(Disclaimer: I do not own the Loud House or any of its characters. They are all property of Nickelodeon, Chris Savino and the Loud House creative team. This is purely a fanfiction piece; so, please...don't sue me)
Beach Blanket Bejeebers with the Gal Pals
(Story Summary: It's the first weekend of Summer Vacation and on the first weekend of break, the Gal Pals are itchin' for some beach day fun. Only problem is...a certain white-haired pal of theirs is not quite so anxious about the idea...and no one knows why. Will the gals be able to help him remember his love of the sand, sun and surf?)
In a far off part of Royal Woods, Michigan; we come to a charming split-level house. Inside, one Carol Pingrey is hard at work; packing many items into a large travel bag. "This is gonna be so much fun" she says with excitement, "I hope I've brought enough sunscreen with me."
Upon thinking this, she takes a quick peek inside and the "viewer" notices a dozen or so bottles stored within the bag; along with her beach clothes, a couple of bikinis, one or two pairs of sunglasses, a waterproof phone and other items. After a few seconds of mentally checking off each item; Carol out a sigh of relief, apparently pleased that she hadn't forgotten anything. Then, she looks ahead of her and sees the viewer watching her.
"Oh, hello there" she greets happily, "you must be Linky's friends; it's so nice to finally meet you!" Carol then notices that everyone is "looking" down at her bag and she smiles. "I'll bet you're wondering what I'm packing all this stuff for, right" she asks, "well, it's Summer Break; which means it's the perfect time for a BEACH PARTY!"
Carol then goes into detail about everything she has planned, when the big day arrives. "See...for the past day or so; the other Gal Pals and I planned a big beach party day for us and our dear lil' pal, Lincoln Loud" she says with great excitement, "we're talkin' dancing, beachside barbecues, sunbathing, surfing (for those of us who can) and even some ice cream to help cool us off!" She then notices everyone looking at her rather oddly, as if confused.
"Oh, you're all probably wondering who the 'Gal Pals' I'm talking about are; right" questioned Carol, "well...let me give you a quick 411, to help bring you guys up to speed." After this, she takes out her phone and begins to play a sort of slideshow featuring herself and a group of friends. Said slideshow included images from Lincoln's first meeting with herself and her friends (Whitney and Becky,) Jordan's Spring Break pool party, Lincoln's poetry reading at the Burnt Bean, his time at Dr. Lopez's office and of course, the infamous trial.
"Long story short; the poor lil' guy had gone through the wringer due to some family troubles, throughout most of Spring Break" sighed Carol, "but in the end, things turned out great for everybody." Within moments, she brings up another slideshow on her phone. This one included the Loud Family's regaining their social lives/proper social statuses back, a small group of them entering Anger Management, Lynn Sr. and Rita taking some much needed parenting classes and more.
"But do you know what the best part was" Carol asked, "by order of the court; me, Whit, Becky and Dana are now Linky's legal guardians!" This caused the young lady to squeal with joy; so much so that it disturbed the sleep of her pet corgi, Alistair. "Whoops...sorry about that, guys" she muttered with a shy blush, "I'm just so happy; Lincoln has become so dear to me, after everything we've gone through together...and I want to give him some great Summer memories!"
It was here that she gestured at her beach bag full of supplies. "That is what all of this is for, you see" Carol said with a chuckle, "since it's the first weekend of Summer Break, I planned a beach day for all of us and I am totes excited." After taking one final look to see if she had everything, the young teen smiled and brought up her contact list. "Time to call up the rest of the gang and get things rolling" she said with glee, "I just hope everyone's ready for today."
The first number she dialed was that of Becky; who, back at her house, was midway through putting together her own supplies. "Got the a-okay from my folks...so long as I bring Paige along with me" Becky stated, "but I'm cool with that, she's been needing to get out in the sun lately." No sooner had she said this, a younger voice suddenly shouted out "SAYS THE GIRL WHO SPENT THE FIRST FOUR DAYS OF BREAK IN HER ROOM, TEXTING" in retort.
The two teenage girls giggled softly and then, Carol called up Whitney next. Within seconds, the aforementioned poofy-haired blonde answered and looked as though she was trying to fit a swimming cap over her poofy ponytail. "I thought we talked about this, Whit" Carol groaned, "you said you'd stop worrying about your hair getting wet, after swimming or a shower!"
On the screen, Whitney stuck out her tongue slightly at her friend; while desperately trying to pull the cap over her head. "I know I promised" she whined, "but when this poof of mine gets wet, it feels like I'm carrying a cannonball on the back of my head." Upon hearing all this, there was a sudden silence between the two girls.
Then, five seconds later; they suddenly burst out into a jolly fit of laughter. "Guess you kinda got me there, Whit" chuckled Carol, "just...try not to take too long in getting ready, while I round up the rest of the gang; okay?" With that said; both ladies winked at one another, murmured "see you when I see ya" in unison and brought their phone conversation to an end.
After that, Carol brought up Dana's number next and pressed speed dial. Within seconds, the young brunette answered and waved hello to her bestie. "Looks like somebody's excited for our Beach Day" Carol said with a giggle, "it's okay, so am I." On the other line, Dana said she recently bought a new bikini she'd been anxious to try on.
"Hope it's nothing too skimpy, D" Carol said knowingly, "not only would your folks be steamed, if it is...but just imagine if a certain someone got a look at you while wearing it." Upon hearing the mention of a "certain someone," Dana's face began to blush a deep red. "Carol, shut uuuup" she whined softly, "you know how much I hate it when you tease me about Linky!"
The young blonde wiped a joyful tear from her eye and told her friend she was only kidding. "I just don't want our lil' buddy to have a nosebleed, when he sees us" she stated, "I'm talking about the kind his friend, Clyde gets when he would think about Lori." After taking a moment to wipe that image out of her head, Dana assured her friend that her suit would be both sexy yet tasteful.
"Chaz is pretty excited too" she added, "he needs a vacay, after pushing his brain too much to prep for exams." As if on cue; Chaz, while dressed in swim trunks, trudges by while tiredly muttering algebra equations under his breath. Carol suddenly winced with dismay, upon seeing her elder male friend in such a state.
"I can totally relate, D" she stated, "after finals, I was stuck repeating the Gettysburg Address in my head for a day and a half." As both ladies shared a laugh at the mildly bitter memory, they both talked about the eventual beach party. "I checked the weather on my phone and it promises to be wonderful" Dana said with glee, "let's just hope the rest of the gang will be open for some fun in the sun too."
After that conversation ended, Carol began ringing up the rest of the Gal Pals; along with a few other good friends as well. With each call she made, she received equally excited replies to the beach party.
Phoebe: Totally, I've been anxious to get out into the sun and chill for quite a while; count me in.
Cici: My folks say it's alright with them, as long as I don't swim after eating...you know how it is.
Stella: A beach party, sounds awesome; I'll just have to clear it with my folks first.
(Fifteen Seconds Later)
Stella: It's all good, I'll see you there.
Jordan: A beach day sounds like a great idea, count me in.
Haiku: Normally, it is in my nature to avoid the sun. But if there is a chance for me to get buried in the sand, I'll take it.
Kat: Sure thing, Carol; things have been kinda dull at home lately. A little shore-side fun is just what I need.
Cristina: Sounds like a great idea; I'll call you back, once I get the approval from my folks.
One by one, every member of the Gal Pals shared their excitement and their approval of Carol's beach day idea. She later discovered that Joey was planning on joining them as well. The only one left to invite was her young charge, Lincoln Loud.
Meanwhile, at the Loud Residence; Lincoln was sitting comfortably in his closet bedroom contently reading his Ace Savvy comics. When suddenly, his cellphone started to ring; causing Lincoln to fall off his bed in shock. "I knew I should've put my phone on vibrate before reading" he muttered, "wonder who could be calling me at this time of day?"
