Author: Harun85 PM
When a happy-go-lucky raccoon finds that the love of his life was killed by Sneer Industries, he sets out on a quest for vengeance.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Suspense - Chapters: 4 - Words: 12,007 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 3 - Published: 08-26-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6272473
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Special Thanks to Nicky4 for editing
The Evergreen Forest. Quiet, Peaceful, Serene... Today, Cyril Sneer's pigs are helping Melissa Raccoon deliver the Evergreen Standard, as a way to show their gratitude for her placing a lost-and-found advert. Melissa checked her stack of papers in the motorbike's sidecar one last time. "You boys got it?" She asked.
"Yes, we do." Lloyd said.
Two of the pigs were getting into the motorbike, waiting impatiently to return to Sneer Mansion. "Let's go!" Floyd said, lifting his blue and green sleeve to check his watch.
"Wait!" Boyd said. He reached into his pocket and produced a small shiny tin. Its surface glinted off the rising sun.
"What's that?" Melissa asked.
The small tin had a seal on it, and 'Sneer Industries Makeup' written across its front. "A token of our appreciation." He handed it to Melissa.
Melissa put her hands on her hips, smiling at them. "Just what are you trying to say?"
The three fiddled with their matching blue caps. "Aha! Nothing!" All three pigs said in unison.
The trio rode off, and Melissa went into the house. Clouds were gathering, and the morning mist was disappearing. "Who was that?" Ralph Raccoon asked. Melissa craned her neck back, to see him behind her in the kitchen. She giggled as she felt Ralph moving one end of his white scarf down her back.
Melissa grabbed the scarf when it moved down past her pink shirt. "Someone's in a good mood!" She walked over to the table and placed the tin down.
Melissa closed the window by the sink, cutting off the stream of cool air into the room. "How couldn't I be?" Ralph said. He picked up a magazine on the table. "What's this?"
Various white dresses spread across the center page, showing a lovely badger bride holding flowers. "It's a tin, dear... I think it says 'makeup' on the front, could you check for me?"
Ralph laughed. He wouldn't be getting any info from her, so he decided to change the subject. "You? Need Makeup? Not in my world!" He kissed her. "It couldn't be for the pigs..."
He looked out the window. "When are you going to pickup Lisa?" Ralph asked.
"Looks like it's going to rain tonight. I can feel it."
"Pretty soon. Speaking of which, what're you going to do with Bert tonight?"
"I'm not doing anything with him. I'm going out with Schaeffer."
Melissa rinsed her teacup out in the sink. "Come on, he's not so bad when he's drinking."
"Heh. Tell that to Schaeffer. He's still angry that Bert hasn't paid for the picture frame he threw at the dart board last week."
The two turned toward a rustling in the other room. Melissa checked the clock. It couldn't be. Bert up before noon? "Is something wrong, Bert?" Melissa asked.
A half-awake Bert Raccoon stumbled into the kitchen, wearing an oversized red sweater marked with a large yellow 'B' in the center. "No..." Bert said, opening the fridge. "Why?"
"Well, it's only seven, and you're usually not up until noon..."
Bert closed the fridge as Melissa walked over to Ralph. "What's wrong with getting up early? Besides, I heard some rustlin' in the yard." He took a pan out of the bottom cabinet.
Melissa was watching Bert. "Do you think people can change?" She asked Ralph.
"What do you mean?" Ralph said.
Melissa looked outside, to the front yard. "Well, the pigs. I think they're... Different."
The gas stove came to life. "You got that right!" Bert said.
"Maybe they can change, I don't know... You just take it easy tonight, Melissa."
Bert poured pancake mix onto the skillet. "So, you two have anything planned?" Bert asked.
"We're both going to be busy tonight." That was just the line Bert needed to hear.
A grin spread across his face, and he nudged Ralph in the ribs. "Is that why you two were so quiet this morning?" Melissa started to blush. She quickly hid the magazine under a chair. Bert didn't need any more fuel.
Ralph punched Bert in the arm. "For your information, Melissa's having a party tonight, and I'm going to hang out with Schaeffer. That's all."
"Can I-" Bert started.
"No." Both said.
Bert seemed taken aback by this. "And why not?"
"Because you're a terrible party guest-"
"And a mean drunk." Ralph cut Melissa off.
"Don't worry. I've got a surprise for you soon, and it rhymes with 'Lisa'." A few seconds passed before Bert rushed out of the room.
"Wait, Bert." Melissa said. She picked up the tin and handed it to him.
"What's this?" Bert asked. Melissa leaned in and whispered to him. Bert's smile widened.
