“What’s wrong, Jos?” Chief Jumper asked.

“Nothing,” Jocelyn said. “That’s what’s wrong.”

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

Welcome back to Tuesday’s Tale, a weekly feature where we collaborate to write a story. Previous Tuesday’s Tales include Uhn-Real! and Halloween…een. We follow the basic rules of the “Yes, And” improvisational game – accept everything written so far as part of the story, and add your own paragraph (or so) where the last addition left off – except you needn’t begin your addition with “Yes, and.” I’ll start the story….

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Note: Today’s tale is an homage to the Netflix hit series Stranger Things.

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Jumper cocked a brow. “Why is nothing wrong … wrong?”

“Think about it,” Jocelyn said. “Bill said there’s a new girl at school.”

Jumper nodded. “Goes by El.”

“Short for Eleven?” Jocelyn asked.

Jumper chuckled. “Short for Ellen. Ellen Bland. Her folks bought Gene Ric’s old place over on Maple. Moved here from Boise.”

“Nobody moves to Lowrey from Boise,” Jocelyn said with a snort of disbelief. “Not unless they’re hiding something.”

“Or unless they got a job,” Jumper said. He pointed out the windshield. “Up there, at the government lab.”

Jocelyn shook her head. “That’s another thing that should be wrong. They must have dark secrets at that lab.”

“It’s a Consumer Product Safety Commission lab,” Jumper said. “They test small appliances, like toasters and blenders.”

“So they say,” Jocelyn insisted. “We should check it out.”

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“So that’s it, Mrs. Sellers,” Dr. Stanley said as they stepped into the corridor. “You’ve seen our whole operation. All we do is test new products to make sure they’re safe.”

“What about the basement?” Jocelyn asked. “Where the secret labs are?”

Jumper rolled his eyes. “Jos….”

Dr. Stanley held up a hand. “No, Chief, it’s okay. A lot of people don’t trust the government anymore. All right, Mrs. Sellers. Let’s go to the basement.” He held out paper surgical masks. “But you’ll need one of these.”

“For the biological warfare germs?” Jocelyn asked.

The doctor smiled. “For the dust, ma’am.”

They put on the masks and went down the stairs. They heard the sounds even before Dr. Stanley opened the door … a grinding hum and a woman’s voice crying: “Oh god! Ahhh!”

“I told you!” Jocelyn said triumphantly as they burst into the room.

“What the–?” a man in a white lab coat said.

“–No-no-no-no-not now!” a woman not-entirely-in-a-white-lab-coat howled.

“Carrie … Dr. Tripps…” Dr. Stanley sputtered as he took in the scene.

“It’s our lunch break, boss,” Dr. Tripps said. “We just got married last month. Cut us some slack?”

“Besides,” Carrie said, holding up a giant electric massager, “we were testing a new product.”

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“See?” Jumper said as they drove back to town, still wiping tears of laughter. “There’s really nothing wrong.”

“And that’s what’s wrong,” Jocelyn said, still stewing. “We must be trapped in the Right-Side-Up.”

“The what?” Jumper asked.

Jocelyn looked at him. “The Right-Side-Up, where nothing is wrong. And that’s not right.”

“Chief?” the radio crackled. “We have an incident at the high school.”

“Jumper here,” the chief said. “What happened?”

“Bunch of kids tee-peeing the bear statue for Halloween,” the dispatcher said. “Jimmy Davis fell off and twisted an ankle.”

“Now it starts,” Jocelyn muttered.

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Have fun!

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Image Credits — Autumn Wood: FullHDWall; Text & Composition: Crissie Brown (BPICampus.com)