Picture by: Chelsea Thompson
They called him mad and they were right to do so.
Dr. Baron von Devillian had a lab at the top of a volcano, which overlooked the town that it overlooked. Mothers everywhere struck fear in the hearts of their children, cautioning that if they looked too long at the doctor’s slanted lab their tiny brains would leak out of their skulls.
From morning to evening and sometimes beyond Dr. Baron von Devillian thought evil thoughts, did evil things, and danced evil dances. All the while flasks of burping goo would bubble, lab animals howled and screamed, and computers ran on dial-up.
Many in town wondered why von Devillian was so evil and bent on taking over the world, but no one ever asked. When you dear reader have the courage to ask an evil scientist who lives in a slanted lab on top of a volcano and has been known chuck used undies at people that dare to get to close how he spends his day I’m sure people will inquire about your services. For now though everyone was happy to leave him be.
Years ago after attempt number sixty-six to take over the world failed when there was a shipping mistake sent him ten thousand lovesick wasps instead of eight hundred mutated canaries Dr. Baron von Devillian began to desire an assistant. Someone to share ideas with, to help him create his evil masterworks, and on the third Sunday of each month have evil tea parties with evil cucumber sandwiches and deliciously horrid cakes.
Word spread around town about the evil doctor’s search for an assistant. Everyone wondered if the doctor would hire someone for the deed or create one. Most people leaned toward a creation since no one in town liked the doctor. Not even his own mother. So they scratched their noggins, rubbed their chins, passed gas discreetly as they thought of what kind of creature the mad doctor would use.
Perhaps a bear with webbed paws.
No one was really sure what creature the doctor would choose until that fateful day he came down from his lab to go to the pet shop. It was quiet in the town pet shop as Dr. Baron von DeVillian entered. Maybe the animals were tired or perhaps they could sense all the evil in the man. More likely though they didn’t want to be adopted by a man with wild dirty hair and pus riddled yellow right eye.
He walked past the monkeys without so much as a glance. He did the same to the shark and the web pawed bear. Dr. Baron von DeVillian headed straight for the counter where the very unevil pet shop owner waited. The shopkeeper prepared himself for the worst. Snakes were a fear of his, but he would manage to get them if called upon to.
Von DeVillian said what he wanted and it caught the pet storeowner by surprise. So one more time he asked the evil doctor who lived in the slanted lab on the top of a volcano to repeat himself, and the doctor did so.
“Get me your evilest hamster!” the man shouted as though this were an everyday request. Like there should be an abundance of short-tempered hamsters at the shopkeeper’s disposal.
Now you and I know that when shopping for evil pets hamsters would have to be at the bottom of the list. Nothing at all is evil about a hamster from its unevil paws to its very unevil eyes. But the shopkeeper, never wanting to disappoint a customer, was given a task. So that is what the doctor asked for and that is what he got.
He got a fuzzy hamster, barely two months old, considered the most evil of the litter because it had once pooed in the shop owner’s shoes. With the hamster in one hand and evil joy in his heart Dr. Baron von DeVillian evilly skipped his way home, which was a strange sight when you consider skipping to be the most unevil way to depart a pet store.
For two years the evil doctor turned the hamster evil, more evil than any hamster should be. He fed it rotten milk and four day old bread. He made it watch scary movies, slide shows of inhuman events, and to top it all off soap operas every day! At the same time he gave the hamster complex equations to solve, riddles and tongue twisters. Sometimes he even made the hamster build bookcases with only foreign instructions. All things that would drive any normal person to madness the hamster was subjected to. Day after day the hamster endured trial after trial until finally it was deemed evil enough to be Dr. Baron von DeVillian’s assistant.
And evil the hamster was. It made prank phone calls, sent spam emails about Spam to everyone, and briefly considered a career in tax collection. Mailmen were known to throw mail at the lab for fear of the tiny hamster nibbling at their heels.
