Pearl locked her teeth against her bottom lip and rolled her eyes.
She turned her head to glare down BoBo, but he had hunkered down over the exam before him with an intense look. “WHAT?” “Sssh!” hissed someone behind them, and she rolled her eyes. Crouching closer, she repeated the question in a much softer tone.
“What did you get for number three?” he whispered.
“Poison?” she asked, squinting at her own answer. “What did you write?”
“Oh, I just drew a banana!” he said happily.
She batted the back of his head lightly. “Bananas aren’t poisonous, you moron!”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that! You’ve never sat near my Uncle Toko after a good banana cream pie!” Pearl glared at him as he teared up. “Poor guy. At least he died doing what he loved….picking fleas off of his lab partner’s shiny butt…”
Pearl grabbed Bobo by the labcoat. “Focus, please,” she demanded, still at a whispered volume. “If you pass this test, you’ll get your board certification as a fully certified evil sidekick. Just think of the revenge you could get on Nelson and his little robot friends then!”
Bobo did think then – so hard his eyes crossed. “I’d rather have a big bucket of baked bananas,” he declared, “Slathered in caramel, with lots of nuts!”
She smacked Bobo one more time and let go of him, grunting as she sat back in her seat. “Decent help is so. Hard. To find,” she glanced at the guy next to her. “Poindexter here knows what I’m talking about, don’t you?” A cough came from the geeky-looking guy sitting beside her as she slapped him vigorously on the back. Pearl shot him a dirty look and glared right back. “What’s your damage, geek-boy?”
He fixed her with a sharp gaze, his hand tightening around the #2 pencil in his grip. “Some of us are trying to finish this exam as quickly as possible. Excuse me, Madame.”
Pearl actually shivered. Man, those googly eyes of his gave her the creeps. She turned back to her own exam and checked her answers – he just had to dot a couple more I’s, and cross a few ts. That done, she turned her paper over with a satisfied grunt and glanced at the google-eyed creep again.
For all of his brainiac looks, the man seemed to be struggling with the exam. Pearl felt a tiny thrill of superiority as she watched him stare ever closer at his page. “Need a little help?” she whispered.
His shoulders stiffened. “I doubt you could tell me why I need a discreet assistant to help me with my work.”
“I thought you were taking the exam with the rest of us.”
“That,” he said, holding up his completed page lying beside his form, “I completed in its entirety fifteen minutes before you concluded in threatening your assistant. It is entirely finished. I’m attempting to express myself fully on this extra-credit request form with a minimum amount of words.”
“Ohhkay,” Pearl remarked lightly. It was just like talking to a freaking robot! She rolled her eyes and backed off. - why the hell Evilos demanded a finishing exam to go with the whole licensing thing was beyond her comprehension, and the dork sitting next to her sure didn’t seem willing to lend her a clue. She looked again at the professor sitting at the head of the room with his feet on his desk, snoring softly, then back at Bobo, who was somewhere in the middle of writing an illustrated essay about how the Lawgiver was the best boss ever and everyone in the world would be happy to bow and scrape under her influence . Pearl knew where she had been tossed – boredom city. “Hey – do you have a mint or something?”
“I don’t have time for your foolishness,” He glared. “Be. Silent.” But the request was a demand as his hand tightened on the pencil he held in his clenched fist.
“Pft. For who, you and your pocket protector? We’re the only three mammals in this room, who else am I supposed to talk to?” she gestured down toward the front of the room, “Davy Jones’ mistake?”
He lept to his feet. “You intolerant Maybelline reject!” he cried out. “That CREATURE is the result of one of the finest genetic splicing trials in Massachusetts!”
Pearl stared at the be-suited octopus creature. It snored quietly at the head of the group, its tentacles vibrating with the breeze. “I think you need to wash out your beakers.”
Troglodyte!” he shouted, jumping to his feet.
“Wuss!” she glared back.
“Ooh! Can I fight too?” Bobo spoke up. “You’re a meanie poo-poo head!”
“SHUT UP!” they simultaneously shouted at Bobo.
Pearl’s eyes flared; her chest heaved. They both had turned bright red and were staring one another down with inexpressible fury.
“So…want to go out for coffee or something, Mister….?” she asked.
