Author's Note: Just for the record, please don't expect any sort of sensible story when you read this, 'k? Because most of it is random drabble from my brain of randomness. We clear? Good. Let us begin!!
"Children, children! Settle down!" the other mother called loudly, clapping her hands for order. Her button eyes gleamed excitedly as she stared at the group of children in the recording studio in front of her.
The children ignored her.
The other mother cleared her throat and smoothed the skirt of her red and black and white widow-spider-like dress. Her crimson-painted mouth twisted into a frown. "Children!" she said sharply.
The motley group of children in front of her ignored her and continued chattering with each other. The group consisted of a few French kids from the Children's Choir of Nice and Coraline and Wybie, as well as the pioneer girl, Huck Finn, Jr, and Wybie's grandmother's missing sister, all alive and human now sans button-eyes.
"Quiet down, please! It's time to begin!" the other mother said, louder than before. The children continued to ignore her and talk amongst themselves.
"Children! SILENCE!!!" the other mother roared, hitting the top of the piano with an enormous bang.
A hush fell upon the entire room and all the children looked at her, startled and a bit frightened.
The other mother smiled brightly and her button eyes gleamed. "That's better," she said calmly, as if nothing had happened. "Now, you all know why you're here, right?"
She met a sea of blank stares, and some of the children shook their heads.
The other mother sighed and rubbed her temples. "For the rehersal. Mr. Coulais here has been so kind as to write a song for me," she said, pointing to the glass window of the control room of the recording studio, where a frightened-looking man sat in front of the recording equipment. He flinched when the other mother pointed at him, as though it were a loaded gun she was pointing at him instead of a finger. "And you children are going to sing it. Get out here and give these children the music, Bruno!" the other mother yelled. Mr. Coulais jumped up quickly, nervously, and raced into the room, holding a bundle of papers.
"Oui! Bonjour, children. I am Bruno Coulais," he introduced himself, speaking slowly with a heavy French accent. "I wrote this song for that… erm, how do you say…"
The other mother looked sharply in his direction.
"Um…Lovely lady there," he finished with a nervous smile. He handed out music to the children as he spoke. "The song is entitled 'End Credits'. Does anybody have questions?"
"I've got one," said Coraline, looking skeptically at the music. "Are you messed up in the head or something?"
"Pardon moi?" Mr. Coulais looked slightly offended.
Coraline frowned and shook the paper. "These words don't make any sense. What language is this?"
"Yes, it is not French or English," piped up a girl from the choir.
"It is a nonsense language," Mr. Coulais said with a smile, darting a cautious glance at the other mother. "I thought, you see, that a nonsense language would fit her better," he added in a whisper, cringing as the other mother gave him another sharp look.
Coraline, Wybie, and the three not-ghosts-anymore children nodded in understanding. The other children just looked puzzled.
"Are there any more questions?"
Coraline raised her hand.
"Oui? What is it?" Mr. Coulais asked tiredly.
"What kind of an unimaginative title is 'End Credits'?" Coraline asked.
"All right, enough chatter! Bruno, show these children how the song goes!" the other mother cut in impatiently.
"Oui, mademoiselle!" Mr. Coulais said nervously, darting over to the piano.
"Children, follow along with your music so you'll know how the song goes!" the other mother commanded.
"Why is that guy so nervous?" Coraline whispered to Wybie.
He shrugged. "Doesn't the other mother make everybody nervous?"
Coraline shuddered. "True. Hey, how did we get here, anyway-" The sound of music interrupted her question. Mr. Coulais began to play the song on the piano, while one of the girls from the choir sang in a high, crystal-clear voice. The other mother hovered over them, making them both visibly nervous.
"What a weird song," Coraline whispered. Wybie murmured in agreement.
"Silence!" shouted the other mother, glaring daggers at Coraline. Coraline stuck her tongue out at the other mother when her back was turned. Wybie jabbed Coraline in the ribs warningly. She punched him in the arm. He punched her back. She whispered, "Jerkwad." He whispered, "Caroline." Her face turned crimson and she pulled back her fist as though about to hit him. The sweet girl grabbed her fist and shook her head warningly, while Huck Finn Jr pulled Wybie away from Coraline. The tall pioneer girl quickly stood between Wybie and Coraline before they could begin a fight.
