began to rummage through its contents.

While he had been in more than one tiff with the Koopas, the Mushroom actually knew very little about this odd family of naked reptiles.

Inside the box he found a few pictures; among them, Bowser sharing a drink with Pete from Goof Troop; Ludwig, holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa; Larry, vigorously throwing a pie at his sister as she came out of the bathroom; Bowser, in celebration mode after striking Junior out in a Little League game; a family photograph at Chuck E. Cheeseís (Toad noted, with interest, that only two of the children were crying, the fewest he had hitherto seen in a Chuck E. Cheese photo); some miscellaneous photographs of the kids goofing around with dad; and what appeared to be the family at some sort of funeral service.

Toad was encouraged to go on.

There was a small autograph book, comprised mostly of Disney mascot signatures.

There was another one from Vegeta, with a dedication: Youíve come a long way, honey.

The bottom of the box was lined with what appeared to be a large assembly of discarded Fatherís Days presents, which included several ties, some crude pieces of pottery (one featuring the inscription ďBest Dad in the WorldĒ), and even a pitifully misshapen ashtray. Toad knew that the Koopa King would do anything for his kids, yet, still, he was surprised he had given up smoking for them.

Toad decided that, for now, his curiosity had been satisfied, and proceeded to return the aforementioned belongings back to their place. Besides, it was time to get the lead out - it was starting to get late, or rather, early.

"Princess? P-r-i-n-c-e-s-s..."

With his vision impaired by darkness, Toad slowly poked his way around the vacuous great room of Castle Koopa.

"Hey, are ya there?"

Suddenly, he heard the sound of a muffled plea off in the distance. Though he had no way of being certain it was the princess, the Mushroom decided to take his chances; it may have been, after all, one of the Koopasí disaffected minions, or worse - another hostage. For Toad, this meeting would have just been uncomfortable and awkward.

As he made his way forward, with a sense of relief, he recognized Peachís inimitable whimpering.

"Hold on, Princess! Iíll getcha outta there!"

Toad produced a small pocketknife from his trousers. Seeking to avoid any unfortunate mistakes, he deliberated over the safest way to free the princess.

"Letís see, how ta do dis..."

He began to palpate the sack, and discovered that the princess had been incarcerated in a bag of soft wicker material, which was sealed at the top by means of a drawstring.

The Mushroom pulled the top open.

"Oh... Toad... Itís so good to see you..." the princess said, pulling herself free from the sack. "Sorry, but our princess is in another castle..."

"Yeah, uh... Say Princess..."

"... What?"

Toad scratched his head. "I, uh... I went through kind of a lotta trouble to do this, you couldnít... uh..."

"Oh, yeah, thanks a lot!"

"Yeah, youíre welcome, but... I..."

"... What is it?" she said, looking down at her shrimpy savior.

"I, uh... couldnít help but notice..." he said, as he shrugged and gestured at the bag, "ya know, youíre... not tied up or anything, and, uh... youíre just in this flimsy bag..."

"What?" Peach chortled. "You didnít expect me to just escape, did you?"

"..."

"..."

"Well, itís only a potato sack widía drawstring-"

"What are you getting all ticked off about?"

"What am I..." Toad grumbled, becoming exasperated. "Ya know who I had to get to get me in here?"

"Who did-"

"Do you know who? Take a wild guess!"

"... The Marios?"

"Yeah, yeah. Da Marios got me in da castle and just left. Said they had to, uh... I donít know..."

"Why are you being such a grump?"

"Skeletor, Princess. Skeletor."

"Skeletor got you in?"

"Yeah, and by da way, you gotta waive his gambling debts now..." the Mushroom added sarcastically.

"Oh..."

Toad nodded his head. "... Yeah."

"Hmm... whatíll happen to Eternia?"

"I donít care. All da calls I had to make... Sheesh..." Toad put his hands on his hips and shook his head.

"Well, I was sleeping a lot of the time, so..."

"You were sleeping? Oh datís great. It must be nice to just... sleep... Iíd like ta try it sometime..."

"What was I supposed to do?"

Outside, dawn was breaking, and daylight was beginning to delineate the room.

"Well... eh, I guess weíd better get going, before da Koopas get up."

The princess shrugged. "All right... ugh, Iím never gonna get the smell out of this dress..."

As they turned to leave, Toad stopped and made a rather disgusted look.

"What? What is it?" asked the princess.

"I got dis... taste... in my mouth, itís like sour milk or somethiní, itís driviní me nuts..."

The princess looked down at her servant, not sure of what to say.

"Well, when we get back Iím sure-"

"Wait, ya know what... hold on..." Toad began to look around his dimly lit surroundings. "Lemme see if they got somethiní in da fridge..."

"Youíre just going to go into their fridge?"

"What? I already broke into their home. Would gettiní somethiní to drink cross da line?"

"... Eh... I guess not... I just feel really uneasy about it..."

"Well, Iím already here! Ya know? May as well take advantage of the opportunity..."

Toad walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. Though daylight was just starting to penetrate the room, Toadís eyes were not properly adjusted to the fridge light. He was paralyzed for a moment.

