The Green Room
(2011) No infringement upon the rightful owners of "Combat!" and the characters thereof, is intended. Any resemblance between real people and the characters in this story is purely coincidental and no insult is intended. This piece of fan fiction is for enjoyment only, and in no way will the author gain monetary profit from its existence.
"These Foolish Games"
by White Queen
"Cut!" yelled White Queen. She strode onto the Green Room's body-strewn battlefield, waving her arms until every one of the soldiers ceased firing. "Okay, that's a wrap."
Kirby rose to his knees. "What do you mean, it's a wrap?"
White Queen ignored him, walking back to the sidelines. She picked up a big shopping bag she'd stashed under a fallen tree and headed back into the faux carnage.
Kirby repeated, "What do you mean, it's a wrap? I thought we were supposed to take this hill, machine gun nest and all!"
"Change of plans," White Queen called back briskly. She walked up to Saunders, who was lying on his stomach in the grass. She leaned over, lovingly removed his helmet, and replaced it with a big brown Stetson she pulled from her shopping bag.
Saunders sat up, pulled the hat off, examined it, nodded approvingly, and put it on again.
White Queen put one hand to her mouth and hollered, "Gather 'round now. Gather 'round!" While she waited for the characters to obey, she settled a worn brown Stetson on her own head.
'Dead' ENGs rose from where they'd fallen in the grass, four extras in German uniforms popped out of the machine gun nest at the top of the hill, and everyone converged on White Queen.
When she was satisfied with her audience, the writer announced, "Change of plans, fellers." She snapped her fingers, and the WWII battlefield surrounding them turned instantly into a prairie, complete with knee-high grasses and two wagon wheel ruts leading off toward a wild west town in the distance.
Braddock looked around. "Huh," he said. "See something new every day."
Littlejohn said, "New? Looks pretty familiar to me."
Braddock said, "No, I mean, I've never seen one of them actually change the landscape. Always seems to happen before I get to the set."
Hanley stepped forward, brushing fake blood from his uniform. "What do you mean, change of plans?" he asked.
White Queen handed him a spiffy black cowboy hat. "I'm done with that story. Time to move on."
"Done?" Kirby demanded. "How can you be done? We never finished the big grand finale!"
White Queen tossed a sweat-stained hat his direction. "Thompson Girl and I are done writing fanfiction. We've got a collaborative Western in the works, and we need all the help we can get, so from here on out, this is the Wild West, pard."
Saunders turned and walked away. He leeeaned against the only tree in sight, lit a cigarette, and scowled at the world in general.
Hanley narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean, ‘done writing fanfiction’?"
White Queen handed the bag of hats to Braddock and put her hands on her hips as she faced Hanley. "Just what I said. Done. It's eating into our writing time; we both need to focus on more lucrative things. Like revising our Nano novels, writing this new Western together, getting our names out there. Our real names."
William Holden and Dana Andrews rode up, Holden on a well-mannered bay, Andrews on a feisty buckskin. Both men were in their Cavalry uniforms. "Heard you needed some help on a Western," Andrews said.
Glenn Ford arrived on horseback from the opposite direction, closely followed by Rudolph Valentino, Sawyer, Ralph Meeker, and Joel McCrea. Ford said, "Heard something about a Western getting started?"
The Barkley brothers rode up over a rise and reined in, surveying the gathering. All three were grinning.
White Queen smiled. "Good news travels fast."
Billy and Doc arrived then, looking around in confusion. Braddock handed them each a hat and explained, "White Queen and Thompson Girl are gonna write a Western. All their fanfic's been cancelled until further notice."
Doc jammed a hat on his head and headed for the gathering of characters. But Billy handed his hat back to Braddock and strode toward Saunders. When he reached the sergeant, he said, "What're you going to do about this?"
Saunders glared at him. "Do? Just what I'm doing now."
"Not nothing. Look at me."
Saunders explained, "I'm leeeaning. I'm smoking. And glaring and brooding. Has White Queen ever been able to resist these things?"
Billy's frown eased. "Ahh."
"Any minute now, she'll come over here, I'll have a little talk with her, and we'll get back to work."
"Got it." Billy wandered away, trying to act casual and failing miserably.
Sure enough, as soon as she'd finished her stare-down with Hanley, White Queen noticed Saunders looking irresistible and headed straight for him. He threw a friendly arm around her shoulders, and the two of them held a brief palaver. It ended with the writer giving Saunders' cowboy hat an affectionate pat before waving her own Stetson in one slow, sweeping arc over her head.
Hanley said, loud enough for most of the characters around him to hear, "I'm not going to stand for this." He jammed the black hat onto his handsome head and began stomping away down the road.
Up rode two strangers, evidently the recipients of White Queen's signal. Both tough-looking customers, they looked like they'd be equally at home on a battlefield or in a barroom brawl. They were leading two saddled horses. No one much noticed the newcomers, that is, not until White Queen swung herself up onto one of the spare horses. Saunders mounted the other and nodded to White Queen.
She called out, "Last one to the saloon is an April Fool!" With a whoop, she lit out for a stand of trees on the horizon, Saunders and the two strangers hot on her horse's heels.
Hanley stopped his angry retreat, turned to the nearest soldier, who happened to be Caje, and said, "Did she just say…"
With a twinkly flash, the prairie disappeared, replaced by verdant fields. A grey stone castle loomed in the background where the town had been. And from the castle came the faint sounds of music and laughter. Women's laughter.
Caje said, "April Fools or not, I'm stormin' the castle."
"Not if I get there first." Hanley took off running, and the rest of the cowboy-hat-wearing soldiers, cavalry officers, and similarly mis-matched characters followed suit.
At the edge of the trees, White Queen had reined in her mount, and now sat with her three companions, watching the stampede. She laughed, long and heartily.
Saunders said, "As April Fools jokes go, I didn't think it was that great." He was still looking a bit grumpy.
White Queen paused her laughing to say, "Oh, I agree. I'm just enjoying watching the lieutenant try to run and remain dignified."
Saunders nearly smiled. "So, about the story getting cancelled…"
"All part of the joke."
"You're not done writing fanfic for good?"
"Of course not." She nodded to the two strangers. "Meet the guest stars of my next story. After your three, of course."
Saunders eyed them. "And who might they be?"
White Queen gestured from him to the others. "Sergeant Saunders, meet James Logan and Victor Creed."
The first one she'd named just scowled and quirked an eyebrow, but the other smiled, baring somewhat elongated eye teeth.
Saunders said, "Don't you think we have enough vampires around here? What're they doing out in the daylight?"
White Queen said, "Oh, no, they're not vampires."
Saunders pointed at the first one. "I know you. You went after our beer a while back."
The stranger raised an eyebrow. "Happen to have any on you now?"
The other man said, "Come on, Jimmy, we've got a plot to percolate." He smiled at White Queen, a familiar sort of smile that made Saunders scowl.
She smiled back, which made Saunders' scowl deepen into an absolute glower.
James Logan nodded to White Queen. "Be seein' you, darlin'." With that, the two of them turned their horses and rode off into the forest.
Saunders said, "I don't like the looks of them."
White Queen watched them ride away, her expression fond. "You don't have to," she said quietly. Then with a little shake of her head, she smiled at Saunders. "Hey, want to watch the fun when I turn that castle back into a cow town?"
"Will it really have a saloon in it? I could use a beer about now."
"It will if you want it to." White Queen snapped her fingers.