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Herman... 

    Mark glared at Paul incredulously.

                “You…”

    “Yeah?”

    “I can’t believe you!” Mark groused as he buttoned up his coat.  “You dragged us all the way out here because some guy wants us to play a birthday party?”

    Paul nodded.  “Mmm hmm.”

    “Give me one good reason why we should stay here, then!”

    Paul pulled a small slip of paper from his coat pocket and held it in Mark’s face.

    “Oh yeah,” the singer chimed, hypnotized.  “The check….”

 

    Sure enough, the Raiders had received a request from someone to play, of all things, a birthday party.  Since the touring schedule had become so heavy, they usually turned down invites to private parties.  However, this one caught the attention of not only their leader, but also their manager, Roger.  He shuffled a few days on the schedule and sent them on their way.

 

    “You think he could have picked a better place?  It’s cold here!” Mark complained again.

    “Looks like the other guys are alright with it,” Paul said, thumbing over his shoulder.

    Phil and Drake were embroiled in a snowball fight, while Smitty had built a snowman that looked uncannily like Snoopy.

    Mark rolled his eyes.  “You drop those guys anywhere and they act like a bunch of goofs.”

    Just then, a snowball plowed into the side of his head.

    “TAG!  You’re it!” Phil yelled, laughing hysterically.

    Mark only groaned and rolled his eyes.

  

    Paul finally knocked on the door of the hunting lodge.

    “Yiss?” a voice called from inside.  “Who iss dat?”

    “Paul Revere, sir—You called my band about playing at a party?”

    There was a moment’s silence, then the voice came again.  “Oh yiss yiss—Da Raideerss.  Holt pleess, I let you een.”

    Paul could hear the door being unbolted just before it finally lumbered open.  A very wild-haired man stood there, staring at him through thick glasses.  He looked at Paul, then all around him.

    “Vere iss yer bant off Raideerss?”

    “They’re right over there,” Paul answered, pointing.  Phil and Drake were assaulting Mark with snowballs; he defended himself with a large stick he found in the front yard.  The snowball fight proved difficult, seeing as how they had to continually step over Smitty, who was now determined to make the world’s deepest snow angel…going all the way to China.

    The wild-haired man adjusted his glasses, looking befuddled.  “Iss you sure dey sing?”

    Paul laughed.  “Of course they do—They’re the best!”

    “Hmm…  Ve’ll see.”

 

     The wild-haired man was Dr. Pendel Verrückt and the hunting lodge was his winter home in the States.  As he allowed the Raiders to tour the building, they could easily tell that the man had more money than any of them might know what to do with.

    “Can I count the zeroes on the check again, Paul?” Mark implored.

    “Later.”

    “Can I at least smell the ink?”

 

    Phil and Drake admired a display of old armor hung on a wall.

    “What would you do with that much money, Phil?”

    “Get my teeth fixed,” Phil grumbled.

    “What?” Drake asked.  “I didn’t quite catch that.”

    “Uh…I said I’d get my…feet fixed…  Yeah…”

    “Okaaaay….”

    “They’re too flat.  Um, gonna get arches installed.  Yeah, that’s it.  Arches.”  Phil grinned sheepishly.

    Drake merely shook his head.  “What about you, Smitty?”

    Quiet.

    “Smitty?”  Drake turned to find him squatting on the floor, intently focused on a bear rug.  What are you doing?”

    “Shh!  I’m winning!”

    “Alright, the rug blinked.  Now, cut that out!”

    “What would you do with all the money this guy has?” Phil asked from across the room.

    “Buy an island,” said the drummer, “or one of those new Volkswagens.”

 

    “So, you like zee lodge?” Verrückt asked.

                “It’s nice,” Mark replied, albeit somewhat unsurely.  “It certainly is….big.”

                “Do you live here with your children?” Paul asked.

                “Hmm….  Sort off,” Verrückt said with a shrug.

                “So, who’s birthday is it?  Whose party are we playing?”

    The doctor grinned widely.  “Dat’s not till lateer.  You vill meet him soon enuff.”

 

    Dr. Verrückt had his servant retrieve the Raiders’ instruments from their car as they toured the lodge.  He later brought in their luggage.

    “Come—I show you to your rooms!” the strange little man insisted.

    “All he needs is a hump and to call the other guy ‘Mah-stah’,” Phil snickered.

    “Walk this way!” the little man instructed.

    “If I could walk that way—“

    Drake clamped his hand over Phil’s mouth.  “Don’t even think about it.”

 

    As the Raiders were taken to their rooms, Verrückt pulled Mark aside.

    “You.”

    “Uh…. Yeah?”

    “You are zee one I must speaks wiff.  Come ziss way.”

