This story is jointly dedicated to my offline friend Leah (who'll probably never read this), Lydia from Beetlejuice, and Bob Hoskins' performance as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, all of whom in some way inspired my main character.
Continuity notes: There's no place in the story that I can really put this without a certain level of awkwardness, so I'll get it over with here. This is sort of "Roger Rabbit"-verse, with toons actually being actors for their TV shows rather than just drawings in front of a camera. It's not vital to the plot to get so far into it, but for excellent explanations of this kind of thing I suggest you read KitchenSink's "The Burbank Confession" and Insane Logic's "The Curious Incident of the Toon in the Nighttime"; both are very good fics and both writers are much better at explaining the "living toons" concept than I am. In addition to the other issue, there's a slight time discrepancy involving the fifteenth anniversary of Edward Scissorhands and the release of Animaniacs volume one, but it's just one year, so PLEASE just ignore it. It's really not that big a deal.
EDIT: I CAN'T BELIEVE IT TOOK ME THIS LONG TO REALIZE THAT THIS WASN'T HERE!! A HUGE THANK-YOU TO BANJKAZFAN AND WAKKORYAN FOR AGREEING TO PLAY BIT PARTS IN THIS FIC!
I've rambled enough. And now, on to...
Not Your Average Hostage Drama
(The Illustrious Crackpot)
Introduction to the Psycho (That's Me)
Every morning I've woken up to an empty house.
At least, for the past six months. OK, year. Well, it certainly hasn't been more than a year and a half.
For the past two years, I've woken up every morning to an empty house.
I love how responsible my parents are. As soon as I hit puberty, they automatically assumed that I could take care of myself. And while this is something most teens would kill for, it's not that fun. Especially when your parents are rabid globetrotters on self-proclaimed missions to "bring fortune to those less fortunate"—meaning that they go around pretending to raise funds for third-world countries and then go drink tea with others who're supposedly doing the same thing. All while leaving their impressionable young daughter in California to fend for herself.
All right, so I'm futzing bitter. Why shouldn't I be? My life's been messed up since I was born; when it came time to sign my birth certificate, my parents couldn't agree whether to name me Leah or Lydia. So they compromised.
Who wouldn't be bitter with a crappy name like Lydeah?
Well, at least I got to be abandoned in a modern world. As long as you pay your bills and don't kill anyone, nobody questions a thing.
I groan, screwing my eyes further shut as I roll groggily onto my side, pulling the covers with me like a giant tidal wave. It's too effing bright at eight AM, even in June. Burying my face in the quilt, I try to go back to sleep, but it's too late. Slowly the covers slip downwards a little, and a forehead, eyes and nose emerge. The sun, of course, being the demonic ball of gas that it is, immediately decides to fry out my retinas with an intensive blast of light.
With a strangled curse word I hurl the covers away and jolt upwards, bending nearly double in my speed. Long, tangled locks of black hair sweep forward across my neck, itching so badly that I'm forced to rake clawlike fingernails up and down the skin until it's red.
As red as it can be, anyways. Oh, who'm I kidding, dammit, it isn't red at all. It'd clash too much with the pasty white.
Heaving another massive grumble, I rudely shove the offending hair out of the way and shield my eyes from the sun, at the same time smoothing down the big Dresden Dolls T-shirt I'm wearing in lieu of "proper" pajamas. My eyes still aren't fully open, and I grope for the curtains, intending to shut them and block out the damned orb. Instead—and this is an example of total effing brilliance—I lean too far out of the bed and instead fall flat on the floor with a splat and a yelp, slamming my chin against the aptly-named hardwood.
"Well. At least I'm awake."
Rubbing my chin with a fist, I manage to clumsily push myself off the floor, at last successfully grabbing the damn curtains and pulling them closed. The room is instantly darker, a sea of shadows with indistinct outlines.
Finding the dresser more easily in the dark than I could have in the blinding brightness, I grab a pair of jeans and tug them on, not even bothering to change my T-shirt. I've only slept in it for one night, after all. Besides, who's gonna rag on me about it?
