A beautiful meadow of lush green grass. The sun shines brightly. A gentle breeze caresses the atmosphere. I turn to see my house, my home. But.. for some reason, it doesn't seem like it belongs to me. A log cabin, it's been well taken care of and looks as if it's brand new. I'm walking now, I'm walking towards the door. I twist the knob, and a fresh smell brushes my nose. I close the door behind me, and I slowly continue in. I glance over and see pictures, pictures of family. My family, but they all do not seem familiar. I gaze back into my path, an old rocking chair where my grandmother sits... my babcia (whatever on Earth that word means). She is not here. I do not know why. I am alone. But.. she is always here.
I'm frightened without my babcia.
The world begins to turn a shade of grey... And fades to black....
Dark, suffocating, cold, dehydrating, aching, starving, bleeding, crying-
Unending torment, where am I?
I want to go home.
Where are they?
I hear their voices; they speak in a language I can't understand.
Where is he?
There are three of them. But I can only see one.
I can't see - but I see red.
Why does he want me? I said I want to go home.
I hear their screams, they are not much different from mine.
Why is he doing this to me? Have I done something wrong?
I can't keep my eyes open anymore.
It hurts to breathe.
I'm so tired.
I ' m s o t i r e d .
I ' m s o t i r e d .
I ' m s o -
"Yo, Tails, are you awake?"
Tails' body jerked into consciousness, his eyes shot open.
That was probably the one-millionth time that he had had dream.. nightmare... he could never decipher what it was about or what it actually was.
"You're a pretty light sleeper, so I thought you-"
"Yes, I'm awake," Tails interrupted, his voice was kind of a murmur, he shifted to a sitting position. His body ached, every time he had the reoccurring terror it would get worse. It also left his lungs with a burning sensation and a foreign emptiness in his brain.
"You don't sound like it..."
Tails ignored his statement, "What is it? I hope it's something important, it's not every day I can actually stay asleep..."
"Well, I couldn't sleep."
"So.. then you woke me up.... To what, tell me you can't sleep?"
"Yeah, pretty much. I'm bored, I've been sitting here watching- Uh, I've been like.. Sitting here for four hours waiting for you - doing nothing."
Tails sighed, it was no wonder why Hatty was insane, he had to deal with this all the time. He turned to the side and swept the thick pine a little, he craned his neck a bit to look outside through the crevice. It was still pitch black and it was still raining pretty hard, but the winds had seemingly calmed. He retracted back and let the back of his head hit the pine wall.
It was going to be a long night...
"So... what do you wanna talk about?", said Blam.
"Hm," Tails thought for a moment, a quite important concern crossed his mind, "Do you think the others are okay? Do we even have protocols for situations like this?"
"Nah, I mean, remember what dad said to you way back...? If we even just heard strange noises anywhere in the mansion, we weren't supposed to look and see what it was."
Yes, he remembered now... a strange rule that was. Well.. is. Now it made sense after all that had happened, especially with the.. the cellar. Just thinking about it made him sick, and with the ill feeling he already had - it did not bode well... And to think, that they had soon been apart of it...
Tails resisted the urge to gag, he pushed the thought far out of this mind.
Blam thankfully changed the subject, "I'm sure my bro is fine, he can be pretty smart. And I'm sure with that, he also took the others to safety. Uh, now that I think about it.. he's probably losing his mind (even more) and wondering where the hell I am."
"Yeah, I could say the same for Felix...", Tails said guiltily, he remembered how he had last left the cat. He probably thought he hated him, and he had no idea how long it would be until they would meet again. Tails just hoped he didn't think of it that way...
Blam grunted and shifted, "I feel so weird not having my legs, and how the hell am I even gonna get around anymore without clay to fix them?"
"Can't you use clay from other parts of your body to repair them?", Tails suggested.
Blam's expression etched into one of thought (not deep, but moderate, which was pretty unlike him), "I could use some from my head... but then it wouldn't match...."
'Since when did he ever care of matching?', Tails thought. He then recalled some information he gathered from researching Comical characteristics.
"Do you mind if I take a piece?", he asked, pointing at the upper corner of the box head.
"Uh, sure... but I'm not sure if it'll work well..."
Tails carefully pinched the corner and removed a piece. He then placed and merged it with the end of one of Blam's amputated legs. In an instant, the white-colored clay turned many shades darker, matching perfectly with the clay of the limb.
Blam's eyes widened in astonishment, "Wha- What. How did.. how did you-"
"Hm, as I had thought... Your body has a very persistent and resolute framework."
"Who to the what now.."
