: [Other Fanfic]
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July 18th, 2010 (9:30 PM). Edited June 20th, 2016 by icomeanon6.
It's "I Come Anon"
[Disclaimer: before you go and read the incomplete story in this thread, you ought to read it here instead:
. All future chapters and revisions will go there. The deal is that after I went almost two years without updating
I decided it would be best to start a new thread. There's going to be a new chapter posted every week, and I can actually say that with reasonable confidence this time around because I've already written a complete draft of the story. And if you're familiar with my normal update schedule for chapter fics, this should seem nothing short of miraculous. (And I am really, really sorry if you're familiar with my normal update schedule for chapter fics. This time's going to be different.)]
The following may not be suitable to all ages.
The following is suitable for ages 13 and up.
1. On the First Night: a Storm and Red Eyes
The Camp, and a Long Walk Ahead
A Long Walk, and Rumors of the Commander
A Curious Stone, and the Power of the Commander
Utter Defeat, and Flight to the Mountains
The Homestead, and a Long Rest
The Longest Night
1: On the First Night: a Storm and Red Eyes
The fierce wind blew the rain into Ross’s face like an army of pins. He gritted his teeth and ignored it. He was the only one who knew the way to the cave, so losing focus now was not an option. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that the younger kids were not following as closely as they had been earlier. It occurred to him that he might be going too fast, but he had no desire to slow down. “Pick up the pace!”
Turning forward again to move on, he found himself nearly tripping over a root that was almost invisible in the rapidly diminishing daylight. He then barked at the kids, “Watch the roots up here! Keep moving!”
As he looked up the hill his group was climbing, Ross could barely make out the cave that they were to take shelter in. Though a part of him wanted to keep looking at the cave for encouragement, his sense of reason compelled him to remain alert. He tightened his grip on the knife in his hand, and listened for any nonhuman footsteps. It was not long until he heard some rustling in the underbrush. He stopped walking, faced where the noise had come from, and raised his knife in front of his face. A few seconds later a small red creature leaped straight for his neck with clear intent to kill. Ross was ready, and slashed at the base of its wing-like ear, knocking it to the ground. The children screamed at the sight of the bleeding creature, the head of which was indistinguishable from the rest of its body. Its eyes were glowing red, and gave the unmistakable impression of unchecked rage. It growled in a disturbingly child-like manner before staggering to its stub-like feet and darting back into the shadows.
Though the exchange had not been physically strenuous, the simple shock of attacking a small animal with a blade left Ross short of breath. He still pressed on, though, wiping the knife on his shirt as he went. He heard some faint whimpers coming from behind, which came as no surprise. As near as he could guess, the four children were all around nine years old, and were understandably cold and frightened. Ross was sixteen, and wished that he were as young as the others, so that he could let someone else be the responsible one. Since this was not the case, he yelled over the howling gale, “Quit thinking about it! Just follow me!”
Fortunately, the group had no further encounters with any creatures on their way to the cave. Once they passed through the entrance and left the rain behind, they found the place surprisingly warm. The fire that was waiting for them twenty yards in was emitting an unnatural amount of heat. Ross paid no mind to the abnormality, as he was only concerned with getting himself and the kids dry. After sliding his knife back into its sheath and tucking it behind his jacket he walked over to the fire, where another teenager and two smaller children were sitting. He sat down opposite the teenager and began to warm up his hands. He was soon asked, “What took you so long?”
Ross looked at the boy on the other side of the flame, and decided it would be best not to show how irked he was with the question. “These guys felt like playing hide-and-seek for some reason,” he replied, gesturing to the four he had brought to the cave. The oldest looking one of them meant to say ‘Did not,’ but was shivering too much to form the words. They sat down near the fire as well, next to the other preteens.
The other teenager then continued. “Well, now that we’ve got a moment, what’s your name?”
“Ross. And you?”
“Jacob Cartwright. Did you run into Joanie out there? We’ve got six of them here now, so that should just leave the two that she’s supposed to find.”