After taking a moment to dust himself off; Lincoln sat himself back on the bed, picked up the phone and answered it. In an instant, a familiar high school blonde appeared on the small screen and waved at Lincoln merrily. "Hey, hey, hey; Linky" she said in greeting, "how's my lil' man doing this morning."
Upon seeing his friend/guardian's face, Lincoln suddenly forgot about his earlier spill and waved back with equal joy. "Morning, Carol" he said with a toothy grin, "just chillin' in my room with a new comic." The high schooler suddenly found herself gawking at Lincoln in astonishment, as if shocked by this news.
"I'm guessing it's a quiet day up at your place" inquired Carol, "which is...admittedly weird, when you think about it." Lincoln gave a little chuckle at her statement before sharing his own disbelief on the situation. "I know, it's weird to see the 'Loud' House appear so calm and quiet" he stated, "but Officer Campos took Lily and Lana down to Ketchum Park today, while her partners went off on duty for the morning."
Mildly confused, Carol asked why his parents couldn't take them all to the park instead. But then, she remembered the court order and immediately withdrew her earlier question. "Anyway...wow is everybody doing with their community work and classes, pal" questioned Carol, "has Lori become more level-headed yet?"
Lincoln paused for a few seconds and then, gave his friend a "so-so" hand gesture; describing his sister's situation as "a work in progress." "My mom actually convinced a few of them that community service wasn't so bad" he informed, "the other day, they cleaned up the park and got the place spick and span in less than fifteen minutes." Lincoln then said that during the extra free time, the family was actually given time to relax.
"That's so awesome to hear, Linc" Carol said with great praise, "but how about their classes, are things just as good there?" The moment he was asked this, Lincoln's joyful demeanor shifted into a look of mild discomfort. "Yeah, about that...Long story short, some of them are showing signs of improvement; specifically Lori and Luan (to a degree)" he stated, "but Lynn and Lola on the other hand...well, two days ago, there was a sort of...incident involving one of them during Anger Management."
(Scene Cut to the Anger Management Class; where we find Lori, Lola, Lynn Jr. and Lisa in attendance)
At the seminar, the instructor surprises everyone by revealing that he invited Leni to come and join in on their session. "Why bring her here" Lynn asked, "she's the least angry member of our family...unless you get in her way, when a big sale happens." Leni couldn't help but agree with her words, recalling the many times she went...a little "Cray Cray" during any clothing sales at the mall.
"Your sister isn't here to join you and the others, Lynn" said the instructor, "she's here to help you all with today's lesson on patience." After saying this, he turned toward Leni and asked her to pretend she'd dropped her purse while out for a walk. After a short while; the young blonde nodded in understanding, placed the strap of her purse over her right shoulder, took a few paces and let it fall onto the floor.
"Okay, ladies; time to begin our lesson" said the instructor, "you see someone drop a personal item (a purse, in this case) on the ground while walking...what do you do next?" For a moment or two, the four ladies simply stared dumbfounded at the man. Then, Lynn raised her hand and asked what the lesson had to do with patience?
"That is a very good question, Junior" the instructor said simply, "why not come up and try the demonstration for yourself?" Still feeling rather confused; the young jock approached her elder sister, plucked the purse off the floor and presented it to her. "Uh...excuse me, Leni" she muttered as politely as she could, "I think you might've dropped this while walking."
Upon hearing this, Leni soon began to study the purse intently; as if uncertain if it was her own possession. Then, fifteen seconds later; she shrugged her shoulders and softly muttered "I don't think that's mine." Confused by this statement, Lynn tried to give the purse back again; only for Leni to still claim it wasn't hers.
Within seconds, she started to feel her anger bubbling slowly inside of her. But in spite of that, Lynn did everything she could to keep calm. Then, she got an idea and began fishing about inside of the purse until she found a Learner's Permit ID.
"Correct me if I'm wrong here" she said softly, "but...you're name is Leni Loud, right?" After scratching her chin for bit, the young blonde smiled and gave her younger sister a nod. "Good...now, then; this thing in my hand seems to be your ID" Lynn sighed, "I found this ID...inside of this purse; so...that must mean that it...is yours."
After listening to her sister's words and thinking them over, Leni came to the conclusion that she may be right. "Great, I'm glad we came to that conclusion" Lynn said with a heaving sigh, "so...do you want it back?" Much to everyone's surprise and annoyance, Leni looked at the bag again and still claimed that it "wasn't hers."
Needless to say; by this point, Lynn was at the end of her rope and was ready to let everyone know it. "Why you dumb blonde bimbo" she growled, "YOU BETTER TAKE BACK THIS PURSE, YOU DITZ OR I'LL RIP YOUR ARMS OFF AND..." Before she could finish her threat, Lynn was suddenly caught in the embrace of Neko-chan; a stress relief mascot hired to help keep the girls calm/relaxed whenever they might act up during Anger Management or Sensitivity Training.
Despite however much Lynn thrashed and shook about, Neko-chan still refused to release her from her hug. Meanwhile, the instructor shook his head slightly while clicking his tongue in disappointment. "That's not appropriate behavior, young lady" he said, "we must always maintain our composure in situations like these, even when in the presence of someone who might wear on our patience a little...no offense, Leni dear."
The teenaged blonde shrugged off his words with a joyful smile, assuring him everything was fine. "It's all part of the lesson, after all" she stated, "plus, I know Lynn wouldn't really hurt me." While still stuck in Neko-chan's hold, the pre-teen jock gave Leni a look that seemed to say "you wanna bet on that?"
(Back to the Present)
Once the story ended, Carol found herself deep into a fit of hysterical laughter. "Oh...Oh-ho! Oh, my stomach; I can't breathe" she gasped, "n-no disrespect meant, Linc...but was Leni just playing dumb or did she really not know it was her own purse Lynn was holding?" Lincoln thought on it for a bit and then said the situation might've been..."a little mix of both scenarios."
The two of them laughed for a little longer until Carol suddenly remember the reason for her call. "Before I forget, Linky; I have a have big plans for the coming weekend" she said giddily, "are you ready for this...on Saturday, we're all gonna get together and have a big party down at the beach!" After this reveal, Carol looked at the phone's screen and saw Lincoln sporting a rather flabbergasted look upon his face.
"From that look alone, I can tell you must be excited" she stated, "just make sure you clear things up with your fam before the big day, 'kay?" While still appearing shocked, Lincoln nodded slightly and responded with a soft "yup...count on it." "OOH! Thank you so much, Linky" Carol said gleefully, "I'll talk to ya later, just gotta do some final preparations."
After wishing Lincoln goodbye, she blew him a "sisterly" kiss and the screen quickly went black; leaving Lincoln alone in his room. After a while, he realized that the call had ended and silently plonked himself on his bed. While lying there in silence, his brain was buzzing noisily with many thoughts; half of which were those of fear and worry.
"Carol's planning a beach day...ah, dang it" he thought dejectedly, "I don't know if I should be nervous about the idea...or excited; maybe 'nervouscited' is the better word?" After a while, Lincoln quickly notices the viewer/reader looking at him oddly and snaps out of his thoughts. "Oh...you're all probably wondering why I'm so skeptical about Carol's trip, right" he asked, "well, it all involves...a certain memory I try very hard not to think about."
(The scene flashes to the beachside, where the Louds are seen enjoying themselves. At the same time; not too far away, we see what looks like a giant squirrel mascot standing in the sand.)
(As many beach goers pass by and giggle at the silly "creature," no one realizes that underneath the head is a young boy; namely Lincoln Loud. For hours; he is forced to either stand at his family's side or follow them around, all while acting as their "good luck charm." Through it all, Lincoln suffers many indignities; including assault from random children, gulls pooping on him, lack of proper body movement and of course, a developing skin rash; which he and others mistook for sunburn.)
"I went through the wringer, that day; just so my family wouldn't have any 'bad luck' on their trip" Lincoln murmured bitterly, "why I didn't choose to leave of my own free will is beyond me." By the end of his tirade, Lincoln suddenly found himself smiling a little. "I must admit, though; a few positives did happen from that ordeal" he sighed, "by order of Judge Snapper, that dumb mascot suit has now been outlawed and the court forbade my family from mentioning anymore ideas of 'bad luck' in my house and...I gained a new branch of great friends, after telling them the story."
