There are fifteen parts in Season One. Two parts will be added to this article daily.
1. The Hallway Out Back
- It is closing time in the Krusty Krab. SpongeBob has just finished cleaning the dishes and Mr. Krabs is packing up shop. (Squidward has already left.) As SpongeBob is about to head out the door, Mr. Krabs gives him a bag of rubbish to put into the dumpster out in the back.
- "Take this to the dumpster for me," Mr. Krabs tells him. And coming closer, in a sharp voice, he whispers to SpongeBob, "And then come right back here."
- "Aye aye, Mr. Krabs, sir!" SpongeBob salutes cheerfully. He walks out to the back of the Krusty Krab, bag o' trash in his hand.
- Humming a dumpster song to himself, SpongeBob throws the trash into the dumpster. Just as he is about to close the lid, SpongeBob notices something. A door at the back of the restaurant in the place where Mr Krabs' office is located. SpongeBob has never seen a door in the back of Mr. Krabs' office. He remembers Mr. Krabs' warning about coming back to him immediately after taking out the trash, but curiosity gets the better of him. He closes the lid and decides to open the door, just to see what is on the other side. A few seconds can't hurt, right?
- Opening the door (it creaks just a little) SpongeBob is greeted by a long, narrow, dark corridor. This puzzles him greatly. Something like this shouldn't be possible - it would cut straight into Mr. Krabs' office if it was. What was going on?
- Stepping inside the hallway, SpongeBob hears whispers all around him, a thousand disembodied voices murmuring ancient incantations. A bit creeped out, SpongeBob considers stepping back out the door when he sees four doors in the right-hand side of the hallway, spaced evenly apart.
- The first is a standard, Krusty Krab-issue door, porthole and all. SpongeBob cannot see what is on the other side of the porthole - it is too misty to make out. The second door is the same kind of door, but more eroded, worn out, old. The third is a simple iron door with no windows. The fourth does not look like any door SpongeBob has ever seen. Carved into it are an infinite number of ancient glyphs, diagrams and drawings.
- Despite really wanting to go through the fourth door first (it is easily the coolest by far) SpongeBob decides to open the first door first. Pushing open the door, SpongeBob enters what looks like…
- …Bikini Bottom. No, scratch that - SpongeBob is definitely in Bikini Bottom. In the middle of the day, whereas before, it was six o' clock at night. He takes a good long look at his surroundings and realizes that he is standing outside his house. Did the door transport him, somehow? Did it make him travel through time too? And most importantly - what is Mr. Krabs going to say to him when he has to go to the Krusty Krab?
- SpongeBob talks to some people around him, asking them what day it is. They say (with a bit of a confused expression) that it is July 7th, 2014. SpongeBob gasps. That is a whole WEEK from when he was before! SpongeBob explains that he is Mr. Krabs' fry cook and that he hopes the crab boss isn't mad at him. They are even more confused now, saying that they don't think SpongeBob has ever been Mr. Krabs' fry cook. SpongeBob is shocked. Has Mr. Krabs gotten so angry as to remove all trace of him from the establishment?
- A bit dazed, SpongeBob walks over to where the Krusty Krab is. While on the way he notices that a lot of things have changed about his daily walk. There are buildings he hasn't seen before, posters on the walls that were never there a week ago. One of them says "Come to the Chum Bucket! Double Deluxe Chum Patty only $6.95!".
- Finally, SpongeBob arrives at the Krusty Krab. Or, at least, where it used to be. In its place is the Chum Bucket. Mr. Krabs' archenemy's restaurant has a long line of customers stretching out of the front door. SpongeBob feels sick. He turns around, and sees that the Krusty Krab is now where the Chum Bucket used to be. It's also a lot more worn down. SpongeBob decides to go into the Chum Bucket - something he would never normally do, but this time he needs to know what caused this change.
- The Chum Bucket is bustling with happy customers, sitting at every table, eating Chum Patties. The floor and walls are spotless, and the menu - sporting such meals as 'Triple Chum Stick', 'Spicy Chum Bits' and 'Chumbalaya', has nary even a bit of dust marring its surface. At the back of the restaurant, Karen the computer wife acts as cashier, taking down orders and then handing out change.
- And just when SpongeBob thought things couldn't get any weirder, suddenly the door to the boss's office opens, and out comes none other than Mr. Krabs.
- "Good morning, me hungry customers!" Mr. Krabs shouts happily, waving a claw at everybody. All the customers look at him. "Enjoying them fine Chum Patties?" The customers all nod. "Yes, Mr. Krabs!" they shout.
- "Great!" Mr. Krabs replies, chipper as ever. Then he turns to Karen and says to her, a bit annoyed now, "Karen. You're not supposed to give out change. I told ya a million times by now. Get it into your processors!" SpongeBob, amidst all the confusion, cannot help but smile. It's still the same old Mr. Krabs.
- "Aye aye, sir," Karen replies, as sarcastic as ever. She rolls her eyes on the monitor. Mr. Krabs waves once more to the customers, smiling again, and then heads back into the office, humming "Hmm hmm hmm, money money money…"
- SpongeBob walks out of the Chum Bucket, wondering what is going on. Mr. Krabs never even greeted his fry cook. Then his phone rings. SpongeBob takes it out of his pocket and checks the caller ID. Plankton is calling.
- "Hello?" SpongeBob says shakily, wondering what Plankton could possibly be calling him about.
- "SpongeBob, you pathetic barnacle brain," Plankton shouts over the phone. "You're late for work. Get into the Krusty Krab now. I can see you standing outside the Chum Bucket. You know the rules. Don't go within ten feet of the Chum Bucket. Do you understand me? "
- "I… uh…" SpongeBob stammers, unsure of what to say.
