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Inane Jokes
By Redphantom Xenpsychous

John stood alone in his kitchen. It was a little past seven o clock. The kitchen was abnormally clean. The house cloaked in an immaculate silence. The linoleum floor was cold on John's feet, still warm from his work shoes. John placed a TV dinner in the microwave and then paced about the kitchen. He was stunned by the silence of the house. He went into his living room to find it dark and empty. The television, usually  perpetually on, was silent. John walked down the hallway and went into Rick's room. It was also empty. The computer was off, there was no sign of Rick's antics. Moving on from here, John went to the garage. Rick's work table was empty. There was not even unfinished work on it. Which was unusual for John's eccentric artist roommate. 

The microwave beeped, letting loose it's signal that John's food was ready. John continued to stare at Rick's artist desk, allowing the chiming of the microwave to become the rhythm for his wandering thoughts. John continued to stare at the table long after the noise ceased, and then he began to look around at the walls. Barren. They were entirely barren. There was not a single scribble, a line, a solitary idea etched upon it's surface. The walls were white. Painted clean as they were at the start of the month. Free for Rick to adorn them with his mind. John shuddered and grabbed a package of markers from Rick's desk. Then, John began to draw the Owlman. He drew it once, but it was far from perfect. John's Owlman was lumpy and malproportioned. Much unlike what Rick's Owlman would have been. 

The food inside the microwave became cold, and the clock on the exterior reached eight forty five and there were nine massive Owlmans on Rick's garage workshop's walls. Each of them was an imperfection and a disgrace, however, it returned some sense of normality to John's life. Rick had been gone for an entire week now. There had been no explanation, no note. John wondered if Rick was angry at him. Then John grabbed a can of spray paint and began to use it on the outside of his house. It was ugly, the colors clashed, but it gave the house an impression of normalcy. John decided he would make a mural. It was to have Rick's four gods of Cryptozoology: The Lock Ness Monster, Sasquatch, Kracken, and Chupacabras. John was putting the finishing touches on his first creature, the Sasquatch, when headlights pulled up behind him. This had happened to Rick many times before, so John simply turned around and said, "Don't worry, this is my..." 

It was not a police officer who got out of the black vehicle, but a muscular, spiky haired man who was wearing green sunglasses and plain civilian attire. The man held an aluminum baseball bat in his left arm which he tapped against his left hand repeatedly. "Where is Rick?" the man asked in a harsh tone. 

John dropped his spray can and asked, "Um, who are you?" 

"My name is Russell Levitovitch." the man replied, "Where is Rick?" There was much more force to the question the second time it was asked. 

John flinched at the force of Mr. Levitovitch and said, "Uh...I don't know, he's been gone for a week. Um, why do you want to talk to Rick?" 

"Because he abducted my twelve year old son." Russell replied as he took a folded up piece of paper out of his pocket. Russell unfolded it, held it in his hand up to John, and then walked towards him. 

John took the paper once Russell got close enough to him and it said, "I have taken Leon and will now train him to be the next Unabomber. There's nothing you can do, he's mine. -Rick." 

John dropped the letter in shock and looked into Russell's eyes, "I'm so sorry. Why don't we just go find Rick and get your kid back...there's no need to call the police. Rick means well...he's just..." 

"He's nothing more than a fucking criminal outlaw prick." Russell said, "Not that I wouldn't want to see how Rick breaks out of prison, but, I didn't call the police. If I wanted some strong man buffoon to do my dirty work, I'd have a minion do it. I don't want to harm Rick, I just want my kid back." 

"Why bring the baseball bat if you didn't want to hurt Rick?" John asked.

Russell shrugged, "I said I didn't want to hurt Rick, I never said he couldn't be dangerous. I also brought a car battery and some jumper cables. Just in case the baseball back wasn't enough. Then I have an animatronic Dover Demon stowed away in a trailer down the street." 

"That's cool." John replied, "But what is that for?" 

Russell smiled, "Well, I was going to come out here screaming and cursing with my baseball bat, chasing Rick towards the Dover Demon. Then, he would notice it, and thus be distracted by my handy work. So distracted in fact, that he would spend at least six and a half hours examining it. This would give me ample time to get my son to safety and then return here with bras, panties, and a cage. I'd then tie Rick up with the bras and panties, put him into the cage, and then have it shipped to Reno." 

John grimaced, "That sounds like it would hurt." 

Russell shook his head, "No, not hurt, just be an annoyance." 

"Well..." John said, "I guess I'll help you find Rick." 

Russell smiled, "I'm glad you decided to go willingly, because I wasn't going to give you a choice." Russell took a handgun out of his pocket and waved it at John before placing it back into his pocket. 

John began to sweat and said, "Well, I don't really know where to start looking. Rick told me if he ever disappeared that I should just enjoy the peace. Maybe we should try Cedric's place..." 

Russell retrieved keys from his pocket and threw them at John, John caught them and Russell said, "Then let's drive to Cedric's. Scratch my car, and I'll smash in your face." 

Miles away, earlier that day, four children played foursquare on the streets of a city. Another child, dressed as a federal agent ran up into the middle of the game and kicked their ball off into traffic. "Foursquare is for assholes." the boy said, "Foursquare is the most boring game ever invented. Play it again, and I'll kick your asses. I'll have my posse do it. I'm in the mafia, bitches." 

The other children did not buy into the odd child's story, and soon they were huddled around the him, preparing to inflict serious harm. Just as one of the boys brought down his fist against the strange four square hating boy, a grown hand with a camera taser jetted forth and struck him. The boy who threw the punch fell to the ground. The other three children backed off, and above them stood Rick the Cryptozoologist, a camera taser in hand. 

"I'll bet you've never seen a camera turned into a taser before, have you?" said Rick, "I'm MacGyver. Keep fucking with my little friend here." Rick took a pause and patted the federal agent child on the shoulder, "And I'll kill you." 

"Go fuck yourself." said one of the kids. Rick took out scissors and cut a lock of the child's hair. Then he placed a paperclip and chewing gum on it and slathered it in his own spit. The Rick threw this mixture at the child. 

"It's a bomb." Rick said, "You're going to explode." 

"Fuck you, that isn't a bomb." the child replied. 

"You're a smart ass." Rick said as he kneed the child in the groin, "Good luck on growing facial hair." Rick continued as he picked up the child and threw him into a nearby open manhole. The other three children fled at the sight of this. 

Rick stood looking satisfied at his work until a white van pulled up next to him. The woman in the driver's seat rolled down her window and said, "That's not a nice thing to do to a kid." 

"Get in the back of the van." Rick said to his young friend as he opened the door to the woman's car and yanked her out of it. The woman struggled against Rick, but he eventually managed to put her in the manhole that he had thrown the child into. Rick jumped into the driver's seat of the van and fastened his seatbelt. Then his secret agent friend came up to him. 

"I can't get into the back." he said, "There are already people back there." 

Rick looked in the rear view mirror to see a crying girl and a crying baby sitting behind him. Rick smiled, "Well, I guess you're riding shotgun then." 

The government agent child got into the front passenger seat of the car, buckled up at Rick's urging, and then Rick began to drive. Rick drove three blocks before saying a word, "Leon, you've got to be more careful." The federal agent child looked at Rick. Rick continued to look at the road, "You can't just go around acting like you're hot shit when you're not. Eventually, someone is going to challenge you and you'll be revealed as a fraud." 

"You pretend to be hot shit." replied Leon. 

"I am hot shit." Rick replied as he pulled into a vacant lot, "And watch the language, Leon. You're too young to be swearing like that." Rick stopped the van and took the keys out of the ignition. Then he looked at the children in the back through the rear view window. "Is there any spare change in this car?" Rick asked Leon without looking at him. 

Leon looked in the ash tray, "Yeah." 

"Take it." Rick replied.

"There's a pack of chewing gum in there, too." said Leon.

"Take it, too." Rick replied. Leon did as Rick instructed and the two exited the vehicle. Rick opened the door to the back of the car where the little girl was sitting and then he handed her the keys, "Go find your mother and give this to her." The little girl exited the car and began to run off until Rick said, "Hey." the little girl turned to Rick and Rick said, "Take the baby with you." 

The girl did so, and then Rick and Leon departed. Rick looked at a scrap of paper as the two walked down the streets. Leon looked up at Rick, "Where are we going?" 

"We're going to Mr. Lynch's apartment." Rick replied, "You're going to go and knock on his door and tell him you're with the Federal Government. Then he'll freak out and it'll all be a good bit of fun." 
Rick looked up at an apartment building and said, "This is the place." 

"That's a shit hole." Leon replied. 

"Yes it is, Leon, yes it is." Rick said as he smiled wide. The two went into the building and passed many a crack and many a bug before reaching the sixth floor. They walked down the hall until the reached room 6E. Rick pointed to the door and Leon stood in front of it. Rick then got out of sight and whispered, "Remember what I told you, Leon." 

Leon knocked on the door and some seconds later, an old man in a wife beater answered. Mr Lynch looked confused and asked, "Can I help you?" 

"I'm with the Federal Government. I'm here to take you in on account of you being associated with aliens." said Leon. 

Mr. Lynch pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at the child's face, "You're not going to take me in, you Men in Black Commie bastards." 

"Keegan, you son of a bitch, you're just as paranoid as ever." Rick said as he jumped out into Keegan Lynch's view. Keegan dropped the shotgun and laughed. 

"Rick, you rat bastard, still ever the prankster, I see." Rick and Keegan shook hands, "How long has it been? Come on in." Rick and Leon entered the apartment and Keegan shut the door. The apartment was messy and disorganized. Keegan pointed to Leon, "Is this your son?" 

"My seed makes women barren, you know that." Rick replied, "No, he's not. Not biologically, but anyway, he's my son now." 

Keegan cocked an eyebrow, "Do I even want to know?" 

"I abducted him from his real parents and am now in the process of training him into a psychopath." Rick said. 

Keegan nodded, "Yeah, that sounds like something you'd do." Keegan walked to his kitchen table and began fumbling around his mail. He said, "You know, I got a mail from Dae-Jung and Sang-Min the other day. I was thinking of you..." 

"I don't give a damn about Dae-Jung and Sang-Min." Rick replied. 

Keegan turned to Rick and frowned, "I don't suppose you'd come just to say hi." 

"Of course not. I'm a busy man. I don't fuck around." replied Rick. 

Keegan walked to his couch, sat on it, sighed, and asked, "What do you want?" 

Rick sat down on a chair near the couch and put his feet up on Keegan's coffee table, which was peppered with late bills. Rick said, "I'd like some coffee, my good chum, and perhaps the blueprints for the animatronic flying Thunderbird if you still have them." 

