The Green Room
(2006) 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.
By White Queen
Doc, Caje, and Littlejohn were playing poker around a round card table set up in the main area. They had just anted up for their first hand when Kirby burst through the front door, skidded on the floor, and barely caught his balance.
"Hey!" Caje said. "Slow down -- we've only just started. Pull up a chair." He pointed to the fourth rickety folding chair.
"We got a problem," Kirby announced, breathing hard, as if he'd been running away from a rabid porcupine.
"You out of dough again?" Littlejohn rolled his eyes. "I guess I can spare a few bucks to stake you."
"No, that ain't it." Kirby was still panting. "Where's Sarge?"
"I was taking a nap," came a grumpy voice from the barracks. Saunders walked into the main room, rubbing a hand through his very messy hair. "Now what?"
"It's White Queen," Kirby said. "I think she's lost it."
"Lost what?" Caje asked. "It's not like her to lose things."
Saunders swallowed, suddenly very worried. "You don't mean the key," he said, his voice hoarse. "She hasn't lost the key to the stockade, has she?"
"How should I know?" Kirby threw his hands above his head. "She's lost her marbles! Her mind! I tell you, she's turned into a total fruitcake!"
The poker players suddenly lost all interest in their game. Littlejohn and Doc looked as worried as Saunders. Caje lit up a cigarette, but his fingers trembled a little.
"What makes you think she's crazy?" Saunders asked.
"She's wandering around out there in the woods talking to herself," Kirby explained. "When I approached her, she patted me on the head and told me I was a good little guy and I should stop being so sad all the time, and a bunch of other nonsense."
Saunders wasted no time. "That doesn't make her crazy, but this does sound serious. I want all of us out there searching right now, got it? Except Doc. Doc stays here. Whoever finds her brings her back here." He clapped his helmet to his head and snatched his Thompson from the weapons rack.
"Uh, Sarge, do you think that's necessary?" Doc asked, gesturing to the submachine gun.
"You never know who else might be out there. We're not the only Green Room in these woods." Saunders opened the door and slipped out into the sunshine. Caje, Kirby, and Littlejohn followed.
Two hours later, Saunders returned. He re-entered the Green Room slowly, putting one tired foot in front of the other. "Really coulda used that nap," he muttered to himself.
"Sarge!" Doc hurried in from the barracks. "Any luck?"
"None." Saunders grimaced and opened the icebox. "I'll go out again in a minute. Just needed a little pick-me-up."
Lt. Hanley strode into the room from his tiny office across the hall from the barracks. "You might want to make that a very quick pick-me-up, Sergeant," he announced.
"Why's that, sir?" Saunders asked, popping the top off a bottle of Coke by hooking the bottle cap on the edge of the counter and smacking it with the heel of his hand.
"We have another situation."
"Not another writer gone berserk and gotten lost, I hope." Saunders took a long pull from the green glass bottle.
"Worse." Hanley paused dramatically, then said, "Brockmeyer escaped."
Saunders stood very still. He swallowed his mouthful of cola and blinked several times. "He what?"
Saunders protested, "But we had him in the stockade under lock and key--" He stopped, shook his head, and said, "Oh. She wouldn't dare."
Hanley placed a reassuring hand on Saunders's shoulder. "White Queen wouldn't. No matter how amok she's run."
Saunders shook his head again. "She'd dare, all right."
"You know she wouldn't -- she loves you."
Saunders closed his eyes. "I'm not talking about White Queen."
"Oh. The other one," Hanley said, resigned.
"You know a woman who isn't?"
"One. But that Thompson Girl -- she might have found where White Queen hid the key. Those two think an awful lot alike." Saunders drained the rest of his Coke and thumped the empty bottle on the counter. "There's no time to lose."
"Relax -- neither of them are writing first season stories right now. Brockmeyer can't worm his way into more scenes if they're not writing his season."
"Oh no?" Saunders gave Hanley the look that meant, Shows how much you know. "Didn't he manage to get himself mentioned in The Reckoning? If White Queen's suffering from what I think she's got, there's no telling what might happen. I'm not leaving her out there a second longer; we have to find her before Brockmeyer does. She's still got to put the finishing touches on Finders, Keepers, after all."
