I own NOTHING. All series used in this story belong to their respective owners.
This is a contribution to Aesop's fic, Strange Bedfellows, which was written in Spaceman's ficverse, both written with their permission, examining some of the changes wrought by the Valentine Event.
READ HALLOWEEN WORLD AND HALLOWEEN WORLD: STRANGE BEDFELLOWS BEFORE YOU READ THIS! You can find them both either here or at tthfanfic dot org
Special thanks to Aesop for co-writing this story.
This is just something I thought of for a bit of fun, nothing serious. I have no intention of making this into a saga.
What happened to the character Tiffany after she left the Winnsboro colony?
Winnsboro Colony; June 2012:
Winnsboro had been quiet for nearly a month. It was almost unprecedented in recent years, as some crisis always seemed to be popping up. If it wasn't a random monster attack or an assault by the Dark Council's forces, it was some internal problem.
The Colony Council usually kept a lid on such things. There was a dedicated group of heroes and hunters that acted as the colony's primary defenders, but all residents were expected to assist with external threats if they had the means. There were plans in place intended to deal with almost any conceivable threat. The fact that quite a few of those plans included prayer had been a source of grim amusement when the colony was first founded. Now, it was just part of the routine.
Vathek sat on the steps of the Council Hall. It had been built in 2003, and, despite the best efforts of all concerned, had needed to be repaired a few times after attackers managed to breach Winnsboro's outer defences.
He had served as a peace officer in Winnsboro almost since its founding, and four years ago, he had been made Chief of police. It was his job to maintain order in the colony and keep the civilians safe even in the midst of an enemy attack. Not an easy task given how panicky some of the residents could become, and how close some of those attacks had come to overwhelming them, even with Aslan's assistance.
Happily, his shift was over for the day, but the steps of the Council Hall were a good place to watch the sunset and the people of Winnsboro, as they went about their business.
A shout drew his attention to the right, and three familiar people came into view. Two of them were grinning and running to greet him, the third approaching at a more sedate pace. At least, Vathek reflected, she no longer blushed whenever she saw him.
On the morning after the Valentine event, Vathek had awakened in unfamiliar surroundings. They were unfamiliar mostly because he had not bothered to look around the previous day.
Cautiously, he had lifted his head to look down at himself, only to be shocked to find that he was completely bare, as had been the slender female arm thrown across his chest. He had followed that arm to an equally bare shoulder and so on, to discover a head full of wild red hair resting on his left arm. Beyond the redhead was a blonde spooned against her, and a glance to his right showed a dark-haired girl with vaguely Asian features, reminding him of the Air Guardian.
The door to the bedroom had creaked open at that point, and two more young ladies who were equally strange and familiar to him, came in. One was carrying plates of food, and the other, much to his relief, a pile of clothing. Both blushed furiously upon finding him awake, but they had resolved expressions on their faces and approached without too much hesitation.
The next hour had been extremely confusing and loud. The blonde, especially, had raised an enormous noise upon waking. The fact that the windows had not shattered had amazed Vathek.
They had come to the conclusion that no one, at least no one in the room, was to blame, and had decided to try to pretend the night had never happened. Vathek himself was willing to agree. The Winx Club, as they called themselves, were all very attractive, but they were Human, and back then he still had hopes of one day finding a mate who was one of his own species.
That plan had lasted until all five girls discovered that their spell driven activities had consequences. After that, there was another much more difficult discussion to take.
All of the girls, who apparently really did do everything together, decided that the discovery of their pregnancies did not change their minds about Vathek. He was a noble warrior and a great friend, but they each had males of their own species they cared for and hoped to see again someday. He was not a husband to any of them, but he did do his very best to be a good friend to them, and an even better father to his twelve children.
His reminiscences were interrupted when his and Bloom's twin daughters gave him a hug. Emma and Suzie were as delicately built as their mother, but had most of Vathek's features, with the skin pigmentation and the bony cranial plates, common to hybrids of Human and Galhot. They chattered happily about school and their day until Emma saw someone across the street.
"Oh. Gotta go, dad!"
She jumped up and ran down the steps, waving cheerfully. Vathek looked across the way and saw Gollum waving back. Suzie, he noticed, was holding her nose. He gave her a disapproving frown and she stopped.
"Gollum's a perfectly nice boy," Bloom chastised her daughter.
It was true, Vathek reflected, strange but true. Blunk had done a remarkable job raising his son alone, much better he thought than he could have done if the child's mother had stuck around.
The Winnsboro police chief always had to repress a scowl when he thought about Tiffany, which wasn't often. The few encounters he had had with her had always been unpleasant. Despite her apparent fear of him, or anyone else who wasn't Human, she never hesitated to belittle and insult him.
It had been like pulling teeth to get anyone to tell him what a Smurf was.
Vathek shook off those unpleasant memories, only pausing briefly to wonder what had ever happened to the woman.
Somewhere in Arkansas; December 1998:
Far from the colony of Winnsboro that was home, as many post-Halloween colonies were, to an amazing variety of characters from endless books, movies and TV shows, a lone woman struggled to keep running.
Tiffany panted, as she ran, trying to escape the creature chasing after her. She knew that, since the night of Halloween, there had been various fictional creatures and outright monsters spawned across the world, but the 30-foot Gorilla was too much.
She had been speeding along in her little buggy, very much against the advice of the people in Winnsboro, when the engine had finally packed out. She knew it had to happen eventually, as she had been driving the thing for weeks now, ever since she had run away from the colony to escape her 'family.'
When her car broke down, she stopped by what she at first thought was a large tree. It was night, and it had been too dark to see clearly… until it had started to move.
When she had seen the tree for what it really was, a giant gorilla, her screams had been loud enough to rouse the whole countryside. The ape, unfortunately, seemed to enjoy her screaming though, as if it were used to it, and the beast even seemed attracted to her blonde hair for some reason. It had tried to grab it and her, resulting in her spending what felt like hours running through the dark countryside.
Thankfully, the darkness of the night and the dense growth had concealed her from the huge ape, and she eventually lost it. It didn't occur to her, as she ran, that the gorilla's presence was likely the only reason the area was devoid of smaller monsters.
The only problem now was that she had also lost herself. The monster had chased her for what felt like miles, and she had completely lost track of where she was.
Then things got worse. She came across a couple of other monsters that somehow looked familiar. They looked like mutants from before the world had gone crazy; one looked like a giant bipedal rhino in a yellow shirt, and the other a giant pig with purple hair.
They had seemed more surprised to see her than she them, but that had done nothing to soothe her nerves. She had not given them the chance to come after her, and had taken up running again with a fresh sense of urgency.
As she ran, she couldn't help but wonder how she had ever gotten herself into her current mess.
When Tiffany had first awakened in the post-Halloween world, she had had no memory of how she had gotten there, same as everyone else. The last thing she remembered was talking to her boyfriend Burnes, or Burnsey as she called him, saying Happy Birthday to him, and the next thing she knew she was in a strange room in a strange building in a city that she had never been to before. She wasn't even sure at first what city it was.
It wasn't New York, she was sure of that, and at the rate the monsters had been smashing things she knew it wouldn't look like anything soon. She had been almost all alone, confused and frightened; along with everyone else in the city, it seemed.
Before Halloween, she had been Teresa Aston, a very beautiful but rather air-headed brunette. Teresa had never been big on Halloween, but her boyfriend had been mad on it, and so, of course, if he were going to go out then she had to go with him, otherwise she would never have heard the end of it. However, she had ended up cheating a little.
Instead of going out in costume, she had simply put on some old evening gear and a blonde wig that she had found in her mom's room. The clothes had been years old, and made her look like an 80s fashion victim, but she had liked them, and they were the sort of thing she might wear if she were simply going out on a date instead of to a Halloween party.
She had worn a short black dress with a red leather belt, to which she had added some red high-heel shoes, red beads and a red cloth-bracelet. She had then finished the outfit with an old pair of black earrings that she had found in her mom's dresser, and the blonde wig that she had added on just for effect.
What she didn't know, was that with the outfit she looked exactly like a female character from a 80s cartoon show that she had never even watched. When the night had taken a dramatic turn for the worst, her pitiful costume had been enough to change her into that character… Tiffany.
So Teresa Aston had ceased to exist, and in the place of the airhead brunette, there had now appeared an airhead blonde. Her boyfriend had been a little more fortunate, as he had been dressed as Batman that night. He had saved her from the demons that used to be Trick-or-Treaters, and she had been more than happy to offer him her thanks, but for some reason he had just left.
She had eventually found her way to Winnsboro, fleeing the city along with a group of other survivors. She didn't care at all for its odd inhabitants, but it was far better than what lay beyond the walls, as she and the group that she had travelled with had barely survived the trip. So, with little choice, she had decided to settle there.
Of course, life in the colony was not easy, especially for her. Aside from the fact that she had to get used to living amongst non-humans every day, she also had to deal with the colony's odd way of life. And the Valentine event had done nothing to help her.
Winnsboro Colony; February 14th 1998:
Tiffany was walking home from what had once been the local grocery store. All commerce had broken down on Halloween. Money, even if she'd had any, was practically worthless now. The colony she had found herself living in had what she considered really stupid ideas about people earning their keep. What skills she had really didn't apply, so she found herself running errands for other people and living off what amounted to charity.
It rankled. It wasn't at all fair, as she told anyone who would listen, not that many would. She missed her old life. Everyone had to pull together, she'd been told, to do his or her part, and it just wasn't fair!
Not that anyone seemed to care what she thought, she groused, as she carried her allotment of supplies back to her hole-in-the-wall of an apartment. It was then that she met… him.
She was only a block away from her apartment building when the bottom of her grocery bag burst open, its contents falling to the ground.
"Oh geezie wheezy!" she moaned, and began gathering up her supplies. 'This isn't right,' she thought. 'I don't deserve this. I…' "YEARGHH!" she screamed, as her eyes fell on something in front of her.
The urge to run and hide nearly overcame her, until she realized that what she had seen was nothing more than a poster pinned up on the wall.
"Oh for…!" she swore. "Someone ought to know better than to go around frightening people like that!"
The poster was a picture that of a Sea Turtle that seemed to have been an ad for some kind of canned food. Judging by its condition and evident age, it was a left over from the time before the world had gone to Hell.
God, she hated turtles. Ever since her brother had put one in her bed when she was five, she had been scared to death of them. The only thing she had liked about this psychotic world was that, so far, she had neither seen nor heard anything of any turtles, especially the ones from her home back in New York.
She prepared to bend over and collect her scattered goods, when a metallic clattering from a nearby alley distracted her from the task of retrieving her possessions.
She looked up in fright. Though Winnsboro was supposedly safe from outside monsters, she had seen more than a few monsters inside. Despite reassurances that those individuals weren't monsters, just people who didn't happen to be Human, she continued to worry. One of those not-monsters was even on the Council, but she wasn't about to trust someone who wasn't 100% Human.
She cautiously approached the alley, ready to run at the first hint of trouble. The sound seemed to be coming from a particularly foul smelling trashcan.
"Who is…?" she started to say, but before she could finish, the world got a little stranger. It was like a sudden wave of warm air had rushed right through her, and she felt her head go light as if she were suddenly drunk. She shook her head a few times to clear the wooziness out of it.
Suddenly, the lid of the trashcan slid off and crashed to the ground, revealing what was inside. It turned out not to be a rat, as Tiffany had thought, but something else entirely.
The first thing that she noticed about it was it's eyes. They were big wide eyes, which she first thought were all yellow until she noticed the tiny orange irises within them. They occupied a small, muddy-green face that looked at her curiously. The creature watching her was small, odd looking, smelly… and the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her entire life.
The little green thing stared at her, its big eyes taking on a dreamy look as it returned her gaze.
