Allow me to take you to a world between reality and absurdity. Between our world, and the world of fiction, there is another world… which is also fictional. But it’s fiction that reflects reality to a remarkable degree.
The gateway to this world of reality-reflecting-fiction lies just beyond the clouds. Let me take you past these clouds. The inhabitants of this world are much like you and I, and there are billions of them. The most important ones, however, are a family known as…
The Simpsons. Their name flashes in your mind as the clouds part, and you could swear a choir was chanting it.
Now, here you are, in the sprawling urban-suburban-rural metropolis whose geography fails to betray its location. There are mountains, deserts, taigas, oceans, canyons, lakes, and rivers. In the summertime, it’s hotter and more humid than Selma, Alabama. In the winter, however, the ground is coated with snow, and you could swear you were in Minnesota. You see the cooling towers of a nuclear power plant, and a large yard of burning tires. In the distance, a Hollywood-esque sign tells you that the town’s name is Springfield.
I’d like to bring you to Springfield Elementary School, where ten year-old Bart Simpson spends most of his time. Not learning, mind you, but finding every excuse to NOT learn. Class was already dismissed, but Bart was forced to stay behind and serve a detention sentence he’d been handed down by the school’s principal, who I hear steams a good ham.
Bart wrote the message on the blackboard over and over and over again, his wrist sore from the repetitive movement.
I will not kill off any major characters.
Why Principal Skinner wanted Bart to write this specific message was anyone’s guess, but Skinner often had Bart write a wide variety of seemingly nonsensical messages. Bart was about halfway through one line when the bell suddenly rang, signifying that his sentence was over. He grinned, dropped his chalk, and ran out of the room, through the hallways, and, grabbing his skateboard, leapt out the school’s double doors, skating his way home.
Meanwhile, at the nuclear plant, the boy’s father, Homer Simpson, was himself wrapping up a long work day. He wore a hazmat suit as he lifted a large, glowing, inanimate carbon rod with a pair of tongs. The plant’s whistle blew, signaling the end of Homer’s day. He yanked off the top of his suit and dropped the tongs. They bounced against the barrel in front of him with a loud “clank”, and the rod flew into the air. As Homer turned to leave, the rod found itself falling down his shirt, although this would go unnoticed by Homer.
Homer’s blue-haired wife, Marge Simpson, was buying groceries at the grocery store, as she does every Sunday afternoon. As she placed her groceries on the conveyor belt, however, she failed to noticed that she had placed her BABY, Maggie Simpson, on the belt. The cashier scanned Maggie (who rang up “$847.63”) and placed her in a bag. It was at this point that Marge realized that Maggie was gone; her brief look of concern disappeared, however, when the bag was placed into the shopping cart, and Maggie jumped out, unharmed.
Back at Springfield Elementary, the school’s band played a familiar tune—practice was halted, however, when the music teacher, Mr. Largo, realized that little Lisa Simpson was playing an unsolicited and unauthorized saxophone solo. He motioned for her to leave, which she gladly did, still playing her solo. She didn’t respect Mr. Largo anyway.
Homer’s commute became mildly distressing once he realized the carbon rod was still stuck in his shirt. He grabbed it, and tossed it out of his car window before speeding off. Bart skateboarded past, the carbon rod bounding off of the street, and swung around a light pole. As he continued to skateboard, Bart passed several residents of Springfield, including: his arch-nemesis, Sideshow Bob (who attempted to kill him with a swinging machete as the boy skated past); Helen Lovejoy, the head of the local PTA and wife of the town’s only preacher, Reverend Lovejoy; Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the owner and proprietor of the local Kwik-E-Mart; Moe Szyslak, who stood in front of his self-named and self-owned bar, Moe’s Tavern; an obese, sexually repressed nerd known as “Comic Book Guy”; Disco Stu, a man who… really likes disco; Eleanor Abernathy, although most Springfieldians knew her better as the “Crazy Cat Lady”; Rich Texan, a businessman and former Senator who fired his dual revolvers into the air; and Clancy Wiggum, the town’s police chief, who waved his nightstick in the air as Bart skated through the intersection.
Once Bart had cleared the intersection, a red station wagon swerved through, being driven by none other than Maggie Simpson.
Just kidding. She’s a baby. Marge was driving, Maggie had a pretend steering wheel in front of her. The pretend steering wheel, however, had a working horn--much to the chagrin of Maggie’s grandfather, who sat in the passenger seat.