   He dragged Mark down a cold set of stairs into what looked like a cross between a recording studio and a mad scientist’s laboratory.

    “I vant you to meet my ‘son’,” said the doctor.

    “Don’t tell me the little tyke sleeps down here,” Mark commented.

    *THUD THUD THUD*

     Mark soon found himself staring at a seven-foot-tall monster.  A monster with a flat head and sparkplugs in its neck.

    “Y’know, I just remembered that I have to wash my hair tonight…  So, I’ll just be going now…”

    The monster threw its hand onto Mark’s shoulder, firmly holding him in place.  Mark cringed.

    “Relax—He can’t hurt you,” Verrückt reassured.

    “Oh yeah?  What about the Vulcan neck pinch he’s got on me?”

    “Let go, Herman.”

    “NNNNNGGGRRRRR….”  The monster groaned as he lifted his hand from Mark’s shoulder.

    “Your son, eh?”

    “I like to seenk off him dat way,” the doctor beamed.

    “Whatta you need me here for then?  Looks like he can take care of himself.”

    “Becoss you are hiss birthsday present.”

    Mark scoffed.  “Excuse me?”

    “You iss dah singeer, yiss?”

    “Well, yeah…”

    “Den you iss vat he vants.  Vell….Vat I vants for heem.”

    Mark was feeling more and more uneasy by the second.  “Just what do you mean by that?”

    Verrückt smiled wickedly.  “Herman…”

    The monster plodded towards the singer, once again seizing him.

 

   “Leave it to Lindsay to wander off somewhere,” Paul complained.  He flopped back on the couch in the den and stared blankly at the TV.  “Can we change channels already?”

    “I don’t think much else is on at this hour,” said Drake.

    “Yeah, nothing outside of test patterns up here, I’m sure,” added Phil.  “It’s worth a try, though.  Smitty, move to your left a little.”

    “Why do I have to play rabbit ears this time?”

    “Cos you’re the only one that can sit on top of the set,” Paul explained.  “Now, put that trashcan back on your head and hold your left leg out again.”

    “This…is humiliating,” Smitty grumbled angrily.

    “If the picture gets fuzzy, we’ll have to put those paperclips between your teeth again, okay?” Phil warned.

    “Grrrr….”

    “YAAAAAH!!!”

    The shriek startled everyone in the room.  Phil, Paul and Drake stood alert.  Smitty fell off the television set.

    “What was that?” he asked, his head stuffed in a waste can.

    “It sounded like Mark,” Phil said.

    “Maybe we’d better go see what’s up.  Come on.”  Drake hurried into the hallway, the other Raiders trailing behind him.

    “Mark?”

    “Mark!”

    “You okay?  Where are ya?”

    From the shadows, leapt an ugly, seven-foot giant.

    The remaining Raiders shrieked and ran in the opposite direction.  The monster followed.  His heavy footsteps seemed to shake the entire lodge.

    “What IS that thing?”

    “I dunno, Phil,” Drake huffed as he ran, “and I’m not about to stop and ask it, either!”

    Paul was ahead of them, running as fast as he could.  “Anybody know where THAT came from?” he shouted back to the other men.

    “Why don’t YOU ask it?” Phil asked as he suddenly sped by.

     They continued to speed down the hall, dodging furniture and houseplants, not to mention poorly placed throw rugs.

    “I think there might be a door up ahead,” Phil announced.  “We can get out!”

    He ground to a stop in front of a wall.  A complete dead-end.

    “Oh crap.”

    “Double crap,” Drake added.

    “That’s enough crap outta both of ya!” Paul scolded.  “This THING is gonna eat us and you’re just standing there, spewing out G-rated expletives!”

    “Um, Paul?”

    “Not now, Mark.”

    “Paul!”

    “I said—Wait… Mark?”  Paul gaped at the monster in disbelief.  “Geez, man, what happened to you?!?”

    The monster’s brow knitted together furiously.  “It seems like the stupid birthday party you signed us up for was all a sham!”  He let out a low growl.

    “What makes you say that?” Paul asked nervously.

    Phil kept poking at the sparkplugs in the monster’s neck.  “Ooh, cool.  How many stations can you get on these?”

    “Do you think he’s DC or AC?” asked Drake.

    “Maybe we should see if he’s UL listed first.”

    “Would you cut that out?” Mark insisted, slapping the hands of his bandmates.  “This is serious!”

    Drake and Phil suppressed giggles.

    “Settle down, guys,” Paul ordered, smirking.  “We need to figure out what happened here…and what we’re gonna do with a lead singer who suddenly looks like Frankenstein.”

    “Or Herman Munster,” Phil chuckled.  Drake began humming The Munsters’ theme.

    Mark growled and the two quickly hushed.

    Paul crossed his arms.  “Alright.  Explain.”

