Quick note: I added a book image to the last excerpt, so check it out!
Winters brings us to Jeff, who we already established in an earlier blog post as, well, this:
Jeff pushed his covers aside and placed his feet flat on the cold floor with a clang. Peeking out from the bottom of his pajama pants was a support harness made of aluminum, steel, and leather, wrapped around each of his shins. The noise echoed horribly in the depth of the darkness, and just as he always did, Jeff scorned his own unpleasant body—Frankenstein’s modern-day monster. An unshapely, pitiful monster dragging around a ball and chain the weight of a bowling ball around his ankles.
And upon leaving on his journey, he had to deal with, well, this:
By the time Jeff climbed the gray carpeted staircase of the abandoned dormitory, down another staircase, walked through the long hallway, and climbed another staircase to finally reach the entrance hall, he was already panting for breath and out of energy. The iron around his legs made them nearly impossible to bend, and he couldn’t lift them up very far, so he struggled when he didn’t have a handrail to walk against. His joints creaked like an unoiled robot, and his calf muscles were swollen and throbbing in pain.
He realized how Tony had always been by his side, casually supporting him for everything. At the time, he was annoyed with how Tony would meddle into every little thing he did, but now Jeff realized that he had been totally reliant on Tony. It even stopped him from getting proper exercise on a daily basis.
How is a guy like me supposed to make it over fields of snow? Jeff worried. I’ve got to cross the ocean all by myself to go save these people I don’t even know.
–Leading to Maxwell handing over the school’s greatest treasure. But not before Tony gets to him.
“Sorry I’m late.” Maxwell was already at the front door and had opened it for him. A cold wind blew inside. Outside, it was terrifyingly pitch black. “What’s wrong, Jeff? You don’t look so good.”
“…It’s nothing. Thank you very much. I’ll see you later.” Jeff forced a smile onto his face and passed through the door.
Thwap! Thwap! Jeff was bombarded with a barrage of snowballs. He jumped in surprise, slipping on the ground and falling flat on his butt.
“What?! And you call yourself a warrior?”
“Don’t go soiling the name of Morris School, now!”
“Good luck, Jeff! Keep your chin up!”
“…You guys…” Jeff sat with his mouth agape. A large crowd of pajama’d boys had come to see him off. Boys with otherwise outstanding grades, behavior in good conduct, primly pressed uniforms and perfect posture. During class and tests, they had their secret burning rivalries among one other, looking for loopholes to set traps and get ahead. Even when Jeff wasn’t involved in that, he had a dark, lonely wall around him, so Tony was the only one that ever came to talk to him. All the other boys in school acted like they had no interest whatsoever in anyone else.
And that Tony was standing in the group, even though he was supposed to still be in the lab. Naturally, he was the one to dash forward to help Jeff to his feet.
“If you’re falling down at every little thing like that, I worry about your future, Warrior,” Maxwell sneered playfully as he walked up to them. “I’ve got the perfect present for you.”
Four students hi-ho’d as they pushed forward a large silver object. It was like some mix between a snowmobile, an off-road bike, and a transforming mecha from some robot anime.
“Yep. The headmaster’s predecessor’s predecessor’s predecessor Hawking’s beloved Hyper Wheelchair! I snatched it from the Memorial Hall—it’s a shame to let such a treasure sit and rot like some kind of showcase item. I’m sure you’ll make great use of it.”
Jeff climbed onto the vehicle. The red leather seat adjusted through air pressure. It was six-wheel drive and solar-powered, and steered through a joystick. The cockpit was lined with meters and switches. The glove compartment was impressively stocked with a first-aid kit, a kettle, some snacks and meat pies, and a cluster of bananas.
One of the boys let out a whistle. “Aren’t you lookin’ hot!”
“Suits you great, man!”
“Don’t be reckless, you run that into the ground and you’re expelled!”
“…Thank you…” Jeff swallowed back the lump in his throat. “Everyone… thank you so much! …Maxwell, you too…”
“Alrighty then,” Maxwell gave Jeff a firm handshake. “Time for this man to set off—I must say congratulations. Just don’t go dying some stupidly unimpressive death.”
“Okay. …Oh, Tony!”
“Wahhh, Jeeeff!” Tony wrapped his arms around Jeff’s neck. “Ahhh, if it’s come to this I’ve got to tell you now. To tell you the truth—to tell you the truth—I like you, Jeff! Like, um… in that way! I really really like you!”
“Yeah.” Jeff ran his fingers through Tony’s messy hair and ruffled it up. “I like you too. Just not in that way.”
“Really? Yeah—yeah, I figured. Oh well.” Tony rubbed the tears from his eyes. “But we’ll always be friends! Best friends!”
“I know,” Jeff nodded. He started up the engine. The comforting roar gave him courage. “Well, I’m off! I’ll see you guys later!”
He looked for the switch with the snowman logo and pressed it. Ssshuuu! The vehicle grew taller as powerful spikes slashed outward from within the rubber tires.
This round of illustration will portray Jeff setting off on his wildly non-canonical journey, the whole student body of Morris School wishing him well as he zooms off on the Great Hawking’s Hyper Wheelchair! I know the description of the fake snowmobile thing isn’t much, but it’s all the novel provides. The only other addition later on is that it has retractable headlights and a front windshield with wipers.
I’m hoping someone who likes to draw/design machines, etc. can come up with something Earthboundy and fun.