Thursday, June 18, 2015
8:37 a.m. (AST)
In a small corner of one of the more rad corners of the Southeast Caribbean, there is a tiny island called Cariascous, which is french for "flatulent snake." Cariascous is utterly insignificant and not worth mentioning, save for the dormant volcano located at its center, which houses the homebase of one of the most nefarious criminal organizations in the world: Terrordoom, Inc.
Though the exterior of Terrordoom HQ is all obsidian snakes and razor wire, the interior is actually pretty nice: It's well-lit, has an open office layout, is pleasantly air-conditioned, and even boasts a well-stocked candy wall and free beer on Thursdays. Terrordoom, Inc. knows that the secret to a well-oiled criminal-industrial complex is keeping the employees happy, and when your employees have to endure isolated working conditions, weekly gunfights with various espionage agencies, and leaking fluids that are, if we're lucky, just radioactive, you have to pull out all the stops. Hence, snack wall. And free beer on Thursdays.
But luxury comes with a price, and that price is bureaucracy, and the junction between bureaucracy and convenience is where we meet our hero, Reggie "Skullcrusher" Harvey, senior explosives and scary noises technician at Terrordoom, Inc. One Thursday morning found him hunched over his desk, reading the scariest email he had ever received.
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Now, that email may not seem scary to you, but to an overworked dad like Reggie, it was terrifying. See, Reggie had a problem: He never learned how to tell people no. So when his son had asked him a month ago if he could come home to Boston for the Fourth of July -- Jack's favorite holiday -- Reggie had said yes.
And then, two weeks later when Mobius Terrordoom -- CEO of Terrordoom, Inc. -- had asked Reggie to design the weapons for their Fourth of July attack in New York, he had also said yes. Now, at the very last minute, he was trying to figure out how he could solve this problem without letting anybody down. Which meant trying to weasel his way into a meeting with Mobius, the big man himself. Which meant figuring out where Mobius was at the moment. Which meant navigating the Employee Services Intranet Network.
"Scheduling Directory?" Reggie asked himself, clicking on what he thought was a button but turned out to just be a GIF of a button for some reason. In the background, he heard the insidious crackle of machine-gun fire blending with the polite crackle of a popcorn machine. The CIA had discovered the location of Terrordoom, Inc.'s headquarters last week, and a bunch of Navy SEALS were invading, and also it was someone's birthday, so they had brought in a popcorn machine.
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Both managed to kill people.
"Why would you make a graphic look like a button?" Reggie said. "Why aren't there actual buttons?"
Behind him, his co-worker Muti sighed. Reggie recognized the sigh as the one that came whenever Muti was going to complain about something really dumb.
"I'm thinking about swapping my standing desk for a sitting desk again," Muti said, even though he had swapped his sitting desk for a standing desk like three fucking days ago after bitching about how the seat made his back hurt for a solid month. "I know it's probably good for my circulation because our culture's infatuation with sitting on our ass is basically one big luxurious suicide, but I really hate it. My back hurts so much right now."
The gunfire was getting closer. A dozen Terrordoom security personnel jogged by, each carrying a large, snake-shaped rifle.
"Do you know how to find out where someone is in the office?" Reggie asked without turning around. "I need to ask Mobius something."
"I think this is like my gym membership," Muti mused. "I bought it because I figured that I would force myself to keep a commitment to being healthy, right? Only I never go."
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The only people who go to the gym are stock-photo models.
An explosion shook the office. The Groot bobblehead on top of Muti's monitor bobbled. "I am Groot!" it said.
"I feel like I'm just not cut out for office work," Reggie said. "I'm supposed to be in a field somewhere, messing around with some explosives and seismographs and weapons. That's what I'm good at. I invented the homing sticky grenade with the delay-fuse, for crying out loud. I'm not sitting at some desk trying to figure out how to fucking access a fucking private fucking spreadsheet, fuck."
"It's weird because I'm super good at working at my job," Muti continued, not listening. "Like, I'll avoid my family, my friends, all for my career. I'd do anything for this company. But I can't even trick myself into working out, or eating right, or sticking with my standing desk. I wish I were half so dedicated to myself as my career, ya know?"
"Oh, here it is," Reggie said, his frustration melting. "OK, I guess I can schedule a meeting with him next week to ..."
