SOMEWHERE IN SWEDEN, 1992
Micke the Wizard was nervously pacing the floor of his secret room, which was located in the basement of an otherwise ordinary Swedish house that was his home. By day, he worked as a recording studio sound engineer. But that was actually just a cover for his true identity.
For Micke was actually from the magical kingdom of Melody Land, a place high in the sky that was unknown to all the other inhabitants of Earth. Melody Land is the wondrous place from which all melodious songs originate; whenever someone writes a lovely song that almost seems to write itself...well, it has, because it has been channeled to the songwriter from Melody Land.
Just as the people of Earth need Melody Land to keep a song in their heart, Melody Land depends upon the Earth, as well. Because, if the people of Earth don't play and sing enough beautiful songs, Melody Land will suffer, and eventually die.
Which is precisely why Micke the Wizard was terribly worried right then. He had been noticing a disturbing trend in popular music...it was moving away from strong melodies at an alarming pace. Even during the late 1960's and early 1970's, when hard rock had been threatening pop, Micke hadn't seen such a dearth of melody in music. More and more, there was only rap music or else alternative music...all of it depressing or violent, all of it killing the lovely uplifting feeling of a melody that Melody Land needed to survive.
The situation was growing dire, so dire that the wizard was considering doing the unthinkable--resurrecting the once-powerful force that had saved melody in the 1970's. The main problem with this was that, if this idea didn't work, Micke had no other options left, and Melody Land would be doomed. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that there was no way out.
So he strode purposefully over to the crystal ball which stood on a nearby table, raised his arms and intoned, "I call upon thee, Stig the Enchanter, for your assistance in this urgent time of need."
A mist began swirling inside the crystal ball, and it solidified into the image of Stig--who, like Micke, was dressed in a velvet robe with a matching pointed hat. Stig's robe had more golden stars, as befitting his higher rank. "It's about bloody time," groused the Enchanter.
"What do you mean?" asked Micke warily.
"When I hadn't heard from you in so long, I figured things were going well on Earth," Stig replied. "But then, strange things started happening in Melody Land. Some of our people were stricken with mysterious illnesses, plants and trees started to die, and the rivers started to nominate Ross Perot for President of the United States. So I checked on things myself, by tuning in to Earth's radio stations. And I'm prepared to say, things are going to hell in a handbasket. What took you so long to call me?"
Nervously, Micke answered, "Well, sir, everything happened so quickly, that I thought perhaps I could take care of things myself here on Earth. But melody is disappearing from this planet's music so rapidly that...well, the only solution, as far as I can see, would be to resurrect the foursome who brought melody back to music in the 1970's."
The image of Stig looked utterly disgusted. "You've got to be kidding me. Don't you remember how things were, when I sealed them in the magic crystals back in '82? It was bad enough that the two couples had just split up, and were alternating between not speaking to each other or arguing incessantly. I thought they would settle down after they were finally past their bickering stage, but things got even worse. The blonde didn't want to venture anywhere past her local supermarket, the redhead kept nagging me to keep worms under my sink for composting purposes, and the boys were talking about writing a musical about a board game, of all things. They were driving me crazy!"
"But they're our only hope," protested the Wizard. "I promise, I'll look after them, if you'll just be so kind as to release them from their slumber."
Stig sighed and shook his head. "All right, Wizard, I'll grant your request, as long as you're promising to keep those kids out of my hair. Join me for the releasing ritual.." He waved his magic staff, and in an instant, Micke vanished from his secret room in Sweden, and reappeared in Melody Land.
Micke found himself standing in Stig's office, which was practically wallpapered in silver, gold, and platinum records. Stig waved his wand in front of one area of the wall that wasn't covered in awards, and a magic portal to another secret room appeared. He led Micke inside, and even though the Wizard knew what to expect, the sight of it still awed him.
Inside a glass display case were four sparkling crystals. They were red, yellow, blue, and green, and rested on a bed of black velvet. Each crystal was small enough to hold in one hand, and at the Enchanter's command, the Wizard helped him remove the crystals and set them on the floor, about three feet apart from each other.
