5

A day passed, and not only was there still no Leonard, but now, there was no Sheldon. Howard and Raj sat alone with each other at the cafeteria table at lunch and spent most of their time looking around waiting for the guys to show up. After lunch, they checked Sheldon's office and the physics lab. Kripke responded that Leonard had missed his scheduled time in the lab, and Leslie did not get her morning taunt from Sheldon. What had started out very creepy had turned sinister. They met with Bernadette and Amy and eventually started debating where the guys might have gone, but when they decided to ask Penny, the blonde actress instead became a suspect in the mystery. From the guy's apartment, they watched as Penny carried her laundry basket from her apartment and headed down the stairs to the basement.

"I think we're being ridiculous." Bernadette tried to be the voice of reason. "Penny isn't a psychopathic killer."

"Then what happened to Leonard and Sheldon?" Raj asked.

"Well, Sheldon could be visiting with his mother…" Amy tried to guess. "And maybe Leonard's…"

"Given himself up to become Penny's sex slave?" Howard had the guy's extra key to Penny's apartment.

"What made your mind go there?" Bernadette asked. "That's ridiculous!"

"We're accusing Penny of murdering two of our best friends and that theory sounds ridiculous?" Amy pointed out.

"Correction…" Raj spoke up. "One of our best friends… and Sheldon." He watched as Howard unlocked Penny's door and they wandered in casually to look the place over to see if a murder had even occurred. The apartment looked clean. It was actually looking very neat and tidy, which was unusual because Penny was usually a bit messy. Howard strummed his fingers over her TV cabinet as he looked over it, and Raj merely glanced around the room. Amy and Bernadette merely walked through it and looked the room over as if they were casually waiting for Penny to return.

"What are we supposed to be looking for?" Bernadette asked.

"Anything suspicious…" Howard recalled a lot of forensic shows. "A drop of blood, a hair…"

Raj picked up a hockey mask and a plastic knife and started imitating the "Friday The 13th" theme, but Howard grabbed the toys from him and tossed them into the kitchen sink to stop him.

"Dude, don't be such a buzz kill."

"If she killed Leonard and Sheldon, what do you think she did with their bodies?" Howard looked around the room a bit stymied.

"Maybe she became like the movie and ate them." Raj asked.

"Seriously?" Howard looked at him. "You're going to go there?"

"I saw this move with Christina Ricci where she absorbed over seven guys into her body because her superhuman metabolism allowed her to digest them that fast, and that movie was on SyFy Channel and starred Richard Dean Anderson from "MacGyver!" Raj announced.

"Seriously!" Bernadette spoke up. "You're using a bad movie plot to explain what happened to Leonard and Sheldon?"

"Can you come up with a better one?" Amy poked her head into this discussion then noticed Raj. "Come on, Short Round…"

"Please don't start calling me that." Raj spoke to Amy trying to be decent. "Do you know how difficult it is to get rid of a bad…"

"Hey, Short Round…" Howard motioned to Raj. Rolling his eyes annoyingly, the Hindu astrophysicist struggled with his feelings and looked back to Howard. "Do you realize if Penny killed Sheldon that you could start dating Amy?"

The two looked at each other for all of a second as Raj tuned and looked at the mousy and bookish biologist.

"I'd be just too much woman for you." Amy announced and strided through the door into Penny's bedroom looking for something to suggest a crime scene had taken place in the apartment. She wasn't convinced one had occurred, but she did know it was odd for both Leonard and Sheldon to just vanish. The room looked clean. Pushed into the corner of the room, Penny's bed was made, her nightstand was tidy and the floor for the first time she could recall was clean. Strolling closer to the closet by the window, her foot stepped into some sticky on the floor and her eyes looked to the floor. Her back turned to the closet and the bathroom, she knelt down to tap what she suspected to be spilled tacky soda and reached down to the tip of an axe head poking out from under the bed.

"Well, this looks particularly incriminating." She assessed the bloody axe as a hand quickly clamped over her mouth and another around her waist. She couldn't see who it was, but who ever it was could lift her straight off the floor. A long strand of blonde hair came into her peripheral vision as her eyeglasses came loose in the struggle and skidded across the floor. She was being pulled back into the darkened bathroom, but in the light spilling through the door, she saw Penny's outline in the mirror out of her peripheral vision before the room turned completely black.

