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Fraggle Fic: A Wandering Heart

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Slackbot, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    :) Glad that this fic's been continued. Sort of got lost in the wake of others being updated recently. Kind of interested in Skeeter's schemes, but that's rully more of a side-story to the main narrative. So, more please?
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  2. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Glad someone's still reading this. Skeeter's plan is just what it seems. She's heckbent on making her nerdy little brother come out of that boarding house and get some sort of social life. This story takes place before "Masks," and some of the things in here were first mentioned there, like the double dates that went nowhere.

    BTW, the restaurant they went to is Jason's Deli. They have an absolutely awesome salad bar. It would make a Fraggle think he'd died and gone to heaven. And complimentary toasted French bread and tiny cornbread 'n ginger muffins and ice cream frozen yogurt... dangit, now I'm hungry again.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  3. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Mmm, to have a place you can go to besides Kostko that has frozen yogurt again. :hungry:
    Ah, Skeeter's still bent, heckishly so. *Points to your house if you know what movie that's quoted from.
    *Disapparates off to sort out some new yokai students at the Moppet's Magic School. ::electric:
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  4. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Ah, Count, I can always rely on you to reply with a series of references I don't get. ;)
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  5. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Oh c'mon...
    "Still bent, heckishly so!", from Pirates 4: On Stranger Tides.
    Points to your house, Hogwarts House Cup anyone?
    Maybe I should follow Jim's tip from Limbo the Organized Mind and file/quote references in alphabetical order. :crazy:

    More story please?
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  6. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I ain't seen those films. Like Janken, I live under a rock.

    Writing the next chapter. If anyone's interested, it's based on an illo I posted back in May, and which I'm going to redo now that I have achieved competence at drawing one of the characters.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  7. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I don't think this is ushy-gushy, but it might be accused of containing a dabble of ush. Or possibly gush. I forget which is which.

    *****

    A Wandering Heart
    Part 15: Dinner and a Movie
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    It was a dark and grimy alley. Janken followed Scooter in, wondering what it was that he wanted to show him.

    The two were riding their bicycles between tall buildings that were set close together. Thankfully, the alley was not blocked by garbage or other debris or inhabited by things they would rather not meet. Janken wondered why Scooter was leading him to a place like this. He wasn't familiar with this side of town, but it didn't look like the high-rent district to him.

    Scooter turned a corner, then let his bike coast to a stop by a set of cement steps leading up to the back door of a building of worn brick. As Janken coasted in and dismounted Scooter said, "Better bring the bikes in."

    "No kidding."

    Scooter walked his bicycle up the steps with some effort. At the top he pulled a set of keys out of his jeans pocket and tried it in the lock. It didn't want to open. Scooter jiggled the key in the lock, muttering to himself. After a minute the key turned, and he opened the door.

    Janken looked around apprehensively as he entered the dark building. The only light was what little came in from the dim alley, and it smelled musty, as if nobody had been in there for years. "What is this place?"

    "You'll see. Put your bike here," Scooter said, leaning his against the wall to one side of the door. He walked into the darkness, and after a minute the lights came on.

    Janken looked around. They were in a theater. One that had been sliding gently into decrepitude for many years, from the look of it. The wooden floor under his feet was worn smooth, and creaked softly even under Janken's slight weight. The walls showed signs of having been repaired many times in the past. Wiring was exposed, and the intercom and telephones were practically antiques. Janken was becoming worried. "What are we doing here?"

    Guessing the reason for Janken's concern, Scooter said, "Don't worry, I'm supposed to be here." He showed Janken his key ring.

    "That's good. Breaking and entering isn't my idea of a romantic evening," Janken said. Scooter laughed. Janken was just kidding, of course. Well, mostly kidding. He liked flirting with Scooter, and Scooter didn't mind.

    He followed Scooter through the backstage. The walls were marked up, and someone had left construction materials and tools around. Scooter said, "The renovation on this place just started, and I've been checking in to keep track of the progress."

    "Oh, okay," Janken said.

    After they had wandered around the backstage for a bit, Scooter led him out the fire exit, which opened into a small hallway. On one side was another exit. They went in the opposite direction, and emerged into the seating area. The red seat cushions were threadbare, and some were split or torn where they attached to the seats. There was a balcony up above, and some box seats on either side. The red curtains in front of the stage were partially covered by a white drop cloth.

    Janken asked, "How long has this place been closed?"

    "Too long," Scooters said with a touch of sadness. "For a long time there was nothing to show here. So it's been sitting, closed up, until it was almost forgotten. Then someone decided it was time to open it up again, and now the plan is to bring it up to code. That's gonna be a task. I'm hoping it'll be ready in a year."

    "Oh," Janken said. All he knew about construction was that the ones made of radish sticks were delicious, so he had nothing to add.

    "Once it's open again...well, we'll see what we can do with it." He ran a hand over a worn seat cushion.

    Janken put a sympathetic hand on Scooter's shoulder. "It sounds like you have memories here."

    "My late uncle owned this theater," Scooter replied.

    "How could anyone own a construction that hundreds of people built and used? It seems like it ought to belong to the people who use it." Janken mused, looking around.

    "Yeah," Scooter murmured, nodding.

    Hands in his jacket pockets, Scooter looked around the empty audience. Then he looked at Janken and grinned. Janken grinned back; he loved to see Scooter's smile. "Come with me," Scooter said, and started into the seating area.

    Janken followed him to the center of the sixth row from the front. There was a large brown paper bag on the next seat and a metal stand with some electronics set up behind them. It looked like the setup that some large classes at the college used to show videos. Scooter turned backward in a seat so he could mess with the machinery. Janken watched, curious.

    After a minute of fiddling a light shone onto the drop cloth. Scooter turned around and sat down, then opened the bag, took out a white styrofoam container, and handed it to Janken. Puzzled, Janken opened it. Inside was a little of everything from the salad bar they had visited the previous weekend, plus some radishes. "Wow, thanks!"

    Scooter was amused. There were two things that Janken got excited about: music and salad. He handed him a paper cup of iced lemonade and said, "You're welcome. I figured we'd have dinner here."

    Janken nodded and stuck a straw through the cup lid. Scooter held a remote control aimed over his seat back and pressed the "play" button several times until he managed to aim right. As the DVD player started up and displayed stern copyright warnings on the drop cloth Scooter got out his own lunch: a reuben sandwich and soda. Janken began munching as he watched the distributors' and studio logos. When advertisements for other movies began Scooter, with a little sound of annoyance, held the controller up and tapped until it skipped to the main menu. When that came onscreen Janken exclaimed, "Oh!"

