Felicia had always hated the snow. It was cold, it was wet, and she was one of the few kids who were actually upset when school was canceled. On top of all that, it rendered her already shoddy vehicle completely useless. So instead of driving down to her job interview, she had to walk. At least it wasn't that far- the employer, for whatever reason, had elected to hold it in the local diner. It seemed somewhat odd to her, but at only sixteen she considered it possible she just didn't know any better.
In fact, that was not the only thing that struck her as odd. She couldn't remember applying to a toy company. Her parents had both shrugged it off, saying one of them might have done it at some point. Even discarding that loose end, what would a toy company want with a sixteen-year-old girl with no work experience? But they had called her specifically, and a job was a job. Money was money.
She rounded the corner, still trudging through snow that went past her ankles. From there she could see the diner, a small beacon of warmth and color in the freezing whiteness. With something akin to a dash she made her way inside, basking in the warmth as she shut the glass door.
A pair of men, one probably in his twenties and the other likely in his seventies, waved at her in unison from the spot in the corner of the diner. The younger had his brown hair spiked, and wore a three-piece suit with a black and red tie, the jacket unbuttoned to reveal a pinkish collared shirt. The older gentleman wore a suit that held just a hint of purple and a hat that looked like it belonged in a black-and-white photo.
"Felicia, so nice to finally meet you," the older one said. They shook only once, and then he gestured to the seat across from him and his companion. "Please, sit. We have much to discuss."
She unzipped and shrugged off her coat, setting it beside her when she sat. She made sure to sit up straight and maintain eye contact when they spoke.
"I'm Doctor Wondertainment," the gentleman said. "And this is Mister Forgetful."
They were in character, she supposed. They were a toy company after all, it made enough sense that the employees would try to have some fun with their jobs. But was the CEO of the company really conducting her interview?
"And who is she?" Mister Forgetful asked. Felicia had to respect how good he was at pretending to be completely clueless. Or forgetful, rather.
"This is Felicia."
Mister Forgetful withdrew a pen and pad from his pockets. "Can I write that down?"
"Not yet." He smiled at Felicia. "I have some questions for you before we really get into the thick of things."
"Alright. Like what?"
Doctor Wondertainment pulled up a briefcase from under the table. He popped it open and then rested both hands on the table, interlocking his fingers. The sleeves of his suit drew back far enough for Felicia to see a pair of scars wrapping all the way around his wrists.
"Simple legal things. Background check, what have you." He nodded to his cohort and extracted one of the papers from the briefcase. "Go ahead and write down her answers. Where were you born?"
"Portland, Maine." Mister Forgetful scribbled down her answer.
"You are the daughter of whom?"
"…Michael and Anita Huertes." More scribbles.
"And your full name?"
"Felicia Abigail Huertes."
"Where did you go to school? Elementary, middle, high school. Even preschool."
Felicia answered, Forgetful scribbled, and Wondertainment questioned, and she answered, and Forgetful scribbled. The process went on and on, the three of them tucked away in the corner of the diner. Far from prying eyes and listening ears, she gradually revealed the entirety of her being. The interview didn't stop when the waitress took their orders, and it continued as they ate.
Almost an hour had passed before the old man nodded, apparently content. She looked to the pile of notes that Mister Forgetful had been writing and cocked her head to get a look. Names, places, events. None of it looked even a little familiar. Why had he been writing all that? Why was she even here?
"Now, one last question and I think that will be it," Doctor Wondertainment said. He smiled and his eyes shone like distant stars. She felt herself becoming lost in them, the sheer vastness of their presence. The wonder of a million lights cascaded from a single point of boundless energy from deep within the old man, which spread out and touched the souls of thousands.1 Space seemed to shatter around him as he chuckled with the endless roar of a billion stars within an infinite cosmos.
He cleared his throat and asked, "Who are you?"
Her mind was empty. She tried to remember, which is quite difficult to do when one has nothing to remember. Her fingers drummed a beat on the magentabut used to be dull green table. She squeezed her eyes shut in thought and put her hands at her side, her right hand colliding with something furry. She looked down at the corgi that was occupying the space where Felicia's2 coat used to be looking up at her expectantly.
"Who am I, Jeremy?"
Jeremy barked back. Because dogs can talk
"Isabel is a pretty name. Let's go with that."
Anotherwhy are there two Jeremy barked.
"Oh hey, Jeremy. Didn't you see over there. I do kinda like Helga."
