The Legend of Toontown

Gears

Chapter 17

You Got Mail

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	Talking with the other toons, Evina discovered that they had had a somewhat similar day. They arranged to meet at five-thirty at the capitol subway station.
	Evina walked out of the office he had been working in for what felt like ages. The Flunkies were marching out together and merged paths silently as they headed for the elevator. Everything was going as planned. Zany pressed the down button. The elevator opened with Pink already inside. Ricky pressed the down button inside, and then they found the flaw in their plan. They were not prepared to handle the force of dropping from hundreds of stories high.
	"Going down," the voice announced, and they awaited their potential doom. None of them had ever gone skydiving before. The elevator dropped with only minimal braking. They felt as light as feathers. Ricky jumped up and landed on the floor gracefully. Still, it wasn't a full freefall, and it was a less painful feeling than going up. The digital level meter was quickly dropping. Then they stopped suddenly. Catman entered the elevator when they arrived at his level. Then they descended again. The doors opened at the bottom, and they collapsed on the ground. Cogs glanced in with awkward looks.
	They stood up sheepishly and strolled out. They walked across the polished wooden floor of the lobby to the front door and went outside. After feeling like they were trapped inside for years, they were finally free. They passed that same fountain with the crystal-clear water then walked across the busy street. Then they approached the giant, white marble structure, the capitol.
	With the crowds of cogs, they walked up the steps into the atrium. They went over to the place Harry planned on meeting them. The train was leaving as they got there.
	Harry stormed over to them briskly. "You're twenty seconds late!"
	"It was our first try, and we didn't know that the elevator would make us so dizzy!" Pink defended them.
	Harry sighed and leaned back against a wall, rubbing his head. They looked both ways to make sure no cogs were standing nearby before they decided to talk. "While we're waiting for another train," Harry said. "I want to hear about your day."
	The toons looked at each other wondering who would give Harry the least dreadful story. Zany seemed to volunteer.
	"Well," she began, "we went there and almost got killed by the elevator going up. Then we went to our offices and got to this large room. Our boss is a Head Hunter named Mr. Alumi who gave us a tour of the place. We got our own cubicles and supplies and started making calls and doing cog work."
	Catman was outraged. "I was counting coins all day!" Several cogs glanced at them at the sound of his loud voice.
	Everyone gave him an angry look before turning attention to Pink. "Me?" she asked. "I didn't get to do anything. Everyone wanted to mingle and get to know me."
	"But they don't know who you really are, do they?" Harry asked.
	"No, sir, they don't know anything about us. How did your day go?"
	Harry suddenly decided his feet looked interesting and stared at them.
	"I noticed you haven't been in a good mood lately," Goopy said. "What's wrong?"
	"I uh, well I think there's evidence that the cogs are planning something. They seemed a lot more cheerful than usual. It must be something bad, very bad. I think their plan is something bigger than any invasion we've seen before."
	Pink gasped. "Do you think the chairman is behind it?"
	The train arrived, and they walked over to it as Harry continued. "The chairman is always planning something rotten. It seems he has a very nasty history, even among the cogs. His programming is specifically designed to cause chaos to toons. But I think I know why he called off the search. The Chairman's fake phone number, and the cogs' happy disposition can only mean one thing."
	The toons looked at him intently, waiting for an answer. "I think it's a trap set up for us," he said. The toons had another rush of fear overcome them as they stepped onto the train.
	"I think he expects us to contact him or do something to reveal our location. I don't know why, but there's no need to be frightened. We just need to be smart." He was whispering as they squeezed into a corner, and the train sped off. "He thinks we will let ourselves be captured, but I think we can beat him at his own game if we could know how he plays it."
	The train began to move, and the ride to their apartment at the outskirts of Cogtropolis was pretty uneventful. They ate more rotten throw gags for dinner and lay down on their beds (and sofas and floor).
	It wouldn't be long before the money started pouring in, and they would become rich, or so they thought. Maybe they would never have to eat throw gags again.
	"How did you do with your promotions?" Harry asked them while filling a cup of ice water.
	"I earned ten stock options," Evina said.
	"Twelve merits here," Pink interjected.
	"Me?" Catman said. "I got fourteen cogbucks!"
	"I got six stock options!" Simeon exclaimed. "How many jury notices did you get, Harry?"
	Harry looked up with a stunned expression on his face. "I got sixty-two," he said. "I don't think we're going to make enough money if you guys can't earn some simple promotions!" They could each see how stressed he was feeling.
	"But," Evina protested, "we tried as hard as we could!"
	"I'll throw in my cogbucks to help pay off the loan," Catman suggested. "Do I really need to get a promotion?"
	Harry looked gloomily down at his feet. "No, I'm just tired and angry. That can be expected. Our tooniness is draining. We shouldn't argue, or we'll just turn into those cogs even faster. We really need to go to sleep." The old rabbit took off his glasses and crawled into his bed. Everyone else also did so.
	Evina looked up at the ceiling. He was tired of elevators, tired of work, tired of Mr. Alumi, tired of cogs. And although he was sick and tired of everything, he had only done a single day of work. He didn't know how he could handle another week or a month of it. He was just plain tired and needed some sleep. Sleep seemed like the best answer to every problem.

