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The Last Laugh

 

It was morning in the system of Mainframe. And it looked to be a very busy second. The system had restarted only a few seconds ago and the leaders and staff of Mainframe decided a party would be held in honor of those that defeated the virus Megabyte and had brought beauty back to the system and its citizens.

Dot Matrix, as Command.Com of the system, had the most to do. It had been her idea for the celebration, then suddenly realizing that some of their heroes couldn’t stand to be in the same room together. She already had enough to deal with; Bob, Matrix, the new younger version of Enzo Matrix…the list could go on and on. The planning of this party gave her an excuse to stay away from her main problems at the moment, though the party itself was turning into a problem.

First, she had to find a second to actually hold the party, meaning she’d have reschedule every single meeting she had for the cycle. Secondly, she had to arrange the place mats at the hero table. She had to make sure Mouse and that Ray guy were together, AndrAIa and Matrix were together (that was problem number who knows what now), she and Bob couldn’t sit together, so she had to put him next to Matrix, but that meant either she or Enzo would be sitting on the other side of Matrix.

The three of them had to have a talk, sister to brother. To brother. Enzo had understood everything that was presented from the Strolling Players the night of the restart and though clearly disappointed at missing a war, he had been trilled to learn Matrix was him, only older. Matrix, on the other hand, had not been pleased at all. He did what ever he could to avoid Little Enzo at all costs. It had been hurtful to see her brother acting this way, but she couldn’t really blame him. She was doing the same thing to him.

She’d have to sit next to either AndrAIa, Ray or Mouse. She did know she couldn’t put Ray and Matrix together, nor could she put Bob next to him. The two didn’t seem as talkative as they had been and Matrix did seem to get annoyed whenever he saw Enzo and Bob together. The more she thought of it, Dot realized that only AndrAIa and Mouse were willing to sit next to the big brooding sprite.

This would certainly be an interesting party. And an even interesting second. She had to go down to the hall where the party was being thrown to do some decorations and look who she had gotten to help. Oddly enough, the four people that made up her top three problems had volunteered to help with her task. Dot wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but she knew it would probably effect the party later.

The group would be heading over to a dinning hall in Beverly Hills. Dot’s connections as Command.Com and Mainframe business woman allowed her the privilege of hosting the party somewhere swanky. The Ralston Hall had been somewhere Dot’s parents had taken her when she was little.

She tried to think if Enzo, both little and big, remembered being in there. They were so small the last time they had been, for a party their mother had been invited to. It had been the first place she had thought of to hold this thing, the place being regal and beautiful. She wanted the best for this shindig and only the best.

The heroes deserved it.

So later that second, Dot and her problematic crew stood in the hallway of the Ralston Hall, in upscale Beverly Hills. The room was bathed in light, showing the beauty of the room. Away from them was the Rhys Staircase, the only original piece of the hall since it had been renovated.

On the opposite wall, on individual blocks, were bronzed heads of the builders: Richford Melvin Ralston, Arthur Davies Rhys, and Milton Drummies. Dot had volunteered to do the front hall, including the stairway. She figured she could’ve done this by herself or had help from one person, but she had four volunteers and these four needed to be together eventually. Dot looked around at the inside, remembering the fun times she had here.

“It hasn’t changed, has it?” Matrix asked, suddenly appearing next to his sister.

“I didn’t think you’d remember being here.” Dot replied, stealing a glance at Enzo, who was walking towards the stairs, “wow”s coming from his mouth.

“I remember.” Matrix whispered, giving an evil stare at his younger brother.

Dot rolled her eyes. It was beginning. Dot shook her head as her bigger younger brother went to join his girlfriend and little brother. “This is going to be a long second.” she sighed.

“At least we can try and keep an eye on them.”

Dot spun around and came face to face with Bob, Mainframe’s guardian. She had wondered how long he had been standing behind her and she meant to ask him, but looking into his big brown eyes just made her weak in the knees.

Her feelings for him hadn’t changed since he’d come back, but her courage as to tell him how she felt was always the same. She couldn’t do it.

“What?” she asked, trying to hide her shock and nervousness.

“I said, we can keep an eye on them.” he repeated, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “You know, keep them out of trouble.”

“Oh…right!” Dot said, giving a nervous laugh. “I’ll certainly need all the help I can get.”