A third3 Jeremy barked.
"Are you sure my name's Anastasia? I kind of like Parvati, myself. The fifth, I think." that's not how names work4
A fourth corgi sprang up from under the table, barking excitedly.
"I don't know where you learned Spanish, Jeremy, but you're right. Why choose?"
Isabel Helga Anastasia Parvati Wondertainment V looked to her father? herself and grinned a big, wonderful grin. The world was better for it. The older Wondertainment gave her a small smile in return before coughing into a handkerchief. When he pulled the cloth away, rust 5clung to the kerchief. Mister Forgetful almost jumped out of his seat, but the Doctor just patted the collectible's shoulder.
"I'm getting old, Isabel," he explained. She could see it in his eyes, like a disease of the soul, eating away at the wonderlight within him. "I suppose you could say I used to work a dangerous job, and it's taking its toll. In more ways than one. Heheh."
"I bet I could help!" she offered. "I could cure you by becoming a doctor!"6
The Doctor's eyes sparked. "No, I think it's time to pass the torch. Put the company in the hands of someone… pure."
"Iiii'm not sure what you mean, Doc."
"Perhaps best that way. Ignorance is bliss, as they say."
She drew her lower lip to one side. "If you say so."
"And I do." He took more papers from the briefcase. "This has been a long time coming. I have spent a lot of time and effort to speed along your… growth. And when we get home we'll speed it along even more."
Isabel could see designs and notes for a series of collectibles, a group of people. Most of the documents contained the phrase 'LITTLE MISS HEIR PROJECT.' Notes detailing about removing the need to eat, making someone never age, how to make someone impossible to locate.
"Oh hey, it's me!" Mister Forgetful grabbed one of the papers. "Lookin' good. What's all this for, Doctor?"
"I want you to write down everything these documents say. Every last word. And then burn them, and your notes. Then give me this piece of paper."
Mister Forgetful looked between his creator and the papers, the scrap of paper clutched in his hands. "But then you'd forget, too."
Doctor Wondertainment smiled. "That's the idea. Wouldn't want to hinder progress once I'm senile, eh?"
"If you're sure…"
And Doctor Wondertainment was, and so Mister Forgetful did. The young man transcribed the entirety of the briefcase's contents. Previous identities, methods of conversion, types of transference, theories and ideas and concepts and mad scribbles made in the middle of the night by a god desperately fighting a losing battle. All recorded onto a scrap of paper and wiped from the minds of everyone but Wondertainment's greatest scribe. The waitress came and went again, not noticing the cha- what had always been that way.
When Isabel finished her fourth plate of chocolate pancakes Mister Forgetful set down his pen. "Okay, Doctor. I finished. Do I go ahead and burn it now?"
The old man raised his eyebrows. "Did I tell you to burn it?"
Laughter emanated from somewhere within the spacetime Wondertainment occupied. "Well then, I suppose you should burn it."
Mister Forgetful withdrew a lighter from his pocket. The Doctor had given it to him the day they had met, and told him it was very important. And so Mister Forgetful gathered his notes, piled the documents, and shoved them into the briefcase. He flicked the lighter on and lit it all ablaze, then shut the briefcase.
"So, why did you burn all that?" Isabel asked.
"It's a secret."
"Whaaaaaat? C'mon, tell me. I'm really good at keeping secrets. Like this one time, Jeremy and Jeremy accidentally broke Jeremy's favorite chew toy and I knew but I never told anybody!"
"I'm not allowed to tell anyone. The notes said so."
"Well… okay. I guess." Isabel drank from her glass of milk. "What's that?"
"Doctor Wondertainment told me to give this to him." He held out the scrap of paper. "I think it's important."
The old man took the paper and examined it for a moment. When Isabel tried snatching it from him he passed it over. They were instructions to drop Mister Forgetful off at one of the Foundation's sites. The director had probably ordered him, like he had the other Little Misters.
Isabel slammed the paper down onto the table. "Man, that guy is a great customer!"
"Isn't he? He'll be Mister Collector in no time." Doctor Wondertainment watched the table wobble through different forms and colors from the impact of Isabel smacking it. "You're going to be great, Isabel. The best of us yet, I think."
A cartoonishly large blush covered her face, turning her ears pink. "Aw, c'mon. You're just saying that."
"No, I mean it. Now, come on. It seems we have a Little Mister to deliver."