Life is so Wonderful
Steam Powered Giraffe Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
At three in the morning, The Jon wandered the halls of Walter Manor in a daze. He stopped every once in awhile and craned his neck around, listening down this hallway then that. He looked into each room he passed, tip-toeing along in his converse sneakers. “Silence...” he hissed. “Sssssilencccccce.” He sprang up the stairs and tip-toed down the fourth floor hall, poking his head into The Spine’s neat, spare room. He was lying on his bed fully clothed but sleeping lightly; his breath came at regular intervals. The Jon nodded his head and proceeded to the next door. Rabbit’s room was messy and cluttered with stuff scattered everywhere. She was curled up under the covers of the Victorian four-poster bed and snoring lightly. Her dark brown hair and a brown foot stuck out. The Jon nodded again and for continuity’s sake tiptoed to his own room. It was dusty, forgotten. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d stepped inside. He nodded toward an unmade twin bed with a clown-face-shaped headboard and headed back to the stairs. They were all asleep; Wanda, Norman and Peter as well.
The Jon continued down to the basement and quietly hummed the theme from Mission Impossible as he proceeded to infiltrate every room. After searching a dozen or so, he at last came upon what he was looking for and stopped humming. The Jon picked up the broken halves, the stock and barrel of the so-called “Anti-Confetti Beam Cannon” and tucked them and the attached satchel under his right arm. With his left, he withdrew a feather from his top hat and dramatically waved it around in a circle. When nothing happened, he frowned and brought it close to examine it. “Oh! Silly me!” he laughed, replaced it and withdrew another one that looked exactly the same. “Now,” he said confidently, performed the same motion and disappeared in a pinkish flash. Three grilled cheese sandwiches spun in the air for a moment in his wake then fell to the floor.
He appeared in the strangest places, which, when it came to Kazooland, were often the most acceptable. This time, he stood on the lip of a fountain in the heart of Biscuit Town striking a pose with one foot on the lip, the other arched behind him. He tipped his hat to the crowd and grinned. The crowd applauded appreciatively at his form which exactly matched a statue of him, spitting water from its mouth in the center of the fountain. The Jon bowed, gripped the broken weapon under his arm tightly, hopped down and made his way to Town Hall.
At the moment he arrived at the fountain, bureaucrats and politicians were alerted to The Jon’s presence and started swarming the building. With a half-lidded look of importance and swagger, The Jon practically swam through the bodies, making his way to the Mayor’s office. Two badger-men opened the door and kept the crowd at bay with their immense claws and steely looks. The door closed behind him and The Jon was greeted by his heads of staff: the ministers of various municipal committees such as the Queen of Refuse, Viscount of Public Safety, Psychopomp of Parade Streamers and the Dutchess of Earl Grey Tea were all assembled. They greeted him. The Jon put the broken Anti-Confetti Cannon on his desk and took a seat beside it on folded legs. “Gentlepeople,” he began. “There has been an incident.”
The Viscount of Public Safety nodded. “I believe we are working on the same matter, Major The Jon. A few days ago a man was arrested attempting to steal files from your office. He had traces of Walter Manor on his person.” The Viscount handed him a photo of the Wielder.
“That guy...” He nodded back. “Indeed, Viscount. This is the same man. And this is his foul weapon with which he hurt my friends.”
The Dutchess of Earl Grey Tea gasped, the cup she held in her hand clinked in its saucer. “Was an attempt made on your life, Mayor?”
“It could well be,” The Jon frowned. “I escaped harm, but my friends Rabbit and The Spine were turned into humans by this, what he called an ‘Anti-Confetti Beam Cannon’.”
The Queen of Refuse examined it briefly. “It has Becile’s mark on it! This could mean...!”
“Or it could not,” The Jon stressed. “Viscount, has any intelligence been gathered from this man that you have in your custody?:
“Nothing yet, Mayor. He is tight-lipped.”
“Then we do not know if it was his aim to assassinate me, or if this is merely more of the same back-and-forth our Walter Robotics has suffered at the hands of Becile Industries from day one. We cannot leap to such dangerous conclusions!” The Jon pounded his metal fist on the desk for emphasis. “I will not be responsible for a war started over a petty dispute between scientists.”
“But The Jon, Asininia has long had its eye on New Pieland...” The Dutchess argued.
“I am more than aware of that, Dutchess. Again, until it is clear that this was an assassination attempt (which even if he had been successful would have served only to turn me human and lock me out of Kazooland, not kill me) we cannot let assumptions lead to loss of life and such hardships as we have known in the past. Peace is of the utmost importance.”
The ministers all nodded their heads. The Psychopomp of Parade Streamers solemnly pulled the cord on a small cracker in the shape of a wine bottle to voice his agreement.
