“Welcome to our volcano lair, losers,” sneered Boss Stag.
Davy looked around, sure enough, he found himself in what looked like the villain’s secret base in a spy movie. It was a massive room that seemed to be roughly cone-shaped, as if it really was inside of a volcano.
Steve, Connie, and Olivia were standing on either side of him. Boss Stag stood in front of Davy, flanked by his cohorts.
“Do you expect us to be impressed” Davy asked.
Boss Stag folded his arms pompously. “No, Mr. Steward. I expect you to die!”
Davy tilted his head. He supposed he had kind of walked into that one.
“Do you really expect that?” Connie added, taking a step forward. “Are you really going to kill us, or are did you just want to quote something.”
Davy heard Boss Squid whisper something to Boss Lion. “We’re not actually going to kill anybody, right?”
Boss Stag apparently heard this too. He turned around and snapped at Boss Squid. “What did you just say?” he shouted. “You got something to say to me, bub?”
Boss Squid wrung his hands nervously. “Well, it’s just that I signed up for all this, because I was promised hijinks and the opportunity to spread my affinity for reference culture,” he answered. “But I don’t know about killing people. I’m a lover, not a fighter.”
Boss Stag looked at him blankly before flatly stating, “Last time you saw these losers you literally shouted ‘Falcon Punch’ and uppercut one of them into the horizon.”
Boss Squid nodded. “Yes, that’s correct,” he replied sheepishly. “I guess at that point my moral compass was still in its formative stages.”
Boss Stag continued to stare at Boss Squid. “That is, without a doubt, the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Boss Stag looked at the ground. He was silent for a moment, as if he were trying to think of a way to punish Boss Squid for his insolence. Suddenly it seemed he had an idea. He looked back at Boss Squid.
“Hey,” he said. “A sphincter says what?”
Boss Squid looked confused. “What?” he replied.
Boss Stag chuckled menacingly. After a few seconds, a look of realization filled Boss Squid’s eyes.
“Wait,” he gasped. “I’m the sphincter?” He fell to the floor in despair and began to sob.
“This is really stupid,” Steve grumbled.
Boss Lion looked down at the inconsolable Boss Squid. The hesitation was evident on her face as well. “Come on, Boss Stag,” she said. “You are the wind beneath my wings and all, but we’re not killers.”
Boss Stag glared at Boss Lion. “Et tu, Boss Lion?” he said with narrowed eyes.
He shifted his gaze to Boss Wolf who was nonchalantly swaying from side to side.
“What about you, Boss Wolf?” he asked. “Are you going to betray me too?”
Boss Wolf threw her arms into the air and started spinning in place. She shouted, “I’m a computer! Stop all the downloadin’!”
Boss Stag shrugged. “Okay, I’m just going to assume you’re still on board with my ‘kill ’em all’ plan.” He looked back at Boss Lion and Boss Squid with outright contempt. “Unlike those two who betray me.” In an intelligible accent he added, “I’m fed up with this world.”
“Looks like their team is falling apart without us,” Olivia whispered to Connie. “What do you think our chances are in getting through this?”
Connie thought for a moment then smiled. “Well, at least one of them still wants to kill us. And he can throw those flaming fists at us, last I saw. On the other hand, you told us all how you beat the snot of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, which is Latin for Lizard King, so that’s pretty impressive. But going back to that first hand, you did get tossed into the sky earlier by that crying squid guy over there, so I don’t know. If I had to arbitrarily make up a number, I’d say our odds of living through this are about fifty-fifty.”
Olivia grinned. “I like those odds. And your reasoning is also compelling,” she replied.
“I like to think of myself as a compelling individual,” Connie remarked. “It’s one of my many talents.”
“What other talents do you have?” Olivia asked.
“Oh, let me think,” Connie answered casually. “I’m proficient at a number of sword-based martial arts, I dabble in interior design, and I have an uncanny knack for being able to guess whether or not a person has had an English muffin for breakfast?”
Olivia’s eyes went wide at that last one. “Really?” she said. “Do me.”
Connie grinned any put her hand to chin. “Hmm,” she began. “I’m going to say no.”
Olivia could barely contain her fascination. “Incredible!” she exclaimed. “How did you know?”
Connie felt Davy tap her on the shoulder. “Um, guys…” he said. He pointed to Boss Stag who was staring at them.
“Hey. Statler and Waldorf,” he said to Olivia and Connie. “We done here? Can I resume with my killing you deal? I’m trying to decide whether I want to tie each f you to a table and proceed to slice you in half with a slow moving laser or if I should throw all of you into a pool filled with rabid sharks. I’m kind of leaning towards the former, because I currently don’t have the rabid sharks on hand, and I don’t really feel like driving out to get them this late at night, and I read online that sharks can’t get rabies anyway, so now I gotta follow up on that too—so you know what, I’m going to go with the lasers.”