Keegan lit up, "You're doing the Thunderbird scam again?" 

"You know it." Rick replied. 

"But, that didn't work out so well when we tried it before..." Keegan replied. 

Rick nodded, "It will be different this time. I've got a plan. Do you have the blueprints?" 

Keegan nodded, "Yeah, let me go get them." Keegan then got up and went to the back of his apartment. While he was gone, Leon began going through Keegan's things, with no objection from Rick. Leon found pictures of Keegan with hair as a cop, and pictures of Keegan and Rick with two small Korean boys. Leon went through Keegan's things farther and found food stamps, which he promptly pocketed. 

Rick slapped Leon and said in a firm tone, "No. Mr. Lynch is a friend." 

Keegan returned after a few minutes with the blueprints in hand and gave them to Rick, "Here they are." Keegan said as he sat down on the couch. 

Rick looked over the blueprints and smiled, "Yes, thank you, old friend." Rick stood up and shook Keegan's hand, and then he sat back down and looked at the blueprints. 

"So, where are you going to pull the scam?" asked Keegan. 

"Here." Rick replied. 

"Here?" Keegan asked, "But we've been caught here before, man, it will never work." 

"Let me tell you the story of an empire." Rick began, "You see, it was born, like all empires are, in the womb of another empire. It's mother empire tried to abort it many times. It tried coat hangers, alcohol, smoking, knives, swords, nails, cyanide, haggis...nothing worked. It's little fetus kept coming back until eventually, the mother empire adopted the ways of the fetus empire, and then the mother empire died. The fetus empire outlived it's mother by many years. It's called Christianity, dick. The Roman Empire adopted it after years of persecuting the Christians because no matter how ridiculous something else, it sounds increasingly more true the more times you say it." 

"That sounds just insane enough to work." Keegan replied. 

"I know, I'm a visionary genius." Rick said. 

"Say..." Keegan said, "You know, I don't really work. I just do odd jobs. Since you're not traveling anywhere...well...I'd love to help with the scam, you know, like old times? What do you say?" 

"Sure." Rick replied, "You came come along, sure. Of course you can, old friend. We need an old dog to show the new blood the ropes." Rick patted Leon on the head, "So, what kind of odd jobs you working?" 

"Oh, just yard work and stuff." Keegan said, "Sometimes I clean toilets. It varies. I'll do just about anything short of dealing drugs, murder, theft, or prostitution for money." 

"That sounds boring." Rick replied, "Your life sucks. No wonder you need to scam people to put meaning into your life." 

Keegan frowned, "Yeah, and I could use the cash, I struggle to make ends meet." 

"Why don't you get a career change?" asked Rick. 

"Well, I am trying to write a book." replied Keegan as he held up a steno pad, "It will be about who actually killed President McKenlincolnfield." 

Rick shifted his eyes to the side and said, "I hope it won't be about who actually killed President McKenlincolnfield." 

Keegan laughed, "No, of course not. It will be about how aliens did it." Keegan and Rick laughed at this. Keegan then asked, "So, we off to create the Thunderbird now?" 

"No." Rick replied, "First, we need to secure funding." 

Miles away, back in Greenefield, Missouri, Russell's car pulled into Cedric's driveway. Russell rode shotgun, and John rode in the driver's seat. Cedric's front yard was large and expansive. It had many cryptid statues, most of them of ape cryptids. Cedric's home was large and ornate, like a southern plantation in the American south. The calm, cool country side shielded Cedric's castle from the outside world. 

Taking in the view, John turned to Russell, who seemed unimpressed with the surroundings. John said, "You don't talk much, do you?" 

"What's there to talk about?" Russell shrugged and got out of the car. 

"Hey..." John said as he got out as well, "Hey, Cedric is really defensive of his land, if he sees you and doesn't know you, he might shoot you." 

"Sounds like my type of man." Russell replied as he kept walking at a slow and steady pace. Russell smiled with nostalgia as he walked past some of the marble cryptid statues. And then at last John caught up to him, so Russell's features became more stoic. 

John was breathing heavily from running to catch up with Russell and he said, "This place always creeps me out, with all the marble statues..." 

"I like it." Russell said, "It's very classy. You know, marble statues. Like Ancient Rome, it gives the impression of intellect, style, grace. Perhaps though, the Romans would not like all our pale white statues." Russell turned to John, "Do you know that it is theorized all the ancient statues from Rome were originally done in color? And over time, the color faded away. So, snobby scholars, archaeologists, and artists assumed that to make good art, one must present an uncolored carved slab of metal or stone. Low and behold, all of our statues today are colorless. Our perception of art arises truly from the decay of art. Like Shakespeare. Written in an English now incomprehensible to modern ears. How can we appreciate what Shakespeare is when we have to read with footnotes what peasants could easily understand? We look at classical art with stains and cracks, without understanding the culture which spawned it."

John looked to the side and said, "That's interesting." 

"That's dishonest." Russell quipped. Both John and Russell reached Cedric's porch. On it was one solitary ape statue. John began to reach for the doorbell when Russell said, "Wait." John turned to Russell and saw that he was examining the ape statue. A small smile crept over Russell's face as he moved his hands over the statue. "It's good work." Russell said, "The best rendition of a Barmanu I think I've ever seen."

"I'm pretty sure that's an Agogwe." John replied in a condescending tone. 

"No." Russell replied, "It's a Barmanu."  

John squinted his eyes at Russell, who continued to touch the statue and said, "I live with Rick, the Cryptozoologist. I think I know how to tell Cryptids apart. It's an Agogwe."

Cedric's door suddenly swing open and Cedric burst out, shotgun in hand, "Hands in the air, vermin." John's hands went into the air and Russell continued to touch the statue. Cedric stepped forward and pointed his gun directly at Russell, "Get your filthy hands off that statue this instant. I daresay I will not have you defacing my laborious artwork." 

Russell blinked and then turned to Cedric and said, "My apologies. I meant no disrespect. I was just admiring your craftsmanship. It's an excellent rendition of a Barmanu."

John stepped towards Cedric and said, "Um...Cedric, it's me." 

Cedric looked to John out of the corner of his eye and then threw his gun down. Then Cedric displayed an upbeat smile as he said, "Johannes, my boy, had you rang me on the man phone before you arrived, I would have brewed some tea. What brings you to my abode?" Cedric looked at Russell and before John could answer his first question, he asked another, "And tell me, Johannes, who is your dashing companion?" 

"U,, he's Russell," John replied. 

Russell stepped forward and extended his hand to Cedric. Cedric shook it and smiled warmly, "A pleasure to meet you, good sir. You liked the Barmanu then?"

Russell nodded, and John said, "I thought that was a statue of the Agogwe..." 

Cedric turned to John and looked at him in disgust, "Oh no, this is a pristine replication of a Barmanu." 

"But..." John replied, "It's shaggy. Rick always told me that the Agogwe was a shaggy bigfoot from Africa." 

"And rather maladjusted for it's climate, I must say." Cedric replied. Cedric and Russell laughed, John looked puzzled and hurt. 

Russell looked at John, "Yes, the Agogwe is shaggy, but it's also three to four feet tall. That's the difference. Well, it's one of the differences. What you've got to worry about with the Agogwe is confusing it with the Orang-Pendek or the Ebu Gogo. Usually region will do the trick. Every continent has their own variant on the monstrous ape. Except Asia, Asia has six. However, if you must judge a non living specimen or a picture with no color, there are signs. The Ebu Gogo is the shortest of the three, and it has a belly, plus really saggy tits. Between the Agogwe and the Orang-Pendek, the big tell is the feet. The Agogwe has six inch long feet with opposable toes." 

"Huh." John replied. 

"With the Barmanu..." Russell began, "The real trouble is getting it confused with the Yowie, the Yeren, or the Alma. The Barmanu has a broad nose, and is very Neanderthal looking. It has slightly less hair then the other three. The Yeren has very large hands in proportion to it's body as well as long arms. Then it has upturned nostrils, and it walks with it's legs apart. Plus, it has horse-like teeth. Then the Yowie has a smaller nose, and it doesn't have as good of posture seeing as it is used to walking on all fours. Then there's the Alma, tricky, because it has a flat nose, but it also has large jaws and a pronounced jaw ridge. But the big tell with the Alma is that it has curly hair. And that's how you can tell them apart." 

John looked dejected upon hearing Russell's lecture, Cedric smiled and tapped his cane on the ground, "Ho, ho, I'll say, it is quite a pleasant change to meet am  man who is knowledgeable in Cryptozoology. Come into my man den, good chap, we shall sit and swap tales of mysteries and intrigue over bottles of orange juice. I possess quantities of carbonated and non-carbonated." 

Russell cocked his eyebrow, "You have carbonated orange juice?" 

"Indeed, my boy," Cedric replied, "I take my orange juice carbonated with a shot of whiskey." 

"No thanks." Russell responded. 

Cedric frowned, "Why not? Members of the fraternity of Cryptozoologists must preserve the bonds of brotherhood and exchange our wisdom." 

"I'm not a Cryptozoologist." Russell replied. 

Cedric looked shocked, "Well, I daresay you are in need of a career change, my good sir. You possess all of the requisite knowledge to begin a dazzling Cryptozoology career." 

Russell shook his head, "No, I retired years ago, and I promised myself I would never go back to it. No matter how tempting that might be." 

"You're a retired Cryptozoologist?" John asked in shock, "Is that how you know Rick?" 

Russell laughed, "I knew Rick before even was a Cryptozoologist. One day, he dragged me along for his little dream, his adventure. I was his very first Cryptozoology partner. I helped him invent many of his techniques." 

"I thought I was Rick's first partner." John replied. 

"Afraid not." Russell said, "Rick has had many partners before you. Me, Jessie, Chris, Gavin, Talon, Skye, Malcolm, Andy, Jarred, Keegan, Hannah, Quentin, Warren-until he fell off of that cliff during an investigation-, and finally you. You've been the most inactive of all of his partners. Rick used to travel the world and go on adventures. Now he rots in this hell hole of a city. Finally realizing that he has nothing in life, nothing. Not even a chance to gain what he pissed away." 

"Have you been stalking Rick?" asked John. 

Russell shrugged, "Not well enough to stop him from taking Leon." 

John looked troubled, "Rick told me I was his first." 

"Rick says a lot of things." Russell replied, "Do you think it's all true? Do you even know Rick at all?" 

"I saved him." John replied, "He was living in an abandoned donut shop and I..." John paused, "I saved him. I gave him a place to stay until he recovered." 

"No one can save Rick." Russell replied, "Because Rick doesn't need saving. Rick could be anything, he choses to be nothing. He choses to cover himself in filth and vomit. Rick choses to live amongst garbage. He doesn't want to be anything."

