Momentarily, the service started. The orchestra, decent but not especially talented, began to scratch out a slow but light tune. The last guests sat down: two large men who, for lack of anywhere else, had to sit on either side of Eric. Then the procession entered, various high-up relatives of Gina first, then the slightly lower relatives of Rob. Last, (aside from the couple itself) came Gina's father, who appeared to be functioning as both father of the bride and minister. He had with him a large, impressive looking tome. He opened and read some words in a strange language. Then he began.
"Friends, family, followers of the whey. We are gathered here to celebrate a happy union between two great families and two fine, upstanding followers of the Ungulates. Such a union brings much happiness to Engren. But before we begin, let us drink the water of peace from the sacred chalice of Rashukle."
At thisa point, a cup made it's way around the room. More drugs, Eric figured. But when it got to Kyle, to Eric's surprise, he drank. When he finished, he cast a sidelong approving glance at Eric. So when it came around, Eric took a sip, too. When the chalice had circulated (but not to Gina's father himself) another man announced the couple.
"Sister Annette, daughter of our great founder, and her betrothed Brother Rob Bluntz, Silver Moose of the Order of Floobel." The couple, looking sickeningly happy, entered at this cue, and the service began. Gina's father read a long speech describing the bliss of marriage and of the whey and how much like each other they are and some other preachy things, and finally got to the bit Eric had been waiting for.
"And if anyone, for any reason, does not think these two should wed, let him speak now or forever be silent."
That's the point where Eric was going to stand up and deliver his speech, buying 10 precious minutes for something. Unfortunately, about three words earlier two large hands had clamped down on his shoulders and another had covered his mouth. He struggled to stand and speak but he couldn't. He watched Gina's father turn his gaze onto him, and staring straight at Eric, he said,
"No one? Then in that case, I now pronounce you man and - "
All eyes turned to the back of the room, even the thugs loosened their grip enough for Eric to slip out and turn around. At the back of the room, flanked by F.B.I. officers, was Vlad.
"As do I!" added Eric.
"Stop it! You're ruining my wedding!" Gina screamed as panic broke out. The crowd was starting to talk, to murmur.
"What is the meaning of this?!?" screamed her father.
"Your little gated community isn't quite up to Federal code," said Agent Sweeney.
"Of course it is! We pay taxes. We own this land. We are not breaking any laws."
"Oh really? What about the kidnapping of this girl?"
"I wasn't kidnapped! My brother brought me home! I'm his daughter!"
Vlad jumped in. "You've been inhumanely treating a lobster! It's an animal rights law violation!"
"There's no such law, and you have no proof. Now if you cannot find an actual charge, kindly leave this hall!"
"Well, you're also forcing all these people into servitude with drugs," said Eric.
"Nonsense! They all love it here, don't you?"
No answer. And then, a man spoke up.
"I don't think we do! I can barely remember the last 4 years, but I don't think that was me!"
"Where am I?"
The cries came from all over the room. Eric saw Kyle worriedly mouth the words "Only took five" as he ran from the room. He saw Gina rush to her father's side.
"Not so sure now, are you?" asked Eric snidely, "Lock him up guys."
"Not so fast. I'm still not convinced," said Sweeney, "I need some proof to lock this guy up on."
"This isn't proof enough?" Eric yelled over the continuing cries of the crowd.
"Of course not!," said Rob, moving in from the front of the room, "I still believe in the whey, and I wasn't under any drugs!"
"As do we," said some of his family and Gina's.
"And I do!" said Gina, "This must have been a plot to break up my wedding! These folks aren't drugged, they're conspirators!"
Eric didn't understand. Maybe Eric really felt that way, but why was Gina still acting like this? Why hadn't the drug worn off her?
"Look," said the other agent, Agent Stuart, "She's obviously not pressing charges on the kidnapping and we've got no proof of the drugs. This may be a weird religious cult about to be reduced to mob rule, but that's not enough for us to do anything. If you can't find a crime, we're gonna have to go."
"And we'll take along Mr. Berljottsen on charges of manipulating and lying to federal officers," added Sweeney contemptuously.
"Gina," pleaded Eric, "You have to tell him the truth."
"What truth, Eric? I'm sorry, but I love Rob. He's the man for me. You'll always be a great friend, but I just don't feel that way about you. I'm sorry. I wish you'd have said something, instead of organizing this whole horrible spectacle, though. You've caused a lot of trouble over this."
