Never Say You Love Me Ever Again

Chapter One

The mighty corporation, MicroSnatch, was in deep doo-doo.

Its founder and head, Bill Gapes, looked at the headline and grimaced. "THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN HARMED BY NEW MICROSNATCH PRODUCT". What the hell was going on?

Gapes had only another moment to contemplate this when the doors to his office burst open revealing a tall, handsome man dressed entirely in black and holding a bronze pistol squarely at him. “Mr. Gapes, the name is Bond. James Bond. And you have some questions to answer.”

“Oh really,” sneered the corporate mastermind, non-chalantly pushing the security button repeatedly under his immense oak desk. After a few moments, he turned to his own close-cam monitor and saw that every one of his security guards were lying unconscious at their stations. So much for that idea, he thought.

“I’ve already talked with your security guards, they all felt it was time for a nap. Mr. Gapes, you can either come with me into a waiting helicopter, or face the angry mob of parents outside your estate. I’m not going to wait any longer,” said Bond.

Gapes walked to his office window and saw the screaming, bloodthirsty horde down by his front steps and realized his gates were beginning to sway and buckle from their hinges. Inclined to lean out the window and tell his front entrance guards to do something, he changed that idea too when he saw the last of them go running down the hillside shrieking hysterically. A split second later the immense metal gates crashed down upon the brick driveway and the ocean of irate parents poured in, screaming his name and shaking Bill Gapes dolls with stakes driven through their hearts. This was a bad sign.

“Okay then, Mr. Bond, I’ll go with you,” stammered Gapes, picking up his laptop as he followed the secret agent out into the hallway and towards his patio. A helicopter hummed overhead, its ladder awaiting the two men. As the Gapes Estate burst into flames amidst angry cries and the sounds of breaking glass, the aircraft rumbled away to safety. In moments it was flying well above the many forests and rivers of the Pacific Northwest, towards refuge for the beleaguered software magnate.

“I had no idea that those Barney figurines were going to cause any trouble! How many times do I have to say that?” yelled Gapes, shaking his fist at Bond, Q, and M. “That fat purple hell-slug stayed at my company for a full month, and I was more than glad to shake his jolly ass out as soon as the ‘Actomates’ project was done! Over and out!”

“M,” said Q, “I’ve not really gotten much information on this ‘Actomates’ project our esteemed Mr. Gapes is talking about. What’s the brief on it?”

“Moneypenny, please send in a report for everyone on the....Barney Actomates situation,” requested M over the intercom. A minute later, Miss Moneypenny walked in with a stack of reports. She handed one over to Bond with a particularly friendly smile. After reviewing the information, Q began giggling.

“A little plastic purple dinosaur figure that sits at your computer and encourages your child to play number games? Interactive learning? This is the work of a criminal genius?”

Bond nodded grimly. “I laughed too, Q, at first. But after infiltrating MicroSnatch the day before the products were released, I saw that there were other plans in the works.”

Gapes started abruptly. “You mean you’ve been at my company already? You saw the plans I’d originally drawn for the Actomates Barney doll?”

“Indeed,” frowned Bond. “Instead of the usual mind-control device you’ve constructed inside all of your major products, such as Windoze 95, there was a new style of microchip implanted squarely into the figurine itself, which could be triggered by a remote command, from many miles away.”

Gapes began laughing. “Oh sure, sure. And to think people say you British have no sense of humor. Okay, I confess. In practically all of the MicroSnatch products, there is some form of mind-control device that overrides peoples’ senses and rationality. Why do you think our browser, Internet Exploiter, has gone over as well as it has? I hold several million peoples’ minds at my mercy, but I only abuse my power to help sustain our company profits. I’m not out to rule the world, just have it support me financially.”

“Our intelligence supports that statement,” nodded M in agreement, “but as far as mind-control goes, you may have met your match in a certain purple dinosaur. The same reptile you thought once as a business partner has now left you the hapless proxy in a horrible scandal. Thousands of children across the world have fallen under some form of mental paralysis, and you’re our best shot at figuring out how Barney pulled it off.”