- "Now I can see you stuttering and shaking like an idiot. Grab those legs of yours and get to work!" Plankton hangs up.
- SpongeBob gulps as he puts the phone back into his pocket. He looks at the Krusty Krab, all worn down and rusty. Is this where Plankton is? Is SpongeBob working for him now?
- Only one way to find out. SpongeBob walks through the cobwebbed doors of the Krusty Krab.
- "There you are," Plankton says to SpongeBob's right. He's manning a telescope, which is pointed through the dusty windows at the Chum Bucket. He jumps down onto the old, rotted floor, and walks over to the boat-shaped cashier stand, where Squidward lies asleep, a music magazine acting as a blanket. Plankton takes out a megaphone. "RISE AND SHINE, BEAUTIFUL," he shouts. Squidward bursts awake. "What-who-why-when-how?? …Oh." And then he just gets back to reading his magazine.
- Plankton opens the door to the kitchen. "Now, are you going to get in there or are you going to pretend you're a customer? Because I think we both know which one is going to happen. Here's a hint - it's not the second one."
- SpongeBob walks through the door, and stands at his new post. The grill is dusty and unused. The spatula is rusty. All of the Krabby Patty buns (SpongeBob guesses that's what they're called here, anyway) are out of date.
- What's going on?
2. All in a Day's Work
- SpongeBob starts his day in this new Krusty Krab. By which I mean he simply stands around, waiting for it to close. With zero customers, nothing to do, and only Squidward to talk to, the nine-to-five shift isn't as fun as it used to be. Plankton never comes out of the office except to wake Squidward up every two hours. Nobody comes in, nobody comes out. SpongeBob sometimes stares at the busy Chum Bucket and sighs. Now he knows what it must be like to work there. The old Chum Bucket, not this weird version.
- "Squidward," he asks at three o' clock. "Who's the fry cook at the Chum Bucket?"
- "How should I know?" Squidward replies, burying his nose deeper into his magazine. "I never go there."
- Finally, at six o' clock, Plankton (or 'Mr. Plankton' as he prefers to be called) lets everyone go.
- "Plankton," SpongeBob begins to ask as he walks out of the door, and he quickly starts over when Plankton turns sharply towards him, angrily. "Sorry, uh, 'Mr. Plankton' I mean. Do we just... stay here and do nothing? Day in and day out?"
- Plankton is unamused as he walks back into his office for the night. "Well, obviously," he says. "You should know this by now - you're worked here for three years, for crying out loud."
- Three years?!
- SpongeBob is so confused he hardly hears Plankton issuing him a curt "Goodnight" as he walks down the street back to his pineapple house, rubbing his head as he passes by the same weird buildings, the same weird posters, shuddering as he passes by the Chum Bucket one.
- It is night by the time he arrives at his house. Squidward, ahead of him the whole time, has already gone inside his easter island head, windows casting light onto the quiet street. SpongeBob turns towards the door of his house, which now seems alien to him, like it isn't even real. This was where he arrived in this strange new place. Maybe if he comes just a bit closer, he'll...
- SpongeBob opens the door, and steps into his darkened living room. Nope. Didn't work.
- He sighs as Gary, his loyal pet snail, slithers over his shoes, purring at the sight of his master. His house is the exact same as before. This room is the same. Gary is the same.
- Then why does this all feel so different?
- SpongeBob goes to bed early, hoping his dreams will take him back to his old, familiar house, back in the Bikini Bottom he called home.
- They don't, of course. Why would they? Dreams are only dreams, no matter what reality you're in.
3. The New Patrick
- The foghorn alarm wakes SpongeBob up at seven o'clock, and SpongeBob, for a brief moment, thinks that he is back at his old home. But then he notices that the sock he placed on the side of the bed, as a marker, is still where it was before. He's still stuck in this weird alternate reality or whatever it is. Sad and anxious, he puts on his clothes and Krusty Krab uniform. He feeds Gary. He watches the news as he eats his Kelpo. These are all things he used to do before he appeared here.
- And suddenly, now they're not the same.
- SpongeBob looks out of the window at a quarter to eight. Squidward is probably in his house, getting ready for another day of standing around doing nothing as, in the Chum Bucket, Mr. Krabs makes money with what was supposed to be Plankton's computer wife. Or is this what is supposed to happen? Is this the proper reality? Was Mr Krabs ever in the Krusty Krab? Was SpongeBob supposed to be here to begin with?
- Wait. SpongeBob looks out of the window again. Patrick's rock is standing on the end of the street, behind Squidward's house.
- "Patrick! He'll know what to do!" SpongeBob can't help but exclaim. Now as jolly as ever, he walks out of the door, still putting his tie on, and walks past Squidward to the rock. If there's anybody who will have stayed the same, it's his best friend.
- He knocks once, twice, three times. Nothing happens for a short while, then the rock opens and Patrick steps out, the same as ever. "SpongeBob! Haven't seen you in a long time! How's it going?"
- "Yeah, well, uh, Patrick?" SpongeBob stutters, then whispers to him - "I have a bit of a problem."
- "You do?" Patrick says. "Well, why didn't you say so? Come on in and we'll talk it out! I still have another hour before I have to go to work.
- "Work?" SpongeBob is confused. Patrick doesn't hear him as they both step into his rock.
- Patrick's rock is more or less the same, except it has... actual furniture in it! Before, they were just made out of sand. Whatever Patrick's job might be, it must certainly be well-paying. Patrick sits down on a comfortable green couch in the living room and invites SpongeBob to do the same.
- Patrick pats SpongeBob on the back. "Now, tell me - what's the matter?
- SpongeBob considers explaining it one thing at a time, but he's so nervous that when Patrick asks him again, "Come on, you can tell me," SpongeBob immediately bursts out, "I'M FROM ANOTHER REALITY!"