Ross shook his head, and turned around to look out the entrance of the cave. The rain was still coming down in droves, which made him wonder if the girl he had seen Jacob with earlier would be able to make it back. He had not gotten a chance to talk to her, as almost all of his time in the forest had been spent tracking down four of the pre-teens. A few more minutes passed around the fire, and the fact that his clothes dried much faster than the laws of thermodynamics should have allowed for went completely unnoticed. He was too busy worrying about how the last group was still out there after all this time. He began to stand up, but then saw three human figures coming through the entrance. They walked over, and sat down as well. The oldest of this group was Joanie, who was around the same age as Ross and Jacob. Unlike Ross and Jacob, she was not wearing a jacket, so there were some noticeable cuts on her arms from the forest.
“Sorry we took so long. Some of us were getting a little tired.” It didn’t seem to Ross that Joanie was tired at all beyond some expected heavy breathing. She spoke in a markedly bright tone, which he supposed might be an aspect of her personality that even fatigue couldn’t dim. He stared at her arm and the scrapes on it while she continued to speak, and his eyes began to wander to other parts of her body when he realized that she was addressing him. “I forgot to ask earlier. What’s your name?”
Ross recovered without stuttering. “Ross. And you’re Joanie, right?”
Impeccably sunny, quite the opposite of Ross’s natural disposition. He returned his attention to the fire in an attempt to keep his typical teenage-male visionary habits in check. Jacob then spoke up, addressing the eight smaller children. “Seems like it’s a good time for introductions. Why don’t you guys tell us what your names are?”
Something about Jacob’s tone got on Ross’s nerves. It was upbeat in nature, but it had a vaguely annoying quality about it that Ross didn’t hear in Joanie’s voice. At the moment, though, Ross was more irritated with the content of Jacob’s statement. All of the young ones were cold, wet, tired, and scared. Only the tallest of them responded, and even he did so with some stuttering. “M…Michael.”
When no one else spoke up, Jacob was about to ask for another volunteer when Joanie spoke first. “We’re all tired. How about we warm up a bit more first?”
Her voice was calm and unantagonizing. Ross took note that if he himself had said the same thing, it would have sounded far more like criticism. Jacob nodded and said, “I suppose you’re right. It has been a pretty rough day so far.”
One of the smaller kids then spoke up. She looked roughly ten, and wore what appeared to be a softball jersey along with her jeans and sneakers. “When can we go home?”
That left all three of the teenagers silent. Joanie and Jacob looked at each other for a few seconds, and then both turned to Ross. Ross contorted his facial expression in a manner that said, ‘What makes you think
would know how to answer that?’ After another awkwardly silent five seconds, Jacob took it upon himself to provide what he thought was a safe enough answer. “We’re safe here, so there’s no hurry right now. We’ll start thinking about that as soon as the rain lets up.”
The girl had an immediate response for this. “What if it doesn’t stop raining and it starts to flood and the water rises up to the cave and it fills it up and we can’t swim out and our eyes get all bugged out like a fish’s and we all drown?”
Joanie and Jacob started to laugh, and Ross had to restrain himself to keep from smiling. He had noticed what the other two hadn’t: the girl was being completely serious. When this dawned on them, Jacob quickly tried to recover. “Don’t worry, that’s not going to happen. And if it does, you can borrow my goggles, okay? They’re good for swimming.”
Jacob took a pair of aquatic goggles out of his pants pocket, and showed them to the girl. To Ross’s surprise, the girl smiled and chuckled a little. Joanie gave Ross a quick glance that seemed to say ‘disaster averted.’
Night had fallen, and Ross was sitting at the entrance of the cave, listening for something that might come in the dark. The rain had stopped an hour ago, but all of the younger kids had fallen asleep, so there was no rush to make good on Jacob’s promise to the girl. They had learned later that her name was Tatiana, which made her one of two children who hadn’t been too cold or frightened to introduce themselves. Ross had more important things to worry about than how cold and frightened the children were, though.
Joanie and Jacob approached him from behind, and Jacob asked him, “Hey, can we talk?”
