“STOP!” Bri shouted as she and two other agents, Tyler and Garrett, ran after yet another artifact abuser.
“What is this world coming to,” Tyler huffed, “that people won’t listen to government agents anymore?”
“Shut up and keep running, Ty.” Bri panted as they rounded a corner.
“How you holding up, Garrett? I know running’s not really your thing.” Tyler turned his head toward the younger agent.
“Could be worse.” Garrett said. “Could be better.” Garrett put a hand to his aching side as they neared the person they were after.
The woman, who had been using Susan Nolen-Hoeksema’s Glasses to make her husband paranoid over everything he’d done wrong in the past to make him confess to him cheating, had finally met a dead-end.
“Why would someone run away with glasses that just make people focus on their past? Not much you can really do with that.” Tyler said, pointing his Sabine at the woman.
The woman, a worried look on her face, slowly put her hands up behind her head and kneeled.
“Finally!” Tyler exclaimed. “A person who doesn’t fight in the end.”
Bri approached the woman with gloved hands and took the glasses. Pulling out a silver bag, she nodded toward Garrett. “You’re gonna want to close your eyes, maybe turn your head. This’ll be bright.”
Garrett did so, and even then his eyes watered a little.
“Huh. Not as big a spark as I’d expected.” Bri said.
“It is a minor artifact. Like I said, not much this thing can do.” Tyler said.
“Would you be okay holding this, Garrett?” Bri asked. “Make sure you have gloves, just to be safe.”
Garrett put on the purple gloves and took the silver bag with the red-and-yellow sticker on it, hugging it tightly. “Do we arrest her? I don’t think she’s committed any offenses, technically.” Garrett asked.
“No, she hasn’t.” Bri said.
“Then we let her go.” Tyler said. “But,” he looked at the woman. “we’ll be keeping an eye on you.” Tyler flashed his Sabin again, making sure he got the point across.
“And this,” Bri said, “is where we keep psychology artifacts.” she said, showing various artifacts around her. “We’ve got everything from Jung to Freud to Pavlov.”
“And now,” Tyler said, “Hoeksema. Go ahead, as your first field mission, you should be the one to turn on the display card.”
Garrett took out the glasses and put them on the shelf. He typed a few commands into the electronic display card and the image and description of the glasses popped up. He smiled.
“Congrats. Now, to congratulate ourselves on the easiest mission we’ve had in a while.” Tyler began. He turned to Bri, “how’s about we go over to the diner? I hear they’ve got a new menu section entirely for eggs!”
Bri sighed and rolled her eyes. “You’re such a dork sometimes.” She smiled and turned to Garrett. “You wanna join?” She placed a hand on Garrett’s shoulder, which sent a little shake through his spine.
He shivered a little, causing Bri to retract her hand. “You okay? Cold?” she asked.
He grinned a little before calmly looking at both her and Tyler. “No, just get shivers sometimes. No big deal. You go ahead without me.”
“I don’t know man.” Tyler said. “This place is infinite, you could get lost.” Tyler grinned. “Oh, Nikki, remember when Artie told us about poor agent Samson? He just started, and when he accidentally went left at the Magic Corner intersection instead of right, they had to give his paycheck to someone else because he never even got the chance to go on one mission.”
Tyler laughed loudly, while Bri just turned away, her neck a little red. “That never happened, Garrett. You’ll be fine. You have your Farnsworth.”
Garrett nodded, placing a hand over his jacket pocket where his Farnsworth rested.
"Any problem, any confusion, call anyone, and they'll help." Bri turned and grabbed the still laughing Tyler by the shoulders, pushing him forward. "We'll see you later!"
Garrett waved goodbye and turned around to gaze upon the collection of artifacts that dealt with the inner mechanisms of the mind.
He saw tags and cards for every psychologist he heard of, even a few that didn't ring a bell. He saw an artifact that intrigued him: a four-foot tall doll, either inflated or stuffed, with a clown on it. Reading the name tag, he saw it was Albert Bandura's Bobo Doll. He had learned about that child aggression study in school. Looking at it now, he did have the sudden urge to pop its stupid face off. Or take out whatever was keeping it full.
He became aware of his thoughts and quickly turned around, putting his hands up and exhaling. He glanced around for something else to marvel over, and saw many interesting objects. There were several clipboards and glasses, as one would suspect, but there was a long couch covered in pillows and blankets that Garrett automatically tagged as Freud's.