"All right, here goes," said Stig, taking a deep breath. Waving his wand thrice in a circular motion, he chanted the spell that would release the four young people from their slumber:
In these sacred stones, I sealed you away
A large puff of smoke temporarily blinded the two men, but when it had cleared, they found that they had been joined by four more people.
To keep the magic you had, back in the day
Pop music right now is a pile of crap
So I order you four to awake from your nap!
"Where are we?" asked the bearded man.
"Wherever it is, at least we're still in Melody Land," observed the clean-shaven man, using his keen logic to size up the situation.
"I hope we're not too far from home," said the blonde, looking worried. "I have horses to tend to, and then I thought I'd take a nice, long walk."
The redhead glanced around, as if searching for something. "I'm hungry. Is there a vegetarian restaurant around here?" she asked.
Stig closed his eyes, as if he could feel a headache forming, so Micke came to his rescue by explaining the situation to the two ex-couples. After he had recovered from his petty irritation, Stig concluded by saying, "So this is your mission: To discover how music has been robbed of all melody and harmony, and to replace it as soon as you've eliminated the problem. Any questions?"
"Yes," replied Frida seriously. She glanced at the clothes that she and the others were wearing, which were similar to those they had worn in the mid-1970's, except for a few minor changes. "How come the cat design on my mini-dress has turned red, while Agnetha's has turned yellow? And the trim on Björn's jumpsuit is blue, Benny's trim is green, where it used to be silver and gold before?"
Once again Stig looked miffed. After all, it had been his idea to put the foursome in color-coded crystals so that he could tell who was who, and apparently some of the coloring had seeped into their costumes. He didn't like being reminded of this minor mix-up.
"Nice to see you're as observant as ever, Frida," Micke said, trying to mollify everyone at once. "With your permission, wise Enchanter, I shall return to Earth to make plans. But first, I'd like to take our artistes back to their former secret headquarters for a while. I figure it will make them feel more at home, until they adjust to being resurrected."
They're not the only ones who have to adjust to it, thought Stig irritably. Out loud he said, "A splendid idea, Wizard." Though it would have killed him to admit it (for then, he would not have been justified in demanding 50% of the group's profits), he knew that these four people were Melody Land's best hope. Though they weren't wizards, or even an enchanter as he was, they had a special magic of their own, a chemistry that somehow clicked whenever they were together.
As Micke departed, he too was filled with excitement and a newfound hope. After all these years, he couldn't believe it was actually happening. Those musical heroes of the 1970's--The Super Swedes--were back!
The Super Swedes sat in the living room of their magical headquarters in the sky, pondering their next move. "I can't believe Stig the Enchanter is sending us on another assignment already," Agnetha complained. "It's only been ten years since he let us take some time off."
"You think that's bad," Frida countered. "Ten years later, people are still wasting the earth's precious resources. At this rate, the entire world is going to end up looking like a toxic wasteland--"
"And speaking of wastelands," interrupted Benny, "you ought to hear Top 40 radio nowadays. Total garbage!" Benny was shouting because he was listening to the radio through a headset.
"Hey, keep it down," Björn shouted back. "We're all in the same room, you know."
"Sorry about that," said Benny, removing the headphones, then turning down the radio.
"But he's got a point, girls," Björn went on. "I can see why Micke the Wizard asked Stig the Enchanter to bring us back into action. You wouldn't believe the junk on the charts nowadays. Alternative music, which sounds like a rock tape that's been run through a blender, and rap music--"
"Rap music?" Frida asked. "I thought rap music already had its day back in the early Eighties, when Blondie had a hit with that song, 'Rapture': The lyrics were so stupid--"
"I know," Björn said, interrupting her as she had interrupted him. They weren't being rude; they were just more animated than usual, having been sealed in crystals for a decade or so. "But rap lyrics have gone from stupid to mindlessly violent. Young inner-city thugs called 'gangstas' are all the rage in rap now, and they're always rapping about violent crime and treating women as sex objects."
"The nerve!" exclaimed Frida, feeling her feminist hackles rise.
"Here's a sample lyric," Björn said, handing her a piece of paper that he had printed with his magical computer printer.
Frida held the paper so that Agnetha could read it, as well. "What is a 'nine'?" asked Agnetha, a puzzled frown creasing her forehead. "And who are these 'ho's'?"
"That's what I'm trying to find out," Björn replied. He held up a book of contemporary slang, which he had picked up at the Melody Land Barnes and Noble. "I've got to hit the books before we go on this mission."
"Wait a minute!" Benny cried suddenly. "Listen!" He unplugged the headset and turned up his stereo. The strains of Wilson Phillips' "Hold On" filled the room.
"It's probably just an oldie," Agnetha said, not wanting to get her hopes up, only to have them dashed by reality.
"No," Benny replied, "this song was a hit not too long ago--in America!"
"In America?" the other three repeated, astonished by the news.
"Then that means there's hope for melody yet--even in America," Frida added.
"But that still doesn't help us find out who--or what--we have to fight, to make the world safe for melody again," Agnetha pointed out.
"As soon as we've done our homework," Björn declared, tapping his book with his index finger, "the only thing we can do is just go to Earth and start investigating, until we find out who's responsible for turning the charts into a giant garbage dump. But we need to blend in with society, so we don't draw undue attention to ourselves. Frida, can you find out what styles are in fashion, so we'll be able to dress like everybody else?"
Frida smiled--fashion was her passion. "I'm on it," she said with a mischievous smile, then she snapped her fingers and vanished in a cloud of glittering light.
"Do you mean we have to go all the way to America?" Agnetha asked worriedly. "Stig knows how I hate to fly, and besides...my English isn't good enough for me to go unnoticed in America."
Björn and Benny exchanged a glance, nodded at each other, then pointed at Agnetha. A golden blaze of light zapped from their index fingers and swirled around Agnetha.
After it had subsided, Björn explained, "This will temporarily improve your English-language skills so that you'll be able to converse well with any American. As for flying, don't worry--Micke tells us that he's upgraded our magical transportation system. Now it will only take us a nanosecond to fly to Earth, instead of a full second."
Agnetha wasn't thrilled at the prospect of the seemingly impossible mission that lay ahead of them. "I want to be alone," she said, with a sigh.
When Frida returned a few minutes later, she proudly announced, "All right, I've scouted out the most trendy cities in Europe and America, and now I can dress us appropriately for our mission."
She gestured for the others to stand up, and they obeyed. As soon as they were standing, Frida pointed her finger at each one of them in turn, zapping them with a golden bolt of light that made their satiny outfits disappear, to be replaced with the latest fashions. Then she pointed her finger at herself, as well, to change her own clothes.
Björn, Benny, and Agnetha looked down, curious to see what people were wearing in 1992. But they froze, stunned, when they saw that all four of them were wearing dingy T-shirts with flannel shirts over them, faded jeans, and worn-out sneakers. As if to convince themselves that they weren't hallucinating, Björn, Benny, and Agnetha looked at each other...only to find the same shocked expressions on the others' faces.
"Frida," Benny said sternly, "this is no time for jokes."
"I'm not joking," Frida said indignantly. "It's called the grunge look, and it's the very latest fashion. You have been researching the Top 40 charts while I've been gone, haven't you? This look was inspired by the alternative rock music--known as grunge--which originated in Seattle, in the U.S.A."
Still skeptical, Björn acknowledged, "Yes, we did hear about this grunge trend. But I can't help believing that this is going a little too far."
As Frida folded her arms and sulked, Agnetha spoke up. "Teenagers like to shock their parents, and this look certainly is shocking. Frida, when you were on Earth, do you remember if it was teenagers or grown-ups wearing clothes like these?"
"Both," Frida replied promptly.
"But exactly how old were the adults wearing these clothes?"
"Well, they were young adults," admitted Frida reluctantly.
"Then find out what the older adults were wearing," Benny suggested, "and let's see how we look in those clothes, instead."
"Oh, all right," Frida said somewhat petulantly. "But if we're going to investigate grunge and rap music, I don't see how we're going to be able to go incognito if we're not dressed like the people who listen to it."
The other three exchanged a resigned glance. "She has a point," Agnetha finally said.
