19 September 2012 @ 01:46 am
❀ 05  
A. [ACTION: 917 BILKO BOULEVARD (morning)]

[well, after all that trouble they went through (and to find…what? a flower? gosh, he’s not sure if that’s supposed to be profoundly poetic or monumentally frustrating) down in that void of color and nothingness, a reward should be well-deserved at this point. even though they found what they were supposed to find which made this whole life-or-death experience not so, y’know, worthless, technically everyone’s still as badly off as they were before this whole mess with the portals started. at least Once-ler is. when the morning mail finds its way to his mailbox and the first thing he spots amidst the bills and is a small, plain envelope padded with packing foam, he doesn’t immediately anticipate a regain. in fact, it’s so unremarkable that he’s all but ready to pitch it.

but then he feels something jiggling around inside of it, and – oh, right, it’s that time of the month again already. admittedly, he’s been getting some really off the wall stuff lately. the Thneed, well, that was neat (and useful, of course) and the Axe Hacker…he’d really just rather not talk about that, thanks. logic dictates that this one is bound to be something really offbeat.

he couldn’t be more wrong.]


[the park is crowded today with a class of drone children, no doubt there on some kind of school function. instead of going back home, Once-ler settles on second best, the only alternative he has for a quiet place to think. in contrast to the normally busy park, Makeout Hill is still and empty at this time of the morning. he doesn’t have any great desire to hike all the way up the mountain trail in his jammies, but he doesn’t need to; soon enough, he comes across a little patch of weeds (or are they wild flowers? he’s never been too good at making the differentiation even back when plants still existed in the valley) surrounding a big, flat stone on the edge of the hill. carefully, he navigates over to it and takes a seat.

the envelope is still clutched in his hands, but they’ve stopped trembling by now. now they’re just listlessly turning the torn thing over, feeling the tiny round object roll around beneath them.]

…I don’t get it. Sorry, but I don’t.

[he opens his mouth again, closes it, then reluctantly reopens it when he realizes that he can’t possibly look any sillier right now. he’s sitting on a hilltop in his PJs for crying out loud. might as well go the extra mile and just start babbling to himself pretending that he’s somewhere out there listening.]

If it’s supposed to be a joke, then – I guess, for you, it’s pretty funny, I won’t hold that against you. But, if it isn’t, then…

[he turns the envelope upside down and lets the object inside of it, a tiny little walnut-shaped seed with a spiral imprint trailing down and around its surface, tumble into his lap.]

…What am I supposed to do with this?

[what can he even do with it here of all places? that’s why this has to be some kind of joke. some tasteless, stupid new brand of unfunny. so Once-ler just sits there staring at his lap, eyes half-lidded with sleep and…something else.

and inwardly, he thinks:

I don’t get it and I don’t think you’re ever going to tell me. I don’t know what’s funnier: the fact that I keep expecting you to answer, or the fact I always sort of wished this would happen. I don’t know if this is what having hope is supposed to feel like, but it’s better than nothing, I think, because when I look at this I think of home.

And, if I look hard enough, it almost feels like I can see you.

So just...just, please -]

...Stupid. [a sigh.] What am I thinking?

[this is what he gets for talking to seeds. at least he can watch the sun rise up here, if nothing else.]

[C. ACTION: 917 BILKO BOULEVARD (afternoon)]

[later on after he’s had some time to assess things, Once-ler can be found in the driveway doing something surprisingly constructive: routine maintenance on his giant metal death machine. hey, if he’s going to keep this stupid thing around, he should at least make sure that it doesn’t rust. this thing is already a pink flamingo or two away from being the world’s largest lawn ornament; the last thing it needs is a coat of rust to make it look even more ostentatious.

but maybe it could have another more practical use. awful stuff is happening by the boatload every day with the general consensus that it’s only going to get worse from here on out. maybe he could actually repurpose the Super Axe Hacker and put it to better use than what it was created for.

gears and bolts are littering the driveway as Once-ler sits off to the side, trying to wedge a panel off the massive machine’s hull with a crowbar. it’s obvious he’s never used one before considering how hard a time he’s having with it, making little pained grunts and wheezes as he strains to lift it.

come on – you don’t want to see him struggle, do you?]
13 July 2012 @ 02:02 pm
❀ 04  

