Stepping Forward A Story Based On The Legend of 1900 By Merrie Thomas

Cast: Tim Roth-Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900 Pruitt Taylor Vince-Max Toony

Rating: PG-13 For language.

Summary: Takes place after Max finds 1900 alone on the Virginian prior to its destruction. Can he convince 1900 to leave the sea he's known his entire life?

Max Toony looked up in shock. He simply couldn't believe his ears and he didn't know what to say. His best friend, one of his only friends in fact, would rather kill himself than face the unknown world beyond the ship on which he had spent the whole of his life. Well, Max wasn't going to stand for it. "I don't care how big you think the world is, or how unending it seems, 1900. You're coming with me. You're my friend and I'm not going to just let you die without experiencing the little joys in life like baseball, picture shows, and most important of all, women. I just won't allow it, and that's that." Max then went to grab 1900's arm. "If I have to drag you out of here by force, I will."

1900 didn't know what to say. He couldn't believe the words coming out of his friend's mouth. He had never known Max to be so forceful. "You don't understand, Max. I don't belong out there. I never have. This is where I was born," he said with a wide gesture at the rusted old ship around him, "and this is where I will die. Now please, leave me to it." He tried to take back his arm from Max, but Max wasn't budging.

"You're a coward and a fool if you think I am still going to let you die after all of that. The world isn't unending, 1900! Now, I have been trying to convince you to go on land ever since I first met you, but now I am not trying to convince you, I am forcing you. You're coming on land. If you don't like it or can't handle it, I'm sure we could scrounge up some dynamite and a boat in which you could do yourself in. Now come on." Max began dragging 1900 toward the steps, making sure to grab the borrowed record and phonograph on the way.

"Why can't you just let me be? I thought you were my friend. I cannot be in the world, Max. Like I said before, the world is simply a ship too big for the likes of me. What will happen to my music, Max? Music has no way of being infinite in an infinite world. And nor have I. I have lived my life finitely, Max. It's how I was raised. I couldn't become attached to the people I met on this ship because sooner or later they would all leave. They would leave, and I would remain here."

"None of that matters. That's how your life was, not is. It's not your fault that you had to spend your life on this ship. Don't let someone else's bad decision dictate how you should go out. And I wouldn't really be your friend if I let you kill yourself. Now you are coming with me. I am going to show you the world beyond the Virginian."

1900 looked into his friend's eyes and saw that he was serious. There was no stopping him without doing something to his friend that he didn't want to do, but he had to try. "Is there no way you can see things my way? Is there no stopping you from what you're trying to do to me?"

"There isn't, and you know it. I have never been more serious about anything in my entire life. You are my friend, and you are finally getting off of this floating tomb." Max then proceeded to walk up the stairs dragging a hesitant 1900 behind him. They walked in silence until they reached the gangway where they stopped.

Outside, the crew that had been dismantling the ship looked up in horror. They all knew that only one person had gone on board. They had seen him pay the boss for the privilege. What their eyes were now fixed on was the form of 1900. They had been assured that there had been no one left on board. They had been ready to kill a man!

1900 knew there was no turning back now. There was no way that the ship would be blown up if they knew he was still on it. They would continue searching for him until they found him and forced him away from his home. In spite of all that, he looked up at Max with hope in his eyes. Surely he didn't really mean to make him go out there. It was a land full of sharks.

Max noticed 1900 looking at him. His resolve nearly faltered as he looked into his soulful green eyes as they searched him for hope. He knew that 1900 was genuinely frightened by the world beyond the ship. He simply believed that it was too big for him to handle. Well, Max was going to show him different. "Don't worry, buddy. I know you're apprehensive about the whole land thing, but I am going to be right here beside you every step of the way. You know that, right? I know I left you before, but you must understand. I needed to go. I couldn't remain onboard any longer. But I want you to know that I never forgot you, and I always wondered what you were doing and what new stories you could share with me. Now, we have the chance to make our own stories, you and I. So please, all you need to do is take those few stupid steps, remember? A few steps and you're in an entire new world."

1900 slowly looked away from his friend, from his home, and toward the gangway. Toward the future. He took a step. And another. And another, Max following behind him, the entire crew watching his every move. He soon came to the halfway point, as far as he had ever gotten. He stopped, took a deep breath, and took another step before Max could nudge him forward. He kept walking until he reached the final step, just inches away from land.

Max couldn't help but be amazed at this point. 1900 had seemed so unwilling before, and now he was about to make the final step. He watched his friend, curious as to how he was taking all of this. He was about to say something when a large wave crashed into the ship, pushing the gangway, and therefore Max and 1900 forward. Forward onto land.