Upon thinking of the Gal Pals, Lincoln turned towards his dresser and saw a framed picture from Jordan's Spring Break pool party. He crawled across his bed towards the dresser, took the picture in his hands and smiled at it lovingly. However; after a while, it slowly shifted into a long disappointed frown.
"I'm at a serious crossroads here, guys" he sighed while still addressing the viewer/reader, "on one hand, I really would like to go and hang with my pals at the beach." No sooner had he said this, Lincoln began to think about all the fun he would have there. He'd be looking for seashells with Cristina, posing for photo ops with Phoebe, playing beach volleyball with Cici and Stella, going snorkeling with Jordan and who knows what else.
"But...on the other hand, I'm still a tad hesitant to go along with the idea" Lincoln muttered, "aside from the obvious squirrel thing, there have been other...equally unpleasant moments that happened to me that involved the beach in the past." With this in mind, he reached under his bed and retrieved a book that had the words "Unpleasant Memories" on the cover. "This is a little something Luan and Lola put together in the past" Lincoln sighed, "just a collection of snapshots showing awkward moments of my life."
When "asked" why he had such a book in his possession, Lincoln said he kept it hidden in his room so that the two aforementioned sisters wouldn't find it. "If they did, they'd use whatever picture they desired most in this book for blackmail purposes" he whispered, "not...that I have much reason to worry about that kind of thing now, mind you; but you can't be too careful." With that said, he flipped through the book until he came to a page showing bad beach memories.
The very first one featured him at the age of six. "This beach day here started out well enough" Lincoln mumbled, "but then, I had a rather...'unexpected guest' drop by." As the picture comes into view, the viewer/reader sees six year old Lincoln fleeing in terror from a shark's fin. "Now, I know what you're thinking and the answer is no" he said suddenly, "I was attacked that day...but not by a shark."
(Quick scene change to six years in the past)
At the beach, Lincoln is seen splashing playfully in the water. All seems to be going well...until he feels a sudden pinch knick at his feet. This feeling did cause him to yelp slightly with surprise, admittedly. But nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary, after giving the area around him a look.
Then, twenty seconds later; he felt that same pinch happen again. This time however, it felt a little stronger; almost like a crab was pinching him. But before Lincoln could check out what was going on, he suddenly heard the sounds of a lifeguard's whistle blowing.
This was followed by the loud cries of "SHARK, SHARK" from several people on the shore; including his family. Lil' Lincoln suddenly went white with fear at this news, unsure of what to do next. Then, after taking in a nervous gulp; he looked over his shoulder and saw it...a long, grey triangle shaped dorsal fin protruding out of the water.
As the fin began to make a beeline towards him, Lincoln's pupils shrank with terror and he rushed out of the water like a bat out of the Underworld. Meanwhile, several other beach goers began to flee the shore; not wishing to get close to the alleged shark. Only a handful of people remained calm during the whole thing, The Loud Parents (Lynn Sr. and Rita) and four of their five daughters.
Now, you may be wondering where the fifth girl might be? Well, what if I were to tell you that the shark that spooked Lincoln...wasn't actually a shark? See, after our little pal found his hiding place inside the drink cooler his dad brought; Lincoln took a peek outside to see if the "shark" swam away.
What he found instead was something slowly rising up out of the water. It was tall and slender figure with "skin" as grey as a storm cloud and bulgy eyes. The sight of this thing filled Lincoln with such incredible terror, he locked himself inside of the cooler.
"IT'S SOME KINDA SHARK CREATURE" he shrieked inside of the box, "IT'S COME TO INVADE THE SURFACE AND EAT US LIKE CHUM!" Just as his fears started to get the better of him, Lincoln suddenly heard the echoes of a familiar laugh. Feeling curious, he cracked open the lid slightly and saw the same grey figure ahead of him.
Only this time, he saw his parents and other sisters surrounding it; which made the poor little guy feel even more terrified. "Guys, you've gotta run" cried Lincoln, "that shark creature will eat you all alive!" Surprisingly, not one of the other four Loud Sisters seemed to listen to their brother's warning.
Instead, Lori picked the "creature" up by the back of its collar and turned her towards Lincoln's direction. The poor six year old quivered nervously, as the "creature's bulbous eyes" stared down at him. "This here isn't a real monster, baby bro" Luna said after taking a stand beside Lori, "but she certainly acts like one, sometimes."
After that, she grabbed hold of the creature's "eyes" (which were actually a pair of swimming goggles) and ripped them off her head; revealing the face of a giddy Luan. Upon seeing this, Lincoln stumbled out of the cooler and scratched his head in confusion. "Wait...you were the shark, Luan" he asked, "how...I only saw the fin thingy."
While still holding onto her sister, Lori turned her around and showed Lincoln the fake dorsal fin that she had attached onto her back. It was in that moment that Lincoln was, at last able to put the pieces together. "So...you were the shark all along" he murmured, "you were the one who kept biting me in the water!?"
Upon hearing this reveal, Rita and Lynn Sr. both gazed down at Luan with looks of utter displeasure in their eyes; causing Luan to suddenly sweat with fear. "I...I-I wasn't biting him, really" she murmured, "I was just pinching at his ankles a little, that's all." Sadly, her plea didn't seem to change how angry Luan's parents were with her.
"Even if I was biting him, though; could you blame me" she asked, "he looked so adorable swimming around in the water, you could just eat him up." Upon hearing this, everyone let out a loud groan of displeasure at her distasteful pun; while Lincoln whimpered fearfully inside his box. "THAT'S WASN'T VERY FUNNY, LUAN" he cried, "I REALLY THOUGHT I WAS IN DANGER, HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME!?"
As Lynn Sr. and Rita prepared to voice the same complaint, they found themselves being suddenly manhandled by a burly lifeguard. Afterwards, several more lifeguards took hold of the children and the entire Loud Family was escorted off the beach; forbidden to return until further notice.
(Back to the Present)
After the story was finished, Lincoln gazed down at the disgruntled looks he and his family were giving Luan in the picture and sighed. "This was just one of those bad beach related memories, sadly" he murmured, "let us not forget the time I was expected to act as the final vote on my family's vacation destination." These bad moments in question ranged from half of his sisters putting sand in his pants (which got stuck in his crack,) Lisa tricking him into putting on Sodium Hydrochloride (disguised as a bottle of sunscreen) and making the shower water as cold as the ocean water (16.6 degrees Celsius.)
"After all that, I don't know if I'd ever want to go back to the beach again" Lincoln muttered, "but at the same time, I can't bring myself to say no to Carol or any of the Gals...I just don't know what to do." With this thought in mind, he let out a heavy sigh and threw his head back onto his pillow; wishing to take a brief rest to ease his brain. But unbeknownst to him, his thoughts didn't go completely unheard.
Just outside his door, moments ago; Officer Higgins was stepping out of the bathroom, feeling fresh as a bee from a hot shower. As she approached the steps, she suddenly overheard Lincoln talking in his room. But rather than choose to just pop in unannounced, the officer decided to stand quietly and listen in on his mild rantings.
"I really don't want to bail out and hurt the Gals' feelings" Lincoln sighed dejectedly inside his room, "but I really don't want to get humiliated, suffer some sort of injury and/or end up ruining their good time either...I just don't know what to do." After this, all was quiet inside the closet bedroom; while Higgins scratched her chin in thought. "Sounds like lil' Lincoln's in one dilly of a pickle" she thought to herself, "I'd better touch base with the others and tell them about this."
With this in mind; she brought out her cellphone and sent a text out to her partners, Simmons and Campos. After that, she went back downstairs to help Mr. Loud in the kitchen.
