butterflyboy: (anxiety is my best friend)
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pristine Misrule penguin hark hallelujah
cabin noisemaker snuggle valentine stressed
Santa suit holy lawn ornament stollen
niece wreath sale hogfather glitter
snowed in jewelry goodwill frightful Dancer

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10. stressed: On The Edge

Date: 2011-01-09 03:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: About four years in the future
Notes: Sorry for the darkish fic, but I felt it important to point out somewhere that Atypical Scientific Neural Disorder isn't all it's cracked up to be. Yes, for the most part it's a good thing for the characters, but it does make one insane. Bad days are a given. And sometimes, I just want to write angstful Victor.

Don’t give in don’t give in don’t give in
Victor clutched at his scalp, feeling his fingernails digging into the skin. Today – today was a bad day. He’d had an inkling that it was going to be when he woke up, but he’d only caught the full brunt of it when he entered his laboratory. Absolutely nothing about his latest experiment was going right. His formulas were all wrong, he’d spilled a batch of chemicals he needed, and the moth he’d been trying to alter had escaped and was currently hiding somewhere. The stress and frustration had just kept building up and building up, making his brain snap and spark and burn, and now he was reduced to squeezing his head as hard as he could to keep it from exploding.
He whimpered, wishing that the terrible headache assaulting him would go away. It felt like a physical representation of his madness, clawing at the back of his eyes, trying to chew its way out of his skull. Normally, he didn’t have a problem with being Touched. The Creativity that filled his head was gentle, joyous, fun – most of the time. But then there were days like this, days where the madness whispered dark and painful thoughts that he didn’t want to hear. Atypical Scientific Neural Disorder gave so much to its sufferers, but it took from them as well. He had the ability to do things no sane scientist could, but in return he had to spend days like this hunched over his experimentation table, clinging desperately to sanity while below him, the abyss beckoned. Victor knew he should get up and find his wife – Alice could somehow quiet the madness, put it back under his control – but he couldn’t get himself to move. He felt that if he moved, he’d upset some sort of balance, and he’d be lost forever in the swirl of Creativity. So instead he dug his nails into his hair and prayed she’d come looking for him.
A sudden tug on his pants leg caught his attention. Victor managed to turn his head enough to see his two-year-old son looking up at him with worried eyes. Victor felt his stomach do a nervous flip-flop over everything else. God, he’d never wanted Chester to see him this way, never wanted him to know the pain he sometimes went through. . . .
Chester stared at him a moment longer. Then he held up the snack he’d somehow procured. “Cookie, Daddy?”
Victor had no idea what caused it – the fact that Chester had inherited Alice’s green eyes, the simple compassion of the gesture, or maybe even the absurdity of being offered a cookie while in the midst of fighting off a mental breakdown – but he felt the pressure in his head ease. He promptly reached down and swept his little boy up into a hug. He rocked himself and Chester together, almost crying in relief as sanity slid back in and took over again.
This was why he’d never give in to the madness. There was far too much to lose.

20. glitter: Just Like You

Date: 2011-01-10 04:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: Some years into the future
Notes: I swear, I think up new ideas for Victor-made butterflies way too often. But who could resist? You can sort of consider this a prequel to Not Alone (http://8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com/1878.html?thread=342#t342) -- don't know how it ended up there, but it just felt right.

“Daddy? Is it okay to visit?”
Victor turned toward the door of the conservatory/laboratory with a grin. “Yes – in fact, I’d like you to come in. I have something to show off.”
Lorina grinned back and pushed open the door. She and her brothers made their way to the workbench, past the twining flowers and bits of scientific apparatus Victor kept on hand for his experiments. “What have you made this time?” she asked as she, Vincent, and Chester formed a semicircle around their father.
Victor proudly picked up the bell jar and book holding his latest Invention and brought it around to show his children. “What do you think of this one?”
The children gasped in delight as the butterfly fluttered around its tiny glass prison. “Oh, look at the wings!” Lorina said in little more than a whisper. “They’re all sparkly!”
“It looks like it’s covered in glitter,” her twin Vincent agreed, pressing a finger against the glass.
“It seems to be shedding glitter too,” Chester noted, seeing the circle inside the bell jar was covered in tiny sparkles.
“The result of wing scale overproduction,” Victor said. “I’m not sure if I actually want to correct it or not. People might enjoy following butterflies that leave a trail like that.”
“Doesn’t that mean things that eat butterflies can find it easier too?” Chester pointed out.
“True – that’s why I made it bad-tasting to predators,” Victor said with a half-smile.
“You make all the neatest things, Daddy,” Vincent said proudly, causing Victor to blush.
“Children! Victor! Time for lunch!”
“Oh dear – you’d better go wash up,” Victor said, setting the book and bell jar down. “I’ll be with you in a moment – just have to make some final notes and set my little friend free.”
The children nodded and headed back for the door. Lorina lingered a moment behind her brothers. “You really do make wonderful things, Daddy,” she said brightly. “I hope I grow up to be just like you.”
Then she left, not noticing the brief, torn expression of pleasure and fright on Victor’s face.