Truly the hamster was just as evil as he, so Dr. Baron von DeVillian finally gave the critter a name. Staying true to who he was the doctor gave the hamster the most sinister, evil name he could think of. A name that would strike fear into the hearts of all that heard it as the black hamster with spots was perched on his shoulder. The name was cunningly devious for a male hamster. The name was …MAGGIE!!!
Maggie the evil and not female hamster and Dr. Baron von DeVillian spent their days being evil. They hatched evil plots, schemes and such. And they wound up on the losing end, but they stayed at it. All was well and evil for years until the doctors evil ninety-ninth plan failed to succeed.
Old age, which is even more evil than anyone could imagine, came for the doctor. Peacefully the doctor passed away. If not for the buildup of mail not a soul other than Maggie would have known. No one mourned the poor evil doctor. No evil headstone was made. No evil eulogy was given. The town did what the town thought was best, simply tossing his body into the volcano. Now the town was rid of the one blight it had as far as they were concerned.
But what to do with Maggie?
What was the town to do with a twenty six year old hamster? It would be inhumane to leave the poor hamster, evil though it may be, to die in the slanted lab at the top of the volcano. Tossing Maggie into the volcano with its master was a horrible idea. Surely no one in town, or any town for that matter, wanted a twenty six year old evil hamster that’d aged horribly. Its coat of black fur with white spots was now shaggy and streaked with gray. Big patches of fur were missing all over its body. Over the many years Maggie gained a limp in its right hind paw. And it always stared with its big green blood shot eyes, never blinking, always staring.
The town’s top minds gathered to think of what to do with Maggie. At last Professor Gordon Goody-goody the fourth, the absolute totally completely opposite version of Dr. Baron von DeVillian, came up with an idea.
In his loud, charismatic voice he said, “This poor creature should stay at the pet store from which it came.”
Gasps arose. A lady fainted. Laundry was folded neatly somewhere else.
“Isn’t that thing evil?” “Who will buy that ugly thing?” “Chuck it in the volcano!” “Who wanted mayo on their sandwich?”
“Fret not people,” said Professor Gordon Goody-goody the fourth. “Time has taken its toll on this poor, pathetic, pitiful, sorry, sad, miserable and funky creature. It’s lived the lives of over ten hamsters, so how much evil could it commit? In human years it would be nearly a thousand years old. And have you smelled him?! The thing can’t control its bladder, let alone the world. Sure no one will adopt him, and no one can blame him or her for not doing so. I mean its old, smelly, ratty looking, scary, gimpy, most likely dumb, pees itself, and answers to the not manly name Maggie for heaven’s sake. But at least we’ll know it died with dignity. Why you ask…because WE cared.”
The collection of the town’s brightest and smartest had turned into the town’s mopiest and most dramatic. They cried, sobbed, and boo hooed because the great professor convinced them that they were courageous for looking past Maggie’s defects, even if it was only to make themselves look good. How brave of them they thought. How noble a town are we.
To show that the hamster was harmless Professor Gordon Goody-goody the fourth picked up the frail, old hamster with bladder issues. He brought the creature to his face, not letting it touch him out of fear of catching some strange evil hamster disease. “See my friends, there is nothing to fear.”
“That is what he said and immediately wished that he had not done so. With Maggie that close, the evil hamster bit the good professor’s goody-goody nose. Professor Gordon Goodygood the fourth howled and yowled, running around the room screaming for anyone to help. No one would, fearing they would meet the same fate or worse. This is how Maggie arrived at the pet shop from whence he had come, clinging to the nose of the smartest, most handsome man in town like a ghastly Christmas ornament.
After three hours, two hammers, eight pairs of pliers, and a rolled up sock filled with rolled up socks Maggie finally let go. The professor was left to tend to his wounds while the pet shop owner was left with Maggie. In his new old home Maggie was given a simple cage, a simple water bottle, and a simple dish in which a simple meal of all-purpose, vitamin rich but flavorless brownish-gray pellets was supplied.
