April Contest Entry 2022
Theme: “Toys in the attic.”
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the brightest idea to bring home a fluffy when mom said no, and he DEFINITELY shouldn’t have brought home two of them- but they had been so sad and scared and alone! Andy was a good kid- sweet, kind-hearted with a ready smile for anyone who needed it, with a gentle disposition that made him a prime canidate for fluffy-begging. Usually, he was good at letting them know he couldn’t take them home, but that he could spend a little time with them. Andy usually gave the feral fluffies he saw little bits of food from his lunch- (he was a vegetarian, although it was going badly- he’d only recently learned of the plight of industrial farm animals and he still remembered how good burgers were.)- and little scritches, or played with them for a little bit. Andy was 10 years old, and his mother didn’t think that he was quite responsible enough for a fluffy yet. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust him- indeed, she knew he’d spend his every free moment taking care of the little thing, but she also knew they were basically toddlers themselves, and she was quite happy all of her children were out of that phase, thank you, and it was a lot of work to care for them.
And, in the way of children, even the most well behaved and well meaning ones, Andy had decided to break a rule- just once. He was sure that once he’d trained them, taught them to say please and thank you, litter trained them and got them all clean and healthy again that that would prove he could do it, and then she’d have to let him keep them. He was determined! He smiled down at his backpack, which he was carrying in front of him. He’d zipped it up most of the way, but left a good gap open at the top, to let light and air in. It did risk discovery, but he often carried his backpack in this way when his books were particularly heavy, so it wasn’t too out of character. He’d planned everything out so carefully. He smiled and waved at his mom when he came in, trying to act natural. Of course, his mom knew something was up immediately. “Hello, Andy. How was school?” Andy shrugged, adjusting his bag nervously. “It was okay. Sorry mom, but I got a ton of homework and I- I really gotta pee.” She looked at him for a moment, but seemed to decide that his nervous face was due to the call of nature rather than anything suspicious- he was a good boy, and she trusted him. She smiled, “Right- go pee, then wash up for dinner- hands AND face, young man!”
He nodded, rushing up the stairs to the second floor as she turned to finish cooking. He glanced around nervously- this was the part that would make or break the whole plan. Andy knew there was no way he was gonna hide the fluffies from his mom in his room, but he did know one place where no one in his family ever went- the attic. It was just because it was used for storage- a bunch of old toys from his grandpa’s house when he’d had to go to the nursing home, some stuff from his dad’s college days- but it was perfect for putting something you didn’t want found. He’d been carefully preparing for weeks now- he’d been worried about discovery, but no one even noticed that he’d been slowly bringing things into the attic- as long as no one saw him pull the string that caused the ladder to come down. Luck was on his side- his dad was in the bathroom, giving him an excuse as to why he took so long. His sister was in her room, blasting her crappy music. The coast was clear- his long, lanky legs took him down the hallway. He set his bag down carefully to the side and he leapt, catching the string and pulling. He was lucky he was tall enough to reach it now- and his time on the basketball team helped him learn how to jump high enough to get the string in his grasp. The ladder, thankfully, made little noise as it slid down- his dad had gotten angry at the squeaking when they’d brought grandpa’s stuff here, and had oiled it.
He grabbed the bag and hauled ass up the ladder, flinging himself up it like a spidermonkey in an adrenaline fueled excitement- he was almost there! He made it to the top, whipping around and pulling the ladder up after him, encasing him- and his new fluffies- in darkness. They let out startled cries (“HUU! SCAWY! NU WIKE!”) and he quickly turned on the small flashlight he kept by the top of the ladder- it was a cool one, with glow in the dark alien faces on it that he had gotten at camp- and thus easy to find in the dark, provided he remembered to put it in the sun every other day or so. “Shhhh, guys, shhhh, it’s fine! We made it!” He kept his voice low- it was hard to hear anything in the attic from the basement, but he still had to be sure. He turned on the light, pulling the string leading to the bare bulb above. He reached in to the backpack, retrieving his new pets. One was a bright sky blue with pink hair, a little earthie mare with big blue eyes, and the other was a bright red with an equally bright green mane, an earthie stallion with deep green eyes. They were both small, obviously malnourished, and had asked so sweetly for some food from him so they wouldn’t go “fowevew sweepies”. He had to save them. They weren’t like the bigger fluffies he saw around, they could take care of themselves. These were little! He set them down on the floor, making reassuring noises and petting them to quiet them. “Hey, hey, shhhhh, it’s okay. Look! we’re in your new safe room!”