John looked into the air, "Rick's just had a run of bad luck." 

Russell looked angry, "Bad luck can be conquered, and Rick could have conquered it, but he chose to be a jackass instead." 

"I find Rick to be a generally decent fellow." Cedric said suddenly, "Just so long as minute defects are able to be tolerated." 

"He abducted my son." said Russell. 

Cedric shrugged, "Boys will be boys." 

Russell looked Cedric directly in the eyes and asked, "I need to get my son back. Do you know where Rick might be?" 

"I'm afraid not, good chap." Cedric replied in a sympathetic tone, "And you'll have to believe me when I say that. However, I do believe this could quite possibly be connected with a rather humorous plot Rick explained to me some days ago." 

"Which is?" Russell asked. 

"Oh well..." Cedric said, "Rick set up a fraudulent summertime camp in order that he may lure the Beast of Bodmin child and the black child away for a fortnight so they may wreck havoc." 

"I seriously doubt Rick would do something like that and not tell me." said John. 

"Oh." Cedric replied, "Rick told me he would neglect to divulge to you his scheme because you can be quite the tight assed sissy. Yes, yes, Rick told me he was quite put out with the near constant bickering and how he desired to have it gone from him for a good while."

John stood in amazement, "You mean he actually did this?" 

"Indeed." replied Cedric.

"And he didn't tell me?" John asked. 

"Because of your tight assed sissy-ness, yes." said Cedric. 

"Cedric!" John said, his anger rising, "Why the hell didn't you try to stop him?" 

"Well." Cedric said half way laughing, "It sounded like jolly good fun for those boys. Yes, yes, and quite the character building exercise, if I do say so myself. Why, when I was just a lad, I would take extended journeys away from home for weeks." 

"You don't know where this 'camp' is?" Russell asked. 

Cedric shook his head, "I daresay I do not, my good sir. Rick posited to me the theory that I should snap easily under the influence of torture as would a twig. I should have you know that I endured torture during my tenure in the Royal Navy and I did no such thing. No such thing." 

"I'll take your word for it." Russell replied before turning to John and saying, "If Rick abducted these other two kids, I'll bet we can find some clues to where he might be in his personal belongings. Let's go back to you place and search his room." 

Russell walked back to his car, but John just stayed in place and stared at the wall. Cedric looked at John with a quiet sympathy, and after a lingering silence said, "You must be going if you are to capture your prey." 

John looked at Cedric and asked, "I thought you were on Rick's side?" 

"Ho, ho, my dear boy, this is but a game." Cedric said as he tapped his cane on the ground, "Rick would find the competition quite enjoyable. Quite enjoyable."

"I don't think Rick sees it as a game." John replied. 

"Of course he does." Cedric replied, "Rick told me so himself. Ah yes, he said he was quite fond of the games as he played with Malcolm. Yes, yes, quite fond. He sat and reminisced about it for hours on end."

John frowned, "Rick told you about his other partners, too?" 

"You'd better get going, my dear boy." replied Cedric, "Human beings are the most elusive game, constantly on the move, and constantly plotting out it's great escape." 

"You should come along, Cedric." John said, "We might need your help." 

Cedric shook his head, "I daresay I am at too advanced an age to be embarking on such fantastic adventures. However, upon your return, I should like it if we all sat down and had tea over the recounting of this most epic tale."

At this, John nodded quietly before joining Russell in his car. 

Miles away, Keegan, Rick, and Leon walked towards an old abandoned house which was covered in vines, boarded up, had missing pieces, and looked very much haunted. As the three drew nearer to the house, Keegan stopped and admired it's sheer simplistic horror. A small child walked up to the three travelers and looked at them with suspicion. 

"Hey." the child said, "Hey, you should stay away from that house. I heard a week ago someone died. In that house. A week ago. They were murdered." 

"I know." Rick replied as he gave the child a newspaper, "I'm the guy who got popped. Didn't you read the article?" The picture on the article was a picture of the face of none other than Rick himself, only mauled like he had been killed. 

The child screamed and ran away, which prompted laughter from Keegan, Leon, and Rick. "Why is it that trick always keeps people away from our bases?" Keegan asked. 

"I don't know." Rick replied, "But it does." Rick walked closer to the house and asked his companions, "Shall we go in, gents?" With that, all three fellows walked into the house. Into the living room they went, and past that into the kitchen, where they were greeted by Jimmy, brandishing a board with a nail in it. "Be careful where you swing that thing." Rick said as he dodged blows from the board. 

"Man." Jimmy replied as he threw the board to the ground, "It's about damn time you guys got back. While you were gone, a man came in here and tried to sell us crack." 

Rick shrugged, "I told you that might happen, so if it took you off guard, it's your own fault." 

"He had a motherfucking prosthetic arm with a gold plated hook." Jimmy replied, "Not coming out of his chest, he stole a prosthetic arm from this guy and it has a gold plated hook attached to it. Now he uses it to beat people who don't pay on time." 

"Oh really?" Rick asked with insincerity, "And what did you say to this crack dealer when he came into the house?"

"We told him to fuck off," said a voice from the basement as it came up the stairs, "Then we told him that we snort cocaine, not smoke it. Then I told him that's a waste of good ammonia to make cocaine. You use ammonia to clean or to make people cry, not to make drugs, asshole. Or if he used baking soda. That's a waste of baking soda. You use baking soda to make it stop smelling after while you house a stink bomb in your fridge waiting for a chance to deploy it. Then we told him to leave or else we were going to inject heroin into his testicles." The source of the voice reached the top of the stairs and stood out to look at Rick with an unseen smile. Keegan was astonished by the quality of the Beast of Bodmin costume the child wore. 

Jimmy turned to the Beast of Bodmin Kid with disgust, "You did not say that. You nearly crapped your pants." 

"If he had said that." Rick replied, "Then the crack dealer probably would have left you alone."

"Bullshit." Jimmy replied, "If we had said that, we would have gotten our asses beat with a prosthetic arm with a gold plated hook at the end. This is the worst vacation I've ever been on. I want to go home."

"If you terminate your internship early, you won't get your college credit." Rick replied. 

"Why do I need college credit?" Jimmy asked, "I'm nine. I'm not going to college any time soon." 

"You would be if you weren't such a slacker." Rick said, "Going through all the grades one year at a time like everyone else. That's what losers do. Winners do it one month at a time. One grade a month. If you started being a winner, you could be in college in..." Rick began counting with his fingers, "...by April of next year, Jimmy...no, graduated by then, in college a year from this fall. Do you want to start being a winner, Jimmy? Do you?" 

"I want to be a winner." said the Beast of Bodmin Kid. 

Jimmy scoffed at this, "No, I don't really want to be a winner. I just want to go home and practice my music." 

"Do that after your internship expires." replied Rick, "Now, let us journey into the bunker." 

Rick, Keegan, Leon, Jimmy, and the Beast of Bodmin Kid all descended into the basement after Rick introduced Keegan to Jimmy and The Beast of Bodmin Kid. The basement was lit with battery powered lights and had tools strewn throughout. There was a work bench, a place where sleeping bags lay, a place where there were utensils and plates for food along with portable cooking supplies and pots, and then there was space. 

"I love it." Keegan said at the sight of the basement. 

"Yeah." Rick said as he took in the view, "It really takes you back. All the good work. I've missed it." 

Keegan looked confused, "What are you saying? Did you go and get a day job or something?"

"Never." Rick replied, "But I haven't done much animatronics or  costume work lately. And I haven't been doing a whole lot of scams. I've mostly stuck to pamphlets. I've also been getting into doing Youtube videos, online comics. Kind of thanks to Lillian. She's into the Youtube videos."

"Why the change?" Keegan asked. 

Rick shrugged, "It was just time for a change." Rick looked at the Beast of Bodmin Kid and asked, "Is it ready?" 

"Yep." replied the Beast of Bodmin. 

"Good." Rick said. 

"Is what ready?" asked Keegan. 

Rick smiled, "I can't tell you yet. It's a surprise." 

"Is it the Thunderbird?" Keegan asked. 

Rick shook his head, "We need to raise money before we build that, remember?" 

"Oh yeah..." Keegan said, "How are we going to do that? Chupacabra statues again?" 

"No." Rick said, "We're going to hit Andy up for cash." 

Keegan smiled, "That's all you needed to say." 

Miles away, in Greenefield, Missouri, Russell's car pulled into the driveway of Rick's house and then shut off. Russell looked over to John, who sat in the front passenger seat, "Which room is Rick's?" 

"I have the master bedroom and bathroom." John replied. 

Russell nodded, "Great, which room is Rick's?" 

"Well..." John started, "There's the Lounge, then there's the Eatery. He's nice enough to let me go into those two. Then there's the Deus Space, the Cryptid Agency, the Imagination Station...the Shit House, then there's the Relic Chamber, and...oh yeah, there's the Cubicle, so named because that's where garbage goes to rot." 

Russell cocked his eyebrow, "You let Rick control the whole house?" 

"I let him think that he does." John replied slowly and not entirely convincingly. 

"And you let him name all the rooms in the house?" Russell said, sounding annoyed. 

"Yeah." John shrugged, "I thought it was funny."

"Do you mind telling me which room Rick spends the most time in?" Russell asked. 

John looked at the door to his home with discomfort in his eyes and then said, "I really don't know. I think he spends a lot of time in all the rooms." 

Russell got out of the car and slammed the door as he went. From there, Russell went into the house and directly to the door of a closet, and immediately it spewed forth all manner of garbage. 

"That's the cubicle." said John as he walked through the door, "I just cleaned the Lounge...did you have to spill garbage all over it?"

Russell stepped out of the garbage and ignored John's question. He walked on into the dining room, which had a sign on it's wall which said, "Eatery." Russell laughed at this and looked over the cans of low quality food which Rick and John had placed there. Then he asked, "Where is the Deus Station?" 

"That would be the garage." John replied, "That's where he makes all of his drawings, models, and suits..." Before John could finish his sentence, or even explain what the Deus Space was for, Russell had already ventured into it. 

Russell turned on the light and scanned the room with his eyes. There was not much of any interest. Russell noted some drawings Rick had made. Shuffling over them, he found a Mothman, a Beast of Bodmin next to another, lower quality one, a Sasquatch, and then a ton of Thunderbird drawings. John came out as Russell looked up at the entrance to the attic. Russell pulled down the door with no attention paid to John's staring, and then he climbed up into that space. It was dark and musty. Russell turned on the light and illumination was brought to the entire attic. It was full photographs, old drawings, broken animatronics, defective sculptures, broken pottery, and retired cryptid suits. "The Relic Chamber." Russell said. 

"Yeah." John called up, "Rick doesn't want me going up there." 