    Pleased, Scooter said, "Why wait 'til Christmas?"

    A few more clicks, and the opening credits for The Wizard of Oz began. Janken watched raptly, not taking his eyes off the screen, munching whatever his fork chose to bring him. Scooter, seeing how enthralled Janken was from the very beginning, relaxed and began eating his own sandwich.

    As Dorothy sang, Janken noticed in passing how the grey of her land reminded him of the stone of Fraggle Rock. She sang about how she wanted more, but didn't know where to find it. I know how you feel, he thought, not for the first time.

    **

    During a lull in the movie Janken noticed that the styrofoam box was empty. Funny, he remembered how good the food tasted, but he didn't remember actually eating it. He closed the box with the fork inside and set it on the next seat. Scooter, who had finished some time ago, noticed. His mind had been more on Janken than on the movie. Jenken leaned back, his arms on the armrests. Scooter took a moment to nerve himself, then touched Janken's hand.

    Janken glanced at Scooter's hand, then at Scooter. His inquisitive look was met with a slightly worried smile. He paused, surprised, then smiled broadly and, turning his hand palm up, clasped Scooter's hand.

    **

    When the movie ended they were still holding hands. After the credits finished and the player returned to the DVD menu Scooter reached up, pressing the "off" button. As he was left-handed, and only his right hand was currently free, it took a few more tries. When it was off again Janken said softly, "Thanks."

    "Glad you liked it," Scooter replied just as quietly.

    "It's the second best thing that happened to me today." He gave Scooter's hand a little squeeze.

    Scooter thought, he had imagined feeling a little strange about this, but he didn't. It felt natural. It felt right in a way that all the dates he had gone on in the past because they were the right thing to do--so he had thought--never had. He said, "Jan... when we first met, practically the first thing you told me about yourself was that you're, um, gay. Did you...?"

    "Did I have my eye on you?" Janken smiled. "No. I think I was testing you."

    "What do you mean?"

    "You know how people can be." Scooter nodded solemnly. People could be cruel to those who were...different. Most people weren't, but you sure remembered the ones who were. Janken continued, "I wanted to know what kind of person you were. If you got upset or disgusted, I'd have known you weren't the kind of person I wanted as a friend."

    "I was surprised, but, well, I guess it was mostly because you told me out of the blue."

    "Yeah. I remember your reaction. Kind of like 'Huh? Oh, okay.' So I knew I might get to like you. And I was glad, 'cause I did think you're cute."

    Scooter had heard that plenty of times, but never in this context. He felt his face warm. "Heh, thanks."

    "Welcome."

    Scooter looked away. Janken, sensing that he was working up to something, waited. After a minute Scooter said, "You weren't worried about people knowing about you?"

    Janken shook his head. "No. I am what I am. Where I come from your sexual orientation's nothing to be either ashamed or proud of, it's just part of you. I'm not going to hide or be afraid."

    "I wish I was that brave," Scooter whispered.

    Janken guessed what was on Scooter's mind. Not only was he worried about what others might say, he was not as comfortable with himself as Janken was. Even though it wouldn't even occur to him to look down on others, it's another thing to deal with it within yourself, as Janken knew all too well. He squeezed Scooter's hand reassuringly and said, "I understand. Don't worry. We'll keep this between us."

    "Yeah. It's not that-"

    "Scooter, it's okay. I understand."

    "Thanks. Um... so, what now?"

    Janken smiled. "That's up to us."

    *****

    Fraggle Rock and all characters except Janken and Scooter are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. Scooter is copyright © The Muppets Studio, LLC. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Janken and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  8. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Getting close... almost there....

    *****

    A Wandering Heart
    Part 16: One Fine Day in November
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    It was a brisk day in late autumn. Janken and Scooter rode their bicycles to the back of the theater where they had been meeting. Scooter unlocked the back door and they walked their bicycles in. Scooter was wearing a warm jacket, and did not take it off, as the empty theater was not heated. Janken's winter fur had grown in, so he barely noticed the chill.

    As they walked through the backstage Scooter remarked, "Things are really happening now."

    Janken saw what he meant. The renovation had been in progress for months now. For a while it had looked like it was being dismantled from the inside out. Now new surfaces were beginning to appear, giving hints as to what it would look like when finished. Currently the stage was being rebuilt. Janken could see places where trapdoors would be. He looked up. The fly space rigging was completely gone. Too bad; he had liked climbing up to the catwalk to see the stage from above. Oh well, there wasn't much to see now anyway.

    Carrying takeout boxes containing their lunches, they went to their usual spot in the audience. It was a little off to one side; the armrest between two seats had broken off. Scooter inserted a DVD into the player. He had not told Janken what movie he had picked; he liked to surprise him. When the menu appeared on the drop cloth hung over the curtains in lieu of a screen Janken remarked, "Now that's a generic title."

    "If you just see one holiday movie, this is the one to see. It's a little early, but what the heck."

    Scooter started the movie. A few minutes in Janken nearly choked on his salad. He coughed a few times, then started giggling.

    "What's so funny?" Scooter asked.

    Janken pointed. "If you were a ten-year-old human being you'd look like him!"

    Scooter looked at the Screen, surprised. "It's just the glasses."

    "Yeah, sure," Janken said, still laughing.

    **

    They watched the movie while eating their lunches. Scooter, who had had plenty of experience with safe, happy, feel-good Christmas movies and specials, enjoyed the subversion of the usual clichés. Janken, whose cultural background did not include Christmas, took it at face value and laughed just as much.

    Afterward they sat and talked, arms around each other's shoulders. Scooter said, "Pretty soon they're going to start working on the renovation on the weekends. Deadlines."

    "We'll find someplace else to hang out," Janken replied.

    They were speaking softly, close enough that their noses were nearly touching. Scooter said, "Too bad, though. This place is perfect."

    "We wouldn't be able to use it much before winter break anyhow."

    "Yeah." They both had a lot on their plates, with finals coming up, plus another production they were both working at the same time. They had been making time to spend together, a few hours a week just to themselves. "At least we'll see each other backstage."

    "It'll be fine," Janken said. "We'll have plenty of time over the break."

    "There's that to look forward to," Scooter agreed.

    "This year will be better than last year, for me at least. I always get homesick at the beginning of winter."

    Scooter assumed that where Janken came from they didn't celebrate Christmas, as that was another of Janken's knowledge gaps. "Why then?"

