Peter has manufactured killer minions. What has he in mind for them?
Tensions were rising in the house. 12-year-old Peter’s obsession with video games had reached crisis point. His parents were running out of ideas. They needed to help their son see his addiction was ruining his relationship with the rest of the family. He wasn’t sleeping well, his grades were dropping. Something had to change.
“I hate you!” Peter’s bedroom door slammed shut.
The outburst resulted from his Xbox being removed by his father.
“It’s for your own good..” Jim stood outside his son’s door. “I’ll bring something home tonight we can do together. It’ll be better than those stupid games. You’ll see.”
That evening, Jim tapped gently on Pete’s bedroom door before entering, carrying a large, battered cardboard box of Meccano. His son lay face down on his unmade bed and tried not to show any interest.
“You’ll love this, Pete. I used to play for hours when I was your age.”
Pete’s sullen face turned to watch his father open the box.
“See, son, it has tools, a six volt motor and instructions to build all sorts of things.”
After a few minutes, Peter reluctantly joined Jim on the floor where they built their first project, a windmill, together.
After school the following day, Pete was sitting in his room on the floor messing with the Meccano set, still feeling aggrieved about the loss of his Xbox. “This is lame, it isn’t even new.” He kicked the box across the room. Pieces of metal components scattered everywhere. Another small, unopened box flew under the bed. The boy reached for it and read what was printed in faded writing.
“Instructions: How to make Killer Clockwork Minions.”
“Cool.” he whispered.
“Thank goodness you had the idea of the Meccano set, Jim. Peter seems to have calmed down so much these last few weeks.”
“You’re right, Sue, he’s even stopped complaining about being the only kid in the school not to have Xbox.” Jim smiled at his wife. “It’s like we have a different kid.”
Each evening after dinner, Pete would say, “I’m going to play with my Meccano now before bedtime. I won’t stay up too late.”
Upstairs in his room, Peter had made a few projects to display, to not give rise to any suspicion when his mum cleaned his room. But, on the top shelf in his wardrobe, his army of minions was growing. He could hear them getting restless when he tried to sleep. They made a chittering, chattering sound. Pete wondered if they were communicating with each other in the darkness. Each one was no bigger than a large spider. Their eight metal legs stuck out from the egg-shaped bodies and razor-sharp teeth gleamed when Peter shone his torch into their hiding place.
The first minion had taken him more than an hour to construct, as the instructions were written in a strange font, almost like an old, forgotten language. Peter knew this hadn’t been part of his father’s old Meccano set and the knowledge made him feel he had regained the power he’d lost when his parents enforced the new rules. How he hated them sometimes. They think they know everything. Why can’t I do as I like? Who are they to tell me what I can or can’t do? His feelings of resentment grew each day, along with his personal army.
Standing in a group of his friends at school he felt left out when they discussed the levels they’d reached on, Dead Space, or Minecraft Dungeons. He imagined how stupid he’d feel if he told them he was playing with his father’s old Meccano set.
One day, he decided to take one of his minions to school. He popped the quivering creature in his pocket before he left the house. His best friend, Lee, met him at the school gate.
“Hey Pete, want to come over tonight to play, Dead Space?”
“I’m not sure, I’ll ask mum when I get home. Er, I’ve been sorta grounded.”
“That’s okay if you can’t, Lockie and Stu are coming, anyway.”
Pete felt anger boiling up inside at the unfairness of his folks. He breathed hard, his fists curled tight in his pockets, when he felt a nip on his finger. He pulled out his hand and sucked on his finger. A row of tiny puncture marks oozed blood. He smiled.
“Hi, Mum. Lee’s got a few of the gang going over to his house tonight. His mum’s doing pizzas. I’ll be home before nine.” Pete called out as he came through the front door.
“Sorry, honey. Your dad said no more video games for at least a month. You know that.”
Pete saw red. “That’s so unfair! I hate this family!” He ran to his room and threw himself on the bed and refused to come downstairs, even for supper.
He heard his parents going to bed, their voices were low, but he knew they were talking about him. His older brother’s name was mentioned, and he knew he was being compared to Ben, who, “never gave us a moment’s concern.”
He’d show them, he thought. He climbed on a chair and lifted the box of minions down from the back of the closet. They sounded like a box of day-old chickens, tweeting, chattering and stamping their feet on the rough cardboard.
Carrying the box outside his parent’s room, he gently tipped it on an angle so the little machines could march through the gap under the bedroom door. Peter grinned and went back to his room.
The sun woke him when it shone in his eyes. He was surprised to see he’d gone to sleep in his school clothes. His watch said he was late for school. Why hadn’t someone woken him?
“Mum? Dad?” he called out.
There was no reply. The house felt empty. He pattered on bare feet to his parent’s room and listened outside the door before gently opening it to discover no one there. Nothing except an empty bloodstained bed.