Sometime later, the three officers gathered together at the donut shop for some coffee and munchies. Mr. and Mrs. Loud had returned home from their classes and took over managing the house, soon after; leaving the trio some free time to talk in private. At first; they just sat together, snacked on some biscotti and shot the breeze on what happened to one another earlier that day.
Then, Higgins suddenly became rather stone-faced; which took her partners by surprise. "Yo, Jenny; why the long face all of the sudden" asked Simmons, "does your coffee taste okay...or is it something else?" For a moment, the officer in question didn't answer; feeling unsure if whether or now she should speak any further.
Then, she remembered her position as one of three of the Loud House's caretakers/sitters; which meant she had to step up, if anything seemed amiss with the family. "I'll be more than happy to tell you the details, ladies" Higgins stated, "but first, there's one other person that needs to join us." No sooner had she said this, a purple van with a yellow strip on the side pulled into the parking lot.
As the door opened, everyone spotted Carol stepping out of the driver's seat and waved at her. "What's Miss Pingrey doing here" questioned Officer Campos, "I thought this was our off-duty coffee time." In response; Higgins said everything would be made clear, once everyone was present.
Despite their lingering confusion, the other officers still nodded in agreement and watched as Carol took her seats. "Afternoon, Officers; so nice to meet with you under more pleasant circumstances" she said pleasantly, "what can I do you all for?" After taking a small sip from her coffee cup, Higgins decided to get to the point of their meeting.
"Carol...may I call you that, hon" she asked, earning a small nod from her a split-second later; "okay...I've gathered you and my partners here to talk about your little beach party coming up." Carol, suddenly growing nervous, quickly assured that she got permission to hold the event; especially from Lincoln's folks. "Don't you fret, sugar; you're more than welcome to go along with it" Higgins assured, "we might even join you, if'n we have the time."
After hearing this, Carol let out a deep sigh of relief; happy she didn't break any sort of rule. "The main reason I bring it up concerns our young friend, Lincoln Loud" Higgins stated, "apparently, the lil' man seems...afraid of going to the beach; as strange as it sounds." This news took the three ladies completely by surprise, to say the least.
Sure, not everyone enjoyed going to the shore; even Campos revealed she didn't quite like having the sand blowing into her hair, when it got too windy out. But to be afraid of it, that was something they've never come across; least of all with Lincoln. "It's Summer Break, this time of year was made for going to the beach" Carol stated, "why wouldn't Lincoln want to go?"
It was here that Officer Higgins suddenly found herself hesitating a little. In her head, she wondered if she was doing the right thing in telling the ladies about Lincoln's plight. But when she saw the look of concern in Carol's eyes, she realized withholding such an issue from her would make her think she didn't trust her.
"Much like the McBride boy, Carol has proven quite often that she's someone who'd go to the center of the world and back for Lincoln" Higgins thought, "I probably...no, I should definitely tell her!" With her mind made up, Higgins began to tell the ladies everything she heard. "I didn't get much, I'm afraid" she murmured dejectedly, "but from what I heard outside his door, Lincoln kept saying how worried he is about ruining the trip for everybody with his fears."
While this statement did help shine a little light on the situation, Carol still felt a little confused. "Why would he be worried about ruining the party" she asked, "and what does this have to do with him being afraid of the beach?" With a defeated sigh, Higgins said that she didn't hear the full amount of Lincoln's rantings during the time in question.
"The only other thing I heard was him saying how worried he is about something happening during the outing" she muttered, "he's worried he'll end up bein' humiliated or something will happen that might anger everyone or...or that he might suffer an injury." The last part of her statement came out a little uneasily, due to overall grievous nature of the idea. But soon after she said it, everyone suddenly came to the same realization.
"How could I have been so foolish" Carol scolded herself bitterly, "between his sisters' actions when he tried to decide on a family trip and the skin rash he got from that dumb costume, the beach must've left a very negative impression on him." With all this in mind, the ladies unanimously agreed that something had to be done. "But what can we do" inquired Carol, "I can't simply force Linky to come with us and he will, no doubt feel discouraged about feeling left out."
For a moment, none of the three officers could think of an appropriate answer; much to their dismay. Much like Carol, they also didn't want Lincoln's fears to hold him back from having a good time either. "Wish I knew a good way to help, Missy" Simmons sighed dejectedly, "but psycho-analyzing others was never my strong suit in my police academy days."
Upon hearing the words psycho-analyzing, Carol came up with the perfect solution; call Dr. Lopez. "She was such a big help for Lincoln; when it came to his nightmares, months ago" she stated, "maybe she could do it again with this." The three officers thought on it for a moment and realized that, while it was a long-shot; it was still something worth trying.
The next day, Carol was driving her van down through Royal Woods with Lincoln and a small handful of his sisters traveling along with her. Before the ride, however; Lincoln was at home and soon found himself confronted by Officers Higgins, Simmons and Campos. At first, he felt like he was in some kind of trouble but the ladies quickly put his fears to rest.
"You did nothing wrong, chamaco" assured Campos, "we just want to tell you that you'll be taking a trip with Carol later on." Confused, Lincoln asked where he was heading off too on such short notice. For a moment, the policewoman considered telling him a teeny tiny fib; just to prevent any possible fearful outburst.
But then, she decided against it; believing it went against her code. "The truth is, sweetie...Miss Higgins overheard you talking in your room, the other day" Campos said with a deep sigh, "she said that you're having...second thoughts about Carol's big party happening Saturday." Upon hearing this, Lincoln suddenly felt quite nervous and made a vain attempt to escape.
Alas, there was only one way out and it was through the front door. But the moment he tried to race out; his path was suddenly blocked by Luna, Leni, Lucy and Lana. "You can't run from us this time, Lincoln" Lucy murmured after suddenly popping up in front of him, "tell us what's wrong."
Like a rabbit cornered by a pack of wolves, Lincoln suddenly found himself trapped by his sisters and Officer Campos. But he wasn't nervous of the former because they wanted to harm him. Rather, he feared that if he revealed the reason behind his fears; they would think he was a sissy.
As he began backing up towards the steps, Leni frowned sadly and held out her hands to him. "Linky...please, don't be afraid" she pleaded, "whatever's going on, we promise to try and help you...but we don't want you to think we're meddling." For a while, Lincoln remained frozen in place; his mind racing with many thoughts.
Then, as he looked into the pleading eyes of some of his sisters; he felt a heavy tug at his heart. It was as if his conscience was telling him not to worry. Finally, after a moment of contemplation; Lincoln let out a sigh and took a seat on the steps. "Okay, you guys win" he said in mild defeat, "but promise me that you all won't laugh or make a huge fuss over what I have to say inside."
Everyone around Lincoln gave him a "scout's honor" hand sign and beckoned him to continue. "The truth is...I really do want to go to the beach party with everyone" Lincoln confessed, "but at the same time, I'm...I'm afraid to go." While still trying their best to be respectful; Leni, Lucy and Luna gave their little brother looks of utter confusion.
"I don't want to seem rude or stupid, Lincoln" murmured the young Goth, "but would you be so kind as to explain what it is about the beach that frightens you?" For a moment or two, Lincoln didn't know how to answer...or if he should. Finally, after letting out a deep sigh; he responded with one simple word..."everything."
This seemed to only make everyone feel more confused than before. "Sorry...but we're still not followin' you, Bro" Luna muttered, "how could 'everything' about the beach leave you feeling so spooked?" In response, Lincoln took his sisters on a small trip down Memory Lane and told them about every negative "beach related" experience he had in the past.
As the four Loud Sisters listened, each of them started giving out different reactions to their brother's story. Leni found herself blushing with shame while biting at her lip, Luna felt her heartstrings being tugged at like they were guitar chords being pulled by a set of pliers and as for Lucy and Lana; all they desired was to bury themselves in the deepest of holes to hide their shame. Meanwhile, the three officers found themselves shaking their heads at the Sisters in disappointment.