The two laughed at the joke, both staring intently in the other’s eyes. How many times had Bob thought he’d never see those beautiful violet eyes of hers again? How many times did Dot lay awake and cry, convinced Bob would never be coming home? Both had realized how much they cared about each other and told themselves one way, some second when they’d be together again, they would reveal their true feelings.

But now that they were back together, things seemed to be even harder between them. Their flirting had always been friendly, but now the secret glances, sweet smiles, and flirtatious blushing were signaling something more.

“If you two are done…” AndrAIa quipped, from her seat on the bottom step of the stairs.

Bob and Dot turned away from each other to look at AndrAIa, who just giggled at the couple, who ultimately blushed at their actions that morning. Yep, Dot thought. This is gonna be some second.

 


 

“And then, Mr. Phong, you will go down theses stairs and…”

That was the voice of Miss Flora Nit, a small one binome with large black rimmed glasses on her little binome block. She was the official manager of the welcome home party that was happening that night. She was showing Phong the route they had plan to take during the march down the stairs.

The plan was to present the heroes as they went down the stairs and they would be escorted to their table in the dinning hall. Even though the party had sorta been thrown together, Miss Nit was a no nonsense woman, who could make a perfect party out of a small tea gathering. She was a perfectionist and the one thing she couldn’t stand were people who didn’t stack up to that.

Right now, she saw two of them that didn’t.

Bob and Enzo stood at the bottom of the stairs, while Dot hung pictures on the wall. The group hadn’t been working long, but Bob, doing a surprising act of rebellion and spontaneity, had ordered energy snakes for everyone.

He and Enzo talked about things, mainly the younger sprite pestering the guardian on his time in the Web. Enzo’s drink sat on the end of the stairs, small beads of water slowly sliding down the cup and onto the wooden banister.

“Excuse me, excuse me.” said the binome, as she quickly rushed down the stairs to where Enzo stood. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Well…I was…just…putting my shake on…”

“No.” she said.

“No?” Enzo asked, confused.

“No.” she repeated, putting an slight emphasis on the word. “Do you know what this is?” To Enzo’s slowly shaking head, she replied, “This is the Rhys Staircase. This is the last piece of remaining history that this hall has. It was built during the construction of the system.

Has endured fire, flood, storm, and anything else you can think of. The virus Hexadecimal once tried to destroy it, only to fail and leave the structure standing. It is the last piece of history concerning Arthur Davies Rhys, the very sprite who built this staircase, do you understand what I’m telling you?”

“No shakes on the staircase.”

“No shakes on the staircase!” Miss Nit exclaimed.

Miss Nit continued down to the floor and then exited into the dining area. Phong went down slowly, stopping to talk to Dot on his way. “Who was that?” Dot asked, looking after the binome as she left.

“That is one of the best, if not extreme, managers in the Net.” Phong said. “I thought you may need some help with all your other duties, Dot. The party was your idea, of course, but I like to think she is in charge of certain arrangements.”

“I don’t mind, Phong.” Dot replied, catching the uncertainty in the former leader’s tone. He was afraid he overstepped his bounds, but Dot was glad for the extra help. She already had a handful of problems in the hall with her now. “I’m grateful for the help.”

“Do not worry, Dot.” Phong said, continuing down the stairs. “Miss Nit will stay out of your way.” With that, the old sprite was gone.

The group waved off the disturbance and went back to work. Dot had been hanging pictures of some of the history to the hall, all the special parties and events that had been held there.

She hung another picture and admired it, leaning against the railing. The picture held a large group of people, all dressed in finer attire, and smiling at the camera. Dot focused on one particular sprite. That of James Matrix. Her father.

“Matrix, do you remember this?” she asked over her shoulder.

Matrix walked over to the stairs and stared up at the picture that had captivated his sister. It was a society party, one their father had attended. He actually remembered it, their father had taken them when he was still very little.

He had introduced him to all his friends and their families and even let him play in the baby pool that used to be out back. “Yeah, I remember that night.” the large sprite replied, a small smile coming to his face.

That smile was soon replaced with a grimace.

“Hey, I remember that night!” shouted Enzo, coming to stand next to his brother.

“I just said that.” Matrix growled.

“I was repeating for effect.” Enzo replied, giving his brother the evil eye.

“Not now.” Dot said, in a big sister manner. She gave a look that could delete to both her brothers, who turned away from each other. “Here.” she continued, handing a camera to Matrix. “Take some pictures of the work we’ve done.”