"Gee, thanks Melissa!" He said before heading to his room.
"What did you say to him?" Ralph asked, turning off the stove.
"Nothing... Just something to help things along. " Melissa said, moving in to give Ralph another kiss.
"What're you up to, Melissa?"
"He doesn't know what Lisa's got planned for tomorrow."
"...Do I want to know?"
Melissa rubbed her nose against his. "You won't be here tonight..." She enunciated the first word as she broke off the gaze and nudged him toward the living room. Melissa looked at the table, and then up the stairs leading to Bert's room. What a night it would be, indeed.
Meanwhile, at Sneer Mansion, there were other plans being hatched. A large factory in one corner of the property sent out smoke in a steady stream. It was a new factory that Cyril Sneer had purchased, and it was his newest money making scheme. Cyril's three pigs, Lloyd, Boyd, and Floyd, were working in the factory that day, preparing the second batch of Sneer Industries makeup.
The midday sun streamed in through the factory windows, onto a large machine marked 'cosmetics'. "Put it in!" Lloyd tried to shout above the whirr of the machine. He shoved a large bag into it's top.
"Take it out!" Boyd pulled a lever, squeezing the bag's contents into the machine.
Water started to swish around inside, mixing the contents together. "Rawhide!" Floyd shouted, watching the dials on the machine come to life.
"You know I don't like that word!" Lloyd pointed a finger at Floyd.
Floyd motioned the other two over to him. "That material doesn't look right..." Boyd said.
Lloyd fanned his face to try shooing away the large clouds of dust that belched from the machine every time they started it up. "...Doesn't smell right, either!" Boyd said.
"It's normally got a pink color to it, and this isn't pink." Boyd took a handful in his hoof and sniffed at it. "It's grainy, too..." He wiped his hoof on a nearby towel.
"Don't worry about it. It's probably just a new recipe! Let's go tell the boss!" He hopped down, walking by the large 'Sneer Industries' placard on the wall.
The trio started on their way to Cyril's office. "Where's that towel?" Lloyd asked as they walked out of the factory.
Boyd coughed. "...I don't, uh... I don't know." He said. Lloyd and Floyd looked at him.
"Are you alright?" Lloyd asked.
"He's fine! Let's get going!" Floyd said.
Bert Raccoon could barely contain himself. Lisa was coming over. From that first time he saw her step off the train, he had fallen for her. They had been steady for a while, and he had seen how happy she was with him. Nothing could go wrong tonight, absolutely nothing.
Ralph knocked on the door of Bert's bedroom. "Is she here yet?" Bert asked.
Ralph stepped over a long-sleeved winter sweater on the floor. "Melissa should be back with her any minute." Bert was never one to grasp the concept of tidiness.
"Yahoo!" Bert jumped in the air.
He had planned for what he was going to say to her. "Do I look alright?"
There was an unusually long pause from Ralph. "No worse than usual..."
Bert waved his fist at his friend. "You'll see! Tonight's gonna be a special night!" He went to his window and opened it.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Ralph asked. "You've got no money to bring her out."
"How do you know that?"
"Lady Baden-Baden offered you that job this summer in her garden, and all you did was play around with Broo."
Bert chuckled. "A man's gotta have his priorities, my dear Ralph. And besides, Broo'n I were-"
"Ralph? Bert? We're back!" Bert's lopsided ears immediately honed in on the small bit of chatter Melissa and Lisa were having downstairs. He could only make out snippets; 'sure?' and 'surprise', but he felt better already.
"Well, it looks like our guest has arrived." Ralph turned to head out of the room, but Bert held him back with a hand on his shoulder.
"You sure I look alright?" Bert asked. Ralph laughed and took Bert's hand off.
"Stop worrying. It's not like you're getting married!" Ralph closed his eyes and chuckled. When he didn't hear Bert laughing, his laughter died away, replaced by a look of surprise.
Ralph turned and bolted out of the room, starting up with more chuckling. "RALPH!" Bert shouted. Bert ran to catch him. Just as the two came to the stairs, Ralph leaned to one side, allowing Bert to tumble, not so gracefully, down to the floor.
Ralph was still laughing at the top when Bert recovered. Bert felt the touch of a girl helping him up. "Are you alright, Bert?" The sweet voice asked. He opened his eyes to see Lisa in front of him, with a worried look on her face.
"I'll be right back." Lisa said. She helped Bert up the stairs, and Bert felt his hand start to tingle as it brushed against the strap of her overalls.
"Why can't you two talk here?" Ralph asked Lisa. He winked at Bert.