"I'm not messing with Freud." Garrett said to himself. The more famous a person was, he assumed, the more powerful their artifacts were. Freud had a place of honor here, and he'd rather not go through his past lives or repressed memories.
'Garrett' , a voice called from behind him. Garrett turned around, expecting another agent, but the aisle was empty. He pulled out his Farnsworth. Maybe he'd been called and it was answered without him knowing. Nope, still off.
'Garrett' . The voice said his name again. He couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from, or who's it was. It sounded familiar, but still mysterious. He mentally cursed his own terrible memory.
"Who's there?" Garrett called. He quickly turned, and his glasses fell off of his face and slid a few feet awa from him. He tried to sound confident, but it came out more worried that he'd have liked.
'Over here' , the voice called. This time it was from a noticeable direction, behind him. He quickly turned around, half expecting to see a ghost or something, but again saw nothing but an empty aisle - until he saw a quick glimmer from an artifact. He warily walked forward, unsure of what he was looking for, and came upon a cigar. Unfortunately, the paper card underneath it was old and faded, and his lack of vision made it worse, so he couldn't read it.
The cigar quivered for a moment, causing Garrett to back away a little, before it calmed. Garrett put on his gloves and picked up the artifact, looking around for a spare bag dispenser, like in grocery stores. Unfortunately, he could find neither bag nor bucket, and decided to put it back instead.
As Garrett put the cigar bag, he noticed the faint whiff of smoke. Growing up around his grandfather, cigar smoke had become something he could now tolerate, and he kept breathing, until he became lightheaded. He stepped back, clutched his head, and sat down for a moment on the concrete floor to compose himself. He hated lightheadedness. He had never gotten it until he nearly fainted after watching his first gory movie. This, though, was worse.
He felt his vision blur around the edges and turn to pinpoints, and lied down on his side. After a few moments, he felt better. Shivering a little, he sat back up and opened his Farnsworth.
After fidgeting with the knobs for a moment, he finally called someone. Artie's face popped up on the screen.
"Yes?" Artie grumbled. Garrett wasn't sure if he was in a bad mood or not. "Oh, Garrett, good timing. Could you come up to the office please? There was a little mishap with the steering wheel and some of my shelves were emptied."
"O-okay, but-" Garrett began.
"Great. I appreciate it." Artie clocked off his Farnsworth, and Garrett's screen went to black.
He sighed and pocketed his Farnsworth. Picking the cigar up again, and finding his glasses thankfully unscratched, he made sure to keep it as far away from his face as possible until he found a neutralizer station.
He grabbed the hose and doused the cigar clean, tiny sparks flying about. When he was content that the cigar had been neutralized, he ran back to the Psychology Section, placed the cigar back where he found it, and went on his way toward Artie's office.
He couldn't help feel a weird nagging in the back of his mind, like something was bothering him, but he wasn't sure what.
Garrett was able to find the office on his own for the first time. He sighed in relief and climbed up the metal staircase and entered Artie's office. Claudia and Artie were crouched on the floor picking up random knick-knacks, papers, notecards and a few electronic gadgets.
"Glad you made it, youngster," Claudia looked up, a stack of papers in her arm.
"You're lucky I value my things over punishment, Claudia, otherwise you'd be cleaning up your mess on you own." Artie pushed up his glasses and placed several fallen paperweights back on his desk.
"How was I supposed to know that's what the wheel does? What is it even used for?" Claudia asked.
"Read the manual." Artie answered.
Garrett picked up the fallen whiteboard and markers, pushing it up against the wall nearest him. He bent down, grabbing a few handwritten note cards, some detailing artifact history, some minor Warehouse events, and even a few listen what he assumed were names of past agents.
"Hey, Artie?" Garrett asked timidly.
"Yes?" Artie asked, shooting a quick annoyed glance at Claudia before turning his head toward the young agent.
"Uh, nothing, never mind." He had yet to overcome his shyness around other people, especially people he didn't want to let down.
The three continued to clean up the mess until everything was off the floor.
"Thanks, Garrett." Claudia said. "I owe you."
"Yeah, but what he doesn't owe you is your chores. You're organizing all the stray paperwork." Artie pointed at Claudia and shook his finger. Claudia grumbled begrudgingly complied.