Scowling, Coraline listened to the strange, chaotic, mysterious-tumbling nonsensical music and amused herself by watching the agitated expression of Mr. Coulais as the other mother kept hovering over him. He looked more and more anxious as the song went on, and when they finally finished, he looked relieved and about ready to pass out.
"Do you all think you can sing that?" Mr. Coulais asked, mopping his brow and closing the piano lid.
"Of course they can. Right, children?" the other mother said quickly, staring daggers at the bewindered-looking children. They quickly nodded, though their confused expressions remained.
"Good. Now, Bruno, if you don't mind playing it once more, then I think I can take it from there," the other mother said in a businesslike way.
Poor Bruno looked visibly disappointed. "Fine," he said shortly, slapping the piano lid up with a quick motion. He began to stormily play the song, while the girl struggled to keep up singing with the fast rhythm and the other mother hovered, watching and staring with her unblinking black button eyes. Bruno was visibly uncomfortable, and he played faster and faster until he finally finished the song with a flourish and slammed the piano lid down. The girl who had been singing was panting for breath by this time, and she slumped tiredly to the floor by the piano.
"What's the matter, Bruno?" the other mother asked.
Mr. Coulais stood up from the piano bench and faced the other mother. Suddenly he turned away and screamed, then began to yell vehemently in French. (A rough translation follows.)
"Aaaaaugh! I cannot take it anymore! This evil witch forces me to write a song by threatening to sew buttons into the eyes of my children and eat their souls if I don't cooperate… and she won't even let me conduct the choir! She keeps hovering as I'm trying to work, always staring, staring with those buttons- Augh! I am a koumpounophobe and I'm very, very frightened!!! I can't work under these conditions!" he shrieked, racing into the control room and slamming the door.
He pressed a button on the mixing board and screamed into the microphone, his voice sounding in the recording room, "I am staying in here, where it is safe, and I am not coming out unless absolutely necessary! Other mother, you are in charge!"
The other mother and the children stared after him in awestruck silence. The French-speaking children began to whisper amongst themselves, agitatedly. A few of them looked at the other mother fearfully and made a break for the door. The other mother noticed this and wordlessly let them leave. Then she locked the door so no other children could escape.
"What was that all about?" Coraline asked, having not understood a word of Mr. Coulais's rant.
"Beats me," Wybie shrugged.
"They look scared," remarked Huck Finn Jr.
"Aye, they do," said the pioneer girl thoughtfully.
The sweet girl asked one of the French kids what was going on. The kid gave them a rough translation of what Mr. Coulais had said.
"Oh, that poor man," said the sweet girl sympathetically.
Coraline shrugged. "Well, no surprise about the button threats."
"D…D'you think she wants to-" Huck Finn Jr never got a chance to finish his sentence.
"ALL RIGHT, CHILDREN! QUIET DOWN!" the other mother bellowed. "I'm in charge now!"
"You already were in charge!" Coraline yelled back.
The other mother ignored her. "Now, I want all you children to get into position! Sopranos there, altos there, and tenors there. Chop-chop! Hop to it!" the other mother snapped her fingers.
The children from the choir quickly moved to their places. Coraline, Wybie, and the three other children were left standing awkwardly in a group. The other mother frowned at them and snapped her fingers. "Coraline, you're first. Come here," she beckoned. Scowling, Coraline stalked over to the other mother.
"What do you want?" she snapped, putting her hands on her hips and glowering. "I'm not singing that nonsense song."
The other mother tightened her lips and bent down so she was eye-level with Coraline. "Would you rather have buttons?" she whispered menacingly. "You will cooperate, Coraline Jones, and you will sing."
Coraline gulped nervously. The other mother smirked, as if to say, 'I thought so,' and strode over to the piano. "Now, Coraline, see if you can hit this note," she said, pressing down on one of the piano keys.
Coraline set her jaw and stared at the other mother defiantly. "I'm not singing," she said through gritted teeth. Coraline Jones did not sing very often (except in the shower), and she had never considered herself to be a very good singer, though her parents told her she was excellent. (But she didn't put much stock in what her parents said, particularly not her father who was practically tone-deaf and thought he sang wonderfully.) At any rate, Coraline certainly wasn't going to start attempting to sing in front of people now, especially not the other mother.
