Chapter 2: Muddiest of Mud Men

The Shrube Residence, Dallas

Senator Calvin Shrube of Texas, loved two things more than anything in the world. Being superior to others, and having people on his side. However these two things often conflicted. For example: Shrube liked white people better than black people, simply because he was white. He also liked people from Texas better than people who weren't from Texas, simply because he was from Texas. Lastly he liked Senators better than people who weren't Senators, because he was a Senator. However, that brought about inconsistencies. Obviously, being a white Senator from Texas would make you be one of Calvin Shrube's favorite people, but the only other person who fit that description was Senator James Knox, from Houston, and Knox was particularly outspoken about his hatred for Shrube. That left Calvin Shrube, and Calvin Shrube alone to be Calvin Shrube's favorite person. Yet who else he liked would be inconsistent. For example, let's say he was talking to George Nicholson, the white senator from Nebraska. He would get along with him fine, because he was white and a Senator. Yet to his neighbor he would complain about him, because Nicholson was from Nebraska. Yet to someone else he might complain about the neighbor because the neighbor, although white and from Texas, was not a Senator. So he was never fully happy with anybody, yet would only say so if he had someone on his side.
The only exception to Shrube's rule was his family, he loved his wife and young daughter whole-heartedly. They were his favorite family, because he, after all, was a Shrube too.
It was late one night, after returning home from Washington D.C. after the Senate had closed, that he peeked in to check on his daughter, Rosie, that Shrube noticed something odd. He thought he saw a movement as he opened the door, and when he looked around to investigate he saw a particularly ugly looking toy amongst his daughter's collection of stuffed animals. This toy had dirty blonde hair and a full beard, and almost seemed to be quivering slightly. It was at this moment Shrube noticed he wasn't a toy at all.

