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Old October 7th, 2006 (12:47 AM).
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Saffire Persian
Feline of Light and Shadow
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Utah
Age: 26
Gender: Female
Nature: Adamant
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A/N: Well.. about time, huh? This chapter is split into two parts as has been the tradition thus far. I have most of the second part done, but I was suddenly struck with an idea of perhaps introducing two characters that I've been toying with introducing.

These chapter (and part two) are the last time you'll see "yourself" as an eight-year-old. Yes, I'm sad, too, as there's so many ideas I want to write - - just little fun adventures, with the whole gang. But I'm afraid things'll get rather boring, and you'll want me to move on. o.o And I guess I have to have some semblance of connecting plot. I still would like to continue to write them as children - as I love them how they are, but I don't know what I'm going to do about that. I've been toying with the idea of just putting "extras" in this story of little "one-shot" episodes when they were kids ( like them at Halloween) ...or just making a separate analogy of little one-shots, but I dunno if that'll work out.

Anyway, here's part I of II.

Special thanks to katiekitten who beta'd this chapter. : D

+Changing Skies+

Childhood lasts only for a short time,
Little but one rung on the ladder we must climb.
Still, the memories of those days will never fade, no matter how high
you ascend deep into cloud and sky.


This always happens – always has, year after year. With summer’s end approaching, summer’s greatest, and most deadly malady has decided to rear its stupid head: boredom.

And you’ve caught it. You’ve caught it bad. It’s been raging like the plague for a couple of days now, and you’ve been stuck lounging in your room or sunbathing outside – which has yielded no cure of the boredom bug whatsoever. Even Stella hasn’t been over, which is a rarity in itself, as she loves nothing more than to barge through your front door and the most inopportune times.

You’d welcome such an interruption now.

Your mother’s away at the grocery store, and your father’s off doing some interview for the Viridian Times paper, leaving you to your own devices. This alone would usually plunge most children your age into an abyss of near-eternal glee, but not you. No, not you. Not even being alone in the house – excluding Ian – brings any excitement to the tedium that is, sadly, your life.

Perhaps summer’s playing games with you – making you pay for the overuse of excitement you’ve had over at the water park. There, you learned many important life lessons that you vowed to take to your watery grave.

First: Despite the fact Caterpie weigh less than a stick, doesn’t mean they can, under any circumstances, float like one. They do scream and sink like a Baby Ruth bar though.

(The Squirtle lifeguard had to rescue Ian from the bottom of the Swimming Pool floor, before having to forcefully pump out the rather large amount of water Ian had swallowed, as he had gone down screaming. He kinda reminded you of a live water-fountain then).

Second: Jumping from diving board like a Wailord (belly first) is not a way to prove your unsissyness. It proves it.

Third: Water slides are not a safe method to prove to anybody (especially a half-drowned Caterpie) that water parks are fun.

Suddenly, like a heaven-sent cacophony of angels, the doorbell rings.

Hallelujah!

You fling yourself off your bed, startling Ian who was napping on the sunny windowsill. In your excitement, you don’t even to look back as you bolt out your bedroom door, jumping down the stairway, skipping every other stair with practiced ease, until you come into the kitchen where you eagerly arrive at the front door, twisting the doorknob.

(You’re actually supposed to look out of the eye-hole first, because you’re not supposed to open the door to strangers, but you decide meeting a stranger would be far more exciting than peeping through the hole and not opening the door.)

You open the door, and everything is thrown into chaos.

You scream as a thick, brown bag is thrown over your head. You didn’t even have time to see who it was.

“LET ME GO!” you yell, as you find yourself swept off your feet, tumbling further into the large sack. The opening closes, and you’re left in almost complete darkness. You feel yourself being hefted upwards. It’s just like one that movie, 101 Poochyena, when the puppies get stolen and put into a big bag and taken away, because an evil woman wanted to make a fur coat out of them.

You try vainly to extinguish out the fear that’s beginning to flare within you.

They’re not going to make a coat out of you, are they?

“SQUUUUEUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-----”

The piercing, forlorn screech interrupts your thoughts, managing to pull you away from the mental images of evil, ugly old hags who look more like a monster than human and fur coats.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who’s screaming.

“Be quiet, you sissy!” a rather familiar voice hisses, coming from just besides your bag. “We’re kidnapping.

Still, Ian doesn’t bother stopping, screaming his little heart out.

Whoever’s holding your bag begins to move.

“Good Mew,” you hear the voice say over the din – another familiar one, “He screams louder than Claire. Never thought I’d see the day – I guess we’ll have to take you, too, eh, you little banshee.”

