Chapter: Shatter Dream
Disclaimer: I do not own Happy Tree Town.
It was the first funereal in Happy Tree Town Flaky had attended that involved murder. The old church brought back memories of her parent's funereal. They had died in a terrible accident, a grease fire that had left Flaky orphaned, homeless, and forever haunted by her stutter. She had been nine years old at the time, too young to remember the details now. The one thing she did recall was it had been closed casket due to the gravity of their injuries.
Now ten years later she was attending another double funereal; her friends, killed senselessly without mercy, the bodies so badly damaged it had to be closed casket. She couldn't even see their faces one last time, just like her parents. The parallel between the two events left her chilled and shaky.
Flaky stood in front of Giggles' casket attempting to imagine her beautiful face, sleeping so peacefully; her long lashes brushing against her pale cheeks, a slight smile as she dreamed of wonderful things. The image blurred, Giggles' face melted like hot wax then vanished and Flaky was left with a blank space, her face was gone like she had never existed at all. She tried to no avail to conjure Cuddles' handsome face; it was like the fabric of their memories was unraveling faster than she could weave them.
More tears fell, merely some among the many in the old church. Only one pair of eyes was dry, and they belonged to the newcomer of Happy Tree Town, someone who would never know the joy of knowing Cuddles or Giggles. He was currently sitting in the furthest back pews, and Flaky knew he was not comfortable being among strangers, crying strangers no less, however she was grateful to have a pillar to lean on. Everybody else was coming undone at the seams.
Flaky turned away from the caskets walking unsteadily back to Flippy. She walked past Cuddles' mother and father, people she had known all her life, who had opened their happy home to her when she had no where else to go, now so crestfallen she could hardly stand to brave a glance their way. What was it to lose a child? Was it something you could move on from, or did it cripple you forever?
Did this emptiness ever subside?
Flippy almost seemed bored when she sat next to him, she tried not to let it bother her but it nagged at the back of her mind. Maybe this kind of stuff didn't upset him, he was a war veteran after all, surely he had seen more than his fair share of death. She felt a twinge of guilt for asking him to see even more pain and suffering.
At the same time she couldn't help but think back to the newspaper clipping, Wilton Road, the same place she had picked up Flippy, the same road where her friends were murdered. She thought about his strange weapons, how good he must be with those weapons. Was he wearing them now, she wondered with wide eyes. He must be, she shifted uneasily before mentally slapping herself; Flippy had never given her a reason to not trust him, it wasn't fair of her to fear him.
Despite the coincidences Flaky just couldn't match the profile of a merciless killer with that of sweet and gentle Flippy. Splendid was just suspicious of anyone he didn't know, he was scared of strangers ruining the bubble of happiness that was this town. That was all, or at least she thought that was all.
The funereal passed in a blur and within the next few hours the citizens of Happy Tree Town had buried two of their very dearest people. People whose lives were gone forever, so many missed opportunities, all of it destroyed. Their hopes, their love, their dreams shattered; broken glass left on the side of the road to be stepped on and forgotten. All the things Flaky took advantage of everyday, they would never again have.
When she opened the door to her home she felt the tears swelling again, she had forgotten the decorations for Cuddles' birthday were still hanging everywhere. She had been in bed for three days, refusing to come out from the sanctity of her room except to go to their funereal. The colors that had seemed so bright and full of life were now obnoxious and insulting. She stood in the doorway not really wanting to face what could have been, the birthday that could have been, the life that could have been.
Flippy stood silently behind her unsure why she was standing there so still. "Flaky?" She wouldn't turn to face him, but now her shoulders trembled and he thought he heard a soft sniffle. He frowned, how long would this crying spell last?
"I'm s-sorry, it's j-j-just…"
Flippy peered past Flaky's red hair realizing what was upsetting her. "Hey I'll pick up the mess, why don't you go upstairs and get cleaned up?"
She nodded, and moved away from the doorway. Slowly she climbed the stairs as Flippy watched worriedly; several times she swayed and had to use the railing for support. Once she had locked the bathroom and running water could be heard Flippy rolled up his sleeves and set to work.
