El Goonish Shive – Delta
Author's note: All characters except members of the Cross family owned and copyrighted by Dan Shive. I do not have Dan's permission to write this. I write it for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. So enjoy!
Act One: "Introduction"
-Thursday night, 8:30 p.m.-
"Boys, dinner! Wash your hands!"
"C.J., c'mon," Casey Joel Cross' fourteen year old brother Jon said, pounding on his brother's closed and locked door. "Mom said its dinnertime!"
Inside the room, Casey (as he preferred to be called, even though his mother insisted on putting "C.J." on all the official records) stood at his one of his bookshelves, trying to pick reading material for the dinner table, assuming the 'rents gave him a chance. Jon's dog Aayla lay with her head on Casey's pillow, drooling.
Casey was about 5'9", not really tall enough to be considered tall, but tall enough for him. He had messy black hair, and almost never styled it, after the incident a few years back when he'd spiked it up, and was taken for questioning by police in Murphysboro in connection to gang activity. Casey's wardrobe consisted of cheap flannel shirts from places like the Salvation Army, in numerous colors and styles of plaid. His beaten-up trench coat hung on a peg on the wall. His mother had previously banned him from wearing it in the house.
He grabbed an old paperback Stephen King book and stashed it in one of the cargo pockets of his jeans. He went downstairs to the kitchen, and his mother, Jillian, stopped him at the door.
"I called you three times, C.J.," she said. Not waiting for a response, she issued commands. "Get the ketchup and mustard and the salad dressings. And ask your brother what he wants to drink with dinner."
"I've already got a cola," Jon said, from the next room.
"Fine," she said, and then turned to Casey. "Pour yourself a glass of milk. No, not the 2; why don't you have some skim, it's better for you."
Casey juggled the five bottles of condiment out to the dining room, where his brother sat with a comic book open to a fight scene between a scandalously-clad woman and a giant man with a sword. He was picking out chunks of cheddar cheese from the salad. "Make sure your brother isn't sniping the cheese!" she called.
Jon snickered. "Ha-ha, you fail," he said, and nibbled more cheese.
Casey went back into the kitchen and sneakily poured himself a glass of 2 milk, nearly being caught by his mom, who bustled in and told him to go fetch Dad. So Casey went downstairs to his dad's home office to try and get him upstairs. His dad, Jackson, a furniture salesman, said he'd be right up, but the phone rang again. Jon had finished the easily obtained cheese by the time Casey got back upstairs, and he got an earful of nagging from Mom about it while Jon smirked at him behind her back.
Casey's dad didn't get upstairs until the meatloaf had gone cold and the salad had started to brown. Jillian had excused herself a few minutes before, sneaking outside to the back porch for a badly hidden smoke. Casey pulled out his book, and Jon drooled over his comic. Jackson finally tore himself away from the phone and came upstairs, but he wouldn't let the boys start eating until Jillian got back in. Eventually, she did.
"What's on tap for school tomorrow, C.J.?" Jackson asked, grinding meatloaf in his teeth.
"In Science, we're doing some lab project with goo," Casey answered, softly.
"You had better do well on that goo lab," Jillian said, in between coughs. "Goo creation is very important to your future."
"Speaking of the future, have you put any thought into that tech school in Wisconsin?" Jackson asked.
"…" Casey didn't answer. He didn't want to talk about this again.
"I think you should seriously consider it," Jillian said. "It's only a two-year program, and it's nice and close to home! Isn't that nice? Only two hours away."
"We could visit all the time!" Jon said sarcastically.
"Could I be excused?" Casey asked. "I need to work on the pre-lab, and I still have a bunch of homework besides…"
"Sure, honey," Jillian said. "Just wait until your brother finishes, and you two can clear the table."
Jon was only half done with his meatloaf, even though he'd gone back for a second pop, a root beer this time. As soon as he finished, he took his plate to the kitchen counter and fled upstairs to talk to his girlfriend of the month online. Casey had to clean the dishes himself, and scrub down the cookware too. It was past ten p.m. when he finished. He hated how long dinner lasted at his house.
It took Casey two more hours to finish his daily grind homework, and then he started on the pre-lab for the Goo project. At 1:45 a.m. Casey decided it was good enough and went to bed, exhausted. Thursday mornings were Jazz band, and Intramural Hockey practice had lasted till 4:30. Casey slept uneasily, due to the presence of Jon's dog, who hogged the center of the bed.
