As Diabolus Turns
Part 6: Love of Life
Warm coolant poured down the man's body, its thickened substance staining his skin and the dirty floor. The metal instrument stuck out of his stomach in an awkward, disturbing angle. The blue and black striped staff that had created the entire world he stood upon was now dripping with purple liquid. Such an odd, cruel irony. It didn't feel right. It didn't feel real.
His strength immediately depleted, his legs fell out from under him. As he landed hard on his knees, his hands still clutching the weapon, he felt frightened bodies rush up to him. He could not make out what they were saying as the world around him became muffled. His heart pulsed quickly in his chest, but he slowly felt all of his energy draining, the beats becoming fainter.
He made out a blurry white figure in front of him, its arms clutching him tightly. As everything began to fade away, he could just make out her soft voice.
The man sat up in a shock, letting out a short yelp as he promptly fell over onto the floor. The dark blue carpet did little to cushion him and he groaned painfully as he pushed himself up. His heart pounded rapidly and he felt his system burning up. Feeling a wave of dizziness, he peered upward and spoke in a startled voice, "Wha-what happened?!"
The white figure of Linda was leaning down to him, a pleasant smile across her face. "Harbear you're such a GoofyGumballGoose! How do you expect to set a good example for Enny if you're the one falling asleep on the job?"
Confused, the man stared at her blankly. "I-I was
asleep? H-huh?" he stuttered and reached up to grab hold of the arm of the couch beside him. Before he had a chance to pull himself up on his own, the woman bent down and grasped her arms around his chest, lifting him up onto his feet.
The albino let out a short laugh as she held the man tightly, resting her chin on his head. "Yes, you certainly were. You must have worked yourself out. I told you that you needed to lighten up your workload, but do you ever listen?"
The orange blacorite was in such a shock that he did not even push the woman away as she held him in her inescapable hug. He glanced around the room - he was in the employee lounge. Its relaxing, cozy appearance starkly contrasted with the destroyed buildings he had seen just minutes ago. Writhing his arm free, he rubbed a hand across his stomach, half expecting to feel a stab wound remaining there. He felt no such thing, for his rubbery skin was unscathed.
"So I was
dreaming?" he asked with confusion, though more-so to himself than to Linda.
"More like having a nightmare from what I could tell," the woman replied, loosening her grip and allowing him to step back, though she kept her arms around him, "You were fidgeting up a storm. For a moment there I thought you were having a seizure! That's why I woke you up. You know, don't want you dying and all that!" She laughed as she said this, causing the man to look at her oddly.
A door across the room flew open and a tall figure walked in. His hand clutched a black and blue staff and his stripes were glowing a bright azure. A pale blue smile stretched across his slender snout.
Upon seeing his boss enter, Harlie couldn't help but still feel that he was back in his dream. Fearing he would cause the man to go irate again, he shoved himself away from the clinging woman and greeted with a hesitant, "H-hello, sir!"
Marty stopped and stared at him curiously. His smile returned and his brows raised as he said, "Well it seems someone is rather enthusiastic about seeing me today."
Sensors perking up and pink lights glowing brighter, Linda gave the man a flirtatious smile. "Hey there, Martytart~"
Much to Harlie's relief, the boss did not return her sensual advance. Instead he looked at her awkwardly. "Yeeeah, hi there Pinky," he then quickly changed the subject, "So as much as I adore a nice little get together, why aren't either of you working?"
"I'm on break," the woman replied first, her eyes half closing as she continued to look her employer over. She then turned to the orange striped man and added, "I just came to check on our workaholic here. But instead I found him--"
"Still working as hard as ever!" Harlie interrupted her before she could spill the truth, "Y-yeah I got all those reports done for you. Linda just happened to come in here when I was, uh, taking a short break of my own!"
The woman quickly understood his reasoning and did not say more. Marty leaned against Bernard proudly and said, "Excellent! Now you can go down town and see how that statue in my honor is going! Which probably should have been your top priority to begin with, but whatever! It all worked out in the end."
Holding in his sudden spark of rage, Harlie smacked a hand to his forehead. Yep. Definitely not a dream.
The entrance door opened up again and this time two people entered. One a tall bi-colored blacorite and the other a short, rainbow-striped one: Jeeves and Quinn. The short DJ carried a box under his arm as he happily entered, dragging his heavy tail behind him. The business man, on the other hand, had an agitated expression on his face.
