If there was one thing that irked Capital A more than her husband’s laziness or her son’s sassiness, it was her next-door neighbour’s preposterousness. Roman E, who was nothing but a three-toothed stroke, acted as if the Alphabet district revolved around him, consistently drawing attention to himself by shouting “Excellente!” or “Egregious!” whenever he got the chance. How come such a loser got nominated for the Letter of the History award and not her? For goodness sake, she was the A, the Alpha, the Leader of all Letters. If they’re going to leave her out of the glory parade, then they leave her no choice but to take the matter into her own hands.
“Let’s face it: he deserves it,” said Small Case C as he flipped to the next page of the Lettered book he was reading.
“Whose side are you on?”
“On the side of justice.”
“Then you’re not my son.”
C closed his book. “Well, since you’re not going to stop bothering me with your rant, I’ll explain it in terms you can understand how you currently compare with Roman E. Maybe then you can shut up.”
The cheeky brat, how dare he compare her to that loser! Of course, no matter how one looked at it, she was much better than E in every regard.
“For a start, you said that Roman E thinks that the Alphabet district revolves around him, right? Well, he thinks right.” C picked up a book from the pile he sat by and opened a random page. “Did you know?” he said, pointing to the page. “There’s no word in English that doesn’t have an E in it.”
Capital A clutched on her head. No way, it couldn’t be! Since when had that clown’s influence reached that far?
“I lied,” C said. “You fell for it.”
“YOU BRAT! Do you want to give me a heart attack?”
“Letters don’t have a heart,” C pointed out. “We’re just strokes pretending to live a hypothetical life.”
“Shut up! Don’t destroy the story’s credibility!”
“Well, on a more serious note, do you know what it means to be recognised as the Letter of History?”
“Isn’t the title given to the best Letter?”
“Right, best. But here’s the question: what kind of best?”
Capital A thought for a moment. It was a question she didn’t know the answer to. “ARGHGHGHGHGh! HOW COME I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT DAMN IT!”
“Exposition time, I guess,” Small Case C muttered. “So troublesome.”
E the Magician
“Roman E knows how to work magic,” said Small Case C, bringing in his whiteboard.
“What do you mean by magic?”
“Here’s an example of how he does things.” Small Case C uncapped the marker and drew three letters.
“Just appreciate the shapes,” he said. “And that’s you in the middle, by the way.”
Capital A took a moment to appreciate the shapes. The A was definitely looking like a dork on the board. “Right,” she said. “What’s that got to do with that clown?”
“In this word, you read out each of the three letters. Here, you, the A, are read out with a short, soft sound. Not that you can ever understand what I’m saying.”
“Carry on. Not that I can do anything about that mouth of yours.”
Small Case C shrugged. “Well, here comes the magic. Observe.” He scrawled a mark at the end of the word.
“What’s that?” Capital A asked.
“That’s Roman E, invading your party.”
“What’re those things surrounding him? Feathers?”
“Oh, that’s called special effects. You see, he’s appearing out of nowhere, so there should be something that highlights his entrance.”
“Right…” What the kid was talking about, Capital A had no idea. “So, what’s he doing there?”
“Remember how I told you that you, the A, are read in a certain way? Well in this case, because of Roman E’s interference, you’ll be read differently, this time with a longer, stretched-out sound.”
“Is there any difference between this word here and the one before?”
“Of course, they mean entirely different things. The previous Word represents an item of clothing, while this one here represents an abstract feeling that corresponds to what you are feeling right now. See, magic.”
Still, there was nothing impressive about it. “So, what’s your point?”
Small Case C pointed his marker at the highlighted E. “Don’t you find it strange?” he said, exasperated. “This guy here is not pronounced at all! Rather, he’s putting you, his eternal rival, under the spotlight. Why would a Letter want to do that?”
Now it clicked. Indeed, it was strange. After all, Letters are meant to be pronounced, and there was no greater pride for a Letter than to be read out. Why would that clown want to do otherwise, it didn’t make any sense.
“There’s only one explanation,” Small Case C said. “He’s putting his pride aside in order to get more exposure within Texts. So he does things like change how other alphabets are pronounced, sneakily insert himself in Words to change meanings, and can even influence me and Glorious G of all things. What else he’s planning to do, I’ve no idea. He’s probably having a toast and a good laugh right now as we speak.”
Mindblowing. The guy wasn’t just a clown, he was a plotting, sneaky, magician clown. Why would he go so far and pull such ridiculous stunts? What was it in there for him? The answer this time was clear. Of course, to get the Letter of History title.
And Capital A had just realised something. “At this rate, he’ll overthrow my position as the alpha.”
“Well, that’s not far-fetched,” said Small Case C, putting away the whiteboard. “That might actually be his next plan.”
No. Someone had to stop that guy. Forget the Letter of History award, the Alphabet residents are in mortal danger.
Small Case C went back to his books. “So, are you going to leave me alone now?”
Capital A dragged her son by the ear. “This is not the time to be reading. Stand up! We’re going to stop that guy’s invasion, together!”
Big Case B looked from his wife to his son. “So, what’s the deal?”
“Ask her,” mumbled Small Case C.
Big Case B took a deep breath, and looked at Capital A in the eye. “Tell me, it’s not about my coffee habits, is it?”
There was a moment of silence. “We’re going to stop Roman E,” Capital A finally said. “Once and for all.”