    Mark steadied himself.  “You know that Dr. Verrückt guy, right?  He was supposed to have invited us up here to play a birthday party, right?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Uh-huh.”

    “Well, he just put MY brain in THIS body and THIS thing’s brain in MY body and now there’s a drooling, grunting monster walking around, wearing MY body, MY clothes and MY ponytail and THAT’S NOT QUITE A BIRTHDAY PARTY, NOW IS IT???”

    Paul coughed and leaned back from the monster.  “Your monster friend had onions this morning, didn’t he?”

    “PAUL!”

    “Alright, alright!  I’ll see what we can do!”  Paul nodded at Phil and Drake.  He stopped suddenly, realizing something was wrong.  “Guys…You seen Smitty?”

    Phil and Drake exchanged confused, worried glances.

    “Not since he was sitting on the TV back in the room,” said Phil.

    Drake looked grim.  “Better check the bottoms of your shoes, Mark.”

    Mark began to comply.

    A chinking, thunking noise was heard echoing down the long hall.  Finally, a figure came into focus.

    “Alright, what’s the idea of leaving me back there in the dark?” Smitty grumbled.

    “The lights were on!” Drake defended.

    “I had a trash can stuck on my head!”  Smitty paused and glared at the group, holding out his right leg.  “And now, it’s on my foot!”

    “At least it’s not on your head anymore.”

    “You smug son of a—“

    “Hi Smitty.”

    “Oh, hi Mark.  Anyway, you left me back there…with a….  Hello?”  The drummer’s eyes widened considerably.  “What’s that?”

    “That’s Mark,” Paul replied.

    “Man, you sure got tall.  Either that or I must be shrinking.  Curse these faulty genes of mine!”

    “Why do you have a coat hanger wrapped around your arm?” Mark asked.

    “Why do you have sparkplugs in your neck?” Smitty returned.

    “Mark’s having an out-of-body experience,” said Drake.

    “Uh…Yeah, you could call it that,” Phil added.

 

    The group began retracing Mark’s steps from earlier in the night.

    “Where did he take you again?” Phil asked the monster.

    “Down some stairs and into this place that looks kinda like our studio, except….well…”  Mark paused, trying to remember.  “Let’s just say his producer doesn’t look a thing like Terry.”

    Drake was still befuddled.  “What was the guy trying to do?”

    “I’m not sure,” Mark replied.  “He said he wanted me for Herman’s birthday present.”

    “Herman,” Phil snickered.

    Mark gave him a cold stare and growled again.  He regained his composure quickly.  “Anyway, next thing I knew, I was stuck in this body, staring at myself across the room!”

    “Well, Franken-Raider,” Smitty interrupted, “your dilemma is pretty common with any kitschy ol’ B-movie.”

    “Huh?” the other Raiders chorused.

    Smitty rolled his eyes.  “It’s a simple matter of switching your mind back into the right body.”

    “And how do you suppose we’ll do that?” Paul asked, agitated.

    “If he’s got a lab, we can figure it out.”

    “What happens if we goof?” pondered Phil.

    Smitty examined the monster’s height.  “We’ll get him a bigger uniform.”

 

    “You EEDEEOT!”

    “I’m sorry, sir!”

    “You EEMBESEEL!”

    “Honest, it slipped!”  Dr. Verrückt’s servant cowered underneath a lab table.

    “How could you let ziss happen?”  The doctor was distraught.  He pulled his untamed hair and slammed his fist on the table.  “My life’s greatest vork…”  He gazed sadly at what used to be his creation.

    “NNNNGGGRRR….” the ponytailed man grunted.

    “You vere supposst to take his TALENT!  Not his whole brain!”  Verrückt again shrieked at his servant.  “Now…Now, vat do I gots?  I gots the brains off my greatest eckshpeereement…shtuck in zee body off vat HAS to be zee vorld’s UGLIEST man…”

    “NNNNNGGGGGGRRRR!!!” Herman said again, this time angrier.  He felt over his neck.  He missed his sparkplugs.

 

    Meanwhile, the five men…four men and monster…were making their way down the corridor towards the lab.

    Mark paused to feel over the back of his head.

    “Guys…”

    “Yeah?”

    “I miss my ponytail.”

    “There, there,” comforted Drake.  “You’ll get your body back.”

    “How much do we know about mind-swapping?” asked Phil.

    “How much do we know about quantum physics?” Smitty retorted.

    “Uh….Not much.”

    “There ya go then.”

    Mark groaned miserably, “Oh boy…”

 

    They came upon a door.  Paul barely cracked it open, peering inside.

    “It DOES look like a studio!  Well, kinda…”

    “Told you so.”

    Drake stuck his head around the door.  He nodded at someone on the far side of the room.  “Hey, that guy looks just like you, Mark.”