Finally, Homer had arrived home. He pulled into the driveway of his home at 742 Evergreen Terrace, slamming on the brakes as his garage door opened. Bart landed with his skateboard onto the roof of the car, before bouncing onto the pavement and heading into the home. Homer stepped out of his car, but had to take a step back when Lisa sped past the door on her bike. He let out an annoyed grunt--”D’oh!”--and started to walk towards the house. His wife, however, approached the driveway, not seeing Homer as her attention was on a cellphone in her hand. Homer screamed and ran into the garage to avoid being flattened by Marge’s car.
The family, now all home, ran into the living room, ready to sit on their couch to watch TV. As they all sat on the couch, however, they became acutely aware that something wasn’t right. A series of tubes extended from the ceiling, which sucked all of the family members in. The Simpsons screamed as they were transported to a new location. Eventually, they were placed on an identical couch, which sat in the middle of a forest near a lake, their clothes having been swapped with a series of vests and loincloths. Each family member was given a diamond-shaped earring. Homer frowned.
“Hey, what gives?” he asked, annoyed. “If I’m gonna be kidnapped, I’d like to be treated with some dignity.” Suddenly, the ceiling opened up, and many processed food pellets fell onto the floor. Homer gasped. “Floor pellets!” Homer got onto the floor and started licking up the pellets. Marge groaned in displeasure as she watched her husband degrade himself. Bart shrugged—their captors had provided them with a TV, so he was satisfied. He turned on the television, sat back, and relaxed.
It was a morning like any other. The Springfield Nuclear Plant was bustling with activity—by which I mean, of course, that pretty much every employee was busy doing something that WASN’T work. The plant’s safety inspector, Homer Simpson, entered the break room, followed by two of his co-workers, Lenny Leonard and Carl Carlson.
“So LISA told me,” Homer said, finishing a story he’d been telling his friends, “that a square donut ACTUALLY has 27% more donut per donut.”
“Hey, how come Mr. Burns never lets us have square donuts?” Carl asked, annoyed. “We oughta bring that up at the next union meeting.”
“Oh my GOD!” Lenny exclaimed once he reached the table. “We’re out of coffee!”
“No coffee?!” Homer asked. “But I only got twelve hours of sleep last night! How am I supposed to keep myself awake now?!”
“You know, Homer, uh, you’re never awake anyway,” Carl pointed out.
“Well DUH, but SOMEBODY has to stay awake!” Homer explained. “If everyone ELSE is asleep, then I can’t sleep!”
“Okay, look, nobody panic,” Carl reasoned. “So we don’t have any coffee, big deal.”
“There’s no coffee?!” another plant employee suddenly asked, overhearing the conversation as he walked past the break room. “There’s no coffee!” He ran into various rooms of the plant, warning his co-workers of their impending doom. “There’s no coffee! We’re all out of coffee! MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOULS!”
The other plant employees panicked as well. Soon, it was complete pandemonium in the nuclear plant. One employee even retrieved an emergency revolver from his desk and pointed it at his own temple, as he refused to live in a world without coffee.
Soon, all of the panic had caused the plant employees to tire themselves out, and many of them fell asleep, leaving the power planet’s most vital systems unattended. Homer sat in his office, trying to ward off sleep. “Must… stay… awake…” he muttered, his eyelids heavy. “Can’t… sleep… if… everyone else… is… asleep…”
But it was no use. Soon, Homer also fell asleep, his snores echoing throughout the room. A meter on his console ticked upward, indicating that the plant was very close to a full meltdown…
“Ugh…” the short woman groaned as consciousness returned to her. She opened her eyes slightly, a piercing headache in the spot just behind her Gem. “Ugh… Where… where am I…?” She was in a field. She sat up, and observed her surroundings. She couldn’t remember how she got there. In fact… she couldn’t remember nearly anything! The only thing she could remember is that she was in the employ of the Great Diamond Authority, and that her name was “Peridot”.
I must be on a mission, she thought to herself. ...but what WAS my mission? She was sure she had a way to communicate with her superiors… but she couldn’t very well reveal to them that she’d forgotten her mission. Her gem was on the line! The only option was to figure out what her mission was using context clues.
First context clue: her limb enhancers were missing. This must have been a top-secret black op—all weapons and equipment OSP. ...not that she ever gets any weapons or equipment aside from the limb enhancers. She would have to rely entirely on her smarts.