Act Two – "Goo"
Casey zoned out most of the next day's classes. Finally, it was last period Science class. His usual lab partner, Liz, the school's resident Goth, had apparently cut 8th period, so the teacher put him with another group with two people. A guy named Elliot and …something named Tedd.
Elliot had a noble air to him. Casey knew he did some kind of martial art, and that some of the jocks had nicknames for him, like "demon", but didn't really know anything about him. Tedd was even more of an enigma, hiding behind thick glasses and a snarky grin.
Halfway through the assignment, the three reached a problem. They discussed it, and Tedd (who Casey had deduced was really male) raised his hand. "Um, Teach?" Tedd asked.
'Uh-oh,' the science teacher thought. "Yes, Tedd?" he asked.
"Our goo kinda came to life and slithered away…" Tedd said. "Is that bad?"
The teacher didn't react well to that. He let his head drop to his hands, and told them to go find it. Most teachers at Moperville North had that kind of reaction when Tedd told them strange things.
A few minutes later, Tedd, Elliot and Casey walked down the hallway, armed with butterfly nets from the Biology room.
"I can't believe we're hunting goo," Tedd said, peering down the deserted hallway.
"Well, it's your fault it's alive, so keep looking," Elliot said, watching the sideboards.
"There!" Casey spotted the goo oozing towards the athletics wing. Elliot rushed towards it and swung the net, but the goo defeated him.
"Hey! It oozed right through the net!" Elliot said, as the goo disappeared around a corner. "I suppose it was foolish to try and capture goo with nets…"
"Blasphemy! We just need bigger nets!" Tedd joked, and Casey laughed, a short barking sound, as if he wasn't used to it.
"We could try using one of the floor hockey nets, Tedd. That large enough for ya?" Casey suggested. Elliot and Tedd chuckled at that, and the three followed the goo around the corner. Elliot wandered down the left-hand hallway and Casey went right. Tedd stayed at the corner, peeking around. Elsewhere, the goo discovered and feasted upon the football team's steroid stash.
Elliot stopped and looked blankly into space. "I sense a disturbance in the goo…."
"I thought I found it, but it turned out to be a sponge," Tedd said, holding a dirty sponge up for Elliot's absent approval.
"Dude, I told you it was a sponge," Casey said.
"No, you thought it was the goo too!" Tedd fired back.
"Did not!" "Did too!"
"Guys, Focus!" Elliot yelled.
After a few more minutes of fruitless searching, Tedd sighed. "This sucks! Everyone else has already gone home."
"We should split up," Elliot suggested. "We'll find it faster that way." The other too looked at him skeptically.
"Dude, have you seen any horror movies in the past thirty years?" Casey asked, incredulously. "Every group that splits up ends up dead!" Tedd agreed.
"Split up? Are you mad?" Tedd exclaimed. "There's goo out there! Going alone is suicide!"
"Oh, c'mon," Elliot said. "It's goo! What are you afraid of?" Casey and Tedd looked at each other.
"Um, goo makes me puke…" Tedd said.
"My mom would get mad if I got killed by goo," Casey said. Elliot turned away, to go off on his own.
"Feh! It's goo! How dangerous could it possibly be?" He asked. Elsewhere, the goo had mutated further: it now had red eyes and a fanged mouth, with nasty teeth and big arms.
Casey told Tedd to wait a minute, and went to the athletic lockers. He dug through a bin of sports gear and pulled out a fiberglass hockey stick. Armed, Casey stalked through the halls searching for the goo himself. He encountered it eating garbage outside the cafeteria. The more it ate, the larger it grew.
"Hey, Goo!" Casey yelled. The monster stopped its feast and turned to glare menacingly at Casey. It reared up a bit to just over five feet tall. "Yeah, ya corpulent pus bag! You ain't' nothin'! My grandma could take you!" Casey's taunts were pissing the Goo off. Casey brandished the hockey stick and spun and flourished it.
The Goo shot an arm at Casey, but it misjudged Casey's speed. He dodged the tendril and sliced it off with a mighty hockey stick blow. The Goo growled angrily.
Meanwhile, Elliot was searching nearby. 'Where is this goo?!' he thought. 'I wonder if it dried up or something. Maybe it went in the cafeteria…' "Holy Crap!" Elliot said. He rounded the corner to see Casey drive the hockey stick deep into the creature's back, but it reacted too fast. As Casey tried to clear his stick from the Goo's sticky flesh, it battered him with a speedy arm. Casey slammed into the row of lockers on the opposite wall, and the Goo broke the hockey stick off in its arm.