Another voice. “Dad, hold still. I’ll get him.”

There’s sounds of feet dashing across floor the tile floor. Ian isn’t screaming as loud anymore – it sounds more like a mix between hiccups and squeals now. You can imagine him weaving a complicated pattern in attempts to get away from his would-be captors.

“You’re catching him all wrong, stupid! You gotta pounce on him or make him run into a window.”

“Well, why don’t you try to catch him, then?” the feminine voice retorts darkly.

“Okay!” A pause. You recognize the voices now, all too well. If it wasn’t for the absurd amount of screaming distorting your concentration, you would’ve labeled the names to the voices right away. “Hey, Ian – Look! There’s Shawn!”

The scuttling and screaming stop abruptly. Your eardrums are thankful. “Catrpri?”

“Ha!” A loud thud. Silence.

“You didn’t squish him did you?”

Squished?

Your heart stops for a moment. He can’t be squished… Can he?

“You’re not supposed to squish him!” you yell, frustration building up inside your tiny body as you struggle within the bag’s confines, which refuse to give the least bit of leeway.

“I didn’t squish him! He’s just fine – he’s just playing dead.” Stella sounds quite offended. You relax, and your movements cease. He does play dead rather well. “Besides, kidnapped people aren’t supposed to talk!”

No, they don’t talk, you think wryly, shooting a glare in Stella’s general direction, they scream.

“Well just put him in the bag. That’ll shut the both of them up – seriously, whose brilliant idea was this anyway?”

“Daddy’s.”

“You’re so immature, Dad.”

The mouth of the sack opens and a small figure is pushed through the hole, landing on top your chest. “Ian!” you cry happily, as the little bug raises his head to look at you. He still looks stunned from Stella’s pounce; you don’t blame him, you know exactly what her pouncing feels like. But upon seeing you, he seems to brighten up considerably, chirping in glee.

“Now that that’s taken care of,” you hear Uncle Todd say, “I suppose I’m obligated to leave some kind of note –”

“Ransom note!”

Todd laughs. “Ransom note? Well… I suppose we could do that…”

…Why do you suddenly feel apprehensive?

*****

“Here we are,” Uncle Todd says, about fifteen minutes from your rather impromptu departure. You barely constrain a yelp as the bag moves about swiftly, and you tumble out of the now open mouth and to the ground – a very grassy ground atop a small hill. You nearly roll over Ian in the process, but he darts out of the way just in time.

You shake your head, ridding yourself from dizziness as you gaze at an open, cloud-populated sky. You can see Stella (with a triumphant, catty expression) off to the side, with Uncle Todd and Diane – who seems to be harboring her permanently bored look. All are wearing brightly colored t-shirts. Diane and Stella’s are very much tie-dyed, while Uncle Todd’s is a bright blue, covered in exotic red flowers. You also notice he’s gotten something of a tan since you last saw him.

“Remind me why we’re doing this again, Dad?”

“We’re doing this because I made a promise to take him out for his birthday. So I am. Didn’t I, kid?”

You barely notice a green blur darting behind your back. You nod. “Yeah.”

“Then why do I have to come along?”

“Because your father just wants to make what remains of your teenage life as miserable as he can possibly make it – and if one of those ways is to force you to hang out with family, so be it.”

Diane scowls and rolls her blue eyes.

Taking a chance, you survey your surroundings: You’re at Viridian Park – you’ve been here many times before. It’s the largest park in the area, home to everything a child such as yourself could possibly ask for. A wide expanse of trees to climb…

(Well, for other kids, not for you. The next day you ever climb a tree is the day a full grown Ursaring is chasing after you – and even then, you think you’ll take on the Ursaring.)

…Swings, jungle gym, other brightly colored playground equipment, and lots and lots of green grass to run around on. It’s perfect.

“—not to mention,” Todd begins, catching your attention, “I need your participation in this game of mine.”

Diane’s face is completely devoid of emotion. Uncle Todd is enthusiastically rummaging through a rather large black backpack, looking quite pleased with himself, while Stella looks on with just as much – if not more – enthusiasm.

Funny, when you look at them, both Stella and Todd look rather identical.

“What game?” Diane darkly responds.

“Well, the best game in the world, of course. You see, as I was going on this Ferry – as Lavie wasn’t around to Teleport me home, the sleep-deprived git – I sat next to this man – jolly fellow he was. Nice guy, we hit it off right from the start. We got to talking, and I told him about my predicament, about how I was unable to attend all of my dear nephew’s birthday party, and how I was going to make it all up to him –“

“Did you tell that guy your whole life story, too, Dad?”

