A Meeting of the Minds

A Meeting Of The Minds

By SF Hades

Fire. That’s all that rages in his mind. It’s an encroaching roar, sparkles emerging from the charred remnants of his past. 

           He lives on the 34th floor of EduFun Incorporated’s center of business, a large building bought mostly through money laundering and pawned dollars from struggling principals. 

             He’s quick, dear reader. He’s spent his days calculating. This one man, five years ago today inherited an empire, and my god, he was not ready to disappoint. His computer is open on a business document. There’s a list, yes, a list. He’s checked it once, and now he’s checking it twice. 

Ready to find out who’s naughty or nice. In Madison County, the Parrish Foundation. He’s been sending emails back and forth, talking to the Parrishs. One thing’s clear, he’s smarter than them. Smarter than he’s willing to let on. 

In his own home state, there’s a small town. JuteFruce. The town’s been through alot, and it’s still in a state of flux. Especially after the opening of the Bill Finger Institute. But there’s another group, at another school. Donner Prep. Donner Prep was renowned locally for its paper. Casper spent his Junior year there, learning. He grew a strange affinity for the town. And besides, JuteFruce was home to them. 

Next on his list, another New Yorker. That place seems to be a hotspot. 

“More research needed,” he marks. Silver Emily, one of his many, many pawns, lived and died there. Orauntox, as well as OrigOlympus, had a short lived fame a few months ago. It made clips on national news, it brought attention to the origami facade as a whole. 

Attention that Fako did not appreciate. More than anything, Casper loathed the students of Athens County. Sebastian Merrick was to suffer the consequences. It was already decidedly so. Three attempts. Three attempts now, Casper had tried at world domination. He was tired; he was angry. He was bitter. 

And a bitter Casper Bengue? Well, that’s Fako Mustachio. With his charm and his charisma, with his ability to trick and deceive. That, dear reader, is our villain. Not the scared little boy. 

Angry and frustrated, he slams his fists onto the table. After wallowing in his ginger bangs for a moment or two, he gets up. Slouches back into his chair and turns on a television from across the room. He flips through the channels, one after the other, completely and utterly bored. 

And then he lands on Channel Seven. And he sees them. 

On the left, that’s Robin Williams and Michael Strahan. Duh. But on the right, now, that’s a different story. 

There’s a stand, the type choir kids sing up on, yet instead of the old raggedy chairs there’s the type you see on movie sets. In the back row, Alan Wade and Sebastian Merrick on the top row. Sebastian’s eyes are watering, Alan’s whispering something to him. 

As Ally Weeber finishes up her puff piece, and the video feed of Tim Baker begins to cut out, and everything cuts to commercial: Fako still stares. 

He stares at the Rib-B-Q commercial, mouth watering. Not by the rib sandwich glazed in a sweet and sour batter, but at what he’s just watched. The monster is foaming at the lips.

He quickly hops onto the Folded Connections under a name. It asks him to select a puppet and for a moment– Fako pauses. After everything, after all his ventures, Casper had adopted quite a few puppets. From The High Evolutionary to Brainiac, GLaDOS to one of the Titans of Greek myth. He had everything. 

He puts out an ad, in a mad dash attempt at fame and in a plot conjured on a whim, the ad ends up in the hands of hundreds. Thousands, maybe. 

Yet only six, desperate, desperate young men arise to the scene. 

The first one, desperate for a resolve. Declan Parrish simply wants to change the world. He has ambition, that much is true. 

Another, desperate for revenge. Flynn Macintosh is the youngest, though he’s beginning to grow a mustache. His hair hangs over his eyes, eyes full of malice and hate. 

The third, desperate for answers. Drake’s the weirdest of the bunch, though he’s one of three who wears the owl mask. Drake, the once revered Dark Link-igami is sprawled out across the couch, toes just barely nestled under the legs of the math teacher. 

The math teacher, though only in his twenties, feels withered and old. Bitter, and angry. He doesn’t know why he came, maybe a part of him still yearns for his youth. That’s what Harvey Cunningham is, a man who refuses to grow up. His legs are folded, as if he’s trying to conserve space. 

So here they sit in the library, the blazing fireplace illuminating their faces a bright shade of orange.

They’ve been introduced, though the “study” they’re all participating in has not yet been formally announced. A small few, the small few with the owl masks– they already know. 

Fako smiles before Drake, Declan, Flynn, Neil, and Harvey. Each of the students look uncomfortable in their own way, some with Fako, some with the other students, and Flynn in his own body. 

“Gentlemen, good evening. You’ve been gathered here today as business partners. Each and every one of you I’ve kept tabs on for a few months,” a lie. Years. “And the ads you were all sent serve as your official invitation to my project, which I will henceforth be referring to as Project: Alpha E. Crumple. I’m going to be arming each and every one of you with the tools you and whoever you choose to work with will need to succeed.” 

Everyone in the room nodded, all but one. Harvey. 

“I’d like to have you all introduce yourselves,” Fako continued, “Maybe let us know about yourself. Up to you,” Fako shrugged. 

Dead silence. 

“Also, we have snacks in the kitchen. Mansion’s yours for the night, boys!” 

And then there was a party. 

The two oldest in the room congregated towards each other, Neil sitting beside Harvey. Harvey was holding a piece of cheese on a toothpick, ready to take a bite. 