"Um… Mr. Giant Goo Monster…" Elliot said, backing away. "Any chance of letting me just …leave safely?" The goo growled at him, moving away from the dazed, but slowly recovering Casey, towards Elliot. "Crud," he said, and then went into a martial arts stance. "Bring it on…" he said.
The Goo hissed and shot its right arm towards Elliot, who jumped out of the way in the last second. 'Damn, I barely dodged that!!!' Elliot thought. Then he noticed possible weapon lying on the ground. 'A fork that someone dropped earlier? Yes! Advantage? Elliot!' He snatched up the fork and threw it at the Goo, yelling "Togateiru Fohku Kohgeki!" (Pointy Fork Attack), but the fork passed through the Goo's head without hurting it. The Goo chuckled sinisterly.
"It didn't do anything to it…! How the hell do you harm Goo?" Elliot wondered. The Goo started for him again and roared, and Elliot took off. Fortunately, the Goo followed him and left Casey alone.
Soon, Elliot came across Tedd, who was wandering around aimlessly. "There you are, Tedd! Listen, I found the Goo, but—"
"No I was not in the girl's locker room!" Tedd yelled, interrupting him. Elliot looked confused.
"Ok, maybe I was, but it's not like anyone was in there!!!" Tedd said. Elliot scratched his head in confusion. "Oh, it's just you, Elliot. Sup? Where's Casey?" He asked. After a quick recap, Tedd said, "Hm, so it has become a giant monster… How did you escape?"
"Simple," Elliot said. "I told it a Hero from Dragon Warrior was right behind it and ran when its back was turned."
Tedd was amazed. "Of course," he said. "Any monster that's anything like a Slime would naturally fear a Dragon Warrior hero." Elliot looked around for signs of the goo.
"I don't think that will work twice, though," he said. "I bet it's pretty pissed off right about now. I hope Casey's ok." Tedd thought for a moment.
"Worry not, comrade, for I have a plan!" He said.
"That worries me…" Elliot said, deadpan.
Meanwhile, Casey had finally recovered from the hit and was wandering around cautiously, looking for Tedd and Elliot, not realizing the pair was no longer inside. He ended up back at the equipment lockers, and since it was open and his hockey stick was broken, he decided to upgrade. He tossed the broken stick aside and selected a nice titanium baseball bat. As he swung it around experimentally, he winced in brief pain from his new bruises on his shoulder. He eyed the equipment and had an idea.
Outside, Elliot borrowed a lighter from a good-natured, silent guy in a long wool coat and raced back to Tedd. "Ok, I got the lighter, now what?" He asked. Tedd looked at the freedom of outside, then back at the sinister school.
"Well, as long as we're outside, we might as well go home," he said.
"Home?" Elliot exclaimed. "We're not leaving! That Goo is in there!"
"It was just a suggestion," Tedd said defensively.
""Feh," Elliot scoffed. "So what are we going to do to it, burn it?"
"Actually, Elliot, just the opposite," Tedd said, crossing his arms.
"You mean the Goo's gonna burn us?" a sarcastic voice asked. "I'm not happy with this plan, Tedd."
"Casey! You made it!" Elliot said. "Did you see where it went?"
'What the hell are you wearing?" Tedd asked.
Casey had a catcher's mask on his face, a set of football shoulder pads over a catcher's vest, both of which were stuffed under his trench coat. He wore hockey gloves and catcher's greaves for his extremities, as well as a cup. "Hey, man, I tussled with that thing once and it kicked my ass," Casey said. "I wanted to be prepared for a rematch." He drew the baseball bat from behind him, where he'd slipped it up into a loop on his coat. "You guys want to come back in and get some stuff? The locker's open… now…"
Elliot shook his head. "We don't have time. Tedd, what's your plan?"
The three went inside and Casey quickly liberated a ladder from a janitor's closet. Elliot climbed up to the ceiling next to a sprinkler head. "The Goo is only able to maintain its current form due to a delicate balance of liquids and solids," Tedd explained. "It's absorbent, so if we drench it with water the balance should be undone and all we'd have to do is clean up a puddle.
"Of course, not every area of the school has sprinklers, so we should wait for it to come to us."
"Ok," Elliot said. "Just one question. Is that close enough for ya?" Tedd and Casey spun around and saw the Goo, now filling up the hallway. It roared, and the windows in the display cases rattled.
Casey hefted his bat. "I think we're gonna need a bigger boat…" he joked, softly.
"Now, Elliot, now! Use fire from the lighter to activate the sprinkler system!" Tedd yelled over the Goo's roar.