Matrix took the camera, as Dot moved out of the shot. “I think we did a pretty good job.” he said, snapping shots of the pictures and the newly decorated banister. “I bet everyone will be talking about our decorating abilities.”

The big sprite continued to take pictures, of the hall, the staircase, the pictures on the wall. He turned around and looked at the game sprite.

“Hey, Andi,” he said, a mischievous grin on his lips. “How bout your bust next to Ralston’s?”

AndrAIa giggled, before posing seductively next to one of the head statues she stood next to. “Beautiful, sweetie.” the green sprite replied, as his girlfriend posed.

“Come here, Matrix and I’ll take one of you.” AndrAIa said, walking over and taking the camera. Despite complaints, Matrix did walk over to stand next to the Ralston bust.

“Come on, smile, baby. Smile!” AndrAIa called, taking snaps like a professional. “You’re strong, you’re handsome, you’re a renegade.”

“Hey Andri!” called Bob, from his place next to the Rhys’ statue.

The game sprite turned the camera to the guardian, who currently had the bust in a headlock. Bob was having a mock fight with the head, making sure to do multiple flexes of his arms.

Next to him, Enzo was standing behind the Drummies’ bust, flailing his arms as though the statue had the arms. The four burst into laughter, as Dot stood on the stairs watching in amusement.

“I’m glad you’re all having so much fun.” she said, grinning at them. “But have you forgot we got a job to finish?”

“We’ll get to it, we’ll get to it.” AndrAIa said, waving the thought away. “Now come down here so we can get a picture of you.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Oh, come on, Dot.” Bob said, trying to convince the sprite to have some fun. “We’re just having a little fun. Try it, you might like it.”

“Aw, she’s not gonna do it.” Matrix said. “She’s always been straight laced.”

“Yeah!” Enzo confirmed. “She wouldn’t know fun if it hit her in the face.”

“Now, that’s a little cruel, don’t you think?” Dot asked, leaning on the railing.

“No.” replied both of her brothers.

“Come on, Dot.” AndrAIa insisted. “Live a little!”

“She won’t do it.” Matrix said, grinning at his sister. “Ten units says she doesn’t do anything.”

“I’ll take that bet and double it to twenty.” Enzo said, extending his hand to his brother.

“Where’d you get twenty units from?” Matrix asked suspiciously.

“I have my ways.” the boy replied, a mysterious look on his face. “Are you in?”

Matrix smirked, took the boy’s hand, and said, “You’re on. Well, Dot?” he continued, turning to his sister. “Enzo and I have twenty units each that say you’re too straight laced to be really spontaneous. Care to prove us wrong?”

Dot looked at them both and then said, “You’re on!”

“So, what’re you going to do, Sis?” Matrix asked, sarcastically. “Lean over the railing? Place a drink on the stairs?”

“I’ll do even better.”

Dot got on her knees and proceeded to stick her head through two of the spokes of the railing.

“Looks like you’re out twenty units, Sparky.” AndrAIa giggled.

“This is too funny.” Bob said, grabbing the camera from AndrAIa. He started snapping pictures as Dot made faces at him. “This is really too funny. I’ll have to have these blown up.”

“I’d like a copy of those if possible.” Matrix asked.

“We can make posters.” Bob said, taking one last picture. He then turned to Matrix. “I see merchandising.”

“Okay, enough fun and games.” Dot said. “Let’s get back to work.”

Everyone had their final laugh and started to get their things from behind them. Except Dot.

Dot was trying to remove her head from the rail and found a slight problem.

“Oh no.” Enzo said, watching as his sister struggled to become free. At hearing this, the other three turned to watch as well.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Dot replied to the blank stares and open mouthed expressions. “You think I’m stuck, but I’m not. This is just a little tight that’s all. I just need to give one big tug and I’ll be out.”

Try as she might, Dot couldn’t get her head out. Her expression changed to one of frustration and then annoyance. “I’m stuck.”

“Oh no.” Enzo repeated.

“Oh, don’t fall for this.” Matrix said, trying to down play the event. “She’s not really stuck. She’s just saying that cause we said that she wouldn’t anything fun. Well, as you said, Dot, fun’s over. So take your head from the railing.”

“Matrix, I can’t.” Dot said. “I’m stuck.”

“Oh no!” Enzo repeated, this time slightly louder.