Second context clue: she was near a body of… sludge. She would say it’s a body of water, but… the water was black, and bubbly, and it was surrounded by a concrete wall, Definitely not water. She looked up. Nearby was a large official-looking sign that read “Lake Springfield”. Just below it was a sign that appeared to have been added later: “BIOHAZARD: CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE”. The second sign was dated, “as of July 2007”.
Third context clue: very close to where she was, there appeared to be a set of cooling towers. Aha , she thought. That’s a useful landmark. There appears to be a first era power station nearby. Perhaps her next mission was at this power station! Peridot stood up and marched towards it, examining her surroundings as she walked. She stopped to glance at a small winged creature which was sitting nearby.
This is… a bird, she observed. ...how do I know that? Suddenly, the bird opened its third eye. Peridot recoiled in disgust, and the bird flew away. We don’t have these creatures on Homeworld. Peridot thought about it. There may be more to her amnesia than she initially thought. She considered that it may be possible that things had changed on Homeworld since her last memories of this place. Or, considering she was on an unknown, potentially hostile planet, it was probable that this was one of Homeworld’s many, many colonies in the cosmos, and she was here to observe the operations of the newest kindergarten.
...but then, why didn’t she have her limb enhancers? And why would cooling towers reminiscent of a first era thermonuclear energy facility be on a NEW Homeworld colony? Something didn’t add up. She needed to get to the bottom of this, AND get her memories back.
Finally, she reached the facility’s entrance. There was an absolutely HIDEOUS looking creature sitting in what appeared to be a security booth. He was unresponsive. Deceased, Peridot concluded after glancing over the body. Something happened here… Peridot stepped inside. More bodies. Everyone was dead, she assumed without actually checking. There was also an alarm blaring throughout the building.
“Emergency: Plant meltdown imminent. All employees should return to work and ignore the sirens.”
Peridot’s eyes widened. A meltdown would take out everything within a city-sized radius! Including her ! She turned down a hallway. Sector 7G: Safety . There must be an override switch somewhere to return the plant to its normal operation. Peridot ran into a small room, where lots of buttons surrounded an obese, balding body lying in a chair. She pushed the chair aside and ran to the console.
“Wuh, huh?” the creature muttered as he suddenly stirred awake.
“Oh, stars, which button was it?!” Peridot asked herself. “What did your training tell you?! Oh, that’s right. You don’t REMEMBER your training because you have amnesia, you CLOD!” The clock was ticking. Panicking, she did the only thing she could think of…
“Eenie, meenie, miney, mo,” she chanted, “catch a Ruby by the toe, if she hollers let her go, eenie meenie miney MO!” She screamed as she slammed a big red button on the console, her eyes shut tight. She held her breath for a tense moment.
“Crisis averted,” an automated voice said. “Normal plant operation restored.”
Peridot opened her eyes. “Holy smokes that was close.”
The obese creature scoffed. “Pfft. Amateur,” he muttered. “I let that countdown get to TWO once. THAT’S close.”
Peridot narrowed her eyes and slowly turned around. “You speak universal basic?”
“At LEAST at a seventh grade level,” the man confirmed, nodding.
Peridot was confused. Was she… communicating with this creature? It didn’t look like a Gem… “What are you called?”
“Well, there’s fatso, dummy, baldy…” Homer listed off all the things he’d been called over the last week, “but you can just call me Homer! Homer Jay Simpson.”
Peridot hummed. This… Homer Simpson… he was clearly an intelligent lifeform. Perhaps he could help her on her mission. “Homer Simpson… I just saved your settlement from nuclear annihilation.”
“Yeah, okay, ONCE.”
“Perhaps you could help me with something I’m dealing with.”
“Beats work. What’s your name, anyway?” Homer asked.
“Peridot. Facet-2F5L, Cut 5XG.”
Homer stared at her blankly. “Uh, yeah, okay…”
Meanwhile, in the plant's upper levels, Peridot and Homer were being watched, via CCTV cameras. Watching them were Mr. Charles Montgomery Burns, the plant’s elderly owner, and Waylon Smithers Jr., Burns’ subservient executive assistant, and secret admirer. Mr. Burns raised an eyebrow.
“Smithers,” he asked, “who is that catastrophically lazy drone who nearly ended our lives?”
“That would appear to be Homer Simpson, sir” Smithers explained, “one of your lowest-paid, lowest performing safety inspectors in Sector 7G. He’s maintained one of the longest and most extensive employment records here.”