    "I miss celebrating the winter solstice. It makes me think about how far I am from everyone I grew up with. I miss my family."

    "Can't you go home to visit?"

    "It's not that simple," Janken said sadly.

    "Well... is there anything I can do to help?"

    "Not about that. But thanks," Janken said, and kissed Scooter on the tip of his nose.

    **

    Later, as the two were picking up their lunch boxes, Janken said, "When will the theater open up again?"

    "Next summer. We want to start rehearsals in spring. Wish we had until then," he said wistfully.

    "Will it open as the Muppet Theater?"

    Scooter looked up, startled. Then he said, "You figured it out, huh?"

    Janken explained. "You've been so excited about the renovation. I could tell this theater means a whole lot to you, like it's been a big part of your life. So I did a little research. Looked this place up by address since the marquee is blank. Found out who used to perform here. Checked them out. And found you."

    Scooter scratched the back of his head. "I hope you don't mind that I didn't tell you myself."

    Janken smiled warmly. "No. You never lied to me, you just didn't tell me everything, and I guess I never asked. Now I know why you were surprised I didn't recognize you at first."

    "Yeah. It's been really nice, having someone who doesn't think of me as Scooter the Muppet, but just as plain old Scooter."

    "And who doesn't expect you to do the 'fifteen second 'til curtain' routine?"

    Scooter smiled wryly. "Oh, yeah. You know how often I get asked to record answering machine messages? Sometimes ringtones. It's not like I'm mobbed or anything every time I go get the mail; I'm not Kermit. But, still... you wouldn't believe how many people still remember that stuff."

    "I've been watching the DVDs. I can believe it. Those are great shows."

    Hands in his pockets, Scooter smiled. "Yeah, they were. Maybe we can make some more of 'em."

    "I hope so."

    "Anyway... I'm glad you found out," Scooter said. "I'd have told you when we started using the theater anyway. I'd thought about just coming out with it before, but what would I have said? 'By the way, I'm famous. Want my autograph?' Ugh."

    "To tell the truth, I'm glad I got to know plain ol' Scooter Grosse instead of Scooter the Famous Muppet. You're both pretty lovable, though," Janken said teasingly.

    Scooter looked down, blushing slightly. Janken was so open and unselfconscious about his affection, as if there was nothing in the world unusual about two guys being in love, that sometimes Scooter did not know how to respond. Not that Scooter found it at all unpleasant... When he looked up again he said, "I wish the theater needed a camera operator. We'll just be doing live stage shows at first. We used to be wired for TV cameras, back when we did the old shows, but that equipment was so old, it'd be useless now. It was taken out, but we've left space backstage left just in case. If we luck out and get a TV contract after the first season, we'll put new cameras in the theater. I can put in a good word with Kermit for you, probably get you that spot. If you'd be interested."

    Janken said, "Are you kidding? I'd love to be part of a show like that! It'd be a little scary, filming for TV, though."

    "Don't worry about it. You're already pretty good, and I can show you the rest. And, you know, we'll have openings for the show. I know you're a little stage shy, but maybe if you tried something small, like a background part, you might like it on the boards. And, let's face it, with your looks you'd fit right in."

    Janken laughed. "Thanks, Scooter, but I've got little talent and lots of stage fright."

    "I don't know. You tore it up that time at the karaoke bar."

    It was Janken's turn to blush. "That was just messing around. Stage lights are too hot for me; I'll stick to the cool, cozy backstage."

    "Well, it takes people on both sides," Scooter said, patting Janken on the back.

    "Yeah."

    He put his arm around Scooter's waist, and Scooter put his arm around Janken's shoulders. They walked together to the exit, dropped their takeout boxes in the trash, then took their bicycles out the back and rode off.

    *****

    Scooter and the Muppet Theater are copyright © The Muppets Studio, LLC. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Janken and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  9. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Isn't it weird how all my novella-length stories end up as 17-parters? Well, whatever, here is the final segment of A Wandering Heart...

    *****

    A Wandering Heart
    Part 17: Janken's Song
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    It was a chilly day in late December, cool enough that people dressed warmly, but not cold enough to keep them indoors. Janken and Scooter were sitting on a park bench. The theater renovation was in full swing, with work going on seven days a week, so they had lost their usual hangout. Both were wearing winter clothing, even Janken, who was more resistant to cold than most surface dwellers. He had even put on a pair of leggings—Scooter had gotten him to try blue jeans, but Janken found them uncomfortable—and a knit cap in additional to his usual denim jacket. Yet he was still barefoot.

    "I wish it would snow," Janken said. A puff of fog hung in front of his face for a moment before drifting away on the cold air.

    "Yeah," Scooter said. "If it's gonna get cold, why not go all the way?"

    They got snow in Fraggle Rock, or more precisely in the Gorgs' garden above Fraggle Rock, but they didn't often feel like playing in it because cave dwellers could not completely escape from the cold. Here, Janken had a rented basement that was always comfortable, no matter how hot or cold it was outdoors. He enjoyed snow more because he could hide from it any time he liked. He was spoiled, he knew. "What have you got planned?"

    "We just finished finals, so the first thing I'm going to do is sleep in and not think a thing about anything I've been studying."

    Janken grinned. "It still seems funny. You're in theater arts, which is your job, but you study harder than any student. Anyone would think you didn't already know what you're doing."

    "I know how things work with Muppets. That's hardly the same thing as normal theater."

    Janken nodded. "Still... sometimes I kind of wonder why you're here. You've got a job. You've told me you don't plan to leave the Muppets."

    Scooter let out a foggy breath. "Yeah, I guess it seems strange. The thing is, I originally lucked into my job because my uncle owned the theater. I started out as a go-fer because he wanted to get me out of the house, and if there was one place that would hire me and keep me out from underfoot, it was the people using his theater. They were stuck with me. But I really got into it, and a summer job turned into a career. But, still... I didn't have to earn it. I never even went to college because, at the time, I thought 'why bother?' But a few years ago I realized that, well, I've never really done anything on my own. It's like everything's been handed to me."

    "So you're getting a degree on your own," Janken finished.

    "Yeah. In theater arts, because why study something I'm not interested in?"

    Janken nodded agreement. "I understand, Scooter. I'm here for kind of the same reason. Because I can. I'll be the first one of my kind. That was important when I started, and it still is, but it's not the most important thing now."

    "What is?"