Maggie missed all the evil things back at the slanted lab on the top of the volcano. He missed his evil computer, his evil notebooks, and his evil television with no remote (which is unspeakably evil in my opinion). He missed the evil tea parties, and the evil dictionary full of naughty words and other words that cannot be used in Scrabble. But most of all, the evil little hamster missed his evil master Dr. Baron von DeVillian.
Staring at all the normal animals with their unevil faces and tails only drove home the fact that this pet shop was not home, nor would it ever be. And the pet shop owner was not his master.
Days went by with Maggie only observing everything that went on in bland pet shop. He listened to conversations, if a newspaper was dropped by his cage by someone who was frightened by his appearance he read it. All day the animals chatted up a storm. Animals, no matter what the species, can understand each other. To our ears it may just sound like a series of howls, meows, and shrieking grandmothers but to them it was normal everyday conversations.
Still this was all very dull to Maggie who missed running plans, although they never worked. This was all until one fateful day when something sent the rusty gears in the hamster’s twisted mind into motion.
The pet shop owner was talking to a customer who looked rather uninterested in everything. “Oh great happy day! Such wonderful news. Such wonderful happy splendid good news!”
“Yeah? What is it?”
“Only the greatest person this town has ever seen1”
“Don’t you know?”
“If I knew I wouldn’t be asking who it is! So who is it?!”
“The president’s coming! He’s coming here to give a speech. A speech about economicglobewarmingtaxcuttereducateliverpeasmayonassie or something or other. Anyway all I know is the president is coming to town!”
“Great. Now can I get that cat food I’ve been waiting for?”
Suddenly Maggie’s evil mind began to churn like the wheels of an old locomotive, slow but gradually picking up speed. His evil black hamster heart beat with excitement. He felt that old evil joy rushing through him as Plan One-Hundred revealed itself to him.
The president was coming to town in three days so there was no time to waste.
That evening when the shop was closed and the shop owner went upstairs to sleep Maggie used an old paper clip to pick the lock on his cage and get out. The easiest part was done, now he needed the other animals on his side. A much harder task then it sounds when you’re an old smelly hamster with a bum leg and a creepy stare bent on world domination.
The animals all over the store were chatting, paying no attention to Maggie. Three dogs were talking about a magical bone that squeaked when you bit it. Eight fat cats were snoring. The two snakes in the store argued over who had the longest tongue. Six monkeys were either discussing how the works of Shakespeare translated to modern society or how delicious lice are, I really cannot remember. Sixteen canaries were making a portrait of the shop owner using no more than newspaper and their own poop. And the web pawed bear did what he did every night, had an imaginary argument with someone and appeared to be losing.
They were a band of misfit creatures. Some were as smart as a wet sack of broken doorknobs but it was all he had to work with.
“Excuse me,” said the hamster as loud as possible. “My fine furry, scaly, feathered, and generally naked friends, can I have your attention?”
He did manage to get their attention, but they had no idea what was going on. A mass of questions arose.
“Who’s talking?” “Where am I?” “Is that smelly sock talking?” “I thought it was a dead bird.” “Dead things don’t move or talk.” “Who said that?” “I LIKE SALMON!!!” “Salmon?” “Who has salmon?” “Blue!”
Maggie shook his head in disappointment but quickly stopped when more of his fur began to fall off. “Please everyone I have important news to share with you.”
“Oh the sock is talking.” “Did you have the veggies for dinner?” “That’s not a sock it’s a dust ball with legs.” Who ate the last seeds? Those were mine?” “I LIKE SALMON!!!”
Maggie’s head hurt listening to all of this. “Look, I only want to help all of you, but you have to do what I say.”
“Do what you say A sock?” “Let the talking hamburger patties speak.” “Has anyone seen the rabbits?” “Well that’s just dumb. No, no, the owner has more of a button nose. Like this.” “SALMON!!!”
“Who here wants to have a home of their own?” Everyone raised their paws, wings or tails. “Now who wants to be taken care of?” Again the response was the same.
