8. He Triggered It
Los Angeles knew all about the Creativity Bowl; Graisseux himself would present a cube of gold to the winner during a nationally televised prime-time extravaganza.
But the headquarters turned out to be a huge deserted warehouse. I picked the lock and Thalia and Mortensen and I saw long rows and high tiers of wooden crates. Mortensen pried the top off a crate; it was filled with four-inch cubes of brass. Each cube was stamped AWARD OF HIGHEST MERIT. Thalia picked one up and said, "They're hollow."
Suddenly a bandged face loomed. "So you have discovered our little plan," said Graisseux. "Every entrant in the Creativity Bowl will win second prize."
Noneck and Singlebrow herded us into a windowless office. Graisseux took the brass cube from Thalia and said, "We'll ship these prizes into every corner of the graphics world." He threw the cube against the wall. It fell apart and a cascade of squirming maggots fell to the floor.
"The maggots will thrive on the ideas in the creative departments throughout the land. They'll grow...and then one day they will emerge from their cocoons as adults, and I will have enough bugs to end all new ideas everywhere!
"But first, Mr. Mortensen, please assist me in a, final demonstration." He signaled; Singlebrow tossed a cageful of adult bugs into the office and slammed the door. The bugs swarmed around us. I still had Graisseux's gun--I aimed and pulled the trigger, but nothing happened.
Thalia and I slumped to the floor under the bug attack, but Gordon, with the thickest cloud around him, took the gun and pulled the trigger. We were blinded by a brilliant flash.
Next: The End