Bond added, “Think, Gapes. If you back out of this now, you’ll have an entire populace of crazed parents screaming for your blood. MicroSnatch will fall into ill repute and potential financial ruin. But help me and my colleagues with the British Secret Service and the CIA, and you’ll redeem your reputation.”

Gapes furrowed his brow and adjusting his lanky glasses. He picked up a copy of the London Times and saw the front picture, which showed angry mobs tearing apart his beloved estate. One berserk man had even ripped out Gape’s beloved pink flamingoes and Fanny Farmer from the front yard. “Okay, I’ll do it.”

“Furthermore, if the mission is successful the British government is more than happy to send in troops and as much artillery as needed to reclaim your property from those mobs of bloodthirsty parents,” added M.

Gapes’ eyes widened. “You’d inflict military force upon a small, poorly armed band of people for a piece of land you’ve only limited interest in?”

“Sure, we did it to Argentina back in the '80s.”

“Oh yeah, forgot about that,” chuckled Gapes. “Nice job.”

“So we’re on?” Q asked Gapes.

“Yes. I’ll help you and Mr. Bond put an end to Barney the Dinosaur. But where to locate him? If he’s already activated those microchips inside each Barney-figurine, he’d have to be in a hideout equipped with a massive transmission unit of some sort.”

Bond nodded. “I’ve thought about that too, Mr. Gapes. A special shuttle has been constructed for us, for we’ve a good estimate where such a facility would exist that would conceal Barney and his friends. We will leave in just a few hours.”

“And where does your intelligence say Barney’s transmittal site is located?” asked Gapes, knotting his fingers nervously.

“I just loooovveeeee outer space, it’s sssttuuuppeenddoussss!”

Miles above the earth, a purple and green satellite drifted ominously, several disc-shaped objects pointed at various trajectories of the planet. Inside, an immense purple dinosaur wobbled and chuckled with glee, accompanied by a smaller green dinosaur with a blanket and a yellow dinosaur with a baseball cap and sneakers. This lizard-like trio was joined by several dozen blank-eyed children, who smiled and nodded aimlessly at every word spoken by the magenta-colored reptile.

“Barney, here’s the latest transmission from earth!” announced the yellow dinosaur, holding up a paper fed out of a main computer console, “your plan worked! The parents of earth blame Bill Gapes for the capture of children’s minds! Those figurines you programmed worked magnificently!”

“But of course, BJ,” chimed his sister, Baby Bop, “Barney real smart! Make Mr. Gapes look bad, while taking kid’s brains! Gooey grey kids’ brains for control!”

The children inside the satellite all giggled and smiled mindlessly, as Barney read the paper and laughed uproariously. “Poor Mr. Gapes, seems that MicroSnatch will take the plunge! It won’t change the fact that I’ve several hundred thousand kids’ minds for ransom! Kids, this puts me in the mood for a healthy snack and a song about sharing! Sharing in the knowledge that soon I’ll have all of earth at my command, that is.”

After Barney was through eating his grapes and tunafish sandwich, he and the children all began singing and dancing to a spritely and sacharrine piece of music. In the noise and excitement, no one noticed the tiny shuttle approaching from underneath the satellite, containing the world’s most expert secret agent and the world’s foremost software tycoon.

The black spaceship gracefully came to a stop under the loading ring of the satellite, and fully in part to Bond’s skillful piloting, attached itself and docked without detection of the inhabitants.

“I gotta pee,” whispered Gapes, his beady eyes crossed from exertion. “This place better have a full-gravity john because I’m ready to burst!”

Bond scanned the outer seal and found that it was perfectly formed. Unfastening the hatch, the secret agent then set about unlocking the satellite door and with the help of a small computer that resembled a hand-held calculator, soon undid its combination and gestured Gapes to follow him into the ship.

