Title: Is It Scary, Volume XXII - PART I
By: IDOL HANDS
Warnings: Dark & Mature Themes, Violence, Angst, Hostage, Slash, Paganism and an under-aged/adult (shota or chan) relationship.
Disclaimer: The characters portrayed are not my property but that of the estate of Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, Freddie Highmore, Deep Roy, and Johnny Depp. This perverse cocktail of intellectual insanity however is my fault.
Dedication: To those who still believe. You hold the key.
Music: Michael Jackson’s Blood On The Dance Floor, from where the title comes. (Mpeg4/iTunes)
Summary: Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew or you’re liable to end up with indigestion. Willy Wonka is especially blessed in the department of choppers but will his biting wit and gut instincts be enough to pull through this toxic concoction of greed, desire and avarice? Invading, kidnapping candymen aren’t the only ones in the chocolate factory fudging truths; ulterior motives and secrets abound, winding and becoming unwound, Buckets and Oompa-Loompas caught within a swirling tow.
Note: If you haven’t read the story before, I think you could read this volume/chapter and get a good enough gist to decide if you’d like to take a look at previous installments.
As a tip, making your window smaller, like a book, can help with reading longer texts.
Every Bucket in the room jumped at Grandpa George’s sudden (and rather loud) appearance. The puzzling passageway of the The Psychedelic Room didn’t prove a problem this time as he barged back into Wonka’s office, known as The Lair.
“Those absolute BASTARDS!”
Was repeated with vehemence. The formerly elderly man had been anxious to put a Wonkavited body and former military skills back into use -- sending himself on a scout mission to observe the negotiated trade between long-time rivals. “Every descriptive insult the old man ever used to describe those other candymakers was fully deserved! In fact, he was far too polite!!”
“They’re not really going to let Charlie go, are they?” Grandpa Joe said forlorn, unfortunately personally familiar with the decayed character of these individuals.
“Sure they are. As long as each of us stays to wait on them hand and foot including Wonka. Oh, but you should’ve seen that crazy candyman put up one bugger of a fight against some bodyguard twice his size! It was killing me to stay hidden rather than putting a new hole in that tattooed punk’s arse!”
Mrs. Bucket gasped, looking at the vintage war pistol strapped to Grandpa Joe’s side. Could this situation really come to murder?! Mr. Bucket held her tighter, careful with the mechanical arm. The woman stated to her husband’s father (who currently could pass for his brother), “Remember, we don’t want to do anything too rash. Nothing that would cause them to harm Charlie or Willy.”
Everyone nodded in unison at that.
“What’s their next move?” Said a deep, androgynous voice from near the floor. They’d almost entirely forgotten the presence of the tiny Oompa-Loompa woman!
Out of respect, for the family had seen Madame Rose wield incredible skill at this point, Grandpa George got on one knee to address her. Their outfits gave the impression of a soldier bowing before a faerie queen, further adding to the non-stop surrealism and confusing metaphors of Wonka’s life and universe. George crossed his arms and thumped his chest in greeting as the natives did, knowing that the sound would reach her ears even if blind eyes couldn’t see it. “They want a formal tour of the factory like the others got, starting by meeting each of us at our workstations.”
She nodded calmly. “Then my people and yours shall function with that knowledge. Are our lead--, uh, employers unharmed?”
“Charlie got a little roughed up at school and Willy’s wardrobe took a hit in the skirmish, but otherwise they’re both fine.” He stood back up and added. “Wot makes me sick though, is they have them both in handcuffs!”
The old soldier looked toward his family, determined icy blue eyes the same at any age, “As if they’re the criminals!”
An expanse away, at the very same moment that Grandpa George issued that ironic protest, Willy Wonka’s gaze had wandered to the very same silver circles restraining his heir’s arms behind his back. In previous circumstances, this sort of bondage had proven lusciously erotic. Of course, that was when it was his idea and he’d been in control.
They quietly trudged down the long throat of the entrance hallway. Charlie’s face met his mentor’s, still sorrowful.
The chocolatier managed a chuckle. He deliberately shimmied the cuffed wrists behind his own back, causing the metal chain to jingle, “Heh, heh. Look, we still match.”
His reference was to the carefully chosen clothes from that morning; each having picked a rainbow motif for the day, not knowing that the other had done exactly the same. It was one of many signs, since they’d met, that the pair were mysteriously suited to one another. The edges of Charlie’s bow-shaped, soft pink mouth bent upward.
To Willy it felt as if a symphony of perfectly tuned instruments had begun to play!
The world famous man congratulated himself on having done it again, gotten exactly what he wanted for his efforts. In this case, his divine wish was nothing more than a simple smile from a simple person who evoked things inside him that could be described as anything but simple. Under such dire circumstances it was equivalent in satisfaction to getting the final solution for any one of his impossible confections. For there had been many days when the great Willy Wonka had asked himself if life was worth continuing with, painful times before he found the sprites that became his loyal workers. Even afterward, there continued to be moments of struggle; nearly loosing his factory forever had left the chocolatier with this lingering sense that despite all he'd created and accomplished, despite people from Timbuktu to Xanadu knowing his name, something was missing, some key, like that first taste of candy which had given his bleak youth any purpose those many, many years ago. Without that missing element, there was a void, an emptiness beckoning in a Siren’s song toward doom. Previously, he wasn’t even afraid of dying -- he flirted with it and dared it regularly. Could anything kill him? Did it even matter?
Lavender eyes twinkled at the boy. It did now.
Fickelgruber Jr.’s jaw was agape as he stared at dozens of miniature men lined up in neat rows to greet the newcomers. “Leprechauns? Your candy is made by leprechauns?! You gotta be kiddin’ me!”