- Patrick just laughs heartily. "Oh, SpongeBob, you're just forgetful. Like me! Sometimes I wake up and I'm all like, 'is anything real? Do I even have a job?' et cetera. But it's alright, you settle down eventually."
- "No, Patrick, I'm serious! I came here somehow, I don't know! There was this door thing and I opened it and I came here! Back where I am, the Krusty Krab is run by Mr Krabs, the Chum Bucket is run by Plankton, and you don't even have a job!"
- Patrick thinks. "Hmm. Alright, I believe you."
- "Sure, why not! Coming from another reality? That's the coolest thing I've ever heard! I wonder if you'll be famous for it? Who knows, SpongeBob - some day you might even be able to get free balloons whenever you like!" Then Patrick goes into a daze, mouth watering as he moans "...free balloons...".
- SpongeBob snaps his fingers, which wakes Patrick up. "Patrick, you're not helping. Can you at least help me find a way back to where I came from? That would be really nice of you!"
- Patrick stands up, scratching his back. "Sorry, SpongeBob, but I can't right now, much as I'd love to. Work starts in thirty minutes, and I gotta get ready right now! Otherwise Mr Krabs will be mad at me again."
- "Mr Krabs?" SpongeBob looks at Patrick, surprised. "You work... in the Chum Bucket?"
- "Well, yeah! I'm the fry cook there, don't you remember?" Patrick says as he leads SpongeBob out of his rock.
- "No, Patrick, you don't get it! I don't remember! I'm from a whole other reality!" SpongeBob tries to stop Patrick, but he still ends up kicked out of the rock anyway.
- "Yeah yeah, SpongeBob. Take the day off, you'll settle down eventually. Trust me, I know from experience." And with that, Patrick closes the rock.
- "You are the opposite of helpful!" SpongeBob calls out to Patrick. There's no response.
- SpongeBob brushes the dust off of his pants, and begins walking back to work.
- The opposite of helpful. In this twisted-up world, this seems appropriate somehow.
4. To The Krusty Krab
SpongeBob doesn't take the day off. Any feeling of despair and hopelessness is gone now, replaced by a burning need for answers, no matter how few and far between they may be.
SpongeBob's watch beeps. Nine o' clock. Time for another long, boring day at the Krusty Krab. Unless he can somehow talk with Plankton and find out more about what his purpose in the Krusty Krab is.
Squidward is already cycling on his bike to the rundown restaurant. SpongeBob decides to catch up with him
"Squidward! Hey, Squidward! Squidward, wait up!" he shouts at him, waving his arms around. Squidward takes a quick glance behind him, sees SpongeBob trying to catch up, and with a sigh that sounds as if his intention was to make it as loud and clear as possible to everyone around him, he slows down, allowing an out-of-breath SpongeBob to run to him easily.
"What is it, SpongeBob? You're distracting me from pretending my life isn't going to be hopeless and insignificant for the rest of my days," he grunts, not turning his head.
"Squidward... I just wanted... to ask you... a question..." SpongeBob pants.
"Well, hurry up, I haven't got all day," he replies. Then, after a quick pause: "Uh, well, actually I guess I do. But still, my point stands. Speak up, come on."
SpongeBob, still running to keep up with Squidward, tries his hardest to sound as coherent as possible in between gasps for breath. "Squidward, have... have you ever been in Plankton's office?"
Squidward rolls his eyes. "You're asking that to the one guy who tries his hardest not to do anything in that cobweb gallery Mr. Plankton calls a food joint. No, SpongeBob, I haven't. Not in years. Simple as that. Now, go away."
"Well... when you did go in, what was it... what was it like?"
Squidward abruptly stops his bike. SpongeBob, not knowing, keeps running ahead until Squidward yells, " Come back here!" fifty feet behind him, and he staggers back. Squidward turns his head towards SpongeBob. "Last time I went in there, the Krusty Krab wasn't the dump it is now. Last time I went in, Mr. Plankton was actually happy. Do you understand what I'm saying?" SpongeBob shakes his head. "What I'm saying is that whatever it 'was like' back then-" - Squidward emphasised that phrase with airquotes - "-it's certainly different now. And we both know that, right?" SpongeBob nods. "Which means I'm not going to bother relating what it 'was like' to you. Bottom line: I DON'T KNOW." Squidward kicks into fifth gear. "Now I'm not going to say this again - Go. Away." He speeds away from SpongeBob, leaving a trail of dust behind him.
SpongeBob coughs from all the dust, then sighs. "Well that was a waste of time," he says to himself as he continues walking, Squidward now nothing more than a distant figure on the horizon.
When SpongeBob arrives at the Krusty Krab, he takes a look at the Chum Bucket across the road, as busy as ever. He'd give anything to be in there, even if it was the last place he'd go to back where he came from.
Pushing open the doors to the Krusty Krab (an action that still seems so homely and familiar, but also confusing when he sees just what the restaurant has become), SpongeBob is greeted by the sight of Squidward reading yet another magazine, feet up on the cash register, occasionally rubbing his big nose as he turns the page.
SpongeBob musters up his courage, and walks straight towards the door to Mr. Plankton's office. He knocks on the door twice. Inside the office, he can hear the sound of someone rising from a chair, of papers being shuffled and put on a desk, and a soft pitter-patter of footsteps approaching the door.
Mr. Plankton comes out of the office through a tiny hole in the office door, obviously being too small to open the whole thing himself. He looks up at SpongeBob, and states gruffly, "Oh. It's you. What do you want."
"Uh, Mr. Plankton, sir?" SpongeBob starts. "Can I speak to you in private, please?"
Mr. Plankton pauses, and then walks back into his office through the hole. "Yes, yes, come inside," he says.