When she saw the looks on their faces, Luna's jaw dropped in alarm and she held up her hands in a pleading manner. "Please don't get mad at us again, ladies" she begged, "those moments happened ages ago and we've all learned our lessons, since then!" While she couldn't deny the sincerity in the young rocker's words, Officer Higgins still felt disappointed.
"The whole thing shouldn't have happened at all, Miss Loud" she said firmly, "I'm especially appalled by the shark incident." Almost immediately, the four ladies' expressions changed from looks of shame to ones of mild anger. "Gosh darn it, Luan" Luna growled softly, "I remember that day all too well, our whole beach day was ruined because of her little 'joke!'"
Before the girls could rant about the aforementioned prank any further, Officer Simmons quickly brought them back to the topic at hand. "So, Lincoln; you're sayin' that because of these moments; you're now too nervous about going back to the beach again" she asked, "that's both sad and understandable at the same time." In spite of himself; Lincoln couldn't help but agree with her, deep down.
But he soon revealed that while the shark incident was traumatic, it was the incident with the squirrel suit that would officially solidify his disdain for the beach. Of course, everyone already had a clear understanding on why that moment did the trick. Needless to say, the officers were not happy with any of the Louds about this (with the small exception Lincoln.)
But after everything that's happened, the time for scolding and reprimands had long since passed. The important thing everyone had to focus on, at that moment was helping Lincoln with his fear. "On that note, I think I have a good idea of what to do" Officer Campos murmured, "Miss Higgins told me she plans on setting up an appointment for you with Dr. Lopez for tomorrow morning, Lincoln."
Upon hearing this, Lucy asked how the therapist planned to help Lincoln out where they could not. "She managed to help Lincoln overcome his nightmares, long ago; did she not" Campos replied, "so, I imagine she can help him confront his anxiety towards the beach as well." With this bit of info presented, the wee Goth couldn't help but agree and went along with the plan.
"But can she really help me, that's the real question here" Lincoln asked, "it's not so much as I'm terrified of the beach, I just...I just don't want to add another bad memory to my scrapbook." The moment he said this, Lincoln yelped softly with alarm and clamped his hands over his mouth; hoping no one heard him. A moment later, Leni approached him and gave her little brother a loving hug to help calm him down.
"Have faith, Linky" she said sweetly, "we just know that the nice doctor will help you out...and we're gonna make sure that happens." The moment she said this, the other Louds present tilted their heads sideways and murmured two words in unison; "we are?"
As our story returns to the present, Carol's van had arrived at the office building and parked near the front entrance. Unlike his last visit, however; Lincoln would not be going in alone. With Lincoln's consent; she, Dana, Becky and Haiku all volunteered to go in and give whatever kind of assistance the doctor would need.
Then, mere seconds later; Vanzilla pulled into the space beside Carol's van, the door slid open and out came a handful of Lincoln's sisters. Among them were Lori, Leni, Luna, Luan, Lucy, Lana and Lola. Upon seeing the eldest of his sisters leave Vanzilla's driver's seat, Lincoln suddenly became...a little nervous.
"I may be in trouble, guys" Lincoln whispered to the viewer/reader, "from what I've been hearing, she's been feeling rather tense in class...and I'm worried she'll want to vent out her aggression on me." As if Fate had overheard his fears; Lori shut the driver's side door of Vanzilla, spotted Lincoln over her shoulder and stared at him intently. Upon seeing this look in her eyes, Lincoln suddenly felt himself sweating profusely with fear.
Almost a split-second later, Dana quickly handed Lincoln one of his dry shirts and patted him reassuringly atop the head. But alas, the poor boy was too overwhelmed with fear to notice it. Finally, after she had locked up the van; Lori approached Lincoln, looked down at him and gave him a small yet kind smile.
"Let's get a move on, everybody" she said firmly to her sisters, "the sooner we help our lil' bro face his fear, the sooner he'll become as...semi-normal as the rest of us." Despite the mild snarkiness in his sister's tone; she seemed much less strict, when giving the order. Lincoln couldn't help but smile at her, upon seeing her like this.
Once everyone was assembled, they turned towards Lincoln and all wished him the best of luck. Lincoln thanked everyone for their support and, after a quick moment of mental preparation, everyone made their way through the office doors; hoping the visit would prove successful.
(Scene Change: Inside of Dr. Lopez's office)
Once inside; Lincoln took his place on the couch; while his sisters and four of the Gal Pals took their seats near the doctor's desk. Much to their confusion, however; they were all surprised to see that the room was completely empty. "What gives" murmured Lucy, "Carol had the appointment scheduled for 11:30; so, why isn't she here yet?"
As if on cue, the door suddenly swung open and Dr. Lopez came marching in. But everyone was surprised to see that she appeared rather (for lack of better words) frazzled. Everyone watched in silence as she took a seat in her chair, took out a water bottle, popped in an aspirin and drank it down with some of the water.
For a while now, no one spoke up; they just sat still and watched the doctor's mannerisms. While on the inside, everyone was unanimously wondering if they may have come at a bad time. Finally; Dr. Lopez noticed everyone and, in the blink of an eye, cleaned herself up.
"I'm so, so sorry; everyone" she murmured after clearing her throat, "I've just got finished with an...extremely long phone conversation/session with another patient of mine." While others like Carol and Dana wondered who could've held up their doctor, everyone else had a pretty good idea on who it might've been; Clyde. "It's really no trouble at all, Ma'am" Lucy murmured, "we're just thankful you agreed to help us out."
After that, Dr. Lopez began to shoot the breeze a little with Lincoln and his sisters; asking if everything was going well with them. "It has, Doctor...except for one thing" Lincoln said reluctantly with a shy blush, "which is the reason why my friend, Carol called you." After this, he began to tell Dr. Lopez everything; every incident that gave him this strong fear of the beach from his younger years to only a year ago.
To say the least; by the end of it, the therapist was not very pleased. "This is quite a problem" she sighed, "but at the very least, it's not quite as troubling as what you went through during your last visit." Lincoln gave Dr. Lopez a soft smile and nodded in agreement.
"Now then; from what Officer Campos told me, you appear to have a fear of beaches" the therapist muttered softly, "in truth, there are many specific phobias involving this topic." From here, she began to describe several of these to the group. Among these phobias were Thalassophobia, which was often considered a fear of salt water, waves or sea creatures and Aquaphobia, a fear of all kinds of water substances.
But much to everyone's surprise, not one of these suggestions seemed to match up with Lincoln's supposed fear. "As far as the latter idea is concerned, I am definitely not afraid of the water" he admitted, "I mean, I always look forward to Jordan's pool parties; whenever she may have them." With that settled, everyone went on to the idea of Thalassophobia and asked if there was anything specific on the beach that scared him?
"To be honest, there really isn't any one thing that scares me about the beach" he stated, "I mean, sure; I may get worried about getting sunburn or being caught up in the tide...but who hasn't." By the end, Dr. Lopez was both surprised yet confused by Lincoln's words. From the phone call she received, she was led to believe that Lincoln had a crippling fear about going to the beach.
"Tell us, then; dear" urged Dr. Lopez, "why do you feel so nervous about the outing; if you aren't deathly afraid of the ocean, the beach or things associated with either of them?" After taking a moment to give his sisters a sullen look, Lincoln let out a sigh and lied back on the couch. "See, I really do want to hang out with everyone at the party" he stated, "I'm just worried that something bad might happen, like all the other times."
After this, Dr. Lopez mentally repeated back the boy's words in her head and began to think of a proper analysis on everything she heard. While she worked, everyone else watched her in silence; wondering what she might be thinking of. The whole time this was going on; Dana, feeling slightly confused, asked what sort of "humiliating or tragic events" Lincoln was afraid of?
Immediately, Haiku beckoned the young lady over and began to whisper into her ear. As Dana continued listening; during several moments, her expressions began to shift from shock to disgust in the blink of an eye. By the end of it, she cast a tense glare towards the five Loud Sisters near Dr. Lopez's desk.