"Ah, I hate dis..."

There wasnít much to say for this fridge. It was nearly destitute of anything edible, save a few condiments, a few Tupperware containers filled with leftovers, and - aha!

"Oh, score!"

Toad reached in and pulled out an unopened Nestle Quik. The label said NesQuik, but Toad had always thought the name was pretentious.

"Perfect!"

The Mushroom opened the bottle took a swig. Peach poked her head into the kitchen.

"Oh, ya know what, Princess?"

"What? What are you doing in here?"

"I forgot, we gotta fill dat sack wití somethiní. Ya know, ta fool da Koopas..."

"Oh yeah!"

Toad looked at something in the fridge.

"How Ďbout dis thing?"

He pointed to a large, fetid glass bowl.

"What is it?"

"I donít know. But it looks pretty heavy, and it has dis bowl shape, so..."

"Oh, right, good idea."

The princess carried the bowl over to the empty potato sack and put it inside.

Afterwards, she met up with Toad, and the two prepared to depart.

"Hey, while weíre out, we can go get that bumper sticker. The place should just be opening."

Toad sighed. "Eh... fine, whatever."

And, with that, the two left the castle.
 

"Okay, kids, this is the day!"

Too lazy to chart a map, and too cheap to make copies of it, Bowser had assembled his family in the cockpit of the doomship, where, from a higher vantage point, they would be able to see the arrangement of the hotels in the Mushroom Kingdom for themselves. A cornucopia of expectations and anxieties accompanied their voyage, as diverse as the respective Koopa children which entertained them.

"Here we are," announced the Koopa King. "Have a look at the view..."

The Koopalings each found a window, and awaited further instructions.

"Look around." Bowser pointed to something in the distance. "See that warehouse down there? Roy, thatís your hotel."

"An abandoned warehouse? What th-"

"Yup. Sneaky, isnít it?" giggled the Koopa King.

"Uh, yeah, whatever." Roy chortled in response.

"If you look to your left, you can see an old tree in a clearing..." continued the gleeful turtle tyrant.

"Wow..." Ludwig mused to himself.

"Morton, thatís your hotel."

Morton looked puzzled for a moment. "Oh wait... now I understand how he got these so quickly..."

"Okay, letís see..." chuckled Bowser. "Oh! Up ahead, thereís a sky palace... Lemmy my boy..."

Occupied with a Nintendo DS, Lemmy hadn't heard a word his father had said to him.

"Hey! Lemmy!" his father shouted. "I told you, we don't play our DS while we're carrying out a scheme."

"How would you know, you don't have a DS..." his son replied.

Bowser narrowed his eyes. "That's it, when we get home you're goin' in the dungeon. Are you happy now?"

"How would that make me happy?"

Larry burst into laughter, enjoying the repartee.

"Okay..." Bowser groaned, "Ludwig."

The frilly Koopaling began to giggle.

"You get that old castle over in the corner."

"Wow, pretty creative, Dad..." Ludwig said sarcastically. "Instead of getting a castle you're getting... an old castle."

"Wendy," said Bowser, ignoring Ludwig's quips, "now I know that your shtick is avaricious lust..."

Wendy looked at the others with a shrug.

"... Ya see that casino down there?" he continued.

Wendy stopped dead in her tracks. "Oh... my..."

Bowser smiled. "Thatís yours."

Ludwig finally surrendered to irrepressible laughter. The team stopped and looked over at him.

"This whole thing is a farce, you realize. I think you actually gave me one of the old fortresses we used in a previous plan. Now youíre sending me back there? And have you noticed any discrepancies between old trees and casinos?"

"Just do the job, okay?" replied his father.

Ludwig imitated him. "Just... just do the job..."

"All right," Bowser replied, sighing. "Finally, Larry... you get that abandoned mine..."

"Fine. Can I put something on the shipís PA?" he asked excitedly.

"Uh, yeah, whatever..."

The beady-eyed Koopa eagerly ran over to the CD player.

Bowser clapped his hands together. "Okay, so anyway, weíre gonna kick this off by giving the princess to Morton."

Wendy and Roy gave each other an indifferent look, and shrugged.

"Hehe... Now, letís get started!"

Suddenly, the familiar sound of an FM synthesizer filled the room, and, via the power of a 1995 recording, Hulk Hogan transported the Koopa family back to the eighties.

"Oh my God!" squeaked a valley girl.

"Check out the pulp, brother!" requested Hulk.

"Wanna Nod?" she asked.

"Whatís up, dude?!" he responded, ignoring her.

I was born, I was bred, I was southern fed, got a crazy idea going through my head...

The family looked over at Larry, who was positively giddy.

"I hate you," calmly stated his sister, who was shaking her head.

Itís time for Bowser Koopa to put his money where his mouth is, if he can. With his kids losing faith and his plot sabotaged, can he pull through and save his family? And what will happen to the Marios?

Next time, Tree House of Horror; or, Picnic Day is a Very Dangerous Day.

Read on!

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