“I’m bored, let’s kill people,” said Barney. BJ nodded and flicked on a series of terminals that illuminated various sites on earth where mind-control victims were situated. The powerful camera-scopes of the satellite were able to zoom in on a postage stamp virtually anywhere on earth. Barney pored over some of the screens and pointed to one showing a young girl, no more than seven years old, sprawled next to her Actomates Barney figurine and computer. The satellite sensor zoomed in so Barney could read the serial number crudely stamped on the belly of the figurine. BJ punched in the numbers and Barney lifted a microphone to his mouth.

“Why hello, little girl,” cooed the fat purple reptile, “my name’s Barney, and I see you’ve already fallen prey to my mind-control device which is located right inside that happy figurine next to your paralyzed body! Poor little girl, you must be tired of laying in a pool of your own saliva for so long. Let’s do something to make life more interesting! Can you hear me?”

The girl lifted her head meekly and nodded in affirmation. Her long brown hair bobbed across the computer terminal, small white ribbons holding her longer braids in place.

“Well that’s ssuuupppperrr-deeeee-ddduuuppper!” howled Barney in orgiastic delight. “I bet you have a book of matches somewhere in the house. Let’s get them out before Mommy or Daddy figure out where you’ve gone.”

The girl nodded numbly and rose off the desk surface. She began fumbling in the drawers and in a few moments pulled out a cigarette lighter. She flicked the metal wheel and a tall, flickering flame erupted instantly.

Thick beads of sweat began trickling down Barney and BJ’s faces. Barney gnashed his thick white teeth in morbid anticipation. “Good, good girl! Barney likes the flame! Flame good, like good little girl! Let’s see what’s in the room that can burn and surprise Mommy and Daddy, shall we?”

The mindless little girl began wandering through the room, holding the lighter ahead of her. BJ adjusted the satellite sensors so they captured the entire girl’s bedroom fully. Barney pointed to a series of objects in the far bottom corner of the screen and beckoned to his slave.

“Little girl, what’s by your dresser there? Can you help Barney see how well those burn? It’s all one big fun game it is, and your special friend Barney loves you for playing!”

As the dinosaurs and their children companions looked on, the young girl approached the corner and waved the lighter over some bottle-shaped objects. Barney tapped BJ’s shoulder and the sensors zoomed in. The objects revealed themselves to be containers of paint thinner and turpentine. Evidently the little girl’s room was in the process of being painted.

“Yes, yes, oh goodness yes,” hissed Barney, crossing his arms and legs, writhing in passionate glee, “open up that tall can with that funny word called ‘thinner’, little girl. I don’t think it’ll make you thinner, but it should change your appearance in other ways!”

The little girl picked up the thinner and turned the cap. She tilted it sideways and amber colored fluid began seeping out across the floor and over the other items on the floor. The flame from the lighter flickered menacingly from her other hand, and she began to lower it closer and closer to the dense pool of volatile liquid.

“Yes, yes, light it, make it bright and warm!” cried Barney, his face glistening with sweat, his eyes bulging. BJ’s mouth hung open in anxious anticipation, while Baby Bop and the children all stared in quiet fascination.

The little girl lowered the flame closer and closer towards the floor. A small object approached her from under the bed, and the assembled voyeurs in the satellite immediately recognized it as a young puppy. It sniffed the dark, toxic stain in the carpet and backed away, afraid. And still, the girl brought the lighter lower and lower, and then.....

“Little girl, put that lighter away and destroy your Barney figurine!”

BJ spun around and met a fist clearly between his eyes. Before Barney could react, a steel-toed boot plunged into his thick green stomach and sent him sprawling backwards against the group of confused children. Shaking his head, Barney looked up and saw a human, dressed in black, emptying a revolver squarely into the console. Sparks flew as each bullet shattered the panel.

The monitor showed the little girl standing up abruptly, and tossing the lighter away. She backed away from the thinner spilled onto her floor, and picked up the puppy and ran out of the room, after ripping out the plastic Barney figurine and tossing it out her bedroom window.

“Good show, young lady,” said Bond. The next instant a sharp blow came crashing down against his head, and the secret agent collapsed against the floor of the satellite unconscious.

Click here for Chapter Two of "Never Say I Love You Ever Again".