Ross nodded after a moment’s hesitation. He knew what the subject would be, and he had wanted to avoid it for as long as he could. He stood up and turned to face the two. Joanie held a stick from the fire. With its light Ross could see that their expressions were far more somber than they had been earlier. Jacob was the first to speak. “Well, now that we’re as ready as we’ll ever be, I guess, why don’t we get down to business?”
Ross still didn’t like Jacob’s tone, even if he was less cheerful than before. “I’m fine with that.”
Jacob and Joanie both nodded, and then Jacob spoke again. “Though I’m sure this is a pointlessly impossible question to answer: where in the world are we, and how did we get here?”
Ross sighed and frowned. “A forest. Anyone’s guess.”
Joanie rolled her eyes. “That’s not helpful. Please be serious.”
“I am. That’s all we know.”
Jacob raised his hands as if to quell any potential argument.
‘He hardly needed to,’
said Ross in his head.
‘She doesn’t seem very argumentative, and I don’t have anything else to say about the matter.’
“You’re both right,” said Jacob. “That is about all we know right now, but if we can go over what happened to each of us individually, we might learn something more. Why don’t you start, Ross?”
Ross had to concede that Jacob had a point. Some common thread in their experiences might indicate a wider phenomenon. He stared at the torch in Joanie’s hand as he talked. “I was just walking around town at about six thirty, and I heard this ringing in my ears.”
Jacob interrupted. “Which town?”
Ross suppressed his annoyance. “Georgetown, Washington DC. I live in Alexandria.”
“What were you doing there?”
Before Ross could say “None of your damn business,” Joanie elbowed Jacob and said “Just let him finish, okay?”
Ross got the feeling that Joanie meant to spare him the potential confrontation, and appreciated the gesture. “As I was saying, I heard this ringing in my ears, and it was really starting to get to me. I had to sit down on a street corner, and after a few seconds I felt the rain start falling. I looked up and I found I was sitting on a tree stump. I heard a kid scream behind me. I stood up and went to see who it was, and that’s when I found all of you. And you all remember the lightning strike and that…uh…noise. And then the kids scattered, and we split up to track them down and bring them back to this cave.”
After waiting a few seconds to be sure that Ross was actually done, Jacob asked him, “What about the ringing in your ear? How long did that last?”
Ross opened his mouth to respond, but then it occurred to him that he didn’t rightly know. He had to retrace his steps all the way back to the beginning of the ordeal, and then the answer became clear to him. “It stopped as soon as I felt the rain.” He found the thought eerily disconcerting. He then lifted his head and looked Joanie in the eyes. “What about you? What’s your story?”
She shrugged. “My story’s pretty similar, actually. Other than the city—Jacob and I live in Baltimore, by the way—and the street corner, it’s almost verbatim. I heard the ringing while I was walking home from the library, and then I felt a raindrop. I looked up, and instead of buildings and power lines I saw trees.”
Jacob’s expression changed to a slight smirk. “Guess what, it’s basically the same thing for me, too. Actually, get this, Joanie: I was walking over to your house at the time. Imagine that.”
Ross could see that Joanie was doing her best to sound interested in the coincidence, but she was simply too drained. He decided to get things moving again. “So, we’ve learned that we all came here in a weird, vague, instantaneous manner. What I’m more concerned with at the moment is that noise that made all the kids scatter.”
Joanie shook her head. “Oh gosh, don’t remind me.”
Ross persisted. “It’s important. What do you guys think it was?”
Jacob answered him, though his answer did little to clarify the situation for anyone or provide any comfort. “My first guess was actually dragon, but I suppose that’s a pretty absurd notion. Whatever it was, it was big and angry. I’m just glad we couldn’t see it. Why don’t you tell us about whatever it was
ran into while we were out searching?”
Ross was noticeably perplexed. He hadn’t told either of them about the incidents with the wild animals. Joanie then pointed out the red stain on his t-shirt. “It’s kind of hard to miss. I don’t think any of the kids who weren’t with you got what it was, though.”