Eric was speechless. Suddenly the whole scene slowed down. The mob, more and more confused and violent raged behind him. Gina's father sweet-talked the agents and Vlad away. Eric barely noticed as they left. He didn't notice the lobster crawling out of his coat and away through the mob. He just kept thinking, 'That's really her. No drugs at all, I was just wrong. She loves Rob Bluntz. It can't be, but it must be.' Finally, Vlad grabbed his arm and pulled him away.
They got into the FBI car and began to drive off, when a man ran up and stopped them. It was Kyle, and he snapped Eric back into reality.
"Here's your charges, officer," he said, "Proof of all the things he was doing. Not just the drugging, but insider trading, mob connections, money laundering, and a few possible murders. It's not pretty."
"It's awfully convenient," Sweeney pointed out.
"I'm his son, Kyle Smith. I've been collecting this stuff for some time. What he was doing was wrong."
Stuart had been looking over the papers. "Turn her around, Sweeney, this is plenty."
They turned around. They handcuffed Milton Smith (Milton!) and dragged him away, needing to forcefully separate Gina from him. She was crying.
"I hate you!" she yelled at Eric, "I wish I'd never met you!" She ran off, and Rob followed her, casting an evil glance back at Eric.
Eric, Vlad, Kyle, and the aristocrats were left alone in the midst of the mob, which were now tearing down the church. One of Kyle's people ran in with a megaphone, and handed it to him.
"Everyone please calm down!" he said, "I know you have lots of questions, but violence and destruction are not the answers! If you all come to the mansion, we will sit down and talk about this like civilized people." He worked at this game for a while, but eventually the people calmed down and headed up the road to the mansion. Kyle sent the aristocrats and his entourage, but hung back with Eric and Vlad. When everyone had gone, he spoke.
"Well, that certainly didn't go as planned, but it went well."
"It did?" asked Eric and Vlad, almost simultaneously.
"Of course. I thought I would have to get my father out of the picture, but now he's out of it but still alive, and as far as he knows I had nothing to do with it. And the whole place is still around, and it's all mine. I'll have to run it a little more cleanly now, with more religious bullshit and fewer drugs, but people will still stay on. The proof I gave the Feds was carefully chosen. They have all they need on dad and nothing on me."
"You are a heartless man," said Vlad.
"You told me you cared about Gina," said Eric.
"Yeah, you ate that right up," he laughed, "But your part in this is done. If you don't cause us anymore trouble, you may go. Even take that stupid artifact."
"You didn't want to help her? Then what was this all about?"
"Power. The water at the beginning of the ceremony was an antidote drug I've been developing for a while, and I've also been securing the loyalty of Dad's few undrugged higher-ups. This was the perfect time to put it all together. While the mob was unruly they would go right for dad, and leave me in charge from here on out. I wasn't expecting the F.B.I., but I've always had a plan for if they ever came around. I just had to fetch the documents. I need Gina here with me, so I made sure she wouldn't be in the room when we drank the stuff."
"You can't keep drugging these people!" shouted Eric, "The Feds'll be back."
"Yes, but there are drugs and there are drugs. I've been working on some that are fully FDA approved. They just work a little differently. Federal law is full of loopholes."
"So we're just supposed to leave, without Gina?" Eric spat?
"I would suggest you do so. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to talk to some unruly townspeople."
"What about the lobster?" asked Vlad.
"Keep the damn thing." And he was gone.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Here's the big post, a day early to start the festivities. Tomorrow perhaps I'll post something extra. And I won't leave you hanging long. The next post will be up within a week. Writer's Block is over, Year Two will be all about regular updates!
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Any loyal readers who still remain: I apologize profusely for the lapse in my update schedule of late. RL is a doozy, but if I try, I really do have time to update onece a week. As I have said, a big climax is coming up in the story and I want to be able to make it really good. Also, September 29th will be the site's first birthday. So, on that day, I promise the wedding will be posted. I will work on it until then to make it the best climax post I can. In the interim, I will either write one more New Toaster post to fill in some detail I forgot about or try to write a few little off-story projects, just to keep the site alive (That's not a promise, just wishful thinking). In conclusion, thank you all for continuing to read and bear with me for a few weeks and we'll get back on track. Also, let me once again pimp Society's Pants, a site full of writers as good as or better than myself.