Hanley's eyes widened. "She did threaten to replace me in that if I didn't cooperate more." He strode to the weapons rack and pulled down his carbine. "You're right, there's no time to lose." He and Saunders rushed out the door, leaving Doc alone.
Doc shook his head. "Those Atlanta Reconites tried listing overacted moments, but I think overreactions are even worse. More dangerous, anyway."
The door to the Green Room opened and in walked Billy Nelson, leading White Queen by the hand.
The fanfic writer babbled, "...and then Johnny Depp asked if he could borrow my camera so he could take a picture of his daughter's pink bunny slippers, so of course I gave him my camera, because, hello? Johnny Depp! And as soon as I handed over the camera... "
Billy smiled worriedly, held up a hand to warn White Queen to pause, and bellowed, "Sarge!" as loudly as he could. The word echoed off the walls of the empty Green Room.
White Queen returned Billy's smile by beaming beatifically. She continued her story right where she'd left off: "...he turned into a big green frog wearing a blue turtleneck. Dreams are so weird, aren't they? So I woke up and my teeth felt kind of scummy, so I got out of bed and walked out of the bedroom..."
Doc appeared in the hall that led to the barracks. "You found her? We'd better let Saunders know." He ran to the main door, flung it open, and called out into the night, "Sarge! Sarge! She's safe!"
Two seconds later, Saunders and Hanley trotted up, both looking very relieved.
Doc shook his head. "I'll never get over how sound carries around here."
"Or how distances shorten when you want them to," Hanley agreed.
Saunders ignored them both and started to hand his Thompson to Hanley, then changed his mind and put it on the table across the abandoned poker game.
White Queen was still at it: "...I realized I'd forgotten to bring my towel with me, but fortunately I hadn't taken off my pajamas yet, so I just went out of the bathroom again and opened the door to the linen closet and there was my purple towel, you know, the one Aunt Mary gave me for my college graduation..."
"Sarge? Is she gonna be okay?" Billy asked, keeping a protective hand on White Queen's arm.
Saunders sighed. "It's okay, Billy. I know what's wrong with her."
Billy brightened, obviously relieved. "Really?"
"Sure." Saunders walked closer and held out a hand to White Queen. "Poor kid -- it's the I.N.S."
"Huh?" Billy looked more confused than ever. "What have the Immigration and Naturalization Services done to her?"
White Queen took Saunders's hand and gazed adoringly into his blue eyes. "Hello!" she prattled. "It's you! I was looking for you, but I must have gotten losted in those trees, so I was just walking around and around until Billy must have heard me talking. I found Kirby and asked him where you were but then we got kind of sidetracked because I was telling him how he needs to stop making my mom think he's sad because sad is just not going to work for my next story..."
Saunders nodded and patted her hand gently. "I.N.S. means Incoherent Narrative Syndrome," he explained to Billy. "It's usually brought on by too little sleep, too much caffeine, and a deadline." He looked at Doc. "You know what we need."
"Right." Doc disappeared into the Green Room's store room. He reemerged with a syringe and a tiny clear vial of liquid. "This should do it," he said.
"Good Story serum?" Hanley inquired from over near the weapons rack where he was putting their guns back where they belonged. "I've never actually seen that used. This should be interesting."
"Best thing for it," said Doc.
"A shot?" White Queen asked. "For me?"
"It's your lucky day," Saunders told her, smiling. Before she could squirm or even protest, Doc sidled up to her and jabbed the needle into her arm.
"Hey!" White Queen squealed. Then her eyes closed and she sank to the floor. Saunders took both her hands to ease her descent so she wouldn't hit her head or sprain a finger.
Kirby, Littlejohn, and Caje burst into the room together and saw Saunders kneeling over White Queen's limp body. "What happened?" Littlejohn asked.
"We're too late!" Kirby wailed. "Now she'll never write my story!"
"We couldn't find Brockmeyer," Caje said. "But we heard Doc hollering for you, so we thought maybe we should regroup."
White Queen's eyes slowly reopened and she grinned at Saunders, who was giving her a suitably concerned look.
"I think it worked," Saunders said quietly. "Thanks, Doc." He helped White Queen sit up and patted her shoulder.
Billy moved to Littlejohn's side and explained in a stage whisper, "She had I.N.S. and they gave her a shot of Good Story serum."
"Oh," chorused Littlejohn, Kirby, and Caje.