    “That’s because it IS me!”

    “Oh yeah…”

    Paul squinted, sighting Verrückt and the weird little servant.  “There’s the doctor…  What do we do now?”

    “We could always storm in and demand they swap them back like they were,” suggested Phil.  “Afterall, we’ve got muscles on our side.”  He nudged Mark.

    “And what if something happens to my body over there?  You think I wanna stay like this?”  Mark paused a moment.  “Maybe if we ask them nicely?”

    “I’m sure that would go over well,” Paul scoffed.  “Oh please, mister mad scientist, can we please have our lead singer’s body back where it belongs?” he asked in a squeaky, mocking voice.

    Smitty only shook his head and sighed.  He took the trashcan he had been stuck with and rolled it into the room.  It bumped against the table where Verrückt was.

    “Hallo?  Vat’s diss?”

    “Smitty, what are you doing?!?”  Paul looked panicked.

    Smitty didn’t stop to answer; he sneaked in quietly while the doctor was examining the trashcan at his feet.

    “Here goes nothing,” Phil said as he trailed behind the drummer.

    “Gwart, did you leef zee trash out for zee pick-up man?” Verrückt asked his servant, while he continued to ponder the waste receptacle.

    “That was last week, sir,” the servant answered.  He noticed movement in the corner of one eye.  “Master!  Look!”

    “I KNEW he had to call him ‘Master’ at least once!” yelled Phil.  “I knew it!”

    “Vat are you doing here?” the doctor shrieked.  “Vat makes you seenk zat you can just valk into a man’s secret lab und just—“

    Mark seized the man by his coat collar.  “I want my body back!”

    Verrückt sneered at the notion.  “You vant ZAT seeng?”  He laughed.  “You can HAFF zat body of yours!  It’s useless!  I just vant your singing talent!”

    “Say what?”

    “If we’d known that, we’d just rent him out,” Paul snarled in exasperation.

    “What’s your interest in him, anyway?” Drake asked.

    “Vell, if he’d put me down…”

    *PLOP*

    “Sank you.”  Verrückt stood, dusting himself off.

    He retreated to a cabinet underneath a recording console and dragged out a box.  He motioned for the group of men to come closer.  He pulled out a small stack of record albums.  Each Raider took one to examine.

    “Transylvanian Love Songs…”

    “50 Ways to Reassemble Your Lover…”

    “Boogie Along with Herman…”

    “OKLAHOMA???”

    “Oh, sorry—Dat’s from my personal collecksheeon,” Verrückt explained as he snatched the LP from Drake’s grip.

    “So, you’re trying to get Herman to record an album…of some worth, am I right?” Phil asked.  He examined the track listing on the back cover of the record.  I Left My Heart in Transylvania  When the Bats Return to Castle Dracul  Over in the Graveyard  You got some real toe-tappers here, oh yeah…”

    The doctor blushed.  “Sank you.  I picked zem myself, just for Herman to seeng.  Only problem iss…”

    “NNNNNGGGGGGGGRRRRRR……”

    “See vat I mean?”

    “So that’s why you swapped our brains?  You wanted him to sing???”  Mark was still angry over the prospect of being stuck as a Franken-Raider for life.  “Look at me!!!”

    “Yiss, you look verrah handsome.”  The doctor was sincere.

    “I WANT MY BODY BACK!!”

    “But vat about my Herman?”

    “NNNNNNNNNGGGGGRRRRRR!!!”

    Paul, ever the shrewd businessman, finally had an idea.  “Listen, Doc—I’ll make you a deal.  You give Mark his body back and we’ll find you someone who can give Herman some singing lessons.  Sound good?”

    “Hmmm….”

    “They can teach him guitar too.”

    “Deal!”

 

    “How you feeling, Lindsay?” Paul asked.

    Mark, who was still a bit groggy from the procedure, nodded and grinned.  “So far, so good.”

    “I hope that experience you had doesn’t have any long-term effects on you,” Drake cautioned.  “You can’t be too careful about this sort of thing.”

    “Relax, Levin.  I feel fine!”  Mark stood up from the bed to prove his point.  “See?  Same old me.”  He felt along the back of his neck, and upon finding his familiar queue, was reassured that he really was himself again.

 

    The Raiders bid their farewells to the doctor and his creation, although they vowed that if he ever invited them back to the lodge, they’d make sure they were playing a gig in Outer Mongolia or any place else to avoid a repeat experience.

 

    “By the way, Paul,” Mark began, “who did you call to come and give Herman singing lessons?”

    Paul grinned wickedly.  “Oh…I have my connections.”

  

    Back in California, another musician hung up the phone excitedly.

    “Peter!  Mike!  Davy!  We’ve got a gig!” 

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