"You have anything you need to ask, Garrett? I know that there's not really much to do here other than catalog." Artie asked, prompting a snort from Claudia.
"N-no, not really. Just, uh... nothing." Garrett said. He quietly walked toward the manual office, flicking on the light and illuminating the small but packed room.
Garrett had expected a large book, maybe two, to comprise the Warehouse manual, but he was not expecting an entire miniature library. Couldn't they have divided it up some way? Maybe make the text a little smaller?
Unsure of what to do now that he knew he had no chance of reading the entire manual, he went back to the office and saw Artie typing away at the computer, a scientific calculator in one hand and a pencil poised in the other.
He didn't know why, but seeing Artie like that just.. irked him to a certain extent. He had never been great at math. Well, that wasn't true, he had been the best in his family in math. Had...
Garrett, who was getting a rather intense feeling of anxiety in the pit of his stomach, decided to walk out and look somewhere else in the Warehouse, closer to the office, but far enough where he couldn't see Artie in the window.
"Make sure you don't mess with anything, kid." Artie said absent-mindedly. Again, this really irked Garrett, but he couldn't place the reason. He hated being told obvious things like he was stupid, but Artie... no, Artie probably just said it out of habit. No reason he should get upset. He's not... he's Artie. The grumpy, hard-to-love-but-once-you-did-you-always-did stuffed bear of a man, that's who he was.
Garrett walked out toward the shelves, composed, and mildly stomped to the nearest aisle he could find.
Garrett had found a section more to his taste: the Origin Circle. He had always been fascinated by alternate religions to his own. He had always thought Christianity as a bit... boring. The Bible was a little hard to understand anyway. But a multi-limbed elephant man, a hand-devouring wolf, and women who could enchant listeners with their voices: sign him up.
He wandered the section, observing how each different religion had its own mini-section, away from the others. He wondered if this meant that all religions where real. If the public knew about this, it would either bring world peace, or World War 3. He saw a silver cuff bracelet, and was so fascinated that he almost picked it up, if it weren't for the sudden sound of groaning and random mutterings of a language unknown to Garrett from behind him.
He spun around, and saw a living skeleton looking at him. He screamed and backed into a shelf, knocking down an artifact. This got the zombie's attention, causing it to lurch toward the young agent.
Frozen with fear, Garrett couldn't do anything but watch, mortified, as the zombie closed in on him, bent down... and picked up the fallen cuff bracelet, placing it calmly back on the shelf above Garrett's head.
The zombie took a step back and looked down at Garrett, who was surprised to say the least. The zombie held out its hand, and Garrett reluctantly took it. The monster helped him up and gazed blankly at the significantly shorter agent.
Garrett, who was still immensely frightened, couldn't help but stare at the zombie's glowing orange eyes, which seemed to fill his very soul with both unease and fearful respect.
The zombie pointed to a nametag crudely pinned to his chest: "Old Bone." He tilted his head and pointed to Garrett's chest.
"G-G-Garrett." Garrett stammered.
"Old Bone," as he was called still had that tilted head and pointing finger. He opened his mouth and let out noises which sounded too articulated to be random gurgles. "Su... nombre?"
Garrett's mother had taught him rudimentary Spanish when he was little, so he understood that the zombie was asking his name. Maybe he only spoke Spanish? Then he'd have to use a Spanish name.
"V-Veec-t-tor." Garrett said, his Spanish a little rusty. Old Bone seemed content with that answer, lowered his arm, and tilted his head back straight.
Garrett watched as the zombie turned around and lurched toward a wooden chair in the center of the section, and sat down.
He slowly followed the zombie and stood a good distance away from him, but still in is line of sight so as to not provoke him into thinking he was causing trouble.
Old Bone looked at Garrett with a blank expression, then looked back in front of him. Garrett, after a few minutes, walked over to the chair and sat down next to it on the floor.
"H-he-hello." Garrett stammered again. Old Bone didn't move. "Are you... are you an agent or something?"
He watched as Old Bone seemed to recognize some of the sentence and shook his head by a small degree.
"Okay, not an agent." Garrett tapped his fingers on the ground for a few seconds before looking back up. "Guardian? Uh, what's Spanish for guardian... ¿Es usted un protector?"