8. snuggle: I Just Want To Hold You

Date: 2011-01-11 04:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: Very near future
Notes: Our obligatory "repressed Victorians" fic! To be fair, I do see the citizens of Burtonsville as particularly repressed. And, for some reason, Victor strikes me as a guy who'd be a bit more touchy-feely if he'd grown up in a different era. He just gives off a "huggy" vibe.

Victor’s world, growing up, had been one of repression. The residents of Burtonsville weren’t ones for showing grand displays of emotion. The people there believed in quiet, stoic lives. Displays of affection, particularly physical ones, were deeply frowned upon. Victor had discovered early on that men and women weren’t to be seen touching unless it was absolutely necessary. If you weren’t engaged to your paramour, things like kissing and hugging – or even holding hands – were strictly out of the question. After you got married, taking each other’s arms on walks and brief kisses were considered acceptable, but certainly nothing further. Touch, it seemed, was the forbidden sense.
Victor had thought it normal as a child. After all, his parents seemed to get along fine without physical affection. And so did all the other couples in Burtonsville – some, like the Everglots, even seemed to loathe the idea of touching each other. But as he came of age, he discovered that he actually really wanted to touch people. The idea of having a girl at your side and never being able to hold her, to bring her close and cuddle her, suddenly seemed like a slow torture. It didn’t help things when he discovered the penny dreadfuls and their lurid tales of romance and passion. People touched a lot in those publications. Seeing descriptions of people hugging and kissing and – doing other things – just made Victor want it all the more. But he was a polite young gentleman, and he didn’t want to cause any fuss, so he adhered to the rules and kept his hands to himself. All while hoping that maybe someday, if he was particularly lucky, he’d meet a girl who would want to be held.
And, to his immense shock, he did. Victor looked down at Alice, snuggled up against him as they sat by the Pool of Tears. The weight of her body against his, the softness of her skin, the silkiness of her hair. . . . It was all so wonderful, so perfect. Everything he’d been craving. Victor smiled and pulled his arm around her a little tighter.
Oh yes – this was much better than just walking next to her.

4. hark: Only L29.95 If You Buy Now!

Date: 2011-01-11 04:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: Vague Present
Notes: I was browsing TV Tropes the other day and came across Too Incompetent To Operate A Blanket (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TooIncompetentToOperateABlanket). I browsed the page, looked at some of the linked videos -- and Victor here started laughing and INSISTED I do a fic with this. So yeah, you can actually blame my muse for this one. The Motorized Knife was just the first thing to pop into my head. (Also, please pretend my L is a pound sign in the title there.)

“People! Gather round, please!”
Victor paused as the shout echoed throughout the park. He turned to see a man on a makeshift stage, holding up his yellow-gloved hands and waving them to attract the attention of passerby. Behind him, two other men were setting up a pair of tables. People were already beginning to form a crowd in front of him. As curious as anyone else, Victor joined it. What is it he wants to show us?
After a few minutes, everything seemed to be ready. The man scanned the crowd, judged it to be of adequate size, and began. “My friends – has this ever happened to you?” He indicated one of his assistants, standing behind one of the tables and apparently doing his best to stab a tomato on a plate to death. “Clumsy knives that won’t cut? Making a mess of your precious food – or worse, your fingers?” The assistant mimed cutting himself with the knife, letting out a cry of pain so fake Victor had to cover his mouth with his hands to hold in a snicker. “And now, look at all that clean-up!” The yellow-gloved man pointed accusingly at the juice all over the plate, then grinned brightly. “What you need is Professor Fantastic’s Motorized Knife!” He waved at his other assistant, who had a tomato of his own and the oddest knife Victor had ever seen. Instead of one large blade, it seemed to have a series of tiny ones mounted all around on a chain. Attached to the handle was a little motor. At Professor Fantastic’s nod, the second assistant switched it on and placed the instrument against the tomato. With a little “rrrrr” noise, it cut through. “With Professor Fantastic’s Motorized Knife, cutting vegetables, fruit, and even meat is a breeze! No more--”
CRACK! The plate underneath the second tomato broke as the Motorized Knife came in contact with it. The assistant hurriedly switched it off and tried to smile. “Imbecile!” Professor Fantastic yelled, before attempting to switch back into “pitchman” mode. “See, it even cuts through ceramic! Amazing! And no more. . . .” He held up a chunk of plate, only to see it dripping with juice. “Well, easier clean up,” he corrected hurriedly, throwing the plate chunk over his shoulder.
Victor couldn’t help it anymore – he burst out laughing. The rest of the crowd quickly followed suit. Professor Fantastic scowled at them. “You’re all fools!” he declared, before storming off, leaving his assistants to try and clean up the stage.
Victor kept giggling as he walked away. He felt a bit guilty about ruining the demonstration, but he really didn’t think he’d done more damage to it than Professor Fantastic himself had. “Oh, it’s truly amazing what some Touched consider great inventions,” he murmured. “Poor fellow should have done some more testing.”
“Hear ye! Hear ye! Do you have trouble cracking eggs?”
Victor stopped, then turned and jogged in the direction of the voice, grinning. Oh, there was no way he was missing this one.