"Amy…" Raj entered the bedroom. "When you say too much woman…" He looked around for her. The room was empty. "Where did you go?" He glanced around the four walls to the window and noticed the large oval orbs of sunlight in the floor caused by Amy's glasses focusing them across the floor. Entering the room, he picked them up and wondered why she had left them where someone could step on them. From somewhere in the building his ears detected odds sounds of muffled pounding and thumping that ended with one abrupt knock to a hard surface. Spinning on his left heel, he turned to the guys.

"Guys…" He stood in the bedroom door. Bernadette was scanning through Penny's mail; Howard was invading her refrigerator. "Did Amy come out here?" He heard a creak behind him and started turning his head as someone clamped their hand over his mouth and pulled him back into the room before closing the door. Howard and Bernadette just turned their heads up in time to catch it

"What did you say, Raj?" Howard asked. Looking at Bernadette briefly, he set aside the cold Pepsi he had removed from Penny's refrigerator and sighed out loud as he went to check on his buddy. "Raj?" The bedroom door was locked. "Raj?"

"What could he be doing in a room full of Penny's clothes and belongings?" Bernadette wondered.

"Well…" Howard had an idea. "I could tell you, but you wouldn't like hearing it…"

Bernadette turned her big brown eyes up to him.

"Oh…" She realized what he was talking about. "Never mind… pretend I didn't ask…"

The door unlocked.

"Raj, you better be pulling your pants up, because I'm entering the room with Bernadette." He turned the doorknob and pushed against the door as the sound of faraway violins started playing. Their distant staccato was eerily appropriate as they nervously entered the last room where they had seen Raj and Amy. The sound was playing on their fears and their emotion. With it was the pounding beat of a drum hitting a constant rhythmic beat like a pounding heart.

"Who's playing horror music at a time like this?!" Bernadette asked out loud.

"Eerily appropriate, isn't it?" Penny stood behind the door. Her loose white t-shirt down to her jeans was covered in splattered blood with traces of splatter across her arms and neck. Her hair was unbrushed, it was wild and unkempt as a brief creepy little smirk adorned her lips. Upon seeing her, the sound of thunder cracked above Pasadena. Bernadette screamed. Howard looked to the window.

"Where did that thunder come from?" He responded confused. "Penny, how did you get in here?"

"Oh…" She hoisted her axe up to her shoulder. "Did you know that there is a tiny little door from my bathroom into the elevator shaft and a service ladder up the shaft from the basement? I use it every time I get locked out… Or someone goes poking into my stuff!"

"Penny…" Bernadette hid behind Howard. "How are you doing?"

"Just great…" Penny stood before them in her blood-drenched clothes. "You see, I just got this role playing Lizzie Borden in a movie… It's a really good movie, you should read the script…" She backed them through her apartment. "Anyway, I thought I'd get into character by killing a few people, and you know, it is just so much fun!" She grinned vivaciously sinister.

The background music in the apartment building turned to the theme from "Psycho."

"What the hey!" Howard reacted to the sound. "Who keeps playing that?!"

"Yeah, it's distracting…" Penny looked to the source of the music through the ceiling. "But isn't it eerily appropriate?" She reared her axe back to her shoulder and chased the two lovebirds around her sofa and toward her door, burying the axe handle into the door above them trying to get away from her.

"I knew it!" Howard shielded Bernadette from her. "I knew it! You killed Sheldon and Leonard!"

"I did not!" Penny postured psychotically. "Do you want to say hello to Leonard?" She burped loudly as if she had been drinking soda for over an hour. "There you go! He said hello!" She clutched her stomach. "Although Sheldon is still being difficult…. And in order to get everyone back together, I have to turn you into bite size pieces!" She lifted her axe up against Howard and chased them into her kitchen, but Howard climbed over her counter knocking things out of the way and then turning to grab up Bernadette who had ducked under Penny's reach. From the upstairs, the chase music of violins and drums was being joined by woodwind instruments blaring together in sequence, the booms of tubas and tinkling of piano keys to add the suspense.