Mulch Diggums had been having an off couple of weeks, he thought. The houses he had robbed weren't as lucrative as he had managed. Take the one he was in right now, home of the prominent Senator Calvin Shrube. He had already gone through the master bedroom and the dining room (rooms were you could find the most expensive small trinkets) and found nothing, nothing except a large variety of Texas flags. It was only by going for a long shot, a little girl's bedroom that he found one might bring a small payoff, an expensive-looking gold locket, around the nine-year-old girl's neck. Ordinairy thieves might have left this alone, thinking that removing a locket from a girl's neck, even if she was sleeping, might be to much of a wake-up call. Yet no one could ever accuse Mulch Diggums of being an ordinairy thief.
It was as he was headed towards the window to make his escape that the door opened slowly. Not particularly wanting to get into a confrontation with whoever was on the other side of it Mulch ran quickly to the pile of stuffed animals the girl had on one side of her room, and hoped that whoever it was might mistake Mulch for a particularly ugly troll doll.
No such luck.
A large middle-aged man, his receding hair and mustache both white- blonde grabbed him roughly around the neck and pulled him upward, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY DAUGHTER'S ROOM!" he shouted.
At this loud commotion Rosie couldn't help but be awakened, and she screamed.
"NOW LOOK WHAT YOU DID!" Shrube continued, his face burning with rage, "YOU MADE MY DAUGHTER SCREAM!"
"Actually," Mulch felt forced to point out, "I believe it was your shouting that woke her up and made her scream."
Shrube didn't liked to be contradicted, "Come with me, you little midget," He continued holding him tightly as he dragged him out of the room.
"Er.." Mulch said, his legs flailing wildly as he was held in mid- air, "I think we prefer the term 'little person.'"
Shrube wasn't listening. He took him to the kitchen and set him down on the table and proceded to tie him up with some rope he had in the cupboard.
"You know,"said Mulch, not particularly worriedly, as he was being tied up, "I find it a little disconcerting that you have such a large supply of rope so readily at hand. Unless you're a cowboy, there's no excuse for that much rope other than a particularly frightening social life. Although, considering the freakishly huge amount of Texas memorabilia you have floating around, you being a cowboy would surprise me all that much," Mulch fidgeted for a second, "So tell me, are you planning on calling the police? Let's see. this is Dallas. so tell them to send over a Sgt. Sullivan, tell him that you have Harvey Diggles in your custody, I'd love to see him again."
"No," said Shrube, "I'm not calling the police. Not yet anyway. No one threatens my family!"
"Okay, first of all, I believe I missed the part where I threatened your family. Second of all, does this mean you're going to torture me? Ooh. Can't wait to see this."
"Not me, exactly," said Shrube with a smile, "Maverick is."
"Maverick?" asked Mulch.
"My rottweiler," smiled Shrube.
"Ooh!" said Mulch, smiling. "Well that's good. I'm definitely a dog person."
Maverick turned out to be a frighteningly large black and brown rotteweiler who could probably eat a full-grown person, let alone a full- grown dwarf. However Mulch Diggums wasn't the world's best sneak for nothing. Come on? The old 'I'm-going-to-sic-my-dog-on-you-routine?' What was this guy, 4-years-old?
"Rough rough bark bark aroof," Mulch said, which roughly translated meant something to the equivalent of "Hey, don't kill me. I'm actually a magical god and if you kill me you'll never get another bone."
The dog was suspicious, which wasn't surprising, the average dog had more brains than a goblin, even if the goblin had the ability to talk (which admittedly wasn't one they put to good use.) "How do I know that's true?" the dog barked back.
"Because," woofed Mulch, "How many people do you know that can bark?"
Maverick considered this, finally with a slow whimper he backed off. Mulch turned to give Shrube a triumphant grin when he saw a look of complete horror and fear.
"What are you?" Shrube hissed.
"Just your friendly neighbor-hood barking midget. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
"No," Shrube said, his pale blue eyes narrowing, "No there's something else. You're not human at all are you?"
"No," said Mulch, rolling his eyes, "I'm a dwarf. I'm Bashful of the Seven Dwarves actually, so don't make a deal about it, I may blush."
Calvin Shrube stared at the dwarf, never blinking. Mulch looked back, trying his best to look devil-may-care. Finally Shrube slowly said, "Why do I believe you?"
"What?" Mulch said, concerned.
Shrube began to pace back-and-forth, talking aloud to himself. "Perhaps Phillips and his men were right all around. Maybe that disk really did mean something. This freak would be proof," He turned on his heels and walked out of the room to the phone, with Mulch worriedly shouting back, "WAIT! WHO'S PHILLIPS? WHAT DISK? HELLO?"
There was no answer, although the dwarf could hear the sounds of talking on a telephone. Mulch began to get a sinking feeling this is one house he should have skipped.

The Spiro Needle, Chicago.