"You will sing!" the other mother yelled.
"No, I won't!" Coraline snapped defiantly.
"Yes, you will!"
"Make me!" Coraline cried.
"…Fine. Then you leave me with no other choice," the other mother said simply. "Hold out your arm."
"No," Coraline said, backing away.
"Hold out your arm, Coraline," the other mother said dangerously.
"Why?" Coraline asked suspiciously, folding her arms.
"Because I said so. Just do it."
Despite her protests, the other mother seized Coraline's arm in one hand and kept it locked in a viselike grip. With her other hand, she reached into the pocket of her dress and produced a few large, thick needles. Coraline's eyes widened.
"Hey, what're you doing with- Ow! Owww! Unh! Stop, that huuurts!" Coraline shrieked, as the other mother stabbed the needles in her arm.
The other children in the room stared frozen in horrified fascination. Mr. Coulais watched for a moment, then screamed like a little girl and hid under the table.
"Aaaagh, stop it!" Coraline screamed as she attempted to remove the other mother's hand that was holding the needles from her arm. "STOP IT!"
"I'm going to need a scream, darling," the other mother said calmly as though she were doing nothing out of the ordinary, jabbing the needles in harder.
"Why d'you want me to- Ahh…!" Coraline bit back a cry of pain. If the other mother wanted her to scream, there was no way Coraline would give her that satisfaction. She held out and held out stubbornly, until she finally couldn't stand it anymore, then she began to scream. "Aaaaaugh!! Ah-aaaahhh!!!" Her shrieks became higher and higher in register the harder the other mother dug the needles in.
"Cripes almighty, stop that already!! I screamed, didn't I?!" she bellowed.
"Oh, but this is just too much fun," the other mother chuckled. "You're a lovely soprano."
"Take the needles out now, you evil bit- Aaaaugh!"
"Ah-ahh. No need for swearing, love, there are children here," the other mother said mildly.
"TAKE 'EM OUT!" Coraline roared, her voice cracking. "Please!!"
Miraculously, the other mother finally pulled the needles out of Coraline's arm. "There you go, dear," she said smugly and looked warningly at the other children, who were staring in terrified awe at the spectacle. Nobody needed to be told that Coraline was an example, and a warning.
Coraline gasped in relief and stared in revulsion at the blood welling from the pinpricks on her arm. Her face contorted, as if she were about to scream or cry. "Ugh… You're sick!!" she cried. "You're sick, and twisted and evil and horrible, you no good-"
"Go stand with the sopranos," the other mother interrupted coolly, nudging Coraline in that direction.
"…Rotten, terrible, WITCH!" Coraline continued angrily, oblivious.
"Stand with the sopranos," the other mother commanded.
"What?! You- Just like that- How can you- What if I don't want to?!" Coraline screamed angrily, her face turning pink.
The other mother held up the needles again. "Well gosh, I could always check to see if I made a mistake. Perhaps you're an alto after all."
Coraline paled and glowered and stomped over to the soprano section.
"All right, then!" the other mother said cheerfully, smiling hugely and facing the group of remaining children, who were huddled together, wide-eyed and frightened. They flinched as the other mother looked at them.
"Who's next? You! Pigtails! Front and center!"
The remaining children soon found places in the chorus and the other mother forced them to practice for hours. She was not exactly the best teacher in the world. Probably the most short-tempered, though.
"Stop, stop, stop, stop, STOP!" she bellowed, banging the conductor's stick on the piano. "That was completely out of tune! Gosh, are all of you children tone-deaf? From the top again!"
The children groaned in unison.
"We've been practicing for hours!!! We're all tired," cried Huck Finn Jr hoarsely. "Can't we take a break?!" The other children murmured in agreement.
"NO! No breaks until you get it perfect! Understand?!" the other mother snarled ferociously.
The children grumbled and began to call out complaints loudly.
"Stop complaining or I'll sew buttons into your eyes and eat all your souls for dinner!!" the other mother roared.
She wasn't joking. There was dead silence.
The other mother smiled triumphantly and smoothed back her disheveled hair with one hand. "Good children. Now, sing it again."
