By Paige McKee
Characters: Artie and Tristan
Writer's note: This is told from the perspective of a 11 year old. I really think Artie and Leech are wrote a bit “young” considering all they've been through. But I'm sticking to the way they are in comic for this story. I wish all a Happy Halloween, and thanks to all who voted for me at Generation neXt.
The boy's name is Artie Maddicks. His life started at the bottom of a hill in St. Margaret’s Memorial Hospital. Things have yet to look up. He was born a mutant. Mutant goes hand and hand with being misunderstood. Having a genetic gift that makes you able to do almost supernatural tasks qualifies as “not understandable” to the average person. People hate that which they can't understand. Around his 11th birthday Artie became mute. Then finally his skin turned pink and he stopped growing. His father tried everything to find a cure for him. His father tried to protect his son from a world that would hate Artie for being different. His father eventually died. Leaving Artie to a world that he never asked for and the world in return wanted nothing to do with him. Artie bounced from group to group being the perpetual walking butt of jokes until one day a school took him in. Now he lives in the interactive biosphere in a ramshackle tree house with his best friend. Yet life still hasn't started to look up. Artie rolls over in his sleeping bag and looks at his best friend. The other boy's name is Leech. He's like Artie except he's green and talks in the third person. A small dark cloud appears next to Artie as he thinks about how nice it must be to be able to talk. Artie looks over at the cloud. It fades as soon as his thoughts change. It's a silly joke. Take away his ability to speak but replace it with the "power" to make his thoughts appear visible. When he's happy a little sunshine with a smiling face appears on it. When he's annoyed a little Furby appears and wobbles back and forth. He thought it was funny. Everyone else stood around guessing what he was trying to say. Which just made him more annoyed and eventually the illusion started to actually speak. Unfortunately, Artie couldn't control WHAT it said. Artie shakes his head and looks back down at Leech. Why are they here?
A small frowning face appears next to Artie as he climbs out of his sleeping bag. He struggles to pull his socks back up over his feet. He hears a rustling down on the ground below. It must be Penance, the other person that lives in the biosphere.
Artie gives one last glance at Leech before he slides down the ladder and to the soft moist ground below. Even though snow is falling outside the biosphere, the inside of the dome is warm and slightly humid.
Artie closes his eyes and concentrates on projecting a giant picture of Penance. Hopefully she’ll see it and come out of the folliage and he’ll have someone to be with. He opens his eyes and looks back up at the tree house. Leech sleeps to much. Artie ponders going back up and waking his best friend up.
A rustling in the leaves stops Artie. Perhaps it isn't Penance. Maybe it's a rabbit or a mouse. Artie wanders over to the source of the noise. A spotty patch of green grass. The grass stands at spiked defiance to the rest of the greens in the general area. “Big Ass Crab Grass.” He heard Jonothon refer to it once. He repeated it and again got into trouble. Seems people don't like him to talk about the grass. Artie shrugs as he carefully parts the leaves and looks down. Staring right back up at him is the most horrid thing Artie has ever seen. He silently screams and takes a step back. He turns. He sees the visible exclamation marks as he runs to the base of the tree. He gasps loudly. It's only sound he can make. Suddenly the thing emerges from the leaves and ground. It moves on it's own. No legs and no wheels, and yet it advances. Ground and flowers give way as it devours the soft floor in front of it. It pushes it's way relentlessly forward towards Artie. Artie looks up at the tree house. If he climbs the giant monster thing will push down the tree and eat Leech inside.
Artie does the only thing he can. He runs away from the tree and towards the door of the biosphere. If he can lead it outside perhaps the cold will freeze it.
He hears the ground scream out as the roots are ripped from the ground. It sounds like the earth it's self is in pain.
Artie jumps up and reaches the door. He grabs the handle and twists. The door is sealed from the inside so escaping out is no problem. Ever since this incident with some guy and plants they made it so everyone inside could get out easily.
The cold air rushes inward brushing Artie’s night clothes tight against him. Suddenly a boy is standing in front of Artie. It's almost as if he just materialized. Just appeared from nowhere like Artie’s thought pictures. Artie recognizes him. His name is Tristan. He's watched him from inside the biosphere. He's supposed to be someone important but he's just creepy to Artie. Tristan looks down at the boy and simply smiles. Artie tugs on Tristan’s pants to try to get him to move. This would be the first time Tristan ever saw Artie, much less a pink boy with bumps all over his forehead but it doesn't matter. What matters is helping the human that may end up hating him. Tristan responds to Artie’s tug with a push. Sending Artie sprawling to the ground with a thud. The cold snow stings at the young boy freezing him to the bone. Artie checks his mouth. Is he bleeding? Artie feels the ground below him shake. No time for questions. Time to keep running.
The boy turns to Artie and laughs. “So you know don't you?! YOU KNOW!!!” he roars. “It doesn't matter! She's mine and you can't even talk!!”
A small question mark appears in front of Artie as he runs through it. Know what? Who is his and why didn't he run?
Artie turns and stops. Looking back at the boy and the monster. “RISE MY LORD! RISE!” The boy screams. His voice cracking as if he's lived his whole life to scream those words.
Artie turns and continues to run. He needs to find a grownup. Find someone. Before whatever the boy is summoning up comes out of that ground eating thing. Artie runs into the medical center. Sitting on a bed reading a comic book is Jubilee. One of his favorite people at the school.