Jon Spiro had seen better days. Almost two years ago he had been arrested for breaking into Phonetix Laboratories, with the testimony of Arno Blunt, who after a strange growth of a conscience, said that it had been because Spiro kidnapped Artemis Fowl, and because Fowl managed to trick them, that Spiro and Blunt were found. However, when questioned and put through a lie-detector test, it was found that Artemis Fowl didn't have the slightest clue about any of this, and, due to the fine work of Spiro's attorney, it had been proven that Blunt was insane and that he had kidnapped Spiro. Jon Spiro was released with full apologies.
However, when he got back home and tried to get back to work he had found something most interesting. All the assets in his bank were gone. All of it. Still Spiro couldn't be kept down. He had been careful to sneak a large quantity of money, totaling roughly thirteen million, chump change compared to what he used to have, in separate accounts that it would have been impossible for Artemis to locate, and he withdrew that.
Then the bomb was dropped. Spiro, who had not been in the best physical condition went in for his check-up. The doctors informed him that he suffered from a rare heart disease, and that he had six months to live.
That was five months ago.
Now with only a month to go Spiro had decided that he had to make it count. He had already begun the implementation of his final plan, but now is when it would really take off.
There was a buzzer and his secretary Marlene's voice was heard, "Arno Blunt to see you, sir."
Spiro smiled, "Send him in."
Arno Blunt walked nervously into the office, still fresh from being released from prison. Blunt couldn't get a reading about what was going on here. He knew that Spiro's lawyer had gone through some serious trouble to get the charges against Blunt, even though Spiro knew that Blunt had completely ratted him out.
Spiro looked at him and smiled, "Arno, you're here. Please, sit down. Thirsty?"
Blunt shook his head, pulling out a hip flask, "No thanks. I have this."
"Ahh," Spiro nodded, "Prudent."
"Look Mr. Spiro," Blunt said, "I'm so sorry about. you know. I don't know what I was thinking, I was going nuts, I thought I had seen Butler's ghost. He told m-"
"Arno, Arno, Arno. Don't worry about it. None of that matters now."
"So," Blunt asked tentatively, "Why'd you get me out?"
"Well," said Spiro smiling, "I couldn't very well have you sitting in prison for 10 years could I? Not with my new plan that I need your help with."
"Oh?" asked Blunt, "What's the plan?"
"Well," said Spiro, "To begin with. I'm dying. I've only got about a month to live."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
Spiro couldn't discern whether or not Blunt was being sincere, and to be honest he didn't care, "Yeah, does suck, doesn't it? Yet it's given me incentive to pull off one last finale."
"So what does the finale entail?"
"Well," said Spiro, pouring himself some scotch and sitting down across from Blunt, "Ultimately it's to bring down Artemis Fowl for what he did to me."
Blunt's eyes lit up, he wasn't a Fowl fan either, "Well that sounds great!"
"Let's not start sucking each others dicks quite yet," Spiro said, "First there's the matter of you and I to deal with. You wronged me, Arno."
Suddenly Blunt had a very strong desire to stand up, yet as he tried he found his legs frozen stiff in place. His arms too were immovable, he frantically looked at Spiro.
"Oh, please, don't get up," Spiro said with a grin, "You'll find you can't. The poison has gotten through most of your system if you're at the paralysis stage. Only death is next. Shame, even after the precautions you went through. Buying your whiskey for your hip flask from the liquor store across the street from your apartment from the grey-haired fat guy. Can't trust anybody can you?
"You know it occurs to me, Blunt. I'm really my favorite person in the whole wide world. Yet I know that in a month I'm dead. I just don't think it's fair that all the people who wronged me get to outlive me. So, I just couldn't stand idly by as you went on breathing."
Blunt's eyes contorted with rage. He wanted to scream at Spiro, he couldn't move his mouth at all. It hit him like a bucket of cold-water that he realized he'd probably never utter a word again. His eyes, his only means of expression, widened.
"Don't look so upset," Spiro said, "You should be happy I let you go out a relatively more admirable death. Anybody could just get shot. But I just found it a little boring. It's how I killed Chips and Pex.Oh yes, those buffoons are quite dead. Artemis did mention that they had helped him. A gun shot also befell the beautiful Miss Carla Frazetti, it was her who came up with the bright idea of sending Mo Digence. I would have killed the Metal Man too, a Mr. McGuire, since Digence said he didn't kill him, yet he appears to have dropped off the face of the Earth. Lucky him, I suppose.
"Let's see. I killed Dr. Pearson, 'he'd be more easy to break than the Eternity Code,' Ha! Techno-quack. Who else. who else. Oh of course. Every member of the Phonetix board of directors (they were on the same plane, which just happened to contain a suicidal pilot on my payroll.) Simply because. well, I hate those guys. I wish I could kill that troublesome district attorney who's always been out to get me, but he grew suspicious at all the deaths and skipped town.
"I must say, it's my favorite city, but Chicago's grown significantly lighter population-wise within the last few months. Oh I see you're losing consciousness."
True enough Blunt was barely able to hear Spiro anymore, his eyes began involuntarily rolling around in his head, and he was beginning to feel dead tired. His vision began to go as bits of picture were replaced by black spots, his hearing was going too. The last thing he was able to hear before his ears and eyes shut off completely was the soft whisper of Spiro's voice in his ear.
"Enjoy hell, Blunt. Leave a light on for me."