Also, I have something for you to read--moar assigned reading?! Naw, just kidding. But I wrote this one day...
“Oh Buttery Pat, I need three more pans...”
But there weren't three more pans. You know why? Because Pat couldn't wash them, and Breadmaster hadn't touched those dirty dishes all day. Seriously—Pat really couldn't wash them. He was made out of butter—hence the name—which meant that he was just a drippy, slimy, perpetually melting mass of dairy product; just one drop of soap could wreak havoc on his oleaginous physiology.
“Pat?” The Breadmaster looked over his shoulder at his minion, who just stood there in a puddle of his own buttery drippings, staring blankly back at his boss. “Buttery Pat, are you even listening?”
Pat looked around, as if there were the possibility of Breadmaster talking to someone else, and then shrugged apologetically. There was nothing he could do, so he turned and headed to the fridge to help himself to a carton of cream.
Breadmaster sighed, and reluctantly took off his oven mitts. It seemed that he would have to wash the dishes himself. One would expect him to be angry at Pat for not being able to perform this menial task, but such was not the case; Breadmaster almost never got angry at his young friend, even when the little twerp deserved it. No matter how badly Pat would screw up, it was always someone else's fault—The Tick, of course, was a favorite scapegoat. Some would say that The Breadmaster was spoiling his minion, but this, of course, was pure nonsense. Most of the other villains in The City simply didn't understand the rich and beautifully complex relationship that had blossomed between them, as The Breadmaster would often tell himself. And according to Pat... well, Pat was pretty shy. He didn't say much of anything to anybody. Except for The Breadmaster.
So, Breadmaster rolled up his sleeves and sighed again, casting a weary look at the large pile of dirty dishes and pans in the stainless-steel sink. As much as he loved baking, The Breadmaster utterly loathed cleaning. This meant that the factory was one huge mess, since Pat was more or less useless at making things clean. He stood over the sink, willing himself to turn on the water and start scrubbing, but he just couldn't that day. He walked away from the sink full of dishes and sat across from Pat at the table near the fridge.
“Buttery Pat, I simply can't go on this way. Why should I relegate myself to cleaning when there are much better things I could be doing with my time?” He pounded his fist on the table to accentuate his resolve, startling Pat and rattling the empty napkin dispenser next to him. “I tell you, Pat, I absolutely refuse to subject us to this anymore!” As he said 'this,' he swept his arm out to one side, calling to Pat's attention the dismal, dirty state of the kitchen. While it wasn't necessarily a health or safety hazard, the place wasn't too pleasant to look at. “From this moment forward, I shall not rest until I have found another minion!” Breadmaster stood up, banging his fists on the table again.
Pat looked up at him as he sipped his carton of cream. He didn't seem too concerned with this talk of acquiring a new minion—and why should he be? Breadmaster would happily keep him around, even if there was someone else who could do all the bread-bomb planting and the spying and supply him with fresh, unsalted butter 'round the clock. They were pretty tight that way.
“We shall have a cleaning lady, and she will liberate me from this irksome chore of...” he shuddered, “... of dish-washing!” He nodded, as though he were agreeing with himself, and walked across the kitchen to the stairway. “Yes... I'll start by placing a wanted ad for a custodian...” he climbed the staircase that led to the sleeping quarters and to his office, twirling his moustache as he thought aloud. “I'll lure them into applying—they'll come in droves...” He had reached the top of the stairs now, and Pat was concentrating on his snack once more. Breadmaster had a tendency to monologue to no one in particular, as Pat had discovered over the years, and as long as Pat feigned a slight interest in what Breadmaster was saying, things were okay. In fact, even if he'd ignored the man outright Pat was sure he'd still keep talking.
The Breadmaster's monologue was now going full-tilt. “... And when they play right into our hands, Pat... oh, the interviews we'll hold!” He chuckled to himself at the thought, wringing his hands. “And then, my dear friend, we soon shall see which one best suits our nefarious purposes. And once we've done that...” He grinned a malicious grin, pausing for dramatic effect, “... we shall have a janitor—a custodian who will wait on us and carry out my orders with undying loyalty! We will be unstoppable!” He finished with a good bout of evil laughter as he walked into his office, slamming the door behind him.