"Err... It doesn't matter what color the clay is, it changes to match your appearance."
"Oh...", Blam glanced to the side, embarrassed by how little he knew about himself.
The fox's hand traveled to his chin, "I'm sure with the amount of clay for the width of your head, it can be used to fix your legs.. maybe even more."
Blam's eyes became lidded and his brows furrowed, "You're saying my head's big..."
"Yeah.. it really doesn't need to be that big. I'm surprised you can stand up straight (or stand up at all)..."
Blam pouted, "I might as well remodel my entire body..."
"Well, I'm not so sure about that.."
"No, I should, maybe some people will stop making fun of 'my big head' and crap."
"You can't stop me, I'm already starting," and as he vowed, he was taking many pieces of the mold from the sides of his head, and slapping them on the ends of his stubs.
The fox sighed. His namesakes fluttered into his lap, he stroked their fur. Though, he shivered a bit at an uncomfortable feeling he got from it. He looked down, seeing that his gloves were darkened with dirt - stained. They also still felt soggy from rainwater, which did not help in any means.
Tails grimaced, he suddenly had the extreme urge to wrench them off and throw them across the bed. Next to wet socks, this was the absolute worst. But.. he exchanged a glance at Blam. The Comical was too busy with himself to notice him. Tails' eyes went back to his gloves... It wasn't too bad, right..? But he really couldn't stand the icky feeling anymore.
He slowly, almost gingerly, began to slip off the gloves. Once off, he tossed them aside. He studied his hands... same as always. He felt his knuckles, palms, fingertips.. his wrists... The tenderness of his own hands made him a bit wary. He never did take off his gloves unless he was going to bed, as did many Toons and other Character kinds that wore gloves. Without them, one would almost feel naked.
As he swept his thumb across the top of his hand, he was met with something that made a wave of anxiety rush over him: scarred tissue. He froze, and the hand that revealed it began to quiver. The very air he breathed in felt toxic.
~"You will never feel loved, you will never be like the former or latter man. The suffering you feel now - is what you will make others endure if you dare to escape me."
The words crept into his mind, they came from a very familiar voice. He knew whom it belonged to, but he dared not to even think of their name.
"Hey, you took off your gloves-"
The fox did not falter. He simply blinked, almost deliberately - as if if he didn't in a very specific and certain way.. he would crumble into millions of pieces. He just listened to the voice from beside him, trying to keep his composure as if his life depended on it.
"-I don't think I've ever seen you without them..."
His lips parted, but the noise he let out sounded choked. He snapped his mouth shut. Then he tried again.
"Yes.. you.. haven't..."
His words were clear, but the pauses between them made it sound as if it was his first time speaking English...
The box continued to speak, he was up for conversation again. To the fox's relief, he somehow did not see in the slightest of how unnerved he was at the moment, "Where're we going after Poseidon calms his tits?"
Tails squeezed his hands, he tried to keep his voice steady, "Try to... to look for the others... in the forest. If we can't... find them... then..."
"I hope you don't mean the whole forest, this place is pretty huge. And if they aren't here.. Well, surely they wouldn't go into town, right?"
The Digi had to lower his head; his eyes were watering. He felt like he was going to break. But.. he couldn't, not in front of Blam. Especially since he'd ask him nonstop about why he had broken down, that would just make it even worse. The burning in his lungs extended, and pain began to sprout.
He hadn't processed Blam's question.. what had he asked?
Wait - right.. He asked if the others would be in town... or at least that's what he thought...
He strained himself to speak, "Ah, m-maybe... if they... really..."
"Are you feeling alright? You're not looking so hot..."
He almost whimpered, "No- it... I'm fine- i-it's just-"
"Dude, if you wanna stop talking then... I'll leave you alone. I'll keep fixing myself and you can rest... Sorry for waking you up. It.. I just felt a bit lonely, you know?"
Tails kept silent, if he didn't, he was sure something would happen that was very undesirable.
God... it felt so bad... it felt like someone was stabbing him every-which-way.
"You hang in there, I'll leave you alone...", Blam's voice was so abnormally reassuring and nice, any other time Tails would find this so overwhelming (maybe even startling)... but as of now, he was finding it hard to even keep himself from screaming on the top of his lungs.
His hands trembling terribly, he put his hood over his head and pulled the lace as tight as he could. Then, he just about fell over, and just laid there. He rode through his noiseless breakdown. And as if there was deja vu, he had gone unconscious... or more so this time - passed out.
"Sorry about that guys, I was thinking irrationally. Maybe checking the weather beforehand could've been a good idea..."