	It was finished. He was pleased somehow but also somewhat concerned. He looked up at his work. It was gigantic, dark, and metallic. He knew he was smart, oh so smart, a genius in fact. Nobody in the world could do it, and yet he had.
	"What do you think?" his unfamiliar voice asked.
	There was no response but a small squeaking noise.
	"Quite right, I think this should do the trick." He walked away to a small spaceship. "Are you coming or not?"
	There was more squeaking, and a small object seemed to jump into the spaceship.
	"Don't worry, I think he'll come. He has before, and he will again. So far, my plan is working to perfection." He slammed the door shut and flew away.

	"Oh no, not the alarm again!" Evina quickly hopped out of bed and glimpsed the sunrise again. What was that dream about? Who was that seemingly faceless man? Who was that enemy? He created a giant thing, a robot! That must have been the monster that created the cogs! Have I seen something that no other toon has seen before? It's so clear now! This was certainly no accident. The cogs were created by that unknown enemy. Where he is now and what the giant robot did is not important. We just have to get out of here!
	Evina turned off the alarm, and the toons rolled out of bed to put their cog suits on. "I had the most extraordinary dream!" he announced. "I know where the cogs came from!"
	He heard Pink's voice. "If it was only a dream, then how do you know it was real?"
	Evina refused to listen to their logic. "It had to be real! I saw it! I saw everything!"
	"Evina, please don't wake up the cogs," Harry mumbled sleepily. "Sometimes our imaginations get carried away." He shoved a birthday cake slice into Evina's hand, then they all walked out the apartment door.
	Evina was suddenly filled with hate and guilt. He hated everything he saw. He wondered why he had to live in such cruel circumstances while everyone back in Toontown was living happy and clueless. He didn't understand why he couldn't be back at home with them. He felt like such an idiot for coming on this adventure. Angry, regretful thoughts filled his mind. Why didn't I just stay home? Harry was right all along, but it's already too late! We're all going suffer and die because of me!
	Many other negative thoughts continued as he rode the subway to the capitol. He tried to play the dream over and over again in his mind. It has seemed so real. He felt like he was actually there. He wished the other toons could see it, so they would understand.
	They arrived at the capitol and exited in the atrium. Harry pulled them away from the crowds to talk to them.
	"First of all," Harry announced, "I want to let Zany know that her theory of elevators was true. All the doors here are indeed elevators. I do not know how big this building is. It's like a maze that never seems to end!" Zany beamed and looked back at the other toons as though she had just won a competition.
	Evina wasn't paying attention. He felt déjà vu. The building felt strangely familiar. It was like he had lived here in the capitol and forgotten where it was, but now he didn't recognize any of its features. It was just a giant atrium with hundreds of escalators and a subway track going through it. At the end was that giant door, and all the hundreds of little elevator doors ran along the sides.
	"Everyone, I'm giving you your first assignment," Harry said. Evina woke up to reality and looked back at him. "I'm sorry for the way I acted last night. I didn't mean to be so rude. Being a cog is a lot harder than we all thought so your cooperation is crucial to our survival."
	Everyone nodded in agreement. They forgave Harry. They knew that he was the most important part of their safety. He had helped them through so much that there wasn't much he could do to lose their loyalty.