A few minutes later I'm tromping down the stairs to the kitchen, again attacking the living banshee hair attempting to strangle me and/or chafe my neck off. "Good morning, Mom and Dad!" I yell at the top of my lungs, not even hiding the sarcastic note as I yank open the kitchen door. Empty, as expected. I honestly can't care less.
Once I enter the room, I immediately go over to the giant window overlooking the sink, where the hideous sun is also trying to break in. I twist the cord for the blinds, closing it about three-quarters of the way, and use the zebra pattern forming on the table as my source of light.
You don't need a heck of a lot of light to eat a nutritious breakfast of potato chips and Coca-Cola.
I grimace at the empty room as I chew, letting my gaze linger on the grimy countertop. There are dark patches here and there on the marble, hinting to me that I should probably clean it soon. Maybe next week. Although that isn't futzing likely either.
Then, as if magnetically, my gaze is drawn to The Drawer. Yes, with capital letters like that. I kinda start twitching, and I have to put my Coke down and plunk myself in a chair facing the opposite direction.
The Drawer contains a gun—The Gun. I honestly don't know what kind it is, just...a small black handgun of some sort, maybe a revolver. It's—my parents put it in the drawer "for my own protection", in case of a burglar or something. But I've kept it locked. And I've hidden the key somewhere no one else can find it.
All right, I'm the traditional emo teenager and all that crap. That doesn't mean I'm not nervous about certain weapons.
I'm just trying to get my mind off The Drawer when I suddenly spot the calendar hanging slipshod on the sideboard. What the fudge? Rubbing my eyes, I blink and look again. HOLY FRICK! Can it be that day already?!
Immediately the rest of my soda goes down, my fist subconsciously crumpling the Lays bag as I toss it into the trash can. There're never a hell of a lot of chips in those anyway. Pausing only to duck in the bathroom and barrage my head with a few comb strokes, I slam the door shut, lock it and bolt into the garage. Before a minute has passed, I've flung myself into the front seat of a dark red Jeep and buckled myself in.
How the hell could I forget? It's the freaking fifteenth anniversary of Edward Scissorhands. I HAVE to get to Target.
Thrusting the key in the ignition, I turn it sharply and stare daggers at the driveway, glancing around for a policeman as I desperately attempt to look older. At least, since I'm fifteen, I don't expect it to be too hard for people to estimate my age up a little, but I've always been worried about cops. That's why I almost never take the car. This time, though, it's an emergency.
Cautiously pressing down on the gas, I ease out of the driveway, still keeping my spine erect and trying to seem as tall as I possibly can, spinning the steering wheel until the car's smoothly out of the drive. Then I put pedal to the metal and speed off—though, of course, staying within the acceptable limits.
Driving isn't as hard as adults always pretend it is. I think they just want to keep us kids out of their cars for as long as possible. Or maybe it just comes to me naturally because I'd had to endure my father watching Dukes of Hazzard reruns all day when I was little.
I'm at Target in a flash, having memorized the route through careful examination of maps in preparation of this day. Twisting the key in the lock, I slam the door shut, practically running full-tilt towards the great, glass double-doors. I'm pretty sure that anyone watching thinks that I've been abusing illegal substances, but I don't really care. I NEED MY EDWARD, DAMMIT!
As soon as I reach the front entrance, though, I stop dead and start swearing at the speed of light. The effing store doesn't open until nine.
Sitting on the pavement with my back against the store wall, I tap my foot listlessly and start quietly humming selections of Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice, interspersed here and there with a piano solo from the latest Dresden Dolls album. Just as I'm at the crescendo of the best one, though, my eyes wander across the skyline and spot something that I'd rather futzing not.
The bright yellow Warner watertower, glinting all "impressive-like" in the sun. Damn eyesore. Toons apparently lived in there. Thank God they keep trash like that off the streets.
Making a grumbling noise in my throat, I pointedly look away and start humming Beetlejuice again.