As SpongeBob is about to open the door, Mr. Plankton comes out again. He points to Squidward, angrily. "SQUIDWARD." The cashier sits up in the boat and turns his head towards the boss. "You too. Come inside, it's important."
SpongeBob raises a hand. "Mr. Plankton, I asked for us to talk in private, not--"
Plankton waves off his inquiry. "There's no time for that now! I've actually got something important to talk about, so if you would kindly step inside?" He re-enters the office.
SpongeBob walks through the door, followed soon after by Squidward.
5. Have A Seat (Pt. 1)
"Shut the door after you, please."
Mr. Plankton is already sitting at his desk by the time SpongeBob and Squidward shut the door to the boss's office behind them. Or, rather, he's sitting in a tiny chair, at a tiny desk that are both placed in the middle of a regular-sized desk.
"Sit down," Mr. Plankton continues, pointing to two makeshift chairs constructed out of old barrels. The two employees sit down - one of them anxious, the other not so much.
"Good. Now, listen up. This may very well be the greatest service you have ever done in your lives, so I want it to be perfect." Mr. Plankton slams his hands on the desk. "Over the years, I've been planning a way to get this restaurant back to its glory days. Squidward, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about."
Squidward rolls his eyes. "No."
Mr. Plankton sighs. "I wonder why I'm not surprised. I guess I'll have to tell you all myself, refresh your memories a bit." He clears his throat.
"Fifteen years ago, the Krusty Krab was a place of great food, great service, and most of all, great customers. The Krabby Patty was a hit - nay, a trademark of Bikini Bottom.
"And, of course, that all changed when... Krabs... took it all away from me. Made up lies, stole the formula, and started his own business. And it was successful! People flocked to his restaurant, and ate what was rightfully my food, while Krabs made what was rightfully my money! He's a millionaire now, and I'm close to broke."
Plankton stands up in his tiny chair. "Well, that's all about to change. For you see, I've been formulating-- get it? -- a plan to take back my Krabby Patty Formula, save our business, and give that no-good Krabs what-for!"
Pulling a lever on his desk, a film projector up on the ceiling turns on, displaying a birds-eye-view map of the Chum Bucket's inner workings.
"That there," Plankton explains, pointing to the entrance, "is the front door. It leads into the restaurant part of the building. Now, don't get me wrong, the Chum Bucket is huge. There are, to my knowledge, three floors. No basement."
"How did you find out where everything is, anyway?" SpongeBob asks, raising his hand.
"You don't need to raise your hand," Mr. Plankton says. SpongeBob lowers it. "As for your question, well... let's just say I've done a lot of exploring over the last fifteen years. As much as I've been able to, anyway, before Krabs' so-called 'computer wife' spots me."
Mr. Plankton points to the rectangle at the back of the restaurant marked 'KAREN'. "Speaking of obnoxious computer wives, there she is. She's the cashier, as you all know, and while she may not be as 'into' Krabs as the big man himself says, she's still loyal to him, and extremely vigilant. She will notice any intruders - it takes her longer to find them if they're small, like me - and will then try her hardest to stop them. Which, as you can probably guess, I've had to learn the hard way."
"Why are there loads of areas with question marks all over them?" SpongeBob asks, not raising his hand.
"It's because I have no idea what's there," Mr. Plankton replies. "Who knows, maybe it's just concrete, or maybe it's where Krabs stores his giant robot who plans to destroy us all. I really don't know. What I do know is that there is no entrance to those areas anywhere in the first floor. Moving on..."
Mr. Plankton points to the 'KITCHEN'. "That there is where the fry cook is stationed.
SpongeBob raises his hand, saying "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!". Mr. Plankton sighs and gestures for him to talk. "The fry cook is Patrick! He lives next door to me and Squidward!"
Mr. Plankton stops. He sits down on the desk, arms folded. "Really? And how did you know that?"
"I, uh, talked to him this morning."
"What did you talk to him about?" Mr. Plankton asks, taking out a tiny notepad and pen.
SpongeBob sits back in his seat. "Well... not much, just how he was doing and all. I hadn't seen him in a while, you understand." He didn't want to tell Plankton that he had talked to Patrick over the fact that he may or may not have come from another reality. "Then he said that he had to go and get ready for his job as a fry-cook in the Chum Bucket. Just as a quick aside, I don't think he's very bright."
Mr. Plankton sighs, annoyed. "Why didn't you question him further?" he says. "If he truly is as dumb as you say, then wouldn't it be easy for you to get him to spill the beans?"
"Well, I just didn't think it would be nice of me," SpongeBob replied, a bit ashamed now. "And also, I had no idea about your plan before now."
Mr. Plankton pauses, then tosses his notepad and pen to one side and stands up again. "Fine. Just put that on your to-do list, when you have a moment. Seriously, it can't be that crowded."
Resuming his talk, Mr. Plankton points again to the KITCHEN. "Anyway, as I was saying. The fry cook, whose name I guess is 'Patrick', though that's not important, stays in the kitchen all day. Doesn't go out. Eats his lunch in there, too. What I'm saying is he'll be easy to deal with. He's also stupid, so I guess that's good too."
"Wait..." SpongeBob says. "What do you mean by 'deal with'?"
"I mean we're going to tie him up, put tape on his mouth, and leave him in the kitchen for the entire heist. That way, he can't do anything, let alone try to foil our plans. Does that answer your question?"
"Uh, alright," SpongeBob replied, looking down at the floor. He really wished they wouldn't do anything to Patrick, but he guesses this is better than harming him.
"Now, on to the important part," Plankton explains. He points to 'KRABS' OFFICE'. "This, I think, is self-explanatory. Nothing important here. However," he continues, "there is a secret passageway at the back of his office that leads into a second floor. It's disguised as just a piece of the wall. There's also a keypad next to it that only opens the door with the correct code. After three incorrect tries, it alerts Karen that there's an intruder. It was hard, but after a year of trying, I managed to get the code, which is '2845'. Repeat after me. '2845'."
