Fifty-nine minutes later, Mustache Guy and Limburger had arrived in Poissonniere, parked outside of Francis P. Mingleton Elementary, and were following the orders Roger had given them over the phone: they located the third window to the right of the main entrance and knocked on it exactly four times. Almost immediately the window slid open.
“Come in,” whispered a little brown-haired girl. “My name’s Twobie. You must be Mustache Guy, and you must be Limburger.”
“How’d you ever guess who was who?” asked Mustache Guy with a smirk.
The brothers climbed inside.
“Good, you made it,” Roger whispered upon seeing them. “The whole school is filling up with G.U.Y.S. as we speak, so keep your voices and your heads down. Now, the plan has changed a tiny bit since the version you heard over the phone. I’ll update you as we go. But first thing’s first – we’ve got to get you”– Roger pointed at Limburger – “to the kitchen behind the cafeteria. Twobie and Metal Mouth, can you sneak there with him? Show him the way?”
“Sure thing, Roger” obliged Metal Mouth, only letting a little bit of saliva dribble out.
“Good. Mustache Guy, you and me are going to set up shop outside the cafeteria. Everybody else” – Roger turned to the other kids and teachers in the lounge – “you know the plan. Stations!”
G.U.Y.S. were positioned in every corner of the school, guarding each nook and cranny. Inside the cafeteria, The Leader had resumed his bizarre ritual; he stood in front of the kids, who were at attention in rows, and demanded that they follow his lead and assume different odd-ball stances.
“Now, do this!” he would shout, holding his arms over his head while lunging forward.
The kids, in their brainwashed stupor, would imitate him exactly. This went on, the positions changing constantly.
“Now, this! Then this! Next, do this! And this!”
Roger and Mustache Guy hid in a small, unguarded doorway across the hall from the cafeteria. They were just beyond the view of the legion of G.U.Y.S. stationed all around the hall. The skeleton and the former carpenter waited.
They waited and they waited.
And then they waited some more.
Then, at last, it happened. A low rumbling could be heard and felt by every G.U.Y., kid, teacher, and hero in the building.
“D’ya hear that?” asked one of the G.U.Y.S. around the corner from Roger and Mustache Guy, codenamed This Guy.
“Yeah. Whaddya reckon’s goin’ on?” answered his companion, That Guy.
“Dunno,” This Guy responded, thoughtlessly.
Overhearing this intellectual exchange, Roger and Guy could hardly contain their giggles. They were especially pleased given their knowledge of what was to happen next.
“D’ya smell that?” asked This Guy.
That Guy sniffed around and said,
“Yeah. Whaddya reckon’s is makin’ dat smell?”
It was not long before they found out. Catching a glimpse of yellow out of the corner of his eye, That Guy swatted at This Guy’s arm to direct his attention to a nearby air-conditioning vent. The pair stared in awe as melted cheese ran out of the grate and down the wall, pooling on the linoleum floor.
“Da heck is that?” wondered That Guy.
“Uh… smells like cheese,” answered This Guy, after inhaling deeply.
The rumbling grew louder and more violent. Roger had to hold his arms tightly against his ribs to keep them from jangling together loudly.
“I dun’t think this is good,” proclaimed This Guy poetically.
“Uh… yeah,” agreed That Guy.
And then the levee broke; the cheese oozed faster and faster out of the ventilation grate, which distracted This Guy and That Guy from the flood of hot, liquid cheese that was bursting through the doors down the hallway. Before they knew what hit them, That Guy and This Guy were swept up by the river of cheese and carried away.
This was the moment Roger and Mustache Guy had been waiting for; they bolted across the hall to the cafeteria doors just before the cheese reached them. Roger kicked the door open and Mustache Guy bolted in ahead of him, mustache outstretched. Two at a time, Mustache Guy grabbed kids with his mustache and lifted them up to the rafters above. Within seconds, he had tossed every kid in the cafeteria to safety. And he was just in time, because the cafeteria doors tore off their hinges from the weight of the cheese outside them. As the cafeteria rapidly became an indoor diary pool, Mustache Guy wrapped one end of his mustache around Roger and the other around his own torso. Just as their ankles were covered by the flood, he hoisted them up into the rafters where they joined the kids.