Pat scratched his head, and then finished the rest of his cream. He got up and looked at the dirty dishes, and shook his head sadly. As long as he lived, Buttery Pat would never be able to wash his hands, or scrub a pot of burnt oatmeal, or take a bubble bath. It wasn't easy being made completely out of butter, but least The Breadmaster appreciated him.
But what if he grew to like the new minion more? What if that minion could outdo him—what if he, God forbid, could produce flour at will? Then again, maybe that wouldn't be so bad—he and Pat could work as a team. Or even better—maybe it'd be a woman, a pretty woman if they were lucky. Pat liked that idea; it got so quiet around the old factory, and Breadmaster was such a misanthrope that most people tended to avoid the two of them. If you combine the social impediment that is Breadmaster with the fact that Pat is a walking blob of bad cholesterol... well, suffice it to say that Pat was a very lonely man.
Things hadn't gone so well in his love life lately—especially since El Seed now had it in his seedy, oversized head to kill him first chance he got, and since Carmelita had gotten a restraining order on him. There were few other noteworthy women in the city, and as for the sensational American Maid... well... Pat didn't have the nerve to even think of approaching her. He sniffled—it was more of a snot-sucking gesture than a true, dry sniff—and then slogged upstairs to his bedroom.
. . . .
George stood in the kitchen, staring into the fridge. “Hey Tess, where'd all the beer go?”
His sister answered from the TV room, where she was lying on the couch, one leg sprawled over the back of the ragged old thing. “There were only six, man...” She hadn't moved from that spot since eleven last night.
George sighed. He knew exactly where this was going. “Tess, I just bought those yesterday. You could've saved one for me! You don't even have a job to go buy your own, so—”
“—So shouldn't you be feeling sorry for me?” She stared up at the water-stained popcorn ceiling, thinking of how she was going to break the news to her parents. How could she tell them that she'd been expelled? Even worse—how could she tell them that she'd been expelled on the grounds of being a total slacker?
Her brother walked into the room and sat down on the coffee table, facing her. He knew the whole story, knew why his sister was lying there in a state of depression. But although she had done this to herself, and although she was a horrible houseguest, and although his apartment now smelled like the Marlboro Man was living there, George Kaminski simply couldn't bring himself to kick her out just yet. In spite of this overflow of unwarranted generosity, however, he had just one demand to make...
“Tess, lemme just make one thing clear to you—you're not going to drink all my booze while you're here.”
“Stingy.” She didn't even make the effort to open her eyes and look at him while she spoke.
“Whatever... just make sure you leave some for me.” He sighed again and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his legs as he thought. “So... you'll have to find a job now, since you're on your own.”
“There's no way they'll take me back...”
“They'll forgive you... eventually... but do you really wanna be in the same house as them at this point?”
She opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling again as she thought about the prospect.
“Not really, man.”
“So I'll help you out. Wanna get a job at the plant with me?”
“No. Too noisy there. Besides, I hate Drama Flakes.”
“Hmmm…Well, how 'bout Stuart's? They're just down the block. The landlord's about to evict that one guy downstairs, so I could help you get a place here—”
“No thanks, bro'... I'm good.”
He frowned at his sister and sat back. “Well you can't stay here forever. Where're you gonna work without a degree?”
“I dunno...” she glanced at her unamused brother, and then closed her eyes again, clasping her hands together behind her head. “Don't worry, I'll find something.”
“Oh Lord, not that—”
She waved away his worries with one limp arm before tucking it back under her head. “Dude, nothing illegal. No worries, man.”
“Just get up and do something. I'm sick of watching you lie there, and you're taking up the whole couch!”
“So go sit in that armchair over there. Now move out of the way—I'm trying to watch the game.” In fact, there was a commercial for a used car dealer on the TV at the moment, and Tess had been napping, anyway.
“Take off! I don't wanna watch the Cardinals. Now move your legs!” He sat down once Tess curled up her legs with a sigh, and he slouched into the overstuffed back of his ugly, secondhand couch. “I don't see what all the drama's about, Tess. Not like you had any big aspirations—why'd you even bother going to college? And why're you so torn up about it?”