[well. that was some adventure, wasn’t it? and to think, he could have stayed inside watching TV or picking up a new hobby. stamp collecting, maybe. fortunately now that the carnival is gone, Once-ler can catch up on the many exciting activities he missed while trapped in a horrible nightmare dimension devoid of food and water; he’s got a hermit quota to meet that isn’t going to fill itself. this afternoon, he’s in the kitchen fumbling with a jar of mustard, inches away from whacking the stupid thing against the wall because darnit, what kind of self-respecting sandwich doesn’t have mustard, when he hears a soft thump at the door. at first, he’s quick to brush it aside until he remembers that the mail is usually delivered at this time of the day. mostly, it’s always stupid, inconsequential stuff that he’d sooner pitch than open – fliers from the neighborhood committee, invitations to drone-hosted cookouts, water bills, etc. – with the exception of occasional surprises every now and then. the electric guitar propped against the wall in the living room is proof of that. if it happened once, it could happen again, couldn’t it?

as it turns out, it could. there’s a small box sitting on his doorstep, and he doesn’t even bother to bring it inside. plopping down with his legs splayed between the box like a kid on Christmas, he picks it up and gives it a good shake before tearing into it.]


[he supposes he should be a little disappointed when he feels his fingers rub against familiar soft, fuzzy fabric, but he doesn’t. he stares at it for a good minute and a half before gingerly pulling the Thneed out of the box, inhaling the sweet scent that immediately fills the air around him. not disappointed, then; would guilt be more natural? maybe. the emotion fluttering in his chest definitely isn’t a wholly positive one, but at the same time, it’s not entirely unpleasant either. hesitantly, he hugs the Thneed closer and rubs his cheek against it, inhaling that pleasant, butterfly milky smell he’s come to miss. it’s not the same as coming home, but it’s close enough.

he’s about to go back inside when something else catches his eye – something metallic and shiny and very, very big – in the driveway. he takes a few proper steps outside aaaand cue the loudest yelp EVER.

how the heck is he going to explain THIS to the neighbors?]


[it’s not like he can send the Super Axe Hacker back in the mail – and even if he could, he’d probably have to start selling organs to afford the proper shipping – so he might as well make do with what he has. unfortunately, he’s going to need more tools to maintain its upkeep, so it’s to the hardware store Once-ler goes. he’s not too happy about it as you can plainly see, and the weather’s just making everything worse. it’s like this stupid place has two suns. how’s he possibly going to keep cool?

…oh, wait. duh.

A Thneed works well as a hood, but it makes an even better umbrella. you’ll see Once-ler holding one as he goes about his shopping today, bags in one hand and…bright pink, fuzzy parasol in the other. at least he looks a little happier.]


So, um. Everyone is alive, right? For the most part? Just so you know, even if you’re missing an arm or leg or a couple fingers, I still count that as being more-or-less okay ‘cause at least you’re still breathing. Y’know what’s more important than fingers and toes? Lungs.

[oh wow. see, there’s a reason he never talks on the phone. he takes a deep breath to level his voice and continues.]

Since we never did find Rick Grey, I’m gonna date myself for a bit here and assume that the “other place” he talked about being in wasn’t the “other” Mayfield. And if he was there at any point, he’s long gone now. I don’t think I need to explain what I mean to the people who were around by the…the last day.

I guess…I just want to know what to do now. Did we even learn anything from what happened? Anything at all that could actually be considered helpful? I mean, if anyone was ever really, really curious about what the last sound you hear before your eardrums explode is, I guess I can answer that. I'm already a stockpile of worthless information as it is.


…It’s a crackly kind of popping. Then, nothing.
29 May 2012 @ 08:12 pm
❀ 03  

[boy oh boy, has it been getting hot out. true to form, Once-ler’s moods have been flip-flopping back and forth in response to this because, on one hand, it means that summer’s coming. on the other hand, it means that he’s going to have to spend it here in Creepville. once again, he’s reminded that all this stupid town has going for it is the nice weather; if he could, he’d catch the sun and bottle up the clouds to take with him back home if - when - that metaphorical doorway back is found. that way he wouldn’t have to constantly debate with himself which of his two homes is worse.

today, the weather’s not too bad. it’s sunny and still as humid as it was yesterday, but there’s a lovely breeze to be felt and just leaving the window open would be unfair because it’d be denying him the full summer experience. he definitely doesn’t want to sit out in his yard and be gawked at by every paperboy and girl scout ever, so…that leaves one other place.

you’ll find Once-ler at the park today, laying under a nice, big shady tree. he’s lying on his stomach, shoes kicked off with his socks discarded somewhere close by, feet rocking idly in the air.

from the sound of things, he’s not alone.]