“Hey,” Neil introduced himself to the man in the triangular glasses, “I’m Neil. From Cali. What’s your puppet?” 

Harvey forced a smile, stammering at the question, “Nice to meet you. I’m Harvey Cunningham. I- I have…” he sighs, “I have Spock.” 

Neil would smile, “I’ve heard about you! Aren’t you from those old-” 

“No, that’s a different Harvey. Based on my likeness of course, me and Mr. Lomax were friends freshman year of college.” 

Neil chuckled, “What happened freshman year? 

What happened freshman year? 

“Oh, I don’t really know. He’s a [REDACTED] man, and a real stuck up one, at that.”

Neil chuckles again, “Sounds like me, a few years ago. I spent a whole field trip with my friends trying to terrorize one poor kid just because I thought he deserved it. Maybe he did,” Neil shrugged, taking a sip from his drink. 

Harvey realizes something, though he laughs through his realization, “Dude, I was the worst. I saw Lomax with this girl I liked, doing this stupid dance and, man. You’re not gonna hear this anywhere else,” the drunk man laughs, “But I peed myself. Yeah, I peed my pants.” 

And what of the drunk man’s realization. Well, it’s something only he’s able to catch up on. Everyone, everyone in the room, is evil. Except for maybe him and Neil. For a moment, their eyes meet, and for a moment there’s a silent understanding between the two. 

This is bad. 

Their eye contact is only broken by the two darting to different corners of the suite, Flynn Macintosh passed out on the couch and Drake rummaging through a bowl of Cheez-Its, tearing into them like he’s an animal.

Harvey points at Drake, “What’d he do?” He asks. 

“He kidnapped two of his classmates.” Neil says. 

Harvey gulps. “Didn’t- Didn’t have that one growing up.” 

Neil jokes, “Times are changing, kids are crazy, don’t even get me started on that… thing.” 

He points at the incapacited Flynn. “Heard he abused a bunch of kids as class president, even arranged for one of them to be killed.” 

Harvey chokes, “My god! That’s awful!”

“Yeah, he was raised on EduFun, apparently. Like, homeschooled.” 

“Kid was radicalized.” Harvey noted. 

Fako materializes between the two, clasping them on their shoulders. “Gentlemen!” He cheers, “How are we? How are we?” 

Neil nods, “Fine, we’re doing fine.” Harvey agrees. 

“Great, great. Anyways, here’s what I have planned. Neil, we wanna find your science club, CADMUS, right? Great name by the way, I love Greek mythology.” 

“And Harvey, we’re thinking about EduFun. Maybe we could get a do-overcat McQuarrie, eh?” 

One idea, so pure and powerful. Another… enough to make any man vomit. 

The two sensibles left the lunatic. 

“Can I at least walk you to your cab?” Fako asked Harvey. Not knowing what else to say, Harvey permitted him. 

“Y’know, it’s a shame,” Fako said, “I hate wasting your time, I know you’re a busy man. So I’ll make this quick, I wanna give you one final offer.” 

Harvey raised an eyebrow, inquisitively. 

“Are you familiar with the story of Prometheus?” 

“It could burn.” Fako said, “All of it. Every last atom we’ve created, it could burn. With our enemies joining forces, I hoped we could, too.” 

“Maybe Tommy Lomax is my enemy… but I’m not turning my back on my school. My kids. I know EduFun is bad. I don’t know how old you are, but you do not know the [REDACTED] we went through. What-” Harvey thought about the kids, Flynn and Drake, as he pointed at the building, “What they’ve been through. I don’t know you but I do know Emil Blonsky. I know EduFun.”

Fako stopped Harvey, gripping onto his shoulder.  Neil had already made his departure back home, leaving the two alone in the streets of the California City.

“Harvey,” I whispered in his ear, “Emil Blonsky is dead.” 

Harvey was taken aback by my matter of factness. 

“Yeah,” I said, “Didn’t know that, did you?” 

Harvey was frozen. For the first time in his monitored life, rendered speechless. 

“June 2019, he was heading home. His car brakes had troubles.” 

The taxi finally came to pick Harvey up. “Have a nice ride!” I chirped. 

I returned to my empty penthouse, the only child remaining being the little creature I molded, Flynn Macintosh. He was still passed out, still rotting his life away. There’s a plan for him. Neil Swift may be a loss cause, but Rapids, Michigan? Flynn Macintosh, and Declan Parrish? 

… Harvey Cunningham? Their stories are not over. 

It’s funny, I never did tell you which puppet I had taken up for my endeavors in Athens. The High Evolutionary and Brainiac, that’s how they see me. But Prometheus is me. EduFun, the Court… It’s my gift to humanity, my fire. 

The fire seeps through the world, through the forests of California to the Library of Alexandria. To Tolkien Middle School and into his hearth, into his bed. 

If there’s one thing to take away from the sad story of Blonsky, or of Tolkien. Or of what’s about to be left of Sebastian Merrick and Harvey Cungingham, it’s an old phrase repeated amongst historians:

 If the first Prometheus brought fire from heaven in a fennel-stalk, the last will take it back. 

I repeated that last line hundreds of times over into my little journal. 

The last will take it back. 

Advertisement

Join the conversation by leaving a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: