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Authors: Kate Howard

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BOOK: Big-Top Scooby
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I
inherited this circus from my uncle last year,” Marius Brancusi began, pacing through his office. It was filled with circus posters and memorabilia — and some popcorn for Scooby and Shaggy. “The Brancusi Circus is world famous. It's an international circus, with acts from every country. I've been working to modernize it. I've been phasing out the animal acts, giving it more of a theatrical flair.” He smiled proudly. “Also, I cleaned the toilets, which has been a huge improvement.”

Marius pointed to the poster for the current circus show. “All of this has led to our latest show … Celestia!”

“This is so fantastic,” Fred gushed. “Did I mention I love the circus?”

“Several times, yes,” Marius said.

“But what about the werewolf?” asked Daphne.

Marius looked sad. “It's terrible. I thought tonight, while all my employees are having a night on the town, I might find some clues about the beast. I'm certain the werewolf must be someone who's part of the circus.”

“You mean … in disguise?” Shaggy asked.

“Perhaps it's
not
a disguise.” Marius looked even sadder. “It might be a real werewolf.”

Shaggy gulped. “Like … zoinks!”

“You see, for the last few months, the creature has plagued us wherever we go. It's scared off many of my artists. And in every city we visit, it has stolen jewelry!”

“Rewelry?” Scooby asked.

Marius nodded. “Jewelry. It's very strange. Why would a werewolf want jewels?”

“Like, maybe he's a lady werewolf?” Shaggy said. The others stared at him like he was crazy.
“'Cause girls like pretty things?” They all continued to stare at him. “It was just a thought.”

Velma suddenly looked excited. “I think I remember a case like this in eighteenth century Bavaria! May I use your computer?”

“Of course,” Marius said, nodding.

“Yes, here it is … it was in Ingolstadt.” Velma nodded, pointing to the computer screen. “A werewolf known as Hans collected certain gemstones and used them to increase his power. Normally a werewolf only becomes a wolf at the full moon. But with the right combination of jewels, Hans was able to change from man to wolf at any time. He and the werewolves he created terrorized Ingolstadt for decades.”

“Werewolves he
created
?” Marius asked.

“Yes, anyone who is bitten by a werewolf and lives turns into a werewolf.” Velma said this as though it were perfectly normal. “Apparently, the Ingolstadt werewolves claimed hundreds before being driven out by Maximillian the Third.”

“Wow,” Daphne said, looking at Scooby and Shaggy. “You guys are lucky you didn't get bitten.”

Scooby and Shaggy were both thinking the same thing. “Yeah, like, we —” Shaggy gasped, and began to make choking sounds. He clutched at his throat desperately.

“Everyone get back!” Fred cried. “He's turning into a werewolf!”

Marius held his garlic up in front of his face again, warning Shaggy to stay back.

Shaggy looked around desperately as he choked. Finally, he punched himself in the stomach. A piece of popcorn flew from his mouth. “Some friends,” Shaggy said, still gasping for air. “I need the Heimlich, and you're reaching for the silver bullets.” He looked at Marius. “You get that? Silver bullets for werewolves, garlic for vampires.”

Marius just stared at him. “Who are you? How do you know so much about werewolves?”

“We solve mysteries. It's kind of a hobby,” Daphne explained.

“A hobby?” Marius said. “Stamp collecting is a hobby. Solving mysteries is — wait! Maybe you could help me investigate this werewolf!”

Fred squealed happily. “Yes! That's a great
idea! We could pose as circus performers!”

Daphne gave him a funny look. Then she turned to Marius with a nod. “Sure, why not?”

“Of course, it will be very dangerous….” Marius said, thinking.

“And there's the why not,” Shaggy said. “See ya!” He turned to go, with Scooby at his heels.

“We have to do it, Shaggy,” Fred said.

Shaggy and Scooby just started walking, pushing Fred backward.

“For the good of the circus!” Fred begged.

“Forget it!” Shaggy said.

