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The particular Evil which the space turtle sensed came from one Dr. Quincey P. Mandra, who after a long life of being victimized (at least as he saw it) through one means or another, decided that the time had arrived for him to become a Mad Scientist and wreak his revenge on humanity and creation in general by taking over the world and making it his plaything. (As can be seen, Dr. Mandra was rather narrow of vision, as any self-respecting Mad Scientist these days would have planned to take over the universe, or at least our particular galaxy. Perhaps this was why the elder space turtle seemed unconcerned.)
He had already constructed his Evil Headquarters, which he had named The Citadel of Doom (Insert lightning and thunder here). He thought that it was a name that rolled rather nicely off the tongue. It had all that an Evil Mad Scientist could need: attractive art deco living quarters for himself, barracks for his troops, dank dungeons, torture chambers, mutated guard-beasts, booby traps, and lots and lots of insidious machinery that bleeped and buzzed and crackled and made other science fictiony noises.
He still needed one thing however...Hordes.
Every Evil Mad Scientist needs hordes of mindless drones to do his Evil Bidding.
³Where will I find Hordes?² he mused. ³Where can I find great masses of mindless individuals ready to be indoctrinated and follow a charismatic leader with little or no regard for consequences or even common sense?²
He rejected Congress immediately. ³I do need some degree of intelligence in my hordes. Overly stupid hordes have been the downfall of many a Mad Scientist. Besides I do want some combat ability. Some, hell! I want soulless killing machines!²
This naturally brought the armed forces to mind, but he rejected them as too fanatical even for him.
³Frat boys! Hmm...maybe frat pledges. By the time they reach full frat boy status they¹ve consumed way too much alcohol to be worth anything.
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³But how do I get them?²
Eventually he decided that the best thing was to snatch them while they wandered the halls of their respective high schools, lost and bewildered.
He constructed a new hyperdimensional, extra-spatial device, the Cosmic Hallway
Apparatus and Loser Leader or C.H.A.L.L for short. This was connected to every high school in the world through a process that is scientifically unexplainable (and rather ridiculous as well). Included in this device was a transmitter that subetherically beamed instructions directly into the brains of upperclassmen of a certain temperament. These instructions were simple, direct any lost freshman to C Hall, don¹t show them there, just tell them that the place they want is in C Hall. (Intelligent readers will no doubt point out the fact that many high schools do not have a C Hall. But that was just part of Dr. Mandra¹s insidious plan. If any particular freshman was on the ball enough to realize that they were being misdirected, that freshman was not the type of individual Dr. Mandra was interested in.)
After Dr. Mandra set up his fiendish device, a rash of disappearances spread throughout the world. Many people blamed aliens or government conspiracies. Others blamed Satanists or other cults. One magazine, with the auspicious title of THINGS UNEXPLAINED, actually did make a connection to a certain physicist who vanished under mysterious circumstances, but only at the cost of their best investigative reporter¹s sanity and the scorn of other publications, even those generally less respected.
One day in suburban Indianapolis...
³Sure kid, it¹s in C Hall.² The burly jock frowned for a moment; he hadn¹t planned on even acknowledging the twerp¹s presence, and here he was taking the effort to misdirect him.
³I¹d show you the way, but I have a life.² Hell, might as well go for it. ³Has anyone sold you an elevator pass yet?² This was one of his favorite gags. There was, in fact, an elevator, but it was only for faculty and A/V use. ³Only five bucks, a real steal.²
³Um...thank you sir, maybe later.² quavered the small nervous freshman as the huge guy in the letter jacket sauntered off with a rather nasty grin on his face.
Gilbert N. Sullivan was an unfortunate kid with an unfortunate name. The causes of his misfortune were as follows:
1)The aforementioned name
2)His lowly freshman status
3)Being rather small, shortsighted (physically, not mentally), and possessed of a high IQ
4)Being completely and utterly turned around within the confines of his new high school
In other words, a high powered electromagnet for cruel upperclassmen jocks like the one who just doomed him to a life of zombiehood.
*I could have sworn that the map didn¹t show a C Hall. Hmm...*
³Damn! I¹m late!² He began to run. *Well, if I assume that the first hall that
branches off this one is A Hall, and that the next one is B Hall, then around this corner must
Later that day...