Big Case B wiped off sweat from his forehead. “I knew you were going to address my lifestyle one of these days, but I didn’t expect it to be this soon. You scared me for a minute there.”
Capital A donned on sunglasses and a trench coat. “Just wait, I’ll be on your case AFTER this one.”
Small Case C covered his face with his hand. “I’m going back, being with you lot is embarrassing.”
Capital A rested her hand on her son’s shoulder. “Son, who pays your school fees?”
“Mum, don’t start that again.”
“Listen, it’s my money you live on. You gotta help me, or no school for you tomorrow.”
Big Case B shifted in his seat. “Honey, you shouldn’t be saying that as a parent. We must not show our adorable son that side of us.”
Capital A paused for a moment. “You’re right. Carrots work better than sticks.”
“Now that’s my wife!”
“Let’s try this one more time.” Capital A faced her son again. “Son, what was it again you said you wanted so badly last year?”
Small Case C backed away slowly. “Erm… TWT?”
“What’s that?” Capital A and Big Case B asked simultaneously.
“Erm, Twinkle Telescope. You’re not going to say you’ll buy me one now, are you?”
Capital A smirked. “You bet.”
“Mum, you know why I wanted that so badly last year? THE ZODIAC SIGNS WERE IN TOWN! I really wanted to see them but you can’t without a TWT. Too bad, you refused for no apparent reason.”
“Who said reasons have to be apparent? Mine aren’t.”
“Well, good for you, because getting me one NOW won’t work for you.”
Capital A thought for a moment. She needed a change in strategy here.
“Name your price,” she said. “I’ll get you anything.”
“Anything. Within the boundary of reason, that is.”
Small Case C hesitated for a moment. “Are you sure? You’re not going to go back on your word later or something?”
“Who’re you taking your mother as?” Capital A gave him a thumb up, and her smile sparkled. “I don’t break promises, my Pride as the Alpha doesn’t allow it.”
“You’ve done exactly that so many times I don’t trust you anymore,” said Small Case C.
Big Case B sat forward in anticipation. “What about me? What will I get?”
“Oh. Coffee, or something. Right!” Capital A clapped her hands. “We’re done with the Recruitment Stage! Now on to the next mission, underlings: Reconnaissance!”
“Ay, Captain,” shouted father and son. Now that Capital A was in her usual (bossy) mood, there was no room for disobedience.
Capital A spread out a map on the table. “Listen here,” she said, lowering her voice to a whisper. “This is the plan.”
“What is it?” Big Case B whispered back.
Capital A looked at her son. “I believe you can read maps.”
He nodded. “Yes, madam.”
Capital A smiled proudly. “Now, carefully, look at this one here, and tell me what you think.”
Small Case C closed his eyes, and sighed. “I don’t even need to look at it twice to form my opinion. This is not a map, madam. You’ve been duped with a theatrical release poster of the upcoming film Dot the Lonely in the 3D Maze.”
There was a long silence. “It looks like a map, doesn’t it?” Capital A finally said, picking up the sheet and giving it a closer look.
“Maybe it does, if you’ve never seen a real map in your life.” He gave the map a closer look. “Though I admit, they did a good job in replicating the complexity of maps for the 3D Maze here. I must see this film.”
“DAMMIT!” She threw down the sheet and stamped on it. “THAT DASTRAD DOUBLE V, POCKETING MY MONEY LIKE THAT, I’LL GET HER ONE OF THESE DAYS!”
“Mum, let’s just forget about all this.”
“You want me to give up now, after I’ve come this far?”
“No, you haven’t come any far, just let it go while you can.”
Capital A donned on a beanie hat. “Don’t underestimate me, brat. If Plan A isn’t working, then it’s time for Plan AA.”
“Ahem.” Big Case B cleared his throat. “Don’t you mean Plan B, honey?”
“Plan AA. Plan B is our last resort.”
Big Case B gave out a disappointed sigh. “Do you hate me that much?”
Capital A chose to ignore the question. “Underlings! Due to that rascal Double V’s, er, cowardly interference, we are now discarding our original plan and will henceforth follow Plan AA.” She paused. “And may I inform you now, before I forget, that our new plan doesn’t involve reconnaissance.”
“What?” said father and son together.
“Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. Reconnaissance is an integral part of warfare and so on BUT!” She raised a fist for emphasis. “It is an undisputable fact that direct attack is what war is all about.”
Small Case C slammed on the table. “WHO CARES ABOUT THAT? WHOEVER HEARD OF A PLAN WITHOUT SCOUTING THE ENEMY FIRST?”
“Honey, Roman E is a formidable enemy. If we take him lightly, we will be obliterated in an instant.”
The smirk on Capital A’s face silenced any more opposition.
“Now we’re talking like a team,” she said. “I look forward to your full cooperation.”
Father and son glanced at each other.
“I hate you,” said Small Case C.
“You’ve said that 2891 times that it’s starting to grow on me.”
Big Case B wiped sweat off his forehead. “Was it a joke then? Are we not going to scout Roman E?”
“I was serious when I said that we are going straight for an attack, but there’s no need to worry, it won’t be like any other direct attack. I gave this mission a lot of thought.”
Big Case B perked up. “I like the sound of that,” he said, leaning back in his couch. “Although I don’t have a clue what you’re concocting, I think I’m starting to look forward to it now.”
“And so you should be,” said Capital A, chuckling. “For we are going to invade Roman E, IN HIS HOUSE!”
(To be continued…)