You know what’s weird? There isn’t a fountain here. Respectable parks usually have those, but not this one. It stinks. I haven’t even seen one measly sprinkler, not even a tiny one let alone one of those huge ones that’re big enough to run through. Too bad. It would’ve been a great way to cool off.

[he pauses for a moment before continuing on in a much more conversational, thoughtful tone:]

So would a water park. I don’t think those have been invented yet here, but they were back in my world. And the one I had designed for Thneedville? It would’ve been the best one of its kind. Maybe the only of its kind. I mean, of course you wouldn’t know anything about it, but I’ve never been a park where you could surf and ski all in one day. It was gonna have a slope with synthetic snow and fans rigged around to blow cold air, just like a real mountain. So you could go play around up there, and then, when you got tired of building snowmen, you could take a lift down the slope and lay around by the pool. Maybe even have a barbecue.

I had a construction crew working on it last August. It’s already the end of May. I…I wonder if it’s done. [he bites his lip.] Most of the town wasn’t. The residential areas weren’t even finished and I was already drawing up plans for water parks. Imagine that. For a while, I was starting to think that…that it’d just stay like that. Half-finished. Like a big, worthless lump of nothing in the middle of nowhere. Then Audrey came along and…and I –

[he trails off, the words caught in his throat. why is he even thinking about this? he takes a deep breath, looking intently at the arm he’s laid onto his stomach.]

…I didn’t want to believe her, but...she doesn’t really have any reason to lie, does she? If you saw her, you wouldn’t think so no matter how crazy her story was. Imagine – a town with plastic grass and bugs! You’d hate it.

[he lifts his arm up, moving it close to his face. a lone snail is crawling across it.]

Wouldn’t you?

[what a lousy conversationalist.]


[after his park escapades, Once-ler heads off to the library. he's brought the snail along with him, plus something else he's picked up on the way.

sitting down at a table in the back of the room, he gently sets his snail buddy down, away from the small paper bag he plops on the table soon after. he reaches inside and takes out a squarish box followed by something easily identifiable to anyone as a lighter, then he opens up the box and takes one of the objects it's carrying out, holding it to his lips and lighting the end.

oh. oh, yes. good. he really needed that. how he's missed you, tobacco.

Once-ler takes a slow, lazy drag on the cigar, exhaling smoke. after a few minutes, he gets up out of his chair, giving the snail a small pat on its shell as if to say guard my stuff, then heads off down one of the aisles to find a book to read, cigar still in hand.]
24 April 2012 @ 11:12 pm
❀ 02  

[just as he has been doing for the past week and a half, Once-ler drags himself out of bed. it’s getting easier by the day; even if his brain doesn’t want to admit it, his body doesn’t seem to have a problem as walking – actually, lurching – down the stairs is as effortless a transition as slipping into a pair of well-used if not terribly scratchy socks. waking up early was never such a chore once upon a time, but that was because he actually had obligations. a company to manage, a factory to oversee, places to go and finances to keep in check. when your entire routine was effectively destroyed and your old way of living went with it, your priorities tended to get a shuffled in the chaos. right now, the most pressing one at the top of his list is to keep himself from falling asleep in his bowl of cereal and drowning. you can’t say that he isn’t tackling this whole change one step at a time.

finally, at the crack of noon, he starts waking up and this time there’s a noticeable change in his demeanor. instead of a braindead zombie whose only distinction from the drones is the lack of a happy face, the man who walks out 917 Bilko’s door is alert and bright and determined. he’s carrying a big brown bag that’s stamped with the logo of Mayfield’s hardware store and filled to the brim with what sounds like a large number of metallic jingly things. what sort of things, you ask? whatsits, that’s what.

as the hour drags on, the number of items you’ll see strewn about the porch may change (somewhere during the controlled chaos, a radio and a big plate of French toast are brought out), but the general sight doesn’t – it’s just Once-ler bustling around the front of the house with a screwdriver in one hand and a wrench in the other, doing what looks like basic repairs to the house. at least, they look basic…at a glance. home maintenance shouldn’t involve completely dismantling the doorbell panel and rewiring the whole thing from scratch, nor should it have anything to do with drilling a little compartment below it that’s big enough to attach a small hammer outfitted with a spring mechanism inside of it. when he’s done with that little modification, he allows himself a triumphant smile.]