"All right, then, we'll wear these clothes," Björn declared, but his heart clearly wasn't in it. "Now that Frida's back, we all need to bring each other up-to-date on the information we've found, before we head to Earth to embark on our mission. As Frida said, grunge music is said to have originated in Seattle," he went on. "Rap music, which is also very popular, is more complex. There are rappers on America's west coast--Los Angeles--and they're at odds with the rappers in the East, in cities like New York. While rap started as a more or less harmless art form, 'gangsta rap' is taking over, and unless you're a rapper who has a criminal record, you're not considered a credible artist."
"You're right, this is complicated," Agnetha sighed. She wasn't looking forward to traveling all over the United States again.
"But there's one thing we have going for us," Benny said, taking up where Björn left off. "I'm sure you all remember that cable music station, MTV, which was just starting out when Stig first sealed us in the crystals. Well, it seems that MTV has really turned into a powerful force all over the world. If a video isn't shown on MTV, the song has very little chance of becoming a hit. Everything I've been listening to on radio has also gotten a great deal of airplay on MTV."
"This is true," confirmed Frida. "Television shows and commercials are made to look like MTV videos, to appeal to younger viewers."
Agnetha's blue-gray eyes looked hopeful. "So you're saying...?"
"Exactly," Björn answered her. "All the grunge and rap videos have to be shown on MTV to become popular. So if there's an evil force trying to kill melody in pop music, MTV is the first place it would go. Therefore, MTV is the first place we're going to go, to investigate."
There was a whooshing sound on the other side of the room, which caught The Super Swedes' attention. The magical communications monitor -- which looked amazingly like a plasma television of the future -- came to life. The image of Micke the Wizard suddenly appeared and spoke to them.
"Excellent work," Micke declared. "You've already begun to formulate a plan for your attack."
"Speaking of which," Benny replied, "in order to attack, we're going to need some sort of weapons."
"Don't worry," Micke reassured him. "Stig the Enchanter has resurrected your weapons as well, and made them even more powerful."
He waved his wand, and suddenly each of the Super Swedes was startled by a twinkle on his or her right hand. When the sparkle of light died down, each of them was wearing an ordinary looking ring with a single stone embedded in the metal. Frida's was a ruby, Agnetha's was a topaz, Björn's was a sapphire, and Benny's was an emerald--Stig was sticking to his original color combination, whether Frida liked it or not.
"Our rings!" gasped Agnetha. "I'd forgotten all about them!"
"But I remember now," Frida chimed in. "I remember how to use them, and everything!"
The others nodded, indicating that their memories had returned, as well.
"As an added bonus, you can also use your rings to communicate with me or with each other, if necessary," Micke went on. "That was part of the bonus software that came with our upgrade to Windows 3.1," he explained. "So, now that you're armed with your magical weapons, a plan of action, and some truly hideous clothing, you're free to go. Good luck and God speed!"
There was a burst of sparkling light, and The Super Swedes materialized in the building where the MTV offices were located. Before coming in for a landing, they had made sure that they were in an empty corridor, so that nobody would see their unusual entrance.
"I'm da man wit da plan to take over da Earth
"What do we do now?" whispered Agnetha. "We have to have a good excuse for being here."
"We'll just pretend that we're a grunge group, and we're here to convince the MTV executives to play our video," Benny replied. He held out his hand, and a promotional video magically appeared on his palm.
"Isn't that a little farfetched?" objected Björn. "Artists don't just walk in off the street and demand airplay. They have agents and record labels to promote them."
"I know," Benny said. "I just thought it'd be better if we seemed a bit naive, to catch these people off guard. And maybe they do get a lot of people who just walk in off the street, thinking theyll have a chance. So, if we hang around other up-and-coming acts, we may overhear some important information."
Agnetha sighed. "You know, back in the 1970's, I thought we had saved pop music forever, when we vanquished our old arch-enemy, Hip E. Scum. Who would've thought we'd be called into action again?"
"Somebody's coming!" whispered Frida.
"Let me do the talking," Björn commanded them. "Hello," he said to the young woman who was approaching them. "We're lost, and we're hoping you could help us."
"Whatever," the girl said, looking bored.
