“Mr. Usher, S-s-sir,” Ridley said in a nervous and uneasy voice, “I’ve taken care of the things you asked of me, but was it really n-necessary to have all those false articles published about Mr. Hunter?”

“Of course,” replied Mr. Usher coldly. He carefully took note of Ridley’s slightly slouched position and adjusted so that he was firmly in front of him, towering over the small man.

“Oh, I mean if you said it had to be done, well then it had to be done,” Ridley responded meekly, while avoiding Mr. Usher’s piercing gaze, “But the people of the town love Mr. Hunter; even with these articles, I think the people may still stand by his side.”

Mr. Usher sighed looking disapprovingly at Ridley, “As is expected of them. I have no intentions of destroying Mr. Hunter. I just wish for him to see how serious I am about obtaining him,” Mr. Usher said turning away from Ridley to stare out the window on the city below.

“B-b-but Sir, why make these accusations and then ask him to come work for you after he already rejected your offer? What use is Mr. Hunter to you if he won’t serve you?” Ridley asked nervously.

“Oh, Ridley, my poor, poor fool,” Mr. Usher said with sinister smirk and a dry cackle; “How can I make him my puppet without breaking his arms first?”

“Excuse me?” Ridley said in a startled gasp.

“He was still just a piece of wood when I asked him to join me,” Mr. Usher explained; “He was an unshaped, unvarnished tree stump; he wasn’t even human-like when I asked him to obey me. I, ever the artist, could already see the beautiful puppet that was to be with intricate joints, delicate movements, and its absolute obedience to me. As a rugged stump, he couldn’t even imagine what limbs were, let alone that if he had them they could only move on my command. So, after I so patiently carved out his perfect little limbs, mastering every detail from his strong weight-bearing legs to his confident smile, he so nimbly tried to run away from me. He tried to slip among the people and pretend he was one of them. He assumed his artfully crafted features would pass the people’s detection; the sad part is that he was right. All those fools could see was the beauty of my work; and how could they ever doubt its reality? Of course, my silly puppet didn’t even notice the strings that connected my fingers to his form. No matter how far he ran, it was only a matter of time before I pulled the strings and broke his will. Now all that’s left is for me to slowly reel him back to me and reveal to him the identity of his creator and marionettist. Then he shall dance as I say and do as I say. Those strong legs I crafted will carry out my plans. Now, Ridley he is struggling against me, but what is a toy to its creator? What could he ever be without me? Soon, he will be mine again.” As he spoke the last line, Mr. Usher moved to the large cathedral style window and glowered down at the city below, “How could he ever see them as more than parts in a machine?” Mr. Usher grumbled while glaring at the small people stumbled below him like ants under his feet.

“Who, sir?” Ridley questioned.

“Mr. Hunter, of course, you idiot!!” Mr. Usher screamed. He continued in an angry, hushed tone, “Mr. Hunter thinks these people live for themselves, but they live to work for me. What would their lives be without my factories? Where would they go? How would they survive? I give them all purpose and still they praise Hunter as their savior and call me the villain. Hunter, that bastard; I gave him his power, taught him to lead, and then he has the insolence to run away from me. Oh, he claims to be a champion by the people, for the people. Hah! Those idiots…they’re all idiots.”

“Do you know something about Mr. Hunter that the people don’t?” Ridley asked cautiously.

“Yes, but to use that information would mean to break my favorite toy before ever getting to play with it,” Mr. Usher responded solemnly; “But to keep what I have made for myself, I would do anything.”

Twenty-one-year-old, Sarah Tatro spends her free time writing and reading. She plans to become a teacher.