Slugworth gave his horrible, rotten-toothed grin; staring at the same picture he saw a rather different scene. His voice sounded genuinely complimentary. “Ssslaves…*wheeze* marvelous. I didn’t think… Psssst! ….hssst…. you had it in you, William.”
That statement completely snapped Wonka out of his deep pondering. “What?! Everybody knows that leprechauns only work for gold and that they make shoes, not candy. THESE are genuine Oompa-Loompas, imported direct from Loompaland, who most certainly are NOT slaves because they are paid in my best cocoa beans, which are more valuable than gold!”
A second later he added, sounding chipper, “And unlike leprechauns they don’t get drunk on the job. They wait until afterwards.”
Willy and the diminutive people nodded at each other to confirm the factuality of that statement.
“Wouldn’t they need money to buy stuff?” Mr. Prodnose also inquisitively looked the Oompa-Loompas over, tensely squeezing Charlie’s shoulders, the captive he'd been put in charge of.
“For what? Everything they need, anything they can imagine is right here inside my— er, the factory. Besides it’s much too cold outside for them to go shopping; they’re accustomed to a tropical environment.”
“Yes, it appears…you’ve created quite the warm, peaceful paradise for yourself…smack in the middle of Hades.”
“I thought Hades was supposed to be a hot place.” Replied Charlie innocently, recalling his lessons in Greek texts.
Continuing to closely restrain the factory’s rightful owner, M answered with wisdom and emphasis. “Slugworth descends from Nordic Vikings, they believed Hades or Hell was a freezing wasteland; stinging, merciless, lifeless as the vacuum of deep space.”
Once again the brute managed to make the boy shiver. Charlie knew too well the torturing discomfort of constant coldness.
“There are all sorts of Hells.” Willy said flatly, while squirming under the touch of someone he found utterly repugnant, mental similarities notwithstanding. Fate was such a fickle mistress -- one step forward, two steps back, and forever whirling about him in such grand displays. Who would it favor today? Who would it punish? And could he possibly trouble it for a cup of hot chocolate?
A flustering of the little men doing cartwheels suddenly interrupted the dark topic of conversation; aerobic dance moves and a quirky jester-like melody were struck with usual synchronization; a playful beat contrasted against the serious moods of events.
Ah yes we, Oh yes we,
Ah yes we, Oh yes we,
Love that tree! Love that tree!
Beloved, beloved cocoa tree!
Welcome you gentlemen three,
Welcome to HE and HE and HE,
So very busy shall you be,
With countless new discoveries!
Perhaps you find us hokey,
But don’t mind the jokey-jokey,
Or how we tease and pokey-pokey,
Sing along like karaoke!
It’ll be Okie dokie.
It’ll be Okie dokie.
Any whim you decree,
Juice, coffee, wine or tea?
We obey as well as emcee,
Never, ever will we disagree!
Your desires are a guarantee,
Provided with nonstop jubilee
In musical dancing potpourris
From happy, busy worker bees!
It’ll be Okie dokie.
It’ll be Okie dokie.
Don’t you worry! No sir-ee!
Don’t you worry! No sir-ee!
The last part felt performed purposely for the benefit of their former employers, slipping by unnoticed by the new ones. Their bodies had formed a pyramid and the Oompa-Loompa on top winked at them. Charlie managed a faint smile at them as well, his mentor’s fondness for the workers becoming equally embedded; leave it to the clever people to weave a hidden message into their lyrics, like their own essence, to find a tiny way to restore any sense of hope. What was further clever was that they had hidden the entrance to The Chocolate Room (which had also become home to The Buckets) behind an immense monogrammed curtain.
The people parted to reveal an old-world, yet futuristically stylized jalopy sounding its rowdy horn. It appeared from virtually nowhere, given the distraction of dancing and singing cheerleaders. Quickly the diminutive people hopped aboard, a few even up to the rooftop where mysterious valves and a lookout tower were located. Various gears, pedals and levers inside required the assistance of many tiny hands and booted feet; every man knew his place and each was equipped with a small chauffeur’s hat shining with an interlocked pair of W’s above the brim. Exposed was an ample interior; curved plush seats with chrome trim and track lighting harkening to the days of old Hollywood. After the center doors sprung open, a floorboard dropped to turn conveniently into a lift; none need worry about balance or managing with Slugworth’s wheelchair.
“Thoughtful little buggers, aren’t they?” Commented Prodnose. He sat next to Young Ficklegruber Jr. along with Charlie, across from the other men.
“They can get naughty every now and again but once they’re broken in, they’re virtually harmless.” Wonka grinned in a way to suggest reassurance, shifting uncomfortably within the restraints in a way to suggest intolerance. “So uh, where to first?”
“Grandpa George.” Mr. Slugworth stated assertively.
A nervous swallow could be traced where the bear patch of skin at the chocolatier’s throat was exposed. He glanced at the workers, beady eyes immediately connected to his own. Another reassuring smile was forced as he looked back at the party, “Of course. Whatever you wish.”
The Oompa-Loompas all also smiled obediently and began to sing again, this time a more familiar tune:
Round and round, round and round
The wheels on the bus go round and round
All through the town.
The door on the bus goes open and shut
Open and shut, open and shut
The door on the bus goes open and shut
All through the town.
There was more behind the child’s expression of concern than that for his grandfather. It was for the man seated across from him as well, who hadn’t been swaying to his worker’s melodies as usual. The youngest Bucket knew Mr. Wonka was an individual of tremendous sensitivity, yet he’d been acting remarkably calm in a situation where a mental breakdown would’ve been expected! How was he holding himself together and how much longer could he manage? At the moment, no answer could be discerned. It was part of this new torment, so close together were they and yet incapable of true freedom, of even the barest touch, that it felt miles away.
Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah!"
The baby on the bus says, "Wah, wah, wah!"
All through the town.