Why did she bother with college? Was it just her doing what she thought she should, without any convictions behind her actions? At any rate, both of them knew precisely why she was so upset—she dreaded having to tell her folks what happened, and the thought of it made her ill. When faced with that thought, the prospect of getting a job and striking out on her own didn't sound too bad. Maybe she could be a custodian—surely there was need for janitors in The City. It would be a decent-paying job with a few benefits, and she wouldn't be obligated to be nice to stupid customers all day. Heck—she'd seen some downright frightening janitors in her day, and they'd all managed to keep their jobs for years. A few clogged toilets notwithstanding, how bad could it be?
. . . .
Breadmaster rubbed his temples and looked down at the list of candidates on the table before him. He had been interviewing people all day, and if they were neither creepy (even by The Breadmaster's standards), nor stupid, nor lazy-looking, then there was something else about them that made Buttery Pat plead with The Breadmaster to not hire them.
“I don't understand it, Pat—exactly what is it about these candidates that displeases you?” He looked at his minion, who only shrugged and chewed demurely on the end of the straw in his cream carton. Breadmaster watched him in silence for a few seconds, and then he decided that he couldn't possibly stay mad at him. It must've been a sixth sense of his, Breadmaster decided, something that made Pat believe that those people couldn't have been trusted. Yes... now that he thought of it, The Breadmaster was grateful to have someone so discerning by his side as Buttery Pat! He thanked the fates for delivering unto him such a faithful and vigilant companion, and straightened the stack of résumés as he awaited the next applicant.
Seeing that his boss was preoccupied, Buttery Pat sneaked a glance at the list of applicants to see if there were any girl-names on there. Two women had already been through there today—a shriveled old lady, and a young bleach-blonde who gave Pat nasty looks every time the Breadmaster wasn't looking. Perhaps she'd simply thought that she'd have to contend with him in order to keep her job; at any rate, Pat didn't think she'd be too open to dating him.
His thoughts were disrupted when he heard a knock at the door. “Ah, here's the next one!” The Breadmaster stood and went over to open the door, “Come in, Mister...”
“Mr. Jones,” concluded the man, shaking Breadmaster's hand as he entered the room. “Andrew Jones; it's a pleasure to meet you. The Breadmaster—that's you, right?”
Breadmaster paused, and Pat looked up from scrutinizing the list (was 'Tess' a girl's name?). None of the other applicants had recognized The Breadmaster, and he hadn't identified himself in the ad. Furthermore, he was wearing a proper three-piece suit instead of his usual get-up—there was no way that any mere citizen could recognize him when he was arrayed in the garb of the mundanes!
“Yes... that's me...” Breadmaster raised an eyebrow, looking the strange man up and down. “Do you have any identification?” He motioned for the man to take a seat on the stool in front of his table, and then sat back down next to Pat.
“Identification?” The man grinned, and then flashed his badge at them. He was an undercover cop! “Hands against the wall, boys—I'm takin' you in!” He pulled out his gun and pointed it at Breadmaster, who didn't flinch.
Pat, on the other hand, squealed and ducked down under the table. As he hid in terror, Breadmaster continued to calmly stare down the policeman, who was shouting orders at him.
“C'mon, pal—get your lackey out where I can see him before I blow your head off!”
The Breadmaster smirked at the man's empty threats. “Oh, don't make me laugh. I can see how much you're shaking... I'm almost insulted that they sent a rookie like you after me!” It was true—the young man had never been this close to a real supervillain, and it was a little more than unnerving to be deep inside his secret lair. “Then again, good sir, I always was underestimated by everyone... Oh well—your ignorance makes my job much easier!” With that, The Breadmaster laughed his villain-laugh, much to the bewilderment of his assailant.
Before the young cop could open fire on the depraved baker, a gooey tentacle shot up out of nowhere and snagged his gun, swallowing the thing whole as if it were a snake eating a rat. The officer tried to leap off of his seat and dodge any further assault, but he found that he was quite stuck to his seat; why, the very stool he'd been sitting on had melted into an amorphous wad of sentient dough! It consumed him up to his shoulders with alarming speed, and much to the man's horror, he could feel a burning sensation in his skin. Was the thing actually digesting him?