Linda made eye contact with the disgruntled man and replied in an annoyed tone, "Eww, Jeeves what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at your restaurant selling fish eggs to those fancy rich dudes?"
His red eyes narrowed and he pointed a finger accusingly at the woman, "Well I should be but a certain someone spread a rumor that our steaks are made of puppy meat! Now there's a bunch of angry protestors outside of the front entrance keeping my staff and customers from going in!"
Marty snickered and replied to him in an amused tone, "Gross, why would you do that butler boy? What did those puppies ever do to you?"
"I do not use puppy meat!!" the mustached man yelled angrily, "All my meat is imported, farm-raised livestock! I serve no canines on my menu!"
"Well I don't know what you want us to do about it," Linda said with a smirk, "Sounds like a personal issue."
Becoming even more aggravated, Jeeves walked past the tall, blue striped boss and up to the albino. "No, it's you who needs to do something! It was your idea and I know it!"
The woman seemed offended at the remark, though her tone gave a hint of exaggeration, "Me? I would never do something so despicable
Plus you have no proof!"
Eyes sparking, the man was just about to give another retort when Quinn stepped up to the tall woman and tugged on one of her tail sensors, as if to get her attention. Linda glanced down at the DJ's smiling face. She then put a hand out to Jeeves' snout as she said, "Hold that thought, Jeevesy."
Despite his irritation he did not say more, simply crossing his arms in detest instead. Linda knelt down to the short blacorite and sweetly asked, "Yes, Quinny?"
"I brOUGHT tHe GAme," he said in his radio voice, revealing the box he had been holding. The cover was blank, obviously not being the original manufacturing container. The little blacorite then added, "WaNT To pLaY nOw?"
"Alright!" she replied gleefully.
Marty took a step forward, peering down at the DJ with an annoyed expression. "Life isn't one big game time, Quinn! There's work to be done, even for you," he then shifted his gaze to Linda. He stared at her for a moment, his expression shifting into one of uneasiness. "And uh
you too, Pinky."
"Aww, but Martykins!" the woman spoke, still kneeled down. She glanced up to him, a teasing look flashing in her eyes. She began to wrap the end of her white tail around her employer's leg, much to his discomfort, "Games can be fun sometimes."
A shudder falling over him, Marty wiggled himself out from her grasp and stood a couple feet back. "I'll, uh, take your word for it."
Jeeves appeared visibly annoyed with the flirting gesture, his brows lowering and tail flicking anxiously. He glared between the two but did not say anything. Quinn simply looked up, as clueless, but happy, as ever.
Upon the woman's gaze only intensifying at him, Marty nervously averting his eyes to meet with Harlie's. "You're her little snuggle bunny, you tell her!"
The orange blacorite, still in a state of confusion, did not even question the nickname and instead asked, "
Tell her what?"
The boss gave him a variety of arm and hand gestures as Linda was looking away, trying to convey his message. It only resulted in Harlie and Jeeves staring at him strangely. It then snapped into the assistant's head. "Oh
Oh! Y-yeah! Get back to work! All of you!"
"I still have 13 minutes left on my break," Linda replied flatly, her smile never leaving her face.
Marty slapped a hand to his forehead in aggravation, "Jeez, woman, do you count every second or something?"
She returned to a standing position, brushing her long tail sensors with a hand to readjust them. "Yes. Does that impress you?"
"No," he stated, giving her a blank stare.
Not waiting for the exchange to continue further, Jeeves spoke up in irritation, "I would gladly return to work, but I sorta can't as I previously mentioned."
"Go throw a smoke bomb on the protestors or something!" Marty suggested, waving his free hand in the air, "Let an angry bull charge in on them, I don't really care!"
"Because I obviously have those sort of things handy," the mustached man sneered, putting his hands on his hips, "Linda needs to figure this mess out!"
Rolling her eyes, the woman replied, "Of course I'm always the one who has to get you out of a bind. What's new there?"
"You started it so of course you have to get me out of it!" he pointed at her with a claw.
She immediately smacked it away, her sensors falling down over her shoulders. "Don't stick your grubby hands in my face! I don't want to be contaminated by your icky puppy meat germs."
"I don't serve puppy meat!!"
