By Otte, because writing about fat, psychotic children is therapeutic
That stupid new kid was already everyone's best friend.
He'd been in the school barely a week and already the pig's butt was top of the gym class, already the subject of all the girls' affections (to which the idiot was oblivious) and already went to The Treehouse – an honour of honours – every Saturday.
It was bitterly unfair. Pokey ground his pen furiously into the desk, trying to imagine he was gorging Ness' dumb face. How did Ness already have friends when he, Pokey, had been going to this stupid school with these stupid people for two years and he still sat by himself ("Aw, don't make me sit next to Pokey, miss!"), still was rejected from The Treehouse every week ("Sorry chubs, but the treehouse won't support that much weight!") and still was the "punishment" for the girls ("Well you love Pokey!" "Eeeew! No I don't! I'd never, I'd never!").
Why'd he have to put up with this, it wasn't fair, it wasn't fair, it wasn't fair! That kid was just a loser with a piggy face and a stupid hat and a – argh! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Pokey ground his pen into the desk harder and harder, his knuckles white around it and his teeth biting into his lower lip.
"You play the guitar?" exclaimed an amazed voice, as the classroom door opened and his peers filed in, all packaged together in tight, chattering clumps. Pokey stared at the desk, still grinding his pen into the wood. He hoped the teacher would come in soon, so they'd all shut up.
"No, no," replied a boy with a laugh. The boy was wearing a goofy red cap that was just a little too big for his head. Pokey gritted his teeth. He recognised that infuriating voice.
"My Dad just bought me one, as a present. Mom says I can start taking lessons, though. She said," the boy continued and then took up an annoying high pitch, "'I expect you to be playing like Hendrix after a week for these prices!'"
The kids laughed, and wondered what a Hendrix was. Who knew what grown-ups meant, the silly creatures.
Pokey felt like screaming. Ness. Again. Who else could it have possibly been? He put his head down, scribbling violent doodles all over a piece of paper, trying his best to ignore the obnoxiously cheerful voices of the other children, and the rage that bubbled in his chest whenever they laughed.
Suddenly, he heard his name and, despite his best efforts, Pokey looked up.
"-he's been sitting by himself all break-time again," a voice sneered, "He doesn't have any friends man, just leave 'im."
Pokey bit his lip and scrunched up the paper he had been doodling on with a fat fist. They were laughing again. Laughing at him, again. All of Ness' crowd (apart from Ness who didn't look like he had a clue what was going on) were laughing. Ignore them, Pokey told himself sternly. One day, he promised himself, they'll all be dead and you'll be king. They'll be kissing your feet one day. One day, you'll be on top. Ignore them. Just don't react. Don't even look.
Pokey looked. And prompted mentally kicked himself for it.
Ness stood by his desk, smiling warmly at him.
"What? I'm busy," Pokey growled, not feeling at all inclined to talk this stupid kid.
"I've seen you a few times before," Ness went on, completely ignoring Pokey's open hostility. Pokey just stared blankly in return, his anger quickly cooling in sheer surprise at the lack of aggression in Ness' voice, "Yeah…you live right next to me! The Minches, right?"
Pokey continued to stare, completely at a loss for words. He glanced behind Ness at the other kids, who sat at the other end of the classroom, watching the bizarre scene unfold in front of them intently. Some were giggling, many look curious, but most of them just looked puzzled.
"Yeah!" Ness continued enthusiastically, apparently not caring how one-sided the conversation was, "I've talked to your little brother, Picky, a few times. He's a nice kid."
Ness paused and smiled inanely at him. Pokey remained silent, glanced back at the kids again, where sly, amused smirks were cracking across their faces, and then looked back at Ness again nervously.
This had to be a trick, he thought, his paranoid mind running at the speed of light. Ness was trying to make him say anything that they could use against him later or trying to trick him into doing something stupid. Or they were lulling him into a false sense of security – he'd be tricked into thinking he was making a friend, then they'd all screech in laughter and mock and jeer. ("He actually thought Ness wanted to talk to him!" "Oh god, what an idiot!")
"Are you alright, Pokey?" Ness asked, interrupting the whirlwind of horrible scenarios and imaginary jeers exploding inside his young, twisted mind, "You look…freaked."
The kids all started giggling, and Pokey's stomach twisted into angry, fearful knots. This was a trick. This was a cruel prank, something they'd probably cooked up on their break. Then again, Ness looked sincere and honestly concerned. Who was to say he wasn't just a convincing liar, though? He was probably as bad as the rest.
