*Author's note - This is my first piece of fanfiction. I tried to stick to something short and simple so that I can keep all the people in character. I hope you enjoy it!
Disclaimer-No, I don't own The Mysterious Benedict Society or any of the characters. Except for Master Tajacu, Clara, Timothy, and Abigail. I do own them.
~The Eyebrow of William Crawlings~
William Crawlings was not a cautious man. He always objected when people said this, but let's be honest- he wasn't. He had never been what anybody could call careful- from the time that he grabbed a snake at age five to that extremely embarrassing concert last week where he had sat on a pin halfway through the second song-, but he still flatly denied it when people told him this.
"Proper caution," McCracken would tell him. It drove Crawlings up the wall.
It was an oppressively hot summer night. Crawlings strode purposefully through the large iron gates of Peccary Orphanage, shadowed by the bearded Garrotte. Together the two men trotted up the concrete steps, where they tried the door.
"Locked," grunted Crawlings. "And here I was hoping that I could save my laser for the dear cookies."
"Proper caution, Crawlings!" Garrotte sniggered at his colleague's scowl. "I'll use my laser. I'm being your guard while you fetch the little chickies, so I'm less likely to need it. But there's no need to waste it on the dears if they co-operate." With a single, fluid movement, he opened his briefcase, took out his laser pointer, and took careful aim. With a twitch of his finger, the laser shot out of the device, burning through the wood and melting the lock in a matter of seconds. The door swung open with a slight groan.
As Garrotte hastily stowed his pointer, Crawlings walked through the door and glanced around. He was in a narrow hallway, dimly lit by little night lights in the shape of mermaids and trucks. He had to try hard to supress a snort of laughter. Mermaids and trucks indeed! As Garrotte joined him, he noted that the hall was lined with doors, and that each of these doors had a name painted on it. What were the names of the children he and Garrotte were supposed to be 'recruiting?' Ah, yes. Jackson and Jillson. Those were the ones. He and Garrotte scanned the names on the doors, looking for the names of their quarry.
Finally, Garrotte called out in a whisper, "Here they are! Jackson and Jillson. Right next to each other, to boot. Lovely."
"You stand guard, now. Make sure that that Wetherall agent doesn't interrupt us. I'll get the girl first." Crawlings opened the door. It creaked slightly, earning him a glare from Garrotte. The bearded man mouthed, "Keep it down!" and turned back to the door.
Silently cursing the hinges of old houses, Crawlings drew a burlap sack from his belt. He looked at the girl that was sleeping like a log. She looked rather like a pig, with a squinched up, pudgy face and arms like sledgehammers. Her greasy brown hair lay all about her, and on her desk lay a length of wire.
Slightly confused at the wire, the huge man shrugged. It hardly mattered what the wire was for. He shook his cuffs slightly to free his shock-watches, and held his hands out in a soothing sort of gesture that he had rehearsed many times. The little wires shot out of his watches and, faster than he could watch, shocked Jillson and retracted into his wrists again. The ducky had gone without even a scream. Crawlings loaded her into the sack. Grunting slightly with effort, he hefted the bag onto his shoulder. She was heavy!
Closing the door behind him, he set the unconscious girl at his companion's feet. Garrotte nodded his approval, then jerked his head at Jackson's door to indicate that Crawlings should get going- and Crawlings did just that.
Master Tajacu was having a terrible night. First it had been Clara and her accursed nightmares, then it had been Timothy with his sudden onset of flu, and then Abigail had started crying, which had woken up the rest of the babies and had made them cry. Now it was one in the morning and he himself couldn't get to sleep.
Getting up to get himself some water, the keeper of Peccary Orphanage hummed a little ditty to himself. Maybe, he thought to himself, he would go downstairs to get himself some tea, rather than just plain old water. Yes, some tea would be nice.
Crawlings stepped silently into Jackson's room. It was lit by a lamp which spread dark shadows into the corners and shone brightly on the boy's face. He looked nothing like his sister. For one thing, Crawlings thought wryly, he was still conscious. Other than that though, Jackson still didn't resemble Jillson at all. His nose was thin and sharp, his arms were skinny, and his hair looked much cleaner.
