Magic Penguin, Fat Giraffe and Mystic Mouse were whiling away the afternoon in the Shoe and Phone as they were sometimes inclined to do. Fat Giraffe was slightly irritated that he had mostly been left out of last week’s story, seemingly only to be used as a cheap device to conclude the narrative with a misleading cliff-hanger. It was the second time the writer had employed that trick and Fat Giraffe was concerned that the standard of the Magic Penguin stories was not improving. He was considering striking out and starring in his own spin-off series of ‘Fat Giraffe Adventures’, particularly now that Mystic Mouse seemed like she was going to become a regular fixture. Fat Giraffe had never been too bothered about the arrival of Stupid Donkey as a potential rival sidekick, but Mystic Mouse was different. She and Magic Penguin had more in common, both being of a slightly supernatural persuasion, whereas all he, Fat Giraffe, had to bring to the table was his improbable obesity. Then again, trying to make it on his own could be risky whereas Magic Penguin was now an established franchise. Maybe he could stick around for a bit longer and see if he could make it work.
“So, whatever happened to the private investigation business?” asked Mystic Mouse, “Had any interesting cases lately?”
“Well, yes, quite a few actually,” said Magic Penguin, “though surprisingly none seem to have actually made it into the stories.”
“Yeah, it’s a bit odd that,” agreed Fat Giraffe, “I mean we had that whole corruption case recently, a conspiracy that went right to the top of government, and yet for some reason the writer chose to ignore that and instead he always seems to focus all of the stories in the pub, on the days when we’re not really doing much at all.”
“Well, hopefully now that I’m around, things will change a bit,” said Mystic Mouse, “Now we’ve kind of got that whole ‘Harry Potter’ vibe going on.”
“How so?” asked Fat Giraffe.
“Well there’s three of us,” explained Mystic Mouse, “and Magic Penguin is kind of like Harry Potter, the de facto leader and I’m like Hermione, the clever and talented one, and you’re a bit like Ron, the slightly useless, but ultimately loyal one.”
“Oh, ok,” said Fat Giraffe, unsure whether he was offended by the obvious slur or pleased that he was definitely considered to be part of the group.
“I think it’s a bit of a tenuous link,” said Magic Penguin, “I mean, apart from the fact that there’s three of us, there really isn’t that much that we’ve got in common with the Harry Potter novels.”
“There’s no denying that they were really successful though,” pointed out Fat Giraffe, “I wouldn’t mind being part of something as big at the Harry Potter franchise.”
“Obviously that would be nice,” agreed Magic Penguin, “but I just don’t really see it happening for us. Literally nothing ever happens in these stories.”
“What we need is an antagonist,” said Mystic Mouse, “that’s what makes Harry Potter work. You need a nemesis.”
“Well there’s always Red Herring,” said Fat Giraffe.
“No, he’s just a bit of a timewaster,” said Magic Penguin, “He likes to appear at the end of the more nondescript stories to build up a level of excitement for the following week that we can’t possibly live up to.”
“Which is pretty evil when you think about it,” said Fat Giraffe.
“True,” acknowledged Magic Penguin, “but it’s hardly on the same level as Voldemort is it?”
“No, I think we can do better than Red Herring,” said Mystic Mouse, “what about if an already established character were to betray you? What about someone like Stupid Donkey?”
Stupid Donkey, who was skulking in the corner feeling rejected by the trio, looked up hopefully at this point. He would rather be one of the good guys, but he’d take being a villain if it meant he got to be back in the stories again.
“No, I don’t think Stupid Donkey would be any good,” said Magic Penguin, “he just doesn’t have what it takes. He’s a tertiary character at best.”
There were audible sobs as Stupid Donkey rushed out of the pub. Barely anyone noticed.
“No, I think we’re going to need to introduce a new character to be my nemesis,” said Magic Penguin.
“But who?” asked Mystic Mouse.
“I don’t know,” said Magic Penguin, “but I’ve irritated my fair share of people over the years. There are plenty of people who don’t like me.”
“I’m not sure that ‘not liking you’ is going to be enough of a hook to keep the readers interested though,” said Mystic Mouse, “surely the baddie needs to have some kind of evil-scheme that’s about more than getting one over on you?”
“Well that’s going to raise a whole new set of problems,” said Magic Penguin, “I mean if they’re that dangerous, how are we going to overcome them?”
“But that’s where the intrigue comes from,” said Mystic Mouse, “we need to prevail against all the odds.”
“I don’t know, that sounds like a lot of work,” said Magic Penguin.
“Well we definitely need something to up the pace of these stories, and it can’t just be another cliff-hanger that doesn’t really go anywhere,” said Mystic Mouse.
At that moment, the sound of nineties classic ‘Informer’ by Canadian rap-artist ‘Snow’, filled the room. It was Magic Penguin’s ring tone.
“Hello,” he said answering his phone.
A voice spoke briefly on the other end.
“Oh,” said Magic Penguin, “are you sure?”
Again, the voice spoke.
“I see,” said Magic Penguin and he ended the call.
“Who was that,” asked Fat Giraffe.
“It was Red Herring,” said Magic Penguin, “with another cliff-hanger.”
“Oh,” said Fat Giraffe, “well we can probably ignore that one then.”
“Not this time,” said Magic Penguin, “Red Herring told me that my cousin is back in town.”
“What, Lovely Penguin?” asked Fat Giraffe, “I haven’t seen her in ages. It’ll be great to catch up with her.”
“No, my friend, it’s not Lovely Penguin who’s back,” said an ashen-faced Magic Penguin, “It’s Evil Penguin.”
There was a loud thumping sound as Fat Giraffe fainted.
“Now that sounds more like it,” said Mystic Mouse, “I expect things are going to get interesting now.”
But as ever, Mystic Mouse was being far too optimistic.