We arrived and took them by surprise. It wasn't that hard. And now here they all are. All tied up and helpless.
A steady supply of curses flowed out of Peri's mouth. I'll admit, it's impressive. She has the vocabulary of a stevedore. Tom, on the other hand, hasn't said a word. He's as quiet as a mouse -- a mouse that has a perpetual grin on his face. It's kind of creepy. But whatever. I've faced worse.
"Now that we're all together," I said, "it's time to finish this thing. Jack, you're coming back to work for us. You can even have Peri and Tom here as your assistants."
Peri responded to this suggested with a glob of spit that I just barely avoided. Girl has the aim of a sniper. I think I'm in love.
"No," Jack said, "we can't work for you if we don't believe in your counter-meme. Otherwise, what's the point, right? You're going to make us believe first, aren't you?"
"You know me so well," I said. I walked around them. "You see, I'm going to do when Jack here did for us. I'm going to give you a reason."
"I already have a reason, jackass," Peri said.
"Survival isn't a reason," I said. "It's a response. It's an instinct. You can't live on instinct alone. You need something to live for. A purpose. Jack here gave us our purpose. And I bet he tried giving you one as well. 'The invincible summer.' Has a nice ring to it, but I prefer 'This is the best of all possible worlds.' Sounds much better." I walked around them in a semi-circle. "Now, some of our methods may seem barbaric, but it really is for the best. You'll thank us after this is all over, I guarantee."
"Fuck you," Peri said.
"Stop this," Jack said.
"Forth from my sad and darksome cell," Tom said. "From the deep abyss of Hell, Mad Tom is come to view the world again to see if he can ease his distemper'd brain.."
I looked at him. "What's his deal? Why did you bring him on board again?"
"He's..." Jack paused and looked at Tom. "...unpredictable."
"Nonsense," I said. "Everyone's predictable. He just shouts nonsense. I bet you like that, Jack, with all your quotes."
"Fear and despair pursue my soul," Tom said. "Hark! how the angry Furies howl!"
"Yeah yeah," I said. "I'm writing this all down, you know. It's so very amusing."
"Pluto laughs, and Proserpine is glad," Tom said, "to see poor naked Tom of Bedlam mad.
"Sam," Jack said, using my real name. "Get out of here. Get out now. Something's coming. Tom can feel it."
"Yes, I'm sure," I said. "Poor Tom is crazy and you know it. Nothing is
what is that
thats not real its not real not real not real not real
nothing is here nothing is here nothing is here
with his pale face and dark suit
mr nothing is here