That's how I spend the hour until a security guard (who gives me a strange look, by the way) comes up and unlocks the doors for me. I practically elbow him aside to get in, grungy high-tops slapping the aisles as I look frantically around for the display.
It's the fifteenth anniversary of one of the best effing movies in the history of filmmaking. They've got to have a display.
I speed down an aisle, skidding to a stop as I reach a large cardboard cutout. This could be it...
But instead it's some ad for a new cartoon thingy that's coming out—Animaniacs. Three black-and-white puppy-looking characters pointing to a DVD cover; two boys and a girl, judging by the clothes. The taller boy's wearing only baggy brown pants, the shorter boy's in a blue turtleneck and red backwards baseball cap, and the girl (the smallest) has on a pink skirt and a yellow flower-shaped scrunchie around two stubby ears. I grumble, seeing that it's not Edward, and unhesitatingly punch the cardboard. It tips backwards and lands on the floor with a soft whumf, and I brush off my palms, spitting on it after a moment's thought.
Cartoons suck ass. Give me Tim Burton any day.
At last I spot the DVD display and hurry over, practically tripping myself on undone shoelaces as I do so. EdwardEdwardEdwardEdward. Forgetting to slow down, I instead slide sideways as though on a waxed floor before coming to a complete halt. EdwardEdwardEdwardEdwardEdward. Panting from this latest overexertion, I look up and scan the display, heart pounding.
And then I pause, my expectant smile flickering ever-so-slightly.
The display is set up like the milk section of a grocery store, with nine DVDs standing face-forwards on a rack. Take out the DVD in front, and there's a whole line of the same DVD behind it. Simple, no?
Six of the nine rows are occupied by multiple copies of that same stupid cartoon, Animaniacs. Two more are filled with some sort of "Disney Princess" junk. And there, with one row to itself, and that one row as well-hidden as possible, is Edward Scissorhands.
My fists start to clench and unclench as I quiver with rage, but I force it down and remind myself that I'm lucky to be getting the DVD at all. But as I extend a hand to grab it, I stop again.
Something about this DVD looks hauntingly familiar.
Within another second I snatch the foremost DVD off the rack, flipping the case violently over and scanning the list of special features. It's exactly the same as the DVD I already own. EXACTLY THE SAME.
"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS CRAP?!" I shout surprisingly loudly, my deepish voice sounding slightly raspy, as I haven't used it a lot recently. "WHERE DOES WARNER GET OFF, SKIMPING OUT ON EDWARD'S FREAKING FIFTEENTH BIRTHDAY?! HUH?! BASTARDS!!"
I throw the DVD roughly to the ground, the plastic case making an odd noise against the tiles. Now that a few other people are in the store, I'm garnering myself some more concerned looks, so I try to tone it down. But I'm still mad. Forget that, I'm fuming. I'm so futzing mad that some color is actually coming into my face.
As I seethe, my eyes are drawn back upwards to the Animaniacs set, and I viciously pull a volume off the rack, shaking angrily as I read the back. Twenty-five episodes. Digitally remastered. Maurice LaMarche interviews several persons related to the show. Volume one of four, with all the trimmings.
How dare they. How DARE Warner place priority on these stinking, damned, effing TOONS while neglecting my beloved Edward!
My upper lip curls back in a snarl as I skim the summary on the back of the DVD. So these toons are the ones who live in that damn watertower. Running up to a large glass window, I hurl myself against it and glare daggers at the giant yellow structure. Certain thoughts begin taking form in my mind, and my eyes narrow further.
Well, if Warner loves those toons so futzing much, they're going to have to pay for them.
Once home (miraculously avoiding a speeding ticket), I grab a large burlap sack out of the hall closet, first removing one of my mother's old sewing projects from it and flinging it across the floor. Then, yanking open a drawer in the kitchen, I pull out scissors, paper and a gluestick, sitting down with those and an old magazine and composing a rather colorful message. Following that, I unceremoniously empty out the same hall closet (which is nearly room-sized itself), checking to make sure that the key still works. All that being accomplished, I burrow through the closet debris until I find a black woolen ski cap, a pair of gloves and an old black Robin The Boy Wonder mask from a Halloween party several years ago. All these I put on with quivering hands, as I'm still pretty damn furious.