"Do you walk home with Picky? Because everybody else lives here in Onett, and with the Sharks being crazy lately…well there's safety in numbers right? I could use a couple of friends to walk home with."
"Ness, just come back over here. Chubs is just gonna be a jerk to you," one of the kids shouted, gesturing for Ness to return.
"Yeah Ness, just leave the fat freak to his own little world," chimed in a second one.
Ness bristled. Pokey stared quizzically. He had never known anybody else take offence for the insults fired at him.
"Guys, don't be jerks," he said, and returned his gaze to Pokey, "So Pokey, mind if I walk back home with you this afternoon?"
Still Pokey hadn't said a word. His brain had completely grinded to an abrupt and painful halt. He was too freaked out to speak. Even the other kids, between giggling, looked pretty confused by this point. Pokey decided, there and then, that Ness was completely insane.
"Picky…goes to soccer practice after school," he rasped. He wasn't even sure if that sentence made any sense in this conversation, but for some reason it was the only one he could get out. He must have looked like the biggest idiot in the world at that moment. The other kids started giggling and sniggering amongst themselves, sharing tiny whispers. Pokey could catch snippets of them ("What is he doing?" "Chubs can't even handle a normal conversation!" "Ness…is crazy.")
"Okay, great! I'll walk home with you after then!" Ness said and lifted his hand to pat Pokey on the shoulder. Pokey recoiled quickly, which made Ness pause, shrug, shove his hand in his pocket, apparently not thinking twice about it.
The entire class fell into an extremely awkward silence, as each person (apart from Ness who was trying to make out what Pokey had been doodling before) attempted to process what had just happened.
All of a sudden the classroom door swung open, and everybody jumped.
"Alright kids, sorry I'm late. Back to your seats, we've got a lot to get through today!" said the teacher.
"See ya, Pokey. Wait for me after last period, kay?"
With that, Ness wandered back to his seat, to the confused grins, head-shaking and bemused stares of his friends.
Pokey spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what the heck had just happened.
He wasn't going to wait for him. It was stupid. It was sure to be a trick. Besides, Ness was an idiot and Pokey hated him. There was no way this was for real, he was just going to fall for something stupid and prove how gullible and clueless he was and then the kids would never shut up and…
"Yo, Pokey!" a voice cried, and Ness came running over waving.
Pokey then realised he had spent the entire time thinking about whether or not to wait for him, waiting for him.
"C'mon, let's get moving. Dad always calls home after school's over, and I don't wanna miss it!" Ness said excitedly. Pokey raised an eyebrow. Ness was a weird kid, getting so excited over something that dumb. He still couldn't figure out how he had become so massively popular in such a short space of time.
He personally thought it was because he was good at baseball, and he was so smiley all the time. Yeah. That was it. Something stupid and…what was the word…shallow like that, he thought bitterly. A quiet voice in the back of his mind noted that he was barely even convincing himself that was the real reason behind it.
"C'mon, c'mon, c'mon!" Ness chanted. Pokey's lips twitched in a smile, despite himself, as he practically ran alongside Ness, who strode along quickly.
All the while they walked, Ness had never shut up. He talked about a lot of things, he asked a lot of questions Pokey could only unsurely nod or shake his head to (still suspecting a trap, Pokey was playing safe), and it didn't seem to dampen his spirits that his company was responding so coldly. Pokey still didn't really want to be around this guy. It was some kind of trap, the only thing it could be. Besides, even if it wasn't, he was just some kinda charity case or some brick Ness could jabber away to on the way home.
If he wanted a friend, Pokey thought furiously, his thoughts jumping from one extreme to the next, he would have went out and gotten himself one ages ago. He wasn't rejected, he rejected them…they weren't good enough. Not for him.
Pokey looked up. He admitted it; he had absolutely no idea what to say to that.
"Check-a-roony?" he asked dryly, barely able to contain himself. Ness was staring happily at…a billboard.
This kid is completely and utterly insane, Pokey thought.
"Oh…sorry…I guess you're don't really get that game," Ness said sheepishly, "And I guess I don't really need to play it since I have somebody to talk to on my way home now anyway…"
"…game?" Pokey asked perplexedly. Was this kid for real?
"Yeah, it's just something I do to keep myself entertained on the walk home. You say 'Check-a-roony' at every billboard you pass."
Ness fell silent and thought about that for a second.