He trailed off, realizing that there was no reason to narrate anymore.
A soldier burst into the office, wearing a jet-black wetsuit and carrying an advanced combat rifle of some kind. He started to shout something but immediately exploded, the upper half and lower half of his body flying in opposite directions. His death made a sound like a wiffle bat smacking open a soggy paper bag full of spaghetti. Oh good, Reggie thought to himself, they're using my homing grenades.
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"Going home to see Jack for the Fourth?" Muti asked. "He's seven now, right?"
"Hopefully," Reggie said, somewhat surprised that Muti remembered his son's name. For a guy who didn't pay attention, Muti sure noticed a lot of shit. "I haven't been back to Boston in forever."
"Yeah, that's rough. Good luck, dude."
Friday, June 26
1:03 p.m. (AST)
Reggie sat outside Dr. Terrordoom's office, brainstorming as hard as he could. When he had scheduled this meeting last week, he'd figured that he had plenty of time to come up with an excuse to miss Terrordoom's biggest attack of the year, but he hadn't come up with anything better than the truth, which obviously wouldn't work. And before he even had time to work himself into a nice and proper panic, Terrordoom's secretary signaled him. Reggie took a deep breath and stepped inside the office.
Mobius Terrordoom stood with his back to Reggie behind a dark walnut desk, framed against a massive window and wearing a long, black wool trenchcoat. He seemed contemplative. Reggie shut the door, and noticed a Groot bobblehead, identical to Muti's, on his boss' desk. Weird. There must've been a company-wide Guardians Of The Galaxy promotion or something.
"Reginald, have I ever told you about what I did before I took over Terrordoom, Inc.?"
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What are you doing, man, Reggie thought to himself. No one has gone by "Reginald" since 1926.
"I was in dentistry," Mobius whispered. Actually, "whispered" doesn't quite do it justice. Mobius spoke with infinite delicacy, as if two tiny people were enjoying a dinner date on his bottom lip and he was trying to gossip about which one had an STD.
"Oh," Reggie said.
"But after the death of my brother Wolfgang, when he plummeted into the sea from that exploding airplane, I could no longer think of teeth. I could only think of vengeance. And that's when I realized my family's company could use a little more ... a little more bite."
On the last four words, Mobius jerked his head around to give Reggie an evil glare, and the room went dark as lightning struck outside, bathing the room in a creepy yellow flash. The building shook. "I am Groot!" the bobblehead chirped.
Reggie almost gave a polite clap, but then, at the last second, decided to act shocked and afraid instead. Mobius looked satisfied and then turned back to the window.
"What have you come to ask of me," he purred.
Reggie's mind was still a dead engine, but he forced it to turn over anyway, and he just shoved a big, steamy pile of idea right out of his mouth.
"I think we should attack Boston instead of New York," he burped.
Fucking what, his brain shrieked, that is so much worse. That is so much worse than what things were before.
"Interesting," Mobius hissed. "Why?"
"Makes it more political. That's what's trendy these days," Reggie forced himself to say, shocked at every word coming out of his mouth. "Fourth of July is a celebration of Independence. New York is the obvious choice because it's big and iconic. But New England is the birthplace of the country. We could make the whole thing about how ... ya know ... the cradle of liberty is full of ... greed, or something else that we should blow up."
"Or a cavity," Terrordoom said. "The wisdom teeth of liberty must be ripped out."
As he shouted the last two words he threw both his hands in the air, as if he was catching a gigantic, invisible beach ball. Nothing happened, and he looked a bit silly, so he kicked his desk.
"I said ... ripped out!"
Lightning flashed. "I am Groot!"
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It wasn't quite as good this time.
"Sure, whatever. I mean, yeah! Yeah, that's perfect. Say that during your ransom video," Reggie said quickly. Mobius Terrordoom looked pleased.
"You have shown yourself to be a man after my own heart yet again, Reginald," Mobius said, turning once again to look at Reginald because this was the dramatic moment to do that. "I knew this after I saw your design for the homing grenade. A snake! Like the Terrordoom family crest! Genius. You have the mind of a scientist, but the heart of a poet."
Actually, the snake was the design department, Reginald very clearly did not say, I just built the grenade parts. If it were up to me it wouldn't have looked like a snake at all. Snakes are tacky and stupid.
