Browncoat Zone - Chapter Four: Secrets Big and Small
Monday, September 6, 2004

From the Journal of Succatash...


Continued from Chapter Three ------------------------------

I turned towards Static and nervously lit a cigarette. He lay unconscious on the table, pale and barely breathing. Purple goo slowly dribbled down his chin.

Hours passed, and I lost track of time. I grew tired as I sat in a chair next to Static, waiting helplessly. He was still unconscious, but some color was returning to his face. Maniac continued working quietly on Static’s damaged jetpack and helmet. The grandfather clock in the corner ticked hypnotically and I blinked my eyes to stay awake. Eventually, weariness overcame me and I fell asleep in the chair.

I woke with a start, briefly disorientated. I could hear faint voices and laughter, and then a man screamed wildly. I jumped up in alarm, and suddenly remembered I was in Maniac’s house. I looked around the room but Maniac was nowhere to be seen. Static was gone, too.

Again, I heard the sounds of laughter and a man’s fearful scream. This time I also heard the sound of a trumpet and I instantly grew suspicious. The noises grew louder as I walked down the hall towards Maniac’s bedroom.

“That scream sounds kind of familiar,” I muttered to myself. I opened the door without knocking. Maniac and Static were watching the video of my scooter jump across the canal. When I walked in, Maniac hastily turned off the monitor.

“What the f--” I began.

“Hey, Tash, you’re awake!” a small voice interrupted.

“Static!” I cried, overjoyed. “I’m so glad you’re alive!” The little man stood on Maniac’s desk and smiled. He looked healthy and completely recovered. My elation quickly changed to guilt as I remembered my betrayal.

“Static,” I stammered shamefully, looking at the floor, “I’m really sorry I ran away and left you alone to fight the evil bird. I’m such a coward, I know. I’m just not cut out for this adventure stuff. You should hate me. I understand.”

Maniac opened his mouth to speak, but Static gestured for silence and flew up into the air with his new, improved jetpack. He slapped me in the face with a shiny new ruler and laughed gently.

”Tash, you underestimate yourself. How many times do I have to tell you?” Static reprimanded. He skillfully bowed in mid-air. “You saved my life. I guess that makes us even.”

There was an awkward silence. Maniac coughed politely and spoke, “Static woke up about half an hour ago, Tash. We came into this room so we wouldn’t wake you.” Maniac suddenly cackled mischievously and grinned. “You wanna watch the video of your scooter jump?”

“Maybe with the sound turned off,” I replied with a grin. Static covered his mouth and tried not to laugh.

I have to admit, it was fun to watch myself on the video monitor. Despite my embarrassing loud screams, I felt a deep level of pride at the way I handled the scooter and made the jump.

“Nice landing,” commented Static, admiringly. I blushed and turned away.

Maniac laughed and turned off the monitor. “Okay, the fun’s over, we need to get back to work.”

“Back to work?” I asked. They stared at me blankly. Feeling a bit foolish I added, “Oh, the evil bird. But it’s dead. Static killed it.”

“Whoever sent the bird will strike again, Tash” Maniac said pointedly.

“I agree. We need to make a plan,” added Static, somberly. He hovered in the air, across the room.

For the first time, I took a good look at Static’s new jetpack. It glimmered and shone like a diamond. “Wow, nice new jetpack you got there, Static,” I commented.

“Yeah, this thing’s fully loaded! There's even an extra propeller on my helmet,” Static answered enthusiastically. He did a quick loop in the air and dove towards the floor. At the last second, he straightened out and sped across the carpet. Before I knew it, Static zoomed up to my face and slapped me with his ruler.

“Ouch!” I cried.

“Oh, yeah!” Static shouted. He flew back across the room. I rubbed my jaw while Maniac laughed uproariously.

“Very funny,” I muttered.

Maniac picked up a remote control and pressed a button. He cackled mischievously as a small helicopter suddenly roared to life and launched itself off of a dusty shelf and into the air. It sped toward Static, who quickly dodged out of the way. Static shouted in glee as he darted and danced in the air, easily outmaneuvering the small machine. Suddenly, Static circled behind the tiny helicopter and slapped it with his ruler. It crashed into the carpet and burst into flames.

“Hey, watch it!” cried Maniac. He ran across the room and began stomping on the fire. “My carpet!”

It was my turn to burst out laughing. Maniac turned and glared at both of us.

“Sorry, Maniac,” Static apologized. “I didn’t mean to destroy your toy.”

I added helpfully, “But it WAS kind of cool.”

“Just shut up, both of you,” Maniac commanded harshly. His face contorted in anger and his bushy eyebrows slanted fiercely. “You think I build cheap toys? That’s kid’s stuff. You have no idea what I can do.” He continued hoarsely, “I recognize this war, the Dark Bird--It’s something I left behind a long time ago.”

Maniac stared at Static and whispered, “I used to help people like you.”

“You know about my kind?” asked Static with wonderment. “We are called Fireflies, but no one knows about us. Except Tash, that is.”

“I used to build ships, armor, weapons, and other gadgets for several Fireflies. But I gave it up.” Maniac replied. His voice was harsh and full of regret.

This was a Maniac I had never seen before. I stared at him in wonder and asked weakly, “Maniac, why didn’t you tell me?”

Static interrupted, “What happened?”

“I lost a friend, someone I swore to protect,” came Maniac’s reply. His eyes narrowed. “Static, I can show you some real equipment: Body armor, shields, swords, razors….”

“No, I’m all right,” Static said curtly. “I quit the war a long time ago. I’m a teacher, now. Lately, I’ve been trying to help Tash.”

“I know,” replied Maniac. “Frankly, some of the other Fireflies are a little worried about your infatuation with Succatash. Why have you been risking your life helping him?”

Static answered defiantly, “How the hell do you know what my people think? My decisions are my own!” He buzzed angrily and brandished his ruler.

Things were starting to turn ugly. “What the hell is going on?” I interrupted, extremely confused.

Maniac and Static stared into each other’s eyes, neither backing down. Finally, Maniac broke away and cursed, “Fine. I’ll show you.” He abruptly turned and walked out of the room without looking back.

Static and I followed him down the hallway in silence. Maniac entered the front room and walked over to the grandfather clock in the corner. He reached up and briefly touched a side panel. To my amazement, the giant clock slid aside, revealing a dusty set of wooden stairs leading down into the darkness.


Tuesday, September 7, 2004 10:23 AM


Curiouser and curiouser. I love the RL tie-in as to how I've returned to my job as a teacher.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004 2:07 PM


It does make you feel as though you've stepped through the looking glass, doesn't it, Static? I am very much enjoying it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004 2:36 PM


*A light goes off in Ebo's head*

oh yeah, it does tie into real life. huh. Good job Tash! You are an odd one, but thats the best part.

By the way Maniac, nice overalls.


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