“For the safety of the public!” Fred cried.

“No way,” Shaggy said, pushing Fred aside.

“For all the cotton candy you can eat!” Fred coaxed.

“Count me ou —” Shaggy began, and then stopped to think about it. “And churros?”

Fred nodded. “And churros.”

“Like, dude, I'm in!” Shaggy said gleefully.

“Reah! Re, roo! Reah! Reah!” said Scooby.

“Well,” Marius said, “if you're going to pass for circus artists, it's going to take a little work….”

H
alf an hour later, the gang gathered in the center of the big top. Marius had found them all costumes.

“So,” Marius said, looking at the gang anxiously. “Do any of you have any circus skills?”

Fred's hand shot up. “I do! I took a Circus Arts class last summer!”

“Why am I not surprised?” Marius muttered. He looked at Fred, doubtful. “And what did you learn in this class?”

“Well,” Fred said proudly, “I worked out on the trapeze a bit.” He puffed out his chest, and then let it fall again. “But I ended up breaking a lot of bones.”

“You seem to have healed well,” Marius observed.

“What?” Fred asked, confused. “Oh! Not
my
bones. See, I was supposed to catch this guy and … well, I dropped him.” He paused. “On to someone.” He smiled sheepishly. “And they both fell into some other people.”

Marius gasped. “That's terr —”

Fred cut him off. “Who hit the tent support, which tipped the popcorn cart, which set fire to the audience risers, which collapsed with forty-eight people sitting on them.”

Marius cleared his throat, as Fred looked at the floor. “Well, I'm sure it wasn't your fault.”

“No, it was. But I did learn a valuable lesson about the trapeze.”

“Which was?” Marius asked.

“Don't drop people,” Fred said confidently. “Oh, and don't fall.”

“Yes, those are kind of the basics.” Marius looked thoughtful. “How would you like a junior second-assistant backup trapeze position?”

Fred saluted Marius enthusiastically. “It would be an honor, sir!”

“You are a strange fellow,” Marius mused, “but I admire your neckwear.” He looked at the others, who were still gathered around awkwardly. “Anyone else have any talents they might apply?”

Daphne glanced around before saying, “When I was a kid I used to do a little motorcycle act.”

“Really?” Marius said doubtfully. “It takes years of practice to —”

As Marius spoke, Daphne noticed a fancy motorcycle parked in the center of the ring. “It went like this,” she called, hopping on the motorcycle. The rest of the gang watched as Daphne drove the bike up a ramp, through a hoop, and along a narrow cable. As a finishing touch, she guided the motorcycle around an upside-down loop and skidded to a stop an inch from Marius.

“Right,” he said, impressed. “That will do.”

Marius turned to Shaggy, Scooby, and Velma. Velma scooted behind Scooby, trying to hide. She
was much more comfortable solving mysteries in her favorite skirt and turtleneck.

“Unfortunately,” Marius said, looking at Scooby, “I've phased animal acts out of my circus, but I could make an exception.” He looked at Shaggy and said, “Your friend here seems very well trained.”

Scooby was sure Marius was talking to him. He smiled at Shaggy, and then patted him on the back. “Roh, he is. Shake, Shaggy.”

Shaggy shook Scooby's hand.

“Reg.”

“Like, please, please, please!” Shaggy said.

Scooby gave Shaggy a Scooby Snack and ruffled his hair. “Rood boy!”

Marius looked confused. “Uh, just for the sake of tradition, maybe you” — he pointed to Scooby, who was still patting Shaggy on the head like a good dog — “maybe
you
should do the tricks.”

Shaggy nodded. “That's probably a good idea, 'cause, like, Scooby does more circus-y stuff than me. Show him, Scoob!”

Scooby hopped up on a giant ball and danced
around on it, and then juggled a bunch of stars in the air before he finally somersaulted backward toward the others. “Ra-daaaa!” he cried.

Marius looked at Shaggy and said, “You've taught him all this?”