He had to have all the décor picked up before she was done or she would be crying all night.
The shower was hot and welcoming when Flaky entered the tub. She pressed her forehead against the tile wall as the water streamed down her back. She let her mind go blank, too many painful memories had been burrowing and worming their way through her head, she needed to just forget even if it was for just a moment.
The doorbell rang jolting her awake. The water running down her back was lukewarm and her fingers were wrinkled like old grapes. Turning off the water she used a towel to dry off as quickly as she could, wondering hw she had fallen asleep and who could be at the door. She put on a fluffy pink robe and rushed downstairs to find Splendid handcuffing Flippy.
"W-what the h-hell!" Splendont stepped in front of her blocking Flippy from her sight.
"Flaky please go back inside." Splendont grabbed her shoulders so she would look him in the eyes, "Flippy is being charged with murder."
"Let g-go of me," Her anger surprising him enough to loosen his grip, she pushed past him. "W-why are y-you d-d-doing this? Hasn't th-there been enough har-hardship today?"
Splendid practically shoved Flippy into the squad car, slamming the door shut behind him. "Yes, because of this man you've been harboring in your home. He murdered our friends, don't you get it? He's being charged Flaky, go back inside and don't make this harder than it has to be."
"You h-have no p-p-proof." Flaky's eyes flashed furiously, "He's in-innocent!"
Splendid ignored her. "How d-dare you do this now, to-today of all d-days."
This time he walked right up to her, his blue eyes flashing, "And how dare you harbor a murderer." He growled, both of them glowering at the other until Splendont awkwardly cleared his throat.
"He is i-innocent." She insisted again.
Splendid turned away and both he and his brother got into the squad car and drove off leaving Flaky to fume in her driveway.
She went back inside slamming her front door behind her. She sank to the floor with the weight of all her problems pulling her down. Why was this happening? He was innocent, she had to do something. They were accusing someone because they needed a scape goat, not because Flippy had done any wrong.
She lifted her face realizing for the first time that her living room was free of all party décor. He must have cleaned everything; there wasn't a trace of confetti or balloon latex. What murderer would do that? What evil person would help a girl they had just met? What guilty man would stick around when everyone was accusing him?
They wouldn't. She had to do something.
The room was simple, with only a table, two chairs, a lamp, and a huge one-way window. Flippy stared straight ahead at the window knowing they were watching him. Lock me up you bastards, lock me up and leave me be. He wanted, needed, to be in a place of iron and rules, not only for everybody's safety, but for her well being too. He wanted to confess, but he hesitated at the thought of Flaky knowing what he had done to her friends. How horribly they had died, how they had tried to protect each other, how they had cried. Fliqpy had laughed, but Flippy regretted every swing of his knife. Flaky was so convinced of his innocence and he had no idea why.
He didn't want to disappoint her, and he didn't want to see her hate him. She was the only person who had done anything for him, how could he lose her?
The door opened to reveal a grim Splendid, he held a recorder and a clipboard. He placed the recorder on the table midway between them before seating himself. Flippy sat waiting patiently with both hands out before him; he had been interrogated before under much more pressing circumstances. This would be nothing compared to being burned or electrocuted for information. He gave the Sheriff a pleasant smile which was not returned. A frowney face? Was that the best he could do? He wouldn't get anywhere like that.
The recorder was clicked to on. "Our conversation will be recorded, do you understand?"
"Your name is Flippy correct?"
"Where were you last Monday, July 25, between 10:00 P.M and 11:00 P.M?" The Sheriff's eyes stared hard at Flippy, all he had to do was say the words 'I did it', and he would be put away forever. Flaky would be safe, her friend's souls would find rest, and the sheriff would win.
He would win…
He would win, Flippy realized, and what exactly was the prize for winning? The Sheriff had targeted Flippy from the moment he saw him in Flaky's house. He had accused Flippy before even knowing his name, even known what his relationship with Flaky was. Flippy could have been her cousin or friend from out of town, but that didn't stop the good Sheriff from pinning the blame on him. This went beyond blaming a stranger; Splendid didn't want any competition for Flaky's affections. What better way of ridding the competition than sending them to the electric chair?
