Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 194,254,766 Issue: 753 | 14th day of Collecting, Y18
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The Neovian Misadventure of Will and Biggs: Part One


by general_grievious__

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      A tall dark figure paced back and forth in a tiny, dimly lit room smattered with frocks, perfumes, and cosmetics. A ratty grey tailcoat with a bright amaranth fringe wrapped around his slender frame. He stopped and creaked open the door, taking a peep down the barren, dark hallway of similar doors. He tapped the door shut and resumed his pacing, careful to keep his large grey and cream tail off the dusty creaking floor. His black gloved paws pulled back the frayed sleeve of his jacket, revealing a broken watch face and gnarled hands that pointed to eight and two. He grit his teeth, gnashing them harder as cloven hooves stomped down the hallway. A hurried, muffled voice filtered in through the ancient door.

      “Mister uh, mister-Willbiggs , you were supposed to go on ten minutes ago!”

      “My name is Will! Biggs isn’t here – yet. He should be here any minute and then we’ll go on!”

      A graying Uni barged his head through the door.

      “Biggs Biggs Biggs... I think you mentioned him once but I’ve never seen the guy. Where is he? What is he? Your Weewoo? Snowbunny , maybe?”

      Will puffed out his chest, put an arm behind his back, and propped himself up with his tail.

      “He’s my assistant.” He sneered through his teeth.

      “Assistant, eh? Then you should be fine to go on without him.”

      “Well erm, no. He’s very integral to my performance. I can’t do it without him.” Will narrowed his eyes and shook his head.

      “Well, I’ve three Wocky sisters ready to sing and a pretty penny to save by kicking you off.” The bushy bearded Uni glared back.

      “Just a few more minutes.” Will paused and bared his teeth, ”A pretty penny? You’re paying a p-” He bit down on his lower lip. The scowling, ragged Uni furrowed his brow. “Well, you hired both of us! I won’t go alone.” Will crossed his arms.

      “You’re just some bum who answered my wanted ad!” yelled the Uni as he stomped a hoof, “You’ll go on now or you won’t go at all!”

      Will’s brow grew hot as his teeth tore deeper into his lip.

      “Very well!” Will hissed before rushing to a dresser and snatching up an old pack of cards and a collection of rusty rings. He swiftly slinked back to the door. The Uni stepped aside, glaring at him. Will cleared his throat,

      “Thank you sir, again, for allowing us to perform on your establishment’s stage.”

      He squeezed past the bulky Uni and went down the hallway, slowing his steps as he neared the stage door. Flicking the imagined filth of the floor off his tail as he stowed the rings away in his tailcoat. Once there he stopped, took a sharp breath, rubbed his brow, and opened the creaky door. A dim, narrow pathway lined with unlit rusty lights, crates, and plywood scenery lay before him. One side bared a cold brick wall and the other a warm velvet curtain gently drawn closed. Just beyond he could hear a murmur of voices. He hesitated at the curtains edge then stepped out onto the wooden stage. The crowd, made faceless by the bright overhead lights, was sparse. A singular old Darigan Buzz frocked with feathers and violet robes sat close to the stage. Others, presumably Acaras, sat in a group of three in the middle, and many shadowed figures lined the back wall.

      “Greetings, ladies and gentlemen! I am Will and I will-” he paused as he struggled to squash a sigh, ”Be… Your entertainment tonight.”

      The Buzz down in front scoffed loudly. He swallowed and opened his deck of cards, his paws shaking. The deck fumbled out of his grip, spreading out into a mess at his feet. The crowd laughed.

      “Oops!” He yelped as his ears slid backwards. His heart strung itself up by his throat.

      “Hack!”, graveled a coarse voice from the front row.

      He bent down and started shuffling up his cards as the crowd giggled once more. The metal rings slipped away from his tailcoat, clattering and rolling off the stage. Sweat beaded on his brow as he fruitlessly reached out to grab them.