Bert returned the comment with a look. "I swear to god, Ralph..."
"We need somewhere more private." Lisa said. She took Bert into his room.
Melissa put an arm around Ralph's neck, and started to squeeze. "Would you mind telling me what that was all about?"
Ralph whispered in Melissa's ear. Her face went white. "Are you serious?" Ralph nodded. Melissa started laughing and clapping her hands together. She let Ralph go and walked to the front door.
"Melissa... What do you know about this?" Ralph asked.
She turned and waved at him. "Why do you think I was looking at dresses?" Ralph chased after her.
"It's good to see you, Lisa!" Bert said, throwing his arms as far around her as he could. She returned his embrace.
"Hey, Bert!" Lisa said. "I've got something for you." Bert felt another fluttering in his stomach. The pain from his bruises seemed to disappear. This, added to the genuine look of concern she had for him downstairs, would make his goal a piece of cake.
"You didn't have to do that..." Bert began. He worried that she had spent her summer savings on something. Both of them were secretly trying to save and buy gifts for the other.
Her cheeks turned a shade of red. "Well..." This was something important.
"I want to... I want to show you something tomorrow." Bert's heart seemed to pulse out of control at hearing this. What a great opportunity! She had somewhere, or something, special in mind that she had picked for him. What better place to give his own token of affection?
"But not tonight." Lisa said. "There's going to be a full moon tomorrow. We'll head out at dusk." She smiled and looked into his eyes. Now, more than ever, Bert wanted this night to pass by.
"You remember the first time we went to the lake?" Bert said.
Lisa started to blush again. She stood up and walked to the door. Bert reached out and squeezed her hand. "Will you..." A shot of blood rushed to his face, as he fought desperately to stem the next few words from catching up.
"What's that, Bert?"
Bert's face was turning red. "Will you... Take this?" He reached into his pocket for the tin.
She smiled and wrapped her arms around him again. Bert could smell the scent of lilacs in her hair. "Glad you like it..." He said.
Lisa then leaned in, nose-to-nose with him. "See you tomorrow, Bert..." Lisa gave him a deep, affectionate kiss.
"Lisa!" Melissa called from downstairs. Bert let his fingers fall across hers in a dance as she walked out of the room.
Bert took a long breath and looked at his reflection in the mirror. The red menace returned, and he leapt to his bed, burying his face into a pillow. Sleep overtook the anxious raccoon soon after he realized that the sooner morning came, the sooner he could add the words 'marry me' to the end of that sentence and make his dreams complete.
There sure were a lot of screams in his dreams, Bert thought. The approaching princess, clad in a basketball jersey, sounded an awful lot like Ralph, too... Their lips met, and Bert was greeted not with the smell of lilacs, but of whiskey. The image of Lisa's face slowly morphed into that of Ralph. "Bert!" Bert opened his eyes. Ralph was in front of the raccoon, shaking him violently. He sounded hysterical. Ralph's scarf was untied, and hung around his neck. One end was tinged with vomit, and the other was soaked in a strong-smelling whiskey.
"Wake up, Bert!" He was sobbing. Bert rubbed his eyes and tried to gather what time it was.
"Gee Ralph, what's wrong?" Bert said, still sleepy.
"It's Lisa!" That got Bert's attention. A bolt of energy flowed through his body, and he jumped out of bed.
"What's happened to Lisa?"
"She's..." More sobbing. Something had happened to Lisa, and Ralph wasn't going to answer him. This couldn't be good.
"Lisa!" Bert shouted. He ran downstairs, looking in the living room. Items were strewn out on the floor, as if someone had run into them. "Lisa!" He shouted again. Where was she? A loud wind came from the kitchen, where Ralph was standing. Bert ran in, and was met with a sight that took the breath from his lungs.
Lisa lay on the floor, face down. Her tail was limp; her hands were sprawled to either side. The wind died down, replaced by a ticking clock in the kitchen. Each tick was then replaced by the sound of his heart beating. "Lisa!" Bert went to her body and turned her over. Two very large blotches, black in color, showed on her cheeks. Her eyes were closed, her mouth slightly open.
The blotches were leaking down her face, and a stream came from her mouth, staining her pink shirt. "NO NO NO NO LISA NO NO NO LISA-" Each syllable paused by sobbing. Bert's face sank into her limp form. He continued wailing for his dear love, when he felt something on his cheek. It wasn't from his tears.
Bert turned his head to see again those hideous black blotches. They were leaking down her body, and had stained his face. "Bert?" Three Ralphs were standing by him. Ralph, Lisa, the table, the window, Ralph one, Ralph three, Lisa, the table... Bert collapsed.
