Wearing a bag over his head wasn’t as glamorous as Kaplan thought it would be. Not that he really thought that putting a bag over his head was going to be glamorous, but most of his experience in bag head putting over was in the movies, and usually it took him to some super villains’ lair in the time it took them to run a funny sound cue or quick edit. What the movies often cut out was the long drive to wherever they were going. And the back of a pickup in the cold Tennessee air didn’t make it any better.
Mars wasn’t fairing any better. He tried not to think about the number of people that had their head in this bag previously, and he tried not to think about what was going to happen when they got there. Any time either of them tried to get up or move around, someone shoved them back down. As the air stung him, he kind of wished he took time to put on pants before rushing down to see if Tyler was ok.
Hamlet, who didn’t get this far in life by being stupid, just kept himself as small as possible cuddled up next to Mars. For a moment he debated springing into action, but he decided this was a good time to take a wait and see attitude. Plus, all the excitement was cutting into his post-breakfast/pre-mid morning nap nap.
The pick came to a stop and they heard the sounds of feet crunching on gravel, then they were finally allowed to stand up.
“Where’d the cat come from? a gruff voice said. Neither Mars nor Kaplan was entirely sure what a “gruff” voice was, but being forced to walk on gravel with their hands zip tied behind their backs while wearing bags over their heads was the perfect time to describe any voice as “gruff.”
“Who knows?” An equally maybe gruff voice responded, “Just bring him along.”
Hamlet was grabbed by the scruff of his neck by one of the possibly gruff sounding men, and the three of them were marched, hopefully not to their untimely deaths.
The procession went sort of like this: First, there was the stinging chill of the wind on the cold pickup truck bed. Then there was the stinging cold and the gravel on the two men’s bare feet. Then there was the cold, just a few pieced of gravel on their feet, and what felt like super cold cement. After a quick unlocking sound, they felt glorious warmth, along with the instruction to wipe their feet because they weren’t to drag dirt all over the nice clean floors. Then nice feeling-sorta cool sorta warm hardwood floors. Followed by being forced into nice feeling leather seats.
At least if they were about to die, they’d feel comfortable for a second.
It was then that they both felt knives, slowly caressing their wrists.
“If you strike us down, we’ll only become more powerful!” Kaplan yelled.
“That,” Mars replied, “That’s what you choose for your last words?”
“When else am I going to be able to say it? I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to say ‘these are not the droids you are looking for’.”
Rather than feel the knives pierce them, they flicked upwards cutting the zip ties, and the bags were dramatically removed from their heads. Both Mars and Kaplan started rubbing their wrists, despite the fact that they weren’t in any pain on their wrists, but because they saw it in the movies. In reality their legs were much colder, as both men were just in boxer shorts. They were surprised as blankets were thrown around them, and they were given cups of hot coffee just the way they liked it.
They both reluctantly took the coffee and allowed their eyes to adjust to their surroundings. There were three large men that stood next to their chairs, lined up perfectly in front of an ornate desk that looked almost spotless except for a few old books on top of it. Even Hamlet was curled up in a leather chair, a bowl of food placed next to him. They were in an office that seemed somewhat, “homey” was the only word for it. A large couch sat in the back next to an easy chair. Morning sunlight streamed through the window. The wood-paneled walls were covered in pictures and degrees. There was even a nice fireplace giving off a heat that their legs so desperately needed.
If not for the armed guards surrounding them and creepy twins sitting in the back, the whole place might have seemed kind of nice, actually.
Kaplan took a sip of his coffee then looked that the large guard standing right next to him. He waved his hand, “These are not the droids you are looking for.”
Mars gave him a little punch. “What is wrong with you?”
“We still might die.”
There was the sound of a large door opening and closing, then footsteps on the hardwood floor.
Since this adventure began, Mars had to say a lot of things he was sure he’d never had to say in his life. Angels. Demons. Apocalypse. Nicolas Cage is ending the world. So many things that just sounded wrong. The whole event was surreal, and each moment brought a case of, “this is the least likely thing that could ever happen.” At this point, he could either be told that the only way to wake up the sleeping princess in front of him being guarded by seven dwarves was to kiss her, and he’d probably just roll with it. It was important to note that this is what was going through his head when the man who entered the room sat down at the desk in front of him.
It was the least likely thing that could ever happen.
“James Franco?” Mars asked.
Indeed. James Franco now sat in front of them in all of his James Franco-ness. At this point they were told they had to stop Nicolas Cage from taking over the world in New Orleans, but for some reason they were now stopping by James Franco’s secret home in Tennessee.
Kaplan looked equally shocked, and said nothing for a moment. Then he waved his hand again, “These are not the droids you are looking for.”
“Seriously?” Mars said again.
“James Franco is about to kill us to stop us from stopping Nicolas Cage from taking over the world. At this point, I’m willing to try anything.”
“Gentleman,” James Franco said calmly, looking at the two of them, “I’m not here to kill you.”
Mars was unsure if that was a relief. Kaplan briefly considered the fact that his Jedi mind trick worked, but thought better than to mention it to Mars.