"I have no idea…" he said slowly, as if realising this for the first time.
From then on, Ness didn't play that game any more. Maybe it was because he finally realised how little sense it made, or because he didn't need to, since he walked home with Pokey every day from that moment on.
Pokey was bored, again. Ness was off playing with the other kids. He had promised to come by tomorrow with his guitar – he was pretty good for somebody who'd been at it a year. It was stupid, and he hated to admit it, but he really found his usual regime of eating, shouting abuse at the TV and picking on his younger brother extremely boring. Eating wasn't as fun without Ness stealing his food, shouting abuse at the TV wasn't as fun without Ness joining in and picking on his younger brother wasn't as fun without Ness around to reprimand him for it and argue with him about it.
"What a wuss," Pokey said aloud, to nobody in particular.
Pokey shoved another spoonful of ice-cream into his mouth, sprawled across the sofa. He definitely wasn't lonely though, he insisted to himself stubbornly. That was just stupid.
Why wasn't Ness here with him anyway? Why was he with those other kids? He shoved another toppling spoonful of ice-cream down his throat, wondering why exactly Ness just left him on Saturdays to wither away from sheer boredom. He was more important than the kids at The Treehouse. Even though, even with Ness' pleas, they still wouldn't let him in.
Pokey sat up abruptly as a surge of hatred filled his body, for reasons he couldn't quite understand and the bowl of ice-cream that had been perched on his belly toppled over and onto the carpet.
"Oh…oh man! That's not good," he said, staring in horror at the multi-coloured swirls creeping across the floor, sinking deep into the fabric. Tripping over the bowl in panic, he rushed for the kitchen roll and started wiping furiously. It was everywhere. Freaking everywhere.
He threw the kitchen roll away haphazardly and kicked at the bowl in sheer frustration, letting out a shrill yell of bizarrely-placed anger.
"Pokey!" a voice roared. He heard the heavy footsteps of his father, Aloysius Minch, coming down the stairs.
"Oh what the hell could possibly go wrong now…"
"Hey, Mrs Minch. Pokey home?"
"…yes, hmph, he is. Wipe your feet before you come in. And your nose. Then wash your hands. Honestly. Poke-pokes! Your little snotty friend Ness is here to see you!"
"Okay okay I'll be down in a second!"
"Pokey, get down 'ere! You gotta hear this song I learned!"
"Alright already, Jesus!"
"Yo, Poke-pokes! I…ah…oh."
"What's…what did you do to your face?"
"What about my face?"
"Pokey…are you okay? There's a huge bruise on your jaw…"
"That doesn't look normal. None of the kids have ever hit you before."
"Nothing's wrong! Now are you going to play this song or not?"
"Pokey, really, are you alright? You seem weird. You look pale. And you're not always this angry. I mean, heh, you tend to be angry but you're never like -"
"Just play the stupid song, pig's butt!"
"Ness, again…I've got to say…I'm seriously…urgh…sorry," Pokey said. The apology left a bad taste in his mouth. He couldn't help but feel that the entire world owed him an apology sometimes, so giving them out made it really feel like the universe was just screwing with him.
Then again, Ness definitely deserved it. He had no idea what came over him on Sunday.
"It's okay," Ness said kindly – too kindly, it was really annoying. Pokey would feel a lot better if he would just lose his temper and start shouting and screaming, "You were, well, having a tough time, right? I think I know what's going on."
Even so, Pokey thought semi-angrily to himself, you'd think the guy would be a bit more annoyed for somebody smashing his guitar. He had just turned furious at him for a second, and well…he didn't know what made him think it was okay to do. He had snapped out of it when he saw Ness biting his lip, looking close to tears.
A tiny voice in the back of his mind wondered what would happen if he hadn't snapped out of it. He told this tiny, anxious voice to shut up and leave him alone.
"I won't say anything though!" Ness said quickly, apparently mistaking the worry on Pokey's face for what they were actually talking about. He opened his mouth to say something, but closed it as he decided that hoping his own father would get run over wouldn't make for the most comfortable conversation.
Nothing was wrong. Dad wasn't losing his temper in a weird way all the time for some reason. Pokey wasn't feeling angrier and more violent than usual. Nothing was wrong. That was the story, Pokey would tell it to anybody who asked, including himself.
Everything was fine, as it always was. Pokey would bitterly share Ness with the other kids at school, after school, then go home to eat and sleep. He didn't feel like he was going crazy. He didn't want to see the entire world burn.