Then I storm towards The Drawer, holding the key I've kept hidden for so long beneath a loose floorboard in my room, then I thurst it into the lock and twist violently.
My bravado quickly disappears as the drawer falls open and The Gun rolls slightly towards me, gleaming darkly. Soon I'm shaking again, though this time not quite so much with rage. I can't even bring myself to touch the damned thing.
Guns are an effing serious thing to deal with. Guns can kill people. If I pick it up, I'm taking responsibility for any and all lives that may be lost by this weapon.
Dammit. Stop getting philosophical.
Gingerly I grasp it, surprised and a little frightened at how light it seems. Silently I will myself to stop shaking, afraid that I'll accidentally set it off. Very, veeeeeery carefully I wrap my fingers around the handle of The Gun, placing my finger just next to the trigger without actually touching it. I click the hammer lightly with my thumb, listening to the sound it makes. I stare at it, enraptured. How's it that something this small and easy to use can kill?
Suddenly aware of my thoughts, I shove the weapon into my jean pocket and hurry out of the house.
None of the rest seems quite real as I throw myself into the Jeep and start it up, roaring out onto the highway at fully twice the speed limit, trying desperately to keep my hair inside the ski cap and The Gun inside my pocket. The watertower's easy enough to see, and basically I just choose the roads that seem to be going in that general direction, forcing myself to ease the pressure I'm putting on the gas pedal. It's a miracle that no cops stop me as I go, leaving traffic accidents and near misses behind me. My heart thumps madly in panic, but as I remember the DVDs my determination picks up again.
I don't even really know how I got to the Warner Brothers lot, all memory drowned out by the adrenaline pounding through my system. The adrenaline that makes me barrel straight through the craptastically flimsy gate meant to keep unchecked cars out. The same stuff that makes me screech to a halt outside the watertower, hop out of the car and scramble up the ladder set into the side. The adrenaline rushing through my head as I reach the top, throw open the door shaped like the Warner emblem and jump into the room, waving The Gun around like a deranged lunatic, which I guess I am.
Sitting on the floor playing cards are the same three characters that were on the DVDs, each looking mildly surprised but not overly concerned about my entrance. Emitting some sort of high-pitched primal scream, I grab all three of them by the scruff of the neck and shove them into the burlap sack, squeezing my fist around the top of the bag so they can't get out. The bag remains surprisingly motionless, even though I can feel the feathery-light weight of the toons inside.
Weird. I'd've thought they'd struggle.
I pause to catch my breath, inhaling in massive gasps as I try to get my courage back in. I'm asking for a prison sentence here, but I don't really want to go back on this.
I turn to run back out the door, but I'm startled by a ridiculously short human man with receding white hair, attired in a blue business suit. He also seems quite surprised to see me, even more so when he sees The Gun in my hand, at which he turns white as a sheet.
Barely even thinking, my eyes wide as dinner plates behind my mask, I throw the piece of paper with my message at him, barreling past him out the door and practically jumping three rungs at a time down to the car, throwing the sack into the passenger seat as I jam my foot on the gas pedal again and blast out of there. The tires make a weird squealy noise at my sudden acceleration, but soon I'm out of the Warner lot and zooming back on the highway.
Police cars, sirens blaring, are now following me. Shit! The geezer must've called the cops! I speed up even more, going perhaps half the speed of light this time as I shoot down the road.
Perhaps if this hadn't been a spur-of-the-moment decision, I would've come up with a better hideout than my own house. However, as the cards fall, I'm forced to go straight home, where I grab the sack and bolt into the house, double-locking the doors behind me and pressing my back up against the wall, breathing hard.
What in all hell have I just done?