“That’s what I promise you if you help me take over the world. You’ll all have homes and people will wait on you at all hours of the day because they’ll have no choice. If I rule the world you can bark all night and run around without leashes. I’ll build hundreds of statues for all you birds to use as a bathroom. Cats…you can do whatever it is you do. I’ll make sure you snakes have a fresh human to eat when you want it. Don’t you get it? Anything you want when I rule the world you can have!”
An excited clamor arose among the animals. No one shouted out any questions. No one disagreed. There was a cry for some salmon from the back, but not nearly as loud as before. The idea of having homes and being pampered was very attractive.
Maggie knew he had them eating out of his paw. They were on his side. “So who’s with me?!”
The dogs howled, cats meowed, snakes hissed, the birds chirped and squawked, the fish did fish things, the hamsters spun their wheels, the monkeys threw poo, in South America a sloth learned to tap dance…but that has nothing to do with this story. Everyone made a noise except for the bear. The bear just shuffled its big webbed paws.
“What’s wrong bear?” asked Maggie. “Without you I can’t rule the world.”
Bear plopped on his big bare bear bottom looking sadder than any bear should. “Me love salmon.”
Laughing probably more evilly than he intended Maggie said, “Then my big burly bear friend salmon you shall have. Salmon for everybody…maybe not the fish but salmon for the rest you!”
The crowd whooped and hollered making a huge ruckus. The pet shop owner came rushing downstairs, but the noise stopped. He eyed them suspiciously before heading back upstairs. Little did he know that the pets he cared for were conspiring against him, and that they wanted salmon.
Before long the day of the president’s arrival was at hand. Still, everything was in place and if followed correctly Plan One-Hundred would work. They would not strike in the day, but rather they would strike at night, just before the president went back home to the White House.
The store was closing; the shop owner was getting ready to lie down for the night. Before he locked the door for the night the canaries started a commotion in their cages. They chirped loudly, flew around manically, and their art work lacked direction. Cursing the day he ever put down his tap shoes to open up a pet shop the pet storeowner hobbled over to the cages. He tried everything he could think of to soothe the birds down. He said calming words, he sang sugary songs, and he even tried break dancing. Nothing worked. The break dancing appeared to the shop owner to make them angrier, but in all honesty they were laughing hysterically. The shop owner huffed in frustration, then got the key to open the cages.
In a flash he was back opening the cages when…boo the birds came charging out of the cages like stampeding buffalo with wings. Hmmm…buffalo wings. Anyway the owner was so shocked he stumbled all the way back into the snake habitat. Quickly one snake used its tail to reach through the gaps in the wire to wrap up the owner’s legs. With his horrible fear of the snakes that he kept the owner screamed like a chorus of little girls pretending to be afraid of snakes, and fainted.
So far so good.
The other snake used its long tail to grab the keys, which had fallen to the floor. When it got the keys it then used it to open up their cage. They slithered around opening all the other cages. Soon Maggie was out and rallying the monkeys to take the keys and open the front door. As they did so the birds brought over a saddle made of junk and refuse left around the store of Maggie to ride the bear. The bear lumbered over to the head hamster. When he reached him the bear leaned down and the birds strapped it to the bear’s head. The monkeys opened the front door, Maggie climbed into the saddle, the shop owner was still on the floor, and the rebellious salmon loving pets were off to take over the world.
The dogs started barking out a message to the dogs of the President who always traveled with the President in the lap of luxury. (Much better than certain writers who tell tales of evil hamsters and are fond of the word evil. Evil.) The dogs relayed how they were going to take over the world and made promises of unlimited scraps from the table and never having to take a bath again. A reply came back quickly saying that they would be honored to oblige.
Another milestone accomplished.
Now the pet store animals had to make it to the hotel where the President was staying. So parading down the street like a pitiful circus were two snakes a slithering, sixteen canaries a singing, nine rats a scurrying, six monkeys a dancing, seven cats a purring, ten unevil hamsters a struggling to keep up-ing, and a web pawed bear with an evil hamster a laughing. This was a strange sight indeed in the middle of the night. Anytime this would be a strange sight. The people who saw it didn’t know what to do. Should they call the police? Well some folk did and were told that the police were having trouble with their own dogs keeping them hostage at the time. So the odd parade continued on its evil merry way.