15. stollen: Tea Fixes Everything

Date: 2011-01-14 02:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: Near future -- in the time period of "A Week of Secundus Christmas," in fact
Notes: I had to look this prompt up -- as Doc explains below, it's basically a specific German version of fruitcake. Once I knew what it was and its origins, I managed to build a story around it involving Doc and Marty -- I wanted them to appear more in these prompts. And, for the record, Doc's usually a better cook than this.

“Victor! Alice! Glad you could make it!”
Victor grinned as he reentered the tiny flat where he’d spent his first turbulent months in Secundus. “Well, we were hardly going to pass up an invitation to tea from some of our dearest friends,” he pointed out. “Alice and I made some cookies for the occasion.” Alice held up the wrapped plate.
“Great, thank you,” Doc said, accepting it. “They should go nicely with the stollen.”
Victor and Alice both blinked. “The what?” Alice said, frowning in confusion.
“The fruitcake,” Marty said, leading the way into the little sitting room.
“It’s a Germanic variation,” Doc explained, as Victor and Alice took their seats. “A loaf-shaped cake filled with dried fruit and covered with sugar. My family used to have it as a kid. I decided to go ahead and give it a whirl myself this year. Getting back to my roots, so to speak.”
“Oh. Well, I look forward to it,” Victor said with a smile.
The others arrived not long afterward, and the group shared a pleasant (if slightly crowded) tea. After everyone had eaten their fill of sandwiches, the cookies and Doc’s stollen were laid out. “All right, let’s see how this is,” Doc said proudly, picking up a knife and cutting into the cake.
Or, at least, he tried to. He frowned as he sawed away at the crust. “Hmmm. It should be – well, it appears I may have overcooked this a little.” He tried putting more pressure on the knife with a grunt. “Damn it, I don’t remember making this out of cement. . . .”
“Here, allow me,” Alice said, pulling out the gleaming Vorpal Blade. The impossibly sharp knife sliced through the hard cake with ease. Alice cut a little wedge out, then looked around. “Anyone want to try it?”
“I would, but I’m a little nervous about breaking my teeth on it,” Marty admitted. “No offense, Doc.”
“None taken,” Doc said with a sigh. “Look, no one has to eat my mistake, the cookies should be enough for everyone. . . .”
“A true Touched never shies away from a challenge,” Richard said, peering at the wedge. “Besides, all we know for sure is that it’s hard. It might taste just fine. Now, how does one make a cake softer?”
Victor’s eyes fell on Burnie the teapot, who’d followed his master to the party. “I have an idea,” he said, taking the wedge onto his plate. “Burnie, could you come here and pour some tea on this?”
Burnie scuttled over and obligingly soaked the slice of stollen. Victor allowed the tea to sink in for a moment, then tried his fork on the cake. It cut easily now, allowing him to taste a bit. He chewed it thoughtfully. “Actually, yes, this is pretty good,” he allowed, as the others watched him. “I think the tea adds to it, in fact.”
“Tea adds to everything,” Richard said with a proud smile.
“I’m certainly not going to debate that in this case,” Doc said, laughing. “Mind taking care of the rest of the cake, Burnie?”