“Will you stop saying that?” AndrAIa asked, looking at the younger sprite.

“You’re joking, right?” Bob asked.

“Bob,” Dot said, looking at the guardian sternly. “I’m stuck.”

“You mean to tell me you absolutely, positively can not get your head out of there?” Bob asked, trying not to panic.

“I absolutely, positively can not get my head out of here.”

“Oh no!” Enzo exclaimed.

“If you say one more time…” Matrix threatened.

“This is bad.” Bob replied. “Very very bad.”

 


 

Bob and Matrix paced back and forth up the small hallway that lead into the meeting hall. The two had been trying to think of a way to free Dot from her stair prison.

AndrAIa was sitting in one of the chairs next to the busts, while Enzo kept look out for Miss Nit. So far, all four sprites had paced in this area and all four had come up with nothing to help their current situation.

“I got it!” Matrix exclaimed, stopping mid pace and causing Bob to run into him. “All we gotta do is bend the bars a little and poof! She’s out!”

“Wasn’t that Enzo’s suggestion a milli ago?” Dot asked tiredly. Her neck hurt, as well as her arms from being in the same spot for that long of a period.

“Oh yeah.” Matrix said, defeated.

“I still say our best bet is to saw her out of there.” Bob said. He had come up with the idea, only to be stopped by Dot, saying the staircase was a piece of Mainframe history and it just wouldn’t be right to saw it in half.

“And you know what I think.” Dot replied, her head resting against the side of the bar.

“She’s coming! She’s coming!” Enzo cried, as he ran from the meeting room area and over to the others. “That lady’s coming back!” The four quickly went about their area, doing what they could to appear normal and hide Dot.

Matrix and Bob took the small blanket they had used to cover the steps and threw it over Dot, while Enzo and AndrAIa tried to appear non chalant against the railing. Miss Nit walked through and looked at the four curiously.

“You’re still here?” she asked, looking at each of them. “I thought you’d be finished by now.”

“Just taking a little break.” AndrAIa said, smiling at the woman. “Miss Nit, was it? You seem to know an awful lot about the hall and this staircase and I was wondering, just random, out of the blue kind of thing…what would happen, purely hypothetical, of course…what would happen if someone…oh, I don’t know…kinda got a body part stuck in…in this here banister?”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, you know,” AndrAIa elaborated. “Like an arm or a leg or…a head…would it really be so very terrible, if in order to get this person out, you’d have to…saw…the banister?”

Miss Nit just looked at the game sprite in awe. “You’re kidding, right?” she asked, unsure of the question that was asked. “Saw the Rhys Staircase? Oh yeah, sure. You could do that. You could also paint the Principal Office pink. This staircase is a piece of history for the system of Mainframe.

“Cutting it, no matter how small or big or how important, would be like plunging a dagger into the heart of every single sprite and binome in this city! Cutting it would be like subjecting every small child to scenes of unspeakable and deplorable acts of violence! It would be a travesty of justice! The system itself might as well collapse into oblivion!”

Miss Nit took a couple of breaths before asking calmly, “Why do you ask?”

“No reason.” AndrAIa lied, smiling nervously.

“We’re kinda like banister buffs.” Matrix added.

Miss Nit nodded, before noticing the large blanket and the odd shape from underneath. “Excuse me,” she said, looking at the blanket and then back at them. “Could you tell me what this is?”

“Certainly.” Enzo said, smiling. Miss Nit looked at him when he didn’t answer for a few nanos. “And AndrAIa would love to tell you what that is, wouldn’t you, Andi?”

AndrAIa looked at the binome in surprise and then quickly recovered. “Of course.” she said, trying to think of something to say. “Matrix, why don’t you tell Miss Nit what that is.”

“Um…sure.” replied the renegade. “Bob?”

Bob was suddenly in the spotlight, as his crew looked to him to think of a good answer, while Miss Nit below him looked for one. He situated himself so he could look between the bars and talk to her.

“Miss Nit, do you know anything about decorating, guardian protocol, stuff like that?” he asked.

“No.”

“Well…” Bob started, formulating a really good story. “This is what you would call a decorator’s dummy. Guardian Protocol says that when doing decoration committee, you have a decorator’s dummy, that way certain proportions and descriptions can easily be dictated by the dummy. We like having it around though. It’s kinda our mascot.”

“All right!” Dot proclaimed, throwing the blanket away from her. That thing was way too hot and she didn’t like being called a dummy. “That’s it.”

