Behind the Door
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"So... are we going to go now?" Rocky asked excitedly.
"Certainly not!" Harry exclaimed. "The cogs would expect us to be at the capitol right now! We need to set a decoy on the other side of Cogtropolis to lure the guards away from the President. Then it'll appear like we're running away from them."
"And just how are we going to do that?" Ricky said cynically, propping his legs up on the table.
"Well," Harry said, "there is the obvious duck decoy we can use. I just called Mr. McDuck, and he has agreed to cause some chaos over on the other side of town." Harry sounded happy, but he grimaced at the same time.
"What's wrong?" Pink asked. "Isn't that a good thing?"
"Well, uh... Scrooge told me that the cogs tried to get information out of him. And I think they know he's been helping us. It was a really awful experience, but he never told them a thing about us, and he's still alive. He's our hero."
The toons felt guilty for the pain that they had put Mr. McDuck through. He had lived a hard life, a prisoner in Cogtropolis for fifteen years without another toon around.
The thought of someone being all alone reminded Evina of his strange dreams. Almost every night since they arrived at Cogtropolis, he had heard the voice of that man and the squeaky thing. But last night Evina saw an actual place, and none of this made any sense. The man, the spaceship, and the stars made him so confused. He wondered why he didn't have any more dreams about the cogs. Those dreams were logical. The chairman's face alone would give nightmares to any toon that saw it. But these bizarre visions didn't make sense in any way.
The toons sat around in the apartment all day. They played games, watched the TV, and ate plenty of food. Everyone needed to rest to be as strong and healthy as possible.
Fortunately, there was not much said about them on the news. They saw the chairman's memorial services. Afterward, the cameras pointed to the C.E.O. being interviewed by a Newsbot.
"Hello, Mr. Gears. The whole nation's been talking about you, and I can speak for all of us when I say we expect great things from you. How do you feel about being both C.E.O. and chairman of Cogs Inc.?"
"I uh... well, it's a great responsibility. I will always remember my father," the C.E.O. answered nervously.
"Oh, it certainly is a big responsibility. Do you have anything else to say?" the Newsbot asked.
The C.E.O. hesitated. "I don't have to worry about being fired now, I guess."
"But Mr. Gears, everyone is dying to know: what are your latest plans?"
"Plans?" There was a long moment of silence. "I... I was not programmed with that data."
"You must be kidding! You should have been programmed better than any cog because the chairman did it himself!"
"I... I... I... don't know what to do."
The cogs in the audience were trying as hard as they could to stop themselves from laughing and malfunctioning. The C.E.O. was becoming a deadly weapon to them.
"Could you explain to me," the Newsbot demanded angrily, "how you led this corporation before Bill was destroyed?"
"Well... he pretty much told me everything I needed to do. I just played golf most of the time."
The interviewer looked like he was about to cry. "So, what are you going to do, Mr. Sparx?" he yelled at the V.P. nearby.
The boss of the Sellbots was unprepared. "Mike and I need to... have a little conference with Bob," he said.
The V.P and C.F.O. left the room, dragging the C.E.O. behind them.
"This is not good news," the Newsbot announced. "After fifteen years, we may finally see the end of Cogs Inc. But hope is not lost yet! Penny Pinchers and Tightwads continue to buy stocks even at this moment. They have faith that—"
Harry turned off the T.V. "The end of Cogs Inc. is pretty much the end of the cogs," he said. "The president will have to establish a new corporation or two to keep the economy alive."
"So, do you think the cogs will stop invading Toontown?" Rocky wondered.
"No," Goopy replied from behind his laptop. "The president would continue the invasion even after the company ends. He probably has complete control over the creation of the cogs. I mean, we've already seen how many more cogs, especially weak ones, come out of the capitol than those that go in."
The toons ate lunch and dinner, feeling tenser as each minute passed. Then they went to bed early to get ready for the big day ahead of them.
For hours, they sat in the dark, unable to relax enough to fall asleep. They were so scared of going to the capitol. But Evina was also worried about his dreams. I'm afraid of seeing that man again. Evina pondered. I want to know who he is, but I'm afraid the truth might only disturb me. Just after he thought that, he finally fell asleep.
"Ah!" the man shouted. Evina could see him perfectly clear from his reflection on a glass surface. He looked like a strange kind of cog. He was dressed from head to foot in a very shiny, white suit. A silver gear was embroidered on the suit's front. His matching helmet had a voice speaker and a black screen with many little blue lights that formed the shapes of eyes.
He jumped up from his chair and nervously paced around the control room of the spacecraft. "I can't get over it! I knew this was going to happen!" he muttered. "What are they going to do when I get back there?"