Old Bone nodded his head slowly, but more noticeably. An undead guardian of a religion section of an ever-growing infinite Warehouse in the middle of the Badlands. Garrett had gone past the drama and was now in that shutdown state where nothing seemed to get to him. At least until later, when he'd need to focus and all he'd think about was everything he saw. He sighed and leaned back.
At least he wasn't getting his face munched off. That was something. The Spanish was a little annoying, though.
After a few minutes of silence, Garrett decided to get up and head somewhere else. He reached up, intending to pull himself up with the chair's armrest, but instead he grabbed Old Bone's hand.
Other than the feeling of old flesh, and the realization that he had just touched undead, wrinkly, old flesh, he had felt another shiver down his spine. His mind was flooded with virtually tons of emotions: anger, pain, sadness, contentedness, peace. Everything, every strong emotion this zombie had ever felt had just filled Garrett's mind in a matter of milliseconds.
Old Bone must have let go of Garrett's clenched hand, as he was now back on the ground, panting. He looked up to see Old Bone holding up his broken hand., gazing down at him.
Garrett was unsure of what he should do. Apologize? He could barely breath, let alone speak in time before he was attacked by Old Bone, who he was sure he had made angry.
He scrambled to his feet and ran away, unaware of Old Bone simply shuffling back to his chair and sitting down.
Garrett was running as fast as he had ever run before. Although he wasn't very athletic, fear was an amazing motivator. 'They should make a jogging app for this.' he thought.
He made his way through random aisles, narrow corridors, and a few artifacts that were just resting on shelves that were too big to be placed on actual shelves.
When he was sure he had lost the zombie, he stopped and collapsed, resting a hand against a nearby shelf. After a few minutes of catching his breath, he got up and looked around. He didn't recognize this part of the Warehouse at all.
Garrett sighed and stomped his foot in frustration. Pulling out his Farnsworth, he was able to successfully call someone on his first try.
A Spanish man's face appeared on the screen. Garrett recognized him from the B&B, but he couldn't remember his name.
"Si?" He asked. "Who is it?" He noticed the sounds of mechanical whirring in the background.
"Um, Garrett." he answered blandly.
"Oh, the new kid? Nice to meet you. Name's Juan. What's up?" Juan asked. Garrett noticed a pink scar that ran across his face through his eye.
"I, uh... I don't know where I am." he said sheepishly. Juan sighed, rubbed his eyes, and brushed his hair back.
"Okay, do you see anything in particular where you are? I large artifact, maybe a building, or maybe a sign?" Juan asked.
"Um... I see a big black coffin." Garrett offered.
"Oh, that's Madame Bobbin's. Whatever you do, do not touch it. Trust me." As Juan said it, Garrett thought he heard a strange noise come from the coffin, like a mix of a growl and a moan, and maybe a baby crying. He backed away.
"I know where you are. Just, ah... don't touch anything, and I'll get someone to get you." Juan said. He sounded annoyed. 'AH!" Juan shouted. When he looked back at the screen, Juan's face was covered in a weird dark slime.
"Where are you?" Garrett asked.
"Estúpido hijo de una máquina de puta!" Juan yelled, before shifting his attention back to Garrett. "The Gooery. Look, just, ugh... just stay put, someone'll get to you."
There is was again, that irked feeling. Garrett still didn't know what it was, but when he thought about how angry Juan was, and how annoyed he seemed, Garrett got angry, too.
"Y'know what, fine. I'll find my own way." Garrett closed his Farnsworth, interrupting Juan mid-sentence.
He didn't need someone else's help to find his way around. If Juan was gonna be a jerk about it, he didn't matter. Just like his father, always treating Garrett poorly just because of a bad day he had.
Garrett threw the Farnsworth to the ground and marched off in a random direction angrily. As he passed, he passed a mirror. Looking at it, he saw how bad he looked. Stopping to fix himself up, he thought of all the times his parents had fussed over his lifestyle and appearance.
'Are you going to dye your hair? Not many people like gingers.' his mother had said jokingly a few years back. He didn't need to be reminded of how he was the only redhead in the family.
'When are you going to start taking care of yourself better?" his father had told him when he saw how he repetitively ate the same junk food everyday.
'No, you can't wear that, people are going to think you're a girl.' his father had said about the new necklace he had paid thirty dollars for.