"Fine" Russell said, "Then you stay down there." 

"I don't think Rick would want you up there either." replied John. 

Russell ignored John, and came upon an obvious fact: he was already up in the attic. Amongst all the pictures, one of him was the most prominent. It was a picture of Russell and Rick together, as teenage boys, standing with their arms around each others shoulders in matching cryptid gear. They were smiling. Very briefly, a feeling of nostalgia passed through Russell's body. Russell considered stealing the picture, but the feeling faded, and he looked to the others. There was one of a naked woman, Jessie. Russell shuddered at the photo of a naked teenage girl. Then he moved onto a picture of Rick and Chris. Russell had known Chris, having gone to high school with him and Rick. In the picture, the two were taking hits off of a bong. 

Next in line was a picture of Rick with Gavin, doing a serious experiment. Gavin majored in biology, and he made Rick take the science seriously. Plus, he also taught Rick valuable lessons about special effects and animatronics. Next was a gothic looking man, Talon. Talon was an English major and brought a new sort of narrative flair to the cryptids, albeit, a disturbing one. Talon had been a disturbed fellow with scars all over his arms from the cuts. He was eventually found dead in his home, hanging in chains and a noose with his dick in his hand. Talon was another male victim to the never ending quest for better methods of self gratification. Next was a picture of a woman, Skye. She was fleeing from a man in a cryptid suit. Russell found it amusing that the picture focused almost exclusively on Skye's not inconsiderable cleavage. 

The next picture in line was Malcolm. Malcolm and Rick sat together eating something they likely had pulled out of garbage. Malcolm was later stabbed for breaking into a family's home and attempting to steal their food. Members of the militia movement, the family assumed Malcolm was a cop and made swiss cheese out of him. The next picture was taken in an immaculate living room, Rick was sitting on the couch with an effeminate looking man who was holding a dog in his hands. The man was named Andy. After Andy was a picture of Rick and a stereotypical looking artist standing next to a huge mosaic. Rick looked genuinely impressed by it, and Russell could tell by the style of the art that it was not Rick's. This was a rare occurrence. The man was named Jarred, and he was a far superior artist to Rick. In fact, Rick picked up many tricks from Jarred. Still, Jarred had his inner demons, and years later they would drive him to suicide. Next was a picture which stood out from the rest, not just because it was moved slightly forward from the other pictures, but because of it's content. Rick stood next to a muscular man, Keegan, and two Korean boys stood in front of them. They looked almost like a family. Behind them was a forest with a massive waterfall, the water of which looked pristine and unnatural. 

Next to that picture was a picture of Rick with a Sasquatch woman. Russell eyed this picture with a certain degree of amazement. It was the fulfillment of a longtime dream Rick had even when Russell knew him. Then there was the picture of Rick standing next to a man in an army uniform pointing a gun at Bigfoot, Quentin. Next to that was a picture of a man holding a woman and her children at gunpoint. This was Warren. Warren had been a dangerous criminal until the day he had met his end. Regardless, Rick considered him a friend. Russell laughed under his breath at the fact that Rick actually kept keepsakes of all his partners. It surprised Russell. 

"Did you fall into a trap?" John asked from below with concern. 

"No." Russell replied, "Just admiring the collection, is all." Russell turned out the light and descended down the stairs. 

Russell was closing up the attic entrance when John asked, "What was up there?" 

Russell shrugged, "Shit, mostly. There were a lot of picture and cardboard boxes." Russell paused to let John take in this information before adding, "One of them was recently opened. It was labeled Thunderbird." Russell stepped back into the Eatery and asked, "Where is the Cryptid Agency?"

"That's Rick's home office." John replied, "It's the last one down the hall, to the right." 

Russell nodded and set off for this room. Once he arrived, Russell began to sort through all of Rick's various notebooks and paper. There were all kinds of junk piled up all around the office. Russell did not even bother to touch Rick's computer. 

After a few minutes, John came into the Cryptid Agency and joined Russell. John looked around and said, "I really need to clean in here." Russell ignored John and kept sorting through the documents. John stood awkwardly in the doorway to the room and then asked Russell, "So...do you want some coffee or something." 

"That'd be nice." replied Russell. 

John smiled, feeling like he had finally connected to Russel in some fashion, then he asked, "How do you take it?" 

"With three teaspoons of quiet." Russell replied as he continued going through Rick's things, "And skip on the bullshit, please."

John stood dumbfounded. Russell turned to Rick's shelves and began to go through them as well. Then John asked, "So, uh, do you want that coffee then?" 

"No." Russell replied, "I'd like you to shut up, please. And stop trying to be nice to me." 

John twiddled his thumbs, "So, uh, you don't like nice people?" 

"No." Russell said in disgust, "God, I can't believe Rick would live with you." 

"You seem to know a lot about Rick." said John. 

Russell kept going through Rick's things, discarding items with malice to the floor as he finished with them. "You seem to know nothing about Rick." replied Russell. 

John looked puzzled by Russell's behavior and said, "So, um...were you and Rick close?" 

"No." Russell replied. 

John stepped closer to Russell and said, "Really? Because you seem to know a lot about him..." 

Russell scoffed, "Rick is a simpleton. Knowing him is not complicated." 

"He is not a simpleton." John replied, almost with anger, "He's actually very complicated when you get to know him well enough." 

"Never mistake immaturity for complexity or depth." Russell replied, "Trust me on this one. I thought he was deep, too. I thought he was complex. I considered him a genius. But eventually I discovered the lie." 

"How did you know Rick?" John asked. 

Russell shrugged, "We used to graffiti churches together. I grew out of it, Rick didn't." Russell knocked over Rick's shelf and then turned to John, "Rick has acquired money recently." 

John looked skeptical, "Look, I think Rick would tell me if he got money." Russell shoved a piece of paper John's face and John's jaw dropped as he read the words on it, "That's more money than I pay for bills in a entire month. Why didn't Rick help out?"

"You know Rick lies to you, don't you?" Russell said, "I mean, how could he not? He deals in fantastic tales, artificial photos, and fabricated memories. His life is creating lies." 

"You're wrong..." John said. 

Russell cut John off, "Rick downloaded several online travel brochures." 

"To where?" John asked. 

"Many places." Russell replied, "Many places. I think I know which one he's going to, but I need a little more evidence. Is the Imagination Station where Rick sleeps? Is that the room across from the bathroom-sorry-is that the room across from the Shit House?" 

"Yeah, but..." John started as Russell went to the Imagination Station, "...Rick keeps it locked..." Just as John said that sentence, Russell found the door would not open, and then he bust it down. Then Russell entered the room. "You know, I'm this close to calling the police." John said as he made a gesture with his hand illustrating this. 

"Fine." Russell replied, "But if you report me, I report Rick for being a child abductor." 

John let his curiosity take hold of him and then he entered the room. John and Russell both stared at a mass of fungal material in the corner of the room. 

"I see that Rick is still into fungus." replied Russell.

John took a pencil from a shelf in the room and poked the fungus, "No...I think this stuff comes from Rick's poor hygiene."  

Russell looked by Rick's bed and found a small notebook, then he began to flip through it. "No, Rick's been collecting fungus since he was twelve. I'm pretty sure he grew that." 

"Why would anyone want that?" John asked as he continued to prod the fungus. 

Russell shrugged as he read the notebook, "Rick always said it was a scientific curiosity. He always told his teachers that he would major in Cryptozoology, with a minor in Fungology. Personally, I believe that's just shit he told to his parents so they would tolerate the mess." Russell flipped a few more pages in the notebook, "Honestly, I think he actually liked it because it was something he could put on people while they sleep."

John gagged, "He told me that was fancy lotion." John gagged some more as Russell continued to look through the notebook, then John looked up and saw what Russell was doing. "What's that?" He asked, "A diary?"

Russell shook his head, "No, just a notebook Rick puts his ideas into. He keeps it by his bedside because he thinks his best ideas come to him in his sleep." Russell closed the notebook and tossed it across the room, and then he looked at John, "Rick wants to do a Thunderbird hoax." 

John's eyes lit up, "We have our first clue!" 

Russell shook his head, "No. We have the final piece of a puzzle. Rick is in Lincoln, Nebraska." 

"How do you know that?" John asked. 

"Because that's a place where Thunderbird live." Russell replied, "And that's the home of Keegan Lynch. Come on, let's go." 

"I'm not sure I want to go out of state with you..." John said. 

Russell was in the hallway before he replied, "Don't worry, I'll pay your part." 

John ran out into the hallway after Russell and said, "No, I'm not sure I trust you. It isn't about money." 

"You may not trust me." Russell replied, "But you do want to help Rick. I'll be waiting in my car once your indecision has faded." 

John stopped dead in his tracks in the hallway and frowned. Russell had a valid point. 

Miles away, in Lincoln Nebraska, Keegan's car pulled up in front of an expansive house. Rick rode shotgun, and in the back, the Beast of Bodmin Kid, Jimmy, and Leon drank fountain drinks and ate skittles.

"What are we doing here?" asked Jimmy. 

"Yeah, I'd like to know that myself." Keegan said, "What's the plan?" 

Rick smiled, "I'm the fairy, and your the sandman." 

"I love it when you're the fairy." replied Keegan with a twisted grin on his face.  

The Beast of Bodmin Kid looked disappointed and asked, "What are we supposed to do?" 

"Stay in the car." Rick replied, "You're on lookout." 

The Beast of Bodmin Kid stomped his foot against the floor of the car and said, "I want to do something cool." 

Keegan laughed, "Looks like we got another Sang-Min in the making there, Rick. Except Sang-Min was a little more obedient." 

Rick squinted his eyes at Keegan, "Sang-Min didn't have parents. The Beast of Bodmin Kid has parents." 

"They're never around." The Beast of Bodmin Kid said.

Keegan nodded, "Yeah, and technically Sang-Min had parents...a parent, too." 

"True." Rick said, "But I'm pretty sure the Beast of Bodmin Kid's parents would never try and sell him on the Internet. And that's pretty important." 

"Hey." Keegan replied, "At least Sang-Min and Dae-Jung's mother came back for them eventually." 

"Don't remind me of that." Rick said.

Keegan laughed, "Yeah, it was funny to see her face when we told her what kind of adventures the boys went on." Keegan looked more serious for a moment and said, "You know, Sang-Min is becoming quite the writer." 

"I don't..." Rick started before asking, "What's Dae-Jung doing?" 

Keegan shrugged, "I don't know, some kind of computer scientist." 

"I want to be the fairy." said the Beast of Bodmin. 

"No." Rick said before turning around and pointing at the Beast of Bodmin Kid, "You stay in the car." Rick then turned to Keegan, "You. Get ready." After giving out his orders, Rick got out of Keegan's car and went to the trunk, where he took out a dog suit and put it on. 