“And the girl?” Burns asked.
“Not sure, sir, I’m not sure if she works at the plant,” Smithers admitted. “Although she does appear to be green.”
“And?” Burns asked rather coldly, turning around. “I don’t have time for such Farnsworthian ballyhoo as ‘color’. At least not since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
“Well, sir, the Department of Labor DID say if they found any more employees that had turned green after working here, they’d shut the plant down,” Smithers replied. “Maybe we should… compensate her. And force her to sign an NDA.”
“Compensation?!” Mr. Burns asked, recoiling as if he’d just been told an ancient swear. “Are you out of your mind, man?! Do I look like I’m made of money?!” As if on cue, the various diamonds and other precious jewels he’d been keeping up his sleeve poured out and landed on the floor. He scoffed and rolled his eyes. “Oh, alright, very well. Send her in. And send in that Simpson character, as well.”
Peridot continued to examine the various dials and meters on the console. “Hmm… it appears that all vital systems are once again functioning as usual.”
“Suh-weeeeeet,” Homer cooed. “That means I can sleep until the next meltdown!”
Peridot glared at Homer. “Are you out of your mind? This office must be carefully monitored until—“
The plant’s intercom system suddenly came to life. Smithers’ voice resonated from the speakers. “Would Homer Simpson please report to Mr. Burns’ office immediately?”
“D’oh!” Homer exclaimed. “He said ‘immediately’. That means I’m in trouble.”
“And would you bring the mysterious short woman with you, too?”
“Woo-hoo!” Homer cheered. “YOU’RE in trouble too!”
“Short…?” Peridot muttered.
Homer and Peridot made their way to Mr. Burns’ office. “Now remember,” Homer repeated something he’d said on the way, “if he FIRES you, just come back in tomorrow and he’ll forget to take you off of the payroll.”
“I don’t work here,” Peridot replied.
“Well, yeah, I don’t either, but I still ‘work here’, you know?” Homer said with air quotes. Peridot wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that. “Anyway, his office is in here.” He opened the door for Peridot. “After you. Mind the trap doors.”
Peridot stepped inside and examined her surroundings. The room was huge, the ceiling was high, busts, statues, and art pieces adorned every wall, every corner. She stared forward. One man sat at the desk in front of her, the light from the window behind him wrapping around his form and causing a sinister shadow to form in front of him. To his left was another, less-sinister looking man.
“Is he Mr. Burns?” Peridot asked, pointing to the less-sinister looking man.
“No, that’s Smithers,” Homer whispered. “THAT’S Mr. Burns,” he said, pointing to the man at the desk.
“D’oh…” Peridot cursed under her breath.
“Welcome!” Mr. Burns greeted.
“Greetings,” Peridot said, holding a hand up. “I am Peridot. Facet-2F5L, Cut 5XG.”
“Ah, Sector 5XG,” Smithers muttered into Burns’s ear. “That’s reactor maintenance. No wonder she’s green.”
“Very well then, Peridot,” Mr. Burns said. “This won’t take long at all. I have a… a CASH PRIZE for you!” When Peridot reached the desk, Burns handed her a check signed for $400. “I just need you to sign some paperwork, first.”
Peridot had never seen a check before. She raised an eyebrow and stared quizzically at Mr. Burns. “What is this?” she asked.
“Not satisfied, eh?” Burns took the check back and made an adjustment. “Then I’ll double it! $800!” He handed the check back to Peridot.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” Peridot asked.
“Oh, you drive a hard bargain!” Burns chuckled. He took the check once more and glared at Peridot. He made one more adjustment. “$1600!”
“Are you out of your mind?!” Peridot exclaimed, still with no idea as to WHY Mr. Burns kept handing her this slip of paper.
“Good lord, woman, how much is enough for you?!” Burns asked, becoming frustrated. He grunted weakly as he wrote in a new value. “$5000, and that is my FINAL offer, now PLEASE sign this contract!” He pushed the contract forward and handed Peridot a pen. She shrugged and sighed it.
“Now you’re FIRED!” Burns yelled. “Take your money and GO!”
“What about me, sir?” Homer asked. “Do I get a cash prize?”
“Have you been irreversibly genetically damaged by our plant?”
“Then no, you’re just fired.”
Homer groaned. “Awwww, I wanted money.”
