A/N: Wow, I haven't updated this one in a long time. Sorry. But the good news is that there's a Wayside category now! I'm already getting more reviews (or at least a few more favorite and alert adds.)
I'm thinking that this chapter is kind of stupid. Or random. I'd prefer it to be the latter, but it might be kind of stupid. It was all I could come up with. All I'm saying is, it's still pretty well-written if I might say so myself, but story-wise, it's not my favorite chapter.
I hope that you, the reader, enjoys it, however. And if you can, please review!
"Hello, Ms. Simmons! Or can I call you Annie?" Todd said to the quivering woman who shuffled through his office door.
"Either is fine, sir," Annie croaked nervously.
"Well, Ms. Simmons, there's something very serious we need to talk about," Todd said sternly. He pulled a small opened box out from his desk drawer. "I was looking through these pre-packaged sticks, and I noticed a small problem with one." He whipped out a little block of bubble gum and lifted the wrapper to reveal that the gum stuck fast to the waxy paper.
Annie gasped. Her eyes watered in what could only be fear. "No..." she whispered.
"Yes, Ms. Simmons! A certain worker in this factory did an insufficient job of applying the integral powdered sugar to our product, and now Bazooka Joe is covered in the synthetic after-dinner treat!" Todd slammed the stick of gum back into its box in a hysterical (and staged) fury.
Annie cowered in her spot. She worked in a small Wayside-area Bazooka Gum factory, and Todd was her supervisor. He was notorious among his employees for accusing them of things they may or may not have done and penalizing them in an infamously diabolical way. Annie had never been caught before so she had no idea what would happen, but she wasn't excited, to say the least.
"The fingerprints on the box look kind of like yours, I thought," Todd said sharply. "And I'm pretty sure you were working in packaging today."
Annie blinked away mammoth tears. She wasn't even going to question how her boss knew what her fingerprints looked like, or even how he was able to see them on the box.
"Do you admit that you messed up today?" Todd inquired further.
He had no way to prove that Annie had made this silly little mistake. She had no way to prove that she didn't. She had very little choice but to go along with it. "Okay!" she whimpered.
Todd frowned. "I'm afraid to say this will have consequences, Ms. Simmons." He opened his desk drawer and pulled out a little plastic dog figurine.
It was the most precious little puppy anyone had ever laid eyes on, and Annie almost smiled. Then she almost peed herself, half out of puppy love and half out of awe. She had never seen the thing up close before. It was a legend around the factory that it was exceptionally adorable but held a number of traps and horrible secrets that Todd used to agonize misconducted employees.
Todd held the toy far away from him and right up in Annie's face. "Please pull on its nose," he instructed her.
What strange orders! Annie questioned them in her head but complied. She reached out and gave the dog's button nose a tug. To her shock, it gave and pulled out into a long snout. She realized that her boss had been cranking the toy's tail clockwise, completing its transformation into a mangy flesh-hungry, red-eyed wolf baring its fangs.
The true fearfulness of the situation hit Annie and her breath fell short. As she started hyperventilating, Todd shouted, "Now place your left pinky into its mouth."
Annie shook and cried as she did his bidding. A motion sensor in the toy was activated and it clamped its sharp plastic teeth onto her finger. It hurt. She shrieked.
Todd smiled cooly. He knew from experience that it hurt the most on the left pinky. Just ask his very good frenemy Joy.
"Remember that the next time you're being careless, Ms. Simmons," he said, easing the wolf off her finger. "You're free to go."
Annie rushed out the door, muttering something about Todd being "crazy."
Todd couldn't have cared less what she said about him. Finally, he was getting his revenge on the world. It wasn't just with Annie – she was just one of hundreds of pawns in his getting back at all the misery of his childhood.
He was always one of the smart kids. He would deny it and other kids would call him dumb all the time, but he was very wise. The reason Todd denied it was that his wisdom could never get him out of daily being blamed for three trivial things he didn't do.
Only kid silent while the rest of the class chattered on? All the other kids are actively using their imagination while he was not, so the name "Todd" was written on the board.
Attempting to write a sentence with his left hand because he always felt like a lefty deep-down? His handwriting suddenly becomes slightly less legible, so up goes a checkmark.
Accidentally getting a tiny speck of dust on his white sneaker during recess? Doesn't matter why that's bad, it just is. And enough to get him sent home early on the kindergarten bus, no doubt.