Several hundred students milled through the halls. We shall focus on two, a boy and a girl, both juniors. The boy, Ryan, was interestingly enough the younger brother of El Jocko the elevator pass salesman. The girl, Kate, was his good friend and a fellow member of the marching band. She was also rather into weird happenings and THINGS UNEXPLAINED.
(We might also note at this moment another girl, also a junior, just off to one side, leaning up against a set of lockers reading a comic book.)
³...swear, Ryan. There have been disappearances for months now! All freshmen, mostly high school, some college, snatched from the very halls of their schools. The people at THINGS UNEXPLAINED think that it¹s secret government testing gone rogue! There was this physicist who disappeared and everything! Look!² She shoved the magazine she was clutching into his face.
He flinched back. ³KATE! Chill out. Does the phrase ³Urban Legend² mean anything to you? It¹s just like that guy with the hook hand or the people who kidnap you, rip off your kidneys and sell them to unscrupulous doctors for transplants!²
³Exactly! Page 25, latest case.² He rolled his eyes. ³Ryan! This is serious!²
³Oh certainly it is.² piped up the comic book reader, who went by the unlikely name of Charlemagne. ³There¹s this guy who¹s built some hyperdimensional device that disguises itself as just another hall and has a thought transference beam thingee to brainwash upperclassman into inadvertently directing lost freshmen there. It¹s part of an insidious plot to take over the world.²
Ryan grinned at this just as Kate said ³You¹ve read the article!²
Ryan stopped grinning.
Charlemagne rolled her eyes. ³Look,² she said, ³here¹s what we¹ll do. They¹re fixing up the gym Friday night after the game for some dance on Saturday. We¹ll come in to ³help² with the decorations, pose as freshmen who have no clue where supplies are kept, or something like that, and wait for some jerk to give us the wrong directions.²
Ryan sputtered. ³What will that prove?! WE know our way around. There is no mystery hall of doom!²
Charlemagne was unperturbed. ³So, we just think there is real hard. ŒThere¹s no place like home. There¹s no place like home.¹²
³God, this is stupid.²
Kate seemed to be oblivious to their sarcasm. ³This is wonderful! We can get
pictures! Photographic proof! I¹ll bring my camera!² She scampered off.
Ryan and Charlemagne just stared after her. She was the first to speak. ³You do realize the fallacy in her logic, don¹t you?²
³You mean that if by some infinitesimal chance this is true, the chances of our getting out with photographic proof are slim to none?²
That night Ryan and Kate slipped into the main part of the building after changing out of their marching band uniforms. Their friend Rhonda, who was working on the decorations anyway, walked over to meet them.
³So what¹s all this about?² Rhonda was rather impatient, as she felt that this was likely just another of Kate¹s harebrained schemes (and she was probably right).
³We¹re going to go down in history as exposing the greatest conspiracy of all time!² As can be seen, Kate was not above hyperbole.
Ryan walked over and placed his hand on Rhonda¹s shoulder. ³Humor her,² he muttered through clenched teeth.
³So are we ready?²
They turned to see Charlemagne walking towards them. Rhonda was obviously a little taken aback. ³What the hell is she doing here?²
Ryan shushed her quickly. ³Charlemagne. Good to see you. What¹s in the backpack?²
³Well,² mused Charlemagne thoughtfully, ³I thought it might be a good idea to have some ³firepower² along in case we ran into trouble.²
³So you¹re packing?² coughed Ryan.
Charlemagne just smiled.
At that moment, across the gym, El Jocko (whose real name was Brad, but El Jocko sounds better) was attempting to placate Stacey, his latest conquest.
³Aw c¹mon baby, you¹re my darling, my angel, my sweetheart. None of the other girls meant anything to me. You know you don¹t wanna break it off.²
³But Braaad.² Stacey possessed a whine that could strip the paint off a diesel truck.
³How can I go to the dance with you?! You hu-hum-humiliated me in front of everyone!²
³Aw baby, it was only those geeks at Schafer¹s. Besides I only went out with her because she wrote that paper for me. It¹s not like I really like her.²
³Oh Brad.² They went for the clench.
