Chapter 1: The beginning

I guess it started on my sixteenth birthday. Well, actually, it started years before that, but we got involved around my sixteenth birthday.

My name is Koosh. Well, not really. I'd tell you my real name, but no-one uses it anyway. No-one uses Frog or Ekl's real names either, but I'll get to them in a minute.

I'm medium in height and weight, I guess, with long brown hair and blue-grey eyes. Fairly basic appearance, you probably wouldn't pick me out of a crowd, unless the crowd were people with pink hair or something. My only really distinguishing feature is my boobs. Yes, I realise that generally, if someone says they have a big chest on the internet, it means they're fat. That's not my case. I'm reasonably small around the waist, but my bust means I have to buy a size up in T-shirts. And to all of the girls out there, who want bigger boobs, count yourself lucky. You can always buy a push up bra, or pad your bra up, or something. Me, on the other hand, I can't make my chest smaller, and I hate it.

I'm a writer, or I'd like to be. Yes, I've written stuff and put it on the internet, and I must be doing something right, because I have a few people who really seem to enjoy my work. Maybe that's why I'm writing this. Maybe I'm just venting my feelings out on the world through this. I don't know. The main thing is I'm writing it all down.

I mentioned Frog and Ekl a paragraph up or so. I said I'd tell you about them.

Ekl is one of my best friends. She's shorter than me, slightly bigger around the middle, with dark brown hair that's cut shorter than mine, and blue eyes. She got her nickname ages ago when typing in the word "Elliott" onto the computer. She was looking for a cricketer or something. Anyway, she ended up typing "Ekl" instead, and the name kind of stuck. She's into all of that Japanese anime with the American names and dubbing, such as Pokemon, CrushGear, BeyBlades, etc. She's yet to get into YuGiOh, but by my reckoning, it's only a matter of time. I'll admit it now, I also like Pokemon. And I love the Japanese cartoon anime style. But I'm not as hooked on it as I used to be, or as Ekl is now.

Frog is my other best friend. He's taller than me by a few centimetres, and I've known him since grade four. I don't know Frog's natural hair colour, it's been dyed leafy green since I met him. Before that, even. I don't know his real name, no-one does, and I think even his parents have forgotten it. They just signed him into school as "Frog E. Walker", and it's never changed. Maybe "Frog" is the given name on his birth certificate, I don't know. He had green eyes, covered slightly by his longish hair, and quite a nice looking face. And body. Girls from other schools faint when he walks past. I feel lucky to be his friend, but our relationship has never gotten any further than that. Frog is good at a lot of things. He's pretty good at sports, mainly throwing and hitting sports, and is a champion swimmer. However, his main talent is computers. There isn't a computer on Earth he can't hack into, and I'm surprised he hasn't been caught yet. Frog doesn't like much else apart from his computer and his sports. He takes his friends very seriously, which I'm grateful for, and his stamp collection, which, yes, is a bit nerdy and stereotypical of his computer skills, but what are you going to do?

I should probably mention now that Frog and Ekl don't like each other a lot. In fact, they're always teasing each other, Frog's usually better at it than Ekl. I asked them why they put up with each other, one day, and I swear, they both answered in unison "Because I'm your friend, and if I have to put up with him/her, then fine." Then they went back to fighting about cars or something else just as stupid.

We live in a small town. Well, Frog and I live on farms about an hour out, but Ekl lives in town. The town is based around a lake, about four feet deep, and well over three or four kilometres around. It can get a little empty in the summer, but it gets filled up with water the farmers don't use at the end of the season. The town has maybe eight hundred, nine hundred people in it; a true country town. Most of the farm area around here is sheep and a few cattle, but there is grain over the far side of the town. However, it is so dry here, that even the cactus look dried out and brown. Although it might sound like it, I don't live in the red centre of Australia. I live further down south, in central Victoria. I won't bother you with the name of the town, it's unnecessary information.

I live on a small farm, in the middle of nothing. Frog's place is about a twenty minute walk from our farm, just up the road, really. We have a mix of animals on our farm. There's two dozen sheep or so, half a dozen cows, a small flock of ducks, geese and chickens, plus the dog, Lu. No horses, unfortunately. The only other animals are a family of feral cats. There are seven or eight of them, and all of them have names. You can't pat them, or go within five feet of them, they're too wild. Dad would like to have them shot, but they seem to disappear at the sign of danger. Frog's place is much the same, except with fewer feral cats and three horses.

I said it started around my sixteenth birthday, but I never told you what. You'll know soon enough, I guess.

It was at school, in the computer room before the bell went for first class. It was my birthday, and Ekl and Frog had pulled me aside to give me presents.

I enjoy the things my friends get me. They seem to really know me well. Frog doesn't follow Pokemon, yet he knows enough to actually get me something worth while. Last year, it was a life sized Flareon toy from eBay. If Frog isn't doing something illegal on the net, he's on eBay, even though it's meant to be blocked by the school computers. Like I said, Frog can get past computer system. Ekl is good with presents, too. She has a flare for finding interesting stuff. The year before the last, she found me a rare book I'd been looking for from a second hand book store. I'd combed that shop from shelf to shelf, and I missed it completely, so I was very surprised when she gave it to me. So I was looking forward to this year, especially when they hinted that they'd found me some very special gifts.

"Open mine first," Ekl pleaded, thrusting a purple, glittering package at me. I opened the card, cooed at the cat on the front, and thanked her for the message inside ("Happy 16th, lots of love") before turning my attention to the present. It may sound very shallow of me to be more interested in the gift than the thought behind it, but that's not the case. I knew my friends spent hours, sometimes even days looking for the right present. I do the same for them. Ok, so maybe it's easier to shop for Ekl than Frog, but all the same, I make sure there isn't anything more perfect than what I've picked.

I ran my finger under the sticky tape holding the parcel closed, and ripped it open quickly. Inside was a shoe box. It was an old joke of ours that if we got a small present, we had to put it into a bigger box. The shoe box was lined with tissue paper, and held a small, red velvet box in the centre. I took out the velvet box and opened it, Ekl watching me excitedly. It was a silver brooch, about two to three centimetres in diameter, of a small flame. It glinted in the light, and I knew she must have spent a small fortune on it.

"It's excellent," I told Ekl, giving her a one armed 'thank you' hug.

"Here's mine," Frog said, dumping his present on the table in front of me. This one was covered in a thin, rice paper, probably specially ordered off the internet. I didn't bother looking for a card; that wasn't Frog's style. I opened the present carefully, as the paper was way too nice to ruin by ripping it apart. The present was obviously not small, I could tell by the weight. Frog looked smug; he thought his present was going to be better than Ekl's. When I saw what was inside, I frowned and picked it up.

It was a belt with six Pokeballs attached to it.