"You're an evil, evil witch!" burst a girl in the soprano section hysterically.
"That's it! You're staying behind for an extra 2 hours of private practice after everybody leaves today, missy!" the other mother yelled furiously, pointing a finger at the girl. The girl turned pale and looked slightly faint.
"Anybody else?" the other mother snarled. Nobody answered.
"I didn't think so. Now… Right. The solo part, of course. You, boy! Huck Finn, Jr! Get up here!" the other mother commanded.
The boy walked to stand, trembling, before the other mother. "M-my name isn't Huck Finn-" the boy began to stammer.
"I don't care! Sing the solo!" the other mother roared, towering over the poor boy.
"B-but I don't want the solo," he said bravely.
The boy, quivering, began to shakily sing a few bars of the solo before crying, "I can't do it!" and bursting into tears. "I don't even want the stupid solo!" he wailed.
"Oh, for the love of… Go sit down, boy. Curly-hair, you're up!"
The pioneer girl walked up, trembling imperceptibly, and sang the solo as best she could.
"That was… pretty good, actually. But not amazing." The girl walked away, dejected.
"Next. Coraline! Come here."
"No. Way." Coralne said flatly, sitting down on the ground and folding her arms. "I don't do solos."
The other mother strode over to Coraline, grabbed the girl's shoulders, hauled her off the ground, and screamed in her face, "SING IT, YOU LITTLE BRAT!!"
A few smart-alecky remarks immediately flashed through Coraline's mind, but then she remembered the needles and held her tongue with difficulty.
"Fine," she spat. "I'll sing your stupid song."
She sang the solo as badly as she could, botching the thing horribly.
When she had finished, she said with smug satisfaction, "There. I sang it. Happy?"
The other mother looked furious and smacked her in the face, once. "Impertinent little brat," she hissed, staring at her with the dagger-glare-of-doom and finally released the girl's shoulders, sending her tumbling to the ground.
"Next! You, pigtails! Sing!"
Coraline rubbed her red cheek and grinned up at Wybie happily.
"Jonesy, you're so stupid sometimes!" Wybie whispered, helping his friend up. "What're you grinning for?"
"I expected much worse from her," Coraline said cheerfully. "She must be getting tired."
Wybie shook his head at his friend. "I think you must be getting a bit tired, too," he muttered.
Meanwhile, the other mother was screaming her lungs out at the poor sweet girl, who was attempting to sing but was too nervous to articulate any sound.
"SING!" the other mother yelled.
"I… I…." the girl took a deep breath and screamed back, "I would if you'd give me a chance! Stop yelling at me!!" Everybody stared at her, stunned. Even she looked surprised by her own outburst.
"Then sing," the other mother said fthrough gritted teeth.
The girl nodded, relieved, and sang the solo perfectly.
"That was…wonderful," the other mother praised, surprised, when the girl was done.
The girl smiled weakly, then collapsed in a heap on the floor, fainting from the stress of it all. The pioneer girl frowned. She had wanted the solo.
The other mother stared at the unconscious soloist, sighed, and tiredly rubbed her head. "……All right, children. You may have a break." The children cheered. "For five minutes!" the other mother added, snarling. The children groaned.
After the break, the children were lined up in their sections again, except for the sweet girl, who was lying in the corner, still unconscious. The other mother paced in front of the children, who all stood stock-still, watching her fearfully, the way prey watches a hunter.
She paced, and she paced, then she stopped and stood stone-still, facing the children. She stared at them and pursed her lips wordlessly. They waited anxiously. She stared at them thoughtfully for a few minutes.
The sweet girl regained consciousness. "Did I win?" she asked groggily.
"Yeah!" the pioneer girl yelled resentfully and threw her shoe at the other girl's head.
The sweet girl blacked out again.
The other mother appeared not to notice this exchange. She took a deep breath and said quietly, "I think you're ready to record."
A hopeful murmur swept through the crowd of children. The other mother frowned at them. They instantly became quiet.
"All right, children. Bruno!" the other mother hollered.
"Y-yes?" Mr. Coulais answered nervously through the speakers.
"It's time to record!" the other mother declared.
