Evil Minions Union: The Melancholic Melody of Minion Merope (or, The Making of Minion Franklin)
November 4th, 7pm.
It was Mischief Night. Minions swarmed the streets, determined to paint the town red on their one night of freedom. Bins were pushed over, windows were egged, and trees were toilet-papered. On November 4th, all was glorious, mischievous chaos – just as it would be every night once The Great One ruled the world.
However, not every minion's heart was light.
Beneath both the cloak of night and the velvet cloak around her shoulders, a slim solitary figure walked through the city streets. Her footsteps were slow and soft, and her head was hung in sorrow; she only occasionally swerved from her personal path to in order avoid hurled stones and badly-aimed eggs. Her associates called to her, whooping and hollering, goading her to join in with the fun, but she simply could not feel the joy they felt at that moment.
Yes – tonight, she was free. But tomorrow, she would be a slave once again.
When the League of Sanity-Challenged Academics first joined The Great One's organisation, everyone had been excited. Now, the minions would have some real knowledge and power behind them, and the glorious takeover seemed nearer than ever before. So, naturally, when LOSCA started asking for minions to become lab assistants, the applications came flooding in.
Merope was one of the chosen few. In the beginning, she was so excited to be working with the scientists – to be on the technological front line and playing such a critical part in the takeover effort. She arrived on her first morning of work full of energy and eagerness, keen to do whatever she had to in order to make Project Dynamo a success.
Her supervisor was Dr. James Lommick – the new head of LOSCA following the untimely passing of the Dark Empress. Merope felt privileged to be working with someone so senior in the organisation. There was no doubt that Dr. Lommick would be intelligent, hard-working and determined.
She had no idea how determined he would prove to be.
In the early days of their working relationship, Lommick was the perfect employer. He showed Merope designs and plans for new weapons and potions, welcoming her ideas and input. He gave her instructions, but never orders: he was always kind and polite. He watched over her carefully as she worked on the latest project, making sure to correct her if she was at risk of going wrong.
Yet perhaps he was watching her too carefully. As time went on, Merope began to notice some strange behaviours coming from her supposed tutor. His hand gently brushing against her hair. Him leaning in slightly too close for comfort whilst supervising her work. Whispering against her ear instead of normal face-to-face conversation. Two months after her first day, when she felt Lommick slowly wrapping his arm around her waist, Merope's patience finally wore out. She pushed Lommick away, backing away from him angrily.
Her tutor stared at her.
“Why are you upset, my Merope?” he asked, with genuine shock. “Don't you understand that you are mine? The Great One has given you to me.”
Merope was no fool. If she had been, LOSCA wouldn't have taken her on in the first place. The Evil Minions Union, in their own wisdom, had insisted on contracts being drawn up for this new arrangement. Merope had read hers very carefully. A lab assistant was expected to help their assigned academic with research, and nothing more. She had not signed her life away... and she certainly was not Lommick's personal property.
Lommick took a step towards her. She backed away again. Lommick's expression changed from stare to glare.
“Very well, Miss Merope,” he hissed. “Play hard to get.”
Deep within LOSCA Laboratories, a loud whistle blew. Lommick tutted and looked at his watch.
“Five o'clock,” he muttered. “Your shift is over, Miss Merope. I do believe tonight is Mischief Night, so go and and enjoy yourself. But remember – I expect to see you here tomorrow morning at the usual time. You are mine, and you will remain mine. In time, you shall grow to love me, as I do you.”
The miserable minion sat on a bridge over the river, looking down into the flowing dark waters below. Her head was bubbling just like that river, as a thousand thoughts whirled around inside it.
She had no clue what to do.
Not returning to The Great One's Headquarters was unthinkable. That would be classed as desertion: an action punishable by death. The other minions, her current friends, would suddenly become her enemies, and would be sent out to hunt her down, like dogs sniffing out a rabbit.
But the thought of going back tomorrow... returning to LOSCA, and to Lommick...
Merope gazed at the water beneath her. Without realising it, she began to lean forward, shifting her weight... her grasp on the bridge slowly loosening...
A sweet sound filled the air, stirring Merope from her desperate trance.
Merope adored music. Everybody who knew her was aware of that. It seemed to follow her everywhere she went. Her evenings were filled with angry knocks on her lodging door – minions annoyed by her playing her radio at full blast. She hummed or whistled constantly whilst working. Sometimes, she even sang under her breath. At this moment, the melody she was hearing had stirred her spirit inside her, reviving her... giving her something to live for.
Fascinated by this new sound, Merope climbed down from the bridge, and began to walk towards its source. Her slow, soft steps were soon replaced by the loud footfall of a full-on sprint. A few minutes later, she found herself standing in front of a small townhouse.
A bizarre gaggle of people had gathered in the open doorway. A panda rubbed the back of a tiger as it vomited over a wall. Fumes rose from cigarettes held by a fairy and a witch as they shared a chat and a smoke, and a drunken robot sat on the floor, desperately trying to put its own head back on.
A fancy-dress party!