“I’m here to help,” he said, looking over at the white cat in the black leather chair. “Hello, Hamlet, it’s good to see you again.”
Hamlet sleepily looked up, blinked, then closed is eyes and put his head down.
“I’m surprised Izzy let you take him. Hamlet is one of his favorites,” James Franco said.
Mars changed the subject, “So, if you’re not here to kill us, what was with the bags? and the kidnapping?”
“And the not letting us put on pants?” Kaplan added.
“The kidnapping is because you’re in danger. The bags were if you were caught you can’t lead Nicolas Cage’s forces back to our lair... we’ve had problems with that in the past. And the pants are unfortunate.”
James Franco snapped and two of the large guards presented them with jeans, socks, and shoes that all fit perfectly.
“Danger?” Mars asked.
“Yes, by now I’m sure you know that your companion Elizabeth managed to chase your other companion Tyler off a cliff. She was sent to spy on David Kaplan here, and slow you down, but Tyler was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“How do you know all this?” Kaplan asked, “and why wasn’t Mars being watched.”
“I’m James Franco. It’s my business to know these things,” he said. “And Mars was being watched.”
Mars was being watched. Nicolas Cage’s forces had quietly inserted a new intern into the offices of Smith Times Four the second they found out that he was on the short list to be the new Chosen one after Dale. His task was simple: get assigned to Mars’ team and keep an eye on him all while befriending and assessing the target. Unfortunately, on his first day he wandered into a meeting in which the First Smith was plotting his secret selling off of the company. Not wanting this secret to get out, he was bribed with more money than he’d ever seen and a corner office. And that was how Jr. Executive Chen got his office and his title, never having to really work again a day in his life.
“So... what do you want with us?” Mars asked.
“It’s simple. I’m here to help. You guys are third in line, I can’t have you failing again.”
“You know, it’s not that we aren’t grateful... gifthorse and mouth,” Kaplan said, “But other than being a citizen of planet Earth, why do you care if Nicolas Cage takes over the world?”
“The Cage/Franco rivalry goes back many years, my friends,” James got up and stared out the window, contemplating. He stood there for a few minutes, obviously lost in a story that he wasn’t telling either of them at the moment.
Kaplan leaned over to the guard and whispered, “What’s going on?”
“Just give him a minute,” the guard whispered back.
“And Nicolas Cage and I have been locked in a battle for the soul of the world ever since,” James Franco said, turning around and squinting.
Mars was about to speak up, but Kaplan put a hand on his shoulder and shook his head.
“In any event, like I said, I can’t have you failing,” he sat down and put both hands on his desk, “So you need help.”
James Franco snapped again, and both men were presented with swords. They didn’t seem too spectacular. The hilts looked like they were made from some kind of gold, but weren’t as soft, and they each had a big jewel in the middle.
“These sword are from my private collection of mystical weaponry I acquired while researching my role for Your Highness,” he said, “these two swords once belonged to the wizards who trained me in the art of magic.”
“So... we can use these to stop Nicolas Cage?” Mars asked, holding the sword.
“Wait, you’re a wizard?” Kaplan said.
“Yes on both counts. Your predecessors thought they could do it without my mystical help,” James Franco said, “Also, I want you to take these rings.”
He produced two golden rings. They perfectly fit each of their hands.
“What do these do? Cast a magic protection spell?” Mars asked excitedly, watching as it glinted in the sun.
“No, they’re from my upcoming line of fine jewelry for men,” he said, showing off his own ring, “I’m hoping this catches on. James Franco diversifies.”
Kaplan looked a little disappointed. He looked over and he saw one of the guards putting a new collar on Hamlet.
“James Franco for cats,” James Franco replied.
“Hey, so, if you and Nicolas Cage are stuck in such a big battle, why aren’t you going after him?” Mars asked.
“It’s quite simple, for you see...” James Franco again went off into a stare for a few minutes. Then he finished, “so if I interfered, the world itself would collapse.”
“I don’t think we need to hear that whole story,” Kaplan said to Mars.
Mars responded by just nodding his head.
“So, gentlemen, you have your pants, you have your swords, please feel free to take a car and get on your way to New Orleans. The guys here will also provide you with some money and some shirts.”
“Wait, what about Evie?” Mars asked.
“She’s currently in county lockup for assaulting a police officer,” James Franco replied, “Really, she couldn’t be safer. I doubt Nicolas Cage’s men could get in there.”
“That sounds like Evie,” Kaplan laughed.
“You met her like, five minutes ago,” Mars replied.
“I know it just seemed like the perfect moment for that line.”
“Don’t worry, if you succeed, I’ll bail her out,” James Franco replied, “and if you fail, well, she’ll die along with the rest of us, just in prison.”
Mars and Kaplan got up, and started heading for the door. Hamlet popped up behind them, and started following them.
“Hey, and be careful. You did RSVP for my party next month, so I expect to see you there.”
“We did?” Mars asked.
“I was speaking to Hamlet.”