      “Boo!” cried the gravelly voice. Soon a cacophony of jeers started to ring out from the audience. He shook his head, gathered up his cards and got to his feet, the stage started to sway like a boat underfoot and his heart started racing like a rising tide.

      “Now hold on there! A simple mistake! I can get on with the show!” A feigned smile wrapped up his white muzzle as the crowd grew increasingly rancorous.

      “Don’t bother!” growled the old Buzz.

      His mouth went dry as his vision started to blur, “You! Hush! All of you!”

      The crowd’s jeers intensified as fruit started to fly at him.

      “Hey!” he yelled as a Banan whizzed past his head. His knees started to buckle as his stomach clenched up. He doubled over and put a paw to his gut. “Gah!” The room started to spin, and as he looked out to the crowd once more, a large unripe Azzle twirled straight to his nose. Everything went dark.

      He awoke to a rancid stink of fruits. The grey sky swirling above and he felt a small weight on his chest. He sat himself upright, sinking his paws deep into a moist, moldy pile of fruit.

      “Gaggh!”

      He jumped up from the filth, knocking a small bag that was on his chest to the ground.

      “Ooooghhh!” he shuddered as he shook out his paws. Then he delicately plucked the remaining sticky, moldy fruit off himself. Growling and grumbling unkind words Skarl himself would blush at. Once the last bit of removable gunk was gone he plucked the small sack from the cobbled street stones. His heart sank at how easily it lifted off the stones. He emptied the contents into his palm and groaned. Ten measly single coins, enough for a plain dinner for two (and not the half rent for a two bedroom he needed). He pocketed them into his trousers and threw the sack down. He glared down the grim street, a river rushing away just beyond the thicket on his left, the stony outside of the theater looming on his right. A familiar, tall, violet figure rounded the corner, a feathered boa floating delicately around her long stiff neck.

      “You!” A grating rasp erupted from her thorny mandibles as she pointed a long clawed finger at him. “I’ve got to have a word with you!”

      She stomped towards him with some difficulty before finding an effective stomp-hobble. He frowned up at her as she approached him.

      Will furrowed his brow, “What!? What do you want?!”

      The Darigan Buzz blinked one eye, then the other.

      “The owner here won’t give me my money back! He said to get it from you!”

      “Pah! He gave me nothing!” Will waved a dismissive paw.

      “I doubt that very much!” the withered Buzz stuck her head out at him, “Give me back my five Neopoints!”

      ” I don’t have them.” He growled.

      “Something worth that then? I wasted too much of my precious time for your dreck of an appearance!” The buzz sank her head down to his level.

      “It wasn’t my fault…” he hissed under his breath as he turned away from her. He glared down at the cobbles. Suddenly, a smile began to spread across his jaw.

      “Ahem…Oh, I see…Of course-come to my caravan then! Used to be a salesman heh-heh, and I still have my old stock!”

      He hid his grin away as he turned back toward her.

      “I’ll show you the way!” He flicked his long curled Lutari tail and egregiously gestured down the street.

      The old Buzz scoffed, “Fine then.”

      She hobbled forward a half step, then two, and then paused. She pulled a small vial out of a satchel hanging at her side. Will sighed as her trembling, decrepit claws struggled to pry out the cork. She hissed at him, plucked out the cork, and downed its contents in one dry gulp. Immediately her thin wings hummed to life, lifting her off the cobbles and sending her once still boa into a silent frenzy. She flew over to his side in a flash.

      “Well! Let’s go then!” she spat.

      They went down the alley, against the rushing of the stream below and into a well groomed park. She glared at him as he pushed aside a prickled bush of a dense thicket and pointed her through. Among the dead, thorny branches and lush itchy bushes stood an old wooden caravan. Its design was ornate but worn and withered, brought upon by years of weather and age. A shiny new pad lock adorned its graying door. Will stepped up onto the small porch, “Give me but a moment please.”