Out of some strange instinct, Merope’s hands reached towards her head and face, touching her mask and her hat. Well, she was certainly dressed for the occasion. Smiling, she walked towards the doorway, weaving her way through the assembled throng – only to be stopped by a gorilla stood at the threshold.
“Got an invite?” it barked.
Merope pretended to pat down her pockets. The gorilla sighed.
“Never mind,” he muttered. “You're obviously meant to be here. Why else would you wearing that stupid pirate outfit?”
He stood aside to let her pass. Merope smiled as she stepped into the townhouse, but tutted once she was out of the gorilla's earshot.
Pirate outfit. Honestly.
The music was still calling her. She rushed towards it, pushing through the growing crowd of drunks and merrymakers. Soon, the source of her joy was revealed.
In the centre of the main lounge, a band was playing. As Merope barged her way into the front row, her eyes skimmed over the drummer guitarist and keyboard player, coming to rest on one particular figure. Stood front and centre was a young, handsome man, singing into a microphone. His voice was the most wonderful one that Merope has ever heard.
The singer, deeply focused on his performance, allowed himself one quick glance into the crowd. That was when he spotted a mysterious mask woman, watching him with a rapturous expression.
Their eyes met.
November 5th, 9am.
Merope was late. And Lommick was angry.
He sat at his desk, his eyes shifting between the clock on the wall and the papers in his dossier. He couldn't focus on either. If that woman didn't get here soon, they would be fireworks... and he didn't mean the ones at the Union bonfire later that night.
Ten minutes later, Merope finally arrived. She zoomed through the laboratory doorway, scuttling towards her workstation and straightening her mask with her hands.
Lommick emerged from his office and cast his eyes over his assistant once more, examining her carefully. Her hair was messy, and she hadn't changed her uniform. Where had she been all night?
April 15th, 11pm.
Merope sat alone in a darkened room, curled up on her bed – a heavy, gloomy silence hanging in the gloom around her. Silent tears were running down her cheeks.
Today had been the worst day of her life.
She was entering her sixth month of pregnancy – her unborn child now impossible to hide under her minion uniform. The sight of it had driven Lommick to great cruelties. Merope, in recent months, had become even more determined in her rejection of his advances, saying her heart now belonged to another. At first he hadn't understood, but when the baby bump finally emerged, everything became very clear. The little whore had given herself to some stranger on Mischief Night, just to spite him, and now, she was carrying his bastard, proudly parading her shame for all to see, and making a mockery of her employer.
Merope knew it hadn't been like that.
From the moment her eyes met those of her beloved singer, both of them had felt a spark. They had shared a few dances, shared a few drinks, and eventually shared a bed... and neither of them had wanted the night to end.
It turned out that the townhouse belonged to him: he had been born into a wealthy family, and now ran a successful business of his own, but it was his music that was his true passion. And yes, Merope had shared his bed, but in that moment, she believed that she would share everything with him – her life, her future, her love of music, and the love within her heart. In that moment, she was free – free from sadness, free from pain, and free from the slavery of minionhood. She had shown him her true face, free of the velvet mask - a sight no other man had seen, and one that was normally saved for a minion's wedding night.
It was only with the rising of the sun that logic prevailed once more.
Merope had awoken first, and as she watched her lover sleeping, reality hit her hard. As much as she wanted to stay here with him, it simply couldn't happen. It would still be desertion. The minions would still come after her... and worse still, they might come after him. And Lommick's rage would be greater still. To see her beloved hurt – or even killed – was a thought she could not bear, and something that she didn't want to cause. And thus, with her heart breaking as she did so, she gave him one final kiss, and slipped away.
But she'd been granted a miracle. That night, she had conceived her beloved's child: living proof of their love, a source of great comfort, and a beacon of hope... not only for her, but for the child itself. Under rules set out by the Evil Minions Union, any child born of a free citizen parent had the right to live with them as a free citizen themselves. Originally, the rule had been set out in order to prevent children fathered by minions to free citizen mothers being kidnapped and forced to join the paternal business (Merope's Mischief Night conception hadn't been the first known occurrence), but now extended to cover minion mothers, too.
If Merope could get her child out of Headquarters and back to his father, The Great One and his workers could never reclaim him – unless, of course, the world was taken over, which would pretty much dismiss all precedents. All she had to do was smuggle him out somehow – in a basket, perhaps – and leave him somewhere, with a note explaining everything. She would somehow get hold of a locket and leave a lock of her hair in it, both as a memento to her child and lover, but also, as vital evidence her lover could use to prove, using DNA, that the baby was indeed hers – and his.
The thought of her child growing up free was worth all the suffering she was going through. It was worth Lommick begging her to get rid of the child and conceive his instead, now that she had proven herself fertile. It was worth him slapping her and calling her a whore when she'd refused. It was even worth being dismissed from her job and locked away in this dark, dank room by her jilted tutor, where she would remain until her “brat” was born.
Smiling through her tears, Merope rested her hands on her bump, and softly sang to her baby. They were going to have music in their soul. And more importantly, they were going to be free. She would make sure of that.