He knew the basics of fluffy care- his best friend Janie had one, a bright yellow pegasus that loved to play tag- and had done his best to provide. Andy had shoved the boxes around until they formed a ring, making a make-shift pen for his pets. He’d snuck up a litter box that he’d had to save up his allowence for ages to buy, along with the litter and fluffy food they needed. He’d worked really hard mowing lawns all summer, and he was ready. He’d gotten the hugest bag he could reasonably carry without getting caught, and he had a small jar of his allowence money he was keeping in case he needed more. He’d told his mom he was saving for a new bike, and she’d ruffled his hair. He’d felt really bad about lying, but this was the only way she’d see how serious he was about having a fluffy for a pet. He’d also brought up some of his old clothes that didn’t fit and an extra blanket for a bed, two small bowls, and he’d even dug out some of his grandpa’s old toys that he figured they’d like. They gasped, clapping their little hooves together and forgetting the scare they’d had. “Wow! Wub nyu safewoom, wittwe daddeh! Fank yu!” Andy grinned, shuffling around the small space to show them around. “Here’s the litter box- you gotta go poop and pee in there, okay? Otherwise my mom might find you and she won’t let me keep you, so you gotta stay quiet, okay?” They nodded, sniffing the box. He picked up the little blue mare first, and she let out a giggle and hugged his hand. “Yay! Wub upsies!”
“I’m gonna name you Candy- like Cotton Candy, cuz of your fur, okay?” Candy let out another trilling giggle, clapping her hooves together. “Yay! Wub nyu namesie! Fank yu bestest daddeh!” He hugged her, then picked up her friend, the little red stallion. “And you’re Apple, okay? Cuz you look like one.” Apple giggled, and nuzzled his cheek happily. “Wub nyu namesie, fank yu!” Andy was so happy- this was exactly what he had been wanting. He had been a little lonely at home lately- his sister had just turned 13 and never wanted to hang out with him any more, and his mom and dad were nice, but it was weird trying to hang out with grown-ups. Here was the companionship he craved. He put them down, hearing his mom call from downstairs. “Sorry, guys, I gotta go for right now, but I’ll be back after dinner, okay?” He carefully cracked open the attic door, looking around before making his way down, before pushing the ladder back up behind him- it receded back up on its rollers, closing with a faint snap and leaving no trace. He hurriedly washed his hands and face and ran downstairs.
Candy and Apple were so happy! They’d gotten so lucky to find such a nice new daddeh- they were both lastest babbehs from different litters, and had by some miracle managed to survive long enough to find each other and be saved by their new daddeh. He’d left them tasty nummies and water, and they even had toys! They hugged each other happily, cooing before wandering around to inspect their new home. It was very different from outside- instead of up being forever, it stopped, and a little light like the sky-bright shone above them, humming faintly. The wood beneath their hooves was different, too. Not as soft as grass, but much easier to walk on than concrete or asphault. They sneezed sometimes, the air up here dusty, but they were happy. Apple was the first to choose a toy and start playing- a little toy car, the same bright candy apple red he was. Some of the paint was chipping off, but it rolled forward smoothly as Apple pushed it. He giggled, chasing after it. Eventually, it bumped into the wall of boxes that made their little home, and he pushed it confusedly for a moment before carefully taking it in his mouth to give himself room to kick it again- and a little bit of the paint flecked off into his mouth. Just a single chip, and it tasted oddly sweet on his tongue. He let out a happy little whinny- even the toys tasted good in his new home!
Candy, meanwhile, was having fun with a small teddy bear, faded and worn with love and time, but still cuddly and soft. It was a brown bear with black glass button eyes and lots of patches to repair parts that had been loved away. She sighed happily, nuzzling the bear and sucking on its fur- she was pretending it was her old mummah, the one that had gone forever-sleepies when a doggy monster had got her. As she suckled on the soft fur, worn with time, some small bits of hair came loose, which she swallowed in her sleep as she drifted off, happy, warm and safe for the first time in forever. Andy, meanwhile, was managing to pass off his overall nervousness as anxiety over his upcoming math test- “I’m gonna probably just study after dinner, okay? I’m really worried about it.” His dad smiled at him, scratching his scruffy beard in between bites- he hadn’t had time to shave this morning, he’d slept through his first alarm- “Do you need help, kiddo, or do you got it?” He was always happy to help his son- he was a real good kid, smart as a whip and with a big heart- but he also secretly hoped the kid had it- he wanted to drink a beer and relax, maybe doze off in front of the TV.