That was the story. Everybody loves a good story.
You couldn't lie when you were asleep though. That's where Pokey really began to feel scared.
It hurts…it hurts…
If there was one thing he couldn't understand…
I feel g…o…o…d
It was the things he heard when he slept.
It was the face he could make out in his deepest nightmares.
It hurts…it hurts…Ness…
And it was that blood he could see behind his eyes, in his mind, in his room at night, on his best friend's face. He couldn't explain what it was; something was twisting, fighting to get free inside him - something that clawed the sides of his body, scraped gouges in his mind.
It hurts…it hurts…Ness…
Nothing was wrong. Pokey told himself that every day.
It hurts…I'm so sad…
Nothing was wrong.
Ness. It hurts…hurts…Ness…
Nothing was wrong.
Nothing was wrong.
"Leave me alone! Leave me alone! You'll all die!"
Pokey ripped from the classroom as fast as his flabby legs would carry him, down the hall, trying to ignore the headache threatening to rip his head clear in two. They had been laughing again. Laughing at him. Laughing at him, how dare they. How dare they laugh at…a defect like him. Who was he kidding…they could laugh at him. Who wouldn't laugh at him.
The craziest thing was he couldn't figure out if that was the voice from his dreams, or his own thoughts.
What did Ness want? What did the boy wonder want? Why did it make him so angry?
He felt a hand on his shoulder, and practically smacked it away furiously, his skin prickling from the touch.
It was so stupidly cold. Couldn't they afford heating in this stupid run-down school?
"Pokey…you're really scaring me, man. I don't know what you just ran out for…are you okay? Is this the thing with your dad? You need to see somebody about it, you need to let me do something, it's, uh, it's not alright!"
"Just...sorry…shut up," Pokey rambled, not even sure himself what he was trying to say. Good going Pokey, twelve years old and you can't even string together a sentence.
"Pokey, you've been my best friend for years now…"
Pokey scoffed. If he was his best friend, why did he need those other friends - the other friends that laughed at him. Did Ness laugh too? Maybe he did. Ness needed to just stay away from them – they were messing him up, maybe he should tell Ness he shouldn't go near them again, he thought furiously, his head aching as he leaned against the wall, panting and wiping his greasy blonde hair away from his eyes.
"Really…dude…you are scaring me now. You really are."
"Franklin! Minch! Get back in here right now and stop being ridiculous," the teacher's shrill voice echoed across the corridor and Pokey could hear them laughing.
"Pokey, if you don't tell me what's going on, I'm going to tell miss what's been happening at home - somebody's gotta know. I know you don't want to but somebody's -"
"No way," he said, and then glanced back at Ness, "They were laughing at me. Me!"
Ness stared, with an expression that Pokey couldn't read.
"Nobody was laughing Pokey. It was silent. Deathly silent."
"I'm not crazy," he grumbled.
"You're not doing a very good job of convincing me that," Ness said, laughing weakly.
"It's not right…I'm –"
"Help me! Help me! Help – hurts…hurts"
"It's I hurt hurt Ness Ness Ness its hurts happy I feel good friends happy it hurts its not right I'm I'm it hurts hurts Ness!"
"Pokey! Pokey! Wake up!"
"Are you okay? You were screaming are you –"
"Nightmares are so stupid."
"You idiot! What made you think this a good idea? Why the hell did you do it? This is ridiculous!"
There was a strong tang of alcohol in the air. Pokey made a face – his dad was an idiot drunk. A loud, bumbling idiot. It didn't explain why he was so terrified of him.
"I-I didn't do it," he stuttered, "It was like here when I got home…"
"So who did?"
Think, think, think, think!
"Picky. Picky did it!"
"Don't you attempt to push the blame on your brother! Have my mother and I taught you nothing?" he screamed.
Why did I just snap that at him, am I an idiot? Pokey thought to himself furiously.
"I swear to God Pokey you're some sort of hell-child. What is – is the matter with you?"
Aloysius left then, half-stumbling up the stairs in a torrent of swear words Pokey carefully tucked away into his mind for future use.
He stared down at the burnt family albums stacked before him, the covers still hot and the photos browned by the hungry teeth of the fire that had gnawed on it until his father had came home.
He stared at them, and tried to come up with the answer to his father's question.
He couldn't figure it out.
"Hey, summers almost here!"
"Hey, it's a good occasion. Weeks and weeks out of school, good weather, long days, plenty to do!"
