AUTHOR'S NOTE: So here's the third of my PnF stories: Vocal Blues. You can see my cover art, colored by mah partner in crime, Clau 3 I'm sorry again that I won't be posting details on each chapter here, but it's difficult to post these stories on two sites. Just putting a heads up that everything I place in this story, if you don't agree with it, don't read it. That simple.
Anyway, on with the show!
"Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…"
Ferb awoke that December morning to the radio singing Christmas carols. Like every year, the radio stations would play Christmas carol after Christmas carol all through the month until the twenty-fifth. Although it was still dark outside, the merry music made it feel as though the sun was already up and shining.
Slapping his hand down on top of the radio and silencing it, the green-haired sixteen-year old yawned loudly and stretched out his arms and legs. After relaxing for a few seconds, he finally sat up in bed while passing a hand through his messy hair.
Morning, he thought to himself as he leaned over towards the wall to read the calendar. December 7th. Hm. Ferb smiled; Phineas' sixteenth birthday had just passed by a mere two days ago, and he could still remember all the exciting things they had done with their friends. Being his Sweet Sixteen, as he called it, Phineas was allowed to do whatever it was he wanted. Isabella, Baljeet, Buford and even Ferb's girlfriend, Vanessa, had gotten together with the Flynn-Fletcher brothers and started celebrating the youngest member's birthday with a snowball fight, snowman building contest—and when Phineas and Ferb are involved, it's an extreme snowman building contest, complete with robot snowmen—they built a fort, went sledding, played street hockey and then jammed in the Flynn-Fletcher basement before going up to eat cake and watch Phineas open his gifts. These included things like artist materials, parts for inventions, music CDs and his favourite, the finished snow bike he and Ferb had designed together—which was basically just adding skis and winter-related gear to their bycicles. Ferb had taken the liberty of putting on the finishing touches and making a duplicate of it for himself.
The jamming bit was more of a regular practice, though; the gang's band, Phineas and the Ferbtones, were part of the musical line-up for that year's high school Christmas Banquet. The date was but a little over a week away, and so far, they would be playing at least twelve songs, unless the students wanted to hear more.
Since that Monday was a school holiday, Ferb expected to be doing something exciting with Phineas again; just as they always did.
Funny, though; by now, he would have heard his brother shout out his daily catchphrase: "Hey Ferb! I know what we're gonna do today!" That had been the one line that Ferb had followed by for the past five years. And although it became repetitive at certain points, it meant that a new adventure was about to begin.
But… he had not heard it yet. Normally, Phineas would announce it just as soon as his brother woke up… But all Ferb heard was silence.
Scratching his head, Ferb turned to his right and stared at where his brother normally slept on his raft-like bed.
There was Phineas, sitting on his bed in his orange pyjamas. Sleeping on his lap was Perry, the family's pet platypus. The red-haired teenager gently stroked the animal's fur while returning Ferb's stare.
Ferb scratched his head again and then grinned. "Good morning," he said, figuring that it would be best that he spoke this time round.
Phineas grinned in reply and nodded in response.
Huh? Ferb raised an eyebrow suspiciously. "Um, what are we going to do today?" he wondered.
Phineas sat up straight and then looked at the sketchbook that was sitting next to him. Picking it up and flipping to the right page, he held it up towards Ferb and pointed at a sketch.
Ferb frowned in confusion. Not because he did not understand what the gizmo was, no—he, above everyone else, always knew what Phineas' ideas were. What was confusing him was the fact that Phineas was not ranting on about what they were supposed to be doing. It was something Ferb had always expected from him. Even though Phineas could be quite the chatterbox, his explanations were always thorough, and that helped Ferb properly build their creations.
But Phineas was not spilling a single syllable.
Ferb looked up at him. "Mind telling me what it is?" he wondered.
At these words, Ferb thought he had noticed a glint of concern fill his brother's ultramarine blue eyes. But Phineas quickly looked away to keep him from being certain.
Ferb looked on silently and was just about to ask what the matter was when there came a knock on the bedroom door. Both teenagers looked up simultaneously.
"Ferb? Are you up, Lad?" their father's voice wondered. The door opened and in peered Lawrence Fletcher's head. He peered over his glasses at his biological son and smiled. "Ah! So you are awake, then," he said. "Good; I was beginning to think you would forget."
"Forget?" Ferb echoed.
"Yes; you said you would help me move the antique shipment and help me put them all in order at the store this morning, remember?"
Ferb raised his eyebrows in revelation and stuck his feet out from beneath the covers.
"Considering you and Phineas normally do things on no-school days, I thought it would only be fair if I have you work with me for only the morning," his father continued as Ferb made his bed. Leaving the room, Lawrence added, "Your mother has breakfast ready for you. Considering you're up as well, Phineas, might as well come and join Ferb for a bite to eat."