As their quarrel continued, Marty leaned against his staff. He watched the sight unfold almost amused; more than likely being content with the crazed woman's attention being elsewhere than to himself. Harlie held a hand to his head, their voices giving him a headache. He turned around and stepped towards one of the other couches against the wall. Plopping down on it with fatigue, he couldn't help but feel his abdomen once again for a wound that did not exist. As his gaze glanced downward, he spotted a patch of green from the corner of his eye. There, beneath the center coffee table laid a striped figure.
"Enrik?" the assistant grumbled, his eyes narrowing.
The maintenance man peered up from under the shadow of the table, the sensors on his face covering his eyes like usual. "Huh? Oh, sup Bossman Dos?"
"Why the hell are you under there? Wait, let me guess, sleeping? Again?"
"You know it, dude," the green blacorite let out a short, groggy laugh, "Saw you finally took my advice too. Have a good sleep, bro?"
Harlie's orange stripes flashed, "T-that was unintentional! And
at least I worked up until that point, unlike some people."
"You jus' need to chill more, man," Enrik replied as he readjusted his arm in front of him so he could rest his head on it.
Linda and Jeeves' argument drew the orange man's attention back. They continued to spat like an old married couple, their words steadily growing louder and harsher. The woman's sensors were beginning to curl backward and her frown became even more displeased. She rested a hand to her hip, the other held up against her chest as if she were resisting to use it as a weapon.
Well they are certainly acting normal, Harlie shook his head, the aching only persisting further. He glanced around curiously, his expression uneasy.
He looked back to the dozing Enrik and whispered in a questioning tone, "Hey, uh
Enrik. Can I ask you something?"
Waking back up, the blacorite turned his snout up to him, "Ya, guess so, man."
"You don't, um
like Linda, do you?"
Enrik seemed confused by the question, his head tilting to the side, "Well ya, man. Girlie's my friend and all."
"No, I don't mean that sorta like, I mean
" Aggravated at himself for even bothering to ask such a question, he quickly retracted, "Ah, never mind."
"My my, what kinda dreams have you been having?"
Harlie jolted in shock as he turned to see his boss sitting right next to him, his brows raised and a smile swept across his snout. "Wha-what dreams? I haven't been dreaming!" he swiftly defended.
"You think I'm deaf or something? I heard what Greeny here said. Even over the arguing," the tall man rolled his eyes. He sat cross-legged, his arm laying across the back of the couch behind Harlie's head. He leaned in closer, his smile growing wider, "You wanna discuss it?"
"No!" the second in command said with a frown, "It's
not important anyway."
Marty was not swayed by his comment and leaned in towards him, putting his arm around his partner's shoulder and pulling him slightly closer. "It's perfectly natural to dream those 'special' dreams every now and then. Even if they may seem horribly disturbing and sickening to think about when you wake up. Your subconscious can be a funny thing sometimes! That or you inhaled some spoiled fumes before bed."
Harlie merely stared at him in annoyance, his brows fixed in a discontented expression. "Sir, that makes no sense."
"Course it does!" said the azure striped employer as he smiled devilishly, "You're just in denial. Just like those magazines you keep under your mattress."
His orange stripes flushed at the comment. "I don't know what you're talking about!" His embarrassment mixing with a tinge of anger, he quickly turned the subject around, "Why are you even going on about all this? Do you have weird dreams with Linda or something?"
The lanky blacorite immediately flinched at the thought, his conniving expression falling into an almost frightened scowl, "HELL NO. No, no, no! Why would I-?! How would--?! N-No! Never. Absolutely not!" He released his hold of Harlie and moved slightly away from him, turning his back and folding his arms up in a pout, "I-I'm offended you would even think such!"
The subordinate resisted the urge to give a taunting remark. He knew it would do little good - Marty always got his way one way or another. The conversation disturbed him just as well anyway. He glanced back up at the arguing man and woman across the room instead, their voices growing a bit more quiet than before.
"I already told you, I didn't mean to run over the cat!" Linda's voice carried a tone of guilt as she looked away from the bow-tied man.
Jeeves held his hands firmly to his hips, his tail tapping up and down on the floor, "You always hated that cat!"
"For the last time, I didn't hate Buttercup! But could you blame me for being annoyed every time he tried to claw my face off?"
"Maybe he wouldn't have been so vicious if you would have stopped trying to cuddle him every five minutes!"
