Tommy stood quite awkwardly outside the wooden door.
He wasn’t quite sure how, or why, he had ended up here. It was a bitter afternoon, soft rain pattering down around him in light showers which froze to the touch. He would have stayed at home today, usually. But Tommy hadn’t stayed home for a day in a while.
Lately, there always had to be movement.
And now he was here. Maybe it was out of curiosity, maybe it was out of boredom. Maybe it was out of concern, but he wasn’t sure he knew enough about this guy to really be concerned. Nobody knew about this guy. Not even Ghostbur.
He frowned at the fleeting thought of the ghost. A quick glance over his shoulder, and he knocked firmly on the wooden door.
The door burst open in a loud flurry of movement, and the only thing Tommy had the flick of time to process was the gleeful guffaw that erupted from its room before he was whisked inside, and the wooden door slammed behind him. It took less than a second, but suddenly Tommy found himself inside the wooden door, and quite ungraciously sprawled on the floor.
Before him, stood, wide, tooth-bared grin and glasses glinting madly, was Charlie Slimecicle.
Tommy felt faint.
“Tommy!” exclaimed Charlie Slimecicle.
“Welcome to my laboratory.”
Tommy blinked again. But this time it was almost aggressive. “Excuse ME?!”
Slimecicle observed him. The boy hadn’t moved from his inept position on the floor. Slimecicle shrugged, and with a swirl of a bright green tailcoat, he had turned on his heel and was briskly walking deeper into what Tommy had assumed was a cave.
With a quick look around, it was very clear that this was not a cave.
Tommy was sprawled on a well-polished quartz floor which stretched into a dimming hallway right before him. Above his head, harsh blue lights blinked mechanically. There was no daylight in here, not even in gaps beneath the wooden door. Tommy couldn’t even hear the tap of the rain, just the rhythmical click as Slimecicle disappeared down the hallway.
Just as gracefully as he had entered, he fumbled to his feet on the slip of the quartz floor, and picked his way as hurriedly as he could after Slimecicle.
He caught up, then slid to a very sudden halt.
The hallway opened up to a large, and suddenly noisy circle. Above him, the ceiling domed higher than he could see, and all around him was the high-pitched whir and growl of hundreds of machines at work.
“Welcome, Tommy!” Slimecicle was ahead of him now, and he twirled easily to face him. His grin hadn’t altered, and his eyes were wide and unblinking when Tommy met them.
Tommy thought that maybe he had avoided visiting Slimecicle for a bit too long.
“Charlie..” he smiled uncomfortably, “uh… what are you doing?”
The grin dropped, and Slimecicle looked completely serious.
“The egg, Tommy,” he murmured gravely.
He wheeled around suddenly and strode briskly to one of the machines. Tommy followed, and watched the man fiddle with it absently. A beat passed.
“I saw the egg,” he whispered, eyes almost popping from his skull. “I saw it with my own eyes, Tommy, on my first day and it spoke to me Tommy. ”
Yeah, someone definitely should’ve visited Slimecicle before now.
Tommy chuckled nervously. “Charlie, big man, look, I don’t-”
“You don’t understand, Tommy,” Slimecicle said with gritted teeth. He approached, suddenly, and placed two hands on Tommy’s shoulders. Which was an interesting choice, considering he was, in height, not very within reach of Tommy’s shoulders.
“ I need to destroy the egg. ”
In a blink of an eye, he had moved away and was tinkering with another machine. Tommy followed him cautiously. The machine spat a bit of black oil on his shirt, and Slimecicle let out an infuriated scream. Tommy backed away quickly.
He gulped. And pretended he didn’t.
“Charlie, what are all these machines for.. big man..?”
Slimecicle rose from the oily machine, scowling at it briefly before his attention turned back to Tommy. He grinned, and it was only now that Tommy noted just how maniacal his grin was.
“I’m going to kill the egg, Tommy,” Slimecicle whispered. He approached him slowly, arms gesturing outwards. “You don’t know what it has planned, Tommy. It is evil, so so evil, and it wants to take everything. It wants to take everyone, Tommy, and it’s already begun.”
Charlie’s glasses flashed. “Tommy, it’s been going on for centuries. I have so much to do.”
Tommy’s brow creased. “Centuries? But it-”
“It’s been going on longer than humanity itself. It knows what it wants, and it’s been waiting for so, so long, Tommy..”
Slimecicle stopped before him. Tommy looked at him carefully.
“Tommy, I’ve been studying it for months,” he murmured, shaking his head slightly. “I’m the only one who can stop it, Tommy. And I don’t have enough time.”
Tommy cleared his throat. He studied Slimecicle. He studied the machines. And his heart pounded in his ears.
“You don’t work with the egg, do you, Tommy?” he said, hushed.
Tommy looked at him. “No.. no, I-”
Suddenly, Slimecicle had him by the shoulders in a grip like iron, and Slimecicle’s glasses were flashing wildly but behind them his eyes were despairing, and even looking into them Tommy felt like he was suffocating. It was choking.
“You have to stay away from them, Tommy,” Slimecicle whispered urgently. “Tommy, you can’t let them get you. No matter what. No matter what they do, Tommy, you have to promise me, you can’t tell them, Tommy, you are the..”
Slimecicle faded out. His eyes glazed over, calculating, then Tommy was in focus once more.
“You have to leave,” Slimecicle decided.
“You have to go.”
Looking at Slimecicle again, it was like a slate had been wiped clear. His eyes were blank when they scanned over Tommy, and his smile aloof as Tommy was led to the wooden door. When Tommy looked at him seconds before the wooden door slammed to a close, it was like looking at a hotel manager who was sending a guest away after a lovely night’s stay. Slimecicle looked cool, calculating, everything of a scientist he might observe at any other laboratory, but when the wooden door creaked its goodbyes, Tommy knew what was happening behind the door.
Well, maybe he thought he knew. Maybe he coutld take a stab at a guess.
When the wooden door closed, no one could really know what was happening within its walls. Ghostbur could blink an eye through a crack in the wood, Tommy could exchange a smile amongst hundreds of machines at work, but Slimecicle hadn’t left in months.
Slimecicle hadn’t left in years.