The people on the bus say, "Shh, shh, shh,
Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh"
The people on the bus say, "Shh, shh, shh"
All through the town.
Wonka tilted his head downward, giving an impression of defeat, but with a sly smile hidden in shadow like his thoughts. These men thought they were depriving him of something. They were wrong. Wrong as his father had ever been. Just watching Charlie breath again had been a gift -- the weight of that horrible void had lifted. Such joy he got from the reserved movements of this innocent soul; even as the boy sat and suffered in his guilt, there was a subtle beauty to his entire form. One that sent a rush through Willy's system, a sensation that could not be controlled by a dying man in a wheelchair, his goons, or a paltry pair of police cuffs. A glimpse of chaffed skin on slender knee, leading to the suggestive fold in woolen shorts, could send his ingenious mind racing in a thousand pleasurable directions. The candyman would always have “butterfly kisses”; always know the taste of virgin flesh and adolescent nectar. Flicking his lids closed, so exactly could he recall those memories. Secrets. Sweet, seductive secrets. The thrill of hidden pleasures was discovered at the same age as his heir, appropriate then, for he to have introduced the notion to his chosen one -- enchanting that they would forever share them. How could these ignorant, jealous people keep him from his delights and so called perversions? Preposterous! They couldn’t possibly begin to understand them.
And speaking of things, which could not be understood easily, the Oompa-Loompas who had nested themselves atop the car’s roof, signaled in their native sign language to even more workers unseen in the distance. But none inside were focused on this, not with vaulted factory rooms with names like One Tonne Soup, Pocket Billards, Double Bubble, and Rumpled Stilt Skins zipping by.
Driving down into the intestines of the factory, Charlie Bucket wondered if this alternate path leading right, rather than forward, had always been the true entrance? Then again, who was to say which way was ever which within a labyrinth? Rather than ponder if Augustus’ doom had truly been planned, the boy focused on the fact that this was possibly another sign that more was under control than he feared. Because this time, the destiny of everyone he loved was at risk…
"I love you, I love you, I love you"
The daddy on the bus says, "I love you, too"
All through the town.
Grandpa Joe, Head of Public Relations, had stayed behind within The Lair, to see what could be done about preparing statements to various news sources. Some record left behind by the family of their experiences and feelings seemed in order. At the very least, it was a distraction from crying. His wife and Grandma Georgina had remained at the house, “holding down the fort” as his brother-in-law had put it. It might not have looked like it to others, but The Buckets were survivors, their family had seen many hard times and made it through. Mr. Wonka was family now too. They wouldn’t let him down.
Grandpa George and Madame Rose had taken off in The Great Glass Elevator, or rather one of them. For a second, impossible, perfectly transparent clone arrived immediately thereafter to pick up the remaining descendants.
“Holy Mackeral!” Shouted Grandpa Joe, “You mean they might have a collision?”
Wonka’s main advisor left with the rather unreassuring quip, “We’ve always been lucky so far!”
The little people were always making jokes, just as Willy had first said, even at a time like this.
Mister and Misses Bucket, man and wife, were the only two people inside the doppelganger as it pulled away, in the opposite direction, along the same track. Finally with a moment of privacy, oddly enough aboard a transparent device, she kissed the slender man gently but lingering. Her touch was welcome and familiar though not that streak of red hair. Warm lips replaced the former sensation of the candymaker’s icy ones. Her finger traced upon the shining metal of his new arm - things were different with him as well. She stated sadly, “I only just got you back, I don’t want to lose you again.”
Husband looked at wife, another piece of humanity returned as the golden necklace gifted to her by the candymaker glittered. He traced the female shaped charm with artificial fingers, metal tapping against metal, Mr. Bucket whispered, “He can dress you in lace and jewels but you were always my goddess. You’ll never lose me. I won’t leave you and Charlie alone in this place. Not if they have to make every part of me out of tin.”
They held each one another for a moment, sliding through Last Mango in Paris and making a twirl into Brilliant Sunsets -- dreams everywhere, nightmares and nonsense too, no matter where you turned there was no escape.
Mr. Bucket spoke again, “Are you sure we’re doing the right thing leaving this up to Willy and the Oompa-Loompas?”
“While you were in the hospital, I had a private conversation with Willy. I asked him what his true feelings were toward Charlie.” Mrs. Bucket looked up at him, chin resting on his chest. Mr. Bucket’s eyebrow rose up though he stayed quiet and continued to listen. She finished her thought. “He’s worth more to me than every last doggone cocoa bean in my whole factory. Those were his exact words.”
To this sincere reassurance, her husband only responded with, “How often were you alone with Willy?”
She looked at him perplexed, then away as guilt snuck in through a crevice of recalled events – handsome features under pie dough, lingering sugar-scented embrace, a flicker of eyelashes against cheek. She found herself quoting the candymaker again in response. “Well I wouldn’t say often.”
The eyebrow arched higher as their transportation dropped into Self Raising Sours. “Do you care for him?”
“Of course I do. How could I not? He’s more of a child than Charlie sometimes, so silly and unpredictable. But there are moments when I’m not sure if I worry for him or…about him.” She turned her pointed chin into the cup of her hand, looking further away in shame. “That’s a terrible thing to say.”
“No, it’s an honest thing to say. It’s exactly how I feel, especially with him so close to Charlie all the time…the way he looks at our son…”
Her brown eyes found his again, she gently brushed the new arm once more, adjusting to it as she was about to try to get her husband to adjust to another shocking idea, “Sweetheart, about that…I think you’ve been over-looking the way Charlie looks at Willy.”
“Ha-how does Charlie look at Willy?” He flinched.
“The way I look at you.” She answered simply.