"Did you know you have a knack for this, Reginald?" Mobius continued. "I see great things in your future at this company. You're dismissed. I will see you on the bridge of the Terrordoom Superblimp on the night of the attack."
Reggie left in silence, but in the hallway he began to panic. His stomach felt like a bag full of Wendy's hamburgers that had been struck with a wiffle bat.
"Keep it together, Reggie," he saidf. "You have a whole week to come up with a plan. Don't worry."
Saturday, July 4
5:25 p.m. (EDT)
The Terrordoom Superblimp was an 800-foot jet-black blimp shaped like a snake covered in flamethrowers that were also shaped like snakes. It was propelled by gigantic black propellers that, for some reason, were also shaped like snakes even though this made them extremely inefficient. On the night of July 4th, it farted through the sky like ... like a gigantic superblimp of evil. There's really nothing to compare it to.
Songquan Deng/iStock/Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images
See? What would you even call that?
Inside its (snake-shaped) gondola, Dr. Terrordoom surveyed the city he was about to destroy and discussed how best to shoot his ransom video.
"Make sure you get the exposure right. Last time you made me look really pale or like I was malnourished or something. I should glow. What's the purpose of building my secret headquarters in the tropics if I'm not going to show off my tan."
The woman applying his makeup nodded, only half listening. Behind him, Muti monitored social media.
"Well, our hashtag is trending," Muti said, "providing Shia LaBeouf doesn't shoot a bottle rocket at a baby or fart on Taylor Swift, I think we're on track to be the top story in the country."
"Good," Terrordoom said. "Bring me Reginald. I would like him by my side for this video."
This gave everyone pause. Terrordoom had never asked anyone to be in a video with him before.
"Reggie went to the bathroom," Muti said without looking away from his computer monitor, where #snakeblimp slowly climbed the charts (followed closely behind by #dickblimp, but he didn't feel the need to mention that). Then, in the bustling crowd of nonsense that was the inside of his mind, one idea jumped on top of a kiosk and waved at him.
"... two hours ago," he said.
"My gracious, do you think he's ill?" Mobius asked.
"No," Muti said, standing up. "And he's not in the bathroom either. I know exactly where he is."
At the heart of the ship, in the Terrordoom Missile Bay, stood Reggie Harvey. Around him the missiles lay open, their computer chips cracked, their explosive charges re-purposed, and their wiring exposed and scattered like a bunch of -- goddamn it -- snakes. When Mobius, Muti, and a dozen Terrordoom security personnel burst in, Reggie dove behind the nearest bomb casing. Muti, on the other hand, stayed behind the guards, ducking down so no part of his body was exposed.
"Don't come any closer!" he shouted, his voice cracking, "Or I'll do it! I swear to God I'll do it!"
He thrust his hand above his head and waved around a small device -- a Groot bobblehead that he had MacGyvered into a trigger for his new bombs.
Good fucking job with your fucking plan you fucking fuck fuck, he thought to himself.
"Reginald, what is this? This is your life's work. Your crowning achievement," Mobius pleaded. "Why?"
"His son lives in Boston," Muti hissed without poking his head out to see what was happening.
"Oh, your son? Why didn't you say so, Reginald? I can easily have my men go collect him, and anyone else you wish, before our attack."
"Wait ... really?"
"No, not really," Mobius said. "Family ties are a weakness and have no place at Terrordoom, Inc. Fuck your son."
Reggie flicked the bobblehead.
"I am Groot!"
Everyone flinched -- but the missiles didn't explode. Instead, the floor of the Terrordoom Superblimp opened up, and Mobius, Muti, the dozen guards, Reggie, and all the missiles began to fall ...
... and then, just as abruptly, Reggie was jerked out of the air by a tether he had tied to his waist, and his stomach lurched like it had been hit with a wiffle bat. Below him, his repurposed missiles activated and shot toward their target: a spot in the sky, 1,500 feet above the Boston skyline. Meticulously, their hacked targeting chips guided them to explode so precisely, that they spelled the following words in huge, glorious fireworks:
"Happy Fourth of July, Jack," Reggie said to himself.
JF Sargent is an editor and columnist for Cracked. Follow him on Facebook.