“I got it, I just wanna make sure I got it memorized.” Andy shoveled down his food, rinsing off his plate and giving his mom a kiss on the cheek before running upstairs before the rest of his family was finished with dinner. Run, jump, pull- and he clambered up, hand over hand and pulled the ladder up behind him. He smiled at his two new friends- Candy had fallen asleep, and Apple was chasing his new favorite toy back and forth across the small area. Andy had set up one more small barrier- a pile of books around the edge of the trap door, to keep his buddies from falling if he needed to be quick with the ladder. “Hey! Sorry I kept you waiting. Wanna play for a while before I gotta go to bed?”
To give due credit, Andy did a spectacular job caring for his new fluffy friends- he dutifully scooped up their poop and pee from the litter box, refilled the kibble and water from his thermos, played with them and brushed their fur, even managed to give Candy a swat on the butt for doing bad poopies (although he’d nearly cried himself, hating that he had to hurt the little thing to get her to learn). They were even starting to get more and more plump, their fur getting fuller and glossier as they finally recieved the nutrients they needed to thrive. Their toys were looking a little worse for wear- the little red car had significant flakes of paint missing, as Apple had taken to sometimes simply chewing or licking it, liking the sweet taste of the paint. He hadn’t had the energy lately to play as much as he wanted, although he always saved energy to play with daddeh when he came in. He’d been having head hurties, and tummy hurties. He’d also been having trouble going poopy, straining every time. He was still happy though. He licked at the paint now, letting out a satisfied little huff of breath as another flake of the tasty paint came off his toy. He was sad it was less red now, but the red was tasty, so he didn’t mind. He wondered if he tasted like the paint tasted.
Candy, meanwhile, had fallen into a routine when daddeh wasn’t around. She’d eat, do good poopies, play with Apple if he wanted, or cuddle, or hug, and then she’d snuggle up with her huggy toy, finding a patch of fuzz that hadn’t come loose yet and suckling happily away, pretending she was in her mummah’s fur again. She’d also been snuggling with her toy more than playing lately, though. Partially because Apple had been feeling not pretty lately, and partially because she was starting to feel not pretty herself. Her tummy hurt her and cramped, and she also struggled to do poopies, her poopies small and hard, sometimes streaked with boo-boo juice. She’d also made sicky wawas on accident once, but she’d managed to make it to the litter box in time- she didn’t wanna make daddy spank her again and give him heart-hurties. Daddeh didn’t visit very often, because he had to go someplace called “Skool” and had to be careful so his mummah didn’t catch him and make them go back outside. She didn’t want to go back outside- sometimes she missed the grass, but it was safe and warm here.
Unknown to them, and to Andy, a terrible tragedy had begun to happen. In the 1930s it was common to use lead based paint, the bright colors striking, long lasting, sweet tasting and toxic. Likewise, as the war had been happening, lots of supplies had been taken from things like toy factories and used for the war effort, and as a result, things like children’s teddy bears were often made with shoddy, poorly made fabric, or fur. The fur isn’t seated fully in the fabric itself- not usually an issue, but if a small child or animal were to continually suck and swallow those fibers, they begin to ball up within the gut, forming a bigger and bigger plug of hair… Deep within both of the fluffies were ticking time bombs, becoming larger and larger problems. Andy, of course, was only a little boy, and had no way of knowing his fluffies were sick- they always played with him in the few hours he managed to sneak up to the attic each day, and while they hadn’t been pooping as much, he hadn’t quite noticed, besides being happy that it didn’t seem to take as much time to clean the litter box each day.
