Cue the theme song!

“I used to be like you. I know what it’s like on the frontlines. The burns. The spills. The super-rude customers. All the hazards of the java jockey lifestyle. That used to be my life too, but look at me now! Just six months later and I’m already Night Manager of the fifth-busiest Cobblers’ Corner Cafe east of Omaha! Still, this place is just a stepping stone. Got my eyes set on upper management, and I’m not one to forget a favor. Really appreciate you boys stepping in to help out on such short notice. You know, you fellas seem really familiar. You been in here before?”

“Impossible!” the one with the ponytail shouts. “Prior to this night we have never set foot in this coffee-vending establishment!”

“And we certainly were not regular customers until an unfortunate incident occurred a scant five weeks ago!” his friend adds.

“Huh, guess I’m imagining things. Anyway, the name’s Leon—none of that ‘Mister Dobbs’ stuff. And you are…sorry guys, but I’m having a heck of a time making out what it says on your nametags.”

“The characters scribbled upon this adhesive label, like all names, are fleeting and ultimately meaningless.” The one with the ponytail does a dramatic turn, and his cape billows out behind him. No, wait—it’s not a cape. Looks like they found a couple of spare aprons in the back and are wearing them backwards around their necks. “You may address me as the Grand Malignance, though I will also respond to Your Dark Highness, Cruel Lord of Chaos, or Terrible God Emperor of the Somerset Plaza Retail Complex, for soon I shall rule on high over all who toil within this miniature mall! Mwaha! Mwahaha! Mwahahahahaa!”

“Whereas I have written ‘Fart Garfunkel’ on mine,” his companion adds, “because it makes me laugh.” They hiss in unison, baring some pretty unfortunate dental work in the process.

Leon laughs. “Love it! Screw corporate and their stuffy nametag rules, am I right? Tell you what, I’m gonna call you Ponytail, and you…uh, Blondie, I guess.”

“Bah!” shouts Blondie. “Curse you and your distinguishing feature! Oh that I might be marked by a dueling scar, or cauliflowered ear!”

“Ooh, or perhaps a pencil moustache,” says Ponytail. “Muttonchops!”

“Hook hand!”

“I really owe you fellas for filling in tonight. My usual guys just didn’t show up for work. It’s weird; that’s not like them at all.”

“A mystery!” says Blondie, before burping into a closed fist and wiping a spot of red from the corner of his mouth. “But we shall endeavor to fulfill their baristal duties in their absence. I shall now tend to the cleanliness of the seating areas.” He ducks down, out of sight, and reappears near the back of the cafe, sliding out from behind an overstuffed chair, and begins clearing tables.

“Whilst I man the register!” Ponytail unnecessarily combat rolls the four feet to the counter, and stumbles over his caperon as he rises. “Welcome to Cobblers’ Corner Cafe,” he says, pulling himself back to his feet. “May I take your order, sir?”

“About damn time!” says the man across the counter. “What the hell are you minimum-wage morons doing back there?”

“My good man, it is inadvisable to treat a stranger in such a manner. The stranger may be trained in the ancient and deadly arts of the Orient, and may be more than willing to practice said arts upon the loud and inconsiderate.”

“Enough with the bellyaching, cupcake. Stop worrying about your precious feelings and start worrying about my &#$%@&# order! All I want is a large, extra hot, soy, half-caf, caramel spice latte with non-dairy whipped cream. And make it snappy, will ya? I’m in a hurry!”

Ponytail examines the cash register intently, his eyes flitting over the grid of multicolored, backlit buttons. “So…that was…coffee?”

“Jesus Christ! I said—”

Leon’s about to step in and deal with the increasingly irate customer, but his attention is drawn by a sudden cry of “UNCLEAN!” from the back of the shop.

“For shame, madam!” Blondie shouts, pointing an accusatory finger at the woman coming out of the restroom. “The delay between flush and exit was but a mere eight seconds. Clearly you have neglected to cleanse your filthy hands! So unsanitary!” he says, scratching furiously at his crotch. “You disgust me!”

“Whoa, calm down now.” Leon rushes over to defuse the situation, but the woman has already stormed off, the bell over doorway dinging as she goes. “Look, Blondie, I appreciate the enthusiasm for the work, but you just can’t yell at a customer like that. She—”

“YEOWCH!”

This time the trouble’s at the register. Leon hurries back, but there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong. Ponytail stands behind the counter smiling amicably at the now considerably less angry customer. “Is everything all right, sir?” asks Leon.

“Everything is as it should be,” says the customer in a dreamy monotone as twin lines of blood drip down his neck. “The Grand Malignance has made it so. But coffee will no longer quench this thirst within me.”

*Dingdingding*

“There they are!” The shout from the doorway draws everyone’s attention. It’s Leon’s missing workers; dirty, disheveled, and dressed in nothing but socks and underwear. “Hey boss, call the cops! These guys jumped us in the parking lot and stole our uniforms!”

“Blast!” shouts Blondie, leaping onto a tabletop. “You have seen through our clever ruse! No matter. Accelerate the timetable!”

“HaHA!” cries Ponytail as he tears a sheet of paper from the corkboard behind the register. Printed on it is a still frame from the security camera mounted behind the cashier; two men in hooded capes standing at the counter. They appear to be engaged in some sort of synchronized hissing. “How will you refuse service to these men if you no longer know their faces!?” asks Ponytail, waving the paper overhead in triumph. “You cannot! Victory is ours!”

“Oh my god! That’s why you looked familiar! You’re those weirdos that always stole all the Splenda and tried to pay with loose change that stank like chlorine.”

“Fountain money is legal tender!” shouts Blondie, jumping down from his table.

“We shall soon taste of your bitter, brown brew once again, and you will be none the wiser! Farewell, Manager of the Night!” Ponytail produces a smoke bomb from some hidden pouch, but fumbles it into an urn of coffee. It disappears into the rich, bold, Columbian elixir with a faint *blup*. “Crap.”

“Quickly, my friend! Throw another!”

“That was the only one. We traded the rest for firecrackers with that child at the playground last week.”

“Curses! However shall we make our swift, yet stealthy escape?”

Ponytail and Blondie look around the shop in a frenzied panic. Ponytail’s eye lands on the espresso machine. “Aha!” he cries. “STEAM WAND!” Cranking the controls to full, the cafe is quickly shrouded in a dense, somewhat milky fog. Ponytail and Blondie swirl their caperons around their bodies and vanish into the mist.

Leon stumbles over and manages to blindly swat the controls until the machine shuts down, but he’s too late. They’ve vanished into the mist.

“Who the hell were those guys, boss?” asks one of the semi-nude assault victims.

Leon shakes his head. “No idea. But honestly, they weren’t the worst employees I’ve ever had.”

*Dingdingding*

Blondie pokes his head back through the door. “So, will we be getting paid for tonight or…?”


Hey, do you guys miss the Syphilitic Ninja Vampires as much as I do? Impossible! But let us know anyway, because I’ve got a stack of unproduced SNV scripts that are just sitting around gathering dust. It’s really good stuff, too. I promise! So demand more SNV in the comments below! Who knows, it might just happen!