"Our manager is here to see if MTV will play our video," Björn began, "but he brought the wrong tape here by mistake. So we'd like to give him this one," he added, pointing at the tape in Benny's hand.
"Like, where do the program directors find them, and why do they always end up bugging me?" the girl grumbled. To the grungy-looking foursome, she said, "Go to the third door on the right, and give it to the receptionist. Tell her who the tape is for, and she'll give it to him."
"Thank you," said The Super Swedes, as the girl walked away.
"Well, at least she wasn't suspicious," Agnetha observed.
"She was too lazy to care," Frida added.
"Let's get going," Björn said, warily looking around, "before somebody important finds us here, and starts asking questions." The group went to the door that the girl had mentioned, and walked in.
There, another young woman in trendy clothing was seated at the desk. Though she had to be the receptionist, she didn't exactly give The Super Swedes a warm welcome. She was busy talking on the telephone--and from what they could hear, the newcomers could tell that it was a personal call.
"Sounds like she could be on the phone for quite a while," Benny said in a low voice. "That gives us time to look around."
There were awards and photos hanging on the walls, as well as some literature for people to read in the waiting room. So the foursome split up and began skimming everything they could, acting casual to avoid arousing suspicion. Fortunately, they were the only ones in the room, and the receptionist had no intention of interrupting her telephone call to find out why these strangers were there.
The inner office door opened, and a tall, African-American man dressed in street-thug chic clothes emerged. As he walked out of the office, he gave the four Swedes a long, hard look.
"Uh-oh," Frida said worriedly. "I think that man finds us suspicious."
"But why?" whispered Agnetha. "We're dressed for the part, and we haven't done anything to make him suspicious. Perhaps he just doesn't like us because we're--"
"I don't think this has anything to do with racism," Benny interrupted her. "Maybe he somehow sensed that we're not from this planet."
"How could he possibly see through the disguises I made?" Frida demanded sulkily.
"Let's go check him out," Björn suggested. "We haven't found out anything here, anyway." They slipped out the door, unnoticed by the talkative receptionist.
Then Björn said, "Benny, what does your Melody Sensor have to say about this?" In response, Benny said to his ring, "Melody Sensor," and in a flash, a strange contraption that looked like an electronic organizer appeared before him. He grabbed it, turned it on, and punched a few keys. "It's just as I thought," he said grimly. "The Sensor has picked up strong anti-melody waves from that man. Let's hurry up and follow him, before he gets out of range."
Their quiet chase led them through the corridor, down one of the elevators, and into a nearby parking garage. There, the beeping sound of the Melody Sensor echoed off the walls and the cars parked there.
"Turn that thing off," hissed Frida. "We know he has to be somewhere nearby, but that noise will help him find us before we find him."
Although he agreed with her, Benny was nevertheless annoyed that she would speak so harshly about one of his favorite magical devices. After he had turned it off, the foursome heard a scuffling noise, then nothing except the distant sounds of the bustling city. Björn pointed in the direction of the noise, and the others followed him, watching carefully for anything out of the ordinary.
Something out of the ordinary happened right on schedule, when the tall, dark man suddenly stepped out in front of them. "Looking for me?" he asked. "Here they are," he said to someone else. "Signed, sealed, delivered -- they're yours."
"Excellent work," replied a voice from behind The Super Swedes. When they whirled around to look, there was a man dressed in the same kind of grungy clothes that they, themselves, were wearing. "Once we do away with the four of you, nothing can stop us from taking over the world."
"Who are you? And what are you talking about?" Agnetha cried, hoping to convince him that they were just ordinary people, and not four superheroes on a mission.
"Allow me to introduce myself," said the black man, giving them a wide, but insincere smile. "I am Snoop Sucky-Suxx, rap master extraordinaire. My esteemed colleague here is Alterna-Geek."
"As for what we're talking about," Alterna-Geek went on, "it's the reason all of us are right here, right now. We're here to take over the world, and kill melody so that Melody Land will no longer exist to interfere with our plans for world domination. And you're here in a futile effort to stop us. Don't play dumb--we know you're The Super Swedes."