³Excuse me.² They turned to find Charlemagne standing there. (It had been decided that Brad might just recognize his own brother, even if he was incredibly low on the social ladder, so Ryan was waiting on the other side of the room. Kate was just too excited to pull anything off, and Rhonda, well, Rhonda just thought the whole thing was stupid). ³I hate to break up this touching moment of redemption and forgiveness, but I was just told to go to the art supply room, and frankly I don¹t know where it is.²
³Freshman,² snorted the Jock-man. He was just about to tell her to blow off, when the he was whammied by the Mandra beam. You could almost see his synapses reversing positronic flow or something. ³Um...sure kid. It¹s in C Hall, yeah. I¹d show you, but I have a life. But to make up for it,² he rummaged in his pocket. ³How about an elevator pass. For you, only five bucks.²
Charlemagne winced. *How dumb does this guy think I am? Oh well, we strive for
realism. ³Sure. But I¹m a little strapped for cash right now. Would you take these
instead?² She pulled an unused pad of hall passes out of her backpack.
³Deal!² He laughed. ³What¹s your name kid?²
³P. Amoury. First name: Polly²
³Well, here you go.² He scribbled the name down and gave her the pass.
³And here you go.² She smiled and gave him the pad.
After the exchange he sauntered off with the newly complacent Stacey.
³Brad?² Stacey sounded slightly perturbed.
³I didn¹t think that there was a C Hall here, or even any lettered halls at all.²
³Oh. Okay then.² They continued walking.
³Okay, now that we¹ve been directed wrongly, we can try to find this place.²
Charlemagne had decided that by taking charge, she could probably keep this from being a
complete fiasco. ³We just need to convince ourselves that we don¹t know that there isn¹t a C Hall, and that we think that there is one and that we really need to get there.²
Rhonda snorted ·(which she tended to do when handing around this particular group of people), ³And how the hell do we do that?²
Charlemagne smiled evilly, ³Just follow along.² She began to skip down the hall singing at the top of her lungs.
³Follow the green tile floor
Follow the green tile floor
Follow, follow, follow, follow...²
She disappeared around a corner. Ryan and Kate shrugged, linked arms and joined in. ³Follow the green tile floor.²
As they turned the corner, Rhonda decided that since her Friday evening was shot anyway, she might as well have fun, and skipped after them.
³...the wonderful place called C Hall.²
After a few moments of vertigo, our intrepid juniors found themselves in a stretch of hallway that looked familiar, but wasn¹t any hall that they could remember being in before.
Considering that they had been in the same high school for over two years, and by this point had at least passed through every single hall in the school, this was a little disconcerting.
Charlemagne was the first to speak. ³Well, Kate, I¹d go ahead and whip out your
camera, cause I don¹t think we¹re in Kansas anymore.²
³Figure of speech, Ryan. We¹re not in Indianapolis anymore. We could very well be in Kansas, though.²
³I¹m not a complete idiot.²
³Shut up! Shut up, shut up shut up!² Rhonda was more than a little freaked. ³I don¹t know what kind of sick joke this is but I want to go home now!²
³You shut up, Ryan!²
Kate had been running around snapping pictures. She was at the end of the hall when she called back. ³Um...I think you should see this.²
Just then an alarm sounded.
At this time, Dr. Mandra was in the midst of attempting to bend poor Gilbert to his will. In a scene right out of a second rate science fiction horror movie, Gilbert had been strapped to a table and was currently staring into the barrel of the mind scrambler ray that was about to be put to its intended use, on him.
But before Gilbert could be zombified, a loud klaxon sounded, and a voice out of
nowhere began to proclaim an alert.
³Attention! Attention! Non-freshmen have been detected. I repeat , non-freshmen have been detected. All Freshman Hordes to their posts. Prepare for emergency plan zeta theta alpha two niner.²
*My God, have I been discovered again? I knew I should have had that reporter from THINGS UNEXPLAINED killed instead of just brainwashed!* ³Pledge Kevin!² This last remark was directed to a young man wearing a Sigma Epsilon Chi sweatshirt and ball cap.
³A Sigma Epsilon Chi pledge is...²
³Not now Pledge Kevin. I want you to do something for me. Keep an eye on this
new...pledge...for me. Something¹s come up that I need to take care of immediately.²
³Yes, noble one!²
*Hmm...Maybe these frat pledges are a little too compliant.*
He left the room. Scarcely a minute later a voice piped up from the table.
³Hey, Pledge Kevin. C¹mere a second...²
Charlemagne decided that, as alarms and sirens are generally a Bad Thing (especially right after you break into some strange alternate dimension), it was time to beat a quick retreat.
