Author's Note – This is really, really weird. It's riddled with intentional errors, because that's just how people think. Not even I, the mighty Grammar Defender, always think in perfect, grammatically correct sentences. Still, it was difficult to write them incorrectly. I just thought that it would be a more realistic reflection of this Executive's thoughts if I added some errors. This might actually be weirder than my Moby Dick and MBS crossover. And for anyone who's wondering who this is, this is the Executive who let the Society into the Institute on the very first day.
Disclaimer – I don't own the Mysterious Benedict Society and I make no profit from this. Nor do I own Harry Potter, Edgar Allen Poe, the grocery market in Memphis (The one in Tennessee, not Egypt), California, or even the phrase 'Peace Frogs' (registered trademark). All that is completely irrelevant to this story, however. All except the MBS disclaimer. That's important.
Warnings – Insanity, one reference to the underworld with a slightly more colourful term.
Smile. Never forget to smile. The Boss will complain, the Boss will give unreasonable orders, the Boss will expect too much of us… but always keep up the smile on!
The Recruiters get all the attention. It's no fair! We do as much work as they do. Probably more! And the Helpers never have to hurt their face muscles smiling. No, it's all frown and turn away for them. But the Executives? Not us! We have to smile, smile, smile. Even when we're hot, tired, bored, thirsty, hungry… you name it! 'Never stop smiling.' It's our motto.
What? Stop yakking on the radio, SQ! SQ's an idiot. He doesn't have to smile all the stupid time. None of the teaching Executives do. Only us at the gates do. Hmph. Whoops! Here come a couple Recruiters! Better plaster that smile back on. I'm smiling…I'm smiling…I'm smi – oh good, they're gone. *Sigh*
Tum tee tum tum… Ah! A car. Coming across the bridge… and better put that smile back up… stopping. "Can I help you?" I say, doing my best to physically exude friendliness. The woman in the seat – black lady, nice looking – tells me something about Binnud Academy. Great, lady. She hands me some paperwork. Better check to make sure that that's OK.
"Wait here please." I go back to the guard house. Check, check, check… all's in order! Cool. I love it when I don't have to do anything but smile! Going back out, and, "Welcome kids! You're clear and right on time. Please drive to the island gate and-" blah blah blah Silly stuff, my speeches are. Anyway, the car drives off.
Ow. My face muscles hurt. But I can't stop smiling until the car's out of sight. What a stupid rule. Of course, the Institute doesn't have rules. "You only have to smile when you want to, as long as you smile all the time," Mr. Curtain says. My interpretation; Only smile when people are around to see.
SQ's still yammering away on the radio. Clear the airways, bucko! He won't shut up. Shut up! What's he talking about, anyway? A new password? A clever note? Whatever. I'm hungry, so I guess I'll eat lunch. It'll give my face something other to do than smile for a bit. Where'd my lunch go? Ah! Here it is. What do I have today? Apple, French fries, burger… Oh har dee har har. Very funny. The lunch today is a Helper-made 'Happy Meal.' Absolutely hilarious. Tastes good, though.
It's been five hours since the four kids were dropped off. Mr. Curtain's been out here for three of those, and my smile hasn't wavered once. Awesome. Three hours – not bad! That's a new record for me. I'm writing it down on my arm so I don't forget it. My face is really hurting me now. Ow. Ow. Ow. Oh good. He's going in. Oh! That feels so nice! Making a neutral expression... Ahhhhhhh…. Oh no! Not another load of kids to clear. I'll look into my telescope to see if they're really coming here… Oh, come ON! I was just getting comfortable.
They're in the Recruiters car. Ha! Aren't they a sight! All tied up and gagged! The Recruiters must have had some trouble getting them. Let's see, who do we have? Some fat girl in a silly dress and a boy as thin as a stick. They look really stupid unconscious. They don't look 'Very Enlightened.' I suppose that you get enlightened by the Whisperer. But I was already enlightened. I didn't need to be brainswept.
"Morning, Sophie." Crownings (Wasn't that his name? The Recruiter with one eyebrow?) rolls the window down and hands me a little key card. Thanks. Ow! My face is so sore! Scanning the card… good! It really is Crownings.
"Who are the students, Crownings?" I ask. Do you have any idea how hard it is to say 'who' when you're smiling fit to crack your face in two? I can tell you from experience; it's hard.
"Rosie and Eustace Parker. And it's Crawlings, not Crownings." Crawlings! I should have remembered!
"Well, you're good to go. Have a nice day!" They're driving away… and… smile off! Phew! What a relief. Now, let's get back to documenting those files… WITHOUT smiling.
You know, I really despise smiling. Most people say that smiling is fun. I don't. It's painful. But it's how I keep my job. Smiling. Wait a minute – why do I even do this job? I used to be in it for the sessions with the Whisperer, but I never get those anymore, now that I'm an Executive. I used to do it so people could all be happy, but smiling is bad and people smile when they're happy, so why would I be so cruel? What am I doing here? Why am I helping a man who makes others smile? Smiling! The worst of all tortures! The bane of happiness! I cannot let this place of mad, maniac smilers rule the weeping world.
Freedom! We need freedom! Break from the bonds of living hell that the Boss has thrust upon us! Break the smile! Stop the madness!
The gate. Must break the gate. Will that not be symbolic of the freedom that I shall bring? The computers controlling the gate is sitting right there.
A foot through the monitor. A fist through the main board. A fizzle. A spark. The gate crashes down. Ha! Take that, Mr. Curtain. Going outside, wrenching the gate off its stand. Now anyone can leave! Any and all who are ruled by the tyranny of the smile.
I throw the broken striped bar into the salty water below. Looking up, and what is that?
A chair. A chair with a man in a green plaid suit. Boss.
When he gets close enough to see me, I lean out the booth's window and twist my face, my muscles straining, trying to recall an expression that I haven't made for years. A frown.
Mr. Curtain doesn't seem surprised, or even angry. He just sits silently, his head cocked slightly to one side, for a full minute. Then he sits up straight, looks at me and says kindly, "I believe it's your turn for a session in the Whisperer."
Author's Note – Yep. I was right. That was really weird. And for those who are wondering what just happened, yes – the Executive just went totally insane, broke the gate to LIVE, and ended up being brainswept. Totally out of the blue. This story was helped along by a large amount of Edgar Allen Poe, great quantities of which I had been reading when I wrote this. Just one more thing before I send you from this story – REVIEW! Please.