"Wow...and here I thought I've heard everything that happened between you guys" she murmured, "I don't know whether to feel angry...or disappointed in the lot of you." After hearing this, the Loud Sisters suddenly felt the full weight of their guilt fall onto them like cinder blocks. Things would've quickly become quite grim, after that; if Dr. Lopez didn't decide to quickly change the subject.
"There is also one other incident that happened at this location we've neglected to mention" Dr. Lopez interjected, "which is why I asked for you to be among the ones to join us, Miss Luan." Upon hearing the doctor address her, the young comedienne found herself becoming quite anxious. Without hesitation, Dr. Lopez immediately brought up the alleged "shark attack" that occurred at the shore six years ago.
"Before we learn the full story, I would like to know one thing first" she murmured, "why...why did you think that disguising yourself as a shark would be a 'fun' prank idea?" There was an uneasy silence, after that but Luan could tell that everyone else was thinking the exact same thing; that she had a messed up sense of humor. Finally, after mentally bashing herself for fifteen seconds; Luan answered with only seven simple words..."I just thought it would be funny."
After a brief moment of groaning, facepalming and soft mutters of "of course you did" or "typical;" Dr. Lopez decided it was time to get down to business. "In order to help you get through your anxiety, Lincoln; I propose we use a couple of methods" she explained, "first, we'll use a little bit of hypnosis." After hearing the idea, Lincoln and his sisters suddenly found themselves chuckling softly.
"Not trying to sound disrespectful here, Doctor" Lori muttered, "but according to my younger sister, Lisa; Hypnotism is literally nothing but nonsense." Upon hearing this, Haiku let out a soft "harrumph" and asked for Dr. Lopez to hand her a watch. Once she was given said item, the young Goth turned towards Lincoln and began to wave it in front of his eyes.
"Listen to me carefully, Lincoln" she whispered, "just relax, follow the watch and allow your mind to calm down." While still feeling rather doubtful that the plan would work, Lincoln followed his friend's instructions and took in some calming breaths. "Now, while this is going on; could someone hand me my phone please" Dr. Lopez asked, "I will need it for the next part of this practice."
Upon hearing the request; Whitney walked over to the desk, snatched up the phone and handed it to the doctor. Not long after that, she began looking up something in her music history. In time, Dr. Lopez found what she wanted and pressed the play button.
Mere seconds later, some calm beach sound effects began to play; causing a smile to creep onto Lincoln's face. "Now that you're relaxed, dear; close your eyes" Dr. Lopez whispered, "close your eyes and imagine nothing else around you, not even us." Following the therapist's instructions, Lincoln closed his eyes tight and continued his deep breathing.
Overtime, his mind began to drift away into a calmer state; until everything else around him.
(Inside of Lincoln's subconscious)
The next moment Lincoln opened his eyes, he found himself standing in the middle of a black void; which nearly caused him to panic. "Ah, crud...am I dead" he asked himself, "if I am, then...where am I?" For a moment or so, he tried study his surroundings (or lack there of) to get a proper understanding of his whereabouts.
But no matter where he turned, it all looked exactly the same; pure black emptiness. Soon, he felt a great sense of worry build up inside of him...until he heard a sound on coming from the right of his location. It was faint, admittedly but it almost sounded like the gentle passing of ocean tides.
No sooner had he heard this, Lincoln caught sight of a small orb of light in the distance. "Maybe that's the way out of here" he muttered, "better hurry in case it disappears or something." With that said, Lincoln raced off towards the light as fast as his legs would allow.
As he drew closer, Lincoln could hear more sounds coming from wherever this light led too. He suddenly heard sounds of laughter, meat sizzling on a grill, seagulls cawing and dance music; no doubt from either a radio playing or from Luna's own skills. "Sounds like the party is just getting started" he said with a broad smile, "I better hurry."
Within moments, Lincoln started to run harder like he never did before. Faster and faster he went, the sounds of merriment seeming much louder and closer than they were earlier. In time, Lincoln got so close that he swore he could feel the rays of the sun upon his face.
But then; just as he was inches away from reaching the source of the light, he suddenly heard sounds of panicked screaming. This was later followed by people either shouting for help or sobbing wildly with sorrow. "Somebody's in trouble" Lincoln exclaimed, "I knew this would happen...I gotta hurry and help them before it's too late!"
Without a second thought, he gave his legs a good stretch and rush towards the distance as fast as he could. As he drew closer to the orb of light, squinting his eyes slightly so as not to become blinded by it; the cries for help sounded much louder than before now. This time, however; he could also hear someone saying they were drowning.
"That sounded like one of the girls" Lincoln gasped, "I've gotta hurry; RUN FASTER, YOU STUPID LEGS!" With all the strength he could muster, Lincoln began to run so fast that his legs would snap off from underneath him. But with his friends possibly in danger, he didn't care how much pain he was in.
To Lincoln, all that mattered was that he got there in time to help.
(in the waking world)
Outside of his subconscious, Lincoln was flailing side to side on the couch and his legs were twitching violently; as if he were trying to run. While all this was going on; Dr. Lopez, Lincoln's sisters and the Gals watched over him worriedly. "Doc...is this normal" murmured Dana, "because it looks like Linky's having a seizure."
Dr. Lopez studied the boy's mannerisms closely and jotted them down onto her notepad. "It looks as though he is...running" she said mentally, "but is something chasing him or is he trying to get somewhere?" Then, much to everyone's shock; they suddenly saw tears trickling down Lincoln's cheeks and heard him whimpering softly with fear.
"Okay, this has gone on long enough" Becky said firmly, "we gotta wake up our pal before he ends up traumatized!" Dr. Lopez nodded in agreement but encouraged everyone to try and wake Lincoln gently. "If you startle him, he might unintentionally lash out at us" she whispered, "so, be careful."
With this in mind, Carol offered to be the first one to try and wake Lincoln up. She cautiously approached the couch, took Lincoln by his hand and began softly shushing him in a soothing manner. "It's okay, pal; don't cry" she whispered soothingly, "don't be scared, just follow my voice and wake up." Upon hearing this; Lincoln suddenly shot up off the couch and shouted "DON'T WORRY, I'LL SAVE YOU!"
No sooner had he said this, he made a beeline across the room and rammed into the wall; sending him flying onto the ground with a painful "thump." Concerned, the ladies all rushed to Lincoln's side and checked to see was okay. Thankfully, there were no signs of bruises or bleeding scars from his collision.
A moment later, Lincoln began to wake up again; this time more calmly. Once his vision cleared up proper, he spotted the girls standing over him; which caused him to almost tear up again. "YOU'RE ALIVE, THANK GOD" Lincoln exclaimed while hugging Carol tightly, "I thought I was too late, I heard someone screaming and...and..."
Sensing that he was on the verge of hyperventilating, Carol wrapped her arms around him in a tender hug; while also rocking him back and forth soothingly. "It's okay, Lincoln; you're safe now" she whispered, "it's okay...we're all okay." After a little more hugging, Lincoln had calmed down enough to take a seat back on the couch."
"Sorry about that, guys" he chuckled sheepishly, "I just...after I went to sleep, I had the weirdest kind of...not really a dream but something like a vision." Upon hearing this, Leni gasped and asked Lincoln if he had secretly been a psychic all their lives? "I do not think he has those kind of abilities, dear" Dr. Lopez said softly, "but tell us, Lincoln; what sort of vision did you have?"
After taking a moment to calm down, he explained his vision to everyone. He spoke of the dark void, the bright light in the distance, the sounds of his family and friends having fun at the beach and finally, the cries of someone drowning. "When I heard the last part, I started running like mad" Lincoln stated, "I kept going and going...but I didn't feel like I was getting any closer to wherever the light led to."
After hearing his story; all the ladies, young and old, gazed at Lincoln with sympathetic stares. Then, Dr. Lopez jotted down what she heard onto a piece of paper, fixed her glasses and softly cleared her throat. "Dear; after hearing everything you've said, I may have an idea of what's going on" Dr. Lopez stated, "the void you saw was a manifestation of your mind when it's clouded by the darkness of fear or worry."
