Synopsis: During the last 10 minutes of Drop Dead Fred, we saw a different and deeper side of Fred - a Fred who was more mature than during most of the movie. I wanted to explore that part of his personality. This story is about Fred's past - a past which he cannot remember, but he will be forced to face. Crossover with Alice in Wonderland (2010) after chapter 6, but watching that movie is not required. I just wanted to borrow the world.
The first chapter begins immediately after Fred disappears in the movie.
"Good bye my friend, maybe for forever.
Good bye my friend, the stars wait for me.
Who knows where we shall meet again, if ever,
But time keeps flowing like a river
To the sea..."
-The Alan Parson's Project
"Drop Dead Fred..." she whispered. He pulled her close, holding her tightly. And then he was gone.
Fred materialized into his own world.
The sky above him was gray and devoid of color. Houses were built so tightly together that it was impossible to tell where one ended and another began. They reminded him of old England at the turn of the century, only the ones here seemed to be built askew as if some drunkard with a protractor had altered their plans. Smoke rose from some of the chimneys, but Fred doubted that stew cooked in the pots that hung from their hearths, more than likely it was something far more sinister.
He focused on the road ahead of him, laid with uneven weathered cobblestones which only added to the general creepiness of the place. The roads went nowhere, winding their way around each other before narrowing into trails too small to pass through.
In the center of the town, the roads originated from a huge round building which stood three stories high and housed a sort of administration headquarters. Here those with charges received their new assignments after each of their previous ones were completed.
Fred found it dreadfully boring and tedious. It reminded him of the long queues that Snot-face had stood in on her one trip to Six Flags when she was seven, after her father had finally convinced the Mega-beast to let them take her.
That and a cross between the DMV.
He made his way slowly toward the unending line encircling the building, along with dozens of others who had completed their assignments. He would have liked to have some itching power to sprinkle over everyone in the front like he had at Six Flags to shorten the line. He smiled in fond remembrance, but his magic didn't work here.
A page from one of Lizzie's children's books of long ago flashed through his mind, of funny little creatures called Zed's - all lined up for a haircut.
"From near to far, from here to there, funny things are everywhere..."
He sighed as he took his place at the end of the line.
Any of his charges accustomed to his zany, carefree ways would be confused at his personality change. But here in his own realm, he was quiet and kept to himself. It was safer to lay low. His small circle of friends were the same. If they happened to pass each other, a nod and a smile was about the extent of their interaction. It was when their charges managed to cross paths that the real fun happened.
After what seemed like eons of mindless waiting, his turn finally came.
"Next!" came a thin, raspy voice ahead of him.
He walked up to the woman and surveyed her quickly, coming to the conclusion that she was older than dirt.
"Name and category."
Fred was hard pressed to remember ever seeing someone as old and shriveled, and he couldn't resist the temptation to tease. "Hey, 'Pruney', how's it hangin?" The lady stared at him, unamused. "Sorry, " he muttered, the wind out of his sails. "Drop Dead Fred, Imaginary Friend."
The lady passed him a key, "Here's your new assignment...Next!"
Fred pocketed the key and left quickly. Truth be told, he wasn't very excited about a new charge right now. The last week had been a little intense, and after spending so many years in a jack-in-the-box prison, he'd rather just enjoy being free for a while.
He thought back over all the charges he had had. There had been so many, and even though most of the children had spent three or four years of their lives with him, his memories of them ran together until he couldn't be sure of who any truly were. Save one...
He supposed had he not spent over fifteen years locked away in the jack-in-the-box in her room, she probably would have become just another face among many, her memory lost in the crowd. The thought made his heart skip a beat. He counted himself lucky that it had not been 25 or 30 years.
Discovering that Snot-face had grown up had disturbed him more than he cared to admit. It had shocked him to see her, not as the mischievous seven year old he had remembered - full of life and happiness, but as a woman, unsure of herself with a quiet voice and sad eyes.
Still, by the end of the week her true spirit had begun to shine through again, and if he hadn't had to use up his remaining strength to keep himself alive, he would have liked to stay awhile. Though he didn't know how long he would have been able to stomach Mickey Fart-pant's girly-gushing before his vomit seriously got the better of him.
Fred breathed a sigh of sigh of relief as he exited the crowded building and stepped back out into the open streets. After Snot-face, he'd prefer a boy as his new charge - they were much less confusing. He took the key out of his pocket and turned the small tag around. It read: 'Natalie Bunce'.
"Natalie Bunce?" He knew that name.
Wasn't that Fart-pant's real name? He seemed to remember something about him having a daughter. Fred didn't know whether to be thrilled or horrified. If his charge was who he thought it was, he would see Snot-face again - but she wouldn't be able to see him, of course.
How fun it would be to play tricks on Lizzie! Nothing horrible, just a few pranks for old time's sake. His mood lightened as he considered the possibilities.
On the other side of the administration building stood a long line of non-descript doors where imaginary friends entered the world of their charges. He stepped up to one, slid his key into the lock, opened the door, and materialized into the world of Natalie Bunce.
Fred and Natalie became fast friends. Her babysitter was just as bad as the Mega-Beast had been and Snaggle-tooth, as he had begun calling Natalie after she lost her front two teeth, was game for anything Fred could come up with.
The first time he saw Lizzie again, they had just rigged up a snare for the Mega-beast-babysitter when there she was- standing with the sun shining on her hair and a smile on her face. She looked so happy, and Fred swelled with pride to think that he might have had a hand in that.
For the most part he tried to ignore her, until Lizzie told Natalie, "The next time you see Drop Dead Fred, you give him my love."
"Love!" shouted Fred. "Love is for sissies and girls! I'm not a girl, I'm Drop Dead Fred!" Laughing he turned to follow Natalie back to her house.