	"Yes, your first assignment is to find some useful things," Harry said. "If we are to make super gags, clothes, and other items, we need to locate some of these resources. If any of you obtain any of the following supplies, please get them at any cost!"
	The toons nodded indicating they knew the seriousness of this.
	"You must steal, destroy, lie, or buy to get anything that we need. You must also never be caught for any reason!"
	The toons nodded once again.
	"We are about to do things no toon has ever done before. We are going to become the super toons."
	Ricky nervously raised his hand.
	"Yes?" Harry acknowledged him.
	"Are we really going to get superpowers?" he asked.
	"Maybe," Harry said, "but I doubt it. This is all experimental stuff that the Toon Council has developed, but I've calculated everything very accurately, so what could go wrong?"
	The toons listened intently for him to read the list. "Things that we need for our experimental toon stuff: Two kilometers of carbonium silk, twenty pounds of class-x black rubber, one pound of pure pixie dust, half a cup of motor oil, seven pounds of siliconium flodine, and two pounds of titanium."
	He gave one copy of the list to each of the toons. "That's one thing my copy machine is good for," he smirked. "Have fun at work." Then he walked into one of the little elevator doors and disappeared.
	It didn't seem likely that the toons would find all these things, but they were going to look for it anyway. They headed out of the atrium to go to work again but found a powerful Newsbot was blocking their way.
	"It is true that you were talking about toons?" he asked, and Evina's heart skipped a beat. He didn't get to answer before the cog interrupted him again.
	"Well, if you have any information about those scum, please let me know. I want to write an article in the newspaper about it. I hope the little beasts get caught and dipped soon or I'll worry myself to pieces."
	Evina remained motionless wondering if the cog could feel his incredible fear. He could see the faint, green glow of a dip tube in its jacket pocket. The cog turned away to leave. "Oh well, see you later."
	Evina looked to Pink and whispered. "Please remind Harry that we're having no more private conversations in public."
	Just as they had done before, they left the capitol and headed across the street to the skyscraper. They entered the elevator and went up. After another nauseating blast into the sky, the Flunkies wobbled out of the elevator and into the hallway. They made their way down to that terrible office again. Mr. Alumi was nowhere to be seen, so they went straight to their cubicles and found their work already there for them.
	The only thing on Evina's desk was an official-looking document stamped with the cog logo.

	MEETING MEMO:

	Dear Mr. Evina,
	You have been summoned to attend a mandatory meeting.

	When: October 18th from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
	Where: Capitol building, Conference Room 84091005D
	Why: You are needed as a scribe. A very new Flunky is best suited for the job.
	Who: Important Bossbot Committee members and congressional representatives.
	What: We will discuss plans for permanent toon disposal and the development of related products.

	Sincerely,
	Robert Gears, C.E.O

	Evina was a bit surprised. It was odd to see they were already sending him to meetings. He could learn a lot about the cogs through private conversations with their leaders. But then he thought of some issues with that plan. What would they really tell a Flunky? Isn't this a little too convenient? Out of all the level 1 Flunkies in the world why me? And plans for the permanent disposal of toons sounds terrifying! Just then, he remembered that October 18th was the next day. He knew he would have to tell Harry about it immediately. Now, if only there were some way I could talk to my boss about the supplies we need, he thought. He found another note on his desk that he hadn't noticed before. Apparently, it was sitting underneath the meeting memo.

