“Trixie, c’mon! I want to see the peonies!”
“Why do you need me to see the peonies? You could just go look at all the silly pink flowers by yourself, ya know.”
“Oh, c’mon. We’ll look at all of them, I just-“
“Whatever you look at, just remember they are all mine.”
“So long as you don’t try and rip them all out of the ground to take home again. Remember last year?”
“Yes, thank you, Pixel. It took forever to clean the mud out of my car.”
“Hey, guys, these ones are pretty!”
“Ziggy, don’t eat those-!”
Robbie flung off his blanket and bounced out of his chair, scowl already set deep on his face. He’d been trying to sleep, but it was impossible with the amount of noise coming down from the surface through his speakers. He’d tried to deny he was even really hearing it at first, thinking it must be some sort of annoying nightmare. Summer vacation was still weeks away, there was no way the children were all home to make so much noise. When he could no longer pretend he wasn’t really hearing the kids running and shrieking with delight, he tried to ignore it, stuffing fluff into his ears and pulling the blanket up over his head. The strategy had never really worked before, but that was no reason to assume it never would, was it?
It didn’t work. Shrill little voices raised in jabbering excitement bored their way into his brain, chasing away sleep. Robbie glared at the speakers in the ceiling.
“What are they even doing up there?” He made his way to his periscope. “Why aren’t they in school, bothering teachers instead of me? Is it really too much to ask for some peace and quiet once in a while?”
He looked through the periscope, squinting at the sudden brightness that assaulted his eyes. He’d gotten used to the dark winter months, where there was significantly more night than day, and even the days were normally overcast and gloomy. Spring had officially arrived, but he still hadn’t adapted to the new light levels yet.
He swiveled around, searching for the awful little noise makers. It didn’t take very long. They were all cluttered together at the playground, which had been taken over by tables, crates, wheelbarrows and planters. All of them were stacked up and overflowing with flowers of every shape, size and color. Over by the stage where the Mayor liked to make his announcements, chains of flowers were hanging, looping from one post to the other, and a sign was hung up, announcing an event.
‘LAZY TOWN FLOWER FESTIVAL BONANZA!’ It had little cartoon flowers and bees in sunglasses on it.
“Uugh. It’s that day.”
The Flower Festival was an annual event which had, for a blessed while, been allowed to lapse in Lazy Town. Ever since the twin pink and blue terrors had arrived, though, it had been revived and for a few days in spring the town was buried under a mountain of petals. And then it would happen again in summer for all the late bloomers. And of course the school was always so obliging to schedule their spring break to coincide with the Festival, so the town was overrun with pollen spitters and overactive children.
Robbie’s nose began to twitch, despite being safe from any pollen in his underground Lair. He had very good air filters - several layers of them, in fact, that cleaned his air before it was pumped where he would be breathing it. But just seeing all of those flowers out there, all the children running through them and doubtlessly stirring all of that pollen up into the air… Robbie shuddered.
He snapped the handles of the periscope back in place and shoved it away. Well, with that sort of nonsense going on up there, the obvious course of action was to remain underground. Robbie’s allergies were always bothersome in spring, but normally tolerable. The Flower Festivals, though, they were like conventions for his enemies, the high concentrations of pollen acting like a sledgehammer to his sinuses. If there was a Flower Festival going on up there, then he was staying down here.
He continued to ignore the sounds of flowery frolicking going on aboveground, going about his ‘I’m awake whatever time of day it is’ routine. Or at least he tried to ignore it. If anything, the amount and shrillness of the noise coming from Lazy Town was even louder than normal, outdone only by those times when there was some sort of sports event going on, or when they all decided to do actual construction with hammers. No one had started singing yet, but it was only a matter of time.
Robbie growled and pushed away the project that was impossible to concentrate on with so much noise. How could they all get so excited over flowers? They were flowers. And given what he knew of the children of Lazy Town - which was fairly extensive, he had files for each of them - flowers didn’t really offer much of any particular interest to any of them. You couldn’t eat them, you couldn’t exercise with them, they didn’t make good computer chips, they only danced if you threw them, and they weren’t even very good as weapons of destruction. The only one of them Robbie could see taking an above average interest was Stingy, and only because of his obsessive need to own everything he saw. But that was just as true of weeds as flowers, and didn’t really say anything positive about the flowers themselves.
They certainly didn’t warrant this level of energy and noise.