"Hey?" she said slowly, as though in a dream state.
"Hey you, too," the creature replied, also speaking slowly. "Me Blunk. Who you?"
"Tiffany," she said simply.
"Pretty name," the thing called Blunk said, and then held up a dead rat by its tail. "Want snack?"
Normally, Tiffany would have screamed and run as fast as her legs could carry her, but that night, because of the magic that had been cast… she ended up running straight forward, grabbing the little Blunk creature in her arms and kissing it passionately.
"MMMM!" Blunk murmured excitedly, as he returned the kiss, his little arms and legs wrapping themselves tightly around her neck and midsection.
All around the colony, at that moment, many similar scenes were taking place. Some were couples that had been together for years and had just suddenly decided to have an early night, while other pairs consisted of people who had just passed each other on the street for the first time and had suddenly felt an overwhelming attraction to each other. But Blunk and Tiffany took no notice of all the chaotic romance going on around them, concentrating only on their own form of amour.
Tiffany forgot about her supplies still on the ground, and carried her little green Prince Charming back to her apartment.
Blunk awoke slowly, yawning loudly as he came to. He stretched his arms, feeling the bed-sheets press against them, and that's when he stopped, confusion filling his mind.
Confusion was nothing new to Blunk, but this morning he had considerably more to be confused about.
He couldn't see anything, and it took him a moment to realize that he was lying under a bed-sheet and blanket. That was when he realised that he was definitely NOT in his home, as his home was a broken down car near the walls of the colony, and it definitely did not feature a soft double bed with sheets and warm blankets.
Suddenly, there was movement to his left, and he turned to look. He squinted his eyes at whatever it was, but he couldn't make it out in the dark, only being able to discern the general shape of something large in front of him.
He reached out his hand, touching whatever it was in front of him, feeling it all around. Whatever it was, it was warm, had a tiny bit of hair upon it and… it was moving!
Blunk snatched his hand back, as the shape in front of him moved, and a low moan sounded.
He suddenly realized that he was staring at someone's leg. As his eyes became accustomed to the dark, his gaze travelled up the leg to the thigh and beyond. His face turned a darker shade of green, as he discovered that whoever it was beside him was completely bare.
Then Blunk realized something else. As he scratched his chest, not being used to the soft cotton fabrics, he noticed that he, too, was naked.
"Something tell Blunk he should not have had third mousy last night," he said to himself.
His mind wandered back to the events of the previous night, as he tried to remember all that had transpired. He remembered going out, foraging for food, and eventually ending up digging in someone's trashcan. He had found a lot of good stuff in there, but had been distracted when he had heard someone shout out. He had poked his head out, looking for the source of the voice, and had seen her.
She had been the most beautiful Human woman he had ever seen before in his entire life. This new woman was even more beautiful than Cornelia from the Guardians, and even lovelier than his own mama.
The details after that were a little fuzzy in his head. He remembered them saying a few words to each other, she calling herself Tiffany, followed by her marching right up to him and kissing him. After that, she had literally carried him all the way to what he assumed was her home. She had brought him inside, taken him to her room and then…
Blunk blushed again, but he grinned as well. He couldn't help but snigger slightly, as more of his memories from last night came back to him. He had actually spent the night with a gorgeous woman!
'My first girlfriend,' Blunk thought, remembering what Human males called their intended before they became official mates, still grinning dreamily. 'Ohhh, mama would be so proud.'
The woman called Tiffany then gave another moan and turned over in bed, yawning as she did so, indicating that she was waking up.
Blunk grew excited, eager to speak to her, and started moving his way up the bed, still under the covers.
A moment later, Tiffany became aware of the rustling beneath her sheets and lifted them up, peeking under them with an almost fearful expression on her face.
Her wide eyes met Blunk's happy ones.
"Was good for Blunk," he said in what he fondly believed to be a suave voice, trying to sound sexy like he had seen Human actors at the old movie theatre do. "Good you, too?"
Tiffany leapt out of bed, struggling to get away from the little Passling, but unfortunately, in her rush, she had failed to remember one thing, and that was Blunk was not the only one in his birthday suit.
Blunk's eyes grew wider, as he stared at the beautiful Human, his mouth gaping open. "Humana, humana…" He could only stutter.
Tiffany, having realized she was naked, squealed and hurriedly grabbed the blanket and sheet from the bed to cover herself. This, of course, left Blunk completely uncovered, which was not a sight she relished.
She squealed again, causing Blunk's ears to ache. This girl was definitely a great beauty, no doubt about that, but she had a voice and scream that felt like they could shatter rocks at fifty feet. The woman screamed again and raced into the kitchen, returning a moment later with a broom.
"Eek!" Blunk squeaked, guessing what was about to happen.
"GET OUT OF HERE, YOU FILTHY LITTLE VERMIN!" she yelled, hauling the broom high over her head and bringing it down hard on Blunk's.
"OW!" Blunk scampered out of bed as fast as he could, with Tiffany quick on his tail.
"If Blunk could…"
"If pretty Tiffany would just…"
"Could we just talk for while…?"
The naked Passling leapt around the room quicker than a cricket, trying to escape Tiffany's broom, pausing only to pick up his clothes wherever he could find them.
"GET OUT!" Tiffany screamed one final time, swinging the broom and finally connecting with something solid. The blow sent Blunk soaring out through her apartment window.
The Passling yelped, as he fell from the five storey high building, right into a dumpster located at the bottom. Luckily, the dumpster had not been emptied yet, so the garbage within cushioned his fall, earning him only a bruised backside.
"Uhhh," the Passling groaned, as he climbed up out of the dumpster, pausing slightly to lick something off his lips. "Mmm," he said, suddenly more cheerful. "Chocolate yoghurt and mouldy cabbage, yum!"
"Ahem?" someone coughed nearby.
Blunk looked up to see one of his friends, Oliver, watching him, his ever-present bow on his back.
"Morning too warm for you, eh, Blunk?" he asked, indicating the Passling's lack of attire.
Blunk blushed again.
Fortunately for Blunk, Tiffany had decided she wanted nothing belonging to him in her home. Using the broom-handle, she picked up each article in turn and tossed it out the window. She followed that with the sheets and blanket the Passling had contaminated.
The two males, Blunk who was comforting himself over the loss of his girlfriend, and Oliver shaking his head in exasperation, retreated to the Post-Apocalypse Bar & Grill.
An old wizard named Tom, who had told them once that he used to run a place like it in London, ran the place. He was otherwise fairly closemouthed about his past, which was most likely, Oliver suspected, because of bad memories.
It was far too early for the place to be open, but the door was unlocked and the sign had been flipped over, so they went in. Judging by his ragged appearance, Tom had had his own strange night and stressful morning. He discouraged questions on that subject before Ollie could even think to ask.
Oliver and Blunk found seats, and Tom brought them each their usual. Commerce in the new world was still evolving, but arrangements had been made that benefited all. Goods and services were traded according to need and availability. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. On that particular morning, however, Tom decided that the two looked like they could really use a drink.
"Who was she?" Oliver asked.
"Tiffany," Blunk answered, moping over the rejection.
"That screechy blonde?" Oliver was incredulous for a moment, until he remembered whom HE had woken up with. He suppressed a shudder, very glad that the woman had rolled away from him in her sleep. If there were ever a case of coyote love, that would have been it. "You're better off, Blunk."
The Passling didn't look convinced, but before the conversation could continue, the door to the street opened. Peter Parker wandered in, looking more distraught than any three people Oliver had seen before.
The messy brown hair and generally rumpled appearance he'd sported since arriving were the same. The haunted look he'd worn since learning he would likely never be able to return to his family, however, had been replaced with one of abject misery.
"Peter?" Oliver asked, genuinely concerned.
The younger man slumped down on the stool next to him. "Why did I do it?" he was muttering. "I love MJ and May. I wouldn't cheat… "
"Hey! Easy, pal," Oliver broke in. "Something weird happened to everyone yesterday. Not your fault."
Oliver nodded. He knew Pete had been out of it lately, depressed over the loss of his home and family, but the fact that he hadn't realized yesterday was…unusual, worried him. He also didn't know what Peter had been up to the previous day. For all Oliver knew, the younger man could have slept with 12 women.
He shoved that thought and his perverse curiosity aside, and focused on his friend's problem. "You woke up with a stranger, right?" he asked. "So did I, and so did Blunk." He glanced over at Tom, but the man remained stone-faced. "I'm also guessing there's a reason why Tom is up and about in what has to be the middle of the night for him."
Tom scowled, but said nothing as he set a beer in front of Peter.
"Seriously," Oliver continued. "I don't think we had much choice. It must have been some kind of love or lust spell. I doubt any of us got the person we'd have picked."
"Blunk would pick her," the enamoured Passling said dreamily. The others chose to ignore the comment.
"So it was forced on us?" Peter sounded both relieved and outraged. It was the most life he'd shown in some time, but Oliver wasn't celebrating that, not given the circumstances.
"Not exactly happy myself, but whoever you got couldn't have been as bad as what I woke up with."
Peter shook his head. "No… She was okay. Nice girl, for a dragon, but that's not…" He broke off when he noticed Oliver and Tom staring at him. Blunk remained lost in thought, a goofy smile on his face.
"Dragon?" Oliver asked, not sure he'd heard correctly.
"She-Dragon," Tom supplied. "Green skin, blonde hair?"
"Nice girl… Don't hurt her." He turned back to his work, ignoring the odd looks he was getting from the two men.
"Oookay," Oliver nodded. "He's right. You could've done worse. Blunk here woke up with that blonde screech owl that runs errands for the Council. Tiffany."
Peter shook his head, but didn't have time to comment before the door opened again, and a humanoid jungle-cat walked in. Oliver had seen him around, but couldn't remember the name. Before he could begin trying to jog his memory for the information, he noticed the bandages and a collection of minor abrasions. The newcomer approached the bar and nodded to Tom.
"Doctor House suggested I come here for anaesthetic and short-term memory wipe."
Tom nodded and picked a bottle from off of a back shelf while Peter and Oliver goggled over the newcomer's deadpan delivery. It took a moment to realize that the Thundarian, whom Oliver suddenly remembered was called Panthro, was being perfectly serious, and he had to fight to keep himself from laughing.
"House told you that, did he?" Peter chuckled, momentarily forgetting his own woes. He glanced away and pursed his lips while his shoulders shook with the effort to hold it in. Oliver wasn't having much better luck in taking the situation seriously.
"What's so funny?" the aggravated Thundercat demanded, clearly not in the mood to be the butt of someone's joke. He had felt that way since he'd woken up that morning and remembered the previous day.
"Sorry, Panthro," Oliver answered, finally mastering himself. "I, of all people, shouldn't laugh, but I'm afraid that's just House's weird sense of humour. The whiskey will help with the pain," he added, as Tom set a shot-glass down in front of the brawny felinoid, "but in order for your memory to be affected, you would have needed to get drunk before you slept with her."
Peter wiped his eyes and coughed to conceal the tail-end of his laughter. "None of us are in a position to laugh at you," he said apologetically. "We're all here for the same thing, after all."
Oliver nodded fervently. "Mind if I ask who?"
Panthro glared at the two for a moment longer before shrugging it off and downing the whiskey. "She said her name was Hyena. She is clearly a warrior, but I know nothing else of her." He shook his head. "I would very much like to lay my claws on whoever cast that spell."
"You'll have to stand in line," Peter told him. The depression was starting to creep back into his voice, but he still sounded more angry than anything else.
"Can't have been much worse than mine," Oliver assured him.
"Was yours a cyborg with steel-claws and a desire to pick up where you left off last night?"
None of the others knew how to answer that, and any response Oliver might have had was pre-empted. He glanced at the window and paled slightly.