"Where's that horror music coming from?" Howard looked up to the ceiling.

"Oh that…" Penny paused with a light grin. "Yeah, I've been hearing that since I picked off Jason from upstairs." She smiled as Bernadette placed her hand over her mouth offended by the revelation. "He was delicious, but then maybe he shouldn't have given you guys that DVD!."

"Oh, my god, Penny!" Bernadette reacted upset. "How could you?!"

"It was easy." Penny smirked. "I just pinned him to the floor, and then I…." She distractedly looked to Bernadette. "What do you taste like Bernadette?"

"Horrible…" She reacted terrified. "I'd go straight to your hips."

"Oh my God!" Howard suddenly wised up. "Bernadette, I know what's going on! We're dreaming! We saw that scary movie, and now, we're dreaming Penny is a serial killer because we watched that scary movie. Leonard and Sheldon are just fine!"

"You're dreaming?" She looked down to her chest. "So that's why my boobs are three cups larger. I just thought I was gaining weight!"

The music was getting louder.

"Why is that horror music getting louder?" She asked out loud.

"You would have to mention that!" Howard pulled Bernadette out of the way as Penny buried her axe head into the wall over the TV. Rushing for the door, they struggled to find it locked then raced around the sofa for the bedroom screaming and running. Howard closed the door, but Penny shattered the clouded glass in it. With Bernadette behind him, Howard looked for anything he could use in this reality and wondered why he couldn't materialize anything. All he needed was a sword, some fantasy armor or even Wolverine's claws. Growling and rushing to catch up, Penny reared back on the axe and started swinging it down on Howard, but he caught it and started struggling with her over it.

"Bernie, dream up some cops!" Howard tried to wrestle the axe from her, but she was so much more stronger than him. "The Army! The FBI! The Avengers!"

"But Howard, this is your dream!" She climbed over Penny's bed and grabbed the lamp to smash over Penny's head, but that didn't stop her or slow her down. Finally lurching the axe from her, Howard swung it backwards and hit her in the stomach with the end of the handle. Bernadette now jumped on to Penny's back and tried choking her around the neck, but Penny smashed her backward into the wall to get off her. As she turned to Howard, the Jewish engineer clenched his teeth and struck her upside the chin with the blunt end of the axe head. Penny staggered backward from that strike toward her window. Her murderous eyes lit up on him and gripped the axe handle to show him how to use it, but Howard was pushing her back off him at the same time away from the door. Somewhere a foot slipped, and Penny felt her backside breaking glass and then meeting open air. Looking behind her, she realized where she was and tried to grab the window pane, her hands coming down through the shattered glass breaking out of it as her legs flipped over and went out of the building first. Hitting the wall, Howard gasped out of breath and fell to the floor. Catching his breath, he looked out to see where she had gone and saw her body splayed out on the sidewalk outside, a distant single car horn trumpeting her end.

"Howard…" Bernadette rushed over to him. "You did it. You made it."

"Yeah…" Tired and breathless, Howard was stunned and somewhat shocked. "I guess I did." He paused and looked around. "Why aren't I waking up?" He looked around Penny's room a bit perplexed.

"Howard, let's just get out of here before anything else…" She took his arm to tug him out of the room then stopped before the bedroom door and winced a bit while holding her stomach.

"Bernie, what is it?" He pulled her close. "What's wrong?"

"I don't know…" His girlfriend was trembling. "I feel as if there's something inside me trying to get out…" He held her abdomen and bent over a bit in pain. Something was happening. She was shaking and groaning in pain, and Howard watched he could see her getting taller.

"Bernie?" He stood shocked at what he was seeing. She was growing in size and metamorphasizing right in front of him. Her body was getting bigger, her clothing was receding and popping apart at the seams as she got bigger in size. Her voice was shrieking from the pain, and Howard couldn't stop her transformation but watch in shock as his girlfriend changed form in front of him. Dropped to the floor, Bernadette felt her muscles moving, her skin stretching, bones cracking and healing over again; body tissue was moving around in her body. Her hand reached for the axe where it had fallen.