The four Swedes exchanged looks, then nodded. "All right," said Björn, "if it's a battle you want, a battle you shall have." He raised his clenched right fist into the air, and the other three took this as their cue to do the same. "Lyric power!" he shouted.
"Melody power!" yelled Benny.
"Mezzo power!" Frida joined in.
"Soprano power!" Agnetha cried.
Snoop Sucky-Suxx and Alterna-Geek were blinded by the explosion of light that followed. When it cleared, The Super Swedes were back in their original satin costumes, circa 1975.
"We've come from the land of beautiful melodies and gorgeous harmonies," declared Benny.
"Singing songs of glorious romance and love," Agnetha added.
"We'll never let anyone destroy the bond between Melody Land and the planet Earth," Frida went on.
"In the name of Melody Land, we will punish you!" concluded Björn.
"Ha!" scoffed Snoop Sucky-Suxx, before launching his rap attack:
You can fight and resist for all dat you're worth
But you'll never get da revenge dat you seek
'Cause I'll kick all yo' asses right into next week!"
With that, a wave of hate energy knocked all four of the Swedes down, but they hurriedly scrambled to their feet again, ready to launch a counter-attack. Benny snapped his fingers, and suddenly an accordion with highlights of mother-of-pearl appeared on his chest. "Accordion blast!" he shouted, giving the accordion a mighty squeeze. Snoop Sucky-Suxx cried out as a torrent of sparkling musical notes hit him squarely in the face.
"Oh, no you don't!" yelled Alterna-Geek. By magic, an electric guitar appeared before him, and he slung it over his shoulder. "Powers of misery and depression, come to me! Killer axe!"
While Alterna Geek was launching his killer axe attack, Björn had conjured up his star-shaped guitar. "Star guitar attack!" he yelled at the same time. Both the guitar attacks slammed into each other, and Björn and Alterna-Geek held their ground for dear life as their magical rays crackled in the air between them.
Meanwhile, Frida saw her chance to take out Snoop Sucky-Suxx while he was still reeling from Benny's accordion blast. She snapped her fingers, and a golden microphone appeared in her hand. "Microphone red-haired blaze!" she cried, and a red-hot beam of light vaporized Snoop Sucky-Suxx on the spot.
Agnetha conjured up her own golden microphone, and aimed it toward Alterna-Geek. "Microphone blue-eyed freeze!" she shouted, as a blue beam shot out of her mike and froze the enemy in his tracks.
"Good work, girls," Benny praised them. Björn nodded, too breathless to speak after the intense battle with Alterna-Geek.
"Let's fry him," suggested Frida, raising her microphone again, but Benny held her back.
"Not yet," Björn said, gasping for breath. "We have to make him talk, so we'll know who else is working with him."
Agnetha snapped her fingers to un-freeze Alterna-Geek, and Benny said, "Drop that guitar--we've got you covered."
Reluctantly, Alterna-Geek sighed, and his weapon vanished into thin air. "You always have to spoil my fun, don't you?" he asked petulantly. There was a shimmer of light, and his entire appearance changed. Alterna-Geek's shaggy blond hair turned long and dark, the stubble turned into a beard, and the grungy clothes turned into tattered hippie threads from the early 1970's.
The Super Swedes gasped in unison. "It's Hip E. Scum!" Frida cried.
"That's right, Stupid Swedes, we meet again," Hip E. Scum snarled. "But don't think you've won this fight, just because you're pointing your cute little musical instruments at me. Oh, no...while Stink the Enchanter had all of you sealed in crystals, I was alive and well. I've been feeding off the depression of Generation X, building up my strength for a new attack on the world's melodies."
"How dare you take advantage of innocent people's misery, to fuel your strength," cried Agnetha hotly. She had a special place in her heart for sad songs, and the people who could relate to them.
"Besides, we vanquished you," Björn pointed out. "So how...?"
"You only wounded me," said Hip E. Scum with an insolent smirk. "All of you fell for it, even Stink the Enchanter. So tell me...am I the world's greatest actor, or are you all just incredibly stupid?"
Frida's microphone began to glow red as her anger intensified. "Just let me burn those tacky clothes right off his body," she pleaded, but Benny still held her back.
