Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and DC Comics characters are the property of their original owners.
“What do you mean, it’s only an urban legend?!
” ended Xander’s horrified yelp.
Up until now, the California native’s visit to Chicago had been a lot of fun. This was going to be his last stop on the young man’s summer road trip, since he needed to be back in Sunnydale by next week in order to start college. So, Xander had done the usual touristy things in the Windy City: going to the top of the Sears Tower, taking in a baseball game at Wrigley Field (as usual, the Cubs lost), and scarfing down an original deep-dish pie at Pizzeria Uno. It’d all been totally great, but Xander had been saving the best for last, what he’d always wanted to do if he ever got a chance for it. And now, after driving to a certain location in the suburban/business neighborhood of Schiller Park, he’d been told right off this was impossible!
The receptionist at the front desk in the Hostess Brands office building looked a bit sympathetic, but she nevertheless firmly told the dazed young man standing before herself, “Sir, whatever you may have thought, we do not
allow public tours of our production facilities. So, no, you can’t see how Twinkies are made.”
“Can’t I have just one
Five minutes later, after being escorted off the premises by a security guard, Xander slouched back to the parking lot where his Jeep was waiting for this shattered man. Ignoring the delicious smells of baking goods hanging in the air, a very despondent Scooby Gang member slumped back in his car seat, gazing blankly out the windshield, all while his lower lip quivered in the sign of actual tears appearing any second now.
At last bowing to harsh reality, Xander glumly reached out to turn the Jeep’s ignition key at the exact moment when a sudden shimmer of white light lit up the interior of the vehicle. Directly after that, Xander’s intangible hand went right through the steering wheel.
Abruptly sitting upright in the Jeep, the dark-haired girl in the skin-tight white costume incredulously stared down at her curvaceous body. With a quick turn of the young woman’s head, Phantom Girl then checked the rear-view mirror, to see the familiar features of Tinya Wazzo looking back at this member of the Legion of Super-Heroes presently in the car. After a few more seconds, a slow, euphoric smile appeared on the girl’s beautiful face, and she settled back in the car seat, getting used to once more having yet another random Chaos magic event. Okay, from the way things felt, this latest manifestation of Hellmouth weirdness to Xander Harris would last more than long enough for what he’d just made up his mind.
Until then, he might as well as pass the time by thinking about what the Summers women back home were planning for him after returning to Sunnydale. There’d been an actual note of menace in Buffy’s voice when she’d laid down the law to him on the phone yesterday night.
“Quit whining about it, and just be glad we’ll take care of furnishing your new apartment! Mom told me, and I completely agree with her, that if it was up to you, all that you’d get was a beanbag chair to sleep in, the largest big-screen tv ever made, Baywatch posters everywhere, and for the pièce de résistance, a wall painting of a dozen dogs playing poker!”
In his Chicago hotel bed, Xander valiantly argued, “But it’s a classic! I mean, dogs playing poker -- who doesn’t like that?”
“Anybody whose sense of humor isn’t limited to the Three Stooges and fart jokes,” was the Slayer’s acid rejoinder.
“Okay, okay!” grumped Xander, about to admit defeat and let two fanatical interior decorators go to work on his new place in Sunnydale. Still, the soon-to-be college student stubbornly held out on one point, as a matter of honor. “I’m not willing to budge on this, Buffster. Over the fireplace, I want my framed copy of the town paper’s front page two days after our graduation. That picture of Snyder being led away in handcuffs is never gonna fail to cheer me up.”
In her own bed at the Revello Drive house, Buffy sniggered loudly for several moments, until she gleefully confessed, “I’ve got a couple copies of the issue tucked away, myself. It’s a real shame that afterwards, nobody could actually pin anything on him.”
“Hey, at least the whole mess ended up with the school board finding out Snyder lied on his resume about his teaching credentials, which resulted in them firing him right away,” nostalgically reminisced Xander. In a more brisk tone, the young man went on to ask his friend, “Any word about a new principal?”
Shrugging, Buffy confided into her phone, “Giles says they’re still looking. Not that it matters to us anymore, since we’re all
gonna be in college!” The Slayer was so happy about her last comment that she bounced up and down on the mattress, giggling in delight.
“You sound like how I
should be acting, considering what I’ve got planned for tomorrow,” chuckled Xander.
“You’re really gonna finish off your Chicago stay by going to that Hostess factory?” Buffy disbelievingly questioned him. Shaking her head in sheer incredulity at this guy’s weird choices in tourist sightseeing, the blonde woman appealed to Xander, “Look, I’ve been checking guidebooks to where you are, and there’s lots of other places you could visit: the Art Institute, Marshall Field’s, Shedd Aquarium, Marshall Field’s, the Navy Pier, Marshall Field’s--”
Rolling his eyes, Xander then shot a look over at the hotel room’s side table, where there rested several small, flat candy boxes, before exasperatedly interrupting, “I get it, I get it, Buffy! Look, I swear, I’m bringing back a whole box of Frango mints just for you, so you can just knock it off with the subtle hints!”
