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Madness

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For a long time, the lines of text in his father's eyes flashed by, and crazed murmurs echoed the walls. Always silent was the house, the only sound being that of pencil scribbling furiously against paper. The boy sometimes stole a peek in through the workroom door, curiosity lingering in him from the nights his father spent his away. Eventually, as he reached about seven years old, his father found him in his room, and told him of the Madness. There was a man, he told his son, a vendor of Madness, who could make dreams become reality and reality become hell. There was always a price. Always a price for perfect.

Now, standing tall over the boy's head were mounds of trash. Piled high to the sky, garbage bags began to spill over, and he doubted his father's words were really coming from him, or the jumbled lines in his eyes. His own scanned over the mass, and finally landed on the man. He stood at six feet, something inches, with a bald head topped with a classy hat. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of dark circular glasses, and he was dressed in a dirty-looking suit. Before he had time to disappear, the boy ran to him. "I know you! You're the one that lives in my father's eyes, aren't you?"

Looking surprised, the man raised a hand. "We'll, uh...that's not quite how it works." From his pocket, he pulled a small notebook and looked down at its pages. "Now, before you go blaming me for your father, let me check my notes. What was his name again? Oh, that's righ-"
"I want to buy a madness."

The smile on the vendor's face was dark, eerily spread from ear to ear. "Oh, of course. I don't usually do this for kids, but you DO have the eyes for it." Dragging out his actions, his hand reached into the mound of junk behind him and pulled out a small toy train. "Here you go," he said and handed it to the child. "That should do the trick."

The boy was now a teen, with a track set all around his room, and in the middle rolled the toy train. There was a soft knock at his door, followed by a creaking sound, and his mother's gentle voice. "Honey, there's someone here to see you." A soft hum of acknowledgement was the only ply from the boy, so his mother led in their guest and shut the door for privacy. Without looking up, he knew who it was. "Hello again."

"No."
"Now, now. The payment plan gives you seven years to-"
"I'M NOT FINISHED!!"

The shout made the finely dressed man jump a little, but he settles as the boy spoke again. "Look, I'll buy back in again, okay?"
"With what?" The man asked. "You already owe me your sanity."

There was hesitation, a bit of silent before the boy answered.

"The sanity of my first born."
"THAT'S a bit presumptuous." There was interest in his voice.
"Just give me seven more years, Mister, and my kids will outnumber the railroad ties from here to Boston."

As the vendor broke out in a fit of laughter, three tickets fell to the floor and the boy looked up. "Alright kid. I like your style...see you in seven."

Seven more years past, and there was another knocking. No more was there a child's bedroom, but a workaholic's office, the walls covered entirely in blueprints. "WHAT?!" The boy, now a man, called out.
"It's time now," came the vendor's voice, his tone hinted with dark intention. But the man paid no attention and rushed to the door, his hand wrapping around the other man's arm as he pulled him in. "Oh, thank God you're here!"

His finger smacked in the table, on top of which laid a thin document with very large number scribbled up at the top. "You have to get me out of this." The man's voice was desperate, but the vendor merely stepped back and raised his hands up. "I suggest conscientious objection." But the grown man growled deeply and flipped the table over in anger. "I HAVE NO CONSCIENCE!" He moved back to the vendor and took his throat in his shaking hands. "You sold me a faulty Madness, old man."
"All ideas, no principles," he said coldly.
"You wanna know why me and roller coasters get along so well? We both go fast and BELIEVE IN NOTHING!"

The man, shaking, moved back again. "Seven more years. All my kids." He set back up the table and all the papers on it. "Make this one a good one, okay? Something with conviction." The vendor nodded slightly and opened up the office door. "Deal...but just remember. Madness earns interest."

"It's beautiful, isn't it? A park alive with the speed of trains and socialism in our time! Listen: beneath our feet, en elevator plummets at top speed! Suddenly, it stops. Is it broken? Is this the end?! Of course not! But the fear builds bonds to last a lifetime. Circular cars let you look into your Conrad's eyes as you share his terror. Terror that TEACHES. Powered not by capitalist power lines, but by the people IN line! And this...this is only the beginning! So naturally, I can't pay you now."

The vendor stood behind him, surrounded by crowds of shuffling people, his sigh barely audible over the screams of those enjoying the attractions. "This park is costing me business."
"Cost, business...typical capitalist," the man scoffed. "The man who built 'CoasterLand' is your client!"
"You're a good client, but you've run up quite a debt." The vendor raised his eyebrows as the man scooped up a young child and lifted them playfully in the air. "Your family..."

"I love my family, comrade!" The man cut in. "But this is my LEGACY! I will gladly give my children - my children's children - for it's sake!"
"You want seven more years?! FINE! Seven more years!" The vendor's expression was twistedly serious as his voice lowered to barely above a whisper. "But Madness isn't a tool, my friend. It's a force."
The next time the man looked up, he was being handed flowers. "What are these for?" He asked. He watched the vendor begin to walk towards the gates of the park, lifting his top hat with a glance backwards. "Your final Madness. And my condolences."

Seven years later, and another knock came at the heavy wooden door, paint chipped off in various places. Today, no answer came, so the man at the door peeked his head in and squinted his eyes in the darkness. "Hello? Hello, I'm here."

"She was allergic to lithium," came a hoarse voice, riddled with sorrow. "It was in her file. If I was there, I could've done something...I was at the park." As the vendor circled around the thick leather chair to face the old man, he could see that there were railroad lines, heaped in a chaotic mass, flickering in his eyes. "Take what I owe. I'm finished."

A demonic grin crept up to the vendor's lips, quivering with help back laughter. "Oh, no, no, no. You see, I've been taking what I'm owed..." The two men's eyes finally met, and there was indescribable terror in the inventor's. "For twenty-eight years."

"It's been a pleasure doing business with you."




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