"You don't seem to realize, that our powers are now stronger, too," Björn reminded him. "So you're not getting away with your heinous crimes against beautiful music."
"Bite me," Hip E. Scum snapped, while giving them the finger.
Agnetha whispered to Björn, "Why does he want us to bite him?"
I guess that English-improvement spell we cast on her doesn't affect the understanding of English slang, Björn thought. "He doesn't really want us to bite him," Björn said out loud. "I'll explain later."
Semi-satisfied with the explanation, Agnetha nodded, and gripped her mike a little bit harder, prepared to fire at the slightest provocation.
"There's something else you don't know about this situation," continued Hip E. Scum. "And it's a pretty important little piece of information."
"What's that?" asked Benny skeptically.
"I'm sure you're aware of the existence of the Melody Crystal, right?"
"0f course," replied Björn. "It's the crystal which channels melodies from Melody Land into this world's songwriters. Without it, nobody would be able to write a song ever again."
"I see you're still the same studious little nerd you always were," Hip E. Scum said with a sneer. "But here's the one thing you don't know about the crystal. While you were indisposed, I managed to locate it, and I have since absorbed it within myself, you see. Haven't you noticed, how all the popular songs lately have been tuneless rap songs or alternative-rock songs that consist of screaming above electric guitars? That's because my anti-melody energy is weakening the Melody Crystal, even as we speak."
The Super Swedes gasped in horror.
"Which also means, if you destroy me, you destroy the Crystal...and in turn, Melody Land as well," Hip E. Scum concluded smugly.
"What are we going to do?" cried Agnetha.
"The way I see it, Melody Land will be destroyed whether we let him live or not," said Björn. "I say we take our chances by destroying him, and trying to recover the Crystal so that Stig the Enchanter can empower it once again. Are you with me?" The other three nodded, their faces grimly determined.
"Are you people crazy?" demanded Hip E. Scum, momentarily too stunned to attack. He had been banking on the good guys being too soft-hearted to risk destroying their precious crystal.
In the split-second before he thought to re-materialize his guitar weapon, The Super Swedes all simultaneously launched their strongest attacks on Hip E. Scum:
"Star guitar attack!"
"Microphone blue-eyed freeze!"
"Microphone red-haired blaze!"
Hip E. Scum's form was torn back and forth by the different attacks, hitting him all at once. No sooner was he stunned, then frozen into an ice statue, when suddenly he was vaporized by Frida's microphone blaze attack.
Once the enemy was vanquished--this time, for good--a howling wind started blowing around them, whipping their clothes and their hair.
"The Crystal!" Benny shouted over the noise. "Find the Crystal!"
"We can't," Agnetha shouted back. "It's been vaporized, too!"
"What's happening?" cried Frida, looking around frantically.
"There's a void where the crystal should be," Björn explained at the top of his lungs. "Nature abhors a vacuum, so we have to find something to fill that void, before it devours everything! Its the only way we can save the Earth and Melody Land!"
"How will we fill the void?" asked Frida.
"With music, because thats what the crystal contained!" Benny shouted in reply.
"But how can we concentrate on creating beautiful music, when we're about to be sucked into a vacuum?" cried Agnetha. "We'd never have time to make sure the overdubs were done just right!"
"Super Swedes!" boomed a man's voice, seemingly from all around them. They recognized it as the voice of Micke the Wizard. Apparently, he had really cranked his magical sound equipment up to full volume, to be heard over the din. "The songs you created in the past saved the Earth last time...so those same songs just might work again now. It's been so many years, that they've had time for their powers to be renewed."
"It's sure worth a try," Björn shouted back. "Hurry...hold hands, and try to remember those songs...the melodies and the harmonies, the lyrics about love." The foursome struggled to get near enough to hold hands, and obey Björns command.
In the middle of the circle that they created was a golden sphere, filled with the beautiful songs that had enchanted the people of Earth so long ago. As the sphere gained in power, it turned into a hard, flat disc, spinning rapidly as it hovered in front of The Super Swedes.
"It's now or never," shouted Björn. "Let's cast this into the void, and hope for the best. Ett, två, tre!" he counted, and on "three", the disc shot into the void.