After that, Rick strolled down the front yard of the house and hopped the fence into the back. There, he encountered three dogs dressed as the founding fathers of the United States. "Wow." Rick said, "I really came to the wrong place. They torture dogs in this neck of the woods." Rick pet the dogs and then asked, "Do you guys want something for the pain?" After saying this, Rick took out three steaks and fed them to the dogs. The dogs feel asleep soon after this, and Rick walked up to the deck of the house. It was raised, and the man lying in the lawn chair on top of it hardly noticed Rick. 

This was Andy, Andy was wearing thick black sunglasses and a purple suit with a purple turban. He also wore various gold medallions, bracelets, and rings which caused him to have an obnoxious glow. A fake, yellow, obnoxious glow. Andy had his hands on a joystick which controlled a robotic arm, and that arm was currently being used by Andy to shuttle strawberries from a big golden bowl into Andy's mouth. Andy got a sick smile on his face each time a strawberry dropped from the air into his mouth and made the long journey to his stomach. There were whips, leather masks, and ball gags strewn throughout the deck atop a thick pool of blood. 

"Woof woof." said Rick, getting down on all fours and running around like a dog. 

Andy got up suddenly and looked around. "Is that a puppy luppy?" he asked. 

Rick smiled and said, "Woof woof." 

"I hear a puppy duppy!" said Andy as he clapped his hands and jumped up and down.

"Woof woof." said Rick again.

"Come out, puppy fuppy." said Andy, "Tell Andy your name." 

"It's Gummie Bear." Rick said in a deep voice. 

Andy frowned and stepped back. "Gummie bear...but..." tears came to Andy's eyes, "Gummie Bear was murdered." 

Rick laughed at Andy, and said, "A fairy brought me back to life." 

"Oh, that's just wonderful." Andy replied, "One thing, darling. I go by my first name now, Sebastian. Seb-as-tian. Not Andy." 

"Wow, you found the one name that was more gay than Andy and changed your name to it." replied Rick in monotone. 

Andy put his hands on his hips, "Now, that's not the Gummie Bear I remember." 

"My name isn't Gummie Bear anymore, bitch." said Rick in a deep tone, "Call me Xanthus." 

Andy put his hand over his mouth, "Oh my god." he said, "You have a devil name. Oh god, coming back to life must have made you a devil dog." 

"Xanthus isn't a devil name." Rick replied, "It's Greek. It means golden haired."

Andy waved his finger in the air, "The Greeks were devils, they had butt sex, and God hates butt sex. That's why he ruined their society." 

"And replaced it with Rome?" Rick replied, "Who had more butt sex? That makes a lot of sense." 

"Gummie Bear!" Andy yelled before saying quietly, "We do not sass-mouth daddy." 

"I told you my name is Xanthus, motherfucker." replied Rick. 

Andy's mouth hang wide open in shock before he said, "You know, I don't think you're Gummie Bear at all because Gummie Bear would never talk to me like that Gummie Bear loved me and he would never ever ever ever say those things to me." 

"Of course I'm not Gummie Bear, because dogs don't talk you fucking lunatic." Rick said as he stood up. 

Andy screamed at the sight of Rick. "Oh my god!" Andy shrieked, "Rick get away from me or I'm going to call the police." 

"You stole my idea and got rich." said Rick. 

Andy flailed around, "No I didn't, it was my idea first, and besides, you killed my dogs. And Jarred. Fair is fair." 

"You dog was a menace." Rick replied, "It bit me, it was self defense, and Jarred was just a fucked up maniac." 

Andy crossed his arms, "Jarred might have been a fucked up maniac, but he did mention you in the suicide note." 

"Yeah, but he bequeathed his paintbrush to me in his will." said Rick.

"Fine." replied Andy with an incline of the head, "But Gummie Bear only bit you because you stapled prop pieces to his body to make him look like chupacabra." 

"Do you know how many dogs I've stapled and glued costume pieces onto? Millions." Rick replied, "Millions. And none of them bit me. Not once. But yours did, you know why? Because you didn't train it." 

Andy put his hand over his heart and opened his mouth as wide as it could go, "Oh, so this is my fault?" 

"That's right." Rick replied. 

Andy stomped his feet, and asked, "What did Gummie Bear ever do to you?" 

Rick gritted his teeth, "He pissed on my chupacabra suit. That's why he had to help me make a new one." 

"You know I don't believe in potty training, Rick." replied Andy, "It's cruel." 

Rick rolled his eyes at Andy, "Every time you open your mouth, it just makes me want to chop you up and put the remains into a blender, then pee into it and flush it down the toilet. Give me my royalties." 

"No." Andy said, "No. You killed my dog, and my best friend. I'll take all the money myself." 

"It's my money." said Rick, "You stole from me. And what makes it worse is that asinine shit you spend it on." 

Andy shook his head and pointed to the robotic arm, "Are you talking about the Strawberry Mover? Because I didn't buy that. I made it. That's my latest invention. It's going to make me even more rich. I'm a genius." 

"You're not a genius, you're a thief." Rick replied, "Now, give me my royalties or else I'm going to kill you."  

Andy's mouth hung wide open and he placed his hands on his hips once more, "You know what?" he asked, "You know what?" Andy said as he waved his finger, "I'm calling the police. Right now." 

"Not unless you escape the Sandman." replied Rick as a dart hit Andy in the neck and caused him to pass out. Keegan walked across the yard looking smug with the tranquilizer gun in his hands.

"You'd think he would have realized we were going to tranquilize him by now..." Keegan said looking down at the unconscious Andy. 

Rick kicked Andy and said, "The fact that he doesn't is just proof that he deserves this." After Rick's remark, Rick grabbed Andy and began to drag him to the front of the house back to Keegan's car, Keegan followed closely. It was not until he had opened the trunk of Keegan's car before Rick noticed a gorgeous woman standing in Andy's yard. 

"What are you doing with Sebastian?" asked the woman. 

Rick put his hands on his hips and asked, "Who the fuck are you?" 

The woman put her hands on her hips and said, "I'm Sebastian's wife." 

"Oh yeah, well, I'm his gay lover." said Rick, "I'm the Sandman and he's Peter Pan. This is so hot we're finishing at a hotel." 

"I'm Captain Hook." Keegan said, "You can see evidence of our escapades in the back. Whips, ball gags, and leather masks." 

"I knew it." replied Andy's Wife, "I knew I was nothing more than his beard. That homophobic...well you tell him that we're getting a divorce and..." 

"Hold on." Rick said as he pulled out a camera phone and pressed record, "Please," he said, "Say it for the camera." 

Andy's Wife looked directly into the camera and said, "Andy, we're getting a divorce. You need to come to terms with your homosexuality. I'm tired of dressing up like a man during sex. I'm beautiful. I have double Ds. I shouldn't have to take this. Also, Andy Jr., he's not yours. He isn't black because you ate ten pounds of chocolate cake before we conceived. He's black because I fucked a black man. I fucked ten black men and I had to get a DNA test just to find out which one was the father. I have syphilis. And you probably have syphilis, too. Not because we had so much sex, but because I've been putting vaginal fluids in your food. I'm tired of being your maid. I only married you so I could divorce you later and steal half of your possessions. And I've been embezzling from your company." Andy's Wife stormed off after saying all of this. The Rick smiled a broad smile, hit the button to stop recording, and closed his camera phone. 

"Good save." Keegan said, who was now also smiling. 

Rick nodded, "Yeah, but I also kind of wonder where in the hell our lookout was." The Beast of Bodmin Kid shuddered. "Get out here." Rick said to the kids. Jimmy, Leon, and The Beast of Bodmin Kid shuffled out of the car. "Who gets smacked for this?"

"I take responsibility." said the Beast of Bodmin as he stepped forward. 

"Don't be so hard on yourself." Rick replied, "We just got the best possible gift we ever could for Andy. Now, go steal all Andy's toilet paper." Rick pointed to Jimmy, "You, go break all of his plates." And then Rick pointed to Leon, "You, go put dog shit on his clothing. Get it from the backyard and around the house." The kids ran off to carry out their orders, and then Rick looked at Keegan and laughed. Rick put Andy in the trunk and then closed it. Then the two men got into the car and waited for the boys to finish their chores. 

Miles away, Russell's car tore down the highway at well past the prescribed speed limit. It blasted heavy metal music made all the louder by the fact all the windows were down. Still, John's laughter could be heard even over all the noise. 

"Rick used to replace his mom's shampoo with fungus?" John asked. 

Russell nodded, "Every morning." 

John shook his head, "I can't believe that." 

"Why not?" Russell replied, "It's something Rick would do." 

John shook his head again, "I don't know. I just always pictured Rick having parents as crazy as he is. Or maybe he was raised by circus freaks. I don't know. I just, always pictured him having parents which would cause him to be as crazy as he is." 

Russell nodded, "Well, Rick's Cryptozoology thing is sort of a family tradition." 

"Really?" asked John.

"Yes." said Russell, "The tradition began with his father." 

"Man." John replied, "I'd have liked to have seen that. Little Rick and his father sticking it to racists...protesting Richard Nixon, and...man, I would have liked to have seen Rick's father stick it to the Nazis during World War II." 

Russell shook his head, "No, Rick's father didn't care about all of that. He mostly used his talents to promote Christianity." 

John looked shocked, "You mean, Rick was spawned by Christians?" 

Russell nodded, "Oh ues, Rick's father was a preacher. His mother, she was a stay at home mom. Rick's father would go out dressed like an angel or some prophet...he'd tell hippies to cut their hair. Perhaps because he never read the Bible enough to know that was the hair style Jesus preferred. I'd be surprised if he even looked at Jesus's image on the stained glass at church." 

John looked at the glove compartment and said, "Sounds like Rick's dad was kind of an asshole." 

"Yeah." Russell said, "Yes, Rick got his start making fun of his father. Battling his father's saints, angels, and prophets with pagan monsters. That was after he stopped caring about the beatings. Rick realized that it didn't matter what he'd do, his father would beat him anyway. So, he stopped caring about the consequences of his actions. It didn't matter to him anymore." 

John looked out the window into the darkness, "So then Rick's father was abusive then?" 

"Yes." Russell replied, "To everyone, that man was abusive. He used to take Rick out of his bed at night, put him into a cornfield. Wake him up. Rick's Father would be dressed like the devil. He'd tell Rick that he'd died and gone to hell. Because he was a sinner. Then Rick's Father would list everything Rick had done wrong. It didn't take Rick very long to get tired of that. To stop caring. It didn't take him long to rebel. Eventually he welcomed his punishment just to diminish it, to make it a joke, to remove it's power to hurt him. He made himself numb. Rick's entire teenage years were spent getting back at his father for what he did. Getting back at the organization that Rick saw as responsible for what his father was, the church. And, it was spent becoming the antithesis of everything his father was or believed in."

