In the darkness of the shadowy alleys and the silent rooftops, Control hopped through the pipes and windows onto the pipe which overlooked the entire city. It was the 31st of December, the day which the humans celebrated as the beginning of a new year. But not for Control. He was one of many, one of the few who existed to make sure that Despair could not cross into the happiest days of the humans.

For years, Happiness had been protected by the Controls whenever necessary, and today, this particular Control too, was making sure that the evil minions of Despair could not harm the Happiness of the city.

Control was just staring at the people eating and bursting firecrackers when a small voice crackled in his earpiece, and slowly, faded into proper existence, “Control 723, we’ve picked up some strong Despair Signals coming in from the shopping mall portal up at the Northern District of your city. I would strongly recommend checking out the place. And also, cloak yourself if possible, do not attract attention”

The voice of the Commander went back and Control turned on his cloaking device. He stepped down and headed towards the Northern District. As he walked by, he looked at all of the people celebrating the new year. A few children were bursting firecrackers along the sidewalk and crying out loudly with happiness as the crackers burst. The Spirits were all over them, the Spirits of Happiness surrounded the children. Wearing bright red clothes, with gleaming hazel eyes, they waved at Control as he walked past.

Control gave a small nod back and started running as he realized the comms were turning back on. He quickly made his way up to the Northern District and headed for the concrete shopping mall. If the intel was correct, there were thousands in the mall right now, all of them enjoying the day. A place perfect for the Minions to attack and kill the Spirits.

The main hall of the mall had a huge banner spread out in the middle and read, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020. Control turned on his tracker and scanned for the portal. It had been years since he had entered the city and he had never left. This was supposed to be his last job and then he would get the year-long rest and would be one with the humans for that short period of time.

The trackers pointed at high signals coming from the second floor of the mall. Control headed up via the escalators, hiding in plain sight, amongst the humans. He hurried towards the signals as they grew higher and higher. And as he got closer, the signals started to take a side. They were normally neutral; but now, they were showing signs of the Minions of Despair coming in from the portal.

Control turned left and the portal stood right before him. The humans went past it and through it, not once realizing about the portal. And as the signals grew louder, the portal started to churn and open. The green light it was emitting turned to dark purple, announcing the entrance of Despair. Control stood his ground and waited for the portal to open.

The dark purple portal started making noises and then after a while, opened up to show a hollow, purple tunnel. The tunnel was empty for a second, and then stepped out of it the Minions. The color of the portal matched the color of the Minions. They wore a dark purple suit. Their faces were covered in black paint, except for the eyes and the mouth, which were painted in white. They carried scythes and wore torn brown shoes.

The Minion General of the assault looked at Control and angrily hissed, “Take him out!” The General, who was only noticed because of the hat he wore, moved along the mall and looked at his victims as a group of five other Minions attacked Control and tried to bring him down. Control pushed them aside and snatched a scythe from one of them and sliced one of them in half. “It’s not your day today, General!” shouted Control, “We protect you when it is a sad day, and there is no reason that you infiltrate this happy one!”

“How happy will they be, Control?” The General continued hissing, “We get a few days of Despair. The random funeral or the random terror attack. And the rest of the days, RESERVED for the Happiness!”

Control smashed another Minion into pieces as he tried to run towards one of the humans. “It is how it is, General!” Control replied. “No” The General retaliated, “You are supposed to control the Despair and Happiness. But if they have so many days, and we have only a few, WHERE IS THE CONTROL?!”

“Despair hits harder than Happiness. And that is why you have so few days. A single day of Despair can lead to weeks of it. But Happiness only lasts for moments. This the reason this imbalance brings the balance between the both of you. Retreat now, or I will be forced to kill you” Control tried to explain to the General. But the General looked back and continued moving among his human prey.

The Minions overpowered Control as he was distracted. They climbed over him and soon, he was under a pile of Minions. They scratched and notched and bit his face. There was a shrill cry of the General and the Minions ran towards him. They were going to rally at a point and begin their attack.

Control could have gotten his moment, but as he was about to get up, one of the Minions picked up his scythe and hit it at Control’s arms, cutting it off from the body. Pain took over and stopped Control from moving for a bit. The Minions rallied and stared to hover among the humans.

They carried the scythes to deal only with Controls. Neither the Minions of Despair nor the Spirits of Happiness had the ability to harm each other. When one of them grew, the other soon disappeared. The only person harmed in the war was the Control trying to stop it. As this particular Control was lying on the floor, he saw Despair starting to take over.