    "Just being in the world," Janken declaimed with a humorously exaggerated Shakespearean gesture, as if encompassing the entire planet. They both laughed. When they finished Janken said, "I'd better get going."

    "Okay. What do you want to do afterward?"

    "I don't know. Something fun. I'll probably need cheering up."

    The two got up and started walking. Janken said nothing more, so for a while the only sounds were those of their footsteps and the crinkling of the paper bag Janken was carrying. Then Scooter said, "Can I help?"

    Janken looked over and smiled wistfully. How could he explain that his plans were to crawl into a hole, ring a bell, and cry his eyes out because he missed his family? But he needed to get it out of his system. "I wish you could, but... this is something I've got to do myself. Let's meet tomorrow, 'cause I won't be fit company tonight."

    "All right," Scooter said.

    Janken thought, at least he had that to look forward to. No matter how lonely he felt today, on the day of the solstice, he had several weeks off and someone he loved with whom to spend it. He could smile more easily, thinking about that.

    They walked without speaking for a minute. Then, apropos of nothing, Scooter said,
    "Have you ever went over a friend's house to eat
    And the food just ain't no good?"

    Grinning widely, Janken chanted,
    "I mean the macaroni's soggy, the peas are mushed,
    And the chicken tastes like wood."

    Scooter replied,
    "So you try to play it off like you think you can
    By sayin' that you're full,"

    Janken responded,
    "And then your friend says, momma, he's just being polite,
    He ain't finished, uh-uh, that's bull."

    The two walked on, alternating lines in the song and laughing.

    **

    When they reached the TMI office Janken told Scooter, "Thanks. I needed that."

    "Any time. What's TMI?"

    "They help Monsters. They helped me get into the university."

    "Oh? Cool."

    Janken had wondered if Scooter would ask if he was a Monster. If he did, Janken didn't know what he would say. However, Scooter didn't seem to give it any thought. Janken stepped through, then held it for Scooter. A big, sharp-toothed, shaggy blue Monster was seated at the reception desk. Janken said, "Hi, Cheryl. This's Scooter. We've been working together on some University plays."

    "Janken has told us about you. Thanks for taking him under your wing." She held out her hand.

    Scooter shook it without flinching. Considering some of the creatures he dealt with regularly, she was not particularly intimidating. "No problem. He's a pleasure to work with."

    Janken said, "Thanks, Scoot. I'll see you tomorrow, all right?"

    "Sure. Good luck." Scooter patted Janken's shoulder.

    As they walked down the hall in the back of the office Cheryl asked, "How long do you plan to stay?"

    "Couple of hours, I guess. I guess I can't really celebrate the Festival of the Bells by myself, but I can't ignore it either." He took a long-handled bell out of the paper bag and showed it to her.

    "You don't have to celebrate the turning of the year alone," she said gently.

    Last year he had spent Christmas with her family. He did not understand the legends associated with it—they seemed to be several which conflicted sharply—but the messages of the renewal of life, kindness toward those in need, and faith in the benevolence of the world were familiar ones. "Thanks. But this year I won't be alone. I've got someone to spend it with." He smiled.

    "Good. I hope you find what you're looking for," she said as she unlocked the storeroom door.

    "Thanks."

    She closed the door after Janken, leaving it unlocked. He moved a box aside, slid the wooden panel covering the Fraggle hole upward, and went in.

    The temperature seemed to drop with every inch he crawled. When he reached the small room he stood up and shuddered. It was cold in here. He took a pair of warm, thick socks out of the bag and slipped them on over his feet. That felt much better, putting something between his feet and the cold stone floor so it would not drain his warmth away. He also had a pair of mittens, but he did not put these on just yet.

    He went down the tunnel leading to the Fraggle colony. As expected, it was still blocked by huge boulders. No amount of wishing was going to move them. He sat down on one and took a foot-long daikon radish out of the bag. As he munched on his lunch he thought about Fraggle Rock. Right about now everyone would be clustering around fire bowls in the great hall, huddled together for warmth. The Rock would be slowing down. Soon it would be the right moment. The Rock would stop. Then they would ring their bells and sing, and the world would continue turning. Part of Janken knew now that that was just folklore. The world would continue on its path, cycling between winter and summer, whether the Fraggles celebrated it or not. The importance, he now believed, was for the Fraggles. It tied them to the world and to each other. That was what made it vital.

    Janken took out his bell and rang it. The lonely sound echoed away in the cave. Janken's eyes began to sting with tears—

    …Echoes?

    He rang the bell again. This cave was no more than a room; he shouldn't be hearing an echo! He put the radish down and went back into the main room. He rang the bell, then looked in the direction of the echo. What had always been a shallow, shadowed inlet was darker than it ought to be. And there was debris around it. Another rockslide? Hardly daring to hope, he stuck his head and arm through the crack and rang his bell hard. He heard the sound bounce away, down a long tunnel.

    He ran back, put his mittens on, grabbed the daikon, and wriggled his way through the crack.

    His first impulse was to run, but he checked himself. Running around in unfamiliar passages was a good way to injure or kill himself. Not to mention how easy it would be to get lost! He looked back and saw the light of the room he had just come from. He searched around, found a piece of quartz with a sharp, broken-off edge, and scratched a mark on the wall at eye height pointing the way back. As long as he kept doing that, making another blaze mark before losing sight of the last one, he wouldn't get lost.

    He walked down, looking around and listening carefully as he went, occasionally ringing his bell for the comforting sound it made.

    **

    He walked for several hours. It became progressively colder and colder as the passage meandered downward. He practically didn't need to blaze a trail, as he had followed the main trunk, which did not fork. Side passages branched off of it, but he could not accidentally wander into one of those. Still, he kept marking his trail, looking back periodically to make sure he could see at least one mark from wherever he was.

    Soon, tired and hungry, he stopped to eat some more of the daikon. He had been so intent on exploring, he had forgotten all about lunch. He sat down to rest his feet and munched the savory vegetable. But soon, tired as he was, he got back up again. It was cold, and he had to keep moving to stay warm.

    He looked around as he jogged in place, chewing a mouthful of radish. He could find his way back now, then try this in the spring, when it was warmer. He could bring proper equipment. He still had the pickaxe and rope and other things he had borrowed from Gobo. Common sense told him that it was foolish to risk exploring this cold, unknown cave all alone. If he succumbed to hypothermia or one of the few predators that was active in winter, nobody would ever know what had become of him. He would simply disappear.