"It all culminated in one incident the Sunday after Rock graduated from high school." Russell continued, "It was during his father's Sunday sermon. Rick pulled his Cryptozoology act in the church. He made a complete fool of his father, and of his mother. So, his mother told him she never wanted to see him again, and Rick took that to heart. Even though they'd speak later, even though Rick would speak to his father, and still does, he makes no secret of how much resentment he has for them now. Never again since that day has he ever done so." 

There was an awkward silence. Then John said, "So then...Rick has an excuse." 

Russell slammed on the breaks and turned off the road onto the parking lot as he yelled, "There is no excuse for that kind of behavior." John recoiled from Russell's outburst. Russell looked genuinely angry, he continued, "Rick is a grown man, what does it matter? Just because his daddy beat him doesn't give him an excuse to shit on everything and just be an asshole. It was in the past, it doesn't mean he has to ruin his life. To throw his life away. He threw his life away. Do you even know what Rick could have become had he applied himself?" 

"That's easy for you to say." replied John, "Having not gone through what Rick did." 

"I suppose that's true." Russell replied before sitting down for a moment. Then Russell got out of the car. 

John followed him and asked, "Where are you going?" 

"We're going to stay the night here." Russell replied, "Then tomorrow we'll go after my son." 

John looked confused, "Shouldn't we just go for it right now? It's not that long of a drive..." 

"I've been driving all around the country for a week." Russell replied, "We're staying the night here." 

"I'll pay half." said John. 

"No, you won't." replied Russell, "And we're sleeping in separate rooms." 

"Why?" John asked, almost hurt. 

Russell rolled his eyes at John, "Because I like sleeping in the nude, and because my portable oven, once unfolded, takes up a lot of space." 

"Portable oven?" John asked. 

Russell nodded, "Yes, I start out each day with lemon pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon. Made the Russell way." 

"Well I don't mind." John replied, "If the oven takes up too much space, we could share the same bed." 

"No." said Russell. 

John made gestures with his hands, "Come on, I could make you breakfast." 

"No." Russell replied resolutely, "You're getting your own room, and I'm paying for it. End of story." 

John lowered his head to the ground, and then the two men walked into the hotel. 

Miles away, in Lincoln, Nebraska, Keegan's car sat in a dense forest, Rick, Keegan, The Beast of Bodmin Kid, Leon, and Jimmy within it. 

"Can we wake Andy up yet?" asked the Beast of Bodmin Kid. 

"No." Rick said, "We have to wait for the tranquilizer to wear off on it's own." 

Keegan laughed, "You know, Dae-Jung and Sang-Min never did this much whining..." 

"That's because we bought them on the Internet." Rick replied, "They were just glad to not be working in a labor camp." 

Keegan nodded, "You know, they spoke really good English, too." 

Leon fidgeted around, "I had no idea this would be so boring." 

Rick nodded, "Yep. Cryptozoology is hard work, my friend. It's not for the feint of heart." 

"Has anyone checked on Andy?" asked Jimmy. 

Rick shuffled in his seat and answered, "No." 

"Then how the hell are we supposed to know when he's awake?" Jimmy replied. 

"Good-Jesus-Fuck-Damn-it-OH GOD HELP ME!" came Andy's voice from behind the car. 

Rick smiled, "That's how we know." Rick, Keegan, Jimmy, The Beast of Bodmin Kid, and Leon got out of the car and walked behind the car to the tree which Andy was tied to. 

"Let me go!" Andy said. Rick took a small object from the Beast of Bodmin Kid and tossed it at Andy. Andy screamed, "YOU KILLED SNOWFLAKE!" 

"Actually no, that's just a Styrofoam model." Rick replied, "Ha, ha, we got you. Nice job on the model, Bodmin." The Beast of Bodmin Kid smiled at this and then Rick said, "Mirror, Jimmy." Jimmy held up a mirror to Andy, who looked confused, and Rick said, "See what we did to you?" 

"You dressed me up like one of your ugly monsters." Andy replied. 

"We dressed you up like Bigfoot." Rick replied, "And he's not ugly." 

"Get me out of here." yelled Andy.

Rick nodded, "Yes, I have every intention of doing that." 

"You do?" Andy asked, confused.

"Yes, it's hunting season." Rick explained, "I'm going to let you go, and you're going to run. Then your ass will get shot." 

Andy adopted a look of sheer horror, "Oh god..." 

"I told you I would kill you if you didn't give me my money." Rick said before putting a pen in Andy's hand and holding up a check book, "Now, sign it over or you die." 

Andy hastily signed the check over to Rick. Rick examined it and nodded in approval, "That's a fair amount." He said, "Do it, sandman." 

Keegan took out his dart gun and shot Andy once more in the neck. After Andy had passed out, Jimmy said, "I thought you weren't going to kill him if he gave you the money..." 

Rick replied, "I said I wouldn't kill him, I never said I wasn't going to knock him out and fuck with his body as he slept." 

Miles away, at the hotel, Russell and John walked out of the entrance towards Russell's car. The sun had barely risen. "That was a good breakfast." John said. 

Russell nodded, "My breakfast was good, too." 

"You should try the hotel's breakfast sometime." John said, "It's really good." 

Russell shook his head, "No, I eat the same thing every day, I have for twenty five years. I'm not changing now." 

Russell and John got into Russell's car, Russell in the driver's seat, John riding shotgun. John looked at Russell and asked, "Are you sure you don't want me to pay?" 

"Yeah." Russell said. 

John inclined his head to the side a little and said, "Are you sure? That's a lot of money."

"Not for me." Russell replied. 

"Are you rich?" John asked.

Russell nodded, "Yes, I own my own business. I understand that there's a fee to be paid for being different...unlike Rick..." Russell looked John directly in the eyes, "This is it. We make our final drive to Lincoln, and then we get my son back." 

With that, Russell put the keys in the ignition, cranked up the heavy metal music, rolled down the windows, and pressed his foot down on the gas pedal as hard as he could. The car sped off towards Leon at a rocket's pace. 

Leon, meanwhile, was standing outside a post office in Lincoln, Nebraska, who, after being inside for forty five minutes, was excited to see Rick. The moment he saw him, Leon asked "What the hell were you doing in there?"

"I was just mailing Andy to Bangladesh." replied Rick. 

Leon looked mortified, "Holy shit. Do you think he'll be able to get out of that one?" 

Rick shrugged, "He always has before." Just as Rick said this, Keegan's car pulled up, and Leon and Rick piled into the back of the car. Then Keegan drove off. Jimmy was in the backseat with Rick and Leon, looking tired. The Beast of Bodmin Kid was up front in the passenger seat, and of course, Keegan was driving. Keegan and The Beast of Bodmin Kid also looked exhausted. "Do we have it?" Rick asked. 

Keegan nodded, "Oh yeah, we have it." 

"Good." Rick replied. 

Leon looked confused, "What do we have?" 

Rick grinned and said, "Metal rods, wiring, a car battery, motors, fake feathers, paint, and several small engines." 

"Are we building a super squirt gun shooting mustard?" Leon asked. 

"No dipshit." Rick replied, "We're building a Thunderbird. Why do you think we've been electrocuting all of those cattle over the past week?" 

Leon looked confused, "Because it's fun?" 

"It is fun." Rick said, "But beyond that, it's so that we can tell people that a Thunderbird has been going around killing all of their cattle. We're going to sell them Thunderbird insurance. Then when our fake Thunderbird shows up, we're going to kill it in front of them." 

"Oh, ok..." Leon replied. 

"I think you're wrong about Rick." said John to Russell as Russell's car hurtled it's way down the bumpy highway to Lincoln, Nebraska, "He's not that bad of a guy." 

"Not that bad of a guy?" Russell asked, "Do you know how many lives Rick's ruined?"

"Who's?" John asked, "Who's lives has Rick ruined, give an example." 

"His father's." Russell replied, "Rick spend his entire high school career perpetuating the myth that his father was a child molester. He cost the man untold amounts of money. He caused him mental anguish." 

"I'd say he deserved it, wouldn't you?" asked John. 

"Fine." Russell replied, "Then there's Keegan. Keegan the man I think Rick went to hang out with. Keegan was a cop. He had a steady job, even a career. Rick talked him out of that so they could travel the country committing criminal acts. Then there's those Korean kids. Rick became like a father to them and then he just shut them out. That's because he can't handle any kind of responsibility. There's Quieten. He talked Quentin into joining the army." 

"I've met Quentin." John replied, "He's proud of his service in the army." 

"Ok, so what if Quentin is proud?" Russell asked, "There were others. Jessie."

"What about Jessie?" John asked. 

"Rick talked her out of going to college." said Russell, "He told her that college was just a scam. And now she lives in poverty." 

"That's his fault?" John asked, "She was so weak minded to take advice from someone as low as Rick?" 

"He sold her on it." said Russell, "Then there's Chris. He got Chris into drugs because he didn't want to do it alone. Rick got off it easy, but Chris, Chris, he became an addict. It displaced his entire life. It took him years to get back on track. Don't start. There's more. There are others. Rick has ruined every single interpersonal relationship he has ever had. Why? He does it on purpose. Because he can't handle having friends. He can't handle it. He did all sorts of nasty things to Andy. Jarred, Jarred mentioned Rick in the suicide note. Hell, Rick turned Hannah into a bigfoot and fucked with her head." 

"I'm not sure I believe all of that." replied John.

"Believe it." said Russell, "Rick is bad news, he's always been bad news. Malcolm. He kept Malcolm from going anywhere. I've spoke to Malcolm's parents. He was about to pick up the pieces of his life before Rick came along. 'No.' Rick said, 'It's ok not to conform. It's ok to be different.' It's not ok to be different." 

"It's not?" asked John. 

"No." replied Russell, "Different is what gets people killed. Different is what ruins relationships. Different dies alone. Different is dangerous. Different is crushed."

"Different is what changes the world." replied John. 

"Not Rick's brand of different." Russell said, "Not his brand, not for the better." 

"Who else's life did he ruin?" John asked. 

"Plenty." Russell said, "He killed Warren, and he knows it. He knows he killed Warren. He knows it. Then there was Skye." 

"What about Skye?" John asked. 

"He cost her a job." Russell said. 

"Did she get another one?" John replied. 

"Yes." Russell said, "But not as easily as she would have. Rick is a bastard, he's a fucking bastard. Then there was Gavin. Gavin, he ruined Gavin's experiment. He cost Gavin a prize. Then there was Talon. Talon died of Auto-Erotic Asphyxia. Do you know who told him about that? Rick." 