"Guys? I wasn't here!" He set down the beer he'd just picked up and made for the back door. Tom smoothly collected his half-empty glass and placed it behind the bar just before the front door opened.
The kindest description of the woman who entered would be amusing. She was wearing a long white fur-coat, with a fur stole that matched her bizarrely coifed black and white hair. She looked like she had gone through multiple cosmetic surgeries to make herself appear younger, yet still looked to be in her mid-sixties. She was painfully thin, and the make-up she wore seemed to highlight rather than conceal her sharp features and accumulated wrinkles.
"Hmm. Not here, then," she muttered. "Have any of you seen a handsome blonde man with a beard?"
The males at the bar stared at her for a moment, Blunk making an effort to become even smaller. Her tone was pleasant enough, but something about her, Peter thought, looked familiar. She set off his spider-sense for some reason.
"Err, no," he replied.
Each of the males shook their heads, but her eyes narrowed when she took in the bar and the extra water-ring where Oliver's mug had rested. Her demeanour changed in an instant.
"Is that so?" she sneered, her tone becoming decidedly ugly. "I know when I'm being lied to. Just be sure to tell that good-for-nothing, Robin Hood wannabe that no one rejects Cruella DeVille!" She turned and stalked out of the bar, her head held high.
The patrons and owner of the Post-Apocalypse Bar & Grill stared after her in silence, until finally Panthro let out a long breath. "Maybe I did get off easy."
Tiffany spent most of the day disinfecting her home, especially her bed, to get rid of every trace she could find of the filthy little Passling. So far, she had emptied two bottles of antiseptic, and two cans of air freshener. At this rate, she suspected, she was going to use up all of her rations just on cleaning products.
"What the hell could I have been thinking?" She knew she had been more than a little distressed since she had found herself in this wacky world, but what could have motivated her to sleep with any stranger, let alone with a disgustingly ugly little toad like that Blunk creature?
'Worse than a toad,' she thought, this time silently. 'He resembles a turtle more than anything.' She shuddered.
She was cleaning the mattress again, rubbing it with antiseptic wipes, when she felt a cold breeze blow in through her open window. Fuming, she went to slam the window shut, but she could still feel the goosebumps from the cold.
'Feels like it's gonna be another cold one tonight,' she mused, and instinctually went to her storage cupboard to find some more blankets. But when she got there, all she found were some old shirts and skirts.
"What the…" she started, but then remembered. Last night had been a cold one, too. So cold that she had used all of her blankets… All of her blankets, which she had thrown out onto the street this morning!
"Ohhh!" she squealed in frustration, as she clenched her fists. "Why is everything bad happening to me today?"
She quickly searched through the rest of her apartment, but found nothing that could be used as a blanket or bed-sheet. And judging by the feel of the breeze, the approaching night was going to be very chilly.
Tiffany wanted to hit something, but could not, fearing that she might hurt her delicate hand, or worse break a nail. She thought about going back to the rations store, but soon dismissed that idea. She had already gone through most of her rations for the next month in the cleaning products alone. If she took anymore then she would have none left for food.
She knew not to expect any help from those who ran the store, as she had tried that once already when she had first run out of rations and wanted to get some more chocolate as comfort food. She had attempted to be sweet, offering them anything else they could have wanted including a date with hers truly, but they had been adamant. If she had no more ration slips then she could have nothing else.
She thought about going to some of her neighbours to ask them to spare a blanket or two, but then ruled that out. For some reason, she was not very popular with the neighbourhood, something she could not understand, as she had always been popular, with lots of friends in High School. She may have insulted the odd geek and nerd, but nothing serious.
The more she thought about it, the more depressed she got, realizing that only one option remained.
Tiffany shuddered with revulsion. She considered just trying to put up with the cold and sleeping without the blankets, but judging by how much colder it was now getting, she doubted she would survive the first hour of the night before she turned into an icicle.
"Ohhh, why meee?" she moaned.
She had no choice, but to try and get her own blankets back. The only problem was she had thrown them out along with Blunk. She decided she would go check the dumpster where she had seen the Passling fall into, but she doubted that they were still there. From the little time she had spent with Blunk, she had known that he was a scrounger of some kind. Chances were he had already taken her blankets to use or trade with.
She recalled hearing some people talk about some of their less savoury colonists, and about how some of them lived in the junkyard near the outskirts of the colony. She knew if Blunk lived anywhere, then that would be the place to start looking.
"Ewww," she groaned, imagining having to go peek about that dirty junkyard and getting her hands, not to mention everything else, filthy.
The mere thought of the junkyard was enough to make her want to take a bath. In fact, she wasted no time and instantly headed straight to the bathroom to wash her hands and face.
'Turtles, mutants, aliens, little human-toads,' she thought miserably. 'What's next?'
After she finished washing her face, blinking from the soap in her eyes, she reached for a flannel to wipe it.
She found one, and was just an inch from bringing the flannel up to her face, about to wipe it, when she managed to blink the last of the soap from her eyes.
At first, all she could do was stare in numb horror at the thing she was holding in her hands, refusing to accept what she seeing, and what she had been about to rub on her face.
Tiffany walked the last block to the junkyard, her face aching and sore. After the event in the bathroom, she had spent the next hour washing and scrubbing her face with scalding hot water until it had almost bled. And even then she had used the antiseptic wipes on it, which, needless to say, had been like pouring acid on an open wound, stinging the hell out of her. It was like having a thousand bees attached to her face.
The end result of her efforts had left her face red and puffy, and did absolutely nothing to improve her mood.
Finally, she reached the junkyard. 'Ewww, remind me to get this guy a realtor,' she thought, eyeing all the heaps of now useless old cars and pieces of broken machinery lying about.
She could hear the vague sound of something clattering about close at hand. She prayed momentarily that it was actually Blunk and not a rat or something worse.
'Just get the blanket and get out of here. Just get the blanket and get out of here. Just get the blanket and get out of here. Just get the blanket and get out of here,' she repeated again and again in her mind.
The clattering noise got louder. Just when she was about to turn tail and run, the hood of one of the many old cars popped open.
"Hey, pretty Tiffy!" Blunk called excitedly.
Tiffany stared at him, a loss for words. She only felt minor relief at learning that the sound had actually been Blunk, and then taken a moment to appreciate that bizarre turn of events. 'I'm glad to see him? Weird.'
"Err, hey… you," she began hesitantly.
Blunk just stared at her with that same dreamy expression that she recalled seeing him with the first night they met, and first thing in the morning when she had awakened and come to her senses. Both times, it had been disconcerting and freaky to her.
"Look, I'm just here to get my blankets back, okay?" she said hurriedly. No point in dragging the meeting out any longer than she had to.
"Blankets?" he asked curiously, and then grinned. "Ohhh, you want trade? Blunk trade."
"But they're mine!" Tiffany squealed.
"Not anymore," he smirked. "You throw out, now Blunk's. Blunk will trade."
She grumbled under her breath. "What do you want then for them?"
Blunk grinned. "Would settle for another date," he said, holding out his arms. "Or perhaps one more kiss!" He puckered his lips, making loud smacking noises with them.
Tiffany squealed again in fright, and ran out of the junkyard as fast as her legs could carry her.
Blunk watched her go with a blank expression upon his face. "Is that a no then?" he called after her.
Tiffany had kept herself warm that night by wearing every piece of clothing she could find, and the next day she had taken on extra duties around the colony in order to save up for some new bedding.
Going back to Blunk and allowing any sort of physical contact was out of the question, as the very notion made her want to vomit.
She had hoped that that was the last she would see of the little green Blunk, but she soon discovered the little toad… turtle… or whatever he was, could be very persistent.
Two days after the Valentine event, she found a dirty and beaten-up looking box outside her apartment door. There was a colourful but somewhat tattered ribbon tied around it.
Almost everything in Winnsboro was second-hand. Everything was being salvaged from the remains of the old society. She understood that, and she tried to make allowances. If this were the best a secret admirer could do, she would try not to hold it against him.
She took the box inside with a slight smile, wondering who it could be from. She hadn't had any admirers since she had lost her Burnsey.
She quickly yanked the ribbon off and opened the box, peering inside.
The blonde stared at the contents in shock, revolted at the disgusting sight before her, as the box was full of rotten fish-heads, their huge dead eyes staring up at her, making her feel queasy.
'Why on earth would anyone give me this?' She thought. They were disgusting. They were smelly.
A knock at the door interrupted her train of thought. Thinking perhaps that one of her neighbours had seen the culprit leave the box and was going to be neighbourly for a change, she opened the door.
Blunk was there, smiling up at her. "Tiffy like gift?" he said, grinning at her. "Fishy head makes good soup! Blunk can cook for Tiffy!"
It took her a moment to muster a response. Her perception of the box had changed rapidly and drastically over the last few moments, and it took a little time for her brain to process it. The box had gone from being a gift from a down-on-his-luck-but-trying secret admirer, to a cruel prank, and then back to a gift. That it was an unwanted gift from an even more unwanted admirer dictated her eventual response.
With a cry of disgust, she dumped the box of fish heads that he had painstaking retrieved from three different garbage cans over his head, and then threw the box itself at him before slamming the door in his face.
"Go away!" she yelled through the door, worried that the little beast might not take the hint.
Blunk just continued staring at her front door for a few moments longer before saying, "Don't suppose Tiffy would like to have dinner then with Blunk?"
Tiffany didn't respond. She decided that since loud insults weren't working, then she would try the silent treatment. It seemed to work at first, as Blunk left soon after, but unfortunately, after that, it got worse.
The next day, there had been another present for her, one that was equally disgusting.
Blunk had actually approached her at work. She had been busy doing some filing for one of the Council members, when he had just walked straight in and offered her a bouquet of scraggly weeds, wrapped in old newspaper that had a suspicious yellow tint. He had made some poor attempt at wooing her by saying how beautiful she was and that he would love to take her out dancing.
That had been bad enough, but he had done all that during office hours, so everyone had seen him do it. More than a few people had been sniggering at the scene, or more precisely at her.
She just knew that word of what had happened on Valentine's Day was spreading, and people were laughing at her behind her back. Everyone had had some kind of experience with someone during Valentine's Day, and it didn't take a genius to figure out who she had spent that day with.
Nothing had been said to her face, but in a way, that was almost worse. They had only teased her about his efforts being sweet, and for some reason, they were being very standoffish just because she had tried to kick him. There seemed to be no way of dissuading him, and her neighbours and co-workers weren't at all sympathetic.
The only comfort to her was that everyone seemed to be having similar problems. It was nice to know she hadn't been the only one to succumb to temporary insanity that day.
The reaction seemed to vary, though. Some seemed happy with their matches. Some were taking what happened very badly, although she didn't think, after seeing some of the matches, that the ladies had it anywhere near as bad as her.
Some of them came close, though. There was something of an urban legend starting up about one of the not-monsters that had managed to lure five young women into his bed.
She could only imagine what kind of depraved beast that was.
Five Days Later;
Post-Apocalypse Bar & Grill:
"It's not funny!" Vathek insisted, slamming his mug down. "And it is certainly nothing to be proud of!" The show of temper and the growl in his voice had Clint Barton raising his hands in a calming gesture.
Vathek, like everyone else in the colony, had been hard-pressed about where he had been during the Valentine Event. More precisely, people wanted to know who he had been with.
At first, when asked about his activities and the company he had had, Vathek had refused to answer, but Clint Barton had seen Vathek that day, and had had a suspicion. The archer had been on his case for hours trying to get him to fess up. In the end, Clint's constant hounding had driven Vathek over the edge and forced him to spill the beans, as the humans would say.