Roger and Mustache Guy watched as G.U.Y.S. bobbed into the cafeteria, caught in the current. Each flailed and screamed and did his best to stay afloat. Five. Ten. Fifty. One Hundred. The rafter-bound heroes could not believe their eyes; The Leader of The G.U.Y.S. really had called in all of his minions. Speaking of The Leader of The G.U.Y.S., he was nowhere to be seen. Roger spotted his signature ratty leather jacket floating by the front of the still-filling cafeteria, but he could not find jacket’s owner.
Suddenly: darkness. Every light in the school shut off in an instant, without even flickering first as a warning. Mustache Guy jumped before remembering that this pitch-blackness was all part of Roger’s plan.
“G.U.Y.S., this ends now. I am your reckoning,” boomed a voice from above.
A lone light blazed on. It was the light nearest the doors. Ripples in the cheese shined in its glow. At the center of the ripples was Limburger, floating slowly forward in all his buoyant glory. The cheese level grew higher and higher, forcing the G.U.Y.S. to tread water or else drown. Limburger, meanwhile, floated effortlessly. As be moved forward, the lights above him flicked on, illuminating him and his wake.
“Your reign of terror is over,” stated Limburger, his voice blaring impossibly through the whole cafeteria. “If I ever find out that any single one of you so much as tries to do something evil or illegal again, I will find you. And next time, you won’t be able to stay afloat in the amount of cheese.”
“Wh-who are you?!” gasped a G.U.Y. struggling to keep his head above cheese.
“Heh,” Limburger chuckled. “I used to be Oliver. Some people call me Old Mushy Cheese Guy. Or Limburger. But, as far as you’re concerned, I am the Cheese Man. Now, are we all in agreement here? You scumbags are done. Finished. Kaput. The G.U.Y.S. are no more.”
In response to his question, Limburger heard gasps and grunts and terrified screams.
“I’ll take that as a ‘Yes.’ ”
Roger and Mustache Guy high-fived.
“Hey, Cheese Wiz!” came a sarcastic shout from across the cafeteria. “Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you, ya lug!”
Slowly but confidently, The Leader of The G.U.Y.S. waded his way towards Limburger. His undershirt, usually greasy, was saturated with cheese. His hair was yellowed and matted. He bent his head and spit out the bendy straw which he had used to breathe while hiding below the surface.
“You!” bellowed Limburger, trying to stay composed in light of this surprise. “Do you not quake at the might of the Cheese Man?!”
“Ha. Haha! I ain’t lactose intolerant,” said The Leader with a cocky smirk. “The rest of my boys here might be morons, thinkin’ that you’re some kinda monster who can shoot this much cheese outta himself or somethin’, but I can see right through your ruse. Whadda ya think I am, a idiot? You’re fulla holes! Clearly you are made outta Swiss and this stuff” – he scooped up a dripping handful of the cheese and slurped it – “I don’t know what this is, but it surely ain’t no Swiss. You didn’t shoot this outta you; you got this outta the cafeteria kitchen! Me and my boys have been undercover in this school all week. You think we don’t know they got gallons of cheese back there?”
By the end of his speech, the leader was face to face with Limburger. Inches separated them.
“Fool! I am the Cheese Ma-”
But The Leader was not about to let him finish. One powerful punch to the face put Limburger out of commission.
“Now that that’s taken care of… where you at, Roger?! I know you’re here somewhere!” demanded The Leader. “I shoulda taken care of you when I had the chance back in Seaside!”
The next thing he knew, The Leader of The G.U.Y.S. was suspended twenty feet in the air. His legs kicked wildly as he tried (unsuccessfully) to comprehend this turn of events.
“Looking for me?” asked Roger, who sat, kicking his legs playfully, on the edge of a rafter a couple of feet away from The Leader. The lack of skin on his face revealed every tooth in his gigantic, taunting smile to The Leader of The G.U.Y.S.
“What the heck is this, some kinda skeleton voodoo?!” yelped the flailing Leader.
Roger simply pointed with his thumb toward Mustache Guy. The Leader eyed him and then followed the two sides of his freakishly long mustache, finally realizing that they were wrapped tightly around his shoulders, suspending him in mid-air.
“What were you going to use these kids for?” asked Roger simply.
“Put me down!” The Leader screamed.
“Don’t make me repeat myself, dirtbag.”
The Leader squirmed lamely. The grimace on his face slowly dissolved until he stared at his skeletal tormentor blankly, without expression.
“Fine. You wanna know what we were gonna do? Fine!” he gave in. “It’s a solid plan, so I’d be proud to tell you all about it. First, I got Guy, Another Guy, and Other Guy jobs as teachers’ aides and janitors here at the school. That way they could scope things out, collect info on each kid, that kinda stuff. And – most important – put a little special somethin’ into the milk supply.”