Oh, yeah. I’m good.

[to his credit, it looks like he’s having fun. he cranks up the radio’s volume and stuffs another piece of toast in his mouth, then begins work on sawing a square-shaped hole on the porch’s floor. by the time the next song comes on, he’s humming along with it.]


[apparently, it’s not a good idea to make breakfast foods for every meal. at first he just wanted to blame the drone kids for it because that’s the easiest solution, but he’s pretty sure that he’s the only one who makes use of the boxes of pancake batter in their house. when they start piling up in the garbage, he realizes that it might not be so easy to pin the crime on the children because, as robotic as they are, their weirdness doesn’t extend that far. if he’s going to feed his ridiculous habit, he’s going to have to restock the pantry.

so it’s to the grocery store Once-ler goes and it couldn’t be more awkward for him. he’s still getting used to doing his own shopping because, up until recently, he’s never really had to. the job was always left to his servants and other such hired help. now he has a list to follow – a relatively simple, short one, but a list all the same. sweet things are a necessity of course, and he wastes no time with piling the bottom of his cart with the biggest bags of marshmallows the store stocks. if you run into him, you’re likely to see him eating from an open one as he continues to indiscriminately shovel things into the buggy, not quite paying attention where he’s going or whose feet he runs over.

clearly he has a lot to relearn about this whole independence thing. and, you know...dealing with people.]
11 April 2012 @ 11:53 pm
❀ 01  

[before the Once-ler even opens his eyes, the first thing that immediately occurs to him is how fresh the air is.

even when he's straddling the border between the waking world and his dream world, it's immediately apparent. sleeping, such as it is, isn't easy to accomplish anymore. it's always fitful and restless and not really sleep at all; light napping would be more accurate. once, all he had to do was bury himself under his quilt and concentrate on the steady rhythm of his heartbeat to lull himself into unconsciousness. it's a little more difficult now. his breathing isn't so steady anymore; it's hoarse and when he coughs it feels like his throat's splitting apart. the air's too sour and smoggy to inhale without launching into a fit of hacking and spitting, but like most things these days, he's gotten used to it. you didn't even need willpower to force yourself to accept things anymore - all you had to do was give up.

he's lived in the valley long enough for his body to grow accustomed to the air, so naturally it senses that something is very wrong here before his mind even registers the fact. buried under his blanket with his legs sticking out in uncomfortable directions (and wow, did he outgrow his bed or did it somehow shrink?), he yawns and smacks his lips together noisily, a little trickle of drool hanging out of the corner of his mouth. he really must've been exhausted because, gosh, he can't remember sleeping this well since - well, since -

since the trees were still -

...wait. waitwaitwaaaait - was it sunny?

the Once-ler's eyes flutter a little before wrenching themselves open completely and he confirms within the rough span of five seconds that, yes, it is sunny and no, he isn't in his room. and this DEFINITELY isn't his bed, it's smells like fresh soap and cotton and it's way too cramped like... like...

what. the. heck.

he slowly turns over on his side and all it takes is the sight of the woman's blond head for him to bolt upright in bed and shriek at the top of his lungs.]


[lovely day, ain't it? maybe you're on your way to work. maybe you're a girl scout making your rounds. maybe you're just out for a walk, looking to stretch your legs and take in Mayfield properly before the powers-that-be go nuts and end up putting a damper on what could otherwise be a very nice week.

if you're expecting a relaxing morning, you definitely shouldn't pass 917. really, you shouldn't.]

- Hey!

[this is why.

even if you don't hear it the first time, that single word is repeated with a little more urgency (and a little more whining) until you give in and follow it to the source, which just happens to be the mail slot of this particular house.

the slot is open and a pair of blue eyes are peering out, looking straight at you.]

Yeah, you! Get over here!