“DOCTOR West.” And then, when he accepted, he was more stunned than she was.
Herbert West glared in confusion at the piece of notepaper with the address scribbled haphazardly onto its surface, then cast eyes once more on the enormous castle that rose before it. The Frankenstenian monster that rose before him was amusing, though not comforting. The castle shone among the gloomy hills, its drawbridge singing beneath Herbert’s heels as he crossed it with a quick, determined stride.
He was immediately confronted at the threshold by a pale man in a leather jumper. “Please, let me take your coat,” he said, his pasted-on mustache quivering rapidly with his words.
“Are you Miss Forrester’s butler?” he asked.
“Heavens no. I’m a precognitive assistant of hers.” He tossed Herbert’s coat onto the davenport and tugged on his own pale golden vest. “And now I must be on my way. Good luck,” he sing-songed on his way out the door, “you’ll need it.”
Herbert followed the dim glow of torchlight into the master suite – which was abandoned, except for a round form fanning itself in a red dress on a chaise lounge. He sighed and polished his glasses with a navy-blue pocket square and tucked it back into his lab coat, wondering again why arguing with Pearl had provided him with such a thrill. Not since his stewardship under Hill had he felt such rivalry, such intense animosity. The promise of more drew him into the parlor, toward the blonde woman fanning herself in quite a luxurious manner.
“Hi,” she said, sitting up, picking up a cup of steaming coffee. “What you came for.”
“Thank you,” he said stiffly, sitting down. “What an interesting home.”
“It’s been in the family for generations,” she declared. “I’m continuing on the family tradition. My son was a mad scientist, you know.”
“Is he away for the weekend?”
“Nope – deader than a doornail.”
“Ah. What a shame. “
A piercing, repetitive beeping sound filled the air. She rolled her eyes. “Sorry, let me get this…” she grabbed a remote control off the mantle, and Herbert stared in fascination as the TV screen flickered to life and revealed a blond man and two robots standing behind a console. “What do you want, Nelson?”
“Hey Pearl! You forgot to send us our movie.”
Pearl blinked at the screen. “Wait a minute…WHY are you complaining about that?”
“Nooo reason,” Mike grinned, rocking back and forth on his heels.
“Nelson, if you’re planning something, by God, I’m going to make sure you’ll regret being born!”
“Aww, c’mon, Pearl!”
“Give me a minute!” she got up and moved toward the back of the room, where a very large movie projector stood. Pearl started fumbling with cans of film, loading it into the reel-to-reel spooler, while Herbert gaped at her.
“My word. What on earth was that?” Herbert asked.
“Oh, it’s just this guy I’m keeping on a satellite,” Pearl shrugged. “My son launched him into space ten years ago and I’ve been feeding him and making him watch bad movies for the good of science.”
“The good of …madam, that is inhumane!”
She snorted without looking up from her project. “Yeah, right –and whatever the hell you do is just aces, right?”
“I am trying to better humanity’s lot with my vastly superior intelligence,” he squinted disdainfully down at the can of film. “You’re showing a robot and their master The Terror of Tiny Town!”
“It’s a longstanding Forrester family tradition!! And it’s payback for his kind of sort of killing my son.”
“KIND of sort of…” Herbert paused and considered that for a moment. “How long has your son been deceased? Is his tissue necrotic?:
“Oh no, I threw him into the ocean a long time ago,” she glared. “What sort of sick question is that?”
“I was simply scientifically curious!” he cried out.
“I know that weirdo look – you were thinking of violating my poor Clayton’s remains!” Something flickered in her gaze that made him wonder just what she had done with the same thing.
“The question remains - why don’t you simply kill them and be done with it?”
“Because I want to savor the torture. Oh, Herbert! THE TORTURE!”
“LIFE!” he shouted.
“TORTURE!” she yelled back.
“Pearl? Can you start the movie? Tom said he’s gonna start holding his breath ‘til you start it.”
“SHUT UP, ROBOT!” They both yelled.
When the kiss ended, he took a moment to wipe away her lipstick and clean his steam-fogged glasses. “Highly fascinating,” he declared. “I must subject your research to further experimentation…”
Her tackle cut him off.