Crawlings stepped forward, shaking his cuffs. Upstairs, a board creaked. The boy's eyes shot open. Catching sight of Crawlings, Jackson began to scream, but was cut short by a hand clamping over his mouth.
Crawlings smiled charmingly. "Oh, don't shout sweetie pie. We don't want the orphanage master to come running, do we?" He drew his hand away, and to his intense relief the boy stopped yelling.
"Who're you?" Jackson asked in a nasal voice.
"My name's Crawlings, and I've come to-"
"I'm not supposed to talk to strangers!" he cried. He began to scream again, but stopped abruptly when he saw the man pointing something at his chest. "W-what's that?"
"This? This is a laser pointer. One more peep out of you, and I could cut your dear little ear off. Got it?"
Jackson nodded, terrified.
"Good. Now if you'll just hold still…" He tossed his pointer behind him without looking. Reaching into his breast pocket, he withdrew a large white handkerchief and pressed it to Jackson's face. The boy crumpled. Still without turning around, Crawlings stuffed the troublesome child into a second bag.
As Master Tajacu stumped down the stairs to the kitchen, he noticed something odd. Jackson's door was thrown open and light was pouring out. He hurried down the remaining stairs to see what was wrong. As he approached, he heard voices emanating from it.
First came Jackson's voice, terrified and small; "W-what's that?"
Then another voice- a man's voice; "This? This is a laser pointer. One more peep out of you, and I could cut your dear little ear off. Got it?" A pause, then; "Good. Now if you'll just hold still…"
Master Tajacu had by now crept to the door. He saw the man step forward with a handkerchief. He noticed the black object flying towards him just in time. He caught it instinctively just before it could hit him in the face. Why had the man thrown it at him? He had claimed that it was a weapon, and a dangerous one at that, but it looked just like a laser pointer.
By now, Crawlings had stuffed the unconscious Jackson into the burlap sack and slung it onto his shoulder.
As the kidnapper turned to leave, Master Tajacu's hand clenched in fear. To his shock and horror, a laser shot out of the little device unknowingly thrown at him by the man before him. The beam hit Crawlings's face, searing off one of his eyebrows. As the smell of burning hair permeated the room, the orphanage master let go of the laser pointer and ran for the stairs as quickly as his knobbly old legs could carry him.
Crawlings knelt on the lumpy sack of child for a full minute, clutching his burned face. Gingerly feeling it, he came to the conclusion that his eyebrow was gone, along with most of the skin under it. Wincing at the pain, he slowly stood up and hauled the bag of Jackson onto his shoulder. Best to get out of here before that orphanage master calls the police.
Trooping out into the hall, he looked around for Garrotte. Where was he? Some guard he was. Not only did he let that old coot into the room, but he also had left the front door unguarded!
Crawlings was just about to get worried, when the front door opened. Garrotte's bearded face poked in at him. "What took you so long?" he hissed. "And- hey! What's wrong with your face?"
Crawlings scowled, then winced. "Never mind. We should get going." The two men walked away at a brisk pace, Jillson carried by Garrote and Jackson by Crawlings. When Crawlings had finished relating the story behind his eyebrow (or lack thereof), Garrotte couldn't stop laughing.
"It's just like McCracken always says! Proper caution!" Garrote managed to say through his laughter.
"I was cautious. How was I supposed to know you'd decided to guard the outside of the door instead of the inside? I thought you'd catch anyone out of bed at one o'clock in the morning."
"You still shouldn't toss away your weapons! What if the pumpkin had had a machete stuffed in his mattress?"
Crawlings spoke through gritted teeth, "Then I would've shocked him before he could use it."
Garrotte still didn't stop laughing, and was still chortling slightly when they had delivered the two children to Mr. Curtain at the Institute and were about to go report to McCracken.
Garrote marched up to the door of the Recruiter's building, straightened his tie, and knocked. Crawlings lurked a few feet back, trying-and failing- to hide his face from view. The door opened, and none other than McCracken looked out at them. He smiled warmly at the two men, his eyes resting on Crawlings' burnt face.
"Come in," he said. "It appears I must teach Crawlings a lesson in proper caution."
*Author's note – I hope you enjoyed it. Please give some good, constructive feedback. Again, this is my first piece of fanfiction, so I need to know what people think of my writing style and ideas. Thank you for your time.