“The poor thing was supposed to be made into a giant bagel, you see, but it made such a fuss when I tried to boil it... I just didn't have the heart to do him in.” The Breadmaster was pacing back and forth in front of the man as he spoke, a cold gleam in his eye. “You, on the other hand—you come into my home to threaten my minion and me, and you even attempt to deceive me with a poorly-done alias! Really sir, must you insult my intelligence at every turn? Badly done!”
“L-lemme go! Please! I-I-I'm sure we c-can work something out!”
“An attempted bribe with which to save your own skin? How cowardly! The City's Finest didn't even have the consideration to send a man of integrity to retrieve me? It is an outrage, my good man, to think that they would so woefully underestimate such a formidable villain as myself, and this slight I cannot abide!” None of this actually mattered to The Breadmaster, of course, but he certainly wasn't about to let this chance to monologue slip past. “So tell me, young man... are you ready to face death?” He stood tall before the enveloped rookie cop, who continued to plead for mercy, and sneered at him in disdain. “You, sir, disgust me. Goodbye!” With a snap of his fingers, the dough-monster proceeded with devouring its terrified victim, digesting him quickly—bones and all.
Pat looked out from under the tablecloth, only to find such a gruesome scene unfolding before his eyes, and then curled up beneath the table once more.
“Oh Pat, do come out. The worst of it is over, after all, so you needn't worry! Honestly, Pat...” Breadmaster chided his minion as though he were a small child; his alarmed reaction was so quaint, how could he be upset? After all, Breadmaster probably would have ran away if it weren't for the back-up he'd brought with him. “It's a good thing we decided to hold the interviews somewhere else, hmmm?” Breadmaster and Pat had discussed this last night, and they'd concluded that it would be prudent to screen the applicants before divulging the location of their evil lair.
Pat crawled out from under the table and stood before his boss, brushing off his knees and trying to avoid eye contact with him. He felt a little sheepish for underestimating his employer; the only one who'd really been able to stand up to The Breadmaster was The Tick himself—and that'd only happened once thus far, so it was most likely a fluke... well, not counting that whole Dinosaur Neil incident.
He didn't have time to think about this, however, because someone had entered the room—a woman! In a skirt! Surely the skirt denoted that she'd come to be interviewed... but Breadmaster didn't seem to think so. He stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled, and the ball of dough made its way across the floor to the woman, who attempted to stave it off with her legal pad.
“Hey, what gives? I'm supposed to be at an interview, so call off this... this thing!” She half-grunted the last word, as the dough-creature had caught hold of her legal pad and was attempting to suck it out of her hands. “Give... that... back!!” She kicked the dough-creature, only to have her shoe pulled right off her foot. She yelped and leaped back, letting go of her ill-fated legal pad, and watched in stunned silence as the thing absorbed the shoe and notepad into itself.
“Hmmm…” Breadmaster twirled his moustache pensively as he approached her. Pat clutched his arm as he followed him, once again worried about his personal safety. “Don't fret, m'boy—this one appears to be quite harmless.”
Tess couldn't trust the dough-creature enough to take her eyes off of it, even for a second. “What’s this? And why's it trying to eat me? Is this, like, part of the evaluation or something? 'Cuz I'm pretty sure OSHA'd have somethin' to say about this—!”
“Who are you?” Breadmaster leafed through the resumes in his hand, looking thoroughly unimpressed. At least this candidate seemed less likely than the others to go down without a fight...
“Huh?” Her head shot up, and she glanced at the man who was speaking to her. Who was this guy, and why didn't he care that she'd almost been eaten? And who holds interviews in an abandoned warehouse, anyway? Just what had she gotten herself into? Hopefully this wasn't some sort of mafia outfit, she thought to herself. She hesitated to give her name (even though they already had all of her contact information), but when the man looked at her again she could sense his growing impatience. “Ermm... I-I'm Tess... Kaminski. I saw your ad in the paper yesterday. I'm the one who called—”
“Miss Kaminski, all of the applicants called me. It's standard procedure. Now, do sit down.” It occurred to him then that perhaps the dough-monster wouldn't let her go, so he called it off. “Not to worry, my dear, he won't hurt you... unless I feel threatened.”