Ross then explained how he had had several brief encounters with strange, hostile, red creatures. “They were small, but just vicious. Most of them just ran off when I tried staring them down and showing my knife, but one of them tried to jump me. I kind of had to make a little mess with that one.”
Joanie looked concerned. “Are you sure they won’t try coming here?”
“I think they would have done so by now if they intended to, but you can’t be too careful in situations like this. That’s why I’ve been sitting over here for this long.”
Jacob looked slightly less concerned, but still considerably so. “Have you heard anything?”
“Just regular forest noises. Nothing that came too near; and definitely nothing like that noise from earlier.”
There was silence for the next half minute. Despite how much the three had tried to keep up appearances for the sake of the tired and frightened younger ones, they were all just as tired and frightened themselves. The question currently on all of their minds was how—and if—they could ever get home. There seemed to be a wordless understanding among them that there was nothing else to say that night, and that they would resume consulting one another in the morning. Jacob was the first to retreat to the dwindling fire and lay down near it. Joanie followed suit soon afterward. She tossed her stick back in and then sat against the wall in silence, watching the small flames dance.
Before Ross left the entrance, however, he looked outside again just for good measure. For a while, there was nothing, but then two glowing red eyes seemed to fade in from the blackness. He reached for the knife in its sheath, and let his hand linger on the handle. He stared back at the eyes, and his expression slowly changed from one of nervousness to a stern glare. For what seemed like several minutes his gaze was locked with the figureless presence beyond the entrance, until the foreign eyes faded away in the same manner they had come.
Morning came earlier than anyone wanted it to, and accompanying it were renewed and unwelcome emotions. The three youngest children were crying for their mothers until Joanie could finally console them. She had to use a number of lies in order to do so, such as “We’ll get home soon,” and “Don’t worry, we’ve got everything under control.” Ross watched her work and felt sorry for her, but not sorry enough to help.
‘I’d probably do more harm than good. I suck with kids.’
Jacob was stamping out the few lit embers that remained in the fire circle, as he had no water to do the job properly. When he was done, he called Ross over to the side to converse in private. “Well, as near as I can figure, our main problem right now has less to do with getting home, and more to do with getting food and water for the eleven of us.”
Ross looked around at the sizable group. The logistics of the situation hadn’t properly occurred to him yet. Jacob continued. “A few of us ought to go on a walk, try to find some water or preferably some people.”
“That’s not a bad idea. I’m guessing you have yourself in mind?”
Jacob chuckled a bit. “Yup, and I’ve got you in mind too. I’m thinking we want two of us older ones out searching cause, you know, buddy system. And Joanie’s definitely the right one to look after all the others. She’s one hell of a babysitter.”
Ross couldn’t imagine that any previous babysitting experience would be comparable, but he didn’t see the need to argue. “Okay, so that’s you and me. Should we bring one or two of the others with us to lighten Joanie’s load?”
“Absolutely. I’m thinking Tatiana. She looks pretty tough to me. To be honest, I think she’s also a little too discerning. She’s probably caught on to the fact that we’re pretty much stuck, and I don’t want her to get all the other kids spooked.”
Ross had to admit to himself that Jacob had thought this out quite a bit, and that he was probably right. “Sounds like a plan. We ought to set out right away. There’re only so many hours in the day, and who knows how long the good weather will hold up.”
Jacob smirked. “I’d say ‘that’s the spirit’ if you weren’t being such a damn pessimist.”
Ross scowled, and Jacob laughed. “Lighten up, it was a joke. Let’s notify all the concerned parties.”
Joanie agreed with the plan, and told Jacob and Ross not to worry about a thing. Tatiana was slightly more reluctant due to an apparent lack of self-confidence, but she complied with minimal coaxing. After deciding upon a general direction to walk towards, the three of them set out. Two dozen yards down the hill, Ross turned around and saw Joanie waving goodbye to them. He waved back, and felt strangely happy about doing so.