An arcade gaming machine stopped working and a group of teenagers groaned, a small child’s ice-cream dropped. A man got a call and he stepped away from the family as horror filled his face. A mom slapped her son as he threw her phone down the mall by mistake. The smallest of moments, created by the Minions, led to them winning the mall over. And if they won the central hub in which the Spirits existed; the city would follow soon.

After a few seconds, Control got up and picked up the scythe. A Spirit rushed to him and warned him quickly, “You must destroy the portal, or they will keep coming!” Before Control could ask anything else, the Spirit vanished. The Despair grew darker and more powerful.

The portal was to be destroyed. But then again, they were natural creations. There was no saying if one would ever form in the city. If Control destroyed the portal, he would not be able to take his year-long break.

The comms from the Headquarters came back on and the Commander angrily commanded, “Control 723! The Despair is rising! Destroy the portal at once. We will make sure you are rescued. If you aren’t, you can take a longer holiday. Do the thing which is of higher priority right now!” Control nodded and replied, “Right, sire!”

He spun the scythe and caught it again, taking the other side of the blade and went near the portal. The four corners which attached it to the world were the ones he was supposed to break. As he chopped the corners off one by one, he could feel his holiday moving further and further away from him. As he chopped off the last one, the portal groaned and soon deformed. It became dust and flew away with the air. Control moved forward and looked at all the Minions now.

The General was standing in the middle of the mall on the ground floor. Control killed all the Minions in the way, pushing aside the remaining Spirits. As each Minion was chopped and thrown on the ground, two new Spirits were formed.

Everything moved according to the Law. If Happiness was meant to exist, it will exist no matter what. If Happiness is destroyed from that place, it shall come back without any support. Now, Control just needed to make sure to bring back enough Spirits to brighten the mood of the party goers again.

He stepped closer to the General with every step and every step he took, was the demise of one of the Minions. And also, the return of two Spirits. After a few minutes, he faced the General. “Hello, Control” The General laughed, “Missing an arm? I am sorry about that. What will you do?”

“What do you mean?” Control asked, confused. The General nodded and tried to wipe away the confusion, “If you do catch me, what would you do with me?”

“Kill you” Control replied, “Send a message back to your kind to never attack a happy day ever again”. The General laughed and hissed back, “Right. Do you know I can read your thoughts? I can read the fact that you want to be one of them. You want to celebrate this day. You want to know what it is to be happy and spend a day without any worry. Impressive. Unlike any other Control I ever met”

“Stop” Control replied, and held the scythe close to the neck of the General, “Get out of my head. And step back. You are under arrest!” The General put a hand inside his coat pocket and said, “This is the part where most people would get bored, you see. I cannot afford to be arrested and you know that. So why not skip to the chase?” The General pulled out a pistol from his pocket and shot Control.

As Control fell back due to force of the bullet hitting his shoulder, the General shot another, in Control’s stomach. Control swiftly moved the scythe along the General’s neck and the Minion General swept away like any other Minion. Happiness slowly started to take over the mall again.

The comms cracked on again and the Commander happily announced, “We see that you have taken over the mall situation, Control 723. Thank you for your work. We will try to synthesize a portal to bring you back here and send you to your vacation as quickly as possible”

Control chuckled and replied in a slow voice, “It’s alright, sir. That won’t be necessary” He turned off the comms and removed it from his ear and threw it on the ground. He looked at the poster above him. The humans continued their celebrations and welcomed the new year with happiness. Happiness that had been preserved by the unseen Control among them.

Control closed his eyes as a tear strolled down his cheeks. One day had changed his life. New Year’s Eve. The only day he had ever wanted to celebrate. But he hadn’t, ever, in his entire life. But at least he knew that the humans would. They would celebrate it every year. And even if he would not be present there, someone would. Another protector of Happiness, another Control.

December 28, 2019 19:28

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Linda Hallstrom
12:03 Jan 09, 2020

Science fiction is normally not my favorite kind of reading, but I really liked this one. The battle between happiness and despair is portrayed very creatively. Reminds me of the Odd Thomas novels by Dean Koontz. Thank you for sharing this!


Varun Balodi
18:22 Jan 09, 2020

Thanks for the reply and appreciation. :) It was just something that came to my mind as soon as I read that particular prompt. Glad you liked it.


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