If chocolate could be transformed into a pair of eyes, they might look like Mrs. Bucket’s lingering set; sweet, glossy, invitingly warm, blended with tantalizing desire and guaranteed to alleviate woe. Emotionally and physically the engineer felt himself drifting through space, walls and boundaries becoming invisible like the vehicle he rode. The Lickable Zippers facilty came into view, located right next to the Ummph Room.
“That’s not possible. He’s only a child!” Desperation -- more saying it to himself than she.
“An exceptional child, far beyond his years, uh, but…he’s physically growing too.” She glanced down and revealed, “I found a stiff stain while fixing his bed sheets this morning.”
Bizarre sounding moans and elongated grunts echoed from the nearby facilities. The sounds of thousands of zippers coming done and undone at various speeds wasn’t of any comfort to frayed nerves either. A slight flush rose to the chief engineer’s face, when the implication that his son was experiencing one of the normal developments of puberty, hit him. What could sweet, little Charlie have been dreaming about that would arouse him into that?! “I-I’m sure it-it’s nothing more than…hero worship.”
“No, it’s much more. It’s in his words and thoughts constantly. He doesn’t blindly worship Mr. Wonka. He sees the flaws more clearly than any of us. There’s a connection. Charlie is special and Willy needs…a special someone.” The woman stated as gently as possible.
A sudden surge of memories; the fancy pancake breakfast, the clingy outfits, the boy sucking on his incredible gobstopper, the frequent hugs and that urgent pitch his voice would acquire around the candyman. Was his wife right? Was his son the one encouraging such an unnatural relationship?! Who was guilty and who was innocent now?!
A swirl of color dazzled their features and transformed every previous hue as they slid into the Rainbow Room.
“Why do you think Willy is willing to sacrifice his entire life’s work for him? Do you think it’s because he’s such a good person?” Her lips had shifted through every color of the spectrum as the notions were posed. Nothing was the right color anymore, least of all the man’s fitted white jumpsuit, which absorbed whatever was projected onto it.
Mr. Bucket analyzed his thoughts. “Good person” was definitely not a phrase he’d use to describe the chocolatier, even if he was no longer convinced that the man was pure evil.
His wife’s voice answered the question for him.
He caught his breath at the word, but she steadied him, gripping tenderly. “Love can be…complicated, but it’s also very simple. However you want to define it -- they feel the same way about one another.”
But how far had things gone?! His memory replayed Wonka’s arm slowly wrapping around the boy as he’d stared into those eyes, those possessive eyes that pulled one in... The thoughts were too much! Something went into overload, clicking as it had before inside his brain. Arms robotically released the embrace. His eyes went blank and black again as he responded, “We’ll make it through this. We have to save Charlie.”
Every trace of stained glass lighting had faded into a far darker spectrum as the Great Glass Elevator climbed ever upward. Deafening sounds of construction were on the horizon along with beams of light so bright that they bleached the world of pigmentation, reducing it to lines of black and white.
His wife looked at him curiously. But before she could voice any further thoughts or obtain clarification, the elevator had chimed to indicate that it reached its destination at the Reverse Engineering Room. Mr. Bucket stepped off the Great Glass Elevator. He turned back to face her, pose rigid and repeated in monotone, “We have to save Charlie.”
Faster than a person could blink, the elevator whisked away, taking the lone woman along with it.
Official signage read: Data Flossing Room.
The group walked through a circular entrance area with ten secretaries to one side and ten to the other. They typed in a loud unison of rhythm, pulling out finished documents, then immediately picking up a crisp sheet of watermarked letterhead, rolling it into the machine and beginning the assembly line pace anew. Wonka and his heir were shoved along as the women in polka dot dresses, white horn-rimmed glasses, and pink kerchiefs neatly tied around their throats, dutifully patted out long streams of facts, figures and numbers, everything piped through the sculpted headphones that each was wearing. Their headphones were connected to computers recessed into the wall behind, a pair of wheels spinning tape inside each electronic device, as a track of brightly colored LED’s lit up back and forth in rows. The workers appeared too engrossed in their work to look up.
“This is state-of-the-art.” Said Mr. Prodnose impressed and with self-assurance.
“Maybe to you clueless cheapskates, but technically this technology is terribly out-of-date. However I believe in…recycling. Not tah mention, if it was good enough for the military, then it’ll be well suited for the never-ending march of candy-making.” A broad smile, ever the salesman and Cheshire cat, full of answers that were full of questions.
No one could make sense of why the word ‘recycling’ should have a dark connotation, but it did coming out of the chocolatier’s mouth.
“The military lets you use their old equipment?” Asked Fickelgruber Jr. incredulously.
“Err, bler, if they didn’t want me to then they really shoulda discarded it someplace more private than at the bottom of an ocean.” Wonka replied distracted, glaring at the head of the invasion that was still wearing one of his beloved top hats upon a blotchy and nearly hairless scalp. He made a disgusted frown.
“And you call us bottom-feeders. Keep those insults to a minimum…*wheeze*…or things precious to you may yet still….find themselves at the bottom of oceans.” Slugworth snapped back with a gargled chuckle.
A final female worker was graciously holding open a door shaped like a giant chocolate bar. She and Willy gave each other a very serious look as the pack of people entered a private office area. Charlie went from confused about the condition of his grandfather to seriously concerned, while he took in the surroundings along with everyone else.
Inside was dim except for the electric light of many televisions, they flashed through channels and various views of the factory. Heavy smoke hung in the air creating a dense fog. A wide desk created a boundary and distance; piles of papers and magazines from around the world added more of a blockade. A pile of freshly flaked, grey soot sat within a rock candy ashtray, perched at the very top of a mountain of paperwork. The sound of big band music crackling off a Victrola could barely be discerned in the background. Around the room, digital tape showed the healthy sales figures of Wonka’s various investments and enterprises. Raspberry Kites were doing especially well.