"Did he?" John asked. 

"Yes." Russell replied. 

"Did he?" John asked again, "Did h?. Do you know that for sure?" 

"I'm fairly certain." Russell replied, "I'm pretty sure he did. I have a lot of evidence." 

"Evidence?" John said, "It sounds like you're just looking for reasons to hate Rick. Who else's life did he ruin?" 

"He ruined mine." Russell replied as John want temporarily silent. Russell breathed in and out before continuing, "He ruined mine. I wanted out. I got out of the Cryptozoology business. I went to college, I got my degree. Rick was homeless. He was struggling. He had a meal maybe once every three days. He looked terrible. Absolutely terrible. He was so skinny. He was bard bones. I was thriving. I had a girlfriend, a nice apartment. I became the golden boy at the company I was working at the time. So, I managed to set Rick up with a job. I let him stay in my apartment a while. He wrecked it. He drove my girlfriend away. He destroyed my car turning it into the Lock Ness Monster. He got me evicted from my apartment. Then he pulled that Cryptozoology shit at work, and he got himself fired. He got me fired. And that was it. The end. That was the final straw. I was done with him. He fucked me over. He ruined my chances, just like he's ruining yours. He threw away every chance I gave him to redeem himself. Just like he'll do to you. I tried to help him, I tried to save him from the hell he'd put himself in, and he lashed out at me, just like he's going to do to you. Get rid of him. He's worthless. He doesn't deserve your help." 

John continued to argue with Russell as Russell's car sped down the highway towards Lincoln, Nebraska and the other cars on the road swerved to avoid Russell's reckless driving. 

The television showed a nice rapper named Teaspoon, dancing in his decadent living room as his pale roommate typed away at a computer behind him. An untold number of cats ran around the house jumping through all of the kitty play places scattered about the living room and kitchen. The doorbell rang and the old woman got off her comfortable chair to answer the door. Once the door was opened, Rick, Leon, and Jimmy were revealed to have been standing behind it. Rick and Leon wore official looking Cryptozoologist uniforms, and Jimmy was made up to look like he had recently been electrocuted. 

"Good afternoon, ma'am." Rick said, "How has your day been?" 

"Oh." the old woman replied, "I've just been watching that Teaspoon show his house about on the television." 

Rick nodded, "Surely his house isn't better than yours?" 

"My house smells like kitty litter." the old woman replied, "And the pipes are busted. My toilet overflows. The cabinets have holes." 

"I can see you're not the type to fuck around." Rick said, "So, I'll get straight to the point. Have you heard about all the cattle being electrocuted lately?" 

The old woman looked confused, "No, I don't have any cattle here. Go to the butcher's shop down the street." The old woman began to shut the door but Rick put his foot in the way. The old woman looked startled and asked, "Are you the milkman?" as she reopened the door. 

"No." Rick replied, "I'm Rick the Cryptozoologist. I'm here to talk to you about some recent cattle electrocutions." 

"Oh yeah." the old woman replied, "Some hooligans have been electrocuting people's cattle. Damn shame." 

Rick pointed at the old woman, "What if I told you that it wasn't hooligans that were electrocuting the cattle?" 

"They found footprints." the old woman replied. 

Rick sighed, "Those footprints were planted there by the government." 

"Why would they do that?" the old woman asked, "That hurts potato sales." 

Rick gestured with his hands, "They did it because they were keeping a secret which if revealed would unravel the fabric of society." 

The old woman scratched her moles, "Is it the fact that Barack Obama is actually the evil twin of Moses?" Rick stared at the woman and she said, "It's Ramses wanting to re-enslave the slaves."

"Uh." Rick said, "No. It's the secret of who's actually been killing those cattle." 

"It's the trolls, isn't it?" the old woman replied, "Trolls like chicken casserole." 

"I'm sure they do." Rick said, "But it wasn't the trolls. It was something much, much, more devious." Leon took out a Thunderbird poster and unfolded it then Rick said, "The Thunderbird." 

The woman stared at the poster for a minute before saying, "You're the personification of death aren't you? You've come to kill me." The old woman took out a coin and placed it in Rick's hand. 

"Uh...thank you." Rick said as he began to put the nickel in his pocket. 

"I've been to Rome before." the old woman replied before staring at Rick for another minute and then asking, "Why did you just steal my nickel?" The old woman kicked Rick in the groin and then looked at the Thunderbird poster, "Hey, is that the Thunderbird?" Rick held his groin and rolled on the ground as the old woman connected the dots, "You know, we had a bunch of cattle electrocutions lately. Maybe it was the Thunderbird." after saying all of this, the old woman looked down at Rick and asked, "Why are you grabbing your gonads and rolling around on the ground for? Back in my day we didn't do that in public. Something wrong with your junk, son?" 

"No." Rick said as he slowly got up, "No. I'm fine." 

"You don't look fine." the old woman replied in a sexy voice, "How about I take you to the back of the club and fuck the pain away?" 

Rick looked horrified at this, "No thank you." he said. 

The old woman shook her head, "All I was offering was cookies, sonny. You don't have to get all upset. Not like they had razor blades in them. I'll tell ya, that's what's wrong with society today. No one trusts each other." 

"It's also the Thunderbird." said Rick, beginning to gain back his confidence. 

The old woman clenched her fist and waved it in the air, "That damn Thunderbird. Someone ought to put a bullet in it's damn head. Fucking half breed Socialist Muslim pig." 

Rick looked up at the roof of the house before looking at the old woman and saying, "I'll put a bullet in it's head...for a small one time fee of one hundred and fifty dollars. That might sound like a lot, but you've got to ask yourself, 'How much is it worth to keep my cattle safe?'"

"I don't have any cattle." the old woman said before staring at Rick for a minute or two and then saying, "It's milking time." The old woman then picked up one of her cats and began to try and milk it's nipples. 

"This is getting weird." Jimmy said. 

"Shut up, you're supposed to be a cripple." Rick replied. 

The old woman stopped attempting to milk the cat and then returned to speak to Rick, "No milk today." she said, "We're in a depression." 

"Well..." Rick said, "If you want us to protect your cattle, you're going to have to give us our one hundred and fifty dollar fee..."

"I told you I haven't got any cattle." the old woman replied. 

Rick raised his hand into the air and gestured with his index finger, "Yes, but did you know that cryptids are a threat to human beings, too?" 

"Really?" the old woman asked. 

"Yes indeed." Rick replied, "What do you think happened to my buddy Jimmy here?" Rick said as he put his arm on Jimmy's shoulder. 

The old woman squinted at Jimmy and exclaimed, "Dear god." the old woman grabbed Jimmy and asked, "Do you need Neosporin, little boy?" The old woman let go of Jimmy and got uncomfortably close to Rick and asked, "Is there a place I can donate to in order to help this boy." 

"Yes." Rick replied, "You can give money to me, I'm the boy's father." 

The old woman left, and after thirty minutes came back with a check for Rick, then she said, "You get along now, the prom's inn five minutes." 

Rick grabbed both Leon and Jimmy and began to walk away. Leon looked up and Rick and said, "But we didn't..."

"Just go along with it." Rick said out of the corner of his mouth. Rick, Jimmy, and Leon got into the back of Keegan's car after this. The Beast of Bodmin Kid sat in the front passenger seat and Keegan in the driver seat. 

"You didn't even need me to jump out and attack Jimmy to prove Cryptids are common this time." said the Beast of Bodmin Kid. 

Keegan looked at Rick, "Are we going to the next neighborhood now?" 

Rick shook his head, "No, we're done." 

"Come on cockbag." said Leon, "We can make more money this way." 

"No, after that woman, we're done." replied Rick. 

Jimmy nodded, "Yeah, I want to get out of this makeup." 

"What now then?" Keegan asked. 

"Now." Rick replied, "We pull the scam. You got the rental car?"

Keegan nodded, "Yeah, but we didn't quite get the color you wanted." 

"They didn't have black?" asked Rick. 

"Nope." Keegan replied. 

"Come on." Rick said as he inclined his head to the side, "It has to be black. That's the Cryptozoology color." 

The Beast of Bodmin Kid turned back and looked at Rick, "Red and blue are Cryptozoology colors, too." 

"Is it red or blue?" Rick asked. 

"No." The Beast of Bodmin Kid replied. 

Rick sighed, "What color is it?" 

"Hot pink." replied Keegan. 

Rick's mouth fell open, "There's no way we're driving around in a car that is hot pink." 

"That's the only color they had." The Beast of Bodmin Kid said. 

Rick burrowed his brows, "That can't be the only color they had." 

Jimmy raised his index finger and said, "Well, they did have purple and yellow cars." 

"Why didn't you get those?" Rick asked. 

"Because you told us if we got a purple car, the cops might get confused and mistake you for a pimp. Then you'd get arrested." replied Jimmy. 

The Beast of Bodmin Kid chimed in, "Yeah, and you said no yellow cars because yellow symbolizes optimism, and that's a curse word in Rick English." 

"There was one orange car." Keegan said, "But orange is an ugly color, most people are turned off by it, and this was a crappy car." 

"It had a broken tail light." the Beast of Bodmin Kid said. 

Rick looked at his companions in disbelief, "They didn't have any green cars?" 

"Green represents inexperience." The Beast of Bodmin Kid replied, "You don't want people to think you're a schmuck, do you?" 

"Why do you think I don't want to ride around in a car colored hot pink?" asked Rick, "We're going back to the car rental place and getting another one." 

"We can't do that." The Beast of Bodmin Kid replied. 

"Why not?" Rick asked. 

Keegan looked solemn, "Because we don't have the money." 

"How can we not have the money?" Rick replied, "We just stole thousands of dollars from a rich white asshole." 

Keegan shrugged, "We spent it on the Thunderbird." 

"It's an expensive project." The Beast of Bodmin kid said as he nodded. 

"God damn it." Rick said before sighing, "Alright. Alright, we've come too far to quit now. Take me and Leon to the rental car. Then you guys go and set up the Thunderbird." 

Keegan nodded and drove to the location of the rental car. After Rick and Leon were dropped off, and Keegan was cruising towards the location where the Thunderbird was to be launched, Keegan looked at the Beast of Bodmin Kid and Jimmy and asked, "How long do you figure it will be before Rick realizes that we made all that shit about the rental place not having black cars up?" 

Jimmy and The Beast of Bodmin Kid laughed along with Keegan at this. "Hopefully a long time." The Beast of Bodmin Kid said. 