"Like what? Onett is a hole, Ness."
"Jeez, I dunno. There's always something to do."
"Yeah, maybe if you've got the mind of a spazzy five-year-old."
"What's the matter with you Pokey? C'mon, we're not supposed to get bitter and cynical until we're at least fifteen! Haha."
"Well…do you want to go play baseball?"
"Where? No matter where we go we'll get beat up by the Sharks, you idiot."
"What is the matter with you? Is it the…well…your dad?"
"Oh shut up, jesus, what do you think you're my mum or somethin'?"
"Well it's not alright I mean he –"
"It's fine. I bet it happens to loads of kids."
"Not it doesn't!"
"You'd only say that because your dad's never even here. Off not workin', like my dad says."
"What the hell, Pokey."
Pokey would always remember the day the meteor hit. Even in the days, the literally infinite days, that would follow; he'd remember that day as the day that finally broke him.
"Kid, go home!" the police officer snapped, apparently irritated. Pokey decided to completely ignore this and stared up at the glowing crater at the top of the mountain. If he could only squeeze past those famous Onett roadblocks…he wanted to see it. He didn't know why. There was a power radiating from it. He had this bizarre notion that if he got that power…he could start…it was crazy really, most people wouldn't just think that something that could let them do whatever they ever wanted would just happen to crash down on a hill behind their house. Pokey couldn't help but think he was owed this much.
"Pokey! You gonna come back home? The police really need to work," said a voice all of a sudden. Ness was standing there; apparently he'd just decided to go running around in the middle of the night like an idiot. It sounded like something reckless and braindead (and fun) that Ness would do.
Pokey decided to ignore him, Ness would drag him away from the meteor. He continued to stare up at it, the ringing in his ears drowning out the complaints of the policemen as he scuttled around trying to find a way around these obnoxious roadblocks.
"Nice timing, Ness. Will you do something about Pokey?"
Pokey perked up at the sound of his name and glanced over his shoulder. Ness was talking to a disgruntled policeman – who of course took up a very polite and mild tone when talking to the other boy. Ness' popularity with the entire world never ceased to annoy him.
"He's driving me nuts," the policeman pleaded, "Are you two friends?"
Ness made a face and glanced at Pokey, as if for confirmation. Pokey bristled at the hesitation and looked away, pretending not to notice. The other kids had got to him, apparently. He should've known people would turn against him eventually. He ground his foot into the grass with frustration.
Not that he hadn't been clawing his face off everytime Ness talked to him or anything, he thought furiously. He inhaled through his teeth and tried to push away that tiny voice of self-loathing in his voice. He, Pokey, would never let him blame himself for something other people did. Other people, he repeated to himself. Other. People.
"Pokey! Hey, Pokey! C'mon, we should head back," Ness shouted, snapping him awake from his denial, waving and trying – and failing – to suppress a yawn. Pokey didn't doubt that the boy had just rolled out of bed.
"Hey, Ness," he replied wearily, remembering how nothing more subtle than a mallet to the head affected Ness, "Don't be rubber neckin'. You're getting' in the cops – "
The policemen all glared.
"Oops…I mean officer's way!" he snapped. Ness retracted his hand uneasily.
"Tomorrow I, Pokey, will tell you more about the strange meteorite," he said pompously, jabbing his thumb at his chest. Ness looked thoroughly confused and even Pokey wasn't quite sure what the words coming out of his mouth were, "I'm fine here, but you're bugging the officers!"
Ness stared around and then jammed his hands in his pockets, looking dejected and…was that a rare hint of irritation?
As Ness stomped away, Pokey was torn between kicking himself and kicking the other boy.
No way in hell.
Three boys and a girl? No. Pokey was not amongst them. He had bigger things to do! He had better things to do! He was not running around with Ness and some chumps just because some smelly bee told them he had to. He did not feel up to fighting for some cause, he had enough on his plate. He was not sticking his neck out for this world, it was stupid and pointless and hell, he dared say that the world didn't deserve it.
No freaking way.
That said, he needed out of the house. At least for the summer. Maybe he should go along with Ness anyway. He hated the stupid pig's butt, but it was better than staying here with his family. He could sneak away easily enough, maybe he should head to Twoson or…
Happy Happy Village? Was that what the voice in his head was telling him? Hell, maybe the voice was his own…bee?
It was destiny. Yeah.
And it was going to be a better destiny than Ness'.