1900 had heard the wave coming before it had hit and had prepared himself for it, planting his feet firmly on the step to wait until it passed as he had done many times before. It was how he was able to walk in a straight and even line across the deck when he had first met Max. What he had forgotten to take into account was the fact that his friend had not had the experience that he did in dealing with the sea. He lurched forward, pushed by his friend to his hands and knees to land.

"Arrg. I'm sorry, 1900. That wasn't exactly how I wanted you to remember your first experience on land. Here, let me help you up." Max got to his feet and lowered a hand to help 1900 up.

1900 just stared at him. He couldn't move. He was on land! On land! He had made it all the way down the gangway with a final bit of help from the very sea he had spent his life on. He reached up and firmly gripped Max's outstretched hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. As soon as he seemed to be up and walking however, he immediately fell back down again, the world spinning. 'What is wrong with me?' He wondered to himself. "Max...the ground...it's not right. I-I don't feel so good."

Max couldn't help but laugh at his bewildered friend. "Now you know how I felt when I first met you, my friend. It's probably just a little landsickness is all. You'll be alright, at least I think you'll be alright. It usually lasts a few days whenever I get it, but then, I haven't spent 40- odd years on the sea now have I?"

"Land-landsickness? Oh...I feel about to throw up. Make the world stop moving. Why didn't you tell me it was like this? Is it always like this?" 1900 looked up at him, new fear in his eyes.

Max smiled. "No, my friend, it isn't always like this. I wasn't always seasick remember? Our little 'ride' around the deck fixed that. Let's get you inside. Now, you have to stand back up again and we have to walk a little ways, and if you feel the need to throw up, just don't do it on me ok?"

1900 nodded slowly, and once again took his offer to be helped up. Max took his arm and slung it around his shoulder before he could fall back down again and led them forward. "Can I get a little help here, fellas?" Max shouted at the crew who was merely standing around watching them. "This man has spent his entire life on the sea, and he's not taking the stillness of land too well." The two men he had told the story to rushed over to help.

"Is-is this him?" One of them asked, eyes focused on 1900.

Max nodded. "We'll do the introductions later. Right now we need to get him inside and laid down ok?" Thy snapped out of their shock and one took 1900's other arm around his shoulder while the other man ran ahead to open the door. The three of them slowly made their way towards the main building, stopping every now and again to make sure 1900 was still ok, making their way without incident.

As soon as he had a chair in sight, a nice big empty one behind a large desk, 1900 slumped into it, trying to make himself as still as possible.

"Well, you won't be going anywhere fast for a couple of days, that's for sure. But maybe we could get a doctor to get you something for the nausea." Max told 1900 who had leaned back, closed his eyes, and put a hand to his stomach.

"You need an identity to get medicine. I don't exist, remember? No one knows who I am except for you. I can't believe you actually got me on land."

"Hey, you don't need to thank me buddy. And don't worry about that whole identity stuff. We can worry about that later when you've got your land legs about you." He turned to the two men who were waiting for him to acknowledge them. "Ah, gentlemen. May I introduce you to Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900, the greatest piano player the world has ever known. Now, you'll have to excuse him, he's feeling a bit under the weather after an entire life at sea."

1900 looked up at the men who had offered to help him, giving a faint smile. "Pleased to meet you, gentlemen. I'd get up and greet you proper, but the fucking world doesn't seem to want to cooperate at the moment."

"It's alright, Mr. 1900. Um, is it Mr. 1900?" One of the men asked, a little awed, a little embarrassed.

"Just 1900 will be fine." He let out a loud groan in Max's direction. "Oh Max, I want back on the ship, the ground is too still. Why the hell did you make me get off?"

"Sorry buddy, no can do. They've already filled it with dynamite in preparation for the big kaboom. In a few hours the Virginian will be gone forever. I'm sorry, I know it was your home. It's a good way to go out for the old girl, anyway."

"I was supposed to go out like that, Max. That was supposed to be my end." 1900 said with a longing glance in the direction of the sea.

"I know, but I came along and changed all of that and there's no turning back now. Besides, you don't really think they're gonna let you back on the ship that scheduled to explode now that they know you're real? You aren't, are you gentlemen?" The two men both shook their heads emphatically. "See? Told ya, man. It seems like you're going to have to find your house shaped like a ship after all."

1900 just groaned again and shut his eyes to the unending world.

TBC

A/N: I have written more and will post a second chapter. Please post your reviews!!!