Lincoln nodded slightly, thinking there might be some truth behind the therapist's words. "The light you saw was something representing your joy" Dr. Lopez explained, "as for the cries of your friends, it may have been your subconscious telling you something." Feeling both curious and mildly anxious, everyone asked what it was Lincoln's mind was trying to tell him.
"My boy, I understand your concerns about facing another failed outing to the shore with those you love" the doctor stated, "but the truth is...you can't let fear or anxiety keep you from experiencing any kind of wonderful memories." While there was no denying the truth behind her words, Lincoln still felt unsure of himself. "I understand, Doctor; I really do" he stated, "but...what if something happens and it turns out to be my fault?"
With this statement, the Loud Sisters decided to take action and all surrounded Lincoln in a semi-circle. "Lincoln, all those bad memories you've mentioned earlier...none of them were your doing" Lucy said softly, "half the time, it was either our fault they happened or just Madame Fate messing with us." The rest of her sisters murmured in full agreement, each one of them sharing a little bit of blame for Lincoln's troubles.
"But what about when I was the tie-breaker vote that one time" questioned Lincoln, "it was bad enough I chose the one place you all hated for our vacation spot but I made you all wait on me hand and foot as well." The six Loud Sisters present suddenly found themselves being mildly crushed under a weight of guilt. True, Lincoln did anger them a little by not only tricking them into pampering him; which later led to him acting as their own man servant while camping.
But the main reason he acted that way was because he enjoyed being showered with affection or kindness by his sisters for once (even though it wasn't entirely pure sisterly love.) It didn't help their case either when the girls remembered all the indignities they subjected Lincoln to...just so one side could get his vote. With all this in mind, the Loud Sisters felt they knew exactly what to say next.
"What happened that day was one of those misdemeanor things, Bro" Luna assured, "besides, we all shoulda just let you come to a decision on your own; instead of trying to manipulate you." Lincoln sat silently for a moment, allowing his sister's words to sink in. Then, he looked towards Luna and offered her a soft smile of understanding.
"I guess you have a point there" he muttered, "but nobody answered my earlier question, what if something happens during the party and it's my fault?" Without hesitation, everyone chuckled softly and reminded that virtually anything can happen at the shore. "I suppose you'll be the one we'll blame if someone loses their trunks in the water" Carol murmured jokingly, "or if the ice cream truck rolls away before we can get to it...or wait, what about when a seagull poops on one of us?"
At first, Lincoln thought his friend/guardian was actually mocking him due to her choice of words. But after a while, he realized she was only ribbing him and Lincoln let out a soft chuckle later. "The point I'm trying to make here, sweetie is that in life...anything can happen" Officer Simmons stated firmly, "but the best things you can do are be prepared or just roll with the punches."
Dr. Lopez couldn't help but agree with the officer's words, proclaiming that she couldn't have said it any better herself. "She's right, Linky; even if something does happen to one of us, if not all of us...we'll still have a good time" Dana stated, "as long as we're all together, that's what matters." Soon after this, the Loud Sisters began to cheer in agreement; which caused Lincoln's heart to swell.
"You're right, ladies" he stated, "I can't let fear hold me back from enjoying time with friends and ones; I'm gonna face whatever the world throws at me!" With that declaration, everyone cheered and embraced Lincoln joyfully. Afterwards, Dr. Lopez declared that the session was a possible success; while still reminding everyone to exercise proper caution.
"Now, go have fun at your celebration" she said with a smile, "if anything happens that you find concerning, let me know right away." Everyone took the therapist's advice to heart, thanked her for her time and left the office building. "Now, with that settled; we can resume our party preparations" Whitney cried with joy, "all in favor?"
With nary a pause, everyone let out a hearty "aye" in response; including Lincoln.
Days later, the big beach party had officially begun and the entire neighborhood showed up to take part in it. Haiku smiled happily as her friends from the Junior Morticians Club buried her in the sand, Joey and Chaz were playing a game of volleyball against Lynn Jr. and Cici, the Loud Parents chatted with the McBride Couple (Harold and Howard) while sharing some fruit salad Lynn Sr. made and many of the Gal Pals' parents were setting up plates and utensils out for lunch. This truly was a joyful scene, to say the least.
But overtime, Jordan looked around and noticed something seemed to be missing. "Uh, Carol...I thought you said Lincoln would be joining us" she stated, "where did you say you saw him last?" After scratching her chin for a moment, Carol remembered she saw him going to the changing rooms to put on his suit.
"Of course, that was about fifteen minutes ago" she whispered suspiciously, "he couldn't have ditched us, right?" With this thought in mind; Carol walked up to her pet corgi, Alistair and asked him to help find Lincoln for her. The pup gave his master a small bark of agreement and he took off away from their picnic area.
Thirty seconds later, Alistair had found his quarry; who had chosen to take refuge inside of the changing booth. "Lincoln, have you been in there this whole time" Carol asked with a raised eyebrow, "the fun's about to start, don't you want to join us?" For a moment, Lincoln didn't answer; fearing of how she might react to his response.
First, he considered saying something like he was "having trouble with his suit." But Lincoln quickly realized that Carol would easily be able to tell if he was lying. Then, he thought of saying that his stomach was bothering him and that he didn't feel up to go swimming.
But there again, he realized that Carol would still know he was lying. At the same time; on the off chance she did believe him, he feared that Lisa might use some sort of elixir to help "cure" him. So; in the end, he decided to come clean and tell the truth.
"I know I promised you guys and Dr. Lopez I'd give this a shot" Lincoln murmured, "but I still can't shake this feeling that something...somehow could go wrong and then..." Before he could continue, Lincoln and Carol suddenly heard the sounds of someone screaming for help. They turned around with a fright and spotted the source of the noise.
Much to their horror; they spotted Cristina far out in the water, flailing her arms frantically and crying for someone to save her. In an instant, Lincoln forgot about his own nervousness and rushed towards the shore. Upon their arrival, they immediately asked what happened.
"She was out swimming near the shore, when a riptide flowed over and started pulling her out" Cristina's mother explained, "if she gets too far out, nobody will be able to save her!" After hearing all this, everyone started screaming for the lifeguard. Unfortunately, the group was too far away for any of the officials to hear them. Not wishing to tarry for much longer, Lincoln placed his fingers into his mouth and let out the loudest whistle he could muster.
As luck would have it; one of the female lifeguards on duty heard the noise, saw the group waving at them and finally noticed Cristina slowly being pulled out into deeper waters. "Let's move people, we've got a rescue mission" she said in an authoritative voice, "grab your gear and run like you've never done before!" The others nodded in understanding, snatched up their gear and rushed over to the shore.
When they arrived, Cristina's parents gave the patrol the quickest explanation they could and the lifeguards immediately went to work. "Please, let me go with you" Lincoln begged, "she's my friend and I have to help her." At first, the head lifeguard was prepared to say no.
But because they were all pressed for time, she decided to let him come. After grabbing the floatation buoys, everyone leapt into the water and swam for dear life. The whole time they swam, Lincoln mentally prayed over and over that his friend/former crush was still okay.
When they arrived, however; they saw the poor girl sinking slightly under the water. "OH, MY GOD" cried Lincoln in horror, "HANG ON, CRISTINA; I'LL SAVE YOU!" With that said, he dove down under the water after his friend; leaving everyone to watch in desperate anticipation.
After almost twenty seconds, there was no sign of either of them. But then, one of the lifeguards saw a white blot soaring up towards the surface and took hold of his rescue buoy. In an instant, Lincoln popped out of the water; holding Cristina close to him and taking in deep lungfuls of air.
He then handed her over to one of the lifeguards, who secured his buoy around the girl's chest to help keep her afloat and everyone swam back to shore as hard as they could. Thinking quickly, everyone on the beach decided to try and help them out. After everyone joined hands, forming into a human chain; those at the front walked out into the water until they were within reach of the team.