Robbie looked at his speakers, nose twitching and fingers tapping. He ought to go up there and ruin all their fun. All that fun they were having? It had to stop. The flowers, too. He ought to come up with some brilliant plan that would get rid of the monstrosities. Then there would be no pollen and no squealing children. Maybe something like a weather machine…? A sudden snow would take care of all the flowers. Oh, but the kids would just transfer all of that awful energy to a snowball fight or something.
They really did sound like they were having fun up there…
Robbie stood up suddenly, making his worktable rattle. He would have to go up there, plan or no plan. It wasn’t his usual mode, but desperate measures and all that. In order to figure out exactly what kind of scheme would work the best he would have to go up and do some reconnaissance. It was the only possible way.
Of course, if he was going to go up there, with all that… pollen, he was going to need more than just a disguise…
Sportacus ran around the circumference of Lazy Town, flipping, cart wheeling and leaping his way along with, possibly, more energy than usual. The world around him sped by in a blur of color and sweet scents, warm breezes and happy laughter.
He absolutely loved spring. He loved every season, really, but spring was the one he probably loved the absolute most. The world shook away its cold mantle of frost and woke up again in all the color and joy it could offer. It was like that first hour or so after waking, when one was still shaking the sleep out of their limbs, taking in the sunshine and enjoying their breakfast. It was that time of the day - and the year - when one looked ahead to all the amazing potential they had ahead of them.
And the whole world got to participate! The planet was glad to break out of its chilly slumber and made it easy for everyone to join in on the party.
Take the Lazy Town Flower Festival. Three whole days dedicated just to the celebration of the flowers that sprang up as the ground warmed. It was such a good way to bring people together and out into the sun after so many cold months, as well as to show them the splendors of the natural world. It was so easy to overlook the flowers normally. The Festival brought them right into the spotlight where everyone could appreciate them.
The kids certainly seemed to appreciate them.
“Sportacus! Look at these ones, aren’t they pretty-?”
“Sportacus, these ones are the exact color of your clothes!”
“These ones say they’re onions, weird!”
“These ones are strawberries, it says. Do the flowers turn into-?”
“Sportacus! Sportacus! We made this for you! It’s called a flower crown! Aren’t ours pretty?”
Sportacus laughed along with everyone, answering all of their questions, accepting their gifts - the crown was snugly circling his cap along with his goggles - and generally frolicking among all of the colorful blooms. He was aware he probably looked ridiculous, but that didn’t bother him in the least.
He only came to a bit of a stop when, as he went flipping off the path to vary his view, something in a flowering bush squawked as he landed on top of it.
Surprised - and worried he’d hurt something - Sportacus came to earth in a roll, sprang up and whipped around. Had he landed on a duck? Was it okay?
What he saw as he turned around was not at all what he had been expecting - and he’d only had a vague idea of what might meet his eyes. It was much larger for one, taller than he was by a significant margin, and bipedal. In fact it looked very human as it stumbled about confusedly, tangling up in its own legs, arms pin wheeling to try and catch its balance. In fact the motions looked very familiar if he could get past the ridiculous outfit it was wearing.
The figure came to a halt, turning to face him and revealing even more of the strange getup. It was a full body suit, complete with gloves and boots that sealed into the rest like a hazmat suit. Only Sportacus had never seen a hazmat suit whose fabric was patterned with pansies, or had cuff links. Or spats. What was very much in line with the traditional hazmat was the bucket-like helmet with a clear visor. Sportacus thought he could see a shadow of Robbie’s face on the inside, looking at him with that vague expression of panic he got whenever he was caught doing something he oughtn’t.
“R-Robbie?” The figure said in a muffled voice, spreading its hands. “Who is that? No, feeble Earthling, I am one of the powerful Petaliens from the Pistil Galaxy! I have come here from across the stars to rescue my people from the- the slavery you have them under!”
Robbie - and it was Robbie - struck something like a heroic pose, modeled a little off of Sportacus’, and motioned towards the playground full of flowers and kids.
Sportacus couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped him. If there was one thing he could say for Robbie, and there were several, it was he had no lack of imagination. He walked up to Robbie, who leaned back but did not retreat. He tapped lightly on the glass over Robbie’s face, which was much easier to make out closer up. “What on Earth are you doing in there, Robbie?”