    But this isn't about staying safe, he thought. It's about following your heart. As corny as it sounded, be couldn't give up hope that this passage would lead to other Fraggles. After a little more dithering he decided that he would go on for another hour, and then turn back if he didn't find anything. He could hold out in the cold that long, especially since he knew the path back to be safe.

    **

    He continued down lower. Stalactites and stalagmites made the shrinking passage into an obstacle course. While wriggling between them he snapped the tips off of a few. He felt a sharp twinge of regret each time that happened; it felt like vandalism. He kept going, though. He had tied his bell to one of his jacket's buttonholes, so it clinked and dinged as he walked. His arms were tightly folded across his chest, his hands under his arms. It was cold.

    The tunnel led into a white cavern. He blinked, his eyes momentary dazzled after the gloom of the tight passage. What he at first thought was ice was the natural color of the stone. It was beautiful—and confusing. There were all sorts of stone formations, but it was difficult to orient himself among them, and he could easily get turned around in here. He scratched several blaze marks around the tunnel exit to be on the safe side. He regretting marring the purity of these stones, but he put them where they would not be conspicuous to anyone not looking for them. When he judged it safe, he continued through the white cavern.

    More white stone, its folds and creases and columns creating seemingly endless nooks and crannies and side tunnels. Janken stopped, shivering. The icy white of the cave was getting to him. He felt his energy and warmth ebbing. If he stopped here he would get sleepy, and then he wouldn't ever wake up. He had done his best, he decided, and now it was time to go back before hypothermia set in. He was tired, but, he told himself, he could run. He'd have to, to keep warm.

    As he took a final glance around, he noticed a dark mark on the ground. There, clearly visible against the white rock, was a dark foorprint. Or, more precisely, a toe-print, as if someone wearing boots had tripped there.

    Eyes wide, Janken stared. He reached down and touched it, smearing the print with his mittened hand. It was real. He looked around, and soon saw a ramp leading up into the darkness above.

    He dropped his marking stone and dashed up the ramp.

    **

    Soon he heard a sound. It was a soft humming at this distance, but one he knew well. The sound of many voices blended together. He put on a burst of speed, scrambling through the caves as if running from a garboyle. There was no fear in his heart, however; only joy.

    He emerged into a cavern filled with Fraggles. All were bundled together in a sea of warm clothes, dotted here and there by fire bowls. Their clothing and skin and hair were a crazy-quilt of colors. And they were all singing The Carol of the Promise. Janken raised his voice and sang with them,
    "There's a rhythm, there's a rising,
    There's a dream of green that needs to wake.
    A password and a promise
    That the earth will never ever break.
    It's coming, feel it humming,
    In the hearts we share with rock and sky,
    So raise your voices high!"

    The crowd sparkled as light flashed off the bells the Fraggles rang. Janken rang his joyfully, scanning the crowd. In this sea of bundled-up Fraggles, how could he find anybody? They were all facing the center of the Great Hall, where Cantus, who had been leading the festival as he always did, stood. Janken considered calling out to the Minstrel, but that was only the second thing on his mind. He kept scanning the crowd until one head-turn caught his eye. He made his way into the hall, toward a knit cap that had two crowns, both tipped with a big puff of red hair. As he got closer he recognized the pattern of his father Wembley's signature banana tree shirt, worn on top of a warm sweater, and his mother Mokey's blue-green hair, and Papa Gobo's vest. What looked like a pile of laundry was Papa Boober, bundled up against the cold. They were busy ringing their bells and making merry, and they had not noticed him. He grinned, then reached around Mokey from behind, took her right hand, and rang her bell.

    Startled, she looked around. "Who--Janken!"

    Janken had been thinking of clever entrance lines, but forgot all about them and just hugged Mokey tightly. "Mama!"

    The others were exclaiming in surprise. Gobo asked, "How'd you get here? We didn't know you were coming back!"

    Janken turned and hugged him. "I didn't know either! A rockslide trapped me over there, and now another rockslide just opened a new passage, and here I am!"

    Wembley joined in on what had become a group hug. "I don't believe it! Welcome home!"

    'Thanks, Papa." He looked at Wembley, then realized he was looking slightly down. He used to see eye to eye with Wembley. Wembley, noticing the same thing, said, "Wow! You got big while you were away."

    "Yeah, I did some growing up out there," Janken said, grinning.

    "Janjanjan!"

    Janken was attacked by a green ball of fur. His little sister, Sage, had been playing in the Weeba Beast costume, and had just heard Janken's voice. She, too, had grown in the past two years, and her playful rush nearly knocked him over. She stopped and grabbed him to keep him from falling. "Sorry, Jan!"

    "Never mind," he said, and hugged her. She squeezed back hard, as if to make up for missed time.

    Reproachfully Boober said, "Sage! He's tired and cold. Let him rest and warm up before you maul him."

    Janken's first impulse was to protest that he was all right now, but, well, he was feeling the effects of his journey. Red, who was still sitting down, shifted to the side and said, "Here, sit with me. I warmed the rock for ya."

    "Heh, thanks." Janken glanced over, and for a moment misunderstood what he saw. Red had no lap at all; her arms were around what he thought was a very round stomach. Then he saw the top of a head peeking out of her coat, and realized that she was holding Poncle under her coat to keep her warm.

    Noting his startled expression, she said, "What?"

    "For a moment I thought you were having another baby."

    "What? No, just the same one." The opened her coat a little, and Poncle looked around to see what all the commotion was about. Red told her, "Janken's come home."

    Unimpressed, Poncle looked at the purple Fraggle she had never seen before. Of course she wouldn't recognize him; when he had left she was just a newborn, her eyes not yet open. Sage came back carrying a blanket. She handed it to Janken, and he wrapped it around himself while she explained to Poncle, "He's our brother. A brother's like a boy sister." Startled, Janken laughed. Sage told him, "She's just a baby. She doesn't understand much yet."

    "You're teaching her, though. I knew you'd be a great big sister."

    "Can I be a little sister too?" she asked him.

    "Yeah. You can start by helping warm me up." He patted his lap. She sat crosswise on it, and he wrapped the blanket around them both as he hugged her again.

    **

    The family talked, chatting about things that they had only been able to mention in the small space that postcards allowed. Janken tried to explain his job in terms they would understand: making pictures of people telling stories, like Doc took photos, but the pictures moved, and they captured the sound as well, so people could see it again later. The concept startled the other Fraggles. But Gobo reminded them of the device that Doc had once used to save his voice so he could talk to the Fraggles after he left; this must be like that, but they could watch as well as listen. They found that much easier to understand.