The other chair was still turned away from him. Evina never got to view what was sitting there. Some squeaking and beeping responded to the man's question.
"Do you think it was worth anything?" he continued. "I was only trying to help. Sorry for trying to justify it. I understand what I did is wrong, and I'll have to face the consequences now, no matter how severe."
There were some more squeaking and beeping.
"So... I'll either be executed or locked away forever. That's what I thought. That is... unless it did work."
There was one shrill squeak.
"No? Well, there must still the slightest possibility that my plan worked. Perhaps that's what they are so worried about. That would be great!"
The other chair turned around. A miniature version of the man, about half a foot tall, hopped off in its tiny white suit and helmet. Evina had no idea what it could be inside. It continued to squeak as it walked to a wall and pressed a combination of buttons.
"You never had faith in me," the man said. "But I still have faith that it worked. It had to have worked!"
The ship slowed down. The man and the short squeaky thing walked into the airlock. They each put on a backpack, the man opened the hatch, and they jumped out into space.
Evina woke up very early in the morning at the sound of the alarm. He was sweating. There was so much for him to think about, but unfortunately, he couldn't afford to spend any more time working out the meaning his visions. Today the toons were going to break into the capitol.
Still, he knew some parts of the dream sounded familiar to him. He racked his brains and tried to bring himself back to fifteen years ago. The apartment was out of view as he recounted his memory.
There was screaming as the sky darkened. Cogs landed everywhere. There were explosions, fire, crying, and toons running away. I was so young and had no idea what I could do. The Toon Council ran out and started locking the gates. Most cities and highways were already blocked off. The streets were also locked to stop the robots from coming in.
Everyone's happiness dropped. It felt like the world would end. I was pushed with the crowds of toons into the underground shelter. Then I remembered nothing more.
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't remember the people in his dream. It was like he was watching a videotape where part of it had been cut out. There was no memory of anything that had happened before the cogs came. He cared about little else right now. He was desperate to find out why he couldn't remember his life, why these memories were taken from him.
Everyone leaped out of their beds and rushed to eat breakfast. "We need to make sure our decoy worked before we can continue," Harry said, walking over to the television, and turning it on.
"We have some very interesting news for this four o' clock morning report," a Newsbot announced. "The chaos that happened last night was not the toons that defeated the chairman, but a toon hidden in the city that was held hostage by the government. He was evidently working with the other toons in secret to accomplish something terrible."
"We're almost beginning to wonder if this explosion was a decoy to bring the police to the other side of the city," another Newsbot said. "The toon refused to answer any questions, so it was destroyed immediately by dip. The police are returning to the capitol as we speak."
Harry turned off the TV. For a minute, all of the toons were silent, unable to speak.
"You mean... Scrooge was dipped?" Pink asked.
"Yes," Harry said softly. They stood there, contemplating the horror of what had happened.
"Wait!" Harry shouted. "They said the police are going back to the capitol! WE HAVE TO RUN NOW!"
The toons immediately ran out of the apartment as fast as they could. They got on an empty subway train. Fortunately, there were few cogs out this early to see them traveling so indiscreetly. About half an hour later, they rocketed into the sky and came to a stop at their destination.
They ran into the deserted atrium. Their minds were filled with more fear than they had ever felt before, probably because they knew they were so close to success or disaster. Police cars were beginning to arrive in front of the building. The toons saw the lights and heard the sirens. They were worried that they might not make it to the door in time. They sprinted down the marble floors, past hundreds of elevator doors, until they finally reached the end. Several police officers began walking up the steps of the capitol as the toons were reaching the huge black door. There were only two black-suited cogs guarding the door, a Bloodsucker, and a Double Talker. They appeared to be sleeping on the job.
The toons heaved the gigantic door open a little bit. Then they all sneaked inside as quickly as they could and closed the door just as the police entered the atrium.
Once the toons were sure they were safe, they all dropped on the floor and breathed heavily. They could rest for just a moment and take some time to examine their new surroundings. They were in a large, dimly lit room. The ceiling, walls, and floor were made of polished, black marble, just like the meeting room Evina had gone to. There were no doors or cogs anywhere. It was completely silent. On the opposite side of the room was an elevator with a sign above it. Golden letters were engraved in it.
The Capitol of the United Cog Nation
Authorized personnel only beyond this point
"Remember the most important thing of all: We're supposed to be invisible," Harry reminded them.
Goopy attached a device to the wall that was plugged into his laptop. He hit a few keys, and there was a beep on the device. "All security cameras on the elevator have been paused," he said, taking the device off the wall and putting everything away in his pocket.
Harry beamed as they scrambled into the elevator. There was only one button. Catman pressed it with his robotic hand, and the doors closed.
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