Todd ignores Diane and continues on. “—and so this guy – can’t remember his name, but it started with an ‘F’ - says, ‘Well, if I was you, I’d get your kids and go n’ play a game with ‘em. Nothing makes the family closer than a good game of pin the tail on the Tauros. I bet your young gal would like that, that’s what he said. Called her Scout, too.”

Ah – people seem to call Stella that a lot. You don’t know how they mix up her name, but it happens.

“You don’t have to tell us your whole conversation with him verbatim Dad.”

“I assure you,” Todd said. “I’m not. Anyways, so I said to him ‘That’s a great idea!’ and made this!”

Uncle Todd then brings out of his bag what looks like to be a Tauros’ brown posterior, without the tails, and holds it up proudly.

“Dad…” Diane says slowly. “Did you draw that?”

“Yup, your old dad drew it on his boat ride home. One hundred percent hand-drawn pure-bull buttocks, sketched with pencil, colored in with crayon. You can imagine the look I got from the pretty boat attendant when I asked for a package of crayons –”

“Dad, it looks terrible.”

“Ah, but you can tell what it is, can’t you?”

“I can tell what it is!” Stella exclaims. “I can! I can! It’s a Tauros’ butt!”

Ian can apparently recognize it too. He’s run behind your back already, looking down right prepared to bolt if that drawing takes one more step closer to him.

“Right you are! As long as you can tell what it is, that –” Todd snaps his fingers, taking out some more items from his bag: a pink blindfold and three strips of brown paper you presume are supposed to be tails. “- is all that matters! Now, who can tell me how many tails a Tauros has?”

You raise your hand.

”THREE-“ Stella shouts out. “Three tails!”

“Right again! I have one smart little girl, don’t I?”

Stella nods.

“And if there’s three tails, then how many people can play?”

“Three!” Stella begins to count people on her fingers. “Me, Shawn, and Diane!”

Ian breathes a sigh of relief. Diane’s blue eyes narrow. She shakes her head. “No.” That was perhaps the most empathetic ‘no’ you’ve heard all week.

“What d’ya mean ‘no’,” Stella says, pouting. “Mom says you’re supposed to play with me anyways.”

“Burning Barbie dolls in the microwave is far different than playing pin the tail on the wannabe Tauros, Stel.”

You lay your head on your hands, looking rather bored. Seeing the two argue back and forth isn’t that rare of an occurrence. It usually ends with biting.

“No it’s not! When we play with Barbie, its head melts, when you play pin the tail on the Tauros, you get to stick –”

Todd’s hand quick lands atop of Stella’s head, quickly cutting off any ensuing remark that might have followed. “Never mind that part of the equation. I guess if Diane won’t play --” Todd gives a very theatrical sigh of disappointment, though it disappears as quickly as Ian does when he spots a Pidgeotto outside the bedroom window. “--then I’ll have to!”

With a great deal of ceremony, Todd waltzes over to the nearest tree about fifteen feet away, just down the small hill, nailing the picture to the bark and then applying a rather copious amount of tape around it. Diane’s facial expression hasn’t changed, but you can tell she’s itching to say something. It takes only a few moments before he’s finished, and he walks back up to where you and the rest are, depositing one of the tails into your open hand.

“Right! Everyone stand up - here are the rules of the game. Your objective it to try and get these tails pinned to this unfortunate Tauros’ back end – shouldn’t be too hard. Any questions?”

“Oh! What if we pin the tail on somebody else’s butt instead? Would we win?”

“Nope, afraid not,” Todd replies, his head wagging back and forth solemnly, somehow keeping a straight face. “Doing that would give us another hole where we don’t need another. Now who should go first?”

“You should, Daddy!”

Your uncle nods, beginning to tie the pink bandana around himself, though he doesn’t get far. Diane finally seems to have reached the breaking point, snatching the blindfold away before your Uncle can even finish the knot.

“Fine! I’ll do it. I’ll play or whatever… just… stay at the sidelines and look like you’re doing something constructive or… somethin’.”

“That’s the spirit!”

“As for YOU!” Diane spares a particularly venomous glare in Stella’s direction as she ties the piece of cloth around her head, slowly covering her eyes. It sends chills down your spine – and Ian’s to from the way he’s looking. “Cheat and die.”

*****


Diane stumbles down the grassy hill, wobbling about with her arms outstretched while you, Stella, Todd, and Ian watch. Stella seems to find the whole event amusing, with Todd shouting words of encouragement to his daughter – who, from the sounds of her protests, doesn’t want to hear any of it.

