The Grumblegator grumbled to himself as he disconnected the video communication with the Steward. This kid wasn’t going to give him the artifacts like he had asked. Not that he expected him to. He seemed like a good kid. A stupid kid, but a good one. He was going to do what he believed was right. That didn’t mean the Grumblegator would hesitate to annihilate him when the time came, however. The Grumblegator was not one for mercy.
It was inconvenient to learn that the Steward had garnered some followers. The other kid—the one who asked about professional networking—was not as much of a concern. What did he do anyway? But the fact that the Steward had joined up with the Night Retcher? The vigilante thorn in Mother Martyr’s presumably annoying side? This warranted further investigation.
The Grumblegator sighed as Ms. Pamola Cherry’s voice cracked out on the phone speaker.
“Sir, have you terminated your call the Steward? Did he get scared, you know, since you’re such a big, scary alligator?” she sneered.
The Grumblegator pushed down the button to respond. “Yes, Ms. Pamola Cherry. He was so scared. Because I’m so scary,” he chided. “But not nearly as scary as your weird, nasty mutant brother,” he added. “He probably would have jumped out of his skin, if he saw that freak of nature.”
There was a pause. “That was a little too far sir,” Ms. Pamola Cherry stated.
The Grumblegator slumped down. This back and forth that he claimed to enjoy so much was hard to keep up with sometimes. “I apologize, Ms. Pamola Cherry,” he said. “You and I both know that Wyatt is a valuable member of the Grumble Industries family.”
There was another pause. Finally, Ms. Pamola Cherry’s voice cracked out on the speaker again.
“I appreciate it, sir,” she said.
The Grumblegator thought to himself about what he had to do going forward. He held down the button again.
“Ms. Pamola Cherry, how does my calendar look for the rest of the night?” he asked.
“One second, sir,” Ms. Pamola Cherry replied. After a second, she continued. In a somewhat grave tone, she stated, “Sir, you have a meeting with the shareholders in fifteen minutes.”
Great, the Grumblegator thought, rolling his head back and making an exasperated sigh. This is exactly what I needed right now. He pushed down on the button. “Understood,” he said. “But don’t tell me it’s with the shareholders,” he snapped, emphasizing the final ‘s’ in the word ‘shareholders.’ We don’t have shareholders now. We just have the one,” he grumbled. “Just him…”
Ms. Pamola Cherry was quick to respond. “Yes, I am aware. But regardless, you still need to meet with him in fifteen minutes.” After a second she added, “Is there anything you would like the rest of us to do in the meantime?”
The Grumblegator thought for a second. Pushing down the button, he said, “Yes, but let me just come to you. I’ll be right there.”
The Grumblegator got to his feet and walked out of his office. He walked down the hallway to a noticeably smaller office on his right. Inside, at the desk, was Ms. Pamola Cherry.
“Hello Ms. Pamola Cherry,” he said. He looked at the smaller head attached to his acting assistant’s head by a stem.
“Hello, Wyatt,” he added with trepidation.
The Grumblegator watched the faint outline of a face appear in the smaller cherry and begin to wheeze.
Ms. Pamola Cherry stroked Wyatt’s face to calm him down. Once Wyatt seemed to be soothed, his face receded back into the red of the cherry flesh.
“What did you need me to do?” Ms. Pamola Cherry asked, her eyes on the computer screen in front of her.
The Grumblegator paused to remember what he needed. “First, have someone follow up on the Night Retcher. Find out who she is and what she’s capable of. She’s not one of us, but we need to learn all we can about her.”
Ms. Pamola Cherry nodded and typed down the Grumblegator’s instructions into her computer.
“Second,” the Grumblegator continued. “Send someone out to find where the Steward will be going next. Knowing Lady Gut Possum, she’s probably going to send them to Sangre Dios.”
“And what do you want me to do if they are going to Sangre Dios?” asked Ms. Pamola Cherry?
The Grumblegator chuckled. “Have the Iron League take care of them,” he replied. “That’s the name they settled on, right?”
“I believe so, sir.”
The Grumblegator was amused thinking about how the Steward would handle the Iron League. “Man, I hate those guys so much,” he said. “If that kid thought the Mother was a nuisance, the Iron League will probably drive him insane.”
“Yes, we all hate the Iron League,” Ms. Pamola Cherry replied. “Why do we even have them?”
The Grumblegator shrugged. “It was a shareholder decision,” he answered. He realized he should probably get to that meeting.
“Anything else?” asked Ms. Pamola Cherry.
The Grumblegator remembered there was one final thing. “Yes,” he said. “The other kid, not the Night Retcher or the Steward. Add him as a friend on my WorkLyfe profile. I’m not going to turn down a professional networking opportunity even if it is with someone we intend to destroy.”
The Grumblegator turned to leave the office. “If you don’t hear from me, it’s probably because I died from hating this shareholder meeting so much.”
“You will be missed,” Ms. Pamola flatly stated, her eyes on her computer as the Grumblegator left the room.
The Grumblegator stepped into the elevator. He pulled a key out of his jacket pocket and used it to open a restricted panel below the regular elevator buttons. Behind the panel was an additional button. The Grumblegator sighed as he pressed it.
At once, the elevator began to descend. The Grumblegator watched the screen next to the elevator door, as it displayed the current floor. The number continued to descend until it reached ‘1.’ The elevator did not step then, but continued going down. The screen went blank as the elevator plunged further downwards.
After what felt like an irritating eternity, the elevator finally stopped; the screen simply signified a letter X. The Grumblegator rolled his eyes as the door opened, revealing not another office hallway, but a narrow, dimly-lit tunnel, cutting deep into the earth. The Grumblegator walked past the dank rock walls on either side of him. He walked in silence for several minutes until he reached a large, open chamber. In the center of this chamber was a large, round, metal ring-shaped object. It was the shape of an oval, at least thirty feet in height. A solitary, leather office chair sat directly in front of the ring.
The Grumblegator made one final, intentionally audible sign as he approached the chair and sat down. “Okay, I’m here,” he appeared to shout to no one in particular. “Let’s get this over with.”
There was no response for several seconds. The Grumblegator sat upright for a second, with the sudden hope that he wasn’t going to appear.
Unfortunately, after another second, the Grumblegator noticed a green cloud of gas had appeared in the center of the ring. The cloud grew as more gas began to materialize out of nowhere.
The Grumblegator gave an exasperated groan as the gas filled the interior of the ring and a malevolently deep laugh bellowed and echoed throughout the whole chamber.
The sole shareholder of Grumble Industries Incorporated had arrived.