5. hallelujah: Comfort For The Soul

Date: 2011-01-14 04:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: Near future
Notes: This one was kind of tough for me -- I come from a very non-religious family, so I always feel a bit weird when writing about religious figures and such. However, religion is a part of Victor's life, and I figured he'd be seeking out some of this sort of comfort post-Going Creative. The First Church of Steam is the main church of Secundus, being open to EVERYBODY -- even Touched and those classified as Inventions. I wanted to show it and its owner, Father Gale, as someplace comforting. I hope it comes off correctly.

The First Church of Steam was quiet today. Normally there would be some sort of activity, even if it was only a parishioner dropping in to ask a question or confess his sins. But today it was just Father Gale and the benches. He was dusting behind the pulpit when he heard the door open. He looked up to see a pale, thin figure slouch inside. “May I help you?” he asked, putting down the duster.
The young man started. As he looked up, Father Gale realized it was Victor Van Dort. He’d only started coming to the church recently, but it was impossible not to recognize that face. Not after it had been in the papers so much. “Oh! I’m s-sorry, I didn’t realize – I’m n-not interrupting, am I?” he asked, twisting his tie and not quite meeting Father Gale’s eyes.
“Nothing but a bit of cleaning,” Father Gale assured him as he walked closer. “Certainly nothing that can’t wait for another time.” He tilted his head, studying Victor a moment. The young man seemed incredibly nervous. And there was an exhausted look on his face that spoke of rough times in the recent past. “Is there something you needed?” he asked gently.
Victor remained silent for a few minutes. Then, slowly, he looked up. “My parents – they just--” He stopped, blinking a few times. “I’ve been disowned.”
Father Gale felt a wave of sympathy for the poor boy. “I’m sorry,” he said, reaching out to put a hand on Victor’s shoulder.
“They don’t want a – a m-mad son,” Victor continued, the words seemingly coming easier now that he’d started. “Don’t want the shame, don’t want the scandal. . . .” He fell silent for a moment. “M-Mother said I was p-probably damned,” he added in a whisper.
Father Gale struggled a moment to keep from showing the anger that statement caused in him. Why was it so many people were so willing to condemn others just for a quirk of genetics? Before he could speak, though, Victor went on. “Pastor Galswells – he’s in charge of the church at home – would say the same. All of Burtonsville probably thinks Touched are in Satan’s thrall. And now I – I’m--” Victor’s breathing became shaky as his hands began to tremble.
Father Gale frowned, concerned. He knew the warning signs of a possible breakdown. “Would you like to sit down?” he offered gently.
Victor nodded, and they took their seats on a nearby bench. “I don’t even know why I’m upset,” he said, once he’d steadied himself a bit. “I had no intention of ever returning to Burtonsville. I love it in Secundus. I have things here I never had at home – friends, love, inspiration. . . .” He shook his head. “But – but--”
“But you’re losing a rather large part of your past,” Father Gale said understandingly. “I’ve seen this before. Young Touched, new to the life, realizing things will never be the same. . .and parents who don’t understand. . . .” He lightly squeezed Victor’s shoulder. “You are never alone. Always remember that.”
Victor smiled. “I know. I’m very lucky. My friends have been so good to me. And Alice – she’s honestly the best thing to ever happen to me.” He looked down, becoming somber again. “I just – I suppose I am h-having trouble adjusting to the n-new order. To – w-what I am now.”
“It’s only natural,” Father Gale told him. “Things will get better, though, I assure you. And no matter what happens, you will always have a place here.” He gently raised the young man’s head. “God loves you, Victor, no matter your mental state. You are not damned.”
That got another, bigger smile. Victor looked like he’d had a weight lifted off him. “Thank you.” He paused, then added, “Is it a sin to say I like you much better than I ever liked Pastor Galswells?”
Father Gale chuckled. “Maybe a very minor one – but we’ll let it pass.”

6. cabin: Empty House

Date: 2011-01-16 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: Near future
Notes: Yes, I know, I keep writing depressing fics for this card, but this was the first thing I thought of after considering "cabin" for a while. Poor Victor and his guilt issues. It does have a semi-hopeful ending, though.