³I believe the time has come to get some cardiovascularly correct exercise.²
Ryan, as usual, was the only one to even slightly pick up on what Charlemagne meant.
³I take it you mean we should run.²
At that moment the first of the screaming Freshman Hordes rounded the corner where Kate was standing. Her first reaction was to scream. Her second reaction was to take a picture. This turned out to be the best thing she could have done, as the flashbulb on her camera was particularly blinding. It stunned the Hordes for a moment and gave her time to dash the opposite way. It was only seconds before the Hordes were in hot pursuit.
They ran down several twisting and turning hallways with no real concept of where they were or where they were going.
³Quick! This way!² The speaker was the small bespectacled boy who we have come to know as Gilbert.
Charlemagne generally trusted her instincts. After all, if nothing else, she was the one who had succeeded in getting them here, and at this moment her instincts were telling her to trust this guy.
They plunged down the hall after him.
Dr. Mandra sat in the control room reviewing the security tapes with a grim expression. More intruders, with cameras no less. He groaned as he saw them escape from his precious Hordes. *Maybe the whole Hordes concept is a bad idea. Too easy to get a bunch of complete idiots, especially when the pledges find the liquor cabinet. Maybe I should set up some sort of recruitment center on a voluntary basis, but that¹d just get me more macho types. Maybe doing the manly macho thing is doomed to failure. Maybe I need to get in touch with my feminine side. Maybe I should open a boutique. Yes! I can use the hair dryers as brainwashing devices. They do say that the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
Suddenly he realized who had helped them escape. He sprinted back to the Minderbender Chamber, where he found Pledge Kevin trying (and failing miserably) to stand on his head and down a shot of Yukon Jack while singing ³Wild Thing.²
As soon as he saw Dr. Mandra he shot, unsteadily, to his feet.
³What the hell happened!²
³Pledge Gilbert impressed upon me the importance of getting ready for tomorrow¹s hazing
ritual. I thought I¹d practice.²
If steam could literally shoot from someone¹s ears...
³And, where is...Pledge Gilbert...now?²
³He went to get another shot glass.²
The events that followed in this room are completely gratuitous and without redeeming value and probably violate decency laws (as well as physics). So we shall leave them for now.
³That is one amazing story.²
³I know.² Gilbert sighed. ³I just want to get out of here. Luckily he only set an overly eager frat pledge as my guard or I¹d be one of those drooling wackos right now.²
³Yeah, but HOW do we get out of here?² Rhonda was obviously not having the best time. ³I do have better ways to spend a Friday night; much better than being chased by demonic freshmen.²
³We can¹t leave yet!² As Kate had been rather silent since their mad dash, piping up like this came as quite a shock to the others. ³I need a picture of this head guy, Dr. Mooka or whatever!²
³Mandra. And if you think we are staying here one moment longer than we have to...²
³Rhonda, chill out.²
³Ryan, is Œchill out¹ the only phrase you know?²
³Guys, guys.² Charlemagne had decided that once again she had to take charge before
this situation completely degenerated. ³Look, in the literary scheme of things...²
Rhonda snorted, ³Comic book woman speaks! Listen all ye lands!²
Charlemagne waited. ³Are you done? Good. Like I started to say. Generally the best way to escape the Evil Mad Scientist¹s lair is to defeat him, free his slaves, and utilize his technology.²
³My God! It¹s so crazy it just might work!²
³Ryan! Don¹t you start too!² Rhonda bopped him in the head with Charlemagne¹s
backpack. He grunted and fell bonelessly to the floor.
Gilbert tried to ignore the chaos around him. *Damn. I hope I¹m not this weird when I get to be a junior.
When Dr. Mandra went to bed that night, it was with a sense of deep regret. *I thought it would be fun to be an evil, power-hungry, Mad Scientist. I thought it would be fun to have Hordes of mindless drones doing my bidding. But it¹s just a big pain in this ass. At least when I worked for the government I could blame everything that went wrong on lack of funding or support or the current administration, but here I¹m the current administration. And it sucks.
Hell, teaching high school physics to a bunch of drooling morons would be more fun.*
It was at this point that Charlemagne and the rest of our intrepid band dropped from a ceiling vent.
