Summary: When Fear Co. changes to fit the times, Johnny Worthington and Rosie Levin are two "old dogs" which have to team up to learn new tricks.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. Or really, anything Nathan Fillion—related. Woe is me.
"Thhank you for attending our mandatory retraining meeting. My name ith William H. Thlaughter, but you can call me Will," the orange monster grinned gruesomely, his jagged under-bite catching every now and again on his upper lip in a slight lisp, "although given the nature of thith meeting, you might want to remember the latht one ath well. Because you can't thpell Thlaughter without 'laughter.'"
A few of the monsters present chuckled weakly, and Johnny Worthington shook his head, arms folded and form lounging in the uncomfortable metal chair. The break room smelled of rancid food, the side effect of certain monsters' eating habits, unwashed bodies and worse as Scarers of all shapes and sizes rubbed shoulders, whether they wanted to or not. At the front a creaky projector kept flickering and buzzing as Fear Co.'s logo wavered against a blank screen and the name, "William H. Slaughter," was written on the board next to it. Along with the words, "Mandatory Retraining Meeting."
The assembly had been announced two weeks prior, so as to circulate amongst all the fear floors. There'd been broadcasts over the intercom, fliers pinned on the break room corkboard and reminders sloppily taped to the doors. To account for the sheer number of Scarers Fear Co. employed they'd organized four separate meetings, one for each level, and his was the first of its kind.
Nate Williams had asked that he cue them all in as to what the bosses were up to, and while Johnny had responded with a quick and confident, 'sure, no problem,' he was just as nervous as the rest of his regular crew. Not that Worthington would be expressing such feelings any time soon.
The fact of the matter was that with scare numbers down the way that they were, and power shortages all across the country, everyone was on edge. Change was definitely in the air, but as the saying went, you couldn't make omelets without breaking a few Roc eggs.
His knee bounced with anxiety as he allowed Slaughter's words wash over him like day-old garbage, the man going over introductions and basic policies. Filtering his words like so many flies, Worthington only half listened as he instead examined his surroundings, from Fear Co.'s trademark steel girders plus black-and-red logo to the other Scarers around him.
There were familiar faces, of course, as grizzled and horrifying as he knew his own visage was, and unfamiliar ones. You could labor at a company like Fear Co. for twenty years and not know all of your own coworkers. Particularly if you pulled a steady shift, and someone played the part of your opposite.
Thus he wasn't at all surprised to note that roughly fifty percent of the hall was filled with strangers. Still, it would have been nice to have someone whose presence he enjoyed in attendance.
"…now that that'th been thettled, let'th move on. Ath many of you have probably noted, there'th been a decreathe in the Thcare intake lately, due to children'th being expothed to thcary imageth in media and via amuthement parkth and thimilar entertainment," the speaker's expression became more serious as he pace-stomped back and forth, all four hands behind his back as his appearance became colored with agitation. Literally—the orange in his pigment shifted to vermilion with agitation.
Johnny frowned, form straightening as his attention swung front and center. Most "mandatory meetings," focused on elements such as team work, overall effort, and safety training. He typically gleaned what he could from such things and ignored the rest but…this sounded a tad serious, if Slaughter's body language was anything to go by.
The monster continued, brushing his grey hat up over a lined forehead as it began leaning low over his craggy face, "you've altho probably read about the eventth which occurred at Monthters Inc. rethently."
A murmuring rose from among the crowd, and the purple Scarer frowned slightly. Hearing about Waternoose had been a shock to everyone, particularly with his record as an upstanding businessman and Scarer. Randall Boggs' part had been less shocking, however, given Worthington's experience with the slimy salamander in college.
But the papers had been vague about their actual crimes, the courts remaining mum in what could only be the most serious of cases. No one knew the details of what had occurred, but speculation had been flying as thick and furry as a plague of poisonous goblin-bats migrating in New Ghoulsmark.
"With Waternoothe'th removal a new Thee-E-O hath been put in place—Jameth P. Thulivan."
The murmuring increased to a louder buzz of growls and whispers. Johnny Worthington III straightened, something like ice dripping down into one of his stomachs. The other one was clenched as a bevy of memories zoomed past his gaze.
Of his Senior year at Monsters U., mostly, but there were others. The moment when he realized that his old 'Brother'-slash-competitor had not only become a Scarer, but he had done so before him. And at Worthington's occupational "first choice," too. Only for the scaring heir to find employment at Fear Co., a decent enough institution if there was one, but it just wasn't the same.