Needless to say, after Clint learnt who Vathek had been with, his oversized grin and the roar of laughter that had soon followed had been enough for Vathek to want to rise up and grab him by his throat to silence him. He was fairly certain it had been he who had spread the word, leading a number of men in Winnsboro to declare Vathek as a living legend in the colony. After all, how many men could say they had had five women all at once?
Vathek knew that a lot of men seemed to appraise others of their gender by how many females they had been with, but he was not one of them. He wanted nothing more than to forget the events of that night and pretend that they had never happened. And he certainly didn't want to become a source of ridicule and the butt of the latest joke for all the male population.
That had led to the current conversation. Barton had once again congratulated him on his big achievement, inspiring Vathek's outburst.
"Okay, man," Clint assured him. "No offence intended. Just saying you definitely could have done worse, ya know?" He nodded over to where Oliver was sitting, only to find his stool at the bar empty.
The front door opened a second later and Cruella strode in, looking fit to murder someone. She didn't say anything, but ran her sharp eyes over everything. She didn't bother asking about him, suspecting that the patrons would lie to her again. After a moment, she turned and stalked out.
"Dude, you have got to make peace with that woman," Clint looked toward the most logical hiding place, and was rewarded a moment later when a blonde head slowly rose from behind the bar.
"Tried that," he groused. "She's completely unreasonable. It's not like we even knew each other before the event. Now she acts like she owns me."
"I certainly don't see the attraction," one of the bar's female patrons offered from her table. This provoked a round of laughter and a few thrown napkins and peanut shells that the archer ducked, at least until he was suddenly levitated into the air and deposited on the other side of the bar.
Tom grunted in satisfaction and put his wand away, noting, with only minor irritation, that the number and variety of missiles thrown by the female patrons increased. It was, after all, why he had a barmaid.
He approached one of the few females in the room too distracted to harass Oliver.
She-Dragon looked miserable, and, knowing her favourite drink, he reached for a bottle, but she raised a scaled hand to stop him.
"What's wrong, dear?" he asked in a fond tone that few of his patrons ever warranted. "That Parker bloke not…"
"It's not that," she shook her head. "Well, it is, but… We talked. We settled things. I understand how he feels and I sympathize, but that was before I found out."
"Found out what?"
She told him, and Tom stiffened, his eyes widening a bit. He should have thought of that. He really should have. They all should have. "Oh, Merlin," he muttered fervently.
"What?" an irritable voice at the end of the bar demanded. Tom winced and glanced over at something else he had forgotten. The cranky and very drunk old wizard swaying on his stool was looking around blearily for whoever had called his name.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the block, Blunk was sitting in an alleyway, feeling very sorry for himself. He had spent several days trying to woo Tiffany, but so far none of his attempts had been successful. He didn't know what the problem was. He had given her all of the best things that any female Passling would have loved to get.
"Doo-bee doo-bee doo-bee-dee-doo," a trio of voices sounded from down the street, shaking Blunk briefly out of his reverie.
"Well, it's a doo-bah-dee-doo!" the three voices shouted out, singing in unison. "Yes, it's a doo-bah-dee-doo! I mean a doo-bee doo-bee, doo-bee doo-bee, doo-bee-dee-doo… "
Blunk winced a little at the loud voices, but recognized their owners immediately, as a trio of bears suddenly rounded the corner, still singing, as they walked together with their arms around each other's shoulders, laughing and banging their hips into one another.
The colony played host to a vast array of odd characters, but these three were among the strangest.
They were a group of literal party-animals, with no pun intended, as they were actual bears. Their names were Baloo, Baloo 2 and Johnny. Baloo and Baloo 2 had the same name, so it had made sense for one of them to be called Baloo 2, so as to prevent confusion. They all looked more or less like normal bears except that they all walked on two legs and could talk like men, and two of them actually wore clothes.
They had arrived at the colony about a month ago, and Winnsboro had been much livelier since. The trio did nothing quietly, and every night was a party to them.
Before Halloween, the three of them had been high-school students working part-time at a place called Disney-World. They had all been wearing Disney Character costumes for parade shows and tourists. Two of them had been dressed up as Baloo from Disney's Jungle Book, though the second one had also been wearing a red cap, which someone had thrown on his head as a joke, thus turning him into another Baloo from a cartoon based on the same character. The third and final bear had been a character from Disney's Robin Hood, Little John, now simply called Johnny by his friends.
One would think they were brothers, as they certainly acted like it, and they looked enough alike, though they all claimed that none of them were related.
Baloo was dark grey, and aside from walking on two legs, he looked like a pretty ordinary, though gigantic, bear. He was enormously fat, with long sharp claws and a mean arm that could bat someone clear across the colony. He didn't wear any clothes, and all he seemed to know how to do was sing, shake his massive backside when dancing, and take life easy.
Baloo 2 looked more or less like the first, as he too was grey, though a tone lighter, but he was not as big. Instead of ordinary bear-paws, he had human-like hands with no claws, and he didn't have a tail. Baloo 2 wore clothes, but only a yellow shirt and a red pilot's cap, and he possessed an extraordinary knowledge of planes, and claimed he could even fly one. Like Baloo, he also knew how to throw a wild party.
Johnny, aka Little John, was almost an exact duplicate of Baloo, except his fur was brown and, like Baloo 2, he had human-like hands. He also wore clothes, which were medieval in style, with a pair of green cloth shoes, a green shirt and tunic, and a green hat. He could play the banjo and fight well when needed, but mostly he preferred to sing and dance like his brother bears.
In terms of personality, the three of them were exactly alike. They all enjoyed joking around and partying, and they loved taking it easy before, during and after work. Plus each one of them had an appetite that would have done three elephants, let alone three bears, proud. How they managed to save up on their rations was anyone's guess?
"Hey, little buddy!" Baloo 2 yelled out to Blunk, as he neared him. "What's up?"
Blunk looked up, up and up at the huge bear, but at that moment he was too consumed with self-pity to be worried. He sighed. "Nothing."
"Awww, come on!" Baloo added, reaching down and patting Blunk painfully on the back. "That's mighty big talk from someone so small, little britches. You tell us what's wrong."
Blunk sighed. "Well, me was with someone on Valentine's Day."
At the mention of Valentine's Day, the three bears all grinned at each other as though sharing a private joke, but they kept silent and let Blunk continue.
"Blunk thought she was perfect, my first love," Blunk said dreamily. "Blunk had best night of Blunk's life, and then…" He looked down crestfallen. "Then she just shooed me away as if were nothing but big mistake. Blunk not even know what Blunk did wrong."
Baloo snorted. "Buddy, if you ask me, the only thing you did wrong was trying to get together with this bird in the first place. One night stands are fine, they're all good fun, but anything more is just asking for trouble, because that's all that females are."
Baloo 2 gave him a nudge with his elbow, hushing him up. "Little buddy," he said, as he sat down next to Blunk. "Sounds to me like this gal was maybe just a little bit nervous. Heck, most folks were with someone they'd never even met before that day. Yet they usually ended up staying with them. Maybe this gal of yours just needs a little more encouraging."
"Well…" Baloo 2 said thoughtfully.
"Have you tried romancing her?" Johnny asked.
"Me give her presents, tell her I think of her," Blunk replied.
"What about a love song then?"
"Love… song?" Blunk asked, confused.
"Yeah, make up a song dedicated to her," Johnny smiled. "It's easy. Just think up all the things you like best about her, put them altogether in a song and sing it to her outside her window."
"Yeah!" Baloo 2 grinned. "Chicks can't resist a fellow who sings from his heart."
Blunk smiled widely. "Me do it!" He sprung to his feet. "Thanks!"
As he turned around, planning to run right back to his car-home and begin preparation for his song, he couldn't help wondering something… What had happened to the bears on Valentine's Day?
Just as he was about to ask, a young dark-haired woman rounded the corner ahead of him and stopped, as her eyes spotted the three bears, widening in shock and… dread?
The three of them soon noticed her, and each gave a Cheshire cat-like grin. "Yoo-hoo, baby!" they all yelled out.
Baloo turned around, flexing his back-muscles and shaking his tail at her, while Johnny flexed his arms in a hammer-body style, and Baloo 2 seductively blew a kiss at her. "Miss us?"
The woman gave a squeak and immediately turned tail and ran, while the guys just laughed and each gave one another high-fives.
Blunk immediately reconsidered asking. Perhaps there were some things that were better left unknown.
Tiffany shivered as she put on another coat. She felt mildly ridiculous wearing clothes as though she were going for a walk in the snow while inside her own apartment, and getting ready for bed no less. But tonight was the coldest it had been in a while, and she still had no bed-covers.
Still, she thought, at least that slimy Blunk seemed to have finally gotten the message that she wanted nothing to do with him. It had been a few days now, and she had neither seen nor smelt anything of him, much to her relief.
She had just put on her second coat, and was about to lie down for a much-needed night's rest when an awful noise banished all thoughts of sleep.
"What make Tiffy so pretty?" a strained voice sang from outside and below her window.
Tiffany shuddered. The voice sounded like someone gargling, but she would recognize it anywhere… Blunk.
"Hair like straw, butt not so small, and eyes as dark as sooty coal!"
Her eyes widened at the lyrics to the song, and she started to rush straight to the window. Unfortunately, she had put on so many clothes that moving quickly was almost impossible. She tripped and fell over.
"Oof!" her breath left her in a rush, and she banged her nose.
"That what make Tiffy so pretty!" Blunk crooned. "Skin so soft with grease like on spot! What I really wanna pop!"
She struggled out of her extra clothes as fast as she could, adrenaline pushing her on just so that she could shut the little toad up before any of her neighbours heard him.
"With teeth that shine like toilet bowl, and she really, really tall! Makes me in love fall!"
'I should just snap his head right off,' she thought insanely. 'That way I'll be sure to never hear from him again. It'll be easy, just one quick snap to the left and it'll all be over.'
"THAT WHAT MAKE TIFFY SO PRETTY! " Blunk's shrill voice sang out the last verse, hitting notes that should have been impossible, just as Tiffany reached her window, nearly shattering it as she wretched it open.
She looked down from her window ledge, seeing Blunk standing on her scaffolding, grinning up at her. "Pretty Tiffy like song Blunk make for her?" he asked.
"Yeah, pretty Tiffy like?" a voice called up from one of the other apartment windows, laughing.
Tiffany's cheeks burned red, as she heard laughter from what sounded like her entire apartment building.
"That's it!" she screamed, reaching down and grabbing Blunk by his ears and pulling him up to her eye-level, glaring murderously at him. "Now listen and listen good, freak-boy! I am not now nor have I ever been even mildly interested in you, nor will I ever be unless I go completely insane!"
Blunk whined, as his ears felt like they would rip out of his skull anytime. "Could pretty Tiffy please put…"
"And don't call me pretty Tiffy!" she screeched. "That's Miss Tiffany to you! I am not interested in you or anyone even remotely like you, okay? Now… GET OUT!"
With those last words, she flung Blunk away from her, as he flew over the scaffolding and down once more into the dumpster waiting at the bottom.
"Ow!" Blunk yelped, as he landed on a soft but spiky pincushion.
Tiffany in the meanwhile had already slammed her window shut, while everyone else who had heard the commotion was already voicing their own opinions.
"Damn, what a bitch!"
"Yo, Blunk! Next time you see her, give her a slap in the face from me!"
Blunk, however, was too busy climbing out of the dumpster, swaying dizzily. "Blunk thinks Tiffy not music fan," he said thoughtfully.
Two Days Later:
Tiffany got out of the shower, and began getting ready for work. So far so good. It had been two days, and so far, Blunk had not made another appearance. Maybe he had finally gotten the message?
She paused for a moment, as she checked her daily schedule. First, she had to go pick up a package for Councilman Magneto, pick up some new office supplies for the Council offices, and see if there were any bananas available for King Louie.