³Alright, Mandra you fiend! Freeze! Your insane despotic rule, and plans of world domination are finished!² Charlemagne had waited years to be able to say something like this. ³We¹re gonna bring you to justice!²
Charlemagne was a little confused at this point. Generally when one confronts the Evil Mad Scientist he at least sneers a little bit and calls the heroes meddling fools. Mandra seemed more relieved than anything.
³Don¹t try any tricks, Mandra.² Gilbert seemed rather indignant. ³We know what a tricky bastard you are.²
Of all the strange things that Charlemagne had seen that day, Gilbert using the phrase ³tricky bastard² had to be the strangest.
³Look, kids, the Mad Scientist thing was probably my version of a midlife crisis. I
didn¹t realize how out of hand it was getting until I was reprimanding Pledge Kevin. I¹m sick of dealing with pimply faced twerps and frat boy wanna-bees. I just want to go sell used cars or something. Stick a fork in me, I¹m done.²
This was completely beyond Charlemagne¹s experience, but again her instincts were telling her to trust him. ³Fine. Let¹s go.² She led Dr. Mandra out past her shocked colleagues.
Meanwhile, Pledge Kevin was just waking up. He had decided that he wasn¹t going to stand for any more abuse. He was going to get the others to blackball Brother Mandra for excesses above and beyond those generally seen (and applauded in) a Brother.
So it was that when Charlemagne, Mandra and the others emerged from his bedroom, they met with the entire population of Dr. Mandra¹s vast complex, ready and waiting to rip them all to shreds.
Pledge Kevin led the pack. ³Just where do you think you¹re going, Brother Mandra?²
³Kevin, I¹m ending this foolishness now. I am returning to the surface world through my escape elevator. You are all welcome to follow.²
³Not so fast, Brother Mandra. Only those with permission are allowed to access the elevator. And we have recently decided that you do not deserve permission.² He turned to the arrayed multitudes. ³Isn¹t that right, brothers?²
³YES!!² Screamed a thousand and more throats, hereby pointing out the biggest problem with Dr. Mandra¹s plan. Conforming sheep may stupidly, blindly follow charismatic leaders, but are not likely to be all that discriminating about any particular charismatic leader.
³Hold on!² Charlemagne cried out. ³We have permission to use the elevator! We have this!² She held aloft the elevator pass so recently purchased from El Jocko.
³Give me that!² Pledge Kevin ripped it from her hand. Sure enough, it was a signed and dated elevator pass, good through January. The Hordes parted like the Red Sea, a winding pathway to the elevator of freedom.
³What do we care about elevator passes? Let¹s get them!² The frat pledges came
forward as one.
³I think you¹ll care for this.² said Charlemagne, pulling several bottles of Yukon Jack out of her backpack. ³And this.² She tossed the key to the liquor cabinet at Pledge
Ryan leaned over and whispered in her ear. ³How the hell did you get those? You won¹t even turn seventeen till next summer!²
Charlemagne smiled, ³I got connections.²
While the frat boys fell to it and the Hordes stood deathly still, they walked over to the elevator and took it to the surface. Most of the Hordes would soon follow.
Since Dr. Mandra¹s headquarters were, quite literally, in Kansas (at least that¹s where
they surfaced) there was some worry about getting back to Indianapolis. But Dr. Mandra had after all invented a hyperdimensional transport thingee, so it just took a quick stop at a local junkyard to get a working device up and running. They didn¹t see each other again until Monday morning where they were surprised to find that Dr. Mandra had been hired as the new physics teacher. Everything, Ryan commented, seemed to have worked out for the best. The adventure was over and justice had prevailed.
³Not quite yet.² Charlemagne said, pointing down the hall.
El Jocko Brad was being accosted by the Vice Principal. ³What do you mean,
suspension?! I have a pass right here!²
³Indeed you do,² the vice principal replied. ³Unfortunately it just so happens that we switched to a different style of hall pass. All the old ones were destroyed last week except for one box that mysteriously disappeared. I think you have a lot of explaining to do.²
³It was Polly Amoury! I swear!² El Jocko continued to proclaim his innocence for all the world to hear.
Charlemagne smiled knowingly at Ryan. ³I think now it can be said that cosmic justice has been served.²
Recent headlines from THINGS UNEXPLAINED:
Telepathic space turtles. Fact or fiction?
Missing freshmen return! Government conspiracy revealed!
Are drunk frat boys trying to take over the world?