Phineas watched him leave and then nodded his head. Ignoring Ferb's still confused stare, he pulled out a comic book Buford gave him for his birthday and began to read it.
Ferb watched him in complete perplexity before gathering his clothes and going to get changed.
"Father, have you noticed anything odd about Phineas this morning?"
Lawrence looked up from studying one of the boxes they had to carry back to the car. He and his son had to stop at the back of the postal office in order to gather the giant shipment of antiques that had just flown in. The two of them carried them out one by one, mostly in silence, or until Ferb had decided to question Phineas' odd behaviour.
His father cocked his head. "Odd as in how?" he asked with a playful grin. "If I do recall correctly, Phineas has his own set of guidelines that are much… odder than real life, as your sister would put it."
Ferb followed him back into the postal office. "Well, I mean odd as in the way he's acting," he explained. "Like, say… he's not speaking."
At these words, Lawrence stopped in his tracks. Ferb nearly ran into him and quickly backed up as his father turned to face him.
Lawrence stared at him in bewilderment. "Not speaking?" he said in confusion. "Phineas is not… speaking? Since when has that ever happened?"
"That's what I'm wondering," Ferb replied. "He didn't even tell me what we were going to do today. All he did was…" Ferb spread out his arms. "… Showed me the sketchbook! He never spoke once!"
"Is he perhaps upset at you about something?"
"We never argue, Father. At least, not to that point. We have our disagreements, but not to the point of not speaking to each other."
"Maybe he's upset with someone else?"
Ferb smiled wryly. "Phineas never holds a grudge, Father," he reminded him.
Lawrence laughed before turning and continuing on towards the last of the delivery. "True, that's one thing I like about him," he said. "Too busy trying to make people happy to stay angry. I don't even think I've ever heard him yell at Candace, despite how much she nagged you two…"
Ferb smiled secretly at this; he had heard Phineas yell at Candace but once, and that was in order for her to suck up her pride and ride a tricycle. He could not stop teasing Phineas about it afterwards, mainly because his brother never yelled at anyone. The memory always made Phineas blush and feel ashamed, so he often tried finding ways to change subjects.
"I'm not sure, Ferb," Lawrence said with a sigh as he and his son crouched down and lifted up a box together. "That's the only reason I can possibly think of; that or maybe he's ill. But he didn't look sick when I came upstairs."
"He's hiding something, that much I know," Ferb suspected. "When I asked him to explain what we were supposed to be doing, he only looked away and said nothing. I have never gone a single day without hearing him say something. It's making me a bit anxious."
"Anxious?" Lawrence laughed as they carried the box out. "Ferb, I'm quite sure Phineas is perfectly fine."
"Maybe… But we're also performing this Saturday night at the banquet."
"Son, Phineas probably hasn't lost his voice. He's probably in a bit of a funk about something. Maybe he misplaced one of his gifts he got over the weekend. You know how he gets when he loses things. He shuts out the world around him until he's found what he needs."
"But he doesn't shut me out," Ferb complained. "I'm normally the one he asks to help search for whatever's he's misplaced."
Lawrence sighed as they set the box down in the back of the vehicle. "Let it be for now, Ferb," he said. "Phineas has his bad days, just as you, Candace, your mother and I have. Give him time and he'll probably start chattering again about some crazy contraption you two should build…" He chuckled at this before wiping his hands on his pants. "I get all frivolous whenever you two are inventing something. It's nice to see so much creativity… Speaking of which, how's that latest of yours coming along? The one you said you designed, hm?"
Ferb rubbed the back of his neck. "Oh, it's in the vault downstairs," he replied. "I can build things, yes; but when it comes to designing and inventing completely from scratch, I just can't do it. Phineas has that gift, not I."
"So it doesn't work?"
"I'm not sure, actually… I just deemed it dangerous. I tested it out here and there, but not enough to make anymore than assumptions."
"What was it supposed to do again?"
Ferb shrugged. "Vocal Box," he replied. "It's just supposed to change the pitch or sound of one's voice, like helium makes you sound like a chipmunk. Or give you the voice of an animal or something. Only, it doesn't kill brain cells."
Lawrence laughed at this for a moment before wiping his eyes. "And you don't want to test it out?" he asked afterwards.
His son looked on uneasily. "Father, I can't test it on anyone," he said. "What if it does more harm than good? What if it permanently damages your vocal chords? Like I said earlier; when it comes to designing inventions with a purpose, Phineas is the one for the job. I just build and improve. I can't start from scratch."
"Then perhaps that's something you can do with him today," Lawrence suggested with a smile. "Maybe that will get him chattering again."
Ferb grinned at this, but only out of politeness. He still thought of the Vocal Box as a dangerous creation, and the very last person he wanted to get their hands on it was his little brother.
Knowing Phineas, anything could happen.