Fresh produce was hard to come by, but some enterprising individuals had found ways of acquiring fresh fruits and vegetables. She wasn't sure how Louie rated fresh bananas, but decided she really didn't care. The talking ape didn't disturb her as much as some of the other residents. Apes had been around before Halloween, unlike dragons and demons and, ugh, Passlings, but still, Louie wasn't a normal animal.
Tiffany was of the firm opinion that apes should not talk.
All that had to be done before lunch, and then, during her lunch break, she had to go to the doctor's to discuss her test results from her medical check-up.
Ever since that dreadful Valentine's Day, when so many people had had unprotected sex with members of other species, the few doctors of the colony had been overwhelmed. Everyone was worried about STDs and other health issues. Winnsboro had few resources, and the Council had intervened to organize screenings in order to respond quickly to any possibility of a contagion. The best they could do for now was order a general medical exam and as many specific tests as were feasible for everyone, and then deal with any specific issues as they arose.
Tiffany hadn't needed convincing. No one had needed to ask her to go in for tests. She wanted nothing more than to get tested after she had found out what she had slept with that day. God, who knew how many germs she had picked up from Blunk?
It would have been done sooner, but because she had spent the day after Valentines cleaning and ridding her apartment of everything Blunk, the waiting list for an appointment had seemed endless. She had only been to the doctor's office the previous day, but they had gotten through her tests pretty quickly, and now they wanted to see her.
She had been worried when they had asked to see her, but the doctor assured her that she was perfectly healthy, and that she only wished to discuss something with her.
"Probably wants money," she grumbled, forgetting again that money was now irrelevant in the colony.
Old habits die hard, after all.
She couldn't help wondering if there was something wrong with her, though. For all she knew, Blunk could have left a pile of toxic waste in her as a parting gift.
'Stop that,' she admonished herself. 'If there was anything seriously wrong with me, the message would have been more urgent. And Blunk is no longer in the picture, so it's over at long last. I just need to get through this one last doctor's appointment, and then I can forget all about Valentines Day and all the nightmares it brought with it. In just a few more hours, I will finally be a free woman.'
Few More Hours Later:
"NOOOOOOOO!" Everyone in the building, and in two adjacent buildings, could hear Tiffany's voice. All the patients and nurses stared at the doctor's office door in wonder. "THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING! IT JUST CAN'T!"
"But I'm afraid it is, Miss… Um, Tiffany," the doctor replied. Tiffany had never given her surname because apparently she didn't have one. The reason being, the show that had given life to her character had never bothered to give her a surname.
"For what it's worth," the doctor continued. "You're not the only one in this predicament. So far, literally every mature woman who was… with someone on Valentine's Day has ended up in your condition."
Tiffany just gave her an angry glare.
Dr. Julie Teeger was one of the few doctors in the colony, and a very good one. She was also one from the small handful of people that had been affected by the Halloween Event and yet still retained memories of their lives before.
Before the night of Halloween, she had been Julie Teeger, an 11-year-old girl from San Francisco. Her mother had been an assistant to a police detective whom they had been accompanying to visit a relative of his, when the big change had occurred.
Julie had been the only one in costume that night, dressed as a doctor, or as the detective's brother had pointed out… a Cardiologist. Apparently, the stethoscope she had been wearing looked like the ones with built-in amplifiers that were used by cardiologists to listen for heart murmurs.
Because she had not been dressed as or resembled any particular character, not a monster or superhero or even a specific TV physician, the change had simply aged her to adulthood, as there were no child doctors, and gave her all the knowledge that of a fully qualified doctor. Aside from that, her memory had remained perfectly intact.
In some ways, Halloween had been the best thing to ever happen to her. She may have lost the remaining years of her childhood, but she had also advanced to a full doctor without even having to go to medical school.
Her mother's boss had, unfortunately, not lasted long. Apparently, he had had a large number of phobias, suffering from OCD, and when the change had happened and the entire world went insane, it was more than he could bear. He had suffered a complete breakdown, running in terror. His blind panic earned him a quick death from one of the numerous beasts roaming around that night.
As for Julie and her mother, after getting over the shock of what had happened, they had attached themselves to a group of survivors protected by several transformed automobiles that had been given Autobot stickers for the night. The group had made their way across country until they eventually arrived in Winnsboro.
Her mother had been distressed, to say the least, over her daughter's accelerated aging, but in the end she decided that she was more fortunate than most. Everyone she had met since then had either been one who had completely lost their former lives that night, or had lost someone. So at least her daughter was still alive and had her memories intact. Plus, she had to admit that it was nice to be able to tell people that her daughter was a Doctor, which was every mother's dream.
"Now then," Julie pressed on. "If I'm going to help you, I need to know a few things. Bear in mind, this all falls under doctor patient privilege. I will never discuss what we talk about here with anyone else."
"Damn right," Tiffany's tone was beyond angry, but Teeger ignored it, having seen all manner of reactions to the same news over the last couple of days.
"I take it by your reaction that you and the father aren't on good terms."
"No," her patient answered flatly. "We're not."
"What do you want to do?" Teeger asked, suspecting she already knew the answer, but not allowing herself to make any assumptions.
"That's a stupid question! I want to get rid of it!" Tiffany couldn't believe the quack doctor was even asking. Why would she want to have a baby? Let alone Blunk's baby? The thought alone made her want to throw up.
"I'll do what I can. First, though, I need to know who and what the father is."
When Tiffany hesitated, Teeger sighed. "I said I won't discuss it with anyone," she repeated. "You aren't the only one with an embarrassing story. Nothing you say will surprise me, and I do need to know. With so many different species involved, the old rules don't apply. What works for a standard Human pregnancy might cause serious problems in a mixed pregnancy. To put it bluntly, what I don't know could kill you."
Tiffany thought about that for a moment, but finally sighed in frustration and told Dr. Teeger what had happened. Teeger made some notes, asked some very embarrassing questions, and told Tiffany she would be in touch.
She had waited impatiently for four days and was almost frantic by the time Teeger contacted her with a new appointment. It was an additional two days, however, before the two actually met again.
Doctor's Surgery; Six Days Later:
Tiffany sat in the waiting room, twiddling her fingers impatiently, as she waited for Teeger to call her in.
There were at least a dozen other women waiting with her, all of whom were no doubt in the same position she was. Their reactions varied. Some were sobbing loudly, others seemed outraged, and some were just sitting in silence, blank looks on their faces.
She would have liked to feign concern for them, but right then she had her own problems to deal with and couldn't manage to feel sorry for anyone else.
Feeling bored, she got up to look around the waiting room. Not that there was anything especially interesting about it, aside from the out of date magazines on the table, the posters advertising vaccinations and such, and an aquamarine tank in the corner. She decided to take a short look at that.
She walked up to peer inside the tank, and soon spotted an odd sort of rock. She squinted her eyes to look at it more closely, and it was then that the rock seemingly grew a neck and peered right back at her.
"Hey!" the young turtle said in a high squeaky voice. "I'm Squirt from the E.A.C., dudette! How's it going?"
Tiffany squealed, almost screaming, backing from the tank as far as she could until she ended up falling back onto her seat. The rest of the waiting room's occupants stared at her incredulously.
She paid them no heed, as she sat and tried to calm her racing heart. She absolutely loathed turtles!
"So you in here for the same reason as everybody else?" a voice suddenly spoke from her left. When she turned around, Tiffany saw a young woman about the same age as she, with dark hair and fair skin.
"Don't know what you mean," she replied. To which the woman just held out her hand in front of her belly, making a half-circle over her midsection to emphasize her point.
Tiffany blushed fiercely. "Of course not!" she hissed, but the woman just snorted rudely, making it clear that she didn't believe a word of it.
"What about you, then?" she rebuked. "Do you have a bun in the oven?"
The woman just scoffed again. "Who doesn't?" she said, waving her hand around her, pointing at all the women sitting about, most of whom were touching their bellies protectively. She pointed to one woman in particular who was actually smiling for some reason. "That there's Betsy, one of the lucky ones. Apparently, she and the guy she slept with turned out to be such a sweet couple, they decided to stay together and make a go at it."
Tiffany gave a humph. "At least things turned out well for them."
"What about you? You planning to stay together with your man?"
Tiffany's cheeks burned red, though more from anger than embarrassment. "When pigs fly!" she squealed. "He isn't even a man. More of a… a disgusting, mutated turtle!"
"Okay, okay, geez. Don't get your knickers in a twist."
Tiffany calmed down, breathing heavily. "What about you, then?" she then asked. "Staying with your man?"
The woman just had a blank look on her face. "I would if I had actually got a man," she whispered as she got up, and memories of a wanted–to-be-forgotten time resurfaced in her mind.
"Goldilocks wanna try the big bed with her big daddy bears?"
She shuddered, and Tiffany heard her say, "And I always hated those beastiality ads on the Internet, too!"
Tiffany stared at her in bewilderment, as the woman hurried away, wondering what she meant by that.
"Miss Tiffany!" the receptionist called out.
"Finally!" she said, hurrying to get up and into the doctor's office. "Maybe now we can sort all this out once and for all."
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN'T GET IT OUT?"
"I mean that the embryo has attached itself to you in a very unusual way. Probably natural in Passlings, but it poses some peculiar problems in Humans." Teeger raised a hand to forestall any objections. "You aren't in any danger, but the positioning and the nature of the attachment makes removing it problematic. I would need to run additional tests, but it looks as if it would take major surgery to even make the attempt."
"Are you saying I'm stuck with this thing?"
"Frankly, we don't have the resources here in Winnsboro to try anything like that with any guarantee of success, and what resources we do have are already strained by emergency care for those wounded during attacks on the colony."
"B-but, that's not… "
"If you're going to say it isn't fair," Teeger cut her off, finally losing patience, "don't bother! You're not the only one with this problem. There are others with more pressing needs. That is simply a fact."
Tiffany drew back as if slapped, but before she could respond, Teeger pressed on.
"Every doctor, nurse, vet and witch doctor in the colony has his or her hands full. Prenatal care is going to be made one of the hospital's priorities. I can arrange a check-up for you in two months to see if the situation has changed, but beyond that, I'm afraid there is very little I can do."
"If I can't get what I need in Winnsboro, maybe there's somewhere else," Tiffany said hopefully.
"Maybe. You might try one of the larger colonies. Perhaps Sunnydale or Magia would have the facilities. We've learned, though, that the Valentine Event hit just about everywhere. I'm certainly not telling you not to try, but you might possibly get the same response wherever you go. Also, I don't have to tell you how dangerous travel between even nearby colonies is right now. A cross-country journey would be very hazardous for someone in your condition."
Tiffany did try to make arrangements to go to another colony, but trade-caravans, the safest way to travel, had certain requirements, which she didn't meet. She had no skills to offer and the caravans didn't take passengers.
There were armoured buses providing transport to people who just wanted to get from one place to another, but three had been attacked in the last month by hungry monsters, and those were just the ones she was certain of. There were rumours of other attacks; a lot of attacks.
In the end, she was forced to settle down and wait, hoping that by the time the next doctor's appointment rolled around, there would be more options.
Days passed, and waiting, she found, was not easy. Everywhere she went, it seemed, people watched her. She just knew her neighbours and the people she worked with were whispering about her behind her back.
On some level, she knew that was irrational, but it didn't lessen her conviction that every time she heard someone laughing or saw someone hide a smirk, it was about her and Blunk, and it was making her miserable. She hadn't even begun to show, and yet, she felt like she was walking around with a sign on her back that she couldn't see or touch, but everyone could read.
There were a lot of women in town in the same predicament she was in, but knowing that didn't help matters. On several occasions, she had encountered that woman whom she had met at the doctor's surgery, who she had come to think of as Goldilocks despite her dark hair. Apparently, she had had the misfortune to be near those three bears, the two Baloos and Johnny, when the wave of magic hit. It seemed they had all been walking around the corner of a building; she from one direction and they from the other. When the magic hit, they had all been staring at each other.