    Red had recovered quickly after Janken had left. She wasn't able to do much for the rest of that year, but by the next summer she was back to racing, rock hockey, and of course diving and swimming and splashing around. She and Gobo had formed rival rock hockey teams because, so she said, if they teamed up nobody else would stand a chance. Gobo did not disagree.

    Mokey had been composing poetry and painting when not busy with the children. Janken wanted to see her latest works; he had missed her art and writing. Wembley and Boober had nothing major to tell Janken about. Wembley was just cheerfully living life, and Boober remarked that he had no complaints, which by his standards was practically a state of giddy joy. Sage and Poncle were busy growing and learning. Sage in particular had a long list of accomplishments to rattle off.

    When Sage paused to take a breath Janken heard, "How goes your journey?"

    He looked up. Cantus had approached so quietly that Janken had not noticed. He answered, "It wasn't what I expected. It was longer, and harder...and better."

    Cantus nodded. "What have you learned?"

    "Um..." He patted Sage's back and said, "Let me up, Sis."

    She asked, "Are you going away again?"

    "Just for a few minutes. C'mon."

    Reluctantly she slid off his lap. Janken stood, and he and Cantus walked slowly through the Fraggle throng as they talked. Janken began, "I think I figured out the answer to your question."

    "Well?"

    "The people living on the surface—Outer Space—live so differently from us that we may think they're crazy, or at least stilly. But they're like Gorgs, or Doozers, or Thrumb, or even Fraggles. Once you learn about them you find out that the way they live makes sense. And the more you understand, the more you realize that, when you get down to the core, you're more the same than different." That sounded clumsy, he thought. It was so simple and elegant in his head, but it sure didn't come out that way.

    Cantus said, "You have learned to listen."

    Relieved, Janken said, "Thank you. Can I ask you a question?"

    "There can be no answers without questions."

    He took that as a yes. "Why did you take me with you? How did you know what would happen?"

    "I did not know what would become of you, or what you would become. I cannot see into the future. But I do have a good view of the present." His eyes met Janken's. "I invited you because I saw a hint of what you might become, if given a chance."

    Was Cantus talking about destiny? That was silly. Destiny was a fairytale guarantee of the role you would have in life. It didn't happen that way in real life. You had to work for your accomplishments. And, Janken realized, he had been willing, eager even, to leave the comfort of his home to travel into the unknown with the Minstrels. It had been partially because of his feelings for Cantus, but he had also wanted to see the other colonies the Minstrels visited. Not many Fraggles would be so interested, but he had been raised on tales of Outer Space. He had been exploring with his family as long as he could remember, and he had grown up with Gorgs and Doozers and a Hairy Monster and a Human Being as friends. He might as well have been raised to bridge the gap between the inner and outer worlds. Which sounded silly and egotistic, but, he thought, it might be true in a way. He said to Cantus, who had waited while he thought all this over, "I was the right Fraggle at the right time, I think."

    Cantus nodded emphatically. Janken felt as if he had won a prize. Sincerely he said, "Thank you. Thanks for helping me find my place. It's not what I expected, and it's sure not what I wanted when I started out, but now I wouldn't want it any other way."

    "You have begun singing your song," Cantus told him, and turned away.

    Janken had no idea what that meant; Janken didn't have a song like other Fraggles did. But Cantus wouldn't be Cantus if he wasn't confusing. There was a time, Janken thought, when he would have done anything for the elder Minstrel; he would only have had to crook a finger at him. But Cantus had wanted nothing from him, and another had beckoned. Now he realized that his needy adolescent crush had faded to a gentle warmth.

    Janken went back to his family. Mica had joined them. Janken said, "Mica! How are you?"

    "I'm all right. How about you?"

    She looked worried. "I'm all right. What's wrong?"

    Reluctantly she said, "Jan... I have another roommate now."

    He asked, "Do you get along well?"

    "Yeah."

    Her smile told him all he needed to know. "Then, good. Now will you hug me?"

    Relieved, she gave her old friend a tight squeeze. He whispered into her ear, "Can you keep a secret?"

    "Sure."

    "Maybe I've found someone."

    "Really?"

    "Shh. Our secret for now. I'm not sure, but I'm hoping."

    "Good luck!"

    "Thanks."

    When they separated Gobo said, "Don't worry about where to stay. You can room with Wembley and me again. You can have your old nook."

    Boober said, "Sage has been living with me, and Red and Mokey have Poncle. It all evens out."

    Janken said, "Er... I'm not staying."

    "You're not? Why?" Red asked, startled.

    Janken looked around at his whole family. "Um. My home is here.... but I have a home up on the surface too. I have a job, and friends, and a place to live. And..."

    Wembley said softly, "And you want to go back."

    "Yeah. I'm still learning about Outer Space, and if I came home now it would be like, what was the point? I wouldn't have accomplished anything 'cause I quit before I was finished."

    "What do you have to do?" Sage asked.

    "I'm not sure," Janken told her.

    "Then when will you come back for real?"

    He sat down. "I don't know. It may be a long, long time. But I'll visit, now that I have a path back."

    "You promise?"

    "You bet!"

    "You better," Red told him.

    "Are you going to stay a little while, at least?" Gobo asked.

    Janken paused. People would wonder if he disappeared. Scooter expected to see him tomorrow, and if the people at TMI saw the new opening in the cave they might think that he had gone for good. But to find Fraggle Rock at long last and then turn right back around? He said, "Yeah, for a few days at least. My friends'll understand. Um, first, think I could go up and ask Doc to pass on a message so they won't worry? A postcard wouldn't get there fast enough."

    "Sure. It's day up there now."

    Sage took his hand. "I know the way. I'll show you."

    He remembered the path as well, but she was so very determined to stick with him. "Okay. Be right back," he said, waving at the rest of his family.

    Sage led him by the hand through the cold tunnels. With an impish grin she began to sing,
    "Every day the world begins again,
    Sunny skies or rain.
    Come and follow me."

    He smiled and responded,
    "Every sunrise shows me more and more,
    So much to explore.
    Come and follow me."

    He put his arm around her shoulders and held her close. Together they sang, making the tunnel walls echo with their joy.
    "Every morning, every day,
    Every evening, calling me away!"