“Did you know your dummy talks?” Miss Nit asked, staring at the leader in the rails.

“Hey, our dummy has a name and it’s Dot!” exclaimed Enzo.

“Look,” Dot said, hoping to appeal to the binome’s sense of humor. “I seem to have…my head stuck in this staircase.”

“Aren’t you Dot Matrix, Command.Com of Mainframe?” the binome asked.

“Yes.”

“How old are you?” asked Miss Nit to a now insulted Dot. “Really, Miss Matrix. I would have thought you had more sense than this. Going around putting your head into a stair…aren’t you just a little too old to be acting like a small child?”

“Well, they started it!” Dot cried, pointing towards Matrix, Enzo, and AndrAIa.

“I mean, this simply mustn’t do for a leader of the system.” Miss Nit continued. “What will people say?”

“Look, just get a saw and…” Matrix complained and was instantly stopped by the binome.

“Well, I see the family resemblance, Mr. Matrix.” she said. “Stupidity must run in the family.”

“Now, look here…” replied the larger sprite, golden eye turning red at the insult.

“HEY, HOLD IT!” Bob exclaimed. Everyone ceased their bickering and looked at him. “Let’s stay frosty here, okay? Now, it doesn’t matter how it happened, it just happened, and now Dot’s head is stuck in the railing. What we would like you to do is figure out a way to get her out of there.”

“First of all, Guardian,” replied Miss Nit, using his title loosely. “That is not my job and further more, you got her in there, you get her out. Secondly, I’m going to give you people until two milliseconds before this party begins to get her out of there or I will report to every CPU official attending and you can explain to them why you haven’t.”

With that, the small binome left the five to consider what she said.

“Oh sure. That’s easy.” Bob said, sarcastically. “Hey Phong, honorary delegates, distinguished guests. Got Mainframe’s leader stuck in a rail and Miss Nit won’t give us a saw!”

“Well, it could be worse.” Enzo said. Dot rolled her eyes and looked at her little brother. “How?” she muttered.

“It could be raining.”

“Yeah, Enzo.” Matrix said. “That’s much worse than this.”

“Shut up!” cried the younger sibling.

“Make me.”

Dot closed her eyes and shook her head slightly. Well, she said it would be an interesting second.

“Hey, Dot are you comfortable?” the game sprite asked, over the arguing of the commander’s brothers.

“Quite, AndrAIa.” Dot responded sarcastically. “In fact, I was thinking to myself that I don’t think I’ve ever been comfortable in my life.”

“Just asking.” AndrAIa muttered. “I just wanted to know if you wanted some food or maybe a magazine.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

 


 

“Has that Miss Nit chick come back yet?” asked Mouse from behind the blanket.

It was exactly a millisecond before the party would officially began and people were already piling into the dinning hall. Lucky for the group, their guests were entering through another door and not the front, where they’d have a lot of explaining to do.

The group was already dressed in their finer clothes, except for Dot, who was getting help from both Mouse and AndrAIa.

“Repeatedly, love.” replied Ray Tracer, as he sat in one of the chairs looking towards the stairs. He was dressed in a tux and had been straightening his tie.

“Last time she brought a bunch of these CPUs and they measured Dot’s head.” piped Enzo. He and Matrix decided to go the same route that night. Both wore button down, collar less shirts, black slacks, and black shoes.

Enzo wore a black vest, while Matrix was dressed in a black sports coat.

“You want me to pull on her leg again?” Matrix asked, holding up one side of the blanket. He and Bob were using it to cover Dot as Mouse dressed her.

“I don’t think that’s going to help.” Bob said. “All we’re doing is stretching her.”

“Now Dot, honey, I’m gonna need you to hold it in.” Mouse was saying.

“Mouse, this is really uncomfortable.” Dot replied.

“One more deep breath and we’ll have it.”

“Has anyone else come along?” AndrAIa asked, handing Mouse one of Dot’s pumps.

“Just Phong.” Matrix said, looking over his shoulder. “He’s doing his best to keep Miss Nit away and everyone else frosted until this thing starts.”

“Okay.” Mouse replied, wiping sweat from her brow. “I think we got something.”

Bob and Matrix removed the blanket and looked down at Dot. “Dot, you look beautiful.” AndrAIa gushed. The leader of Mainframe was lying on her back and was dressed in a lovely violet gown, one that matched her eyes.