“What was it? The chemical in the milk, what did you use?” prodded Roger.
“Some stuff, okay? I don’t know what it’s called. What do I look like? Some sorta chemology major? What I do know is that it’s supposed to be the best brainwash on the market.”
“Yeah, the market. Y’know, where us bad guys get all our bad stuff? You are such a idiot. What kinda crime fighter are you, anyway? Don’t even know about the market!”
Roger had never considered himself a crime fighter before. He liked the sound of it.
“So anyways,” continued The Leader, “we put the stuff in the milk, ‘cause what kinda kid doesn’t drink milk? Then, once they were all good and brainwashed, I came in to do some calisthenics with them. Y’know, warm them up for training.”
“Yes, training. I gotta spell it out for you? Guy took down all sorts of notes about each kid – how much they weight, how tall they are, what kinda after school activities they do – so we could figure out what jobs they’d be best for. Then we could properly advertise ‘em when we sold ‘em.”
“SOLD THEM? That was your genius plan?! To sell kids?! Where on Earth did you expect to sell children?!” Roger lauged.
“On the market, dummy,” replied The Leader of The G.U.Y.S.
Contemplatively, Roger rubbed his jaw. He was deeply unsettled by the thought that there existed a thriving marketplace where illicit chemicals and even children could be bought and sold. Apparently, he was well on his way to becoming a fully-fledged crime fighter, and this market seemed like a perfect way to locate all kinds of criminals.
“WOAH, WAIT A MINUTE!” called a child’s voice through the public address system speakers in the ceiling, turned to their loudest, most deafening volume. Twobie, the main office, had been listening to the conversation between Roger and The Leader of The G.U.Y.S. (the school’s public address system functioned as a two-way intercom). She continued,
“WHAT ABOUT OTHER GUY? HE STOLE MY HAIR, FOR PETE’S SAKE! I SAW THE WIG BUCKET! WHAT WAS FOR? WHAT PART OF YOUR PLAN DID YOU NEED MY HAIR FOR?”
“Ugh, that knucklehead,” said The Leader dismissively. “That wasn’t part of the plan. He’s always trying to steal peoples’ hair, because he’s bald and he wants hair. He’s too embarrassed to just go out and buy a darn toupee. He’s a real dope most of the time. So he makes his own wigs.”
“Really,” The Leader confirmed.
“EW,” Twobie commented, before switching off her microphone.
“Who sold you the brainwash?” demanded Roger.
“I already told ya, I got it off the market.”
“But who put it on the market?”
“What are you, pullin’ my leg or somethin’? You really think that a bunch of arms dealers and lowlifes would advertise their identities while they make illegal sales?”
“Maybe. Where are the containers the stuff came in?”
“In our top secret base. And, before you ask: no, I ain’t tellin’ you where that is.”
“Under the cafeteria, we already know,” retorted Mustache Guy smugly. “There’s a keypad over there.” – he swung The Leader towards the far end of the cafeteria – “What’s the password?”
“Get bent,” spat back The Leader.
Mustache Guy adjusted his mustache’s grip; he slid one end down to The Leader’s ankle and released the other end. The Leader of The G.U.Y.S. dangled helplessly, upside down, for less than two seconds before he caved.
“1-5-6-4!” he cried.
“Where was it, Rog?” asked Mustache Guy.
“Uh, over there… somewhere. Hm. Maybe you should just lower me down. It’s going to be hard to find, especially with the cheese this high,” answered Roger.
With the free end of his mustache, Mustache Guy picked Roger up off the rafter and lowered him to the back wall of the cafeteria. Roger tapped on the wall diagnostically, trying to remember the spot he had seen Another Guy tap earlier.
“Lower!” called Roger to Mustache Guy.
The mustache plunged Roger down until he was neck-deep in the gooey cheese. Roger tapped and tapped, having to exert much more force to counteract the drag he experienced under the liquid cheese.
Bingo! thought the skeleton, feeling a hollowed spot. He slid the tile up, revealing the keypad.
“Found it! I’m going down there! You got Leather Jacket Man under control?!”
Mustache Guy took a good look at his hostage, who was still upside, red-faced, flailing, and dripping cheese.
“Yeah!” Mustache Guy called back. “Yeah, I think I got this!”
Roger took a deep breath, dove his head into the cheese, and typed 1-5-6-4 onto the keypad.