The three continued their drive out into a clearing in the woods, and then Jimmy and The Beast of Bodmin Kid began to set up the Thunderbird. Keegan mostly watched and stood guard, occasionally remarking, "You boys sure are good." or "I wish I had those kind of skills at that age." Hours passed as the boys assembled the Cryptid. And soon Keegan began to become concerned that they were running out of daylight. This would mean the hoax would need to be rescheduled for the next day, and Rick would be unhappy. Just as The Beast of Bodmin Kid and Jimmy finished, and things were looking up, two men walked out of the forest. It was Russell and John. 

"Who are you?" asked Keegan as he turned around and began to turn to his car to grab his gun. 

"John!" The Beast of Bodmin Kid yelled as he went and gave John a hug. 

Keegan looked puzzled, "You guys know this man?" 

Jimmy nodded, "Yeah, it's Rick's roommate." 

The Beast of Bodmin Kid grabbed John's arm and dragged him over to the Thunderbird, "Look what we made." The Beast of Bodmin Kid said. 

"Wow. That's really good." John replied. 

"Don't you think Rick will be proud?" The Beast of Bodmin Kid asked John. 

John scratched his head, "Yeah. I mean, he ought to be." 

Keegan turned to John, "Who is this?" he asked, pointing to Russell. 

Russell walked up to Keegan and said, "I'm...an old friend of Rick's." Russell extended his hand and added, "I'm Russell." 

"Rick told me about you." Keegan replied before adding slowly, "Didn't...you tell Rick you never wanted to see him again?" 

Russell nodded, "Yes, I did. He has abducted my son, however so that changes things. Leon...where is Leon" Russell asked as he looked around. 

"He's with Rick." Keegan replied, "I don't think Rick will hurt him. I mean, Rick does horrible things, but I've never known him to explicitly hard a child." 

Russell nodded, "I have no doubt that Rick will not harm Leon. I have no doubt that Rick has fed Leon, and taken care of him in his own way. But you can understand...that's not the best environment for a child to live in. And I most certainly do not want Leon to turn out like Rick. I want to get him back, and I need your help." Keegan looked weary and Russell added, "Listen, if Rick told you about me, then you know the reason why I'd never bring serious harm to him. Not even for something like this. I just want my kid back, but my wife is starting to want to call the police. Rick will go to jail." 

Keegan nodded, "Yes. I suppose that's true. You never would hurt Rick." 

John looked back and forth between Keegan and Russell, "Why wouldn't he hurt Rick?" John asked. 

"You can't fathom how happy I am to no longer need to deal with you." Russell replied before stepping towards Keegan, "What's the game plan?" 

"We're going to deploy the Thunderbird." Keegan said, "And then Rick's going to defeat it. Then we're meeting at a place further on in the woods. Kind of low key just in case something goes wrong so the authorities can't find us there." 

"Does it have lots of trees?" asked Russell. 

"Yeah, it's a forest." Keegan replied. 

Russell smiled, "Good. Then I'm going to lay in wait for Rick there, ambush him, and then get my son back." 

"I'm coming too." John said, "To make sure you don't hurt Rick. Some of us aren't that naive." John finished, looking at Keegan who shrugged. 

"What the hell is going on here?" Jimmy asked. 

Some distance away, Rick and Leon stood close to a farm next to their hot pink car. Except, it was no longer hot pink. Now it had crude black paint with splotches of pink showing through. One of the windows was busted out and replaced with a grocery bag. There were dents all throughout. The wheels were mismatched, and the tail light was busted. A cop walked over to Rick and Leon. 

"What are you boys doing there?" he asked. 

"We're going to kill a mythical creature because people paid us to do it." Rick replied. 

The cop put his hands on his hips, "Well, I'll say, that sounds like a swell idea. Yes sir. Entrepreneurship." 

"Have a donut." Leon said, holding up a donut. 

Rick slapped Leon's hand, "Don't be rude or cliché." then Rick looked at the cop, "Sorry about my son." 

"Ain't no thing." replied the cop, "I'd like a donut, actually." the cop said before he took the donut and plopped it into his mouth, "That's a good donut." he said, chewing the donut into fine pieces before saying, "Say, this Thunderbird hunting looks fun. Do you mind if I join in?" 

"Yes." Rick said, "You stay the fuck out of this. This is serious business. Look at my car." Rick added as he pointed to his car, "Look at how banged up my car is. This takes years of training." 

"Well shit." said the cop, "I been Skunk Ape hunting."

"You think some amateur Sasquatch hunting qualifies you to hunt the Thunderbird?" replied Rick, "Then you're wrong." 

"I reckon so." said the cop.

Rick nodded, "Yeah, that's right. You can watch, but you don't do anything." 

"That's awful kind of ya to let me watch." the cop nodded.

"You watch over there." Rick said as he pointed to a bunch of trees a distance away before the cop stumbled over to them. 

"That guy's a dumbass." Leon said after the cop was away. 

Rick nodded, "Yeah." 

Rick and Leon stood in place for a few more minutes before the Thunderbird flew up above the horizon. 

"Holy shit, get a camcorder." the cop said. 

"We wait." Rick whispered to Leon, "We let it destroy some cattle and property first. Then we attack. That makes it more dramatic." 

"Shouldn't you all be doing something?" asked the cop. 

"In a minute." Rick replied, "We've got to triangulate it's position." The cop screamed obscenities as the Thunderbird began to throw lightning bolts at the cattle to kill them. Rick smiled, "Wow, I do good work." 

"You didn't build it." Leon replied. 

"No." Rick said, "But I did design it, and wow..."Rick took a deep breath inwards, "I did an awesome job. It looks so real." The Thunderbird killed five more cattle and destroyed a shed. 

"Shouldn't you all be triangulating." asked the cop. 

"I am." Rick replied, "I have robotic implants in my eyes."

"Shit." the cop exclaimed, "You must have done gotten a grant for your business acumen." 

"Hey Rick." Keegan's voice came over the walkie talkie, "When do you want us to deploy the Thunderbird?" 

"Oh shit..." Rick replied as the Thunderbird destroyed an entire farm and killed the people within. 

"I see people coming down the road with torches and pitchforks." Leon said. 

Rick looked and saw what Leon had just described, "There farms must have already been hit. I'll bet they're coming to lynch us." Rick took out his walkie talkie and said to it, "Mission abort. Abort mission. We need to get the hell out of here." 

"You ain't stopping no Thunderbird?" the cop asked. 

"No." Rick replied, "I just realized that I left my rubber suit at home. Got to have a rubber suit when you're fighting the Thunderbird or else he'll electrocute you." 

"Are you going to give these people their money back?" the cop asked. 

"No refunds." Rick replied. 

"I'm pretty sure that's illegal." the cop said as he pointed his gun at Rick, "You're under arrest." 

"What do we do now?" asked Leon. 

"We run." Rick replied before throwing fungus in the cop's face. The cop screamed as his face began to steam and then he buried his face in his hands. Rick grabbed Leon, threw him into the car, and then they drove away. 

Three hours later, Russell watched as Rick and Leon pulled into the meeting place. Rick and Leon got out of the car, and Leon was crying. 

"Why are you crying? Pussy." Rick asked. 

"We almost got killed." Leon replied. 

Rick shrugged, "So what? Happens to me every day. You think being a Cryptozoologist is easy?" 

"Yes." Leon replied, "I'm hungry." 

"Then you eat twigs." Rick said, "You have to work with what you got when your a Cryptozoologist." 

"I soiled myself!" Leon said. 

"Maybe you should go home." Rick replied, "You're eleven. Go to school. See the world. You don't need to be a Cryptozoologist just yet. It's hard work." Russell and John came out of their hiding place, and Rick, said, "Hey look, it's your dad."

Leon ran to Russell and said, "Dad!" Leon gave him a hug and pledged that he would, "Never run away again." 

Russell then put his hand on Leon's shoulder and looked at Rick with animosity, "Rick." he said.

"Russell." Rick replied, "It's nice to see you again." 

"Still trying to change the world with your inane jokes?" Russell asked. 

"Still a corporate snob?" Rick shot back. 

Russell and Rick stared at each other. "I meant what I said before." Russell said, "I never want to see you again." 

"Same goes for you, blind man." Rick replied. 

Russell clenched his fist, "This is the second time you've abducted Leon." he said, "If there's a third, I kill you." 

Leon looked up at Russell, "He abducted me before? Why don't I remember this?" 

"Because it was the day after you were born." Russell replied, "Let's go home." Russel and Leon then left. 

Keegan looked at the ground, "It sucks the little guy had such a bad time." 

"No it doesn't." Rick replied with a big smug smile on his face, "Yep...that was my plan all along." 

"You planned all of this out." John asked in disbelief. 

"Yep." Rick said, "It's hard to be me, and the only way people can appreciate that is to be me for a few days. Yeah, I'm a badass." 

John put his hands on his hips, "How could you have possibly known all this would happen?"

Rick shrugged, "Well, I didn't know all of this stuff would happen. I didn't know the real fucking Thunderbird would show up, or that Russell would come...but I expected it to go wrong." 

"How was it supposed to go wrong?" The Beast of Bodmin Kid asked. 

Rick looked at Keegan, "Do you remember the first time we tried this scam?" 

Keegan's eyes lit up, "That's right, the Indian..."

Rick nodded, "Last time we did this, an Indian exposed us as frauds. I was counting on him to do the same this time. Where the hell is he? Did he move?"  

"He got killed by Scientologists." Keegan replied, "For trying to expose them as frauds." 

"That makes sense." Rick said, "And it serves him right for fucking up my thing." 

"Rick." John asked. 

"Yes." Rick replied. 

"Did you really steal Leon as a baby?"

Rick nodded, "Yeah. Why?"

John looked angry, "Why in the hell would you do that? That's sick." 

Rick shrugged, "I thought it was the only way I'd ever get to meet my nephew. And I was lucky enough to get to teach him a lesson this time around." 

"Wait..." John replied, "So...Russell is your brother?" 

Rick nodded, "Yes, from the time I was three until he decided he was too good for me." 

John looked out into the woods and said, "Oh crap! Russell just left. He gave me a ride here. We have no way to get home." 

"I can give you a ride." Keegan replied, "I've got nothing better to do, and I could always use a good adventure." 

"Ok." John said wearily.

"Come on." Keegan said to everyone, "Let's all pile into my car."

Keegan, Jimmy, and The Beast of Bodmin Kid went to the car, and only John and Rick remained in the clearing. 

"Come on." John said, "Let's go home, Rick." 

Rick turned to John and said, "No, no, I want to stay here alone a while." 

John considered arguing before simply saying, "Ok." And then leaving Rick to go get into the car. 

Once the silence and wonder of the night enveloped him, Rick sat cross legged on the ground and stared into the gaping darkness which stretched between the trees. 

End