“Hey Artie!” Jubilee cheerfully exclaims as Artie slams the door behind him. “Bet'cha wondering WHY I'm sitting here in the medical center reading the newest issue of Robin? I'll save you the game o’ Charades… I'm waiting for Hayseed to get back. I know being she's running around in the freezing cold jogging like the moron she is and she's going to come back with a killer cough.”
Artie smiles slightly. He has no CLUE how he's going to explain what he just saw. He doesn't even know what he saw.
“Sooooo... She's going to be hacking up like a guy from the corner of Haight-Ash-whatever-that-street-is, and she's all going to be like “A-huck, Ah just can-not go to class soundin’ unhealthy like. Ah betta take some cough drops, And cuz ah spend SOOO much time in the medical center ah know ALL about where everthan is.’ So when she comes in doin’ that. BAM! I'm going to corner her and have a little talking to with her.”
Artie raises a hand to his mouth as he silently giggles. He knows he's not making a sound but once in his life he could, the habit of muffling his giggles didn't die with his voice. He projects an image of Jubilee with boxing gloves hitting a cartoon version of Paige. He knows the two were roomates but he didn't know they didn't like each other so much.
“No, nothing like that Artie. It's just she really torks me off. I mean I KNOW she isn’t really jogging. She hasn’t been jogging in a long time. Friggin EMMA jogs more than Paige does. Paige says she's jogging but ya know I was her roomie and I trailed her once or twice and those trails ain’t bein’ used no more. I think… I don't know what I think… but she's totally been weird.”
Artie sighs. He’ll never understand the older kids. Perhaps there never was a monster. Maybe he was sleep walking again. If there was a monster then the school’s security alarms would have gone off. Besides Jubilee would just laugh at him.
“Well this is lame.” Jubilee states after a few awkward seconds of silence, “I'm outie. There’s almost a whole half hour before class and a warm bed in my dorm screaming for me to pay attention to it.”
Artie frowns. Dream or not, he should say something. He makes a mental projection of Tristan.
“Tristan? Yeah What about him? He's dating Paige. A bit of a creep at first but once you get to know him, he's okay.. For a chode.”
Artie shakes his head. He makes another projection. This time Tristan pushes him. Better not mention the monster. Nobody would believe him.
“Tristan saw you?!!” Jubilee exclaims. Her voice angry. Artie cringes and quickly shakes his head no. He feels bad about lying but Artie and Leech are NEVER supposed to allow the humans to see them. Jubilee might tell a grownup.
Artie focuses again and makes a projection of Tristan with Paige in a cage behind him. Tristan starts to laugh evilly just like he did a few minutes before.
Jubilee smiles. “Oh, you have a crush! That’s so cute!” She rubs her knuckles against Artie’s bald head. Artie grimaces with the mild discomfort.
“She's a bit old for you little dude but hey, Weirder things have happened!” Jubilee laughs.
Artie rubs his head and re-adjusts his hat. He shakes his head no.
“Sure little dude. I remember when I was your age to. I was all like ‘no way!’ when someone fronted me on my crush of the moment.” Jubilee puts a the back of her hand to her mouth. “I gotta jet. Precious hours of sunlight are slipping away and my bed beckons.”
Artie throws his hands up with frustration. Jubilee just doesn't understand. It's like that movie he and Leech watched last night “It.” The grownups couldn’t see the bad guy. Perhaps maybe that’s all it was. Just a dream inspired by last nights nachos and movies. Artie cheerfully waves good bye to Jubilee.
“What a strange kid.” She mutters as she walks outside into the cold wind.
Artie holsts himself up onto one of the chairs. He rubs his hands together to quell the burning cold from outside. Just a few minutes more inside to warm up then he’ll go back home. Today he and Leech were going to finish building that dam in the biosphere’s swamp.
Suddenly the ground starts to shake again. Artie grabs onto the sides of the chair. It can't be. It was all a dream.
The door of the medlab bursts open. Snow acts like smoke as it floods into the door, Chilling Artie to the bone.
The Coffin from before advances. The lid lifts and closes. Eating away the wood floor as it pushes it's way through the door and closer to Artie. Artie opens his mouth to scream as loud as he can. No sound comes out. The coffin advances.
Artie jumps off the chair and to the table. His hand reaches up and searches for anything to use to fight this boxed monster. The coffin advances.
Artie’s hand comes against something smooth. He rips down a bag of Coughdrops. He throws it as hard as he can against the coffin.
As soon as the cough drops hit the box - the coffin stops.
“kid? Hey kid. If that’s what you are... Hey.. wake up!”
Artie slowly becomes aware of someone slapping the side of his face. Artie blinks his eyes open.
“JESUS! You don't have any eyes!!!” The boy exclaims.
Artie sighs. As he slowly sits up. His eyes are slightly blurry with sleep. He blinks them clear.
Artie gasps and tries to back away. Tristan puts an arm behind him not allowing the small boy to move back further.
“Calm down. You must be a mutant like the others. I know about you guys. It's okay. I'm cool with it. I'm so Okay with it I'm even dating one of you. I'm Paige’s boyfriend.” Tristan quickly adds.
Artie simply glares.
“Hey, it's okay. I'm not going to tell
anyone. But I think we should take you to the doctor. I mean it's sort
of my fault.” Tristan smiles as he helps Artie to his feet. “Not that it's
anything you can sue me for.” Tristan adds with a nervous giggle.
“Come on. I'll even get you a candy bar after we’re done.” Tristan offers.
Artie smiles. He's just found a new friend.