In time, Carol was able to grab hold of Lincoln's hands; while her parents grabbed those of the head lifeguard. Everyone pulled and heaved with all their might until everyone arrived safely back on the shore. Afterwards, the patrol unsecured Cristina and began to check for life signs.
For a minute or two, the men and women said nothing; which made everyone very worried. Finally, the head lifeguard turned towards everyone and said that Cristina was still alive...but barely. "She needs immediate CPR to expel the water from her lungs" she said matter-of-factly, "we will need volunteers to help us out."
Without hesitation, Lincoln immediately stepped forward and offered to help. "Like my other friends, this girl helped me out during my worst moments" he stated, "now, it's time I return the favor." After a brief pause, the lifeguard patrol happily welcomed his assistance and began to instruct him on what to do.
The whole time he was either blowing air into Cristina's lungs or pressing his palms down against her chest, his mind was racing with fearful thoughts. "I knew it, I knew something like this might happen" he said mentally, "now, one of my friends is gonna die and it might be my fault!" As Lincoln continued to work his CPR methods on his friend, tears of sorrow began to pour down his cheeks while he mentally repeated the words "it's my fault" in his head over and over.
Then; all of a sudden, he felt something smack against his cheek lightly; snapping him out of his train of thought. When he opened his eyes, Lincoln was greeted by a wonderful sight. Below him, he saw Cristina; tired, waterlogged but still happily smiling and very much alive.
"Sorry for slapping you, Lincoln" the girl said with a slight cough, "but you were close to crushing my chest, a moment ago and I had to stop you." After a moment or two of silence, Lincoln happily embraced his lady friend; not caring about everyone else watching them. "I'm so happy you're okay, Cristina" he muttered tearfully, "I was so worried that you...that you might've..."
Cristina smiled at Lincoln slightly and, before he could finish his words, kissed him lightly on the lips. Mildly shocked by this gesture, Lincoln felt his face blush a light shade of red; which caused his friends to giggle softly. "You're a hero, buddy" Clyde said with great praise, "I've never seen you swim like that in a long time."
The whole crowd cheered loudly, after that; happily praising Lincoln for his rescue. But many of them failed to notice the look of distress that was forming on his face. When the Gal Pals noticed this, three seconds later; they approached him and asked what was wrong.
"Everything that happened just now...it's exactly what happened in my vision I talked about back at Dr. Lopez's office" he murmured, "from the laughter, the fun...right up to hearing someone screaming for help." Feeling both concerned and confused, Lincoln's parents asked for an explanation for their son's words. "Long story short, Mom and Dad; the whole reason Lincoln didn't feel like coming here, at first was out of the fear that something bad might happen" Lucy explained, "even more so, he was paranoid in thinking he would be the cause of whatever the bad thing might be."
The whole time Lincoln listened to his sister's words, he suddenly started to feel...rather silly. While his fears were justified, in a way; by letting them hold him back, Lincoln almost lost a friend. When Lucy had concluded her story, all eyes fell upon him; as if they were expecting to hear his side.
"I know it sounds stupid, guys" he murmured shamefully, "but I just didn't want everyone's fun to be ruined...because of me." For what felt like ages, everyone stood silent; as if trying to process Lincoln's words. Then; Mrs. Loud approached him, patted Lincoln reassuringly on the shoulder and gave him the brightest of smiles ever.
"Honey, you can't let the past hold you back from living in the moment" she stated, "sometimes...things happen and the best thing we can do is stay strong and roll with the punches." Upon hearing his mother say all this, Lincoln couldn't help but laugh a little. "That's the same thing Dr. Lopez told me, the other day" he admitted, "and you know what, you're right; I can't let paranoia hold me back from having fun, I've gotta live!" With that; he picked up a bucket, turned towards his friends and said "who wants to go hunt for seashells?!"
Everyone cheered with joy at Lincoln's newfound enthusiasm and happily raised their hands; hoping a few of them would be allowed to join him.
Sometime later, Lincoln was in his room; throwing away what looked like a large book into a trash can. "There we go; outta sight, outta mind" he said with a smile, "now, I can make room for my new beach scrapbook." As he placed another brand new photo album upon his dresser, he looked ahead and smiled at the viewer/reader.
"Today was a really great day" he said with a pleased sigh, "not only did I conquer my fear, I also got to indulge in all the activities I so richly wanted to do...you wanna see the snapshots?" After waiting for the reader/viewer's approval, he plugged in his flash drive into his computer and brought up all the photos either he himself or the others took at the party. There was a pic of Haiku burying him in the sand, one of Jordan and Carol going snorkeling with him, one of him playing beach volleyball with a few of his friends...which resulted in him falling onto his face once or twice.
There were also a few "silly moments" Phoebe took snapshots off that she just couldn't resist. Among these was one of Chaz being knocked over from behind by a wave, one featuring Alistair (Carol's dog) tugging on the bottom of Dana's bikini (almost pulling it off completely,) one showing Clyde going through many oysters hoping to find a pearl for Lori and many others. "The last of these pics was...a tad embarrassing" Lincoln mumbled, "long story short; I thought I applied sunscreen, at one point...but it turned out to be tanning oil."
To prove his words were true, Lincoln brought up one of the last pictures on his drive; one that featured looking as brown as a caramel candy. "Bad news is some people said I looked like a younger version of one of those Jersey Shore guys" he mumbled, "but the good news is the tan will only last two weeks...and some of the girls said I looked 'cute' with a tan."
The next pic after the tan one showed Jordan, Stella, Cristina and even some others on the shore winking and giving him "flirty" expressions. "I'm not so sure tan is really my kind of look; to be honest, though" Lincoln mumbled with a light blush on his cheeks, "but in the end, this was a great beach day...and I can't wait till next time!" At that moment, there was a light beeping sound coming from his phone on the dresser.
He snatched it up and saw that it was a voicemail from Carol. "Wonder what's up" Lincoln murmured, "I hope everybody's okay, after all the fun." After taking a seat on the bed; he pushed play on the voicemail, placed the phone next to Bun-Bun and relaxed while he listened. "Hey, Linky; it's me...but I suppose you might've guessed that already" Carol's voice giggled, "just wanted to call and tell you Cristina's doing fine, her folks can't stop talking about how brave you were in rescuing their 'little sweetie.'"
Lincoln found himself blushing a little, both due to his sense of humility telling him "it was no big deal" and from the fact that he was happy Cristina was safe. "Anywho, I'm happy you overcame your nervousness and were able have so much fun with all of us" she gushed warmly, "which is why I was wondering...how do you feel about doing it again near the end of the month or after the 4th of July?" After that; there was a brief "call me back when you get the chance" and then, after she said goodbye, the message ended.
For a moment or two, Lincoln sat in silence; thinking about Carol's offer. Then with a broad, bucktoothed smile forming across his face; he picked up his phone and sent an immediate reply to Carol that read "count me in." After that, he decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood and show off his tan; while he still had it.
(First AN: Thus ends the first oneshot in my anthology and thus begins the Summer Arc. Said arc will consist of three or four other oneshots, each one revolving around a different summer activity/event. Then, we'll come to the Fall Arc; which will start with Lincoln's first day of Middle School.
What other adventures will Lincoln and the Gal Pals have next? Tune in next time, to find out.)
(Second AN: As I said, this story will become part of an anthology series; which is a collection of oneshot adventures revolving around Lincoln and the Gal Pals. These stories will have little connections with each other, as well as with the original story of Gal Pals. Think of this anthology as something like...The Casagrandes arc of episodes featured in Season Four of the Loud House.
I hope that makes enough sense to you all and I hope you like this starter oneshot.)
(Third AN: I know that what Lincoln was experiencing here wasn't really a "fear" of the ocean or the beach. But after a few bad experiences involving said location. It makes a little sense that he would feel a touch anxious about going there again.
Hopefully next time, no one else will be drowning during the next beach party.)
(Final AN: Sorry if this oneshot seems a little long, I wanted this to feel like it's as long as an actual episode of the show.)