Tiffany didn't let herself think about that too much. It would mean acknowledging that there were people worse off than herself, and she couldn't bring herself to do that.
So, instead, she pouted and groused and made herself miserable waiting for the next appointment. That long awaited visit was still a few days away, and to make matters worse, she had once again had to deal with Blunk…
She was on her way home when she had passed by a woman sitting on the steps outside another old apartment building. She was wearing large sunglasses and holding a cane, indicating that she was blind. Tiffany had paid her no heed until the woman had suddenly spoken to her.
"In a rush, my friend?" she had said.
Tiffany had overcome her surprise, wondering how the woman could have known she was there since she couldn't see. "Yes, actually," she had simply replied, wanting to hurry up home.
"Would you care to know your future?"
Tiffany snorted. "What are you, some kind of fortune teller?"
The woman had smiled. "Yes, actually," she replied, copying Tiffany's exact words. "Name's Irene Adler, but everyone calls me Destiny."
Tiffany snorted again. She had heard of this woman, as she had made a reputation for herself by telling people's fortunes and indicating certain future events with uncanny accuracy. Even the council had used her upon occasion. Though personally, Tiffany thought her to be nothing more than a quack out for attention.
"Thanks, but no thanks," she told the psychic, and started walking away.
"You feel all alone, with no one from your own world," Destiny said after her. "But have no fear, for you will soon find yourself with many of those from your world."
Tiffany paused slightly, wondering what the woman meant by that, but soon dismissed them. Even with all the strange people and creatures in this new world, she had always regarded all psychics as pitiful quacks and cheats, and still did.
She had continued on her way then, but soon came to regret not staying with Destiny, for soon she came face to face with none other than Blunk himself.
He had been sunning himself on the lid of a dumpster, chewing on something unidentifiable. She was certain he'd spot her if she just walked right by, but she was late already, and it would take time to circle the block to avoid him.
Drawing as deep a breath as she dared with the Passling in close proximity, she straightened her shoulders and walked by the dumpster as quickly as she could without running.
'Not fast enough,' she realized, grinding her teeth. She kept on walking, determined to ignore the little pest. That lasted until Blunk did something that was strange even for him.
The Passling had been going on about how pretty she looked that day, and how nice she smelled, when he suddenly stopped and increased his pace towards her. He had learned to stay out of striking distance whenever he approached her, but on this occasion, he blatantly invaded her personal space and inhaled deeply.
With an outraged squeal, Tiffany swung the heavy bag she was carrying, and Blunk barely avoided catching the blow between his eyes. "Stay away from me, you little troll!"
Much to her surprise, Blunk backed away without another word, his expression unreadable. She blinked, not sure what to make of her good fortune, but decided not to question it. She threw him one last glare and turned away to hurry home.
Blunk had stared after her for a moment, not moving or even blinking. Then, gradually, a smile split his face from ear to ear. "A baby!" he whispered to himself. "Passling baby!" The scent of a pregnant female was unmistakable to his sensitive Passling nostrils.
What to do, though? Tiffy had made clear that she wanted nothing to do with him, and he didn't know how to get through to her. He needed to think about this, or at least he needed advice.
Settling on a bench, Blunk thought hard about what he should do next, but he always circled back to the same thought, 'Blunk going to be papa!' It was all he could do not to get up and dance. He was so happy!
He was also certain that Tiffany would have to accept him once he told her the good news. They would be a family. He was certain of it.
Then, he remembered the way she had rejected him repeatedly and began to doubt. If she rejected him, how would she feel about the baby? What if she still kicked him and sent him away? 'What if Tiffy not like babies?' Then the doubt would fade, as he thought about the baby and he would be close to dancing again.
This went on for some time.
Eventually, he had to admit that he was no closer to a solution than he had been when he had sat down more than an hour before. Perhaps, Blunk realized, he needed advice.
With that decision made, he then had to decide who to ask.
The bears came to his mind at first, as they had happily offered him their counsel before, but he somehow doubted that their advice on this matter would be of much help. The thought of any of them having a long-term relationship with a female was almost laughable. They just didn't seem like the type to settle down.
Oh, he was sure they would like kids someday, as he had seen them play with the colony children often enough, but marriage was not something any of them would consider.
Other friends were equally unsuitable for similar reasons. What he needed, Blunk eventually realized, was the advice of someone who had made a successful go of their magic-forged pairing.
"Where Blunk find people like that?" he wondered aloud.
"People like what, Blunk?"
The Passling glanced up to see Oliver standing by the bench, watching him curiously. "Hi, Ollie. Blunk thinking."
"So I see," Oliver nodded, looking vaguely amused for a reason Blunk couldn't understand. "You're looking way too serious there, my friend. What's up?" He settled down on the bench and nodded for the little Passling to talk.
They made an odd pair. Oliver Queen had been a billionaire in his world, living off the family fortune while adventuring as Green Arrow. He was a talented businessman in his own right, but he didn't take the same day-to-day interest in running his company that Bruce Wayne had. If the rest of the world hadn't fallen apart with it, he might have welcomed the release from corporate life.
Blunk was a scrounger. He thought of himself as an entrepreneur, but most people disagreed. The odd friendship they had struck up baffled most, but the two just shrugged and didn't try to analyse it. They got along well and were occasionally able to help each other with some small problem or other. At the moment, Oliver noted, it seemed to be his turn.
Blunk explained about Tiffany and her pregnancy. He wanted to do right by her and the baby, but she had rejected him at every turn. Finally, he sighed melodramatically. "Blunk not know what to do!"
Oliver thought hard for a moment. He really didn't want to put the little guy in a position to get hurt, emotionally or physically. The Passling was so earnest, though, that it was hard to even think of dissuading him. So, against his better judgment, he told Blunk about a few Human traditions to which Tiffany might respond.
Few Hours Later:
The sound of smashing plates and vases reached her ears, as Tiffany sat up in bed.
"No!" she squealed, rushing into her living room. "My best plates!"
All around the room, there were at least a dozen little Passlings. Each one was the spitting image of Blunk, and their combined odour was enough to make an elephant pass out. They were all dressed in diapers, as they raced or crawled around the room, laughing and destroying everything in sight.
There were a couple of them even now, with one carrying a smaller one on his shoulders who was balancing a large Ming vase on his head. They sniggered, as the bigger one ran about the room, faster and faster, while the smaller one tried to keep the vase from falling off his head.
Blunk was also there, sitting in a large chair in nothing but his underpants and a dirty vest, and a beer-can in his hand. He then took one large slurp from the can before giving off a loud belch, earning a host of giggles from his kids, as they began mimicking him, each giving off their own little burps.
Blunk than noticed her, and gave her a grin. "Mrs. Blunk sleep well?" he asked.
"Get out!" She screamed. "Get out of my… YEARGH!" She screeched, as she saw a giant turtle scuttling over towards her.
"What wrong?" Blunk asked. "Mrs. Blunk not used to pet turtle Rover yet?"
"No! NO! GET IT OUT!" she yelled hysterically.
Blunk just grinned. "Blunk know what Mrs. Blunk need… Mrs. Blunk just need big family hug!" He opened and raised his arms, exposing his smelly armpits, and began to move toward her, the rest of them following after him, following his example as they too opened their arms to her, grinning and making kissing sounds.
"Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama!" They all repeated insistently, heading closer to her.
Then, one of them began singing. His voice, however, was definitely not that of an infant, as it sounded too deep and loud, almost like a southerner.
"Look for the bear necessities! The simple bear necessities! Forget about your worries and your strife!"
"Hey, buddy!" one of the other little Blunks suddenly said in a high raspy voice. "Why don't you slow down that big butt of yours, huh? You swing it any faster, you could whack someone to the moon with it!"
"Where the pizza?" a high squeaky voice came from one of the others.
"Huh? Wha…?" Tiffany said blankly, and then suddenly there was another loud crash, only this one seemed louder.
Tiffany blinked and found herself back in her bed again. She twisted her head from side to side, searching hysterically for any sign of Blunk or his spawn, but saw nothing of them.
"It was a dream," she heaved a sigh in relief. She should have realized that when she saw the Ming vase, as she had no such expensive trinkets in her home. "Just an awful nightmare. I…"
Another loud crash sounded from the next room.
"No…" Her voice emerged as a horrified whisper, her eyes widening. "It can't be… It can't…" She threw off her newly acquired blankets and rushed into the living room.
The good news was that there weren't over a dozen little Blunks in the room, but the bad news was that there were several large and even worse things there instead.
The first thing she noticed, as she stood in the doorway to her room, was what looked like a corpse in a black and white striped suit. He appeared to be making music with his armpits, as he rang out a tune, with Blunk standing right beside him laughing, copying him.
Suddenly, something flew by her head. She ducked and then looked up, seeing something like a large green blob with a face and huge mouth, floating around the room. It gave her a gigantic smile before whizzing off and disappearing into her fridge.
She then noticed one of the three bears, Baloo 2, as he sat on her couch with a pair of Bongo drums on his lap, beating out an accompanying tune to Blunk and the striped corpse's armpit melody.
"WHAT IS…?" she started to say, sounding outraged, but never got to finish.
It felt like the force of two pianos being slammed into her from either side.
"Whoops!" two voices that sounded exactly alike said at the same time. "Sorry, hun'!"
The two voices turned out to belong to the other two bears, Baloo and Johnny, who had been getting into the swing with their finest dance moves. As usual, the bears only needed the tiniest bit of music to get going.
They had been swinging their hips all around the room before they had turned their backs to each other, preparing to slam into one another with an almighty big rump-bump. Unfortunately, Tiffany had had the misfortune to get in-between them at just the wrong moment.
Tiffany moaned, as the two fat bears moved away from her, her entire body swaying before she felt herself crash to the floor.
"Tiffy-hun!" Blunk cried out worriedly, as he rushed over to her. He checked her body for injuries for a few seconds, wondering what to do, and then he clicked his fingers as he thought of something. Lifting his arm and peeling back the cloth from his armpit, he waved it by Tiffany's nose.
"URGH!" she cried out, as she quickly came to, the stench making her ready to throw up.
"Tiffy okay now?" the little Passling asked in concern.
"Sorry about that, babe!" Baloo said, as he patted his rump and shook it. "Thing can get a little dangerous at times." He laughed.
Tiffany, however, was not laughing. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU ALL DOING HERE?" she demanded, while she scrambled to her feet.
Blunk just smiled and pointed over to the centre of the room. "Blunk make big surprise for you!"
Tiffany looked over, and gaped. This was certainly a big surprise, but it was hardly a nice one. It looked like they had filled her whole apartment with nothing but junk!
She peered closer at the junk and soon realized something else… All this junk had been made into baby things. An old kitchen-sink that had been made into a baby's cot, which had a small mattress stuffed with rags and dishcloths in it. There was also some sort of baby-mobile at the top with an old tin can, a pair of somebody's dentures, the skeleton of a codfish and an old doll's head hanging from it. There were also lots of small clothes that looked like miniature versions of Blunk's own attire lying around the place.
Tiffany felt her breath stick in her throat… Blunk knew! He knew that she was pregnant!
"How…?" she stuttered.
"Blunk's friend tell him bout Human custom," Blunk smiled broadly. "Make big baby-shower."
"No!" she added more forcefully. "How… did you know I was pregnant?"
Blunk shrugged. "Blunk smell it on you."
"Yup-yup," the toad-like creature said, pointing at his nose. "Nothing more keener than Passling nose."
Tiffany could do nothing but stand there, her mouth opening and shutting like a goldfish in shock.