Casey charged the monster, but it swatted him away. The hit was blunted by his cobbled together armor, so Casey jumped back up and started whacking the Goo's flanks. It was so big, that it couldn't turn to grab him.
"It's not working!" Elliot shouted back. "Something's wrong with the sprinklers!"
The Goo managed to work one of its arms back to grab Casey. It tossed him towards Elliot and Tedd. "Frickin' ow…" Casey said. "I don't think I like this guy very much. Let's tell the principal on him…" He was a little dazed, but more annoyed. The Goo advanced towards them.
"Um, Elliot," Tedd said. "Any ideas?"
"Only one and I'd really hate to do it, but…" Elliot concentrated, and a crackling energy aura surrounded him.
"Um, you ok?" Tedd asked, timidly.
Elliot rushed the Goo with superhuman speed, yelling a wordless battle cry that stunned the monster. He punched through one of the Goo's red eyes and clicked the lighter on. He shoved the lighter into the hole he made and jumped away. The Goo's eye socket filled with flame, and Elliot fled. The monster screeched in pain as flames spread quickly throughout its body. Finally, it exploded, throwing Elliot towards Tedd and Casey.
"Ok," Tedd said. "I don't care if you did use the lighter to set it on fire. It blowing up is just ridiculous." Elliot thrust a gooey fist into the air.
"Yes!" he cried. "I am the man!"
Casey took off his catcher's mask. "Dude! That was the single coolest thing I've ever seen!"
"Except you didn't give any of your attacks pointless Japanese names," Tedd interrupted.
Elliot clapped a hand to his forehead. "Argh! God Dammit! Son of a— Can I get a do over?"
The fire department, police and reporters showed up to question the three, but Casey let Elliot and Tedd do most of the talking. He took off all his gear and stashed it in a spare athletic bag, which he attached to his bike before the authorities showed up. Eventually, everyone left, and the guys were free to go.
"Well, dude, thanks for your help," Elliot said, extending a goo-encrusted hand to Casey. "We probably couldn't have done it without you." Casey shook Elliot's hand.
"Are you gonna give that stuff back?" Tedd asked. Casey considered it for a moment.
"Nah," he said. "I don't think so. Half of it's mine anyway." Casey slung the bag over his back and unlocked his bike. "Besides, it could come in handy the next time the sewer revolts on us." They laughed. "What do you think happened today?"
"Eh, I don't know," Tedd said. He yawned. "I'm not gonna worry about it tonight. You still coming over for a while, Elliot?"
"Yeah, but I want to wash this crap off before it sets completely solid," Elliot said.
"Cool, well…" Casey climbed onto his bike. "I'll see you guys Monday, I guess. Later…." He started to pedal away, but Tedd stopped him.
"You want to come over to my house and play a game of Risk or something?" Tedd asked. "We haven't played it since Sarah stopped wanting to hang out at my house."
"Because you turned her into a cat-girl, Tedd," Elliot said. Casey cocked his head.
'Wait, what?' he wondered. Out loud, he said, "Are you guys sure? Uh, I don't want to seem like I'm inviting myself over or anything…"
"Nah, don't worry about it," Elliot said. "Tedd's dad is used to people just showing up and hanging out. Don't expect food, though. The Verres men are horrible cooks."
"Hey, you know I cook better when my dad's not home and I can 'let my hair down', so to speak," Tedd said. "Just say yes, C.J. It'll be fun!"
"It's Casey, actually…" Casey said quietly, but the others didn't hear him. They were bickering about something called a Transformation Gun. "Sure, I'll go, if you guys don't mind a sausage fest," he said.
Tedd grinned. "We could fix that easily enough…" he cackled.
Casey left his bike at school and rode to Tedd's house in Elliot's car. Casey unpacked the game board while Tedd hid his TF Gun at Elliot's suggestion. Elliot told Casey a little bit about his study of Anime-Style martial arts, and said a little about Nanase.
'I wonder if that's the same Nanase I used to know,' Casey thought, as they chose colors. Casey and Tedd eliminated Elliot rather quickly, and fought each other to a standstill. Eventually, Elliot had to leave, so Casey hitched a ride back to the school to get his bike. Elliot told him to call any time to hang out, and then left.
Casey rode around town for a bit, then went to his Sanctuary and dumped his bag of gear. He planned well enough that by the time he got back to his house, his parents had already gone to bed. Casey went to bed thinking about the interesting and dangerous day he'd had. 'At least I made some friends,' he thought. 'Finally…." He drifted off to sleep more contented than any time he could remember.