Any dissatisfaction had dissolved for the most part over the course of his years as a Scarer. Instead replaced with a feeling of achievement as he rose up the ranks of Fear Co.'s employees. Sure, he didn't always get the top spot, playing a kind of Do-Si-Do with Scarers like Nate and someone from nights by the name of R. Mercado, but it was enough.
Even if hearing the name, "Sullivan," felt like a slap in the face.
With a start, he realized that he'd clean missed a chunk of Slaughter's speech, and if the look on his coworkers' faces were anything to go by then it had been important.
"—Energy hath proven more powerful than thcreamth. Neatly tholving our nation'th power depletion. With that in mind, thorces thay that a new department hath been put into development at Monthterth Inc., replathing their 'Thcare Floor' entirely…with a 'Laugh Floor.'"
"Wait, what?" Johnny muttered under his breath. Around him gasps and exclamations of surprise came from the trainer's audience.
The orange monster took the opportunity to press the projector button, watching a slide slowly shift into place. It bore a graph, indicating the sheer volume of energy gained by way of laughter rather than screams. The contrast left him stunned; the clean energy bar was increased at least three times its regular amount.
Slaughter clicked the screen again and it shifted to a diagram of the canisters themselves. Regular canisters couldn't even hold that much energy, much less store it long-term, resulting in the need for canister redevelopment. Not to mention that laughter typically came in multiples, rather than a single burst of fear.
Increasing the number of energy bursts per shift.
"Let it not be thaid that Fear Co. ith behind the timeth. With 'Progreth' in mind, the Thee-E-O'th of Fear Co. have dethided to do what benefitth them motht," a few dark looks were shared at that, but Slaughter ignored those if he did, in fact, see any of them, "That being thaid, Fear Co. hath dethided to follow in Monthterth Inc.'th path and thwitch producthion from Thcaring to Laughing."
If Worthington had been shocked before, he was flabbergasted now. How could the CEO's of the company expect a crew of Scarers to switch over to Laughter of all things…overnight?
The same question seemed to be on every other Scarer's face, along with a heavy dose of uncertainty, and Slaughter held up a hand in an attempt to calm them. He was only half successful.
"Retraining will begin immediately for all Thcarers interested in thwitching over to a career in comedy. For thothe who don't," the orange monster shrugged, as if to say, 'what can you do?',"they may very well thwitch plathes with their attendantth. It will be a time of adaptathion. Much like the Dinothaurs which ethcaped the human world when it no longer thupported them, driven out of the human world and coming to ourth to become the firtht monthterth, we may have to make thome thacrifitheth. But for all that ith lotht, we'll become greater for it."
Huh. Right. The purple monster growled darkly, crossing his arms and settling low into his seat. He wasn't the only one—a large handful of Scarers, the most horrifying of the bunch, were beginning to rebel and the few that weren't expressing anger held…fear. It seemed almost twisted that a Monster be afraid of anything, but this was their species' number one horror—a lack of security. Both the security of their own importance and purpose, and that of holding a steady job. Most of the workers he labored with had families to support or debts to pay—what would happen, he wondered, when their income was taken away?
Slaughter had one last dig of information, stating it with false cheerfulness behind his uneven smile as he waved at the bulletin board, "a litht hath been put together bathed on thkill level. Pleathe make thure to check it for your new Laughter Training parter before you leave."
Sitting on the end, Johnny could just barely squint out his own name at the end—as it always was. And there, next to, "J. Worthington," was, "R. Mercado," from the night shift.
AN: Sorry about the guy with the lisp. It just…happened. I was typing out his dialogue and misspelled something, and when I went to fix it Slaughter told me that there was nothing wrong with the way he spoke. And the sarcastic side of me thought that it was rather ironic that he couldn't say his own name.
That being said, no offense meant to those who have a lisp. And if you had difficulty reading this chapter's dialogue…just read it out loud and it'll make sense. Or replace every extra 'th' with an 's.' *shrugs*
I don't know where this story is coming from, by the way. One minute I was looking at Crispy's Johnny/Rosie art on Tumblr, the next my headcanon jumped them forward a few years and reminded me of the difficulties of switching from Scaring to Laughter. How would folks handle that, really, when the entire business is based on an old and outdated method? Especially as Johnny (and Rosie) aren't really made for comedy.
Plus I'm going to throw in some "grown up" problems and issues, as those presented themselves to me in bursts of inspiration presented by Johnny and Rosie, alternately. ^^
Well, regardless of this story's unexpected nature, I hope you enjoy this. Please review when you can. :)
(And if you ever have the chance to visit the Monsters U. website, you totally should. It's so incredibly similar to a real University website that I almost couldn't tell them apart, should you take out all the "Monster"-y babble. monstersuniversity edu /index. Html Remove spaces.)