White Queen smiled around at all of them, opened her mouth, and sang, "I am the monarch of the sea, the ruler of the Queen's navy! Whose praise Great Britain loudly chants--"
Hanley gasped. "Now she's got Delusions of Grandeur!" he moaned. "I hear that's highly contagious! We'd better stay away from her -- we might catch it."
Kirby tried to suppress a guffaw, with mixed success.
Hanley ignored Kirby. "Is there anything you can give her for this, Doc?"
"The eggs and the ham and the strawberry jam," White Queen sang helpfully. "The rollicking bun and the--"
Saunders put a gentle finger to her lips to shush her. "Doc, can I see that serum bottle?"
"I swear, I've never seen this happen," Doc said, handing the vial to Saunders. "I've treated plenty of fanfic writers for I.N.S. and this stuff never fails."
"Aha!" said Saunders. "This isn't Good Story serum. It's marked G&S, not GS."
Doc snatched the vial back and squinted at its label. "So that's it! Well, I'll be a son of a sea cook!"
White Queen flung her arms wide, nearly smacking Saunders in the jaw, and sang, "So give three cheers and one cheer more for the former captain of the Pinafore!"
"It's Gilbert & Sullivan serum," Doc explained. "Gives you total knowledge of their works. Only problem is, you can't seem to stop singing their songs." He frowned. "Spike must have accidentally mixed up the vials when he borrowed my medic kit the other night."
"Spike, huh?" growled Saunders. "Why'd he borrow your med kit?"
White Queen warbled, "Wilfred shot him in the head and he's very, very dead and it matters very little whether stone or lump of lead, for it's very, very certain that he's very, very dead!"
"Er, something like that," Doc said. "Gunn got bored and wanted to put on a production of The Mikado once, but he didn't want to do it alone, so they developed this G&S serum for him so everyone else could join in. It's temporary -- should wear off in a couple of hours."
"A couple hours?" Billy squeaked. "She's gonna sing weird songs like that for hours?"
White Queen waved to him and sang, "The time creeps on apace."
"We need to catch the jailbird," Saunders reminded everyone. He looked at White Queen pityingly. "And if I happen to run into that Spike while I'm out there...."
"Bullets don't kill him," Billy reminded him.
"No, but it'd make me feel better!" Saunders stood up, but didn't move to the door. He looked down at White Queen and frowned. "Then again, no telling what might happen to her in this condition."
Hanley pulled his carbine back down from the weapons rack. "Don't worry, Saunders, I'll catch Brockmeyer -- I think I know just where he is. You stay here and guard her so she can't fall under his influence if he comes back here while I'm gone." He strode to the door and flung it open dramatically.
Caje and Kirby looked at White Queen, who was humming a sprightly tune, then at the door. "We'll come with you!" they volunteered. Grabbing Garand and B.A.R., they rushed out the door too.
"Now to the banquet we press," White Queen trilled as they left. "Now for the eggs and the ham!"
"She sounds hungry," Billy whispered to Littlejohn. "Think we should make her a sandwich? She keeps singing about ham."
Littlejohn shook his head. "Maybe she's just been spending too much time with the lieutenant," he suggested.
"Oh, yeah, and Kirby too," Billy agreed. "Good point."
Saunders opened the icebox. "I know just what she needs," he said. He reached inside and extracted a fresh bottle of Coke.
White Queen took one look at it and sang, "Aha! Aha! A pretty stiff jorum of tea!" As soon as Saunders had popped the top off for her, she began to guzzle it greedily.
Billy glanced at Littlejohn. Littlejohn glanced at Billy. "Uh, Sarge?" Billy said. "We'll go hunt Brockmeyer too." They grabbed their rifles and made a hasty exit.
Saunders pulled a second Coke from the ice box and raised it toward White Queen in a salute. "To extravagantly convoluted plans," he said.
White Queen stood up and clinked her bottle against his. "To successful convoluted plans!" She grinned and flopped down on the couch. "Alone at last!" Then she hiccupped twice, sang, "Night has spread its pall once more," and frowned. "How long is this singing thing supposed to last?"
"Just another hour or so," Saunders assured her. "And you'll only sing if you keep talking." He sat down next to her on the couch.
White Queen smiled and set her Coke bottle on the floor. "Who needs to talk?"