Willy cleared his throat and stated with a nervous flicker in his voice, “Serious work this. I detest droll tedium as much as flossing itself – facts, figures, politics, bluh. Rather be inventin’ stuff! But he keeps at it even with a severe case of laryngitis. Uh…ain’t that right, Georgie boy?”
A large black leather chair swiveled to face the group. Sitting there was a figure wearing a worn hooded robe with one of Grandma Georgina’s bulky knitted shawls across the shoulders. Haltingly it rose, staggering from left and right. From under the hood, no face could be discerned, only a glimmer of orange heat and more swirling smoke from a cigar. It was as if the grim reaper himself stood before them.
Charlie felt his shoulders gripped by Prodnose again. None of the other men made an effort to shake hands either. A carved wooden box filled with fatly rolled cigars was roughly pushed forward; each had a paper band marked with Wonka’s logo. Symbols and pictures on the box were done in the Oompa-loompas traditional style.
“Ugh, no thanks.” Ficklegruber Jr. coughed and uselessly tried to fan away the fumes, “Maybe if gramps there laid off the smokes, he’d still have a voice to work with. Be glad for once you got that oxygen tank, Sluggo.”
The bodyguard M, however, leaned forward and placed one into an upper pocket of his sleeveless denim jacket.
Mr. Prodnose suddenly jutted a hand at one of the televisions. “I say! Is that the rocket ship the papers say you’ve been working on?!”
“Satellite actually, and yes, it is.” Wonka’s pitch took on the melody of pride. His lashes flicked downwards, recalling the hug it had once won him too.
Every face looked up to inspect the impressive images of gleaming machinery filling the behemoth-sized loft. While they were distracted, Willy used his foot to surreptitiously step onto Charlie’s. Catching the boy’s attention, he motioned with jaw and eyes toward the looming, thin figure behind the desk. The middle of the robe parted to reveal the young members of the boy’s personal Oompa-Loompa team sitting on the shoulder’s of each other – all four were making up the body of Grandpa George: Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn! They swayed slightly with the tremendous effort, clearing up why the figure moved so awkwardly. A molded human hand on a stick (what had been used to shift the cigar box) waved at their leaders. Their trickling of elfish giggles followed.
The invading candymen and bodyguard looked back toward their prisoners. Wonka faked a coughing fit in order to mask the direction of strange sound. The others stared at him suspiciously as he played wide-eyed confusion. Amateurs, he thought.
Charlie had still been investigating the figure, wondering what was going on with this charade, when on the television behind them, the sight of a man swinging Tarzan-like across elevator ropes replaced the previous sci-fi images. Factory cameras zoomed in on the sharp, thin face of the real George Bucket. His grandchild couldn’t help but gasp, his relative most certainly wasn’t ill in the slightest!
Everyone’s faces went back to the screen to see what had startled the boy, but by some token of chance, it had switched to his mother busily working and cooking within her area of expertise. Fickelgruber’s eyebrow shot up and he smirked, “That’s yer pretty Mommy, right? Miss her too, I bet. Let’s go see lady Bucket next.”
“I agree.” Stated Slugworth. He pointed his crooked finger at the looming shadow behind the desk, “And just to…clear the smoke, as it were…you and your family work for us now…understand?”
“Listen to us and no one gets hurt.” Added Mr. Prodnose.
The robed head carefully nodded up and down, hands up in the fashion of surrender.
“Wonkavite.” The boy said to himself in awe, finally figuring out the puzzle of the situation.
“Wot was that?” Slugworth glared at him, decrepit but ever sharp.
“N-nothing. The boy was merely saying a nickname he’s given me.” Willy smiled, forcing an insincere giggle.
“You two are NOT to talk to one another!” Managed the man in the wheelchair with one angry, adamant breath, an accent of spittle marking his emotion. His squinted eyes darted between them.
“Gee kid, shouldn’t ya should call him Sugar Daddy? And…” Fickelgruber examined Wonka with lewd suspicion, “Guess jail bate would suit the one he wants to ‘discover endless new things of which to be mutual lovers’ with.”
All the invading kidnappers laughed.
Flushing cheeks came in response to the blonde-haired candyman quoting from a letter that had been meant for his heir’s eyes only. Another piece of Wonka’s dignity was swiped at, another part of his person violated. A bead of sweat trailed down Charlie's face, he was suddenly very grateful that the relation behind the desk was only a proxy of his family member.
Violet eyes bulged in sheer madness, then grew oddly distant and blackened around the edges, “Bow down before the one you serve, you’re going to get what you deserve.”
Everyone in the room grew quiet trying to piece out the meaning of what had been stated or how it related to anything. M’s deep voice, penetrated the silence from behind his captive, “And who or what do you serve?”
With a glance over padded shoulder, the candyman stated simply, “Myself.”
“Then I’m sure…a very fitting end…awaits you as well.”
There was no longer a hidden smile on the square lines of the famous man’s face as the jalopy sped toward its new goal.
Fickelgruber Jr. had been making note of a certain pattern in the placard on rooms they’d passed: Cinnamon Farts, Love Farts, Blueberry Ear Wax, Snottermellon, Phlegm Brulee, Belching Bon Bons. He lifted his lip in digust, “Why do you have so much junk named after bodily functions?”
The candy wiz leaned forward, looking directly into the younger man’s anxious eyes, as if he were about to reveal some great secret. Everyone listened. Mr. Wonka stage whispered, “Cuz…it’s funny.”
He slumped back into his seat, looking out the car window with the complete disinterest of a disgruntled teenager. “Duh.”
His captors looked equally unenthused at him.