“Hold the vidwindow, sugahs.” Mouse replied, looking down at her friend. “I think we have a serious problem.”

“We’ve had a serious problem all second, Mouse.” Bob said. “What’s the new problem?”

Mouse held up one of Dot’s legs. “I think these stockings are too dark for this dress.”

“Oh my User! We’d better do something!” Dot exclaimed, sarcastically. “That could be embarrassing!” Yanking her foot away from Mouse, Dot managed to roll back over onto her stomach. “In one millisecond, all of Mainframe will be gathered in this very hall, I certainly wouldn’t want to make a complete and total fool of myself.

“‘Do you see that woman over there? The one with her head caught in the staircase railing? Isn’t that Dot Matrix, leader of the Rebel Resistance and Command.Com of Mainframe? The one that all those sprites just tripped over? Don’t you think her stockings are a little too dark for her dress?’ I mean, how will I show my face in public again?!”

“I have another pair right here, if you’d like.” Mouse replied, holding up another pair of hose, this time much lighter.

“Mouse, the stockings are fine.” Bob said, trying to keep some semblance of peace. He could tell Dot was frustrated and that only made her madder nano by nano.

“Dot, I hate to seem insensitive at a crucial moment like this,” Matrix replied, coming down the stairs to talk to his sister. “But what’s the overall game plan here? I mean, are we all supposed to come back later and change you into a nightie?”

“The game plan, dear sweet little brother,” Dot replied, a hint of her earlier sarcasm still in her voice. “Is to try to get through this night with some semblance of my dignity and my reputation in tact.”

“I don’t know, Dot.” Enzo said, shaking his head. “I think we need a better plan.” His comment was met by the evil stares of his adult companions.

 


 

Dot sighed for the countless time that second. Her neck hurt, her arms hurt, her legs…everything hurt. And worst of all, there didn’t seem to be a way for her to get out and now she’d face the scrutiny of Mainframe if they ever saw her like this. How embarrassing could one night get?

She had singe handedly ruined the very party she had been planning. She’d be the laughing stock of Mainframe by tomorrow, if not later that night. She looked around her enclosed area. Everyone else had gone to the dinning hall to talk to Phong and keep Miss Nit away from her. Mouse promised she’d be back with food. Dot was getting hungry.

“Hey.” a familiar voice replied. “How’re things going?”

Dot looked up to see Bob, smiling at her. He was dressed in a tux, but his bow tie looked very askew. Dot smiled back him, noticing how nice he looked tonight. She also realized this was the first time the two had been alone together since the restart.

“Things are going as expected.” Dot said, trying to put some humor in the situation. “I planned this big party for you guys, I even help decorate the decor, and then I stick my head in the banister railing. This is all going towards my plan.”

“Don’t worry, Dot.” he said, coming closer. “We’ll get you out. But in the meantime…um…I was wondeirng…if maybe…”

“I could tie your tie?” she asked, knowingly.

“I didn’t do a very good job, did I?” Bob asked, sheepishly.

He undid the black bow tie and stepped closer so Dot could tie it the way it should be tied. “Where’d you learn how to tie a bow tie?” he asked, watching as she performed the task.

“My mother taught me.” Dot replied, with a smile. “Dad couldn’t tie one either. Enzo’s just as bad. You’ve noticed that they both went with collar less shirts to avoid the whole process.”

“I was wondering about that.” Bob said. “I didn’t think they were getting along that well to start dressing alike.”

“But they do look adorable.” Dot said, finishing the tying task. “There. All done.”

Bob took a step back and did a mock modeling move. “Well,” he said, arms outstretched. “How do I look?”

“Great.” Dot smiled. “Really great.”

Bob came back to where he stood before her and took her hand in his. “So do you.”

“I’m the envy of the other sprites stuck in staircase railings.” Dot joked, a small smile coming to her lips.

“You look beautiful, Dot.” he said, stroking her cheek with his hand. “As always.” The two looked at each other, wanting to say what was on their minds, reveal how they felt about the other.

“Dot…”

“Bob…”

They said in unison. They laughed at the mishap and tried to start again. “What were you going to say?” Dot asked.

“Ladies first.”

“Okay.” Dot replied, now wishing she hadn’t said anything. No, she thought. Bob’s been great through this whole restart thing and I’ve treated him horribly. How long did I wait for his return? Now he’s here and I can’t say what I’ve wanted to for so long?

