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Posted on 2006.01.25 at 12:20
Current Mood: artisticartistic
Current Music: Richard Band - "From Beyond" Soundtrack

PART 8 (of 8)


            Back on the street, the boy took hurried steps to find the first haven-like area he could find, but saw none in his immediate line of sight; coincidentally, the streets and walkways themselves were deserted, so in the end the boy just plunked down onto a curb and attempted to unfasten the knot that held his little baggy closed.


            He alternated between exacting attempts - which always left his hands trembling - and hostile, sharp jerks to accomplish this feat.  As a final solution, the boy just held it above his head and tore it open, letting the powder fall as a lump onto his head.  A hazy mist billowed into the air and obscured the boy's vision.


            A breeze blew by shortly after, and took a bit of the powder away, but most of it just stayed lumped on his head.  He thought that it felt much heavier than usual.


            He sat still a moment, and felt a slight tingle behind his ears.  His scalp began to itch.  He reflexively raised his hand, and then dropped it again.  He waited.  The itching went away.  He waited some more.


            His hands no longer shook, but nothing else occurred.  His breath heavier in his chest, the boy stood, no longer caring if the powder fell off his head or not.  Frowning, he leapt into the air…and floated gently back down.  He leapt again, with similar results.  A few oddly slow-motion hops later, and he started to cry.


            He sat down suddenly - more of a controlled collapse - back onto the curb; a touch of the dust that had held onto him puffed into the air.  He held his wet and reddening face in his fists, and desperately turned his head to glance at the brownstone down the street, and then away, over and over and over again.  He didn't move, but did think this: he hadn't even thought to ask them about 'Bell.


            The boy wasn't sure exactly what caused him to notice the old man's approach, but he immediately found himself face to chest with the same, small individual from the alleyway earlier.  Neither spoke right away, but the boy broke the silence when he said: "It isn't pixie dust!"


            The old man nodded.  "Oh, ayes, laddie.  'S pixie dust, all rights.  Just not the ways yer used tas.


            The boy swallowed a rising lump in his throat, and asked, "How is it different?  I saw the pixies and…it should be the same…"


            "You're used tas havin' your own personals pixie, son.  No one else can affords ta give that stuff aways, like.  Ya skinny?"


            "But…they had tons of pixies…all their own…"


            "Yas, but the ways they was using 'em…them pixies just can'ts keeps up.  So they'res endangered, like.  Rareities 's what I'm sayin'."


            "I guess…"  He had to stop himself from crying again.  He didn't even know how he would go home now; how he would get back to his own land.


            "But I'll tells ya what," the old man offered a too-little tooth grin.  "I've got some real stuffs.  You wants it?"


            The boy stared.  The old man waited.  Then the elder of the two produced from his coat pocket a bag of dark-gray powder, dull to the point of appearing near-black.  "This, son, is the cat insides the bag.  The genie insides the bottle.  Once you've openeds it, there's no goings back.  Not evers."


            No expression showed on the boy's face.  "Why's it so…"  He remembered a word he heard the pirate use for negative meaning.  "…crap?"


            The old man laughed heartily.  "Oh, sons!  We'll makes a-…"  Then he spontaneously started to cough, and as he did he tried to start up a new thought.  "Ah…what I means is…we'll…ah…we'll makes a good team!  Yas!  We'll makes a fine, fine team you and I's, oh, yas, yas we will, yas!"


            The boy stared at the pouch.  "Will we be having sprinkle all the time if we're a team?"


            "Oh, yaaaaaaassss."


            The boy looked up to the sky, slightly to the right of what he instinctually knew was North.  "Okay," he said.  "All I want is the dust.  Can I have some please?"


            "Oooohhhhh, yas, yaaaaasss."  He proffered the pouch.  "Take it."


            The boy gingerly reached out and wrapped his hand around the prize.  He brought it down to his level, took a deep breath, and then tore open the pouch above his head, just as he had done with the last.


            This powder didn't float down like good sprinkle should, but neither did it lump like the rubbish he had gotten from the pirate.  This particular pixie-stuff immediately suffused the air, causing the boy to gag.  He felt it cling to his head, his face, his ears, his neck…it clung to him like a film, like a fungus.  He staggered to his feet and shambled a few steps out of the cloud of effect, though by that time much of the substance had already attached itself to his skin and clothes.  A few more violent coughs, though, and the initial attack seemed over.


            "What…what was that stuff?"


            "It was pixie dust, lad."  The old man now sounded somber.  "It was pixie dust."


            The boy felt his whole head burn, and his throat and lungs felt thick, partially clogged.  "I…I can't…"


            "What can'ts you do?" the old man asked.


            "I…I can't seem to…"  The boy suddenly doubled over, clutching his stomach.  "Oooohhh, it hurts…"


            The old man shook his head as if scolding a child.  "That's what happens when you sprinkles bad dust, son."


            The boy opened his mouth again, but this time nothing besides a high and long wail echoed forth.  The old man leered.  "Stick a little cold metals into a pixie, and she goes bads, she does.  Crumbles into little gray dusts.  Never the sames after that, I would thinks."