'When are you going to study more? Your little sister made better grades than you, and she's in advanced placement' They had both said. 'Not me.'
Garrett reared back and punched a nearby shelf, knocking a few artifacts on their sides, prompting a few to give off sparks.
He ran away, tears beginning to form in his eyes, wherever he needed to go so that he didn't have to face his memories.
It wasn't until a few minutes later that Garrett came across another unfamiliar area. This time, it seemed that a square hole had been carved into a section to create a small room. A sign above the entrance read "Schoningen Armory."
Peering inside, Garrett saw that it was full of all sorts of weapons. Rapiers, hook-swords, and even a kyoketsu-shoge or two.
Garrett had always been fascinated with cool-looking weapons outside the norm. Especially blades. He didn't ask why, he just liked sharp edges...
...Except when they were pointed at him.
'Go ahead, queer, cry.' the kid said.
Back when Garrett was in middle school, he had made the bold but unfortunate decision to enter the school talent show... and sing an MLP song. Not only that, but he wasn't the best singer.
At the end of school, when Garrett was packing up in the library, he was cornered and forced into the bathroom in the back. Several other kids, all strong boys, had correctly assumed he was gay, and were intent on teaching him a lesson.
The biggest kid, Henry Clark, who's father just happened to own a knife shop on the other end of town, had stolen a rather large knife from his collection, and was now pointing it at Garrett, cowering in the corner.
'Fucking pony-homo-fucker.' Henry said through gritted teeth.
Garrett, scared and crying, huddled in a corner, was surrounded, with no way out. He covered his head with his hands, but they were pulled away and he was forced up to his feet.
'I'm gonna enjoy ramming this knife in you. Bet you'd like that, huh, faggot?' Henry said.
He pulled up Garrett's shirt and ran the edge of his blade across his abdomen, eliciting cries of pain as it caused several bleeding lines across his stomach where he randomly changed pressure.
'Keep your mouth shut!' Henry hissed. He pulled the knife back, but before he could do any more damage, he was halted by an angry shout from behind him.
'What the hell are you doing?!' came the voice of a male teacher from the entry way. He ran and pulled Henry back, throwing him to the ground and sending the knife sprawling. The boys ran off, including Henry, but they were soon heard shouting. Apparently, the teacher had called the cops when he heard muffled cries and screams from the bathroom.
Garrett went back to cowering, and backed away from the teacher, who got to his knees.
'Hey, kid, its okay. Its okay.' the teacher, scooted closer and put a hand on Garrett' shoulder. He pulled him toward him, hugging him, allowing Garrett to cry into his chest.
Garrett was taken to the hospital and given a few days off from school. The teacher, was, according to the news report of the incident, was art teacher Jack Boeing, a foreigner from New Zealand.
Ever since that day, Garrett had kept his mouth shut in public, and had never tried anything new that would potentially put himself in the same situation. The closest thing he had gotten since to being open was answering a few questions in his classes.
Garrett fell to his knees and hugged himself. He swore he could feel his arms get yanked up, his legs kicked, even those scratched on his stomach.
He had never did anything wrong, so why was he being hurt again? He didn't deserve this...
Or did he? His parents were Christians. What if he was going to Hell because he was gay? What if those boys were sent by God to punish him? Then what did that make the teacher? He wasn't a guardian angel from Heaven, that's for sure.
Garrett looked up and saw a small silver blade sticking out from over the shelf. He picked it up and adjusted it in his hand.
He looked down and saw small patches of blood stain his shirt from the inside.
'Maybe I should finish the job.' he thought.
Garrett pulled his shirt up, exposing the renewed scratches, and raised the dagger above his head.
He nearly brought it down before he was tackled by something. He dropped the dagger and looked up.
Above his head was Old Bone's. He had been saved by him. Before Garrett could say something, he saw Old Bone's eyes dim, and his body began to fall.
Garrett didn't know what to do, but apparently Old Bone did. He put his broken hand in Garrett's grip, sending a specific emotion to him: an emotion full of both pain and peace, like he had been reborn. The emotion was followed by a flash of bright electric view, and Garrett felt Old Bone's body collapse on top of him.
Garrett got to his feet and, going on a hunch, pulled the body back in the direction from where he came.
Garrett finally made it to a small clearing in the Warehouse, occupied only by a large pit filled with electric blue liquid.