"What's happening? What's happening?!" Howard watched her rise up. She now stood another foot taller than him.

"Because Howard…" Bernadette's voice was being replaced by Penny's voice and face grinning sadistically. She removed Bernadette's eyeglasses. "The killer always returns for the sequel!" Taking possession of Bernadette, Penny swung her axe back and brought it right down on Howard's head just as everything winked out of existence. In a darkened bedroom, Penny woke with a start; her eyes widened out of terrified surprise and scared confusion. Her hand to her chest trying to contain her pounding heart, she took a few deep breaths and looked briefly to Leonard next to her before looking around once more around the room.

"What the frack!"

"Penny?" Leonard started stirring next to her. They had made up hours ago. She apologized for lying to him, and he had apologized for not realizing her feeling about her obscure low-budget movie.

"Don't ask!" She slid down under her blankets.

Across the hall, Sheldon stood in the kitchen in his robe making a cup of tea. He had heated the water to the proper hundred and twenty degrees and was dabbing his teabag its regular five dips into the water in his cup. Five dips, no more no less. As he counted the times he dropped and raised the tea bag, he heard a distant beating of a drum in the building. Lifting his head to the sound, he turned to acknowledge it, discarding his tea bag in the process and lifting his head bird-like to the sound. It was one note over and over. The rhythmic beat was like a heart beating. Someone was setting the beat for an up-coming tune. Annoyingly turning his head annoyed at the noise, and he scowled out of annoyance that his peace and quiet was now disrupted by the noise.

"Oompah-loompah, Doopity-Doo, I've got a perfect puzzle for you." A series of short orange-skinned men came from the hall. They had green hair, matching white tam o'shanter hats, and they all wore tiny white over-alls with curved shoes. They came from the hall, one crawled out from under the sofa and another from under the cupboard. They looked like midgets, but they looked so odd. They sung together in unison. "Oompah-loompah, Doopity-Dee, if you are wise, you will listen to me."

"Who are you?" Sheldon looked terrified as they converged into a tiny troop of singers looking up to him. "How did you get in here?"

"What do you get from being an ass?" One of them pulled Sheldon down to look him in the eye.

"Obnoxious and spoiled and lacking in class." Another turned Sheldon's head to face him. Making a face of terror, Sheldon set his tea on the counter and rushed to the door trying to escape from this singing band of mutant little people. He grabbed the door and swung it open to find Willie Wonka barring it in his top hat, violet coat and tan trousers. Leaning into the doorway, he turned his whimsical face with his bright blue eyes up to Sheldon.

"Where do you think you're going?" He asked straightly. Sheldon slammed the door on him.

"Treating people like a lot of crap…" The Oompahs were still singing in harmony as they followed Sheldon around the sofa.

"What do you think will come of that?"

Sheldon lifted his head up and listened a short piccolo tune in the room.

"I don't like the look of it."

"Keep away!" Sheldon was being herded back to the closet to the left of his entryway and gradually into the alcove of the apartment.

"Oompah-loompah, Doopity-Doo, if you are more humble you will go far…" The Oompahs pressed Sheldon toward the window. "You will live in happiness too, like the Oompah-loompah, Doopity-Doo…"

Sheldon kept pressing himself away from them until the window in his back popped open and he suddenly felt air. Grasping and scratching, he tried to cling to the windowsill, but gravity grabbed him and pulled him to Earth. The last thing Sheldon saw were those five orange faces with the green bouffants in their tiny little work uniforms staring down to him in the street from four stories above him. The piccolo music sounded again.

"Doopity-Doo…"

Awaking with a start, Sheldon sat up straight in bed. His heart was racing. He had sweat pouring down his face, and his eyes were widened with fear and terror over having experienced his death at the hands of that orange-skinned harmonic homicidal chocolate-making team. He took a deep breath from the unfathomable depths within his body and turned his head to the proximity of his roommate staying the night with their female neighbor across the hall, spewing his voice forward in one loud hysterical scream for help.

"Leonard!"

END