It was just – far too quiet in Looking-Glass House these days, Victor mused as he opened the door. His footsteps practically echoed in the silence of the main foyer. He didn’t think he’d ever get used to it. No matter what, whenever he entered the house, a tiny part of him expected Lewis to pop up out of nowhere, greeting him warmly and telling him all about the latest wonders for Wonderland. And that same part of him ached every time he remembered that that would never happen again.
At least we managed to restore the house, he thought as he wandered through the rooms. Wonderland Park, although recovering nicely, would never be the same as it was. But Looking-Glass House was in pristine condition. The card and chess people strenuously kept up with its upkeep, and Victor and Alice and all of Lewis’s other friends did whatever they could to help. They felt they owed it to the poor man who’d been the first victim of the Queen of Hearts – even if he was also the one responsible for her existence.
Or, at least, the one everyone considered responsible for her existence. Victor winced as the guilt that never quite went away sliced through him. He knew it was irrational, but he still felt in some way to blame for Lewis’s death. Didn’t it stand to reason that, if he’d never chosen to start a relationship with Alice, the Queen never would have existed? He didn’t want to think of a life without his beloved wife, but was it really worth it to know that his love for her had sparked a bout of jealousy in their friend that had led directly to Lewis’s death? Victor had tried to make amends, at least in his own mind, by diving into the restoration of the park, but still. . .he couldn’t help but wonder if it really made any difference. Lewis was dead, beyond even the reach of the reanimators. There was no way to bring him back, no way to truly apologize.
A soft brush of wings against Victor’s hand made him look down. Resting on his thumb was a little bread-and-butterfly. Most of them had been killed during the Queen’s brief but eventful rise, but this was one of the few who had managed to survive. It looked up at him with sugary white eyes, as if it knew the thoughts going through his head. Then it took to the air again, making a circle around him before flitting off to a different room.
Victor watched it go, an odd sense of comfort washing over him. The little butterfly had served as a reminder that things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Yes, Lewis’s mortal shell was dead. But Victor knew that, so long as Wonderland Park lived on, so too would his friend’s spirit. With a sad smile, he entered the laboratory and got to work.

9. valentine: Where’s My Angel

Date: 2011-01-19 04:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: Very near future
Notes: Just a bit of light fluff for the happy couple. The drawing Victor gives Alice is actually one of two things that constantly shows up throughout the different universes I have involving the pair -- and Alice's reaction is always roughly the same. (The other thing that constantly reoccurs? Chester. :p)

Even though it occurred less than a week after their very first date, Victor still felt it important to mark Valentine’s Day with Alice. After all, it was his first Valentine’s Day with a proper girlfriend. He didn’t want to make too big a deal out of it, of course – that would be silly, considering the newness of their relationship. He just wanted to do something a bit special for her. Something to show how much he appreciated her giving him and their love a chance. The trouble was – what?
He puzzled over the problem as the date neared. There was the obvious answer of flowers, but Victor felt Alice deserved something a bit more interesting. Candy was out – Alice had expressed before a dislike of sweets. A card seemed a little too impersonal. A poem? No, he was a better artist than a –
It hit him like a bolt from the blue. Of course – that would be perfect! He seized his sketchbook and quill pen and set to work. And when Valentine’s Day arrived, he proudly presented to his new lady love a drawing of her floating in the exhaust pipes of the Wonderland Park steamworks. He considered it something of an achievement – he’d always had a bit of trouble drawing people, but this time, the image had flowed out of his pen easily. Like his fingers had just been waiting to sketch Alice at her best. He wondered if she’d mind that he’d styled the steam behind her to look like wings and a halo.
Judging by the tearful kiss he received, she didn’t. (And the fact she’d thought to get him some chocolates just sealed it in his mind that they were meant to be.)

25. Dancer: Come And Join The Dance

Date: 2011-01-19 04:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: Nearish future
Notes: I actually did a whole series of Victor/Alice dancing-themed prompts in 2010: 30 Dances (http://docsgirl.livejournal.com/615249.html). I was quite proud of myself for coming up with something even slightly original for this one. I always liked the idea of Victor being an excellent dancer, as long as he's with someone he loves. The title is from a lyric in "The Lobster Quadrille," my favorite song in any version of Alice In Wonderland.

Victor had never considered himself much of a dancer. He disliked balls simply because they were always so crowded. His nerves always seemed to get the best of him among large groups of people – he was constantly worrying about etiquette and correct form and all those other fiddly things that society said he should worry about. That fueled his clumsiness, and inevitably, if anyone deigned to dance with him, he ended up tripping or stepping on their foot or otherwise looking like a fool. When it came to dancing, Victor much preferred to be the wallflower.
But, like so many other things, that changed when he came to Secundus. When he, Victoria, and Emily were introduced properly to the Chess and Card people of Wonderland Park, the Queens of Heart, Red, and White declared that there should be a ball to welcome their newest friends. Victor immediately became extremely nervous – how on earth could he dance in front of all those strangers? He didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of his companions, and especially not Alice.
But when the ball actually happened, he discovered something about Wonderlanders – they didn’t give tuppence for traditional etiquette or correct form or any of that other nonsense. They just wanted everyone to have fun. By the time Alice urged him out onto the floor to try the Lobster Quadrille, Victor was feeling relaxed enough to actually go ahead and attempt it.
And, to his astonishment and delight, despite this quadrille being rather more energetic than any other he’d tried, he didn’t misstep once.

