Stephanie and Stingy laughed as they ran across the sports field with Ziggy chasing them.
"Wait for me, guys!" Ziggy cried. His cape flapped behind him while he ran.
"We're playing tag, Ziggy, we're not supposed to wait," Stephanie teased him, keeping well out of the little boy's reach. She didn't notice Stingy had quit running in front of her and bumped into him, stopping short.
"Hey, is that Robbie?" Stingy pointed across the way. The skinny man was unmistakable in his stripy suit but the shovel balanced on one shoulder was out of place and made the kids stare.
"What's he doing?" Ziggy asked, catching up to the others. Stephanie grabbed the boy's hand and pulled him along. Retreating behind the near wall they all watched Robbie Rotten as he got to work on his shifty business.
Robbie grunted and heaved to lever a shovelful of dirt over his head. His cheeks puffed out round and red and his arms wobbled under the strain of the load. He spun on his heels with the effort it took to throw the dirt and staggered back into position to continue digging.
"So that's why there's always so many holes in the road," Stingy muttered. "Wait until I tell the mayor about this."
Robbie paused mid-scoop and swiveled his head around. The children ducked under his passing gaze and peered back out once he got back to work.
The man stopped when he was up to his shoulders and wiped at the dirt and sweat on his face. His eyes drooped with heavy bags and the frown lines deepened across his forehead as he hefted the shovel onto the road. Robbie's arms shook as he hoisted himself up, elbows knocking so hard that he almost fell back in. He had to roll onto his side to get clear of the hole and once he was on his back he just lay there wheezing for a time.
Only the noise of approaching footsteps spurred him back into action. The kids exchanged raised eyebrows and shrugs behind the wall while Robbie spread a meager layer of branches and leaves across the open pit and staggered behind the nearest tree to hide.
Trixie and Pixel walked down the road. They had their heads bowed close together over Pixel's latest handheld video game. Robbie squinted at the approaching kids and scowled, slinking back farther behind the tree.
"Psst— Trixie," Stephanie hissed behind the wall. Trixie and Pixel slowed and looked around until they saw the other kids peeking out at them. They changed course, bypassing the covered hole to join their friends.
"Hey, Pinkie." Trixie leaned over the wall. "Are you guys hiding? What's up?"
"It's Robbie," Ziggy whispered. Trixie started to turn but Stephanie grabbed her sleeve.
"Don't look! He's up to something." With a tug Stephanie led Trixie around. Pixel pocketed his game and followed, casting a glance back at the tree. They could all just see Robbie's narrowed eyes scanning the area and his fingers fidgeting with the bark.
"He looks the same to me," Pixel said, "just sneaking around."
"But why is he doing it?" Ziggy asked, and the other kids shushed him.
"Look," Stingy said, "here comes Sportacus."
LazyTown's blue clad hero came into view as he made his morning circuit, running and jumping and flipping through the park. Robbie's eyes flashed at Sportacus' approach, his head bobbing along as he followed the athletic man's antics.
The villain grew more tense with every cartwheel and somersault that brought Sportacus closer to the hidden hole in the middle of the road. Ziggy squirmed and jumped up with a shout on his lips but Stephanie and Stingy already had their hands clapped over his mouth and pulled him back. They released a collective gasp as Sportacus reached the pit running at full speed.
With the tips of his shoes scant centimeters from the edge of the hole Sportacus leapt up into a soaring spiral and flipped head over heels across the road. Robbie's jaw dropped as Sportacus vanished from sight just as quickly as he'd come. While the kids shared a sigh of relief the lanky man reared up from behind the tree with a snarl.
"That jumping blue kangaroo—" Robbie stomped his feet so hard he hopped on the spot. "Every time I think I have him and then, Swish! Bang! Booey!" He balled his hands into fists and shook them over his head, letting out another rasping growl. "What will it take to stop this guy? What do I have to do—?!" Robbie's ranting cut short with a yelp as his foot slid through the latticework of branches covering the hole.
The twigs crackled and snapped and the villain tumbled down into the pit with a strangled howl. The kids ran out from behind the wall and crowded close to the rim.
"Robbie?" Stephanie called down. "Are you okay?"
Robbie shot up from the hole with a cloud of leaves sputtering around him. The kids jumped back as he flailed and scrabbled at the ground to pull himself out.
"No," Robbie groaned through his teeth, "I'm not okay, not with Sporta-FLOP flipping all over town and you kids getting in my way."
"What did we do?" Trixie put her hands on her hips. "You're the one who fell for your own trick."
"Maybe if I got some peace and quiet I could come up with something better," Robbie snapped. "How's a villain supposed to manage with all of you running and playing so loud?" He struggled to his feet and slapped twigs and leaves from his vest. "It's thankless work trying to keep LazyTown lazy. I get no breaks, no help from anyone. But what do you care?" Robbie stuck out his chin. "You nosy little nuisances don't know the first thing about how hard it is to be me. Why don't you all run along and annoy someone else?"
"If you're that tired of doing all of this, why don't you just take a break?" Stephanie asked.
"A break?" Robbie's lips twisted like the word tasted sour.
"That's a good idea," Pixel said. "It sounds like you're overclocking your system, Robbie. You need to rest and refresh. You know, take a vacation."
"Vacation," Robbie rolled this word over in his mouth, only a small frown still edging his lips. He shook his head. "No, I couldn't."
"Come on, Robbie," Stingy said, "you wouldn't have to do anything for anybody, it would be all about you getting to relax. And when you come back you'll be sneakier than ever."
"I can't leave," Robbie insisted. "Who's going to keep LazyTown lazy while I'm away? Just the thought of letting Sporta-kook have the full run of the place..." He growled deep in his throat and glared around at the children. "And all of you would still be running around playing your games and eating your sportscandy. Nice try, but I won't go."
"I'll eat some candy while you're away, Robbie," Ziggy offered. "I'll even eat lots of pizza if it'll make you feel better."
"One little boy eating candy isn't going to make up for me being away," Robbie said with a sniff. "This town needs a villain to keep it in line, and that duty falls on me."
"What if one of us could do it?" Trixie asked. The group fell quiet for a moment, their eyes darting from one to another.
Robbie squinted at the pigtailed girl. He kept his tone tightly controlled. "One of you could do… what, exactly?"
"Be you," Trixie said, cocking her hip and meeting Robbie's stare head on. Their gazes locked for several seconds before Robbie tilted his head back and barked out a coarse laugh.
"You kids, replacing me? Don't be ridiculous." He wiped at the corner of one eye and indulged in another chuckle. "I happen to be a professional villain with years of practice at being lazy. You don't know the first thing about being a villain."
"What's so hard about it?" Trixie crossed her arms. "All we have to do is copy you."
"I could be Robbie!" Ziggy's face lit up. "Do you want to see me eat an entire cake?"
"Why should you be Robbie?" Stingy butted in. "I think I should be Robbie."
"Why don't we all try being Robbie?" Pixel suggested. "We could see which of us performs the best."
"Not me," Stephanie said. "But I could be the judge."
"That settles it then," Trixie said. She aimed a challenging stare at Robbie. "We've got it under control here. You," she pointed up at his face, making him twitch his nose, "are officially on vacation."
I try to sleep but I'm up all night
Scheming a plan to make Sportacus gone
Just give up, leave without a fight?
This is all so wrong!
Take a seat and treat yourself
A bath, a cake, long naps
No sneaking and no setting traps.
Well I say
You must be joking
Who'll keep the lazy in LazyTown?
Take a vacation
I'll be the villain of LazyTown.