(A/N: Yes, it's the not-so-long-awaited sequel to "The Shoemaker's Son." Although I tried to give some background in order to make this story relatively independent of the previous one, it is HIGHLY recommended you read Shoemaker's Son first, since the vast majority of the set-up for this one occurs in the final chapters of SS. As usual, the first chapter is probably the worst; this is still in a rough draft, so be gentle. REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW, and maybe I'll send you a pie.)
The Eyes of the Beholder
Strange scenes were not uncommon in Whispering Rock Summer Camp, although this one certainly would have raised a few eyebrows.
The first strange thing about it was that it featured a tall, beautiful woman whose short, tight-fitting dress didn't belong in a summer camp. Her heavy Brazilian accent, combined with voluptuous hair past her waist and carefully applied mascara, made her a perfect applicant for a beauty contest—but definitely not a summer camp.
The other strange thing is that she was talking to a very old man. His nose was crooked, his eyes unfocused and one of them bulging. Nearly bald, a ring of static white hair formed a halo around his head. Dressed in overalls and pink bunny slippers, he was the last person in the world you'd expected the woman to be talking to.
Stranger still, they weren't talking over dinner. They were talking over a toilet, which the old man was trying ferociously to unclog.
Their names were Milla Vodello and Ford Cruller, and they were both Psychonauts—secret psychic agents—and this was probably the strangest thing of all.
"I know I shouldn't have been prying," Milla fretted, wringing her hands and delicately hopping from side to side on her high-heeled boots, "but you know how he gets. I only wanted to find out why. I'd never been in his head before, he's always so closed, and I only wanted to help."
"How many times have I told you?" asked Ford, emphasizing each word with a plunge. "He's like he is for a reason and you need to leave the boy alone!"
"But darling. I think he's insane."
"He's not insane. He's German," said Ford, jiggling the handle on the toilet experimentally. "Watch it, it's going to overflow."
Milla levitated a few feet above the ground, which was quickly submerged in water. She crossed her arms, concern painted all over her face.
"You don't understand. He's been sick forever, and I was really worried, so I might have accidentally protected into his mind—"
"Since when was astral projection accidental?"
"Ford, his mind is empty. I mean, completely empty. It's not like anything I've ever seen before. Except…" Milla hesitated. Ford, unconcerned, was up to his elbows in the toilet. "…except his mind is filled with shoes," she said in a rush. "Mental shoes."
"So he's got a few figments in his imagination. No reason to accuse his noggin of being fried," said Ford. "Milla, I thought you knew better. You've been partners with Sasha for years. You know he's not crazy. Now me, I'm crazy. But Sasha? Naw. How can I explain this? Ehh… he's… like a toilet."
Milla stared at Ford, too stunned even to ask him not to compare her partner (and best friend) to a toilet.
"The more you force him, the less he'll want to cooperate," said Ford, brandishing the toilet plunger for emphasis.
"You don't understand, dearheart. His mind isn't normal. No memories. No personality. Just… shoes. Even if they were figments, if he has nothing but figments, then he must be living in some kind of kooky shoe fantasy all the time."
"So maybe he's got a fetish," said Ford simply, leaning all his weight on the plunger. "Eh, what can you do? I told you, he's German."
"That is not funny. He needs help."
"Help, Schmelp. He ain't crazy, Milla. Give him his room, and stop prying. Like I said, he's like a toilet. If you try to confront him, he'll just get mad and spew crap at you."
"Stop saying he's like a toilet!"
"And you better not jiggle his handle, either, because he'll only—"
"You're hopeless!" cried Milla, throwing up her hands and storming out. Which was just as well, because a moment later, the plumbing exploded in a violent eruption of stagnant water.