“Bob…” she started. “I was wondering…that is, if you weren’t doing anything later…I mean, after the party and if I get out of this ridiculous mess…did you maybe want to…I don’t know…get an energy shake or a cup of Java or something?”

Bob smiled and said, “That’s what I was going to ask you.”

“Bob, I’m really sorry about this.” Dot replied, sighing.

“About what?”

“This!” Dot said, waving her hand around her prison. “I didn’t want this to happen. I wanted to give you guys something for coming back and surviving and all I’m doing is ruining your night.”

“Hey, you’re not ruining my night.” the guardian replied, removing his jacket. “I came back so I could be with you again, Dot and no staircase is going to stop that. Matrix…”

The rest of the gang, lead by Matrix, walked into the hallway. Under his arm, Matrix carried two rectangular boxes. Matrix placed them on the nearby table, handed one box to Bob, and then removed his jacket.

“What is that?” Dot asked, as Bob opened his box. Inside was a small saw.

“Now look, Dot,” Bob said, noticing the look on her face. “We’ve waited and we’ve tried to think of something else to do, but this is the bewitching millisecond. This has got to be done.”

“Fine.” Dot said, watching as Matrix and Bob climbed the stairs.

“Now, Dot, I know how you feel about cutting this thing,” Bob continued.

“Bob, I said it’s fine.” Dot repeated.

“But this has to be done, Dot.” Bob continued, as he and Matrix picked their spots around Dot’s confinement. “But I under…wait, what did you say?”

“I said, it was fine.” Dot repeated for the umpteenth time. Everyone looked at her. “Look, my neck hurts, my arms, and I’m really in a bad mood. I want out of here and I don’t care how it’s done.”

“But what about Miss Nit?” Ray asked.

“Miss Nit can take a flying leap off the side of a cliff.” Dot replied.

“Mouse, go watch the door.” Ray said, pointing in the direction of the dining hall. He had never seen Dot really mad before and he figured he really didn’t want to.

“Right, sugah.” Mouse replied.

“I’ll go with her.” AndrAIa said, as the two headed off to block the approach of the head usherette.

“I’ll go and keep an eye in the dinning hall.” Enzo suggested. He turned to go, but then returned. “Hey, guys be careful, huh?” he said, addressing Bob and Matrix as they started to saw. “I don’t want you guys cutting her head off or anything.”

“Enzo,” Bob said, a wave of patience in his voice. “I think Matrix and I know a little something about taking things apart and putting them back the way they were.”

 


 

The party was in full swing later that night. Literally all of Mainframe was in attendance, wanting to celebrate in the return of their guardians and to support those heroes that had been made during the war with Megabyte.

The guests were now assembled in the hallway, where the Rhys staircase stood. This was where the heroes would ascend and the crowd would follow them into the dinning hall. Speaking of the heroes, they stood upstairs, waiting for the cue to start going down. Miss Nit stood near the circle, looking suspiciously at them all.

“I don’t know how you did it.” she said, shaking her head block. “And I don’t think I want to know how you did it.”

“I told you,” Dot said, nonchalantly. “After trying different things, my head just finally came out. End of story.”

“Well, I know one thing.” Miss Nit replied. “I don’t care if you are Mainframe’s leader, I refuse to do any more party arrangements that have any of you in either involvement or in attendance.”

“Thanks.” AndrAIa said, sarcastically. “That’s a real confidence booster.”

Miss Nit huffed and walked away, causing the group to giggle at her antics. The binome went past Phong, said something to him, then continued to the staircase and walked down to address the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she said. “The heroes of Mainframe!” The audience applauded, as Phong, then Dot, Bob, Matrix, AndrAIa, Ray, Mouse, and Enzo followed. The group stood on the stairs, basking in the applause they were receiving.

“I can’t believe how well this staircase looks.” Dot whispered to Bob. “You guys did a really good job.”

Phong was waving to the crowd, loving the attention he was getting. He placed his hand on the railing and promptly fell with the railing to the waiting crowd, who all gasped at the mishap. “He’s gonna be mad.” Bob said, gulping as he watched people gather around the wise old sprite, who seemed dazed, but okay.

“Boy, are you gonna get it.” Matrix said, poking Dot in the shoulder.

“When he comes to.” Dot said, glancing up her brother.

 

 

The End

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