    *****

    Fraggle Rock, the song Follow Me, and all characters except Scooter, Janken, Cheryl, Sage, Poncle, and Mica are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. Scooter is copyright © The Muppets Studio, LLC. Rapper's Delight is by The Sugarhill Gang. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Janken and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  10. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    "It is a sin to waste the reader's time."​
    -- Larry Niven​

    *****

    Before I started writing this I wondered if I really should, since the spotlight would be firmly centered on an original character rather than the canon characters we all know and love. That's a big risk, as nobody but the author is interested in reading about the author's pet characters. I like to think that I'm good enough to avoid writing "Mary Sue" fics, but then every author thinks they're good. You have to have a bit of an ego to post fanfic publicly.

    In the end I decided to go ahead, because I write stories for one simple reason--I like to tell stories--and I wanted to tell this one. Not every story will be a hit. If you are afraid to fail, you don't take risks, and playing it safe is not the way to grow as an author. Simply put, I felt like writing something to show how Janken got to where he is as of "Masks." Hopefully some people found it worth reading. If you did, thanks for sticking with me to the bitter end. If not, oh well, hopefully the next one will be more interesting.

    One I found very heartening is the non-reaction to Janken's sexual orientation. All too often non-heterosexuality is a taboo subject. My intention was to present it as non-taboo, simply a facet of someone's personality, which is in my opinion the simple truth. That I received no complaints or remarks about "slash," and that people seemed not to fixate on it at all, pleases me greatly. Maybe someday it'll be considered as much of a non-issue in real life.
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  11. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    One parting shot over the bow...

    *****

    A Wandering Heart
    Extras: Outtakes
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    PART 1:

    [SCENE: the Gorg's garden. It is raining and the ground is muddy. Sage grabs the leaves growing out of a radish almost as big as she is and pulls hard. After much effort, skidding around in the mud, the radish comes loose—and rolls on top of her, smushing her into the squelchy mud.]

    **

    PART 4:

    [Janken is writing on Fraggle paper, whatever that is. Mica comes in and reads over his shoulder.]

    Mica: "It was a dark and stormy night"?

    Janken: The Storyteller starts out that way when her imagination's out to lunch.

    **

    [Janken and Mica are sitting side-by-side, her arm around his back. The atmosphere is bittersweet. They sit for a little while. Then Mica looks at him.]

    Janken: What?

    Mica: Your stomach was supposed to growl.

    Janken: I can't make my stomach growl on command. They'll have to dub it in.

    Mica: So much for method acting.

    Janken: [burps] Will that do?

    Mica: We'll stick with dubbing.

    **

    PART 5:

    Cantus: We will be moving on this afternoon. If you decide to join us, be ready to leave then.

    Janken: [flustered] I... thanks!

    [Janken dashes off. The Minstrels watch him go.]

    Murray: [to Cantus] Why do you get all the groupies?

    **

    PART 6:

    [The Minstrels have swapped instruments and played some music.]

    Murray: [to Janken] Surprised?

    Janken: Yes. I didn't know you played other instruments.

    Cantus: To play as one, you must understand the whole.

    Janken: [nodding] Oh, that makes sense.

    Cantus: [startled] It does?

    Murray: You're slipping, boss.

    **

    PART 10:

    [Janken emerges from a small tunnel into a dark storage room filled with boxes. He feels around in the dark, finds the door, and can't open it. He goes back to his backpack and gets something out. Then he climbs up the pile of boxes. When he reaches the top he plants a flag bearing the Solemn Mark of the Fraggle on the lid.]

    **

    PART 12:

    [Janken accepts a telephone receiver from Lana.]

    Doc: [through the phone] Janken Fraggle?

    Janken: Doc! Is that you?

    Doc: Of course it's me! They told me you've been stuck out there for months! Why didn't you call earlier? Or at least send a postcard so your family would know what happened to you?

    Janken: Er... I didn't think of it?

    **

    PART 15:

    [Janken and Scooter are sitting alone in the theater, holding hands. A movie has just finished. Scooter holds up a DVD remote player with his free ahnd and, aiming over the seat back, turns off the DVD player.]

    Janken: Thanks.

    Scooter: Glad you liked it.

    Janken: It's the second best thing that happened to me today.

    [Scooter makes a face.]

    Janken: What?

    Scooter: Whew! Dragon breath.

    Janken: [teasing] Who put the peppers and onions in my salad? I don't think it was me.

    Scooter: Next time, I'm packing mouthwash.

    Janken: Fine by me, carnivore.

    **

    PART 17:

    [The Great Hall, the winter solstice. Everyone has finished singing There's A Promise and Janken has joyfully returned to his family. Now Cantus and Janken are speaking.]

    Cantus: You have learned to listen.

    Janken: Thank you. Can I ask you a question?

    Cantus: There can be no answers without questions.

    Janken: What does 'Let Me Be Your Song' really mean? It sounds like... you know.

    Cantus: [momentarily flustered, then recovers and answers] I was young once too.

    Janken: [grinning] Thought so.

    *****

    Scooter and the Muppet Theater are copyright © The Muppets Studio, LLC. Cantus, Murray, and Doc are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Sage, Janken, Mica, and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
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  12. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Another "bonus feature": an alternate ending inspired by Jack London's To Build a Fire.

    The scene picks up from the middle of the last chapter, right after Janken enters the new tunnel.

    *****

    A Wandering Heart
    Extra: Alternate ending

    Part 17A: Closing the Circle
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    Janken walked for several hours. It became colder and colder as the passage meandered downward. He hardly needed to blaze a trail, as he was following the main tunnel, which did not fork. Side passages branched off of it, but they were little more than cracks, not wide enough for a Fraggle to fit through. He had hoped to return to the nearby Fraggle colony, but the tunnel was leading him farther and farther away. But, he thought, it had to have opened up for a reason. Like all Fraggles, he believed in the benevolence of the world, and took it as an article of faith that everything had a purpose. If it was leading him away from the old colony, it was taking him somewhere else. Maybe, he hoped, it would lead him back home!

    He continued, fighting the urge to run, to hurry toward whatever awaited him at the end of this tunnel. He could not risk injuring himself now, when he had to keep moving to stay warm. It was getting viciously cold. Tired and hungry, he stopped to eat some more of the daikon. He had been so intent his explorations, he had forgotten all about lunch. He sat down to rest his feet and munched the savory vegetable. But soon, tired as he was, he got back up again. It was cold, and he had to keep moving to stay warm.