"Bert!" Ralph shouted. Bert felt his friend helping him onto a chair by the table. The raccoon fell to sobbing, throwing his head against the hard wood.
He would have knocked himself out, were it not for a small tin that lodged itself into his forehead. "Look at this..." Bert held the tin up. It's surface shined, and the words 'Sneer Industries Makeup' were scrawled on it.
Ralph took it from Bert. "It's the tin Melissa gave you this morning." He opened it to find a small yellow ticket fastened to the cap. It was a winning lottery ticket... In small writing, the ticket advised the lucky winner to pickup their prize at Sneer Mansion.
With all his force, Ralph threw the tin against the wall. "Give me that!" Bert said. He picked up the tin and read the ticket, and his eyes narrowed.
Bert placed the tin in his left pocket, and the ticket in his right. "He's gonna pay..." Bert said.
A loud sneeze came from a certain aardvark. He wiped his nose, before realizing that his cigar was setting fire to the tissue. He threw it down and shouted. Another sneeze was building up. The air in Sneer Mansion was unusually cold for this time of year. His eyes twitched, his nose wrinkled, and Cyril Sneer let loose another massive sneeze. "Get in here!" Cyril shouted to the pigs.
The three pigs rushed in, each with a nervous look on their faces. "Turn up the heat!" Cyril said. One of the pigs, Lloyd, looked at the others before responding.
"But sir..." He started.
"I don't want to hear it! You turn it up, or I'll use you as kindling!" Lloyd backed down.
Boyd eyed his boss and took off his cap. "But sir..." He started coughing again, holding the cap to his nose. "We're already using a lot of power for the factory. That's why we don't have a lot of power to heat the whole mansion."
Cyril grumbled. "I should have never listened to Cedric!" His son, Cedric, had convinced him to start a line of cosmetics. Too much business sense, or not enough, Cyril thought, had crept into the boy's head.
Cyril heard whispering. The pigs were huddled together, discussing something. "What're you pork barrels babbling about?"
"Well, boss..." Floyd began. He tried to hide behind the other two.
"Spit it out!" Cyril said.
"Well, there's been a problem with the machine..." Cyril turned from the window. He had a notion that the next few words would involve his two worst fears; lost revenue and bad news.
"What do you mean?" He turned back to the window, looking down at the small factory.
"Those tickets that Master Cedric talked about, well, there's been a mistake in the number."
Cyril laughed. "What's bad about that? No tickets means no lost revenue! This calls for a celebration!" He reached into a drawer for a small shot glass.
"No, boss. There've been too many tickets printed. It seems that one in five has a ticket, instead of one in one hundred..." Cyril coughed, and dropped the small glass.
"WHAT?" Cyril shouted. His eyes blazed, and the pigs cowered in fear at their boss' next response.
"You get out there and find those tickets! Find every last one! And if I have to pay anyone, it's coming out of your pockets!"
"Yes sir, yes sir!" The three said in unison. They ran out of the room.
"We need to find those tickets!" Lloyd said, buckling his helmet on.
"Did we give 'em to anyone lately?" Boyd asked.
"Yeah. We gave one of 'em to Melissa!" Floyd said.
"Well then, let's go get 'em back!" Boyd started the motorbike, and the trio set off to save their skins.
The black substance dripping down the wall was not only on Lisa, but now on Bert. "So the makeup's to blame..." Ralph was cleaning Bert's face with a rag.
"Where's Melissa?" Bert asked.
Ralph had an idea of where his wife was, and it worried him. "I don't know..."
"I'm gonna find 'em! I'm gonna find 'em and rip their hearts out!" Bert grabbed the rag from Ralph, and it fell to the floor. Bert noticed a magazine under the table.
"I know what you're feeling, Bert, but you can't just rush into this. You don't think that they're going to welcome you in with open arms and apologize for everything, do you?"
One of Bert's eyes was fixed on the bride in the photograph, the other on Lisa. "I'm going to have my revenge, one way or the other." Bert said.
"Let me see that tin." Ralph said. Bert handed it to him, and he looked it over. "You need a plan if you're going to go after anyone. First off, you need to find out where this all came from." Ralph handed the tin back to Bert.
Bert clenched his fists, squeezing the container. "It says right on it, 'Sneer Industries'! Are you blind?"
"There's no reason for that, Bert. I'm just as angry as you are."
"Doesn't sound like it!" Bert shouted. "She meant everything to me! And you weren't there to stop it!"