"Good Sheriff Splendid, you've known Flaky for a long time haven't you?" The stare turned into a hate-filled glare, "Probably since childhood."
"She is not a part of this conversation."
"Oh I really disagree; I think she is everything to this conversation. I think she is the reason for this conversation. Isn't that right Sheriff?"
For a second there was a stunned expression on the Sheriff's face before it suddenly turned into an iron mask, only his furious eyes revealed his inner turmoil. "You didn't answer my question Mr. Flippy, are you deflecting now?"
"We both know the real reason I'm here, why don't we let everyone behind that window know?" Flippy leaned forward as far as he could, "You love Flaky, but she doesn't love you does she?"
The door suddenly opened to reveal Splendont with paperwork in hand, he was clearly flustered. Behind him was a tall beautiful woman with a brief case swinging at her side. Her presence was strong and demanding, she strode in laying her case on the table a deep frown marring her otherwise lovely face. Her curly white hair bounced in rhythm with her strides. Her big purplish eyes, which were ever so slightly too far apart giving her an almost alien appearance, addressed Flippy first. For a moment Flippy didn't breathe, there was a brushing of kindred spirits when him and her locked eyes. A dark chuckle reverberated somewhere inside his mind.
"Good evening Mr. Flippy, I'm Dr . Lamby your attorney. I see Sheriff Splendid has already violated your rights to an attorney presence." She winked and Flippy remembered to breathe again.
If Splendid had stared at Flippy with disgust and hate, his expression now revealed nothing but utter revulsion for Flippy's new lawyer. "He didn't request a lawyer, ergo he didn't get a lawyer."
"Sheriff Splendid are you charging my client or just asking him aimless questions?"
"I will be charging him." Splendid ground his teeth together.
Dr. Lamby's smile was condescending enough to be insulting, "Based on what evidence will you be charging my client?"
Flippy raised his eyebrows and looked back to the Sheriff, also curious to know what evidence they possessed. Fliqpy was all about carnage and destruction, but at least he was meticulous with evidence, not to mention the rain would have washed most, if any, evidence away.
"DNA found at the crime—"
"You've matched this DNA to my client?" She interrupted sharply.
"Then we are done here today. If you want DNA from my client you will need a court order. Oh yes, and here is my client's alibi signed and dated." She opened her brief case pulling a manila folder from its confines.
The Sheriff read the document wearing the biggest frown Flippy had ever seen, which was saying something since killing people caused huge frowns. "Mr. Flippy if you're ready there is someone here to see you."
Flippy followed Dr. Lamby from the interrogation room to a waiting area, where a beautiful, teary eyed girl was waiting. He smelled her strawberry hair before he saw her and his heart skipped a beat in anticipation. "Flippy, ar-are you o-ok?"
Flaky approached him hesitantly as though he had just been tortured for information and he might break if she touched him. "I'm fine; I've been through much worse, promise." He pulled her to him in a tight embrace.
"I hate to interrupt, but I must be going."
Flaky disengaged from Flippy and turned to hug Dr. Lamby, "Th-thank you s-so much."
Flippy's new lawyer embraced Flaky, but her attention was on her client, "It was no problem; call me whenever you need me." She winked a giant purple eye at Flippy as she had done in the interrogation room. "And I will call you when I hear what they are planning next."
She left without winking for which Flippy was grateful, that lingering feeling of knowing her still flitting around his mind. "Come on, we be-better go." Flaky was staring at him concernedly with wide blue eyes.
They would have left then, if not for Splendid who came rushing through the waiting room door, "Flaky!"
Flaky seemed to shrink at the sound of his voice, she turned from the exit Flippy noticing the slight tremble to her form. "Did you agree to this alibi?"
Flaky blanched when she saw the betrayal in the Sheriff's eyes, she had seen the same look from him only once before in all the time she had known him. "Why are you protecting him?"