    He looked around as he jogged in place, chewing a mouthful of radish. He could find his way back now, then try again in the spring, when it would be warmer. He could bring proper equipment. He still had the pickaxe and rope and other things he had borrowed from Papa Gobo. Common sense told him that it was foolish to risk exploring this cold, unknown cave all alone. If he succumbed to hypothermia or one of the few predators that was active in winter, nobody would ever know what had become of him. He would simply disappear.

    But this isn't about staying safe, he thought. It's about following your heart. This was a test of faith, he told himself. What had he been told all his life? Follow your heart. Believe in it and in yourself. Up on the surface the lesson had finally sunk in. He knew it in his bones, cold as they were. He would continue on.

    **

    The tunnel continued twisting lower and lower. Ice decorated the walls, waterfalls frozen in time. In the spring this tunnel might be underwater, Janken realized. Was that why it had opened now? It got colder and colder, and his throat was beginning to feel raw. He took his hands out from under his arms long enough to lift the turtleneck collar of his sweater enough to cover his nose. He had to hold his head tilted down at an awkward angle, but at least this way it didn't hurt to breathe the cold air.

    Stalactites, stalagmites, and columns were beginning to appear, turning the tunnel into an obstacle course. He tried to edge around them without using his hands. For a while he managed that way, leaning against the formations for balance. Then a stalagmite snapped and he fell to the ground, a sharp pain in his side where the stump had gouged him. He breathed deeply a few times and judged that he wan't injured; he hadn't fallen hard enough to crack a rib. He'd just have a bruise there come tomorrow. No big deal.

    He got back up and continued on. He had only stopped for a moment, it seemed, but he felt cold and weak. And tired. Tired was bad. He needed to keep moving, keep going forward, keep putting one foot in front of the other. He could do that.

    After a while his feet stopped hurting. That was a relief. He felt almost like he was floating. He was a little clumsy, though. Then he looked down. He could not feel his feet!

    He found a flat section of the cave and began running in place as hard as he could. He had to get the blood pumping to his feet. If they froze he was done for! As he ran, fueled by fear, he slapped his hands against himself, trying to warm those as well. His breath puffed harshly through the weave of his sweater, warming his chest. Soon his feet began to sting.

    Still jogging, wincing with each step, he looked down the tunnel. The part that he could see was thick with stalactites and stalagmites, and so narrow he could not see far into it. He might not be able to get through. Home might be right around the corner, but he had been telling himself that for hours. Maybe it was, but if it wasn't, he might not be able to make his way back to safety. He could not survive much longer in this bitter cold. He hated to turn back now, but he didn't believe hard enough to stake his life on it.

    He could get back if he hurried. He realized with a start that he had forgotten to blaze the tunnels; what kind of fool simply forgot that? Fatigue must be making him goofy. At least he knew that following the main tunnel would lead him right back. And it was safe; no crevasses or other trickery. If he ran he'd keep warm enough to make it. Arms around himself, hands under his arms for warmth, he ran back up the tunnel.

    **

    The tunnel twisted and turned around him, as if spinning him like a water current played with a floating leaf. He was beginning to feel eerily disconnected, as if he was running in place while the world whirled and flew past. That couldn't be good, he thought, but as long as he kept moving it didn't matter. Run, run, back toward warmth and safety! Every step was a step closer to the rest of his life.

    He was concentrating so hard on urging himself on, he did not slow when he walked by the frozen waterfalls. The ground was unnaturally flat for a cave, and it had been so cold that he had not recognized the change from stone to ice and then stone again. Now he was on ice once more. It had been strong enough to bear his weight when he was merely walking, but when his foot came down hard it cracked. Janken heard a loud snap, then felt shocking cold as he plunged in up to his knees.

    He pulled himself out of the icy water as fast as he could. His socks and leggings were completely soaked, and would leach all the heat from his body if he kept them on. But what was he supposed to do, take them off and run bare-legged? Whatever he did, he had to do it now and keep moving! His feet were going numb again!

    He compromised. He pulled off the leggings, but left the socks. Cold and numb as his feet were, they'd need the protection. He left the leggings behind on the ice and ran on. A few minutes after Janken left the leggings were frozen solid, and the hole he had made was icing over.

    **

    The floaty sensation was back, and worse. He was stumbling now. His feet were no longer doing what he told them. He stopped and sat on a frosty boulder and pulled off one sock. He had to break ice to get it off. He rubbed his foot between his hands as hard as he could. His hands became chilled by the air and his cold foot, and his behind began to sting as well; even through his thick winter fur, the rock was cold! And he was cold and hungry and tired. He needed to rest. He couldn't make it the rest of the way now. Just a few minutes...

    No. If he stopped now, he wouldn't start again. He tried to force the sock back on his foot, but it wouldn't go. Frustrated, he swung it against the cave wall. The ice cracked.

    He got up and started stumbling forward.

    **

    He was beginning to become confused. He could no longer be sure he was going in the right direction. Blaze marks would have helped, if he had remembered to make them. Up, he had to keep going up; that one thought repeated itself in his mind. His feet told him nothing, and he had to run along one cave wall so he could grab it if he started to fall. That helped—when he fell in the right direction.

    One too many times he tripped and fell to the ground. He tried to get his feet underneath himself, to push himself up, but they only scrabbled halfheartedly at the gritty cave floor. The stone against his cheek burned, but not for long. The pain was fading mercifully away. He'd rest until he was ready to get up, and then he'd continue back. He always felt better in the morning. In the back of his mind he realized that if he went to sleep now he would not wake up. He imagined himself looking down at his body. Nobody lives forever. And it's better I die out here, where nobody will find me and be sad. They'll think I'm still off having adventures. And some other Fraggle will come up to the surface to live among the Silly Creatures, now that they know it can be done. It won't have been a waste after all. It's okay.

    He let go, and walked away from himself.

    **

    Hours later, cave creatures emerged from their nests, awakened from hibernation by an unexpected scent. They found a gift of food and warm nest-lining material waiting for them. They accepted without question the bounty that would sustain them through the harsh winter, and began bringing it back to their nests and their young.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock is copyright © The Jim Henson Company, and is used without permission but with much respect and affection. Janken and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    I have to applaud you for doing this. But personally, I've never liked Jack London's work ever since I had to read some of it for my lit. classes. Thank you for the extra ending though. :cry:
  14. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    You're welcome, Count. I figured that anyone who had hung on this long would probably enjoy seeing Mister Mary Sue getting bumped off, even if it ain't for real 'cause he's still around in Masks.

    I promise that in any future stories Janken stay mostly in the background, where he belongs, if he appears at all.


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