"Well, at least we don't have wet socks," Max had replied to The Geek.
"Yes, rather, we have wet feet," Sam averred.
Bugs rang out his ears, being sure it didn't get on the floor, but on the entrance rug. "It's alright, Geek, I'm sure no one else saw this comin' either."
The girl's head hung low, "It's just that... I overreacted. I made us run right into that dangerous weather. When... when I saw the results..."
Sam laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder, "Hey, don't beat yourself up about it! You had all the reason to react like that."
Bugs glanced outside; the second they had stepped out, they were clobbered by what felt like a tsunami. "I guess we'll wait it out, but then we could go out as soon as we can."
"Into the Twin Forest?"
"I'm not sure, considering what can be found in there."
Max became disappointed, his ears dropped, "Aww, I wanted to meet some bloodsuckers...! Also-known-as, my distant relatives!"
"Not so sure about 'distant'," Sam quipped.
Bugs turned back to look at Sam, "We could take what you and Max were going to do at first - interrogating people 'round town."
"Hmm, yes, presuming all of those witnesses. Plus there are the relatives and friends of the missing persons."
"Easier said than done, I'm sure," The Geek butted in, seeming a bit brighter.
The dog chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck; a bit anxiously to anyone's surprise, "Yep, no telling how cooperative any of them will be. Especially the-"
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. The four of them stared at it, confused expressions etched onto their faces.
Who would be coming out here in this weather?
The Geek, who was closest to the entrance, approached the door and opened it. On the other side - stood a very familiar figure.
"Of course they send me now, when it's pouring damn waterfalls. They did this on purpose...", they walked in without permission nor acknowledgment of anyone. They had a very bad lisp, which sounded as if they were spraying their spit with every word.
As soon as the fluorescent light hit them, Bugs' eyes went wide, "Daffy?!"
The black duck's head swung up, he stared at him for a moment. Soon after, Daffy's eyes became lidded.
"Oh, great, this just keeps getting better and better," his was filled with sarcasm.
The Geek closed the door that Daffy failed to close and open himself, she eyed the strange Toon with an almost suspicious expression.
"Nice to see you, too," Bugs replied, mimicking his tone. But he still showed his surprise, "Why are you here?"
"I'm working on the case of the wanted uncharacters, you?"
"You? What- we're already working on it! And they're just corrupted, not uncharacters," Bugs corrected sternly.
Daffy ignored his last statement, "Well, they told me that you were short on people. So... they sent me. But if I had known I was working with you, I wouldn't have come (probably)."
Bugs faltered for a moment, "Ah- you..."
Daffy's slowed his voice, "They said two detectives, I'm guessing these guys...", he referred to Sam and Max, "...were a pair. But someone was alone. They said, 'it would be too dangerous to go as a single-person party'. So now I'm here."
Bugs had no clue that Daffy was undercover as well. Daffy, a cop? The government must be desperate for recruits. But... if it took him up to this very moment to find out, maybe he wasn't all that bad at it. Plus him and Daffy went way back, so maybe that's why they were assigned together? Nevertheless, Bugs pushed his uncertainty aside.
"Did.. they tell you anything else? About the case I mean," Bugs asked.
"Yeah, actually. With information, there isn't much to go on. Just their location, they might be found in that forest, but it's not really even confirmed. But with carrying all this out, they have a little something: They said one pair should interrogate witnesses, and the other should be hunting down the wanted."
Sam leaned back, thinking to himself, "Hm, well, since we have been set on interrogating... Max and I could do that. And.. Bugs, you said a while back that you were a bit... familiar with these un- ah, persons. Maybe you could do better with tracking them down. But this'll be your decision, we would be fine with either task. Isn't that right, little buddy?"
"The way you demoralize me is humiliating," Max replied blankly, then suddenly he became peppy, "Oh, who am I kidding? It's either harass the innocent or blast the malevolent!"
Bugs thought for a moment. Sam was right, with his knowledge, it would be made easier to predict the actions of the Characters based on what he knew about them. But, then again, with their corruption.. they might not be the same people they once were. Though, he still thought it'd be better if he and Daffy did this. Sam and Max were a bit... extreme when it came to their job (or anything, really).
The last thing you want to do is to make a corrupted Character feel threatened.
He shrugged, once again disregarding his hesitation, "Eh, no problem. We can do that," Bugs agreed simply.
"Oh, so I don't get to-"
"We can do that," Bugs repeated, glancing over at Daffy.
The duck let out an agitated sigh.
"Then that should settle it. After the weather calms and if there isn't too much flooding, we need to get started," stated The Geek.