"'2845'," SpongeBob finds himself mumbling along. Squidward doesn't say a thing.
"Good. You'll need to remember that, because that's the only way you're going to be able to sneak into the second floor. Got it?"
6. Have a Seat (Pt. 2)
"Hey, Mr. Plankton, sir," SpongeBob noted, pointing out a small box in the corner of KRABS' OFFICE labeled 'FF'. "What does 'FF' mean?"
"SpongeBob, I was just getting to that," Mr. Plankton gruffly stated. "FF stands for 'FAKE FORMULA'. It's a safe with a fake Krabby Patty Formula bottle in it. Don't fall for it - I have, many times."
"Well, then, where's the real Krabby Patty Formula?" SpongeBob asked.
"Again - was just getting to that," Mr. Plankton grunted. He held up a tiny remote to the projector, pressed the button, and the picture displayed on the wall changed.
"This is the..." Mr. Plankton starts, then pauses. He quickly gets out his megaphone. "SQUIDWARD," he screams into it. SpongeBob covers his ears. Squidward, who is asleep, jostles awake.
"Thank you," Mr. Plankton says, putting the megaphone away. He clears his throat again.
"This is the second floor," he continues. "When you walk up the stairs, you'll arrive at a corridor. To your left will be the kitchen, where Krabs has his meals, watches TV, and... I don't know, lives, and stuff. I've searched every cupboard in there - nothing. You should be glad I've done most of the searching for you. I've just made it easier for you two to sneak in there."
"You mean Squidward and I are breaking into the Chum Bucket?" SpongeBob asks, a bit astounded.
"I... you know what?" Plankton sighs, throwing up his hands. "I've got nothing. I have no words. This is just... okay, SpongeBob. Let me try and explain here. If you two weren't going to break into the Chum Bucket with me, why the BARNACLE would I show this to you?!" he bursts out.
SpongeBob says nothing. Squidward smirks a little.
"With that out of the way," Mr. Plankton resumes, wiping his mouth with one hand as he points to the diagram with the other, "Keep walking along the corridor and then turn right. You've hit Krabs' bedroom."
Mr. Plankton lowers his hand. "Now, I just want to say this here: we're breaking in at night, so Krabs will be asleep. You do not want to wake Krabs up. He's a very light sleeper, and probably even more so after fifteen years of me sneaking into his room. There aren't any other traps or security cameras in the room, so Karen can't see you or do anything. But Krabs will, if he catches you. Don't let him catch you. That's all I'll tell you. Are we clear?"
SpongeBob nods. Squidward doesn't - in fact he looks as if he's ready to sleep again.
"I'll take that as a 'yes'," Mr. Plankton says. "You'll notice there's a door in Krabs' bedroom. I don't know where that leads. It's made of iron and there's no window. I have, however, seen a remote in his bedroom, with a big red button on it, under his bedside table. Maybe that unlocks the door. Maybe it sets off a trap. Either way, I haven't dared press it. You shouldn't either."
"Then there's the bathroom. I don't know if anything's in there. I just know it exists because of the numerous amount of times Krabs has flushed me down the toilet when he catches me." Squidward rolls his eyes at that. "Obviously he won't do that to you. Well, maybe, if he can fit you down there... whatever, this is stupid. Just... you have your orders, alright? Dismissed, return to your post, just get out of here."
SpongeBob and Squidward are about to rise out of their barrel seats when Plankton interrupts. "Hang on, I'm not done. Tomorrow, you'll go into the Chum Bucket and inspect the first floor for yourself. You can do whatever you want, so long as you don't attract attention, or get in trouble. I want you back in two hours. Got it?" SpongeBob nods. "Alright. Now scram."
They leave the room, and close the door behind them.
7. After The Talk
SpongeBob looks down at the cashier, sitting at his post, reading what appears to be an issue of Squid Culture Monthly. He doesn't look at SpongeBob. "Hmm?" he murmurs, turning the page.
"How is it that we're all suddenly caught up in the middle of a heist?"
"Plankton's... weird like that," Squidward almost mumbles. "He believes in doing things the old fashioned way. You know, like sneaking, investigating, classic stuff like that."
"Huh," SpongeBob remarks. That always used to be how Mr. Krabs did things. "What's Mr. Krabs' style like?"
"That guy? I don't know. If you ask me, he's probably more into all that technology and science stuff. I mean, look at his food joint over there. Can't get any more metal than that." Squidward sits back, giggling to himself over that little wisecrack. "Haha, metal, hah hah hah, tech humor, heh."
SpongeBob silently considers this new information. If Plankton is in the KK, Krabs is running the Bucket, and even their tactics are reversed... who's to say other things are reversed, too? Is that what's going on here? Will his friends now hate him?
He asks Squidward another question. "Did you know about all this? I didn't."
Squidward sniffs a bit at the question. "If I did, I sure have forgotten. If Plankton's correct, then he's been planning this almost as long as I've worked here. It was much better before, believe me - although, now that I think about it, you probably wouldn't have liked the nematode infestation five years ago."
"Yeah," SpongeBob says, absent-mindedly testing the rotten floorboards beneath him in case they suddenly break.
Squidward puts his magazine down. "Speaking of you..." he says, turning his head towards SpongeBob. "You've been a bit... different lately."
"I mean, not all that much, but... really, you've always been a bit more laid back, not caring... like me, in some ways, although you don't normally fall asleep as much. And now, suddenly, you're all happy-go-lucky, upbeat, you know. That kind of 'I'm ready, I'm ready' mood."
SpongeBob doesn't know what to say.
"I mean, have you been going out? Is this all the result of, let's say, a self-help program?"