July 29th, 10am.
Screams rang out through LOSCA Laboratories. Lommick didn't look up from his paperwork, but he did allow himself a small, sinister chuckle.
Good. At least the whore was suffering.
In a small dark chamber at the back of the lab, Merope was in the last stages of labour. A researcher was attending on her in place of a midwife. Lommick had given her very specific instructions beforehand – one of which was to refuse Merope any pain relief. He wanted her good and exhausted by the time her little bastard arrived.
After a few more agonising pushes, Merope finally brought her baby into the world. The researcher instantly scooped it up, cleaned it off, and wrapped it up in a blanket. Before Merope could say one word, she had walked out of the room, child in tow.
Merope, terrified, attempted to rise from the bed, but being too tired from the long labour, she collapsed back down again. All she could do now was wait and hope that her child would be returned to her.
She hadn't heard her baby cry.
After what felt like an eternity, the chamber door finally re-opened. Lommick entered. The petrified mother curled up on the bed, defending herself from whatever was about to happen. But Lommick did not touch her. Instead, he merely stood at the foot of the bed, glaring down at her with a firm expression.
“Your baby was born dead,” he told her - his voice harsh and devoid of all mercy.
Merope's blood ran ice cold. Shock pierced her body like a bullet fired from a pistol. Trembling, she looked up at Lommick, shaking her head.
Lommick nodded in response.
Merope shrieked, and threw her heads into her hands, weeping as she broke down entirely.
Her former employer showed no compassion, but merely continued with his cold, uncaring speech.
“You are being transferred,” he barked. “Tonight, you will be sent over to one of our laboratories in The Great One's American base, where you will reside for the remainder of your life. Do not worry. I am sure my transatlantic colleagues will treat you kindly.”
He paused for a moment, sneering.
“At least... I hope they will.”
With that, he turn on his heels and left the devastated Merope alone in the chamber, slamming the door behind him.
He walked down the corridor to his office, where he was met by the researcher and Merope's newborn child – a boy, who was healthy and very much alive. The only mysterious thing about him is that he appeared to have no voice: his mouth was moving and his face screwed up, as a crying baby's face would be, but no sound was emerging.
Lommick reached out his hands, and the researcher obediently passed the baby over to him. The doctor looked down at the little one, inspecting him, and then chuckling.
“Oh, your poor child,” Lommick said to him. “Your mother died giving birth to you. I guess that means you are in my care now. Don't worry - I have many plans for you...”
Twenty-three years later, on both sides of the Atlantic, two minions went about their day.
In America, a minion assistant cleaned up the LOSCA Laboratories, doing so under the watchful eye of her superiors. After putting away the textbooks and washing the conical flasks, she went and sat in the break room for a quick rest. She was in her late forties or early fifties at the most, but the LOSCA researchers couldn't help but feel that she came across as being a lot older. They had no idea why she'd come here – only that she'd asked her manager in Britain for a transfer. It hadn't seemed to make her happy; rather, she always had a sad, sorrowful look in her eyes.
She never smiled. She never said a word to anyone. And perhaps most strangely of all... she despised music.
Meanwhile, in Britain, Minion Franklin was returning to his lodgings – a small dark room in the back of LOSCA Laboratories - after another tough day being Professor Lommick's test subject. It had been invincibility potions today: various serums being injected into his skin shortly before being projected full force at a brick wall. None of them had worked.
A black-and-white scarf wrapped around his mouth and neck, along with his minion mask, hid the many cuts and wounds on his face, caused by various failed experiments. His hat hid the bare patches amongst his black hair that had been burnt off or pulled out. As he threw these items of attire aside, and lay down in his rock-hard bed, Franklin realised he was crying.
Short in stature and weak in muscle, he wasn't really able to put up much of a fight against his master. The only time he was spared from experiments was when other minion-related duties came up, such as defending the base or carrying out a crime. Franklin cherished these rare moments of freedom – even though he wasn't truly free. He never would be free. Even when he slept, nightmares came to haunt him.
Sometimes, he wished he had some family to comfort him, but this was an empty longing. He was forbidden to have companions, and no blood relations remained. His mother had died in childbirth, and his father, whilst unknown, was widely presumed to be a minion killed during a mission. At least, no living minion had ever claimed paternity – and so, he had remained in Lommick's “care”.
As he lay there in the dreary darkness, Franklin longed to cry out. He desperately wanted to tell someone what was happening to him – the Union had no idea how cruel Lommick's testing methods could be. But that was another cross he had to bear. He had been born mute, and his master made sure that he never had unsupervised access to writing materials. His tale would never be told.
Franklin sobbed into his pillow. Exhausted from the trials, but with the pain in his body mercifully dying down, he began to drift off into a daze. From somewhere in the night, he thought he could hear a voice singing to him. A woman's voice, filled with love and care, reciting some sweet melody. As he listened to this mysterious song, Franklin soon found himself being lulled to sleep by it.
No nightmares came to him that night.