Robbie swatted away his hands, scowling behind the glass. “I already told you, I am not this unknown but doubtless handsome Robbie. I,” he struck another heroic pose, even more overdone than the first, “am the most Royal of all Petaliens, come to liberate my photosynthesis brethren!”
The hazmat suit wilted under the tone. He looked at Sportacus. “Oh, fine. I’m wearing this,” he pointed at the helmet, “to keep all of that,” he pointed towards the Flower Festival, “poison as far away from me as possible.”
“Poison?” Sportacus tilted his head at Robbie.
“Yes! All of that- that- that… That pollen.” He shuddered, the suit rustling with the motion. “All that awful stuff those flowers spit out into the air for people to breathe, the murderous little… little… flowers.”
Sportacus bit his lip to hold in another chuckle, and reached up to tug on one of the petals of the giant flower Robbie was wearing on his head. It looked like a more literal interpretation of ‘flower crown’ than what Sportacus was wearing. “It’s good to see you getting into the spirit of things, Robbie.”
Robbie flapped at him again. “I am not getting into the spirit of things, Sportapoppy, I’m-“ He stopped and stare at Sportacus in horror. “What the- good grief, you’re covered in them!”
Sportacus raised his eyebrows and looked down at himself. Apparently he had been a little more adventurous in his frolicking than he’d thought. There were, in fact, flowers sticking out of his clothes, like he’d been rolling around in piles of them. He grinned and shrugged at Robbie.
“Eeugh.” Robbie shuddered again. “I can practically see the pollen sticking to you. How are you still alive?”
This time Sportacus laughed aloud. “Not everyone is allergic to flowers, Robbie.” He frowned a little. “Though I’m sorry that you are. It’s a sad thing that you can’t enjoy the season as fully as you might.”
“Pff,” Robbie scoffed. “Like I care. I hate flowers, just so you know. Silly, useless things. Worse, some of them turn into those awful sports candies you’re always eating. The only saving grace is that you can’t actually eat the flowers themselves.”
“Actually, there are a lot of different kinds of flowers that can be eaten. Nasturtiums, clovers, chervils, dandelions, bee balm-“
Robbie held up his hands. “Stop, enough! The more I know the worse it- …you can eat dandelions?”
Sportacus nodded, still grinning. “From petals to roots, every bit of them.”
He looked at Robbie curiously. “Are there no flowers that you like, Robbie?”
The villain began to shake his head, and then stopped. “There is one, I suppose…” He looked at Sportacus out of the corner of his eyes, even through the mask. “I kind of like… sunflowers.”
“Yes!” Robbie turned to him, his muffled voice defensive. “I’m not allergic to sunflowers, and the food sunflowers give are delicious junk food!”
Sportacus opened his mouth, ready to tell him that in moderation sunflower seeds were actually very healthy, but decided not to. “Well, I’m glad you have one kind of flower you can enjoy. I think there are some in the Festival. Would you like to come look?”
“And go chest deep into enemy territory?” Robbie straightened his cuff links fastidiously. “I think not.” He marched off, arms swinging side to side in typically overdramatic fashion.
Sportacus watched him go without trying to stop him, a faint smile still playing around his lips. Once the flower topped hazmat suit was out of sight, he looked back towards the Festival, a plan forming in his mind. Robbie liked to act like he didn’t enjoy being around the rest of them, like he didn’t need to have their kind of fun and felt better when he was left out, but it didn’t take much to see through that façade. Sportacus was pretty sure every one of the kids was perfectly well aware of it as well. The only one who seemed even remotely fooled was Robbie himself.
Well, they would have to make sure Robbie wasn’t completely left out of the fun for the Festival.
The next morning Robbie was woken by a persistent knocking at his tube. When he finally came up there were no people - though he thought he could hear giggling from the other side of the billboard.
Piled up outside his pipe was a stack of… gifts? …all following a particular theme.
There was a bouquet of sunflowers, a sunflower crown, a still live and growing sunflower in a pot, a giant bag of low sodium sunflower seeds, a painting of a sunflower field, and a hat with a big sunflower glued onto it.
Robbie stared at the collection of sunflower gifts, not sure what to think but his nose beginning to twitch. In the middle of it all there was a card with a cartoon of a sunflower seed on the front. He picked it out and opened it.
‘So even underground, you have some sunshine.
Robbie’s eyes itched. Obviously he’d been outside too long, the pollen was already getting to him.
Very carefully Robbie gathered up the gifts and went back inside.
It did seem a little brighter, he decided.