      He slipped a key out from his glove, unlocked the door, and slipped inside. The buzz of wings closed in behind him as he hastily locked it from the inside. He grinned to himself as the hum stopped at the door. He gave a little sigh as the warm stillness of the small room welcomed him. At his feet laid piles of books and newspapers. On the opposite side, bottles and burners took up a wooden shelf along with a fine meshed cage with a big blue ball resting within. He picked up a newspaper from his tiny tattered bed nestled near the door and began to peruse the week old articles.

      “I’m growing impatient charlatan!” cried the shrill voice at the door.

      “Oh, but a moment, pardon! This place is a mess!” He chuckled and flipped to the wanted ads as he took a seat on his bed. An encircled block of text glared at him. ’Entertainers Wanted!’“Bah! A pretty penny!” he growled as he jammed a claw through it, and then brought the page to his nose again. “Baby sitter, Maid, Gardener, Farmer, Butler, Artist, nothing worth my time.” He thought.

      “I’ll wait out here all night if I have to! I’ll starve you out!”

      “Shut up you old bag!” he cackled.

      “Herrrrghhhumph!” A weak clinking of claws clattered against the thick wooden door.

      Will laid back, put the paper over his head, and sighed.

      “Oh!” cooed out a familiar voice outside.

      “Who are you?” the elderly Buzz hissed. Will shot up from his bed and scrambled through the books and papers to a crack in a boarded up window. A scrawny, stitched, sickly, suited, Zombie Buzz stood trembling, a bright bouquet of white lilies and yellow roses gripped tightly in one claw.

      “B-bbiggs.” His pale green mandible stuttered.

      “Biggs!” She screeched and zoomed away from the door. Towering over Biggs she cawed, “I want my money back!”

      “Ah! Oh-hh. Erm. Of course.” He dug into his pocket and pulled out a single coin. A purple claw swiped it away and inspected it.

      “Thank you dear. Let me get you your change…” Biggs looked down at his bare feet as she pulled out a small clasp, counted out five coins and put them into his palm. Will grit his teeth. The Darigan Buzz leaned over Biggs and touched his shoulder before disappearing into the woods. Biggs sheepishly shuffled his feet, fixed his cravat, and ran a claw through the frazzled spikes on his head. Will glowered through the crack a moment more, and then tore to the door. He unlocked it and flung it open.

      “Where were you?!” boomed Will.

      Biggs stopped dead in his tracks as his small sea foam green face fell into a frown. “C-C-Copperkettle he-he kept me. I I’m -”

      Will braced himself in the doorway and yelled, “I was made a fool!”

      “I-I- Know! I’m sorry! I-I have good news though!”

      “How could you? You’ve single handedly destroyed our chances at getting any work!”

      “That’s ridiculous! We can still try! Now it’ll be easier -”

      Will interrupted, “No! No! No! This was the third time! I finally get our foot in the door and then”, Will curled his paws into fists, “You can’t go- we have to cancel! Finally the stars align and this one works out! Until you decided to dash this one too!”

      Biggs stepped forward and held the bouquet to his chest, “I didn’t decide that! I would never! I couldn’t leave! It would mean we’d have nothing at all-”

      Will angrily flung an arm out at him, “I already have nothing! No work-No money-and no friends!” He slammed the door shut.

      “Will! Please!” The Buzz heard the lock on the door click menacingly.

      “Don’t do this to me! I’m sorry! I’m trying to make things better!” Biggs started to sob.

      Will leaned up against the door and growled into the grain, “For you and your work! But what of me and mine?”

      Biggs muffled, squeaky voice came through the door, “For us! For us to have a home, food and clothes! Then your work will come!”

      “We have those things! You had those things! You threw it all away for that Copperkettle!” The door’s lock started to squeak. Will flung open the door and grabbed Biggs’ wrist.

      “Give me that!” Will yelled as he tore a small key out of Bigg’s little claws. Then he stared down at him and growled, “Get out!”

      “W--”

      “Get out!” roared Will as he let go of the scrawny Buzz. Biggs’ little mandible began to quiver. Will glared at him as pangs rang through his heart and slammed the door on him.

      To be continued…

 
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