"Finally!" sighed Mr. Coulais. After a moment, he declared, "All ready!"
"Perfect. Ready, children?" the other mother picked up the conductor's stick and rapped it on the piano. "Cue music… and… Go," the other mother mouthed.
They sang it perfectly the first time through, like pros. They'd had a lot of practice. The pioneer girl had to fill in for the sweet girl for the solo, since she was unconscious. That made the pioneer girl deliriously happy.
As the last note died away, the other mother looked genuinely happy for once that day, as she grinned and clapped her hands. "That was fantastic," she said warmly. "Wonderful job."
The children looked happy, too. "Does this mean that we can go home now?" asked one of the choir kids hopefully, voicing the thoughts of all the children.
"No," said the other mother crisply. Their faces fell.
"Why the bloody heck not?!" Coraline shrieked angrily. "We sang your stupid song and put up with your abuse, so why can't we go home now?!"
"Because you haven't heard me sing yet," the other mother said.
"What?!" Coraline screamed. "Ohhhhhh-That's it, I'm outta here!"
She ran for the door and tugged on the doorknob. It didn't budge. "Wha-?! It won't open!" she cried, tugging furiously at the door. She swore and kicked the door.
"I haave the keeeeyyyy," the other mother said in a sing-song voice.
"Give it to me!" Coraline screamed.
"Not until you listen to me sing," the other mother said.
"Fine. Go. Sing. Whatever," Coraline grumbled, sitting on the floor between Huck Finn Jr and Wybie.
The other mother smiled beatifically and began to sing 'Dreaming' happily.
That song is more like her theme song, Coraline thought drowsily, half-listening to the other mother. She jumped, startled, at a sudden weight on her shoulder, and found that Wybie's head was resting on her shoulder. He was snoring softly. "Ugh, hey! Get off, why-were-you-born," she shoved him away disgustedly. Huck Finn Jr's head fell on her other shoulder. "You get off, too," Coraline snapped, shoving him away.
The sweet girl woke up again. "What did I miss?" she mumbled sleepily.
"Oh, we recorded without you. I got your solo," said the pioneer girl.
"Really? That's great," said the sweet girl, genuinely happy. The pioneer girl didn't feel so smug after that.
The other mother continued singing for several hours. Most of the children fell asleep. Finally, finally she finished singing and looked at the children expectantly. They were all asleep. She frowned.
"Wake up and clap for me, you miserable little brats!" she bellowed. The children woke up and clapped politely, prompted by a fierce look from the other mother.
"Can we go home now?" a girl from the choir wailed. "Mr. Coulais went home hours ago!"
The other mother was silent for a few minutes, then she shrugged and said, "Whatever," and unlocked the door.
The kids from the Nice choir raced out first, then Wybie and the other children went out quickly after them. Coraline lingered in the doorway for a moment, rubbing her hurt arm. She asked the other mother, "So what exactly was that all about? Forcing us to sing?"
The other mother smiled ambiguously. "Mmm, maybe I just felt like having a sing-a-long?"
Coraline frowned. "Seriously."
"Maybe I've turned over a new leaf."
"Pfft. No way."
"Or… perhaps, my little Coraline, this is all an elaborate set-up so that I can finally have you back with me and make you stay forever," the other mother said softly, her button eyes gleaming.
Coraline shivered. "If that's the case, why go to all the trouble? Why not sew buttons in my eyes and be done with it?"
The other mother's response was an evil laugh. "That, my dear, would spoil the surprise."
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise, would it? Run along now, dear. Go home, get some rest," the other mother said cheerfully, with a twisted smile.
"How are you even out of the other world, anyway?" Coraline asked suspiciously.
"Don't ask silly questions," the other mother said, shooing Coraline out of the room.
Author's Note: Well, this is super, suuuperrrr random, weird little story that I scribbled because I was all hopped up on coffeeeeeeeeee… Coffee makes me hyper!! I know, everybody is out of character in this story! Why are Coraline, Wybie, and the others all in a recording studio? Hmm... Don't ask me! Only the other mother knows! (And she's not telling!)
Credit where credit is due. Inspired by maternalluv20's fanfic "The Other Mother's Choir".
Hope you enjoyed it, and if you read, please review!