Ian especially appears entranced by the whole process, peeking around your leg as he follows Diane’s unsteady course with his eyes. The closer she gets, the more nervous and curious he becomes.

Finally, Diane reaches the tree where the poster is, reaching out her hand to touch the bark, before quickly finding her target. In a manner of moments, she sticks the tail on the drawing.

This sends Ian into a fit of mini-hysterics, though his shrill protests fade into confused squeaks as he realizes nothing came of the whole affair. The whole idea seems to amaze him, and he creeps forward a few inches, cocking his head as Diane whisks the bandana off. She surveys her work without the faintest hint of satisfaction. She sighs, coming up the hill, handing the bandana over to her father whose smile is much too wide to be considered normal.

“Happy now, Dad?”

“Infinitely.”

It’s Stella’s turn next, and thus far she shows more exuberance than her sister over the whole thing. She can barely stay still enough to allow her dad to tie the pink piece of fabric over her eyes. Barely five seconds pass before Stella is spun around and sent on her merry way. And unlike her sister, she runs, sprinting along as if the very Houndoom of Hell were nipping at her heels.

…Of course, she’s heading in the totally wrong direction.

Uncle Todd seems to take pity on his daughter – personally, you would have just let her run, just to see how long it would take her to find out.

“Left, Stella, left!” She turns. Todd shakes his head, his voice rumbling with thinly veiled mirth. “Your other left.”

Now she’s heading in the right direction.

“Think she’ll run into a tree again, Dad?”

Todd looks honestly thoughtful. “With the way she’s going?” He pauses. “Probably.”

And, from the resounding crash seconds later as human flesh meets tree (a very strange, yet oddly satisfying sound) it seems like that would be the case. Stella is completely bowled over, the breath knocked out of her as she lands on her back, doing a rather good impression of Ian, or so you add to yourself. You feel oddly vindicated, smiling despite yourself.

Ian squeals with worry, hopping up and down.

But you know Stella better than he does.

And just like you predicted, it takes all but ten seconds for her to get back on her feet.

“FOUND IT!”

And with a burst of unparallel gusto, Stella pins her tail on the Todd’s drawing.

Right smack dab in the middle.

You scowl.

Stupid liar-cheater.

*****


It’s your turn now. Your world has turned from a bright, brilliant blue into that of a very black one, with only tiny increments of sunlight infiltrating the weave of the bandana. An all-too-enthusiastic Stella spins you around until you don’t know up from down, and with a “friendly” push, you’re on your way.

You don’t really know where’s your going, walking slowly, deliberately in your chosen direction. Whether you win or lose, you don’t really care, though you would dearly like to overthrow Stella’s current position. As you walk, grass under your feet, and other children’s laughing voices intertwining with other sounds through the still, clear air, you hear a very distinct voice differ itself from the rest. It’s a voice you’d recognize amongst a host of thousands.

”Shawn! Go right!” It’s Stella, her tone more mischievous than usual.

You pause.

You go left.

You continue, listening closely.

“No, Shawn! You gotta go right!”

More to the left.

“Shhhawwwn! L-E-F-T!”

Right.

“You’re going the wrong way! Turn ‘round!”

Ah, she sounds frustrated.

You smile.

You continue to go straight, keep your palms open in front of you. Soon you feel bark underneath your fingertips, with your right index finger lightly touching the corner of paper. You grin, and ready the faux Tauros tail in your hand, readying to stick the pin where you believe the middle is –

“Shawn! Shawn you gotta stop!”

Ah, but you’re not stopping – the Tauros is right here. In your minds eye, you can see it from behind the pink cloth. There’s no stopping you now!

“SHAWN!”

You startle. It was Uncle Todd this time, with a definite edge of panic and worry. But it’s too late now, your pin plunges inward, through paper and into the tree bark.

Everything’s quiet.

You peel off the bandana with increasing dread. You look behind you; everyone’s staring at you, or rather, towards the Tauros target. Slowly, you turn your head around, noticing a blob of a rather sticky white substance, a kind of string… and attached to that string is Ian.

The Caterpie doesn’t utter a single word, rigid and motionless as his evolved form would have been. He’s hanging from his string shot, his eyes like twin black holes, utterly flabbergasted. The large, sharp tack that you used to stick the tail on is right between his eyes, not even three-fourths of an inch away from him.

You don’t know what to say.

You look down at him guiltily, and his cross-eyed gaze slowly turns upward to meet yours.

He squeaks.

You suppose if his mouth wasn’t full of that String Shot, he would’ve screamed.
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