"When he is found guilty in a court of law, you will be charged with accessory to murder." His dark blue eyes hardened with resolution, "And when that happens I will personally ensure your conviction."
"You do that Sh-sheriff, but I'm not re-recanting."
Flaky turned away from her childhood friend, exiting the police station. Flippy quietly followed, befuddled as to why she had signed an alibi that they both knew was not true. She fumbled for her keys for several minutes in the parking lot before pulling them from her purse to unlock her little red jeep. They both got in, the silence palpable except for the hum of the engine; much like the stormy night she had picked up Flippy the hitchhiker, now suspected murderer.
He watched as she struggled with holding up the dam of tears. Flippy knew they would start to fall any second, he thought of how good they would taste…how salty, how sweet, how innocent…
"Stop." He told himself, shaking away the disturbing line of thought, inciting a dark inner chuckle.
Her stuttering was worsening, he realized, she had not been so unsure of herself when they had first met; now she struggled with every sentence. "Nothing I just was thinking out loud."
"Oh."A tear did fall causing Flippy to shift uncomfortably.
He wanted to ask so many questions, but she would just break down. She was like a porcelain doll that should have been hand washed, but instead was thrown in the washing machine to fend for herself. She could fracture and shatter into a fine dust at any second, and it was all because of him. He should have left while he had had the chance, he should have left when he had scared her that first night, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He was drawn to her; her quiet beauty, her gentleness, her vulnerability. Everything about her made him want her more.
Now he couldn't leave, all those missed opportunities were gone. The souls of all those he had sent to the after world were laughing at him, watching to see if he would finally be caught and brought to the justice of Mr. Electric chair. He wouldn't deny them their right for revenge, for peace, were it not for the expression of hurt and fear such verdicts would surely bring to her face.
Flaky could feel his eyes on her; he probably thought she was crazy, or going to be crazy very soon. What had she been thinking? Lying to the police, giving a false alibi, but how could she not? Sheriff Splendid was unfairly targeting Flippy, he was jealous and paranoid. There was no real evidence that pointed to her new strange friend. Except, of course, the fact he had been near the crime scene the night it happened, but wasn't that just circumstantial?
What about the knives in his shoes, she reminded herself pointedly. Who had knives in their shoes? What sane person walked around with deadly shoes? A paranoid person. He had been in the military though, he wasn't some scared civilian; he was a trained killer, at least that's what she assumed.
Her curiosity of what he did in the military was tempered by the fear of knowing. There was no telling what painful memories she would drudge up by asking. Who knew what the man beside her had been through? He seemed so normal…most of the time anyway. It was understandable to have abnormalities.
"Thank you f-for cl-cl-clean-cle—" She took a deep breath.
"Cleaning?" He offered.
"Yes." She didn't elaborate, her embarrassment sealing her lips shut. Would she ever get over this affliction? The past few days had been so stressful the stutter interrupting every part of her speech, it was to a point she stopped finishing sentences, or even bothering to start them.
Now with the guilt of lying to a friend it didn't seem the stutter would get better anytime soon. That look of betrayal on Splendid's face had broken her heart.
"You don't have to thank me, it was the least I could do."
There was a long pause, Flaky watching the road, Flippy concentrating on not thinking how good Flaky smelled. There was brief moment of clarity, when the world seemed so peaceful and crystal clear, when life's mistress acts as though she will finally put her whip away and let the little people rest. A moment when everyone is lost in their own thoughts and the world goes round and round without a care.
Then Flaky screamed, and swerved.
Their world spun upside and right side, over and over, tumbling to a stop where they both hung from their seat belts. Flaky dazed and confused, Flippy already cutting through his seat belt with the hunting knife he kept in a secret pocket.
He fell with his back on the roof, crawling through the broken window. Flippy came up into a defensive position, searching his surroundings for enemies. He didn't have to search for long, a few foot from Flaky stood a short wiry man with arms that made him more orangutan than human.
The man was at ease with himself, his exceptionally long arms rested on a staff set on his shoulders. His dark, soulless eyes regarded Flippy with respect, lacking his opponent's usual fear.