The wind, which had been blowing in a spiral, suddenly started blowing in all different directions, as its force was interrupted by the power of the gold disc. There was a noise that sounded like grinding glass, and The Super Swedes could see the millions of fragments of the Melody Crystal being pulled together above the disc. In a matter of seconds, the wind had died down, and the repaired Crystal floated back up into the sky, where it could serve its purpose once more. The gold disc landed to the ground with a light clatter.
The Super Swedes hesitantly approached the disc. Björn picked it up, and the others crowded around him to examine it. "Look," said Agnetha, "our initials have been engraved on it...A-B-B-A. I wonder why Björn's B is backward, though?" she asked, causing Benny to start laughing.
"How do you know it isn't Benny's B that's backward?" demanded Björn.
"How would this disc know our names in the first place?" interrupted Frida. "And how did it know that my full name is Anni-Frid, and my initial is really A, for Anni-Frid?"
"It's magic," Benny explained, as excited as a child on Christmas morning. "The magic of our powers, combined with Micke's. This A-B-B-A Gold disc has made the world safe for melody once again. Our mission is accomplished, so we should be able to go back to Melody Land now."
"Yes, you have done well," Micke said proudly. "Stig the Enchanter was impressed by your success, too. So much so, that he feels your powers are strong enough that you won't need to be sealed in your crystals anymore to recharge your energies. Congratulations on a job well done."
"Thank you," The Super Swedes chorused.
They felt Micke's energy fade, as he departed. "Let's hurry and go home," said Agnetha eagerly. "Now that I won't have to spend time in a crystal anymore, I can start dating again."
Björn, though remarried, frowned at her as he felt an odd stab of jealousy. "Dating whom?"
"Well," Agnetha said, enjoying Björn's reaction, "there's this Dutch forklift operator who's been hanging around Ekerö..."
"You always did have lousy taste in men," Frida laughed.
"Hey," Björn cried indignantly, "I resent that!" Then he ignored Frida, and turned to face Agnetha. "What on earth would you see in a forklift operator?" Björn demanded, sparking an argument between himself and Agnetha.
"This reminds me of a catchphrase that I've been hearing, during the Americans' presidential campaign," said Benny.
"What catchphrase is that?" asked Frida.
"To paraphrase a man by the name of Al Gore...it's time for us to go."
With that, Benny and Frida snapped their fingers, and The Super Swedes faded away in a burst of sparkling lights...next stop, Melody Land.
I developed the initial concept for this story in the mid-1990's, when I first fell in love with Japanese anime and manga by way of Sailor Moon. I dreamed of drawing a manga comic of The Super Swedes, but didn't have the ability to do so.
Last year, I discovered fan fiction, and suddenly I knew how to bring The Super Swedes to life: in print, for reading is the theater of the mind!
When I wrote this story, I wanted to have fun with a number of subjects...ABBAs personalities, their history, American pop culture, and even politics!
I hope you all caught some of the more subtle jokes--like The Super Swedes' rings being on their right hands, because it's traditional to wear your wedding ring on your right hand after a divorce (and all four were divorced by the time they were crystallized -- I mean, by the time ABBA split up!). And anime fans will no doubt recognize Björn's "we will punish you" threat as a tribute to Sailor Moon!
Indeed, the entire concept of a color-coded team of superheroes (known as sentai in Japanese), magical items, verbal attacks, and a cataclysmic finale are all borrowed from my favorite genre of anime/manga, mahou shoujo ("magical girl", though guys figure prominently in the stories, as well). And since ABBA always had sort of a distant, larger-than-life image, making music that almost seemed to come directly from Heaven, it was only natural for me to combine these two loves of mine into a single pet project.
Even as I write this, I have some ideas for a sequel called Mamma Mia: The Super Swedes Return, in which our heroes take on the nay-sayers of Broadway...and a prequel, which chronicles their first battle with their nemesis, Hip E. Scum. I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to finish writing these stories, but I look forward to scenes like Agnetha throwing a herring in Björn's face, and other such amusing moments. If and when I manage to finish these tales, I hope you'll enjoy The Super Swedes as much as I've enjoyed developing their characters!