“Really, it’s hilarious if ya think about it. The human body is nothing but a series of tubes in a constant state of trying to leak. The fact that we’re ever in a sweet smelling state of grace is as amazing as it is unnatural.” A sniff might’ve suggested that the men had not managed to achieve said grace, but Charlie caught the true reason – a droplet of pooled water, glinting at the corner of an eye, fighting not to “leak”. And he knew that Mr. Wonka’s childish ability to live in a state of denial was beginning to wear thin.
Perhaps though, seeing a collection of them cheering him on would help. An alternate entrance, from the one usually reached by method of boat, to the Children Only Room had already been opened. Crowds of smaller than usual Oompa-Loompas were gathered about, oddly silent and fixated on the newcomers.
“They look like voo-doo dolls.” Said Fickelgruber, as the platform lowered. He recalled his flippant remark made about such a thing back at Slugworth’s basement.
Mr. Prodnose asked, “Er, um, so how many of these Lumpa-Oopers do you have exactly?”
Wonka’s eyes rolled up and sideways as if he were actually counting the multitude inside his head. “One million, four hundred sixty three thousand and eight. No, wait…”
He got terribly distant. “…I…I lost one. I think.”
“A million, there’s over one million of these things?!” Responded Young Mister Fickelgruber.
“They are not ‘things’, they’re people!” Mr. Wonka sternly corrected. “One million is nothing, they’re over six billion people on the face of the Earth. Besides Oompa-Loompas are much more compact, twice as hard-working and completely trustworthy unlike the usual variety of human beings.”
“But-but how will we feed them all?!” The man in overalls looked rather concerned as the clusters drew closer.
Willy’s pussycat smile returned as the platform securely reached the floor, “Oh, they’ll eat pretty much…anything.”
There was an audible crunch sound. Mr. Prodnose screamed out from his ankle being bitten. “OWCH!”
Tiny growls, hisses and a swarming attack followed. Ambitious ones began to climb the wheelchair, pulled out the tubes of the air tank. Slugworth’s gasping sounds became desperate. Charlie’s initial comparison of the children to Gulliver’s Travels were being blurred by ones closer to The Lord of The Flies. But neither he nor Mr. Wonka was subject to any attack.
One who had successfully climbed up M’s muscular structure, smiled, revealing a perfect row of needle sharp, shark-shaped teeth to the cuffed duo. Willy smiled similarly back. It then promptly bit into the tattooed forearm.
“AaaahhHH!” The bodyguard ripped off the tiny attacker. King Kong style he gripped it in front of his face and began to squeeze.
“Stop! NO!” Charlie pleaded, “They’re only children!”
M didn’t cease in the slightest. Although the small creature looked perturbed, face swelling and reddish, it would not crush under his grip. Oompa-Loompas were made of stern stuff, therefore the creatures of the native lands that hunted them, had to be sterner still. It was one reason why they volunteered for Wonka’s experiments with so little concern.
Slugworth’s hired hand looked confused and frustrated. More were already climbing up.
“I told you they had to be broken in.” The chocolatier said matter-of-a-factly. “Plus there’s the filing and fixing of their teeth before they enter official positions. That’s done in the Tooth Benders room, adjacently located next to the Dental Records office.”
“MAKE THEM STOP ALREADY YOU CRAZY OLD FOOL!!” Fickelgruber shouted at the top of his lungs. They’d managed to get him pinned to the ground with licorice ropes. Two were happily fraying the edges of his bow tie.
“I’d love to, but I’m afraid my hands are rather uh, tied and you’ve got my cane filled with their favorite goodies.” He replied, staring downward at the man. “Better give it to them before they draw blood or they’ll never calm down.”
It was impossible to tell if he was joking or not, but due to the situation, no one was going to take any chances either! Every one of the men tackled each other for the cane until the top was clumsily popped off. Sprinkle candy (currently dubbed “Nerds” on the market) burst out everywhere! To their amazement, this did indeed distract the Oompa-Loompa children, immediately they stopped and sniffed the air. No more than seconds later, they were playfully treating the scattered candy like an Easter egg hunt; satisfied squeaks replacing feral sounds as they crunched on found rewards.
“Fortunately, when given a choice between flesh or sugar, they prefer sugar.” Wonka examined one worker-in-training, still angrily hanging off the end of M’s finger by its mouth.
“Heh, heh. Usually.” The candyman gave a trademark giggle at the sight.
“Oh my goodness! I’m so very sorry!!” Mrs. Bucket came dashing toward them. Her long Victorian skirt swooping around her body, corseted bosom bouncing. She added a few hasty hand gestures along with a pronounced snoring sound. Her Loompish wasn’t as good as Charlie’s but being around the elders teaching it, led to a knowledge of basic phrases. “Children, you’re supposed to be in bed! You know that.”
Harmless as puppies again, the children clustered together and reluctantly began heading away. Some tried to hide under Mrs. Bucket’s wide skirt, but she lifted it up; vine pattern stockings and heeled shoes with strawberry-shaped toes were revealed. She looked down at the attempting stranglers and tisked. A tinkling of giggles was their reaction. They surrendered, giving her ankles an affectionate squeeze goodnight then going back to a communal bedroom. The last child turned around and stuck his tongue out at the visiting crowd with a final loud, unpleasant utterance.
Willy stifled a chuckle -- his sentiments exactly.
“Really I do apologize, word got out, as it um, often does among the Loompas, and the little ones got so…ah, excited.” That was truthful enough. In fact though, they had become rather upset at the news. Children, unlike adults, normally wore their emotions on the surface. The Oompa-Loompa people had an undying loyalty to both the man who ran the factory and her son.
Regardless, this volatile situation called for the utmost in diplomacy. Mrs. Bucket rushed to assist the candyman on the floor, giving him a hand up as he stared back enraptured. “The children are high spirited and prone to rough-housing but they’re actually quite lovable once they get used to you.”