Yes, yes, let's take that, because SpongeBob is currently too nervous to make up his own excuses. "Uh... well, yeah, yeah, it was a self-help program. Gotta get out more often you know? Heh heh," he laughs nervously, and then stretches his arms out. "Oh, yeah, it's done me good."
Squidward pauses, and for a split-second SpongeBob is deathly terrified that he won't believe this, for lack of a better word, fish-up of an excuse.
Finally he smiles - the first time SpongeBob has seen him smile here so far - and punches SpongeBob in the arm playfully. "Oh, well of course! Sorry, I just didn't realise - stupid of me, really, I mean look at you! You're right, we should all get out more, myself especially. Life's only what you make it, and all that."
"Yeah, ha ha," SpongeBob laughs along shakily, then shrinks back into the kitchen and tries to forget about that whole conversation for the rest of the day.
When six o' clock arrives, and Plankton lets them all go (urging them both to get a nice, long sleep for tomorrow), SpongeBob finally allows himself to stop holding in his stomach in anxiety and think about what Squidward said.
SpongeBob, the SpongeBob in this reality, not the original SpongeBob... isn't the same. He's normally happy and attentive, but here, he's not. He's not meant to be, anyway. This is how this reality works, SpongeBob believes. It reverses things.
If Squidward is telling the truth, that the SpongeBob that used to be here was different, then has SpongeBob-From-Another-Reality changed him, somehow?
Does he now occupy the old SpongeBob's body, the previous personality lost to the winds of the universe?
And if not, if he arrived while still himself - if there are now, suddenly, two SpongeBobs here... where did the old one go?
SpongeBob admits that he may have gotten some answers during Mr. Plankton's talk, and a few more when talking to Squidward (although that heralded more questions than answers, really), but he still hasn't found an explanation to his most burning question.
Why did he come here in the first place?
For an answer to that question, he is now standing outside the entrance to his friend Sandy's Treedome. The environment under the giant glass roof is much different than the one SpongeBob is used to, which means he'll have to wear a helmet of some kind. He's brought a large airtight pickle jar with him just in case, but hopefully Sandy has actual helmets to spare. There's only one way to find out.
SpongeBob knocks on the giant, reinforced metal door, the entrance to the Treedome. A speaker on the side of the door turns on and a familiar voice can be heard from it.
"Howdy, partner! State yer name an' rank, please!"
SpongeBob clears his throat. "Uh, SpongeBob SquarePants, fry cook at the Krusty Krab."
Sandy chuckles through the speaker. "SpongeBob? Well, I'll be darned! Come on in!"
The door slowly opens. SpongeBob steps through the door, arriving in an airlock chamber. He quickly looks around, still holding the pickle jar. Oh, thank Neptune - Sandy still has those helmets. He puts the jar to one side - it probably wouldn't have fit him anyway, now that he thinks about it - and puts on a helmet, making sure it's nice and tight as the water starts draining out of the chamber. Soon, it is completely dry of water, and yet as SpongeBob steps out and feels the soft, airy grass beneath his shoes, he's still protected inside the little watery world of his helmet.
He looks around for a few seconds, trying to see if anything has changed in this version of Sandy's Treedome. That picnic bench is still there, with its red checkered tablecloth. The tree, standing tall and proud in the middle of Sandy's house, looks more or less the same as when he last saw it back where he came from.
Sandy walks out of the tree, wearing a lab coat and protective goggles. "Howdy, SpongeBob! How's my favourite sea critter? Sorry I haven't seen ya 'n ages, but you know me!" She chuckles.
Surprisingly, Sandy doesn't seem too different either. This just might be SpongeBob's lucky day after all.
"Uh, I'm okay, thanks," SpongeBob says, rubbing his arm a bit.
- "Hey, d'you wanna see what I'm workin' on right now?" Sandy asks, excited. "It's up there in the tree! I think you'll love it!"
- An invention? This will be interesting.
- "You bet!" SpongeBob smiles, following her into the tree.
- The invention, as SpongeBob can clearly see, is very big. Covering the entire second floor of the tree, an organised mess of assorted wires, glowing panels with buttons and levers and checklists for what to do with each button and lever, and in the centre, what looks like a big, white ray gun. That's right - a ray gun. Pointy needle and all.
- Sandy laughs at SpongeBob's awe - a friendly, light-hearted chuckle. "I'm gonna be paintin' it later today - was thinking green, 'though a spot a' blue might be nice. Want to know what it does?"
- SpongeBob nodded. "Oh, yes, definitely!"
- Sandy draws in a sharp breath, raising her finger in a 'hush now everybody I am making a point here' way. "Well... have you ever heard of paradoxes?"
- "Don't think so."
- "Well, let's say you travelled back in time to the fifties, and you saw yer grandpa. If you stopped him from meeting his wife somehow, that would stop your mom or pa from being born, which would stop you from being born. Therefore, in the future, you would not exist, therefore you would never be able to travel back in time to your grandpa. Do y'understand?"
- SpongeBob finds that very confusing. "...uh..."
- "Exactly. It contradicts the rules of time - therefore we call it a 'paradox'."
- Wait -- if Sandy's talking about time, would that mean SpongeBob would find that machine useful? He'd have to find out more.
- "Does this machine have something to do with these 'paradoxes'?" he asked.
- "Oh, you'll see," Sandy replied, the knowing smile of a scientist on her lips. "You'll see soon enough..."
9. In The Dark
- A long time passes.
- "..aren't you going to tell me, Sandy?" SpongeBob finally asks, confused.
- Sandy laughs, waving a hand at SpongeBob in an 'oh, you' gesture. "Eh, not yet! It'll be a surprise!" She then points at the as-of-yet unpainted ray gun. "Plus, I ain't finished with it yet. Have t' make some adjustments, you know."
