Chapter One: A Long Awaited Job
"Ash, Ash! Wake up!" A small green haired girl shouted, with much excitement, as she ran up the old wooden stairs. Her white dress waved as she ran. She scurried down the hallway past two shut doors to the only open one the end. She smiled as she entered the room that Ash slept in.
Ash was deep in sleep, though, and couldn't hear that the girl was trying to get his attention. His mouth was wide open, saliva flowing out like a waterfall, a soft snoring sound blasted as he breathed through his nostrils. His blue top and bottom of his pajamas were ruffled up just like the sheets on his bed were. The young girl placed her hands on her hips and made a frown as she observed untidiness of the sheets hanging off the bed.
"Why are boys such messy sleepers?" She said to herself, "I never used to make this much of a mess when I slept."
The young girl turned around and peered down the hall at the first closed door on her right, she was reminded of the times when she had the ability to sleep. A swelling a sadness overcame her, a tear would of escaped her eye, but her heart cried what her eyes could not. Quickly, she broke the almost hypnotic hold that room had on her and dismissed her feelings. She continued to yell at the sleeping boy.
"Ash, get up now! You have to check this out!" She shouted again stopping her feet one the floor, although they made no sound. All the power she had to wake him up was her voice which could not be raised any louder.
After much more yelling Ash began to stir. He tossed and turned a bit and then finally he made a wet smacking noise with his lips.
"My…mouth is dry…" he mumbled with his eyes closed.
"Ash, hurry up! It's really important!" The girl practically begged.
Ash scratched his head through is tangled mess of dark blue hair and stretched his arms out as he rose up. The sun shone into his sleepy half opened eyes. He turned his head away then rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, then finally began to make an effort to open them up all the way.
"Marona, what's up? You seem to be shouting more than usual." Ash teased.
Marona crossed her arms and made a nagging face. "Ash, finally you woke up. There's a bunch of new Bottle Mail for you down stairs. One of them is red, it must be urgent."
"More mail? I don't want to bother with it." He growled as he walked past Marona. She frowned.
Marona followed Ash out of the room and tried to convince him to check the mail, "Ash, what if the red ones a job offer. We could really use the money."
Ash knew Marona had a good point. Ash needed the job badly, the rent was overdue for the island and he was lucky Sienna was being so gracious to let them stay. Ash halted right before the stairs and rubbed his eyes with one hand. Marona stopped right behind him.
"Ok, I'll check the mail, but only the red one, because it must be important. I don't like opening junk mail."
"I know how much you hate junk mail, Ash; it's really weird that we started getting in the first place, though. When Jasmine and Haze were alive we never got any junk mail at all."
Marona's statement cut through Ash like a sword. Marona still hadn't figured out, in these years, what the junk mail really was or why it was being sent. If Marona knew, she would understand why Ash dreaded checking the mail, but Ash was determined to never let her find out that the "junk mail" was actually hate mail. He was too ashamed.
"Marona, you haven't opened any of the Bottle Mail have you?" Ash questioned, not turning to her.
"No, Ash, I would never do that, it's addressed to you. Besides I can't really open it that well without tangible hands."
Ash felt relieved and continued to walk downstairs. Marona never really messed with the mail often; she just announced its presence, so she didn't know that the little Bottle Mails would gladly show you the letter they carried if you asked.
Surely enough when Ash finished down the stairs right in to the kitchen three Bottle mail were roaming around the floor. When they noticed the presence of Ash and Marona they quickly lined up ready to deliver their messages. The red on was in front and the two light-yellowish ones were in back.
"How'd they get in the kitchen if you can't open the door?" Ash queried.
"They stacked on each other and opened the door. It was really funny to watch, but so cute." Marona squeezed her hands together.
Ash crouched down and pulled the cork out of the red one. It's little string like arms were crossed. He then pulled out the message. It was a clean white piece of paper scrolled up neatly. Marona tried to peek her head over Ash's shoulder to see.
"Is it a job?" Marona asked bobbing in excitement.
Ash uncurled the paper, took a quick look and put it up on the table he was crouching beside. "It's a just a notice from Sienna. She says we are almost two months behind."
Marona stood still, "Aw, how are we gonna pay her without a job?"
"I don't know, Marona? She gave another whole month to get the money and we have almost used it up. She's being lenient with us because my parents knew her well, but she still is running a business and she can't just give us the island."
"Well, maybe the other two Bottle Mail have something good." Marona said with hope.
"I'll check." Ash moved to the next Bottle Mail.
Ash pulled the letter out unrolled it. It read:
Stop giving my child nightmares! I know it's you and your demons! Why don't you just leave him alone? Or do your evil powers come from the fears of us HUMANS?"
Ash crumbled the letter in anger and threw it across the room. "Stupid people!" He roared.
Marona didn't say anything and assumed it was junk mail.
Ash angrily moved on to the next Bottle Mail. He expected to find another hate letter, but took the risk anyway. He was becoming desperate for a job. Ash held in breath, as he opened the final Bottle Mail. He took out the piece of paper and unraveled it. From his observations it appeared it didn't seem to be a hate letter so he began to read aloud.
Come to the Monetopia Circus! Join ringmaster Hamm and his amazing crew as they do death-defying stunts, tame wild beasts and just act plain silly. Our new star attraction, Putty, and his hilarious antics are sure to tickle your funny…"
Ash stopped reading.
"This is garbage, but since when does the circus advertise in the mail?"
"I've never heard of it." Marona commented.
Ash rolled it back and set it on the table. Then he walked to front door, located conveniently in the kitchen, and opened it. The three little Bottle Mail ran out. Marona smiled at them wobbling as they left. She then looked at the paper Ash crumbled and the paper he set on the table next to Sienna's note. She noticed something.
"Ash, the circus letter! Take another look at it."
"Huh?" Ash sounded.
"I think there is something on the back of it." Marona stated.
Ash walked over to the table and took another look at the ad. Just as Marona thought, something was written on the back.
Please come to the village of Terest. We are on a small island on the outskirts of the Island of Terra Firma. We will pay for your help."
"Terest, never heard of them." Ash said.
"Well, its job right?" Marona pointed out.
"Right, so I should hurry and get ready. Then we should hire some phantoms."
"Hire some? Aren't I a good enough phantom, Ash?" Marona asked in disappointed voice.
"Of course you're a good phantom, Marona, but we shouldn't take any risks. I don't want to want you to be on your own fighting monsters. What if you get hurt?" Ash concerned
"Ash, I won't get hurt. I'm already dead. Beside I only can feel pain as long as I'm confined, but when that's over so is the pain. I guess you could say it's like dying again." Marona smiled.
"Marona, please don't say things like that. It sounds so sad. I already saw you d…never mind. I'm gonna get ready." Ash walked up the stairs leaving Marona in the kitchen to wait.
Marona stood silent.