Before long, the cave was out of sight due to the trees. The forest was dense, but without the rain and dusk it didn’t seem so haunting and claustrophobic. Ross kept his eyes and ears open for the creatures that had taken such a liking to him the day before. He was glad to find no trace of them. He remained silent for most of the trip, though Tatiana and Jacob seemed to find no end of things to talk about.
“You’re keeping a really nice pace, Tatiana. You done much hiking before?”
“My daddy used to take me camping a lot, but he’s always real busy with work now. Sometimes the lady that does our softball team’s physical training takes us out in the woods for hikes, though.”
“They have physical training for kids’ sports, now? When I did all that we just had practice every two days.”
Tatiana grew quite cheerful over the first half mile, which was a remarkable shift from the night before. Ross and Jacob both suspected that the sun was making a difference. “Why do you carry those goggles with you, Jacob?” she asked at one point.
“Well, it’s a little silly, I guess. When I used to be on swim team I would always forget them, so I started the habit of bringing them around everywhere with me, and the habit just stuck.”
Tatiana then asked him with a most hopeful expression on her face, “Can I please borrow them?”
Jacob was visibly amused. “Be my guest.”
Jacob took the goggles out of his pocket and tossed them over to Tatiana, who was most eager at the prospect. For some reason that Ross couldn’t fathom, she seemed fascinated by the things. After shortening the strap, she tried wearing them on her forehead. She asked Jacob with much anticipation, “How do I look?”
“Very sharp. They go great with the jersey.”
The first word that came to Ross’s mind was actually “dorky,” but to his credit he did feel terrible for it and didn’t say anything. By this point they had walked two miles, and the trees were starting to thin. Before long, they were out of the forest, and in front of them lay a wide landscape dotted with small hills and partially covered by distinct clouds of fog. Ross then raised the question of the hour. “Well, we’re out of the woods, so what now? We haven’t found any source of water yet, so do we keep going this way or search some more in the forest?”
Jacob simply said “hmmm,” and then said something that struck Ross as decidedly irresponsible. “What do you think we should do, Tatiana?”
It looked like Tatiana was simply going to balk at the prospect of contributing to an actual decision. “You want to know what I think?”
‘Way to go,’
‘You had just gotten her nice and not-worried, and now you drop this on her.’
To Ross’s surprise, however, Tatiana looked into Jacob’s eyes for a second or two, and then found the resolve she needed to give an answer. “I think we should keep going this way.”
“Good thinking. I’m glad we brought you along.”
And once again, Ross had to grudgingly give Jacob credit. Now in addition to not being worried, Tatiana was more confident, which could come in handy depending on how long they were going to be stuck here. And so they kept walking into the misty foothills, until the forest was no longer visible behind them. At one point Ross began to worry about their decision. The fog was awfully thick in spots, and he thought that if they went out much further it might become much harder to find their way back. Once they reached the bottom of the hill they were on, he spoke up. “Guys, I think we might be out far enough. This fog’s pretty nasty, and we don’t want to get lost.”
Before Jacob or Tatiana could respond, something happened that caught them all off guard. A voice came out from behind the hill in front of them. “Hey! Who’s over there?”
Stunned speechless, the three all stopped in their tracks. Had the voice been a more normal one, they might have been more enthused at the chance encounter. This voice, however, was unusually deep and distinctly inhuman. It almost sounded more like an elaborate growl than an English sentence. “I know I heard you. Speak up!”
Jacob swallowed hard and took the initiative. “W…We’re three kids! We’re lost, and we’re trying to find some food or water!”
They then heard a second voice from behind the hill. “What’d he say?” This voice was much higher pitched, and somewhat raspy. There was a slight hint of a hiss on the s in ‘say.’
“He said they’re all Child level, I think. It’s a strange dialect. They must not be from around here.” The voice then grew louder in order to address them. “Hey! Where are you from?”
Jacob and Ross looked at each other, both having no idea of how to answer. They both had the gut feeling that naming an American city wouldn’t mean anything to the people on the other side. After giving it a few moments’ thought, Jacob decided to answer. “We think we’re from far away, but we’re not sure. There are eight more of us in the forest back there, and most of them are small and very frightened, so would you please help us find some water for them? We’re in a desperate situation.”