Worse, a tragedy occured in his family, as well. His grandpa, in the nursing home, had suffered a heart attack. Andy’s mom got the call at three in the morning, her voice shaky and frightened as Andy peered down the stairs at her. She’d hung up the phone and turned, spotting him. He’d been worried she’d be mad he was up so late, but she rushed up the stairs and hugged him, kissing him on his head and gently letting her sweet and gentle boy know the bad news- he needed to pack a quick bag so they could go visit grampa in the hospital. Andy was stuck, somewhere between shock and grief, and wordlessly he nodded and obeyed, tears streaming down his round, friendly face. He loved his grandpa. He shoved some clothes into his backpack- a couple t-shirts, some shorts, his extra pair of PJs- and carefully snuck upstairs when Momma called his sister and dad down to break the news. He tip-toed over the books, not wanting to wake his fluffies. He filled up the bowl with a lot of food, and then, thinking just in case, he set the open bag down on its side, just in case he was gone longer than he thought he would be. He poured more water in the dish, and made his way back downstairs, closing the door behind him.
As Andy and his family made a hurried trip to the hospital, Candy woke shortly after Andy had left- blinking awake with a sudden horrible wave of nausea as her tummy cramped- “HUUUUU! OWIES! Why tummy give Candy wowstest huwties?” She staggered over to her water dish, lapping up a few small sips of water before having to make a hurried, off-balance dash towards the litter box- she was going to make sicky-wawas again! The ball of hair in her intestines had finally fully stopped her up- every time she ate, more and more shit piled up within her, unable to be freed. The toxic waste inside of her poisoned her, making her sick, and lethargic. She tripped, her tummy clenching horribly as she couldn’t help but vomit. “Huuuuuuu, nu wan daddeh tu spank Candy, huuuuu, nu feww pwetty!” She cried as she barfed again, and again, and again…
On the other side of the room, Apple stirred irritably in his sleep. He’d been getting big maddies lately, and he couldn’t figure out why. He just wanted to spend the time he didn’t spend playing with daddy eating the tasty colors. He’d licked and nibbled all the red paint off the car, and had begun to do the same to a bright orange biplane, the sweet taste of the lead paint contrasting with the bright shiny tang of the tin the plane was made from. His tiny body, absolutely drenched in heavy lead poison, began to revolt. His brain fired wildly, neurons blinking on and off with no pattern or reason, and Apple snapped awake as a seizure hit him. He couldn’t see, not really- everything spun and whirled around him, grey at the edges, black spots floating in his vision as he flailed wildly, trying to find some sort of stability. He tried to call for daddeh, for Candy, for anyone to help, but his tongue lolled uselessly in his mouth, thick and stupid. He gagged, rolling back and forth, back and forth, his legs flailing.
Candy, wheezing and spitting out the last of the vomit from her mouth, saw Apple flailing out of the corner of her eye. “Appwe? Am yu otay?” She tried to crawl to him, but her tummy cramped again, and again, sending foamy bile up her throat as her body desperately tried to expell the waste. Together, on opposite sides of the attic, they writhed in agony and confusion- what was happening to them? Where was daddeh?
It had been a long week. Andy and his family had stayed in a hotel next to the hospital, staying at grandpa’s side through every visiting hour. Eventually, however, the universe deigned to show a bit of kindness, and grandpa made a full recovery, hugging Andy tight as they both cried tears of love, relief, and happiness. He’d even told his Momma about the fluffies, heaving with huge sobs as he finally told the truth. His mom, relieved that her dad was still among the living, simply hugged him tight and close, petting his hair until he’d finally stopped crying, hiccuping as she made him promise to clean up whatever mess was left after the week, and while she wasn’t going to punish him due to the circumstances and the fact that he understood he was wrong, she was going to have to get rid of the fluffies- they had to clean out the attic again, and convert it into a room for his sister so grandpa could come live with them. He’d started crying again, but nodded. He loved his fluffies, but he loved his grandpa more.
“Euuugh. I mean, he did try, Tina.” Franklin dropped the little corpses into the trash bag, glad that Andy had asked to not have to say goodbye to his fluffies himself. He’d initally wanted to make him, but Tina had said they’d all been through enough this week, and that if he didn’t want to have to suffer through the heartbreak of having to say goodbye, he didn’t have to. They were all raw, and he decided not to argue. Tina sighed, dumping out the (very clean!) litter box into another trash bag. “Yes- to be honest, I was planning on getting him one for his eleventh birthday, but I don’t know now.” She’d been surprised at the little saferoom he’d made. Her son was smart, that much was for certain. He’d be a great pet owner when it was time. She shook her head. That was for later- they had work to do.
Thank you for reading! I’m still re-writing Stormy’s Ballad and the rest, but I wanted to get in a quick drabble for theme week! Hope y’all’re staying safe out there.