Things were going great.
They reached the hotel, and then the rats went into action. They swarmed down into the sewers and started gnawing through the electrical and phone lines until neither worked. With the power out the presidential security team began to panic, running around to see what was wrong. The cats stormed into the hotel using their great eyesight in the dark to cause more commotion. Before long every guard was off in a different direction thinking they were on the trail of the person responsible.
Still doing okay.
The bear and the hamsters went through the front door. Anyone who was still in the lobby ran out screaming. The hamsters found a hole in the wall left by some mice of previous years that were unsatisfied with the quality of cheese thrown away by the hotel. They used the hole to climb up to the top floor where the President was staying. While they did this the bear went to the elevator, which was running on emergency power from a generator. It had just walked for a while and was in no mood to take the stairs. The hamsters made it upstairs and squeezed themselves under the small crack under the door. Inside the President’s dogs, a fearsome pack of poodles, had already done their job and startled the President out of bed. Their high-pitched yelping making him fear for his life.
Now the President, in his flower covered footie pajamas, was more confused as the hamsters approached. He noticed that one of them had a piece of paper neatly tucked in its mouth. The President took the paper and read what was written. It said:
I, President of the United States, hand overall my power to Dr. Baron von DeVillian and Maggie von DeVillian.
At the very bottom of the letter there was a signature that read Maggie von DeVillian and there was a blank spot for the President to sign his name.
Suddenly the President went from confused and fearful to flat out outrage. How dare these animals try to take the presidency away from him! If he had his boots on he would have made sure every hamster in the room met the bottom of them. As it was if he did it now he’d ruin his favorite pair of pajamas. But before he could rise up and toss the intruding animals out a bear came crashing through the door. It snarled and gnashed its teeth, but all it was shouting was “SALMON!!!”
Once again the President had a change of heart. Quickly he found a pen and signed the paper. What else should he have done? What would you do if a salmon loving bear came crashing through your door in the middle of the night?
They had done it! Plan One-Hundred actually worked. It was official that Maggie and her dead master were the presidents of the United States. The hamsters squeaked, the dogs howled, the cats yowled, the rats chattered, the snakes hissed, the monkeys went looking for bananas, the bear roared, and in New York a fish burped the alphabet, but that’s a story that should never be told.
Why wasn’t Maggie celebrating?
The web pawed bear helped Maggie from his saddle, placing him on a table. Joy was soon replaced with sadness as time and death had finally caught up with the hamster. The evil hamster died in the elevator. He never got to see his plan work but it did.
News cameras were on the scene reporting the strange incidents of the night. The animals went back to the pet shop; however their stay was not long. All the news coverage on the animals forced people into action and start adopting pets. All of them went to good loving homes. Each went to a great family, even the bear who went to a circus where he was fed a salmon whenever he liked. With all the animals gone the pet shop owner retired, choosing to spend the rest of his days far, far away from animals…the North Pole.
The former President ran for President again but he was beaten out by the good and righteous Professor Gordon Goody-goody the fourth. And what of Maggie? Well he was official the President; so the little hamster got a big presidential funeral complete with a tombstone bearing the name of himself and his master. The evil hamster met up with his evil master again in evil Heaven: the place all villains with a heart go. Because it wasn’t evil that made Maggie miss his master or want to rule the world in his master’s name. It was the most unevil thing of all that did those things: love. Which since it is so unevil to someone evil it may be the most evil…if that makes sense. So for a brief time a hamster ruled the world. And now that evil hamster was in evil Heaven with other evil good-hearted villains, although the numbers were rather on the small side. There he stayed with them as they all perfected their evil laugh.
And that my friends, is why we celebrate Columbus Day. If you doubt me well then, um…yeah.