Prodnose put Slugworth’s breathing apparatus back in order while the crippled man closed his eyes and took deep, badly needed breaths. Charlie noticed the grime under Prodnose’s thick fingernails and many scars over his stubby hands, half of one pinky finger and the tip of the index were gone, presumably caused by a long life of working with factory equipment (and not wearing gloves). The boy thought about doing something with his assigned bodyguard busy, but when he turned to his left, M’s depraved focus put the idea straight out of his head. Instead the boy looked at his mother, her expression indicated that she was going to burst from not being able to wrap her arms around him. Still she smiled like sunshine and he smiled back.
The eldest candymaker opened his eyes again. He saw the exchange between mother and child. “You can thank Wonka…for this…mess, my dear. We’ve come for…*gasp* our just desserts.”
“I understand and only want to cooperate.” She bowed her head and spoke graciously, as a servant might to a master. In her heart she was fearful, fighting through it. Her nature and upbringing was to always extend kindness, but meeting the dreaded “copycat parasitic candymaking cads” in person, there was an obvious eerie feeling. The dishonesty in Mr. Slugworth’s statement alone spoke reams about their twisted mental states. But for the sake of her son and his beloved friend, she’d quickly concocted a small plan to hopefully delay departure, keeping them in her view and buying the rest of the family time. Cautiously she added, “Um, ah, if you’d like, I prepared a sort of late night snack.”
“That’d be nice. I’m famished!” Mr. Prodnose said (although he didn’t look so).
The other men from their party nodded in agreement. Slugworth agreed under the term that Willy hadn’t prepared any of the food himself. A long, angry look accompanied the statement.
They followed her down a hallway with cathedral ceilings, passed the observational areas with various occupational training set-ups. Along the walls of the children’s sanctuary and learning area, pictures decorated the walls: loving portraits of cocoa beans, Wonka, the Bucket family and the factory itself. Exactly as regular human children would create and proof that they weren’t always gremlins.
Toward the back an appealing garden or recess area opened up, the entire area was actually shaped like a giant keyhole when viewed from above. Passing under an archway into the courtyard was a table set for high tea. It lay under a gazebo complete with a linen tablecloth and doilies (W’s and C’s woven into the pattern). The fanciful china was the very same Wonka had previously left as a gift for the family. He smiled upon the sight, but smiled far more broadly to see that the bronze statue of Charlie had been completed in delightful, idealized likeness. His own statuesque form had been modified so that one hand now rested on the boy’s shoulder -- another symbol of their permanent union. Ivy crawled up the wall, tuber roses and lemon blossoms scented the air, lupine and lavender grew near the feet. A garden of decorative representational harvest to the scholarly, merely pretty, to the ignorant.
Every head looked up at the monument.
“Perhaps…one day…*cough* this will instead stand...as a memorial.”
Willy’s smile wilted. He considered Mr. Slugworth’s remark. Charlie caught the man’s attention, shaking his head with adamant, “no”. But the chocolatier didn’t look as certain.
Fickelgruber Jr., oblivious to the private exchange, burst out with, “Geesh, what a narcissist! You weren’t foolin’ when you said you worshipped yourself. Can’t imagine why, especially with charming Lady Bucket around, thought you Pagan guys worshipped women.”
Wonka crooked up his brow, “How do you know about that?”
“We know scads and scads. We’ve had nuthin’ but time to find out.” Mr. Prodnose stated with a discomforting, placid grin. “Nuthin’ but motivation to watch your every…delicate move.”
Mr. Wonka avoided his gaze, shifting uncomfortably again. “I wouldn’t start a war of cloak-and-dagger with me, if I was you.”
“M!” Slugworth shouted and the brute ceased his mesmerized stare at the statues, ungracefully shoving his prisoner under the gazebo, then down into a chair. Mr. Wonka grunted in disapproval. The bodyguard paid not the slightest mind, squeezing down his bulky form into the rattan chair next to him.
As the others found their seats, Mr. Wonka quipped, “Listen, I feel a little weird callin’ someone a consonant. Got a real name? Ya don’t look like a Marvin or a Melvin. Could it be…Morris? Maxwell? Marion?”
“It’s short for Master.” He stared directly at Charlie, hungry for something other than biscuits or cake. “You may both come to call me that in due time.”
Mrs. Bucket closed her eyes, silently saying a prayer. She did not even want to fully understand what had been implied. What she did understand was that Grandpa Joe and Grandpa George had not exaggerated in the slightest about their observations.
Turning to pour tea into the next man’s cup, as she’d been doing for each, the woman was met with another surprise. Mr. Prodnose had placed his cone-shaped napkin upon his head giving the effect of a clown or dunce hat. He gave a goofy grin.
Annoyed frowns from the other invaders wordlessly convinced him to pull it off and put it properly into his lap, replacing the engineer’s cap onto his head.
Charlie looked about at everyone, lingering comments drifting through his brain; this could so easily be a civil gathering, why did it instead have to be a horrific one? He let out a frustrated breath and voiced the thought, “I don’t understand, if everyone here likes candy, why can’t we simply work together? In harmony?”
Out of the mouth of babes, thought Wonka. Somehow that delicate, British voice always spoke directly to the basin inside his own soul. Remarkable. Inexplicable. Irreplaceable. Gently the man responded, “Once upon a time…
“You’re filled with them!! PRINCE of them, I dare say!!” Slugworth had cut Wonka off, followed by a phlegmy cough. He was impassioned with rage, veins bulging near the thin skin of his temples. The decrepit man began the sentence again, “ONCE upon a time…there were three happy candymakers…in *wheeze* one small town until…an unneeded fourth arrived.”
“Directly across the street from us.” Added Prodnose. “I remember the day he popped up without so much as a how’d ya do.”
“I was shy.” Willy averted his eyes.
“Yeah right, in those outrageous outfits?” Fickelgruber Jr. quipped. “You could land planes by them.”