Todd thought Mrs. Jewels was an excellent teacher. Mrs. Jewels would tell you that Todd was an excellent student. He used to be a great person. But something in the getting sent home early every day soured him up a bit.
How great was it that he supervised his own bubble gum factory now? Not only could he help spread the wonderful gift of Bazooka to the world, he could get even with the universe for all those times he was unjustly punished. Since Annie Simmons was one of his best workers, a great asset when she wasn't forgetting to apply powdered sugar, he decided this afternoon was payback for the time he had stopped two bank robbers and still got sent home.
This may have just been simple payback, but had it made Todd a bad man? Well, we can ask Joy for that answer.
The next morning, Todd entered his office as usual. Not a minute later, a second person had burst through the door.
"Were you following me?" was the first question that Todd posed to Joy. He was not a huge fan of being followed.
"Maybe," Joy answered, snottily keeping her nose pointed away from him.
"Why?" was the second question that came into play.
Joy flicked her perm away from her face and said, "Why do you think? We need to talk, buddy."
Todd crossed his arms importantly. "I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything that needs discussion. At least not with you."
Joy scoffed in disbelief. "You didn't do anything?" she practically screamed. "You stole my car!"
Todd had no idea what she was talking about. He had never stolen a car in his life. He hadn't even stolen Jenny's toy truck in fourth grade, even though he had gotten a checkmark next to his name for it. "Oh, shut up. I did no such thing!"
"Well, explain why, after I parked my car at the supermarket across the street from your factory, I saw some guy driving it away just as I was about to leave with my groceries?" Joy interrogated.
"Duh. Someone else stole it," Todd answered.
"Are you so sure?" Joy pressed. "Because the only thing I was able to notice about the robber was that he had red hair and was about my age. You match that description pretty damn well, don't you think?"
"I didn't steal your car!"
"Prove it! What were you doing at six'o'clock yesterday afternoon?"
Easy. That was the end of Todd's work day. As it turned out, it didn't make a very good alibi, however. "I was on my way home."
Joy put her hands on her hips. "In my car?"
"No, I walked!"
"Yet again, I'd like you to prove it," Joy sassed. "Is there anyone else here who saw you walking home who can tell me that you were?"
"No..." Todd said quietly. She had him there. He was still innocent, but he had reached a dead end.
Joy nodded huffily. "I'm going to have to turn you in, then."
Todd stood up indignantly. "What? You have no proof! They'll never convict me with no proof!"
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Joy said. "A friend of mine who is very eager to see you jailed up is currently engaged to the chief of police. She can get anything out of him."
To Todd's horror, Annie Simmons appeared behind her with a sly grin on her face. "I can, you know," she said.
Todd blinked furiously and stammered, "But – but..."
Annie laughed along with Joy. "That'll teach you how much to care about your precious gum sticking to its wrapper," she sneered.
Todd had been beaten at his own game. His trick had been to punish people for things they could neither be proven innocent or guilty for. He felt he had been cheated a bit here: stealing a car? Please. Joy rarely drove her car anywhere. The police hadn't even tried to find the stolen item in his possession before they convicted him – the work of Annie Simmons working some kind of charm on her fiancee, no doubt.
Luckily, the chief of police had some morals. He refused to keep Todd in jail for a year to life, like Joy wanted. Instead, he was just kept in a cell for the night with no meals.
As Todd sulked on the hard concrete floor, he wondered what happened to his life. His old classmates were the same happy people they had been in elementary school. But why had he, the genius in disguise, of all people, taken a turn for the worse?
His cellmate in the dark corner with his back turned spoke. "Yo, overnight bitch! Do I know you from somewhere?"
Todd shrugged dejectedly. "I don't know. Maybe I'd be able to tell you if you'd say that again to my face."
Judging from the loud crash that followed, the inmate had kicked over his wastebasket. "Just go eat a turd, jailbird!" he shouted in unnecessary fury.
Todd's eyes widened and he looked up at his cellmate's dark figure. "Terrence?"
A/N: Yep. Kind of a surprise ending. My motives there are that all the pairings and friendships so far used in this fic have been kind of... predictable. So I decided, why not use a kind of unexpected and new friendship? So to clarify, Todd and Terrence get closer and eventually they become "jailbreak buddies."
Gah. Sorry for the rambly author's notes. I'm really tired as I'm writing this.