The raspy voice asked the deep one, “He said the others are small. Does that mean Child level, too?”
“It’s possible, but we’d have to check to make sure.”
“And what did he mean that he ‘thinks’ they’re from far away? Are they stupid?”
“Again, it’s possible. Whatever the case, they don’t sound dangerous to me and we don’t have anything better to do. Let’s go check them out.”
The three all glanced at each other, unsure of what sort of characters would be approaching them over the hill. A thick stretch of fog rolled in on their side, so they heard the footsteps before they could see who was coming. Slowly, a pair of silhouettes began to appear, and they were not of any shape they had expected to see. In a few moments, standing right before them was the largest wolf any of them had ever imagined accompanied by a smaller (but still frighteningly big), bipedal, dinosaur-like creature. Needless to say, the three all had a hard time absorbing this at first. After a few seconds of staring, the lizard was the first to speak. “They look weird.”
“Don’t be rude, Agumon.”
Agumon was orange in color, and had the most disproportionately large mouth, presumably to match his disproportionately large claws. He held one of these claws out in front of him as he stepped forward to get a closer look at Tatiana. Ross didn’t know how Tatiana could look at him straight in the eyes and not even quiver a little.
‘Maybe she’s paralyzed with fear. That’d be bad.’
Agumon held his claw near Tatiana’s forehead, and gave the goggles a light tap on one of the lenses. He then gave Tatiana a light tap on the arm, which did in fact make her flinch. “They’re poorly armored. The things up here are solid enough, but they’re too small to protect her head well, and her skin is terribly soft.”
The wolf, who was white in color with a number of blue stripes, spoke next. “You must excuse my friend here. He isn’t good around strangers. My name is Garurumon. And what is your name?”
Ross was starting to break into a nervous sweat. “Which one of us are you asking?”
Garurumon raised an eyebrow. “All of you. You are of the same species, are you not? What name do you three go by?”
Ross could not imagine a more confusing response to his question. Still, he tried to answer as best as he could. “Well…we’re humans. The thing is, though, we each have different names. I’m Ross.”
“I’m Jacob. And this is Tatiana.”
This only added to the two strangers’ confusion. Agumon said to Garurumon, “I take it back. I don’t think they’re stupid. They’re just insane.”
Garurumon let out a low growl. “I said
don’t be rude.
Obviously, they’re from far enough away that our rules don’t apply to them. Perhaps the captain would know something more about their background.”
“That didn’t even occur to me. You’re so smart, Garurumon.”
“Oh, not really. You’re just under-evolved.”
Ross couldn’t see why Agumon didn’t take this statement as any sort of insult, but he decided that for now it would be best not to ask. Garurumon then addressed the three befuddled humans. “At any rate, you’re welcome to follow us back to the camp. There’s plenty of extra room for your friends, and I’m sure we can work out some sort of arrangement with the captain so you can stay.”
Jacob lit up at hearing this. “That’d be terrific. We’d be most appreciative. Could we go back to our friends, first? They’ll start to wonder why we’re taking so long.”
“Don’t worry about that. We’ll send out a scout to fetch your friends later. They should be easy to track down once we know their general area.”
Ross wasn’t sure whether to find this fact convenient or worrying. For now, though, he was happy to have arranged for the group in the cave to be relocated somewhere safer. The three humans and the two anthropomorphic creatures started making their way further into the foothills, and for the first time in over twelve hours Ross felt slightly optimistic about how things were going.
My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier
- Indefinite hiatus //
Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure
- Complete //
There's Always Tomorrow
(SWC 2009) //
A Matter of Stubbornness
(SWC 2010) //
Left by the Roadside
(SWC 2011 1st place) //
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It
By What Right?
(SWC 2013 1st place) //
Back in the Day
(SWC 2014 1st place) //
Dad's Old Gym
(SWC 2016 2nd place)
Family (kind of?):
Strange person who calls me strange names
If the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier than the ICBM.
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