	Dear Mr. Evina,

	I am quite astonished about seeing your meeting memo. I am sorry if you found my behavior to you yesterday rude. I believe you have great potential here in this office. I want you to come see me as soon as you can, so we can discuss your future plans.
	If you have any questions or need help with anything for any reason, please don't hesitate to ask me. I understand you are a Flunky, and that Flunkies are new to work. I will try my best to help you the best that I can.

	Sincerely,
	Mr. Alumi

	Evina was about to burst into laughter. He knew that the only reason Mr. Alumi seemed friendly was because his newest employee had been summoned to an important meeting.
	Then brilliance struck him. If his boss was really willing to give him anything he needed, he would give him some of the materials they need for their super toon stuff.
	He looked at his desk. He had to sharpen a lot of pencils, shred papers, then see Mr. Alumi to get the supplies for their upgraded gear.
	Today might not be such a bad day after all.
	And with that, he began his work by sharpening the pencils, one by one. He was probably going to use one of them at the meeting the next day.
	He took the last pencil to sharpen, eager to finish his work. The sharpener ground, but the pencil didn't seem to sharpen. He pushed harder, and still, nothing happened.
	Something is fishy about this pencil.
	He jabbed it hard into the pencil sharpener, knocking it off his desk. Amazingly, a third note was revealed under where the sharpener had been. It was written in fancy, neat handwriting.

	Dear Mr. Evina,

	I have been keeping an eye on you for a while now. Even though it has only been a day, I can see you are a hardworking man. I admire your effort, and I don't think your boss is treating you with the respect you deserve. He may be hunting for powerful cogs' heads, but I am hunting for yours. I have been searching for someone to assist me with some tasks. If you could drop by my cubicle, we could talk for a bit and get to know each other better.
	I am working on an engineering project to build the future models of buildings in Toontown once it i's eventually destroyed. I would be thrilled if you could work on it with me (on your free time, of course).

	Sincerely,
	Michelle Bolt

	Evina was afraid that her note might not mean literally what it said. She seemed to be a hundred times friendlier than the Minglers he had met. A familiar thought returned to his mind once again.
	Why am I not a Sellbot like Pink or a Lawbot like Harry?
	Now that he thought about it, being a Cashbot wouldn't be too bad either. It would be better working with the stuff that you got paid with. He could take a coin or two every once in a while. He could collect money secretly here and there. Nobody would notice what would be happening.
	What was he thinking? He couldn't break the law. The cogs were their enemies, but still, he couldn't bring himself that low. Was he already turning into a cog that quickly? He remembered the last pencil and the sharpener that fell on the floor and bent over to pick it up.
	A Mail Carrier Servicebot came by and looked through several letters. Evina picked up the items then sat up. He was not surprised but rather amused by seeing those strange Servicebots at work. The cog picked out an envelope and handed it to Evina. He was about to refuse any more mail until he saw his name was printed on its front. It had a red stamp on it that said: CONFIDENTIAL. He opened it quickly and read:

	The Capitol of Cog Nation
	Legal Records Office

	Hello, Evina, I just wanted to let you know that I've been lucky. I managed to get all of the supplies we need except the carbonium silk and the siliconium flodine. I think they might be a bit rare, but they are crucial to my plan.
	I would have given you a phone call, but my phone is broken. I knew that the cogs had a speedy mail service, so I tried this instead. I hope it gets to you in time.
	It's so strange how everyone is talking about these rumors of an important meeting taking place tomorrow. They say it'll be held here at the capitol, and lots of important cogs will be there. They also seem unnaturally happy when they talk about "finishing them once and for all." If you have any more information about this, please let me know tonight.

	Harry

	Evina groaned again. "What am I going to do now?" he murmured. "I understand now. I'm going to be finished once and for all."
	

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