Shaggy pouted and said, “Like, Scoob
tried
to teach me all this, but I just can't get it.”

Scooby patted Shaggy's back comfortingly.

“And you …” Marius looked at Velma, who was hiding behind a giant post. “Hello?”

“Hi,” Velma said, peeking out at him nervously.

“If you're afraid, I could put you on the churro cart,” Marius suggested.

“No, no! I can do it.” Velma tried to sound confident.

“Do what?”

Velma shrugged. “I don't know. Something.”

Marius looked at a list. “There are still a few acts I could use. How about knife throwing?”

“No.”

“Sword-swallowing?” Marius suggested.

“No.”

“Fire eating?”

“No!” Velma's eyes grew wider.

“Bullet catching?”

“NO!”

“Hmm,” Marius said thoughtfully. “The only thing that's left is … the Human Comet.”

“That doesn't sound so bad,” Velma muttered.

“You get shot out of a cannon,” Marius said.

Velma looked like she was going to be sick. “Uh …”

“Oh, look,” Marius said, suddenly distracted by the sound of cars outside the tent. “The rest of my performers are starting to get back from town. I have to get everyone prepared.” He hustled the gang out of the circus tent. “Meet me here in the morning.”

“What time?” Shaggy asked with a yawn.

“Five o'clock,” Marius said.

Shaggy snorted. “There is no five o'clock in the
morning
!” He laughed at the idea of getting up that early. Then he looked at his friends, and no one else was laughing. “Like, is there?”

Scooby shook his head. “Ri have a bad reeling about ris….”

T
he next morning, the Mystery, Inc. gang dragged themselves back to the circus tent at the crack of dawn. Everyone was yawning, except Fred, who was ready for his big day on the trapeze.

Shaggy was still half-asleep as they ambled up toward the big top. He kept falling behind the others. He would never have made it out of bed if Scooby hadn't grabbed his shirt in his mouth and dragged him along like a toy.

“I wonder if we should use code names while we're undercover?” Fred suggested as they approached the door of the tent.

“Ro …” Scooby said, shoving Shaggy from behind to keep him upright.

“No,” Velma seconded.

“No …” Daphne said, yawning.

Fred ignored them. He was getting excited about his idea. “I could be Dominic St. Chinard, ne'er-do-well son of a New England shipping magnate who —”

“No!” Scooby, Velma, and Daphne said again.

“Finally, you're here!” Marius said, stepping out from behind the concessions stand. “Come on! You have to meet your fellow circus artists …”

“Yay!” Fred cried happily.

Marius looked at him strangely. “Remember, any one of them could be a bloodthirsty monster.”

“Boo!” Scooby said.

“Come along,” Marius said, waving the gang toward the animal cages. “Meet Whitney Doubleday. He's our animal trainer.”

“Ruh?” Scooby asked, looking around and seeing no one. But Marius was already gone, as were Velma, Daphne, and Fred. He and Shaggy were alone in the animal tents. “Rhere is Whitney Doubleray? Rello?”

“Yes?” A door swung open, and there was
Whitney Doubleday … hanging upside down.

“Ragh!” Scooby cried in alarm.

Shaggy had drifted off to sleep again. His eyes peeked open for just a moment, and then closed again. “Wha' happen … Scoob?” He snorted and went back to his dream.

“Oh, terribly sorry to startle you,” Doubleday said, lowering himself to the ground. Doubleday was a fit, middle-aged man. When he got a closer look, Scooby could see that the animal trainer had been hanging upside down from a bar — for no obvious reason. “Thirty minutes every day,” Doubleday explained. “Marvelous for the lower back.” He thrust out his hand to shake. “Whitney Doubleday, animal trainer.”

Scooby shook his hand.

“Good boy,” Doubleday said, offering Scooby a treat.

Shaggy, who'd heard the sound of tasty crunching, peeked open an eye. “Whuzuh?” He shook Doubleday's hand sleepily.