“Come on,” Davy interjected. “You don’t really want to do this. You don’t want to work for the Grumblegator. You know he’s trying to destroy the world, right?”
Boss Stag shrugged. “Sure,” he replied. “But e also gave me this artifact that gave us our powers and will make people worship reference humor. And I will rule over them.”
“Technically, the Grumblegator will,” Connie rebutted.
Boss Stag was silent for a second. “Uh, yeah,” he replied. “But he’ll delegate. I’ll be like a leader just below him on the chain of command. I’ll be like a governor to his president.”
“You know that governors don’t report to the president, right?” Davy asked.
“You know that your face is stupid and you should shut your stupid face?” Boss Stag retorted.
Steve seemed to have had enough of this. “Come on,” he shouted. “Don’t you know how dumb your goal is? First of all, it’s vague. You will make people worship reference humor? What do you mean by that? What’s your endgame? Are you going to make everyone be like you where you quote everything at every opportunity? Or are you just going to punish people for groaning whenever you interrupt a conversation to arbitrarily say, ‘Luke, I am your father’ or some other dumb quote?”
Davy saw Boss Stag’s muscles seemed to contort painfully when Steve said that line. He composed himself after a moment and raised his finger to correct Steve. “Actually,” he began. “The correct line is ‘No, I am your father.’ It’s a common misconception.”
Steve shook his head. “No, I’m pretty sure I got it right. ‘Luke, I am your father’ sounds right to me.”
Davy had spent enough of his life alone playing video games and watching movies to know that Boss Stag was actually correct. But when Steve repeated the wrong version again, Davy noticed Boss Stag twitch again, a little more violently this time.
Something clicked in Davy’s brain.
YOU DO IT WRONG
Was this what his mind was trying to tell him, if so, that was a major relief, since it didn’t mean that he was just doing anything wrong on a more general level.
He looked to the side at his three friends and nodded to get their attention. “Follow my lead,” he whispered.
He turned to Steve and in a loud, flat voice that Davy knew Boss Stag could hear, he said. “I think you are right, Steve. And that was a good line. I also liked the part where the one guy says, “I hope the Force stays with you.”
Steve didn’t seem to immediately follow, but then he also noticed Boss Stag clench his fists and start to anxiously pace from side to side.
“Th-that’s not how it goes,” he stammered, trying to keep himself composed. “That’s not the line. Not the line.”
Steve looked back at Davy with a grin. “Yes. That is a good line from a good movie,” he stated in a tone that matched Davy’s. “I also liked the movie where the man says, ‘We will require a bigger boat.’ That was good too.”
Boss Stag clenched the antlers of his helmet with his hands. “That’s not the line…”
Boss Lion approached her leader. “Are you okay?” she asked.
Steve turned to Connie. “What about you?” he asked. “Is there a line or quote that you enjoy.”
Connie grinned and gave an exaggerated nod. “Yes, Steve,” she replied in a matching voice. “I like the cat who is always saying, ‘I do not enjoy any of the Mondays.’ He is a silly cat.”
Boss Stag fell to his knees. Boss Lion tried in vain to console him. “Come on,” she said. “Sometimes people get the quotes wrong. You can handle this.” Boss Stag ignored her and continued to stammer.
Olivia jumped in between Davy and Steve, eager to join in. “Cheers, lovelies! The cavalry is present!”
Boss Stag began to roll around on the floor, making all sorts of manic, yet indecipherable noises. By this point, Davy and the others had dropped the pretense of having a normal conversation and had begun to just shout misquoted lines at each other.
“I will order whatever it is that she ordered!”
“We were going through a break period!”
“The island is analogous to a cork!”
“It is not safe to go out alone! Try bringing this!”
“Does anybody feel like getting a peanut!”
“Frankly lady, I do not give a hoot!”
Boss Stag struggled to get to his feet. Panting, he forced himself to shout at the group. “What do you think you’re doing!” he screamed. His body seemed to tense up to an extreme degree.
“Do you know who you’re dealing with? I will destroy you! I will—”
Davy stopped listening, as he noticed Boss Stag’s body appeared to expand. In a matter of seconds, he was floating off the ground. His body had inflated like a balloon and was several feet in diameter.
“Uh, Boss?” Boss Squid mumbled, but Boss Stag continued ranting, apparently oblivious to his current predicament.
Boss Stag was now at least twenty feet in the air and continued screaming.
“I will have order!” he shrieked. “I invented the piano key necktie! You can’t handle the truth! I—”
And suddenly, like a balloon. Boss Stag popped. His helmet clanged to the floor in front of Boss Lion. Some shreds of white tracksuit floated to the ground behind the helmet.
Boss Wolf looked at the helmet and chuckled. “He always did have an over-inflated opinion of himself,” she said in a fake British accent.