“They were the latest fashions from Paris and Italy where I’d been trainin’. Not that you uncultured slobs would know.” Coquettish aversion returned to stubborn tenacity. For in fact, the chocolatier had very fond memories of gleefully collecting various garments that he was certain would’ve immediately offended his overly conservative father. At the same time, he felt the clothes also made him appear mature, cultured and successful.
He recalled most specifically looking into a mirror in Europe and not recognizing at all that awkward, timid boy in the monstrous braces. In that moment, he had been reborn.
Fickelgruber Junior’s abrasive voice broke his trance. “See, you ain’t shy, Wonkit. You’re obnoxious and a snob. My father told me how you came into his store, quiet as a dormouse, snooping regularly. Ya never bought a thing.”
Willy shot back, “That’s because he never changed a fiddling thing except the packaging. If you had one lackluster caramel or nut chew, you’d had ‘em all -- outer flair without inner substance.”
“Those are traditional family recipes! You don’t meddle with that.” A neatly manicured hand was slammed onto the table; one that probably hadn’t felt a hard day’s work in its life.
“Is that so? Well, ya didn’t seem to have a problem adding Never-Melting Ice Cream to your shelves, but it seems creating cheap knockoffs is also part of yer family’s traditions!” He pursed his lips and deliberately eyed up and down, the younger man with the badly capped teeth, overly stylized hair, plaid vest and equally flashy wardrobe.
There was a second of tense staring. Young Mr. Fickelgruber could have been described as handsome in a traditional sense, due to a lot of cosmetic enhancement, but he still lacked any of the inherit beauty or mystery of his competitor. He huffed and broke the silence with, “Hey M, I bet all this talking is making Chilly Willy awful thirsty, why don’t ya help him out there?”
Willy sneered at the notion, leaning away from the muscle man next to him. “I’m fine, thank you.”
“Aw, come now. Be a good boy and take a sip.” A meaty hand held up the dainty cup while the other stroked his silky bobbed hair condescendingly, like he was a doll (which in comparison to the bodyguard he did appear).
The candymaker took great exception to this. He screeched, “Don’t touch me like that!!”
All the other candymakers laughed at some unknown joke.
“It really is exactly like old times…isn’t it?” What was left of Slugworth’s grey teeth were exposed in a pitted smile.
“Go ‘head. Tell the story again, Prodnose.” Fickelgruber’s request was laced with a tone of threat. “I think too much fun has been had our expense. Time to even the score.”
Charlie immediately looked to his beloved friend, but the man had physically as well as mentally retreated. He and his mother had to admit a certain level of curiosity about the matter, remaining silent too.
Old Mr. Prodnose smiled broadly, his puffy face lit up like one of the Bucket grandparents before they were to relive a moment of their past. “You have to envision it, some twenty years ago when ALL our stores were open and business was bustling!”
In his mind, the boy did just that. It appeared that everyone else at the table was traveling through a mental time trip too.
The image of Cherry Street in times gone by became tangible, a locomotive pounding down memory lane…
To be continued shortly!! I’m so exhausted. -_-
Thank you for all the feedback and friendship these years long, it is those simple things, which mean so much, and are the best reward I could hope for my efforts. They are such pleasant surprises that pop up in my day every so often; you give me cause not to give up.
In the process of updating this fic for FanFiction.Net, I ended up going over my old work and spotting obvious typos. I do apologize. I was often pulling all-nighters and am an amateur but I will endeavor to continue improving.
“And who gave you the right to scare my family?” Is a quote from Michael Jackson’s song Ghosts.
Along those lines, the use of handcuffs in these chapters isn’t mere prop. It is another reference to The King of Pop, who was also forced to wear them.
If you watch Burton’s film when the other three candymen are shown, you’ll see my inspiration for the appearance of the characters. Burton’s dedication to subtle aspects of this nature, keep me fascinated and show the level of thought that went into its production.
A friend on my f-list uploaded a “Tom of Finland” piece of art which, highly amused me, because the man on the right looks EXACTLY how I imagined Fickelgruber Jr. looking. Ha!
Curious what "M" might look like? One day I saw THE PERFECT guy on television and tracked down photos. His name is Kane. Don't ya love it? And he's so ugly that he's beautiful. *smooch*
Willy felt like a symphony of perfectly tuned instruments had begun to play. A barely there reference to August Rush. How could I resist?
The jalopy is inspired by the first film adaptation, car separate from the Wonkawash (Shawaknow) pipe device used in the bathroom sequence.
“Wheels On The Bus” is a real song frequently sung in childhood and I used choruses from it.
The original book mentions a second elevator and I borrowed lines from the scene.
Image of older computers referenced
The scene in Grandpa George’s office is in homage to “Mickey’s A Christmas Carol” where Death makes his appearance. I always liked that bit.
“Bow down before the one you serve, you’re going to get what you deserve.” - A line from Nine Inch Nail’s song, Head Like A Hole.
All rooms referenced in the tale are truly from the inside of the Great Glass Elevator design used in Burton’s film.
Mrs. Bucket mentions the result of Charlie’s dream where he was a sugar sheep, in case you don’t recall.
I do believe I subconsciously absorbed the "soot sprites" from The Spirit of Wonder for parts of the Oompa-loompa children.
Flower symbolism: http://www.weddingbokay.com/symbolism.h
Slugworth is simply full of comic book puns, ain’t he? I was also thinking that he reminds me of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons cartoon. LOL!
The tea party is consistent with an undercurrent of Alice in Wonderland. Would you like to make spiffy napkins too? I got the idea for the clown-hat fold from here.
“The Prince of Lies” is a common nickname for The Devil.
Chilly Willy: http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c
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LINK TO VOLUME 22 (PART II)
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