"Blunk also wanted this opportunity to ask big question," Blunk said, losing his smile, as he started to look nervous for some reason. He then got down on one knee, as he had seen Humans on TV shows do, and got out an old pill-bottle.
"Blunk know this sudden," he admitted. "But with baby coming, Blunk thought this be only right thing to do. We all be together as one family."
Tiffany's fear was growing geometrically. It grew even bigger, as Blunk opened the old bottle and dropped what looked to be a ring. It was nothing more than an old ring pop, the ones where they had a large sweet on a plastic circle, but she got the general idea.
"Blunk want us all to be together," Blunk said, smiling. "Pretty Tiffy marry me?"
Oliver Queen wasn't thinking about his route. It was just the shortest path between his small apartment and the store where he picked up his rations. While he walked, he couldn't help but think of the advice he had given Blunk over his situation with Tiffany.
He had no delusions that anything Blunk did was going to end well. He knew well enough what kind of girl Tiffany was, and had no doubt that anything Blunk tried to do was going to earn him nothing but a broken heart… or worse. He had tried to tell him, but he knew already that the poor little troll was smitten with her, and nothing would dissuade him.
That was the reason he had told Blunk to make sure that he had some friends with him at the baby shower, and more importantly, when he proposed to her. At least, if he had witnesses, he had a greater chance of getting out of that blonde harpy's place alive. He would have gone, too, as Blunk had invited him, but he was fairly certain of the outcome, and didn't want to watch.
Speaking of which, he realized, Blunk had to be at her place by now. He wondered how it had gone?
Suddenly, there was a loud crash from up above him. When he looked up, he just managed to dodge out of the way of the pieces of shattered glass falling down to earth.
"What on…?" he hesitated, as a loud but recognizable scream sounded from up above, descending quickly to where he was.
He had just enough time to look up again, before something landed hard into the dumpster.
Oliver sighed. "Not again," he murmured, walking over to the dumpster after first taking care that no more shards of glass were on their way down. He looked in, and sure enough found the Passling in question laying on a pile of cans and rags, with a dazed look upon his face, his eyes rolling about in his head.
"Didn't go too well, I take it," Oliver said.
Blunk just moaned. A quick check showed that the Passling was stunned, but basically unhurt. He was helping his friend out of the dumpster when a noise from above drew Oliver's attention. He looked up to see two figures, one small, green and lumpy, the other human shaped but with an unhealthy pallor, fly through the wall of the building and drift down toward them. Oliver recognized two of Blunk's friends, Slimer and the ghost with the most.
"Hey, BJ. What happened?"
Beetlejuice, looking very putout, glared up at the window for a moment. "Blunk actually wants that shrew?" He gave an exaggerated shudder. "Come on, Spud. We know when we're not wanted."
Tiffany glared at the green slime-puddle that the smaller ghost had left on her wall, and then turned to face the last of the intruders in her home. The bears had, at least, ceased the noise they seemed to think was music. "Get out!" she yelled, threatening them with the broom. They seemed less than intimidated though, and she made a mental note to acquire a shotgun at the first given opportunity.
"We're going," Baloo answered in a humph, not seeing any point in lingering near the short-tempered Human. "Come on, guys."
Baloo 2 was busy quickly finishing up some chips and dips he had found in her fridge, while Johnny walked up to Baloo. As they passed by either side of the wrathful blonde, on their way to the door, they traded meaningful looks and smirks, as the same idea occurred to both of them simultaneously.
The second they came up to pass by her, they seemingly lost their footing, stepping sharply over to their sides to regain their balance, thereby swinging their hips, just as they had done before.
"Hey, watch where you're…!" she started to say.
"Whoops-a-daisy," they both said, still grinning, as they once again crushed Tiffany right between them.
"Our bad," Johnny said, but neither he nor Baloo seemed the least apologetic, as they simply moved away from her, dropping her to the floor in a daze.
Baloo 2 looked at the fallen blonde for a moment, as his friends headed for the door, casually licking the dip off his fingers as he glanced down at her. "In case it ain't clear," he said, still licking his fingers. "I think that one was intentional."
Stepping over her prone form, he joined his friends who meanwhile had gotten stuck in the doorway, which they had been trying to pass through at the same time. The two of them were shuffling and moaning, as they struggled against one another, trying to free themselves.
"I'm only pushing back against you!"
"Suck it in, will ya?"
"Bud, even if I was as thin as a reed, no way would it give enough room for you!"
Baloo 2 snorted in amusement, and then gave the both of them a hard shove from behind that forced them through the door, but which also tore out the doorframe… as well as part of the wall.
The three of them then left, seemingly unconcerned, as they joined together in their usual linked chain, arms around each other's shoulders, laughing and singing loudly.
"Look for the bear necessities! The simple bear necessities! Forget about your worries and your strife!"
Tiffany meanwhile just lay on the floor, still trying to regain her breath, and at the same time wishing that she had taken up hunting bears before the world had gone to Hell.
Her appointment with Doctor Teeger, a few days later, had dashed what was left of her hopes. The thing inside her just couldn't be removed, not without causing serious harm to her. And, to top it all off, the baby appeared to be in perfect health, which meant there was no chance of a miscarriage either.
She had tried to find ways to leave Winnsboro, but without success. Because of her condition, caravans were reluctant to take her on in any capacity. Attacks on buses were less frequent, but the nature of the attacks was changing. There were whispers of an organized force moving against the colonies, and more and more people were deciding not to travel. Those that did moved in large and well-protected groups, but sometimes even those vanished without a trace.
Left with no choice, Tiffany settled in to wait. She went through her daily routine as if on autopilot, as the months slowly ticked by, sometimes barely even thinking about what she was doing. Few people tried to talk to her, and she was short and snappish with those who did. She was always on edge, and her moods shifted dramatically, sometimes from moment to moment.
Blunk no longer troubled her, which was the only good news she had. The thing in her womb liked to move about though, especially at night when she tried to sleep. It was friskier than a Human baby, like having a giant wriggling snake inside of her. The lack of sleep only made her more irritable, and she was not the only one who was relieved when it came time for the birth.
6 and a Half Months Later:
Teeger clenched her jaw to avoid yelling at the woman. She knew that Tiffany was in pain and not thinking straight, but there was part of her that was certain that Tiffany would have expressed similar sentiments even if she weren't enduring a delivery. "I need you to push now, Tiffany," she instructed in her best professional voice. "You're almost there."
"What do you THINK I'm doing?" she screamed. "Do something useful and get this little thing out of me, you quack!"
Teeger ignored the insults and concentrated on delivering the baby safely. The colony's shortage of medical personnel was becoming, for her at least, a personal problem. Everyone with anything resembling a medical background had been drafted for the hospital. She hadn't exaggerated a few months earlier when she had told Tiffany that every doctor, nurse, vet and witch doctor in the colony had his or her hands full. There was no longer any room for specialization. Cardiologists, neurologist and dermatologists were all being asked to treat everything from simple rashes to sucking chest wounds.
For her, that meant that she had to deliver a baby for one of the most unpleasant patients she'd ever had. She didn't allow these thoughts to interrupt her work though. She had already delivered seven babies that day and more were on the way. In the coming days, she was fairly certain she would hear far worse language.
Tiffany's pregnancy had actually been fairly uneventful. She had never come in unless she was ordered to do so. There had been no complications, and the visits had been short and strictly business. It had always rankled Teeger that Tiffany seemed disappointed when told that everything was fine.
The birth too, it seemed, would be routine. Tiffany was in pain, it was true. Drugs were in short supply and being used sparingly, but she was in no danger.
"Almost there," she assured her patient. "I see a head. I want you to give one more big push. Everything you have."
Tiffany complied, and Teeger found herself wondering if the woman was trying to shoot the kid across the room. With a final heave and a healthy sounding cry, the very first Human/Passling hybrid came into the world.
"It's a boy!" Teeger said a moment later, though Tiffany was too exhausted to answer, as she fell back in bed, breathing heavily. She had not yet seen her baby, but she could hear it. It had a powerful set of lungs for one newly born.
Teeger quickly cut the umbilical cord and handed the baby off to a nurse while she dealt with the afterbirth. Tiffany noticed that neither the doctor nor the nurse seemed disgusted or were giving cocked eyebrow looks at her baby's appearance. Maybe her baby was okay? Maybe it looked Human?
Tiffany forced herself to sit up, as Teeger finished cleaning her up, and the nurse returned with the baby that was wrapped up in a white blanket. The nurse smiled, as she handed the little one, completely bundled up, to her.
Tiffany smiled back. The nurse wasn't giving her a disgusted look, nor was she looking for a bucket to throw up in. Maybe everything was all right after all?
She pulled back some of the blanket from her baby's face.
"YEEEEARGHHHH!" she screamed, almost throwing her baby against the wall, if the nurse hadn't been there to take it from her. "Get that thing away from me!" she yelled in disgust.
"It's your baby," the nurse said, stunned by her words. She didn't understand the reaction, Considering most of the colony's inhabitants and all the other odd babies that they had delivered recently, this baby wasn't really all that much to scream at.
Apparently, its mother didn't feel the same way.
"Not by choice," Tiffany snapped. "Why not give it to that little toad, Blunk?" She put what strength she had to turn onto her side, facing away from the baby and the flustered nurse.
Three Days Later;
Blunk was running on all fours, hurrying towards to the medical clinic. He had been collecting garbage on the north side of town when he had run into the three bears again.
They had been on their way to visit a friend of theirs, the same lady whom Blunk had seen that night who had run seemingly in fright when she had seen Baloo and the others. Apparently, she had had a baby, and one of them was the father, though who the dad was had yet to be determined.
Whatever magic had been used on Valentine's Day had apparently lowered the genetic barriers between all species, if only temporarily, allowing anyone to bear children with whoever, or whatever, they had been with that night.
The lady had had a baby male bear, with human-like paws that had the same number of fingers that humans had, but otherwise looked like an ordinary bear. There was no question that one of them was the dad, but the baby had got dark fur, the same colour as its mom's hair. Because of that one feature, no one could ascertain who the dad was, but apparently none of the guys wanted to know, as they were quite happy to share responsibility of the kid between them.
Since the lady, who everyone just knew as Goldilocks (despite her dark hair), had no love for any of them, it didn't matter to her who was called Poppa Bear, just as long as she wasn't called Momma Bear.
They had been on their way with some new toys for the kid, when they had bumped into Blunk. Goldie had been taking the kid for his check-up at the doctor's, and the other day when she had been there, she had seen Tiffany. Apparently, she had just given birth.
Once Blunk had been told this, he had bolted, heading straight for the clinic as fast as his little legs could carry him. He had long since given up hope of ever getting back together with Tiffany again, and had come to the conclusion that maybe she was not as nice as he originally thought, but despite all that, he was still the baby's father and thus had a responsibility to it.
As he ran, he couldn't help wondering how the bears and Goldie would cope raising a baby together. He had no doubt that the bears would be swell dads to the baby, but… how would they deal with Goldie, and she with them? They weren't all living together, that was true, but they would still be dealing with each other possibly every day for the rest of their lives.
The bears all shared the same view on virtually everything, partying most of all, but with Goldie, and women in general, they each had their own opinion…
Johnny had originally come from a medieval-like world, and thus had grown up with the medieval traditions and values. When he had first heard that he may have gotten Goldie knocked up, he immediately stated that they should get married straight away, a proposal that was appreciated, but not accepted by his intended.
Baloo seemed to possess a strong dislike for all females in general for some reason, no matter what their species, claiming they were nothing but trouble. He had actually suggested to her that he and the guys could take the kid off her hands altogether, and that they would raise him themselves, but she had refused of course. The baby might be a bear, but it was still her baby as well. Baloo had begrudgingly agreed, accepting that he would just have to learn how to deal with her from then on.