“Right...” she looked around for a seat, and was surprised to find a drippy yellow man standing behind her, offering her a metal folding-chair. Was he really made out of butter? She sat down and, since the guy was still staring at her, said, “thanks, man.” This didn't seem to be enough to satisfy the fellow, because he only backed off a few steps, so she decided to ignore him and instead concentrate on the other guy—the one with the moustache. He was sitting behind an unstable-looking card table with a white cotton tablecloth thrown over it; one corner of the thing was saturated with fresh grease stains. Apparently the butter-man had been sitting there before.
“Hmmmm… Come over here, Buttery Pat—I need you to look this over with me.”
Pat obediently went to sit next to The Breadmaster. Tess couldn't help noticing the squishing noise that Pat's feet made with every step he took, and wondered how long it would take for that to finally wear on her nerves, should she actually be hired.
“Buttery Pat,” Breadmaster leaned in close and whispered to his minion from behind his clipboard, “is it just me, or does this woman's resume reveal her to be the least-qualified person for this job?” Pat looked at the resume, and Breadmaster was right, it seemed—the woman hadn't done a single day's work in her life, and had only a high school diploma to speak of. Her only references were her brother, a couple that she'd babysat for once, and an ex-boyfriend by the name of Flavio. “You know what this means, don't you?”
Pat nodded sadly. He knew that this meant that the only chance of him ever being touched by a female was as good as gone.
“This means that we barely have to pay her anything! This is brilliant!” Breadmaster could barely keep his voice down; he was so elated with his good fortune. “What say you, Pat? Shall we give this one a try?” Pat, who'd perked up considerably upon hearing this, agreed heartily. “Good! Let us proceed with the questioning, then.” He cleared his throat and looked over at Tess. “You there!”
Tess frowned. This interview sucked—it wasn’t anything like the ones on TV. “Yeah?”
“Tell me about your childhood.”
“Yes, dear—your childhood. I don’t have much else to go on, after all…”
She wanted to kick herself then—she should have made something up to pad that résumé of hers. “Er… well, I grew up in The Suburbs—”
“Y-yeah. My dad is a contractor—I know lots of stuff about carpentry and plumbing. I even picked up a few things about electrical. Oh—and I helped him clean up after jobs, so… uhhh… that counts as a job, right?” Breadmaster rolled his eyes at that, so Tess figured she should just keep talking if she was going to get that job. “Uhhh… my… my mom didn’t do much—I mean, she was a housewife most of the time, so… that doesn’t count. I-I mean—” Breadmaster’s expression went from mildly disdainful to nonplussed and rather annoyed. Not good! Tess sighed, and decided to try a different approach. “Look sir, to be honest, I was thrown out of college.”
“Thrown out?” His face was unreadable now. It was all or nothing for Tess, now.
She gulped and continued her desperation plea. “Y-yeah. I was expelled a few days ago, and told not to come back. I can’t go home like this to my parents—they’ll kill me! A-and I can’t stay with my brother forever, but I want to stay here in The City so I don’t have to go live with my mom, because she’ll totally never let me live this down, which sucks because she never even stepped foot in college so how would she know—”
“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” Breadmaster held up his hand to quiet her, since words didn’t seem to do the trick. She quickly clapped a hand over her mouth, expecting to get turned out on her ear after that little stunt; Tess was more surprised than pleased when Breadmaster got up and pulled her into a heartfelt embrace. But by God, he certainly smelled good… “Dear woman, did I hear you correctly?” He held her out at arms length and looked upon her with goodwill and compassion—which was far more disturbing than his usual look of pure malice. “You too were turned away from the halls of Academia by the oppressive powers that be, repressed by those who were afraid of change, of progress… of that which they do not—and could not possibly—fathom?”
