The Builder couldn’t be happier when Marigold led them to a hidden compartment of the house. Unsurprisingly, there was no cameras in sight.
“Now this place here? Not even that hubby of mine knew about this! I’ll not risk telling him, in case he’s working for the Illuminati! Trust no one!”
“That’s a good philosophy, yeah.” The Builder was too distracted with the multiple firearms to make proper conversation.
It was all they could do to keep themself from drooling. As a matter of fact, they were surprised that even now, Marigold didn’t notice Max’s brains splattered on their chest.
“Are you sure you won’t get in trouble? I mean, that warning on the door…”
Horse-Face waved off his companion’s worries, as they wandered the clone room. “The Builder isn’t Omniscient. As long as they don’t catch you going in or out, you should be fine.”
The two wandered through the halls of occupied tubes. Then Horse-Face saw fit to give a warning of his own:
“Just don’t touch anything, though. Less chance of leaving prints.” He seemed to have given it at the right time. The young man had been in the process of reaching towards one of the tubes.
He instead just looked up at a clone of the man named Julian. The one in front of him was missing several limbs.
“Who was he?”
Horse-Face made a sound of ‘I dunno’ before explaining. “Before he got here? I’m not sure. Now? He’s just The Builder’s favorite meal.” He joined his partner’s side, internally pitying Julian’s sorry condition.
Taking a tentative step forward, Horse-Face’s companion appeared to study the clone in front of him.
Waiting until Moony’s shouting dissipated, Annette then wandered back to the bed and peeked under it.
“All right, he’s gone. You can come out now.” Several moments later, Ox-Head crawled back out. The way he was covered in dust proved The Builder needed to do some cleaning.
Seeing that she was right, Ox-Head proceeded to smack himself with Moony’s severed arm. His child-like giggling raised a few questions.
“So what’s with the arm?”
Ox-Head stopped hitting himself to answer her. “I thought I saw a fly. But I didn’t see a fly-swatter. So I grabbed the next best thing.”
He paused, and continued the smacking. “Turns out it wasn’t a fly. Just a spot of dirt on the table.”
“Okay…So what was with the remark about Denny’s?”
Before he answered this question, Annette watched Ox-Head remove his mask and stick a finger into his nose. “Uhhhh… You know that sign people got that say ‘No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service’?”
Now Annette had to think of this half-demon individual dropping his pants in Denny’s.
Shark and Sinbad were still covered in dirt when Dennis came home.
The raucous merriment that Sagebear had brought in with her had all but vanished with his arrival. Now they sat looking up at him, with expressions like those of children about to be punished.
Sagebear herself hid in the empty spare room, likely fearful of what could happen.
“Dad…?” All the color in Shark’s face had gone, leaving him pale-faced with dread.
“So let me ask you two something.” Not even a hello to them. The magnitude of it all was felt even more now because of this. “How long have you known about this?”
Sinbad bit his lip, remembering the pool party incident. He also remembered telling Shark not to disclose the lurid information to his father.
“A few months now, boss,” he mumbled out so Shark wouldn’t have to do it. “Uh…We didn’t know how to break it to you, so…”
Dennis slowly pinched his nose in exasperation as soon as he heard ‘a few months’. “Then maybe you should’ve found a way to do so before now.”
He didn’t sound angry, just upset and disappointed. He waved off any more attempts to listen to them, and walked to their room. Shark and Sinbad didn’t ignore how heavy his feet sounded.
When the door closed, only then did Sagebear poke her head back out and whimper.
A strange thought came to the young man’s mind, after looking Julian over for a little longer. Horse-Face waited for him to say whatever it was he was thinking.
“You know, his hair color kind of looks the same as-”
“No!” Horse-Face abruptly barked, predicting what his companion was going to say. Seeing the young man step back in fright caused him to calm down. “No, it doesn’t.”
The younger man put his hands up anyway and uttered a quiet, “Sorry. Guess I was mistaken, or something-”
As if he heard them, the Julian clone in front of them suddenly began thrashing. Both looked on in horror as he slammed himself against the glass.
He ended up loosening his breathing apparatus, and when he did, he let loose with a garbled howling. Horse-Face and his companion could only watch as he drowned, presumably in agony.
When he finally stopped moving, Horse-Face and his partner remained still in case he still had any life in him. When he didn’t, Horse-Face set his hands onto the young man’s shoulders and whispered:
“We should leave now.”
The Builder was practically drooling upon feeling the cold metal of a shotgun in their hands.
Marigold continued browsing her collection, yammering on about how rare and valuable most of it was. The exact models and makes of the guns proved she was telling the truth.
“I got the ammo for all these, too! Keep them loaded, just in case!”
“Smart woman,” they whispered when she went off again. They weren’t too well-versed with guns in general, but they knew a powerhouse when they felt it. “So how many hits from this one would it take to kill someone?”
Turning around, Marigold perked up at the model they held. “Ooh, just one! A single shot from that can turn anyone and snything into chunky salsa!”
Genuinely impressed, The Builder gave off a whistle of approval. “Nice! Just what I’m looking for.” Then they patted the stock, as if daring it to go off now.
“Am I in the presence of an aspiring criminal?” For a few moments, Marigold sounded just like any other proud grandmother. Feigning pleasant surprise, The Builder nodded.
“You are! And I already have my first victim in mind!” The instant Marigold turned away from them, The Builder cocked the loaded shotgun, and fired.
Knocking on the door once, Sinbad poked his head in to see Dennis.
Dennis appeared to be thinking over everything that had been happening lately. His facial expression was set in a hardened grimace.
“Uh…Boss?” Sinbad noticed Dennis’ eyes drifting up to look at him, still deathly silent. “If you’re ticked about us not telling you about your dad and your ex-wife…”
He was grunted at in response. Sinbad then glanced back out toward the living room. “I hate to have to bring this up, but…Aren’t you being kind of hypocritical about this?”
Sinbad watched Dennis’ expression soften. “I suppose I am-”
“I’m just saying. Getting mad at me and him about this doesn’t seem right. Since, you know…What you and me are hiding from Shark?”
Dennis just nodded. “I know. I guess what with all that’s been happening lately, I’m just…” Now he held his head in his hands. “I’m not thinking right.”
Both men listened as Shark began playing with Sagebear in the other room. The happy laughing and barking was welcomed sounds to their ears.
Suddenly, Dennis stood up after a little bit. “I think I’ll go to Blaise’s for a while. I suppose she needs to know the situation thus far.”
He mumbled as he left the room, “even if it does involve my dead ex-wife.”
Annette was confused when Ox-Head went silent. He now cradled Moony’s severed arm, staring longingly at it. He rocked almost violently, like he realized he’d still be punished for what he did.
Looking off to the side, Annette then bent down and reached for the arm.
“If you’re so worried about getting in trouble with them, then…” She gestured for him to give the detached limb to her. “I’ll tell them I found it somewhere while looking for you.”
Ox-Head visibly sat up, dropping the arm in the process. He nodded all too readily at this chance at reprieve. Picking it up, he graciously handed it to her.
“Thanks, blue lady!” There was a chirping aspect in his voice now. Waving off his gratitude, Annette just slung the arm over her shoulder, and went off to find the assistants.