"I can't help it, I like to cuddle things Jeeves! You should know this by now!"
"Then maybe you should stop."
The woman let out a short gasp, looking at him appalled, "You take that back!"
"Not everyone likes hugs like you, Linda!" the man realized his mistaken words as soon as they came out, but he had no time to take them back.
Eyes flaring, the woman abruptly shoved the shorter blacorite backward, causing him to nearly lose his balance in the process. "Shut up, Ozzy!"
Whipping the tip of his tail angrily, the two-toned fellow quickly returned his stance before her, stepping slightly closer than before. "Don't call me that!"
"What? You mean Oswald?" her snout bumped against his as she stared him down, her pink lights flaring, "That's your name, isn't it?"
Not deterred, he stood up taller, chest puffing out, "Get out of my face you crazy witch!"
"That doesn't even make sense!"
"SHUT UP!" the woman could take no more and threw her weight at him, sending him reeling. He was able to keep steady just enough to return a shove but it only intensified the female's rage.
The taller woman attacked him with several hard punches to the chest and arms as her long white tail waved around in the air behind her. Putting up a decent fight of his own, the man blocked a majority of her punches, obviously having dealt with the blows enough in his time. In a desperate attempt, he reached up and yanked one of her curly head sensors.
"OWW!" she cried out as her head was pulled downward. She copied the attack and jerked on one of the man's sensors in return. He let out a similar wail and the two began to awkwardly stumble around the room, both with their heads held in uncomfortable positions and their expressions formed into a mixture of pain and enragement.
"Here they go again," Harlie sighed as he looked away from the battling couple. He turned his computer belt on and began to tap away on the holographic screen.
Marty relaxed back in the cushioned couch, resting his feet on the coffee table in front of him. "This is better than paper view. It's like a soap and a wrestling match all in one!"
Harlie gave his boss a dirty look, "Yeah, until they start breaking stuff. Which I have to order to replace. Which, by the way, didn't you want everyone to get back to work?"
"In a minute," the commander waved it off, too preoccupied with watching the fighting match.
Little Quinn had rushed out of the way and positioned himself beside Harlie and the, already asleep again, Enrik. The rainbow striped DJ was unsure what to make of the fight but after a few minutes of watching his attention fell away. He peered up at the assistant blacorite with his large round eyes, his checkered smile stretched wide.
Noticing his gaze, the man asked in a bothered tone, "What do you want, Quinn?"
"WaNT To pLaY a GAme?" he gestured to the box in his arms.
"No, Quinn, I need to work," he replied back, returning his eyes to the blue tinted screen, "Someone has to."
"PLeeeeeeaaaSE?" the little blacorite happily tugged on the man's tail.
Harlie glanced at Marty, who seemed quite comfortable in his place, then down at Enrik, which he knew good and well would be of little help. Grumbling, the man switched off his belt and reluctantly answered, "Fine."
As Quinn gleefully set the box on the table, the feuding blacorite kept at it. Jeeves managed to slip out from his ex's hold but was not able to escape her wrath. "Don't be such a pansy!" she scolded, trying to push him down into one of the chairs.
"Get off me, woman!" he tried to kick at her but missed and hit the side table instead. He held a hand to her face, pushing her away from him.
"Take it like a man!" she shouted, giving him a hard punch to the shoulder again.
Knowing he was on the losing end, but not wishing to give up, he felt around with his free hand. He soon felt a hard surface brush under his fingertips. "How about you take it instead?!"
He promptly lifted a tall object off the table and smacked it firmly against her head. She stumbled backward, unhurt, and looked at him crossly. In his hands he held a small blue lamp, the chord still plugged into its socket.
A small smile crept onto the albino's face. "Oh, it's so on now!" She reached toward another lamp set on a table directly behind her and ripped it from the wall, holding it before her like a weapon.
"Aaaand the lamps have been drawn!" Marty exclaimed, his voice carrying a humorous tone.
Harlie ignored his co-workers. His mind was a wreck with thoughts, I dunno what's worse: the dream version or the real version. He let the idea slip away as he peered down at Quinn, who had finished setting up his game. On the table sat a round device, the inside twirling in a circle as a bunch of gaping maw fish nipped at the air. The DJ handed the man a blue plastic fishing pole, smiling wide.