- SpongeBob finds this all to be rather anti-climactic. "Well, when will you tell me? I'm kind of interested in all this."
- "Oh, I know," Sandy replies. "Let's see... 's pretty near completion, now that I think about it... let's say tomorrow evening?"
- SpongeBob thinks this to be reasonable. "Thanks, Sandy!" He excuses himself from the room. "See you tomorrow!"
- "You too!" he hears Sandy cheerfully exclaim as he walks down the wooden spiral staircase to the ground floor.
- After a brisk walk, SpongeBob steps into the airlock, and, as the air drains out and water fills the room, he takes off his water helmet and puts it on the rack.
- Leaving the Treedome, he sees Sandy waving to him from a window, on the second floor of the tree. He waves back, although a few seconds later Sandy gets distracted and looks to the side, eventually disappearing from view. SpongeBob turns his back on the Treedome and begins the short, five-minute walk back to his house.
- It's late. The sky is black. So is everything else around him. SpongeBob is guided only by the warm light of streetlamps as he walks past silhouette after silhouette of buildings, people, boats, though he never stops and looks around to try and make sense of his surroundings. The world outside of that which is illuminated may very well not exist at all.
- After an interminable amount of time SpongeBob reaches his house, a recognisable black shape amongst many unrecognisable ones. He pushes open the door.
- He climbs into bed and, after a short while, SpongeBob dreams.
- He dreams of Patrick, Squidward and Mr. Krabs.
- He dreams of portals, of paradoxes, of Krabby Patty formulas.
- He dreams of tomorrow, and what he might do there, what he might find there, answers, solutions, a way to escape.
- He dreams of Bikini Bottom, of what it was like before, when he'd spend day after day happily frying up Krabby Patties to serve happy customers. Where he'd never have to worry about alternate realities, or reversed personalities, or any other confusing things.
- He dreams of what it would be like to go home.
- And then, the visions disappear slowly from closed-eye view, as if they have been eradicated from all knowledge, the last gasp of memory of another reality, lost to the flow of time, until all there is, all that may very well ever be, is dark.
- SpongeBob now dreams of nothing.
- And yet that, too, is still a dream.
10. The Chum Bucket Incident (Pt. 1)
- SpongeBob wakes up to his foghorn alarm at seven o' clock, as he does every day.
- Sitting up in his bed, he turns his head behind him and sees the morning sun rising above the horizon to the song of clams chirping. A peaceful morning if ever there was one.
- He gets dressed, feeds Gary, watches the news over Kelpo. Nothing too unusual there. He might as well be back home, where he used to be, getting ready to fry up Krabby Patties to customers at Mr. Krabs' Krusty Krab.
- SpongeBob decides that that would be a nice thought to distract himself with while he goes to work at Mr. Plankton’s Krusty Krab.
- He walks the half-mile to the Krusty Krab, noticing the same strange buildings that weren't there before. He hasn't seen Squidward yet. Maybe he got an early start today.
- SpongeBob pushes open the creaky glass doors of the Krusty Krab, walks in, and is greeted by the voice of his boss, in front of him.
- "Ah! There you are! I was wondering when you'd show up. Where have you been woah wait SpongeBob STOP WALKING YOU'RE GOING TO-"
- Mr. Plankton's sudden screaming is halted abruptly by a soft crunching sound at SpongeBob's feet, and he looks down at his shoes to find that he has accidentally stepped on Mr. Plankton.
- "Sorry," SpongeBob blushes nervously as he scroops up the mushy remains of his employer off his shoe, and setting them down on the floor, where they slowly reshape and conjoin themselves to form the shape of Mr. Plankton again. His one large eye glares daggers at him. Which would seem pretty intimidating were it not that Mr. Plankton's eye is now where his stomach should be.
- "Uh, Mr. Plankton, sir?" SpongeBob says, trying his hardest not to grin. "You've... got a bit of a problem with your... well," - and here SpongeBob points at Mr. Plankton's mispositioned eye - "your whole face, really."
- Mr. Plankton pushes his eye up to where it is normally located on his face. "No thanks to you, SquarePants," he grumbles, adjusting his eye back and forth over his face as if it needed to be locked into position.
- "I said sorry, sir."
- "Whatever," Mr. Plankton grumbles some more as he walks away from SpongeBob to a nearby table, jumping from the floor to the table's grimy surface in one great swoop.
- SpongeBob notices Squidward already sitting at the cash register. Today he's reading a copy of Talent for Dummies.
- SpongeBob breaks the silence. "Soooo... when will we be doing that whole scouting mission?"
- Mr. Plankton looks at him for a while, and says, "Well, you can start right now if you want." He shouts at Squidward to come over. Squidward rouses from his magazine-reading trance, and slowly walks over to the table.
- "So you all know what to do, right?" Mr. Plankton asks. SpongeBob opens his mouth to answer, but his boss snaps, "Don’t answer that question. I’m currently doing that thing where I go back over our plans for this morning, in case you haven’t noticed. Now close that mouth and listen." SpongeBob does so.
- Plankton clears his throat. "You’re going to inspect the first floor of the Chum Bucket. Get out there, have a look around, do whatever you want to do. Hell, you can even have one of their Chum Patties, although I’d recommend just bringing one back for testing. Not even I know what kinds of things Krabs has added to my formula." He checks his watch. "It’s ten-thirty now, so... you have two hours. Be back here by twelve-thirty. And for crying out loud, don’t get noticed."
- A shiver runs down SpongeBob’s spine, and he hides behind Squidward, who is also hiding – or, at least, trying to hide, what with curved walls being rather revealing and all – near the front doors of the Chum Bucket. Squidward, even though he is only sitting twelve feet away from the doors, insists on using binoculars to spy on all of the people coming in or out of the building.
