Part 6: Bright Lights, Blue City
Part 5: Bright Lights, Blue City
Past the spot where the huge, iron pencil had stood, Peaceful Rest Valley unfolded before me, a labyrinth of rolling hills, rushing water, and lush, overgrown trees. I kept my eyes wary as I walked, looking toward the sky for the UFOs I had been warned about.
I spent so much time watching the skies, I almost didn't notice that one of the trees seemed to be following me...
It was moving extremely slowly, its leaves pulsating as if it was breathing. Nonetheless, there was no denying it was inching ever closer. I guess after mushrooms and sprouts, a tree was the next logical step.
I hit the trunk a couple of times with my bat, but it was as solid as any tree. It lashed at me with leafy branches, stinging my arms and face. I managed to clip one of the limbs with my bat, knocking a few twigs off. The tree roared in anger and suddenly began puffing its foliage up, like it was going to explode. I backed up a few steps and stared in shock as it did just that.
The tree burst into flames, sending fiery leaves and wood chips out in a spectacular explosion. I yelled and dove for cover as debris hit the ground all around me. Ducking behind a nearby rock pile, I chanced a peek at the tree. It wasn't moving any more, that's for sure. I continued on, slightly singed and extremely paranoid of every bush I happened past.
Cresting a tall hill, I heard crows cawing nearby. Peering to the east, I saw a few of the black birds circling nearby. Getting closer, I realized they were circling over a small cabin set in a deep indentation in the valley. This must be the shack Everdred was talking about! I ran towards it and nearly toppled head over heels off of the sharp drop-off. The valley suddenly cut into a deep trench with a steep cliff overlooking the cabin. There was no way I could get down there without breaking a limb, I realized.
I was pondering what to do when I heard a bizarre humming sound from behind my left shoulder. Whirring in midair, its black beady eyes fixed on me, was a tiny silver UFO.
Slowly, I backed away from it, towards the path, but it buzzed angrily and fired a tiny beam at me. I jumped out of the way, leaving a burned black strip of grass where I had been standing. I had begun to think that Peaceful Rest Valley might have been named a bit prematurely.
The little spacecraft was whirring about, staying just out of range of my bat, and firing the odd laser burst every so often. A few of them hit me; it felt like getting stung with a wet towel, only the towel was on fire. Several ugly red welts were already rising on my shins. Finally I caught up to it and smashed it out of the air with a well-placed swing. A metallic squawk escaped it and it crumpled to the ground, sparking.
It was starting to get dark, and there was no way I was going to spend the night outside where angry trees and UFOs could get to me. As I trudged onward, I could spy the dim outline of a cave in the rocky wall up ahead.
A relatively short passageway later, I was standing in a village. Everything around me was painted varying shades of blue. People were standing around here and there with vacant looks in their eyes. Nervously, I walked a little further. A signpost nearby told me I was in "Happy-Happy Village".
I was becoming more and more creeped out by the minute. I really didn't want to sleep here any more than I wanted to sleep in UFO and Flaming Tree Valley. Who knows what a place this strange gets like after dark?
The populace was buzzing about a Mr. Carpainter and the truth he had brought the village. I wondered what was so great about blue.
Seriously getting creeped out here.
And who were these men in full blue outfits? They leered around threateningly. I did my best to blend in, but not being a glassy-eyed zombie, I don't think I did a great job.
I was fighting the urge to run like hell when I noticed a little guy in a weird white mask was beckoning me over.
: "You know, she's hidden in a mountain cabin."
: "....Excuse me?!"
: "...Oh crap, now I've done it! I thought you were one of us! Listen, you know I was joking! Ha ha ha ha! Just, uh, forget about what I said..."
Hoping nobody saw that, I edged my way out of the fence and continued my reconnaissance of Happy-Happy Village.
To the north, I noticed another hole in the cliff face. I ducked inside, trying to look nonchalant, but I was immediately ambushed by two masked men!
: "Blue, blue. Nobody can come this way."
They were wielding large cans of paint and brushes. I could see they were intending to paint me blue! I narrowly dodged as a splash of blue paint splattered the wall behind me. Pulling out my baseball bat, I aimed a swing at the can of paint the closer cultist was holding. With a clang, it toppled over and sloshed a wave of blue over the cultist. His eyes now awash in a painful, possibly lead-based sea, he staggered backwards into his accomplice, knocking them both to the cave floor. I wasted no time in clocking each of them in the head with my bat, and they lay crumpled and unconscious in a rapidly spreading pool of blue paint.
Quickly, I darted out of the cave. I could only think of one thing they could have been guarding.
Looks like I was right. Crows circled ominously around the cabin. I raced to the front door and slung it open. Inside...
Paula was trapped behind thick iron bars. As the door shut behind me, she looked up with apprehension on her face.
: "Are you...Paula?"
: "Who...Ness? Are you Ness?"
: "Yes! I'm here to rescue you!"
: "I'm so glad it's you! I had a dream that a boy named Ness was my destiny. Therefore, I knew you would rescue me."
Paula's eyes shone through the bars at me, and I felt myself blushing.
: "Well...I...that is...How do I open this door?"
: "It won't budge. I know you must have some psychic power, but I've tried myself. You'll have to get the key from Carpainter, the leader of the Happy-Happyist cult. He's hidden in the Happy-Happy headquarters in the middle of the village."
: "Right. Just wait here! I'll be back with the key in a minute!"
: "Wait! Ness, you're going to need this!"
She rummaged through a large handbag.
: "Carpainter controls the power of lightning. You need to wear this Franklin badge, in that case."
She handed me a small, yellow badge. I was a little confused as to how this was going to help me, but of course, I took it without hesitation and pinned it to my shirt.
: "Good luck, Ness!"
Putting on my best brave-adventurer face, I left the cabin. As the door slammed shut behind me, I heard a familiar voice chuckling.
: "You can call me Master Pokey, since Mr. Carpainter has made me one of the higher-ups in his wonderful religion, Happy-Happyism. You really should join us, but I know you won't...I'm glad I joined..."
: "Pokey! You big fat jerk, why are you helping some crazy old man kidnap people?!"
: "Simmer down there, champ...I'm not going to fight you, but these guys will..."
He gestured towards the pair of hooded blue cultists on either side of him, and a twisted grin split his fat face open like a jack-o-lantern.
: "Later, potater!"
He dashed off. I gave chase, but I was immediately knocked to the ground by one of the mesmerized cultists.
: "Blue, blue...We have to stop you!"
I got to my feet and they charged me. I threw up a psychic shield and they both slammed into it, toppling backwards in a daze. Like the ones before, I took my bat in hand and did my best to beat the craziness out of their heads, then chased off after Pokey.
Unfortunately, he was long gone.
All I could do, then, was try to find Carpainter, and get the key to Paula's prison from him. In the center of the village was a huge, blue building. This had to be the headquarters Paula was talking about. I readied my bat and walked inside.
: "OH GOD!"
Next time: Ness rides the lightning! Don't miss it!