            The boy moaned, now on his knees.  The old man stood quietly by for a moment, then continued.  "All one hads to do was offer the little thing a promise of true friendships.  Tells her she hasn't been getting' whats she deserves.  Then when she ain'ts looking…"  He made a motion of running something small, something that in his imagination lay in his hand, through with a weapon.  "BAM!  Ride through the middle, and then POOF!"  He waved his hands in an arc.  "Nothin's but powder…nothin's but dusts."  He chuckled at his own speech.


            The boy collapsed to the ground and groaned.  The old man stood by quietly once again, arms folded in satisfaction across his chest.  Then he started tapping his foot against the ground.  The boy coughed.


            "You know," the old man suddenly resumed.  "I had this all planned out from the beginning.  First I captures yer little pixie, then-"


            "You know where 'Bell is?"  It sounded more like burbling liquid - like someone taking underwater - than actual speech.  Still, the old man became very animated at the boy's participation.


            "Yes!  I'm the ones that tooks 'er!  Ar!"


            The boy lifted his head slightly.  "You're…a pirate?"


            "Oh, yes, yes, yes!  More than just any pirate, too!  I'm the only pirates that matters!"


            The boy sprung up, though still stooped in posture.  "I knew it!  I knew it all along!  You're Hook!!!"


            The small, self-professed pirate stared blankly.  "What?"


            The boy, his momentum gone, didn't move.  "What?"


            "You…I'm…NO!  No, you stupid…petulant…" his body shook in a rage, searching for the word.  "…child!!!"


            The boy dropped to his knees.  "But…then why did you…why would you…"


            "I'M the one who did this to you!  I'M the mastermind!  Not him!  Not the Captain!  ME!"


            The boy gave the pirate a once-over.  "Who're you?"


            "I'm Smee!" the pirate bellowed.  "SMEE!"


            The boy blinked.  "Smee?"




            "What's a Smee?"


            "Smee's me!"


            "But where's the Captian?"


            "There is no Captain!  He's gone!  For good!  For ever!"


            "But…"  The boy rose to his feet again.  "But what about the hooks, huh?  If there's no Captain then explain the hooks!"


            It was the pirate's turn to blink.  "Hooks?"


            "The…the double…you know, the two hooks…attached at the base and…you know, the symbol."


            Smee closed his eyes and frowned very, very deep.


            "It was an 'S'!"  He flailed his fists above his head.  "An 'S'!"


            "An 'S'?"




            "Why an 'S'?"


            "For me!  For 'Smee'!"


            "Oh.  Then where is the Captain?"


            "You were the last to fight him!  You have his hook!"


            "Oooooohhhh," the boy declared, and thought he just might understand.  He yanked the hook off his belt and checked it, just to be sure.


            The Tragic Case of the Terrible Twined Hooks had been solved.


            "No, wait," the boy said.  "Why would you do all these things to me?  Only the Captain ever hated me this much."


            "Yes, the Captain hated you, but I hated the Captain!"


            The boy thought this over then said, "Okay."


            Smee paused, but the boy said nothing more, so the pirate resumed: "So I knew the best way to get the Captain back for all the many, many years of abuse was to replace him with his greatest, mortal enemy."


            The boy now thought about this.  "Me?"




            "But I'm not a pirate."


            Smee began to pace, which may have been a bit much, but then again it was Smee.  "Aren't you, my boy?  You found an underling to call friend who you then abused and took for granted for all these many, many years.  And if that isn't enough, which it isn't, then may I also point out that in the course of this single night you have bullied, stolen, plundered, strong-armed, cursed like a sailor, and now you'll be stuck in this beautiful, time-worn land that should age you until you become an ADULT.  And at that point, what else can you be?  But a pirate?"


            The boy raised a finger, like an exclamation mark.  "I'll return home, then!  And not grow up, and never return here!"


            "Without your pixie?" Smee prodded.


            "Yeah!  I can do it!  I can…can…"


            "And how will you get back without your pixie?"


            "I…I'll…"  He cupped his chin with his forefinger and thumb.  "I'll steal one?"


            "Excellent, lad!  Spoken like a true pirate!"


            "I'm not a pirate!"


            "You have no choice!  You'll never return home because I killed your pixie, and once you're old you HAVE to be a pirate!"


            "Then I'll never grow old!"




            The boy gripped the hook in his hands tighter.  "There is always a choice," he said.


            And with that, he ferociously plunged the hook into his tights, gashing and tearing at a particular area until he had gouged most of it away.


            Smee, startled briefly to inaction, then lunged at the boy, shouting: "NO!" over and over as he tried to pry the boy's hands free from their target.


            In a one graceful, impossible move, the boy swung the hook free and past Smee's chest.  A second later and the pirate's throat began to empty its contents.


            As the small man slowly curled down to his knees, he gurgled: "Why…"


            In between sobs, the boy answered: "Because without them, I'll never have to grow up!"  He screamed a terrible crow-cry.


            Then he plunged the hook into himself one final time, and the pirate, on his back, on the ground, wheezed these final words: "That's…the stupidest thing…"


            And then he died.


            After, the boy also dropped, and as he felt the remains of his lower half spill out onto the street, he pawed the hook over to lie near his wound.  He imagined it was attached, and giggled through his tears, feeling braver, surer, and more himself than he had in a long, long time.


            And when he stopped his tears, his crying, and his giggling, and his imagining, and his sobbing and made no other sound but rapid, staccato breaths, he remembered her name: "Wendy…" he gasped.


            And then he died, too.



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