“Good boy,” Doubleday said, offering Shaggy a treat. Then he laughed and said, “Sorry, after
forty years of handing out treats to animals, it's become a habit….”

Shaggy nodded, chewing his treat happily. “Thanks,” he said, finally waking up. “I'm, uh, Shaggy Rogers. Also an animal trainer …”

Scooby looked at him, obviously annoyed.

“Well, like, I guess I'm more of an animal … partner.” Scooby began to smile. “Uh, animal
buddy
.”

Scooby grinned and put his arm around Shaggy. “Reah, rartners. Buddy! Ree-hee-hee.”

“Well,” said Doubleday, studying Shaggy and Scooby. “I suppose if you're a team, that's different. I thought it was odd that Marius hired you. See, he eliminated all the trained animals from the circus.”

Shaggy realized this was his chance to gather clues. That was what they were supposed to be doing, after all. As they strolled among the cages, admiring a lion, a bear, an elephant, and four baboons, Shaggy said, “Really? Well, you must be angry and bitter, and seeking revenge if he got rid of the animal acts.”

Doubleday laughed. “Not at all! I was retiring anyway. The public doesn't want trained animals anymore. Too many stories about abusive training techniques. Of course,
I
never hurt any of my animals. Right, Leoni?”

The lion looked at Doubleday and roared.

Doubleday smiled and continued. “But there are a few bad apples out there. No, I'm afraid my kind of act is a thing of the past.”

Shaggy nodded. “So, um, have you ever trained, oh, I don't know …” He was trying to figure out a way to be sneaky with his questions, but he was too tired to be clever. Finally, he said, “For instance, just off the top of my head, have you ever trained, uh … wolves?”

Doubleday shook his head. “Wolves? No. No one works with wolves. They're too unpredictable. I'd have better luck trying to train a hurricane.”

“Oh,” Shaggy said, disappointed. He'd been hoping to solve the mystery right then and there. “So … if you're not in the show, why are you and your animals here?”

“We're just along for the ride,” Doubleday
said. “I'm transporting the animals to a sanctuary in California.” He stopped walking when they got to the baboon cage. “I think I'll miss my baboons the most. So much like people, don't you think?”

Shaggy shrugged. “I don't really see any resemblance.”

“Escucheme!”
Doubleday barked loudly, obviously talking to the baboons.
“Bailadores!”

Much to Shaggy and Scooby's surprise, the baboons began to waltz in pairs.

“Soldados!”
Doubleday cried, showing off for his new audience.

The baboons snapped to attention like soldiers.

“Boxeadores!”

The baboons pretended to box with one another.

“Descanso!”

The baboons relaxed again, and went back to picking at their fur. Doubleday looked proud. “I always use Spanish commands,” he explained.
“The animals are less likely to hear shouts from the audience and get confused.
Inclinarse!”
Doubleday said.

The baboons took a bow.

Shaggy and Scooby clapped wildly.

“Wow, Scoob!” Shaggy said. “You think we could do something like that?”

“Rure!” Scooby said.
“Railador!”

Shaggy began to waltz with Scooby. Doubleday shook his head. He wasn't sure if he should be impressed. “Well, it's unusual; I'll give them that….”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the circus, Fred, Daphne, and Velma were finding out more about their new circus jobs. “Velma,” Marius said, pointing to a huge, hulking, hairy beast of a man, “meet Archambault, our strongman. You'll be working with him.”

Velma backed away nervously. “Uhhh….”

Archambault smiled at Velma. “Don't be afraid; big hairy man is not werewolf,” he said. Velma wasn't so sure. “You heard about werewolf? Terrible, terrible. Very bad for circus,
oui
?”

Velma continued to back away.

“Okay!” said Archambault. He knelt down in front of Velma and put his hand on the ground, palm up.

“Um, what are you —?” Velma said. She was wondering if she should have just offered to man the churro stand.

“Ah! Archambault forget; you are new to the circus. Please, you should step on the hand.”

