Why did he ever think this would work? Robbie dug the hole and covered it up with sticks and leaves. When he heard Sportacus coming he dove behind the wall to get out of sight. Watching with bated breath he marked Sportacus' progress down the street. The annoyingly athletic man ran and jumped and somersaulted on a direct course for the hidden hole.
And like always Sportacus never stepped foot into the perilous pit. He didn't slow for an instant as he tumbled into a hand spring that flipped him upside down in a dizzying spin, over the hole. On the other side he flipped back onto his feet and kept on running.
It was enough to drive Robbie crazy. He couldn't contain himself anymore and jumped out from behind the wall with a frustrated scream. Blinded by his own anger he ran after the elf shaking his fist. So blinded that he stepped right onto the covered hole and fell in, his scream drowned out by the snapping of twigs and his body thumping the bottom with a bang. He shot back out of it up to his shoulders, slapping away leaves and sticks with a roar.
"I just can't figure him out!" Robbie banged his fists on the ground and shook them with a hiss, already sore. "How does he DO that? No matter how I try to hide my trap, somehow Sportacreep always knows to avoid it! Ugh," he grunted, and crossed his arms, sinking down into the pit for a moment. "It's no use, I'll never know what makes him tick. It's not like I can get into his head..."
Robbie crawled out of the hole with difficulty. He continued to stew as he brushed himself off and got to his feet, rubbing his aching back. Something flickered across his face then, dispersing his foul mood.
"Wait." Robbie stood there, staring into the middle space where his thoughts consumed him. "Why couldn't I get into his head? Or even better." A devilish grin stretched his mouth and showed his teeth. "Why couldn't I control what's inside old Sportaloon's head? If I can control what he thinks, I can control what he does. I could make the blue elf make himself leave town, forever!"
All aches and pains forgotten, Robbie allowed himself a prematurely triumphant laugh and strode away from the sight of his last failure. He had just what he needed in his lair.
When inspired Robbie could put together an invention in no time at all. Some springs and sheets of metal, a hammer and a blowtorch, parts from an old hair dryer and the leftover bits of a broken remote control, and voilà! He had it, the Mind-Me-Matic! He put the headpiece on first, adjusting the band so that it fit snugly without messing up his hair. With that in place all he needed now was to target someone with the main part of the device. It fit in his hand like a gun and it was loaded, ready to fire.
He scuttled around LazyTown, keeping low and out of sight as he searched for his target. Over there! Sportacus had finally stopped all that skipping and flipping and was face down on the ground doing pushups.
It was the perfect setup, none of those meddlesome kids in sight and Sportacus none the wiser. Robbie crept in close and hid in the nearest bush. He stuck the Mind-Me-Matic gun out through the branches, pointing it at the back of Sportacus' head. He followed the up and down movement of every pushup Sportacus executed, keeping his arm steady, not wanting to miss his mark.
Now! Robbie pulled the trigger and blasted Sportacus with the mind rays at point blank range. Already the device was working, feeding Sportacus' brain waves into his headpiece. With this connection he could control Sportacus' mind!
"YEE-OWW!" The headpiece sparked and shocked Robbie so hard that stars exploded behind his eyes.
"Robbie?" Sportacus flipped over and turned around but swayed and teetered from the force of the machine. He fell back onto one side, weaving under the heady influence. "What's happen...ing...?"
Robbie couldn't answer. As the stars faded from his vision everything was swallowed up in black and he collapsed into the bushes without another word. Sportacus closed his eyes and joined him.
"Hey guys, is that Sportacus?"
The children, coming back from the sports field after a game of soccer, rushed forward to look at the blue clad man lying unconscious on the ground.
"What's he doing out here?"
"Is he having a sugar meltdown?"
"We can't just leave him here, come on!"
It took all of them to carry the hero to a nearby bench. Trixie tried lifting up one of his eyelids but Stephanie slapped her hand and she gave it up.
"Here, I was saving this for a snack, but it looks like he could use it more than me." Pixel polished the apple on the front of his shirt before handing it over. Stephanie propped up Sportacus' head and managed to wedge the fruit in past his unresponsive lips. Trixie worked his jaw to make him take a bite and chew it.
Within seconds Sportacus' eyes popped open. It worked! Except…
Sportacus spat out the apple, gagging and spluttering.
Trixie and Stephanie were shooed back as Sportacus waved his arms around and staggered to his feet. The kids all stared at the mustached man as he wiped his mouth repeatedly. He looked around at the kids and his face twisted into a glowering mask.
"Did you feed me that disgusting sportscandy? Get away from me!"
He stormed off, muttering under his breath.
"Nothing I try ever works! All I get for my troubles is a splitting headache. I'll figure something else out after a good long nap..."
"That was weird," Stingy said. "I've never seen Sportacus act like that before."
"Maybe the apple we gave him was rotten," Ziggy suggested. "I know that would put me in a bad mood."
Nearby the bushes started to shake, drawing their eyes, and who should stumble out from them but—
Robbie looked cockeyed at the kids, then at their surroundings. "Where?" He shook his head and groaned, coughing. The man's face was strangely singed with soot, particularly concentrated at the temples where some kind of device was strapped across his forehead. He took unsteady strides clear of the bush and moved down the sidewalk. "Never mind, I'll find him."
The kids watched Robbie totter away. They looked to each other.
"What was that about?"
Sportacus couldn't shake the fogginess out of his thoughts. His head ached as though squeezed in a vice and it made it hard just to think. There was the dull burning too right between his eyes, his brain sizzling like a hot coal. Had he exercised too hard and given himself a migraine?
He was sure he'd heard Robbie yell only a moment ago. Did he have something to do with how Sportacus felt now? The kids must have seen the man right before Sportacus woke up from his faint, why else would they have shouted like that? But now there was no sign of him anywhere.
It was too difficult to search on foot when he still felt so groggy. He needed higher ground, somewhere he could survey the whole town at once. It might not be a bad idea to go up to his airship and rest for a while anyway, until he felt a bit better.
Sportacus looked up into the sky. He squinted and winced as the bright blue day stung his eyes all the way into the back of their sockets. Definitely a migraine. But the airship was just overhead offering him relief. He pointed up at it.
"Ladder!" Sportacus commanded.
The airship continued to idle in the sky above him. He waited a moment, but the ladder did not unfurl.
"LADDER!" Sportacus shouted louder. "Platform down! Sky Chaser!"
No matter what he said the airship held still and unresponsive. Every exclamation strained his throat. His voice came out hoarse and deep, much deeper than usual. Perhaps it was interfering with the ship's voice recognition, he didn't even sound like himself. If anything he sounded more like…
Sportacus lowered his gaze from the painful brightness of the sky. He looked at his hand, still pointing up at the airship.
It wasn't his hand.
Sportacus recognized the crisp white French cuff around the wrist, the dark blue sleeve covering it all the way up the arm to the shoulder. As he lowered his eyes he recognized the purple striped vest and matching pants, all the way down to the black and white spats.
The hands that weren't his own started to shake as he brought them to his face. He felt smooth skin on his upper lip and a strong square jaw, well defined. Reaching up he groped for the familiar cover of his blue cap. It wasn't there, but something else was, exerting its pressure around his forehead. He pulled off the remains of a strange looking headband that appeared to be burned and broken. He dropped it to the ground as his arms fell at his sides.
Of course he couldn't command the airship. It only obeyed Sportacus.
It would never listen to Robbie Rotten.