Baloo 2, however, didn't seem to share his counterpart's opinion of women, or at least not completely. He definitely had no desire to settle down and get hitched, as he called it, but he was definitely not a hater of the female species in general, as proven by his constant flirting and corny pick-up lines that he had tried numerous times at the local bar. He even now continually tried flirting with Goldie, despite her telling him that whatever had happened on Valentine's Day was now long since over, and the chances of a sequel was non-existent.
Goldie had said that they were all nice enough guys, for bears anyway, but she had no intention of dating either of them. Besides the fact that she wasn't into the whole animal/human thing, something that still made her feel ill apparently, she also definitely did NOT go for the party-animal gigolo types either. Apparently, her last boyfriend had been a frat-boy at college. Something she still regretted.
Still, Blunk thought, it would be interesting to see how they would get along, and so far they all seemed to be getting along like a house of fire. The baby was, of course, the centre of all of their lives, as they continuously fussed over him, and had named him… Mowgli Robin Cloudkicker.
The little Passling rushed through the doors of Teeger's clinic, panting frantically. "Blunk here! Want to see Blunk's baby!"
The receptionist stared at him in surprise, and resisted the urge to hold her nose upon getting a whiff of him. "I'm sorry, but who… "
"Blunk!" the voice of Dr. Teeger sounded, as she came through the door. "It's about time. I've been trying to get hold of you for days. Where have you been?"
"Blunk been scrounging. Found good stuff. Wanna see, make good trade!"
"No thank you," Teeger said hurriedly. "But I do have something for you."
Blunk's eyes got wide with excitement. "Tiffy have baby now?"
Teeger's face dropped a little at the mention of the mother's name. "Yes, she had the baby," she replied in a flat tone.
"Tiffy okay now?" Blunk asked, wondering if her mood had gotten better since the birth.
"Tiffy… I mean Tiffany," Teeger explained, "has gone now, Blunk."
Teeger nodded. "After she rested for a full day, she just gathered her things and left. She left the baby behind and wouldn't even look at him."
Blunk started to get a little angry, wondering how Tiffany could have left their baby all alone without a momma and papa? "Where Tiffy now? At home?"
"No. No one knows where she is. After she left here, she just disappeared. Some people say they saw her preparing as though she was going for a long trip, but no one can say for sure. At the moment… it looks like she's left the colony."
Blunk looked down for a few moments.
"Are… are you okay?" Teeger asked in concern. She had never understood the Passling's infatuation for the shrill blonde, but he had obviously cared about her a great deal.
"Okay?" Blunk looked up, his eyes shining brightly. "Blunk ecstatic! YEE-HOOO!" He jumped up high in the air, doing a perfect split, and then rolled about on the floor for a few minutes, as though recovering from an overdose in laughing gas.
Teeger stared at him for a few moments. 'Okay,' she reconsidered. 'Maybe not as much as I thought.' "Blunk?" she added out loud.
Blunk finally stopped and looked up at her.
"Do you want to see your baby now?"
"Baby!" Blunk said, suddenly remembering.
"Yes, or to be more precise… your son," she said, smiling.
Blunk's eyes got wider, something Teeger hadn't thought possible. "Blunk have son?"
Teeger nodded. "Wanna see him?"
Blunk nodded enthusiastically, and followed her into the adjoining room. There was a small crib, and in it something was making quiet sniffling sounds.
Blunk gulped and swallowed, as he neared the crib and took a peek inside. What he saw astounded him.
Inside was the most beautiful little Passling baby he had ever seen. It was small, perhaps a little bigger than an average Passling baby but no more, and was almost completely bald except for a tiny lock of blonde hair on top of his head. Aside from that, it was the spitting image of him when he had been young.
"Wanna hold him?" Teeger asked.
Blunk gulped again, but nodded. He held out his hands, as Teeger wrapped the baby more securely in its baby-blanket before handing him over to his father.
"Blunk… is daddy," Blunk said quietly.
Teeger smiled. "Yes, Blunk. You are," she said, right before Blunk's eyes rolled over in his head, and he fell flat on his back unconscious.
A second later, the nurse came in and found them. She eyed Blunk for a few moments before asking "Another one, huh? So how long did this guy last?"
"About a couple of minutes," Teeger said, laughing as she took up the baby to put him back in his crib. "Longest one yet."
"Hey, look on the bright side," the nurse joked, as she picked up Blunk, preparing to carry him out to one of the beds in the ward until he woke up. "At least this guy's only a midget. The last dad who fainted was that big blue guy with the bones on his face. Took six nurses to lift him up."
One Week Later; December 1999;
Somewhere in Arkansas:
Tiffany screamed, as she felt something grab her right leg, until she discovered that it was nothing more than a branch from an old shrubbery that she had gotten caught up in.
After she had escaped her family by leaving Winnsboro and travelling for some days, she had now somehow wound up here, trapped without a car in the wilderness, tired and hungry, and with God knows how many monsters out to get her. Now this was totally unfair!
She continued racing onward, her legs aching, until she thankfully saw some lights in the distance. Sighing in relief, she kept on until she reached what looked like a small town. From the looks of it, it seemed deserted, though she could see some lights coming from what looked like the Town Hall.
As she passed through what had been the outskirts of the town, she noticed a sign that had been partially obliterated by time and the occasionally violent weather that the Halloween world threw at its inhabitants. Most of the words were incomprehensible now. She could barely read it.
WEL*OME TO T**TON
*OME OF AM*RICA'*
BI*GEST T*NT CONVENTIONS!
'Wonder what that's supposed to say?' she wondered, but she chose not to fret about it, as for now she had shelter. It didn't look like much, but it would have to do because she realised that going back out would be far too dangerous.
She knew now that she should have listened to the colonists' warnings, but at the time she couldn't bear the thought of remaining in the same place as that deformed turtle and his, and her, offspring. From the look of this town, they should have enough room for her, and it looked nice enough. Even if it wasn't, nothing could possibly be as bad as the colony she had left.
From the sounds of it, there appeared to be some kind of party going on at the Town Hall, and she guessed that all the townsfolk must be there. So she headed in that direction.
It seemed to be a stereotypical small town, even if it had seen better days. There were burned out cars here and there, and several buildings along the town's main street that had been wrecked, but there were people there, and at the moment that was what counted.
She made her way to the door and grasped the handle. Knocking would be best, one part of her cautioned. It wasn't a good idea to surprise people in this new insane world. There was no telling what the person that one surprised might be armed with.
She couldn't bring herself to wait though, so, after barely a second's hesitation, she pushed it open to let herself inside.
The room was well lighted, and she was forced to blink her dark-adapted eyes several times. When she got a view of what was in the room she closed here eyes again, frantically praying. 'Oh, please no! It can't be!'
She opened them again, and found that nothing had changed except that the room's occupants had noticed her. Her wide and terrified eyes were so fixated on her many hosts' green faces that she was unable to look away, so she did not see the banner hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room, and failed to notice that it had been modified with a couple of brushstrokes of black paint.
WELCOME TO TANTON TURTLEVILLE!
HOME OF ALL
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES FANS!
"Holy quoka moly!" the voices of the room's occupants began stuttering in surprise upon seeing her. "A Human!"
"Not just any Human, dude, that's a Human girl!"
"No, it's a Human orangutan. What you think it is, you big dope?"
Tiffany was still so in shock that she didn't register the fact that not only was she the only human there, but she was also the only female.
The town, formally known as Tanton, had been home to a lot of fans of the 80s cartoon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the same show Tiffany's character had originated from. So much so that they had held their own yearly convention there.
On the night of the Halloween Event, practically everybody had been in costume, which unsurprisingly had mostly been of the TMNT, with the odd fan who did something original by dressing up as one of the show's other characters. The mutant rhino and warthog that Tiffany had spotted before coming here had been Rocksteady and Bebop, originally a couple of former comic-book geeks, who had been chased out of town by the turtles after the big change.
When the Event had occurred, everyone had, of course, turned into whichever turtle they had been dressed up as, even the women who had turned into the male characters.
Tiffany wanted to hyperventilate, as the enormous crowd of mutant turtles began converging on her, staring at her intensely. They were nearly all identical because most of the people, who they had been originally, had been dressed as the same four characters. There were so many of them that their faces just sort of blended together like one mass sea of green, with waves of gold, purple, red and blue cloth. Though there was the odd difference among them.
There were some that looked like turtle-children. Because there had been a couple of episodes from the show where the cartoon characters had regressed into infants, thus the children who had been dressed as the TMNT, had turned into those versions of them. There were over a dozen of them, staring up in awe at their town's newest arrival.
"Yo, dudette!" a loud thundering voice echoed from behind her, causing Tiffany to spin around in fright. She soon wished she hadn't though, when she first found herself staring at a pair of giant green feet, and then looked way up to see a 20ft high Michangelo grinning down at her. "Welcome to the party, babe!" he boomed, trying to be friendly while swinging his hips at her. "Wanna boogie?"
The giant Michangelo had originally been a high school quarterback who had been the tallest in his town, and had been dressed as the gold clothed hero. Since there had been an episode where the character had grown in giant size, he had then turned into that version of him. It was a pity they didn't have a football team anymore, as he would be assured to win any game now… Not to mention what he could have done at Basketball.
"Heya, pretty lady!" two voices said simultaneously, each with a heavy German accent.
Tiffany spun round again, this time finding yet another pair of mutant turtles looking at her, only these two were different. These two were bigger than the rest, not as big as the giant, but heavy with muscle, all of which were now bulging as they flexed them at her. Their skin was of a paler green with splodges on their shoulders, each had a large mask that covered nearly their whole head, one was bright red and the other was gold.
They had both been part-time wrestlers before Halloween, and the characters they had chosen to dress as were those of two wrestling turtles from the show, making a good fit.
"Hey, good looking one," the one in the gold mask said, eyeing her up and down.
"Yah, what is pretty lady like you doing in place like this, huh?" the red masked one added.
"I'm Hans," the first introduced himself.
"I'm Fitz," the second added.
"We are a mean…"
They clapped their hands once, and "But total loving machine!" spoke the final sentence suavely together, as though speaking in chorus, winking at her as they did so, still flexing their muscles as though there were no tomorrow. "Want to feel some real muscle, yah?" They held out their biceps to her.
Tiffany could take no more, her breathing becoming erratic as endless numbers of mutant turtles seemed to be coming in out of the shadows and paintwork, moving in closer on her. All were trying to gain a better look at the newcomer in their home, the only female any of them had seen since the night of Halloween, as all the women had either been dressed as male characters, or as demons and monsters that then had to be run out of town or killed.
"Say, don't we know you from somewhere?"
"Are there any others with you?"
"Want some pizza?"
"Do you have a sister?"
Tiffany spun round and around as though she were on a roundabout, staring at the countless hideously green faces grinning back at her, surrounding her with no escape.
As she continued spinning in fear, she remembered what that quack Destiny had told her… "But have no fear, for you will soon find yourself with many heroes from your world."
Tiffany screamed, partly in great terror at the now surprised turtles surrounding her, and partly in outrage at Destiny for tricking her.
'She knew all along!' she thought furiously. She could never leave! With all the monsters out there and she being on her own, she was doomed to forever remain here with all these disgusting reptiles for the rest of her life. 'I left Winnsboro for this!'
"Hey, lady, why you scream?" the German turtle called Hans asked her.
"Yah, you sick?" Fitz added, and then grinned. "Need mouth to mouth, yah?" He puckered his lips, smacking them at her.
From all across the town and beyond the lands that surrounded it, Tiffany's screams could be heard for miles around. But on the bright side, at least she now had a safe home with plenty of ninjas around to protect her, all of whom were from her own world.
One could only hope that she liked pizza though.