Tess could only nod in accordance, though his interpretation of the matter required a bit of a stretch of the imagination. She was pretty sure that the Dean had a good grasp of her laziness, but how could she disagree with someone whose eyes bore such fervor? It was frightening, but a little exhilarating—like being around a modern-day Rasputin.
Breadmaster stepped away from her to pace about the room. Pat watched him with feigned interest from his seat, slurping up the last of the cream, and Tess was transfixed by the ardor that had so suddenly overtaken her prospective employer; the apathetic young woman had never seen something quite like it, and it bordered on religious zeal, it seemed. His eyes smoldered, and his very body exhumed a fiery passion for his profession… and perhaps even for his lot in life—he was like a force of nature. Had she stumbled upon some tortured genius?
Thus began yet another of Breadmaster’s soliloquies. “In the early years of my life, I searched desperately for something to fill my cold, empty existence with meaning. I, a rejected aberration of God’s creation—a freak of nature from my very birth—had longed for something, anything, to keep me occupied until the day that I die and am cast into Hell. It was in the mastery of the arcane art of baking that I found my true calling… and so much more…”
Tess raised an eyebrow. “Arcane baking?” Maybe this guy was just a D&D freak—which was still cool with her.
“Yes. Arcane baking—long-lost secrets to the preparation of foods, both common and exotic. I was blessed with a aptitude for the culinary arts, though these… these peons simply cannot see…” He turned to her once more, his dark eyes glittering with malign energy.
Tess had never seen anyone get so excited about cooking, ever. But this was fine by her, since she’d been dreading the thought of an ordinary nine-to-five job. No, this man had the look of a serious supervillain about him. Either that, or he was on crack. Either way, Tess was now honestly interested in what this guy had to offer. “So, where does a janitor fit into your plans?”
“A better question yet, my dear—what skills have you to offer me?” He looked positively evil, grinning ear-to-ear and wringing his hands eagerly. A few beers into it, and Tess would have found him absolutely irresistible, in that whole ‘you’re too old and scary for me’ kind of way.
“Skills? Like what?”
“Have you any powers?”
She thought about this for a second. It was a shot in the dark, but her friends and family had always been impressed and amused by this… “Well, my hands are indestructible.”
This gave pause to The Breadmaster. “Your hands? As in, only your hands?”
She nodded, so he handed her a pocketknife. “Show me.”
Tess gulped, no longer feeling so excited. She’d only ever done something this extreme under the influence of much alcohol, but she couldn’t let him think she was a wimp! Without stopping to consider why she should have to go this far at his bidding, Tess laid her hand flat against the card table.
Pat was mesmerized, and had ceased the obnoxiously loud slurping of his drink. Was she really going to go through with it? He couldn’t bear the thought of watching someone stab her own hand, but neither could he look away.
Tess looked at The Breadmaster, then at her poor hand, and gulped. There was no turning back in her mind. She unfolded the blade of the pocketknife, squeezed her eyes shut, and stabbed. Lo and behold, the deceivingly soft flesh of her hand turned the knife like it was a mere blade of grass, much to the amazement of The Breadmaster and Pat.
For a moment, no one did anything—Pat and Breadmaster were struck silent. Then, still unconvinced, Breadmaster seized the knife and slashed at her hand the best he could, and then tried the other hand. Were her hands ordinary, they would have been torn to shreds by then. He picked up a stapler and, after a few unsuccessful attempts at stapling Tess’s poor hands, he resorted to trying to crush them with a pipe that was lying on the floor.
Tess quickly pulled away from him. “Hey, back off man! Just because you can’t kill’m doesn’t mean I can’t feel pain!”
“Hm, yes… pain…” The Breadmaster furrowed his brow, and carelessly flung the rusty pipe away. “Well, I suppose we’ve only to discuss your living arrangements.”
“My living arrangements?”
“Blast it, woman! Must you always respond to me with your infernal questions?” He seemed just a little annoyed by her, so Tess shrugged and buttoned her lip. “Tess, I’m not sure if you realize who you’re dealing with. Do you know who I am?”
Tess thought for a moment and then she replied, “I’m guessing this is some kinda Cosa Nostra outfit, right?”
And that's how it starts. I don't really have much else beyond this--what do you think?