Tired from carrying his body, Garrett slowly set Old Bone onto the ground at the edge of the pit. Zombie were heavier than he thought.
Garrett stood up and crossed his arms. He had only an inkling of what he should be doing, and he knew it had something to do with the pool, but he wasn't sure what.
"C'mon, Old Bone, what do I do?" he asked aloud.
He watched as Old Bone's body settled, and his arms moved slightly, just enough so that a single finger fell into the liquid. Trails of energy the same color as the pool trailed over the finger, and it began to twitch.
Garrett bent down and pushed Old Bone completely into the pool, minding not to touch the liquid himself. Who knew what it might do?
He watched as Old Bone's body sank into the pit, and after a few long moments, his skeletal hand reached up from the pit and pulled himself out, the remaining droplets of liquid not falling onto the floor, but rather being pulled back into the pit.
"Gracias." Old Bone spoke in a more fluid manner. He supposed he must have been tired earlier. "Usted me trajo de vuelta a la vida."
"De nada." Garrett replied. He at least knew what "thank you" was in Spanish.
Old Bone and Garrett walked in silence back to the Origin Circle, where he returned to his chair.
"Yo debería haber dado este." Old Bone said. He reached behind his chair and pulled out an English-Spanish dictionary, and handed it to Garrett.
"Gracias." Garrett laconically thanked him.
"¿Por qué tienes un cuchillo?" Old Bone asked.
Garrett quickly flipped through the dictionary and found the basic meaning of his question. He thought that it would have taken too long to try to translate his answer, so he just told him. His memories were practically eating him inside.
Garrett sighed. "When I was younger, before the Warehouse, I... I got bullied. A lot. For my manner, my appearance, for everything I did, people hated me for it." He sat down next to Old Bone's chair.
"My parents weren't much of a help. They love me, I know they do. They just... they don't exactly care for the things I do or have done." Garrett placed a hand over his stomach, which was starting to feel better. "And the fact that every time I've been good at something, but its either surpassed or hated, hasn't made my life any better."
Old Bone, although he didn't exactly know what Garrett was saying completely, knew that what he was saying something important and difficult.
"And... and when I nearly got killed last year, that was it. I never did anything I loved, because I thought it would happen again." Garrett was sobbing now. "Its not my fault I'm gay. Its not my fault I like Felix. Its not my fault!"
Garrett balled himself up and cried. He cried alone, and for the biggest time in a year, and nearly forgot anyone else was there. Until he felt two hands on his shoulders. He thought the one on his left shoulder felt more fleshy than the one on his right, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that he was allowed to cry as much as he wanted.
Juan himself was unable to leave the Gooery, but sent Felix, who was with him, to run to where Garrett was last. He found the coffin, and a few overturned artifacts, but no sign of the kid.
He ran to the Origin Circle, the nearest section, and found Old Bone sitting in his chair.
"Old Bone!" Felix called, causing the zombie to slowly stand up and turn to face him. He was wary of the zombie, but calmed himself with the fact that there was no reason that he should targt him for anything. "¿Has visto a Garrett?"
"Veec...tor." Old Bone groaned.
"No, no Victor." Felix said, "Garrett."
Old Bone stood there silently.
"Ugh, your Etir must be low." Felix muttered. "Sólo tienes que buscar un niño."
Old Bone seemed to understand and shuffled off somewhere where, Felix hoped, Garrett would be.
Felix had given up searching for the kid, and had half a mind to call Artie and start an alarm. This is why people younger than 16 shouldn't be hired. They threw temper tantrums.
He dejectedly made his way back to the Origin Circle, and saw Old Bone sitting next to a crying Garrett.
He felt a little bad for Juan getting mad at the kid earlier, now. He must have gotten lost and scared by the vastness of the place. He made his way to Garrett, and when he placed his hand on Garrett's shoulder, so did Old Bone. Although Garrett didn't stop crying for a minute, he seemed to be getting it out of his system. When he stopped, he walked away silently, hoping he didn't know it was him. Kids have such fragile pride, especially when it comes to others seeing them weak. He wouldn't mention this, even to Garrett himself.
Across the Warehouse, in the psychology section, there was a glimmer from an artifact. Next to the now neutralized cigar, sat a bronze Austrian lighter, and it was patiently waiting for the one person who could use it to their advantage. No matter how long it took...