- "My eyesight’s not that good anyway," he remarks to SpongeBob while looking through his binoculars.
- "Then why don’t you just... buy a pair of glasses?" SpongeBob replies, curious.
- Squidward rolls his eyes. "I have a hard enough time trying to keep up with my bills and keep myself from being kicked out of my house." He lowers the binoculars. "You know, Plankton still pays us, even after all these years of no customers. Started giving us raises recently as a matter of fact. He has piles of money left over from when the Krusty Krab was the biggest restaurant in town. Refused to part with it for a while, but eventually gave in. He’s helped us out of the goodness of his heart. I think that’s... nice of him."
- SpongeBob is left a bit surprised at this rare display of any emotion differing from 'peacefully unamused' from Squidward, until Squidward returns to his familiar grumpy old self and raises the binoculars to his eyes again.
- "Whatever, I’ve told you about all this before," Squidward murmurs.
- SpongeBob starts to say, "No you haven’t..." before stopping himself.
- A long silence passes, during which SpongeBob thinks about various things. The Squidward in this reality seems... a bit different than the old one. More talkative. Perhaps even... happier? In a very small sense, of course. He’s not exactly jumping around with a giant grin on his face or anything.
- Or, no. Maybe Squidward is just excited to finally be doing something interesting for the first time in years. SpongeBob is just being paranoid.
- "Plankton’s money isn’t going to last forever, though," Squidward continues, all of a sudden – this time not taking the binoculars away from his eyes. "It’s dwindling by the week. I’d even go so far as to say we’ll be broke in about... five months, most likely far less if he keeps paying us at this rate. Which is why we need this formula, SpongeBob. This is the one thing Plankton needs... that we need in order to save everything.”"
- Squidward pauses, and lets out a quiet sigh. "Besides, it’s about time we’re getting it back. I’m not wasting six more years of my life doing nothing. I’ll be honest, SpongeBob, I was never that much into food service, and at this point I’ll take anything that’ll get me out of this."
- Another long and rather awkward silence passes, and SpongeBob decides to keep himself occupied by checking his watch. Mr. Plankton said for them to be back in two hours. They’ve spent the past fifteen minutes just staring at Mr. Krabs' customers. SpongeBob relates this to Squidward.
- "I’m just checking to see if Mr. Krabs has... you know. Done things to them. To make them want to come back again and again. Maybe he’s, I don’t know, electronically tagged them, or – hell, maybe he’s putting giant mind-control hats over everybody once they come in. We won’t know until one of these customers actually leaves the place."
- “Don’t you think it’s kind of weird that... nobody is actually coming out of the Chum Bucket?” SpongeBob says timidly.
- “Well, that’s... yeah, that’s kind of weird, actually. Didn’t really notice that.” Squidward slowly lowers his binoculars. He stands up. “Well, I suppose if nobody is actually leaving the Chum Bucket, and nothing seems particularly unusual about them from outside, then it’s kind of pointless for us to be out here.”
- Squidward starts walking to the front entrance, then stops when he sees SpongeBob still standing around, confused. “SpongeBob, are you coming or what?”
- SpongeBob slowly starts walking towards Squidward. “Where are you going?”
- Squidward keeps walking to the front entrance, not slowing down. “We’re going inside.”
- They follow the small yet steady one-way line of customers into the Chum Bucket restaurant.
- SpongeBob’s first thought when he sees the smooth white metal walls lining the restaurant is that it looks... much cleaner than the Krusty Krab. Perhaps even cleaner than the Krusty Krab from his original reality. It’s certainly much cleaner than the alternate reality Chum Bucket, at any rate.
- His second thought is that this place is packed. The Chum Bucket is a very big restaurant, covering a large area, but it is still filled with customers sitting at nearly every smooth metal table, on smooth metal seats, eating Chum Patties happily on smooth metal plates.
- SpongeBob’s third thought is that the Chum Bucket has quite a lot of smooth metal inside it, white or otherwise.
- A soft, but quick, elbow to the side from Squidward draws SpongeBob’s attention. Squidward is standing at his side in an almost guarding manner, carefully examining every corner of the eatery with shifty eyes.
- “I don’t like this place,” Squidward mutters. “It’s too... happy. Unnaturally happy.”
- SpongeBob is almost about to joke that, compared to Squidward’s general demeanour, anyone else could be considered unnaturally happy relatively speaking – but then his gaze shifts to the customer’s blissful expressions. They’re all so alike, like somebody copy-pasted the same expression onto everybody’s faces. Not one person sitting at each table seems to be doing anything other than eating burgers happily. SpongeBob finds this becoming more unsettling as time goes on.
- “I’m telling you,” Squidward whispers sharply to SpongeBob, his eyes still shifty, his jaw clenched, his back hunched. He looks incredibly paranoid – perhaps for good reason. “Krabs has done something to these people.”
- Despite Squidward obviously not wanting him to do this, SpongeBob finds himself wandering into the queue of customers lining up at the cash register, where Karen the computer sits, a Chum Bucket hat resting on top of her monitor. She takes each customer’s order, pins the order to an open window at the side, bills the customer (but never gives out change – because hey, when Mr Krabs is running the business, ‘change’ doesn’t exist), serves them their order with a robotic arm, and tells them to “Enjoy your meal!” as they walk to their tables.
- “Squidward, that’s her!” SpongeBob whispers. “And Patrick must be on the other side of that window, in the frycook’s kitchen!”
- “Okay, that’s good,” Squidward says impatiently. He doesn’t want to be here anymore. “Alright SpongeBob, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen enough. Let’s go back and report to Mr. Plankton, and this’ll all be over and done with—“
- Squidward is interrupted by the sound of the office door bursting open.
- And who else stands in front of it, but Mr Krabs.