7. noisemaker: Squeeze Me Gently

Date: 2011-01-19 05:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 8butterflyboy8.livejournal.com
Time Period: Nearish future
Notes: This one's inspired by my favorite Jim Carrey movie, The Mask. I actually got into it around the same time as Corpse Bride, so my writing muse Victor, Tie Twister, is a huge fan of his as well. Also, pity the poor Alice who is NOT a video game character.

“Oh my God that’s a Jabberspawn?!”
“Yup,” Alice said, adjusting her grip on her branch minutely. “Horrible things, aren’t they?”
“They’re all teeth!” Emily squeaked, clinging to the main trunk of the tree.
Victor shivered, staring down at the beast circling below them. “They’re straight out of a nightmare,” he agreed with the girls. “Though I don’t see how any of them could grow into a Jabberwock.”
“They don’t,” Alice said. “They’re technically only a related species. We call them Jabberspawn because Lewis was trying to make a smaller, tame version of the Jabberwock. As you can see, it backfired.”
“Drastically,” Victor nodded, as the beast growled and snapped its tail at the tree.
“How did it find us?” Victoria asked, voice trembling. “It doesn’t have any eyes – just those awful pipe-shaped things.”
“It doesn’t need to see – it relies on smell and hearing. We’re just lucky we had the time to get up here.” Alice scowled down at the Jabberspawn. “Ugh, and me with just my Vorpal Blade. Of course, I wasn’t expecting to have to bring my heavier weaponry to a picnic. . . .”
“I thought your blade could cut through anything?” Victor asked, shifting position carefully. The last thing he wanted was to fall out of this tree.
“It can, but these monsters need more than one hit to take down,” Alice complained. “They’re tougher than I’d like them to be. And if I throw the knife, I’ve lost it. You have no idea how many times I’ve wished I could throw it, then have it magically reappear in my hand. . . .”
Victor nodded, then spotted two figures approaching the scene of the failed picnic – one clearly wearing an oversized hat. “They’re coming back!”
“Richard and Sir Christopher? Do you think they can fight the Jabberspawn?” Emily asked Alice.
“Maybe,” Alice said. “Richard usually keeps at least one cup of explosive tea in-hat, and I’m sure Sir Christopher has something on him somewhere. . . .”
Richard and Sir Christopher stopped as they came within sight of their friends in the tree and the Jabberspawn prowling around. “Well, this certainly won’t do,” Richard said, hands on hips.
Sir Christopher, however, actually looked a bit excited. “Aha! A perfect opportunity to test my latest invention!” He rummaged around in his pack, as the Jabberspawn turned toward them and began evaluating them as prey. He eventually extracted a tiny squeeze-bulb horn. “Everyone, cover your ears!” he yelled as he held it up in the Jabberspawn’s direction.
Victor promptly did so – if he had learned one thing in his time here, it was that when a Touched told you to do something, you did it. The girls and Richard followed suit. After a moment’s check to make sure everyone’s hearing was protected, Sir Christopher squeezed the horn.
Even with his ears covered, the sound sliced through Victor’s head. He yelped and teetered on his branch. He saw his other friends wincing in similar pain. Fortunately, the sound had the exact same effect on the Jabberspawn, who cried out and immediately bolted. “What was that?” Victor asked as soon as it was safe.
“I haven’t named it yet, but it seems to work perfectly,” Sir Christopher said proudly, pocketing the horn. “Certainly much better than when I tried it in my house. Took out all the windows then.”
Victor had a sudden bad feeling. Reaching up, he felt his goggles. Sure enough – “You may still want to consider tweaking the design,” he said, pulling them off and holding them up to reveal the shattered lenses.
Sir Christopher stared for a moment, then blushed, embarrassed. “Oh dear. I’ll buy you a new pair.”
“You ought to label that thing ‘Squeeze me gently,’” Richard commented as he helped Emily out of the tree.
Sir Christopher chuckled as he went to assist Victoria – then got a thoughtful look on his face. “Hmmm. . . .”
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