“Yes, well, life isn’t fair, is it?” Burns scoffed. “Now go before I release the hounds!”
Homer tapped Peridot’s shoulder as she continued to examine the check. “Uh, come on, Peridot, we’d better go.” Peridot shrugged, and she followed Homer out.
Burns leaned over and whispered to Smithers, “Release the hounds.”
Homer and Peridot screamed as they were chased out of the plant by Mr. Burns’ hounds.
Peridot sat in the passenger seat of Homer’s car, playing with the automatic window roller. Up… down… up… down… she stopped, and glanced over at Homer. “I apologize if my behavior caused the termination of your employment,” she said.
“Eh, it happens,” Homer said, shrugging. “Hey, you hungry? I was gonna stop by Krusty Burger.”
“Hmm. Perhaps my mission is at this ‘Krusty Burger’,” Peridot muttered. “Take me there.”
“You know, you keep mentioning this ‘mission’, but I still have no idea what it is,” Homer said.
Peridot sighed. “I don’t either. All I know is that I’ve been sent here by my superiors from my home planet. I don’t have any memory of the events leading up to my arrival.”
Homer laughed. “Haha, oh, boy, I’ve been THERE alright. Hey, Peridot, tell you what. I’ll help you figure out what your mission is!”
“You would do that?” Peridot asked. “Even though I got you in trouble with your superior?”
“Sure, you seem cool!”
Peridot nodded. “Thank you, Homer.”
Homer drove past the Kwik-E-Mart, where a group of peculiar looking individuals were doing some searching of their own.
“Peridot!” the boy, Steven Universe shouted. “Where are you?!”
“Where could she have gotten off to?” Pearl asked nobody in particular. “She can’t have gone far.”
Lapis Lazuli, who wasn’t actually searching too hard, stared into the convenience store’s window. “Maybe she’s in here.”
Pearl shrugged. “Well, it doesn’t hurt to check.”
The group entered the store. Garnet glanced around. “I wouldn’t buy the milk,” she muttered.
The store’s owner and proprietor smiled and greeted his new guests. “Welcome to the Kwik-E-Mart! If you need anything, please, do not hesitate to ask, and I will fulfill your request conditionally based on a set of criteria!”
Pearl stepped up to the counter. “We’re actually looking for somebody.”
The clerk chuckled and shook his head. “You would not be the first. I am sorry, Miss, but I am happily married!”
Pearl glared at the man. “What is your name?”
“Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, please, browse my very fine selection of goods!”
Lapis leaned on the counter. “Listen, we’re looking for one of our friends, her name’s Peridot. Short, green, cute, chronically angry. Have you seen her?”
Apu shook his head. “I am sorry ma’am, but information and rumors are for paying customers only.”
Lapis scoffed and rolled her eyes. She placed a Cookie Cat package on the counter. “Here, we’re buying this. Can you tell us where she is?”
“That’ll be $3.99!”
“It’s only $2.99 at the Big Donut!”
“Yes, well, all of the Big Donuts in Springfield were destroyed in the restaurant wars three years ago, and now this Kwik-E-Mart is the only place you can get them,” Apu explained. “$3.99.”
Lapis glared at Apu. “Steven.”
Steven arrived and handed Apu his dad’s credit card. Apu swiped it and handed Steven the Cookie Cat.
“Now can you tell us where Peridot is?” Lapis asked.
“I have no idea where your friend is,” Apu replied.
“Thank you, come again!”
Amethyst hoisted herself onto the counter. “Look, we filled our end of the bargain!” she complained. “You gotta do your part!”
Apu sighed and rolled his eyes. “Look, I am not a police officer, okay? It is not my job to keep track of every lost individual who wanders into our town. If your friend is missing, I strongly suggest you talk to the police.”
“Well, it says here that we can only investigate your friend’s disappearance if she’s been missing for more than 48 hours,” Springfield’s police chief, Clancy Wiggum, said as he sat at his desk. Across from him were the Crystal Gems, who’d been redirected to the police department by Apu.
“You’re clearly reading that from a sheet of paper that YOU wrote on,” Pearl pointed out.
“Well, be that as it may, I’m afraid we can’t help you right now,” Chief Wiggum apologized, although he didn’t actually seem sorry. “Trust me, we get a LOT of missing persons reports, and most of their bodies turn up within the 48 hours, so uh, I’m sure you’ll be able to find your friend.”
Pearl groaned. This was going to be a long day...