“Nothing can be left to chance when it comes to Frango mints,” intoned Buffy, her mouth watering at the very thought of those yummy Chicago confections sold at the magnificent shop on State Street.
Laughing, Xander changed the subject, and they spent the rest of their conversation happily discussing their college plans.
With a start, Xander came awake, blinking around in his confusion. A quick check of both his surroundings and himself revealed where he was and what had just occurred to him at least several hours ago, judging by the full darkness now outside his car. That was something new. In every other transformation caused by the Chaos magic into one of the DC Comics characters from the 30th century, he’d never before fallen asleep while still in his latest body.
Looking down at Phantom Girl’s form, Xander mentally filed away his recent interesting discovery that evidently taking a nap didn’t make him change back to his normal self. Hey…if he went to bed as Xander, could he someday wake up as one of the Legion of Super-Heroes? Or maybe he’d already done this, and simply never noticed it while the change lasted until it wore off sometime before he woke up the next morning.
Mulling this over for a few minutes, Xander then shrugged, and he next checked the Jeep’s dashboard where the instrument panel clock was faithfully glowing. Well after midnight, which was perfect timing. Xander grinned as he ghosted out of his vehicle without bothering to open the car door. Now he knew how Willow felt while walking through the walls during that weird Halloween in Sunnydale when they’d all turned into their costumes. The girl in the futuristic white outfit made another mental note to talk about this further with his bestest bud in their next phone conversation together. Wils had never said afterwards that holiday whether she’d ever experienced any recurrences of being intangible, unlike his own Soldier-Boy stuff, which had occasionally come in use since then.
Dismissing his thoughts to instead gaze at the brightly-lit target further down the street and clearly working around the clock, Xander gleefully headed towards the Hostess Brands facilities. Where, at last, he would finally behold with his very own eyes the glorious creation of lots
of yellow snack cakes with their creamy filling in the center.
Early the next morning, Don Powers, floor manager of the late-night shift at the Hostess bakeries, was pulling on his jacket, about to thankfully leave and head for home and his waiting bed. Behind him in their shared operations office, Jackson Sheffield, the morning floor manager, was reading the bakery report for the night. Looking up from the sheet of paper, Jackson called out, at the same time his friend and co-worker was reaching for the doorknob, “Hey, Don, how come you went a little over the standard production amount last night? It doesn’t say anywhere here we had a larger than usual order size that needed to be filled.”
In a very bored tone, while not bothering to look over his shoulder as he opened the door, Don replied, “There was a minor shutdown, during a problem with a conveyor. We decided to make up the lost production by shortening our coffee breaks.”
“Good work, man,” approvingly noted Jackson, who went on while addressing the back of the departing manager while the office door began to swing shut. “Tell your people the same from me, will you?”
A casual wave was made by Don acknowledging this just before the door fully closed. Left alone in the office, Jackson went back to reading the files as part of the start of a normal day’s business, and he never thought further of what had just been said.
On the other hand, Don left the bakery with a very sour look on his features. Yeah, he’d talk to his personnel again when they all started the next shift at midnight today, if only to repeat his sternest warnings that nobody
better ever breathe a single word about what happened last night. It couldn’t hurt to swear everyone to secrecy again, emphasizing the possibility of risking the loss of steady jobs with good pay and benefits. Besides, did anyone really want their bosses to suggest they all seek clearly-needed psychiatric help?
Dolefully shaking his head over how much trouble they’d be in if the slightest rumor ever escaped, Don walked to his car. All while trying to put out of his mind the unwelcome memories of the incredibly scary five minutes that had taken place last night, starting when the ghost of a young woman dressed in a skin-tight white costume had walked through the Hostess bakery front wall.
Everyone working on the floor then had instantly fled in sheer panic as far away from this female spirit as they could possibly get, leaving behind their unattended machinery while they huddled together against the far wall. This small group of terrified men and women then proceeded to watch in utter disbelief at what the ghost next did, wandering around the whole place with a truly blissful expression upon her beautiful face.
The majority strongly wishing to be anywhere else at that moment must have then thought that the most disturbing moment of the whole eerie affair occurred when the ghost had stood there absolutely entranced, as she looked down at a conveyor belt whizzing through her intangible midsection while this rubber loop continued to carry to the ovens tonight’s Twinkie production.
Personally, Don thought the really unsettling part, just before the ghost had mercifully departed by again walking through the wall, was when she came over to the cowering group of Hostess employees, and gave them all a very enthusiastic thumbs-up.