“What?!”

“Step on the hand! Trust Archambault.” Archambault smiled, and Velma reluctantly put her foot on his huge palm. He lifted her up like she weighed nothing and strolled along with her standing on the palm of his hand.

“Whoa!” Velma cried.

“Archambault is not fake like some strong
mans, see? Archambault is genuine article! Strongest man in Quebec, eh?”

“But why —?” Velma looked down at the ground.

“Is part of act! I carry you to cannon,” Archambault explained. “Then you climb in, I pull lever, boom-boom, land in net.
Oui?”

Velma nodded. “Um, I guess?”

“Good. We do some practicings. Make sure you shouldn't break head.” Archambault tapped gently on Velma's head, and then shoved her into the cannon. “Human comet … fire!” A burst of smoke popped out of the cannon, along with Velma's costume.

Velma poked her head out of the cannon. “Sorry,” she said, straightening her hair and glasses. “I think I tensed up.”

Daphne watched Velma peek out of the human cannon from across the main ring. Marius had
left Velma with Archambault while he took Fred to the trapeze area.

“Those are the people I'll be performing with?” Fred asked, looking up at the aerial team.

“Not performing!” Marius reminded him. “You're junior second-assistant backup trapeze. That means you stand by the net and do as little as possible. If someone falls, you help them out of the net. Oliverio! Lena! This is Fred.”

Fred waved as Marius leaned over to say, “By the way … Oliverio is very jealous, so don't look at Lena. But don't
look
like you're not looking at her, because that makes her flirty.”

Fred looked confused. “Wait. What?”

Marius didn't answer. He just led Daphne away.

As Oliverio and Lena drew closer to Fred, Fred grew more and more nervous. He looked away from Lena, then at her, and then straight up at nothing at all. He wasn't sure exactly
where
to look, and his head wobbled and danced all around.

“Ah,” Oliverio said, studying Fred carefully.
“The new net boy. Something is wrong with your neck?”

“No,” Fred said, still looking all around — trying to both
look
and
not
look at Lena. He grew more confused by the second.

“Maybe his cute little scarf is too tight,” Lena said flirtatiously. “I loosen it for you,
ja
?” She pranced off, leaving Fred to stare after her.

As she sashayed away, Oliverio shot Fred a look that could kill. “Net Boy, you stay away from Lena or I pop you head off like the bottle cap.”

Fred scratched his head as Oliverio stormed away. “Nice to meet you, too. I'm Fred.”

Outside the big top, Marius led Daphne toward the clown trailer. “Clowns are fun!” she exclaimed, following Marius.

“Fun like head lice,” Marius muttered, then turned to go. “Got to go! They're right in there….”

Daphne peeked into the clown trailer. A
sad-faced clown was applying his makeup. He was dressed in a red and purple costume covered with stars and moons. “Um, hello?” Daphne said.

The clown grumbled. “Maybe I don't feel like hello.”

Daphne stepped inside the trailer. “Are you one of the clowns?”

“No! I'm an actor! I have merely undertaken the role of a clown.” The clown stared her down. “
That
is a clown.” He pointed.

Daphne looked at where the clown was pointing. All she saw was a pile of old rags. Then a head popped out of the rags, and the pile stood up. It was another clown. He honked a horn, making Daphne laugh. “Hello! I'm Daphne Blake.”

“Yes,” the first clown said, studying Daphne. “The motorcycle girl. Marius told us about you. This” — the grouchy clown pointed to the clown that had been posing as a pile of rags — “this buffoon here is Sisko.”

“Pleased to meet you!” Daphne said.

“And I … am Shmatko!”

“Shmatko! What a great clown name!” Daphne said.

Shmatko stomped angrily. “It is NOT a clown name! I am Svyatopolk Stanislavevich Shmatko! Sisko —
that
is a clown name. Shmatko is a name of great dignity! Once I toured the Soviet Union performing the classics. Chekov! Pushkin! Turgenev!”

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