"Alright...", Daffy muttered, he looked down at his webbed feet.
Fortunately for them, the rain had begun to ease.
It was cold and dark, and moisture filled the air. The draft sounded of low groaning. Wakko had been curled up against the concrete wall, his tail wrapped around his slender leg. The Toon shivered as a chill went over him. How long they had been down there, he didn't know. He and Hatty had been sitting there for, what he knew, many uncounted minutes. Maybe hours. Maybe days. He didn't know.
He knew from bad experience how hard it was to tell how much time had past, just by the feeling... Without an outside view, or even a working clock.
But why had Hatty taken him, of all people? You'd think Hatty would get his own brother and take him to safety. If it was because he couldn't find him... then wouldn't he have gone to Papyrus or Oswald? It didn't make sense to him.
Where ever Yakko was, he was probably worried sick. No, not just worried... he must of been losing his mind.
Now that he thought of it, if the others were not down here... where were they? Did... did Hatty disregard the safety of everyone else? For all Wakko knew, he was the only one that Hatty helped. Really, he had just swept him out of Yakko's grasp... someone who would surely take care of him. It all comes full circle; why was he chosen? Why... him....?
Wakko glanced over at Hatty. His face was blank as always, emotionless, unreadable... definitely the hardest one for Wakko - to know what he was feeling. Then again, everyone thought that... right?
"I'm sorry, that you had lost your cap," Hatty spoke out of the blue (or rather, the grey), "I know it must have meant something very important to you. But, you must understand that I only took you here for your best chance of survival... You may have not stood a chance with your brother, I'm afraid to say. You are to stay with me if you wish to live... is that crystal?"
Wakko wasn't sure how to respond, so he didn't.
"Good," he stated, as though he had agreed, "We must leave now."
Wakko cautiously watched him as he stood up, and adjusted his suit and hat.
"Please, I do wish for you to get onto your feet. There is no time to doddle."
The small Toon got up. Or.. attempted to. He fell back down, his legs were not working.
'Why am I...'
That's when he remembered. He was supposed to be taking his medication, but Hatty had taken him before Yakko could give it to him.
Wakko felt himself be filled with fear. Though, tried his best to push it down. He would be fine, he thought. He had lived for many years without having to take anything. What makes it that he couldn't go without it now?
He attempted yet again to stand. But, yet again, he fell onto his bottom.
'Well, it would be nice to at least be able to stand.'
Hatty saw his struggles, "Erm... Might I ask, do you need assistance?"
Wakko looked up at him with defeated but accepting eyes.
Hatty understood and picked him up. It was strange how delicately he held him, almost like how Yakko would. This was a direct opposite of how he handled him when leading him here... it must have been the stress of the situation.
The taller Character carried him through the catacomb-esk hallways; always getting darker and colder. Soon, after a while of soundless traveling, the air felt heavier. Hatty started to escalate, they were going up a staircase. The more and more they went, the weight of the air got stronger. Suddenly, there was a non-animalistic roar, echoing. A rushing stream of water came to Hatty's feet. He stood defiantly against it, and continued onward. A beam of light hit Wakko's eyes, he squeezed them shut to dodge the burning. Though, from underneath his eyelids, he knew that they grew closer to it. In front of them stood a metal door, bent out of shape and rusted from age and the beating of weather. Through its crack, the light shone brightly. The door opened easily with a screech, on the other side was a clearing outside... but strangely enough, it wasn't Neverwood. It was a place he had yet to see: Instead of the usual and familiar pines of what he knew, there were oaks, with bright orange color; but they followed the same way, as they came as a huge never-ending pattern, stretching as far as he could see. Just above them, there, the sunrise's glare came from above their colorful leaves.
Wakko turned his head to look up at Hatty, he would've suspected a confused expression if he wasn't so emotionless. The small Toon craned his neck to look from where they came: there stood the - two - red, metal doors they entered.
"This is peculiar," Hatty finally said, "This is not where I thought it would take us."
He then turned completely around and examined his surroundings. The double doors were from an odd hill that was dead centered in a flat landscape. A gentle breeze swept by them, it ever so slightly moved one of the doors, making it let out a low groan. An ominous and indeterminate sound came from them, one that Wakko was sure he didn't hear beforehand. It... really made him uneasy.
Hatty, on the other hand, seemed to not be started, instead, he traveled to the opposite side of the hill, there was a clearing; a long narrow path stood in front of them. It was long enough to where they couldn't see where it led.
Wordlessly... Hatty proceeded down the mysterious passage.
Never once did he look down at Wakko.