Ralph got in Bert's face. "And how was I supposed to be there? I was out with Schaeffer and the girls were having a party." This wasn't his fault, and he wouldn't be blamed for it.
"I see how it is... If you're not going to help me, then to hell with you!" Bert stomped upstairs toward his room.
He kicked open the door and looked for his backpack. The relationship between Bert and Ralph had always been tense, even during school. Bert would rush into things without thinking, and find out first-hand if his idea worked. Ralph, on the other hand, preferred to layout a plan and stick to it, like a scientist would. He was interrupted by Ralph talking on the phone.
Bert peeked downstairs at Ralph. "Alright, thanks." Ralph said.
Ralph hung up the phone, and noticed Bert. "Who was that?" he asked. Ralph gazed back into the kitchen before walking into the bedroom.
"I called the cops. They're going to come over as soon as they can."
"Are you nuts!" Bert shouted. "They're going to blame us!"
A strong odor came into the air. It was the smell of Lisa's makeup. "Not if we explain ourselves. There's no reason to worry." Ralph said. The room felt empty, more so than usual.
"Are you alright?" Ralph asked.
"Yeah." Bert started into the kitchen again, before he heard Ralph.
"Oh no!" Bert came into Ralph and Melissa's bedroom.
"What's wrong?" Ralph was looking into a box that was resting on top of a chest at the foot of their bed.
Their room, unlike the living room and the kitchen, was relatively clean. "It's gone!" Ralph said.
Bert was surprised. "What would you guys need a pistol for?" Bert asked.
"It's a long story, Bert. It's actually Melissa's."
"So, you're not strong enough to protect her?"
Ralph regarded Bert for what seemed like an hour. The two daggers in his eyes thrust into the raccoon. "...And were you strong enough to protect Lisa?" On further thought, Ralph knew that arguing would get them nowhere. "She just feels safer with it. When she was younger..." Ralph trailed off.
Ralph closed the bedroom door. "I said, 'I know who did this.'"
Bert looked outside. "Then you can wait here to tell the cops..." The wind was still howling. He took one last look at his love, and knelt down to her body.
"I swear I'm gonna find out who did this..." This was it; the point of no return. He would either bring back her killer, or die in the process.
"Let me go get a few things." Bert said. He walked back to his room.
Bert threw a baseball bat into his backpack. How could Ralph be so callous? He was too wrapped up in the minute details of everything to see the big picture. Someone did this. No, someone planned this. There was no accident, no mistake. Bert knew where to start looking.
All he had now was his memory with her. His plan to be with her tomorrow, and forever after, was ruined. He looked down again at the shining tin.
He could hear the phone being picked up again downstairs. "Bert?" Ralph said. Bert wiped sweat from his forehead. Bert worried that now he would not be able to find Sneer and avenge Lisa. The police here, not to mention the coroners, would make for a very hard time to get out of the house.
If he was going to make his move, then he decided it would be before they all arrived. Bert placed his hand on his chest, to feel his pulse quickening. The mere thought of sneaking away gave him a bit of energy. He saw a small flashlight and put it into his backpack. "Gimme a second, Ralph!" Bert said. Wind hit him in the face as the window creaked open. He had sneaked out a few times before with Cedric, but Cedric had also brought a rope he could climb down from. Bert turned, jerking himself away from the window as a pair of lights came into view. Now or never.
"Bert?" It cut through the night air in the bedroom. The raccoon turned behind him to see Ralph standing in the doorway. Panic overtook Bert, and he started for the window. Falls were never pretty, but this one was going to have to be quiet, or else the police would hear what they assumed to be a screaming raccoon who was fleeing the crime scene.
Bert looked down to the ground. The police car was pulling onto their road. He took one last look back at Ralph. "Bert!" Ralph shouted. A sharp pain came from Bert's right foot. He grit his teeth to keep from screaming. He had landed wrong, instead of dropping forward.
"Bert! What the hell are you doing!" Ralph said. Bert looked up to see his friend leaning out the window. Bert didn't speak. He turned to the trees by their house. He knew that Ralph would probably try to find him. Another hand on his way to Sneer Mansion wouldn't be a bad idea.
He waved to Ralph. "I'll be waiting up ahead when you're done." Ralph's face contorted into an image of anger. He was being left alone to deal with people who would question him as to the whereabouts of his friend. Bert could see the cogs creaking in Ralph's head as he tried to scream at him. The only thing Ralph did do, however, was nod slowly and point in a certain direction. Bert recognized it as the old fork in the road, near the large tree that headed to Sneer Mansion.
"I'll meet you there... You'd better know what you're doing..." Ralph popped back in the house.