“See what you can learn from this man you have. Keep me informed. In the meantime,” The Jon said, jumping off the desk. He patted the satchel of the broken weapon he had brought with him. “I have a special favor to ask...”
On that first day, the new humans enjoyed many firsts: the first meal they could taste and the first sleep being the most exciting. When she awoke in her room on the second day, Rabbit was confused and panicked for a moment before remembering what had happened. She lay very still and tried to wrap her brain around a strange memory. Finally, a smile stretched from ear to ear and she leapt out of bed. Wanda had given her one of her mother’s old flannel nightgowns and Rabbit stumbled and tripped over it as she hurried from the room. She slammed into the doorframe and laughed as the pain shot through her shoulder. “Spine! Spine!” she cried and raced to his room further down the hall. “Spine! Wake up!” she barged into his room and jumped on the bed as he was just waking. “Wake up wake up wake up!”
“Rabbit? What on Earth...?” he grumbled, rubbing sleep from his eyes. He was wearing a pair of Peter Walter V’s blue striped pajamas. His hair was mussed and he looked tired.
“Spine! I think I had a dream!” she shouted.
He stared at her in disbelief. “You did?”
“I think so. I was in the manor but it wasn’t the manor. And I was trying to get down to the labs but the stairs were all weird and the halls were made of stone like in a castle and I would jump down the stairs but when I thought I’d come out on the right floor I’d be in some other weird place.” She noticed he was very still and unsmiling. “How about you, Spine?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Oh.” Crestfallen, Rabbit swung her legs over the edge of the bed and stood up. “Well, maybe tomorrow you’ll have one!” she said positively.
Rabbit frowned. “Ok. Well, let’s go get some breakfast.”
The Spine ran a hand through his hair and stared at the covers. “I’ll be down later. You go ahead.”
Reluctantly, Rabbit agreed and left him there, looking back over her shoulder before she ducked out of the room and went in search of breakfast.
The week passed in similar fashion. Rabbit was energetic and excited by all the new things she experienced. The Jon shared her excitement, suggesting new things to do and playing games with her until she was exhausted and often fell asleep on a couch, leaning against his boiler. The Jon was happy that they were alive and together.
The Spine, however, in the few instances when he was with them, was sullen, quiet, and distant. He would nod or mutter if pressed for a response. Often, after only a few minutes of interaction, he would excuse himself and retire to his room. The Jon didn’t seem to notice, having plenty of distraction with the attention paid to him by Rabbit, but the young woman’s patience was wearing thing. On the one-week anniversary of their transformation, the three were seated in one of the drawing rooms. Rabbit and The Jon were sitting on the floor, playing with small crocheted dolls. Rabbit wore a loose-fitting red sweater with a large neck which hung off one of her shoulders and a pair of black shorts. Her feet were bare as usual. The Spine sat in a large wing-back chair facing away from them and read a book. He was dressed in black jeans and a white button-down shirt with the collar open. Both of their clothes were hand-me-downs from Peter and Wanda. Rabbit suddenly suggested that they have party to celebrate one week of being human and The Spine scoffed it off, saying it was a terrible idea. Rabbit leapt to her feet. “Alright,” she shouted. “If you think it’s such a stupid idea...”
“I didn’t say it was stupid, I said it was terrible.”
“But why? Spine, it’ll be fun!”
“Sure,” he said ruefully, closed his book, stood up and started to leave the room. “You have fun, Rabbit.”
Irate, the young woman jumped up and ran in front of him, blocking his path. He tried to move around her and she side-stepped from left to right. His stoic features contorted into a picture of frustration as he tried to get around her. Finally, The Spine had to push Rabbit out of the way, shouting “Stop it, just leave me alone!” before hurrying off.
Rabbit regained her footing and watched him go, mouth agape. It didn’t take long for her to find her words. “Fine! I will!” she shouted. “Go sulk in your stupid room, you jerk!”
His footsteps echoed down the hall and pounded up the stairs. Rabbit turned and screamed at the top of her lungs in anger and frustration. “Jerk!!” Her hands were clenched tightly into fists and she panted as the anger coursed through her. “What the hell is this feeling?” she muttered. “I feel like I want to tear his head off. Like I’m on fire!” Then she saw The Jon, sitting stock-still on the carpet, clutching the little yarn doll that resembled a certain copper automaton. His metal brows were arched and he sniffled softly.
“Oh, Jon, I’m sorry.” Rabbit rushed down to his side and gave him a hug which was not returned. “I’m sorry, I just... He made me so mad. I was angry. I am angry. I don’t know what to do about it, but he’s just being such a...”
The Jon surprised her with how serious and even his speech sounded. “Please talk to him.”
Rabbit released him and his blue photoreceptors looked into her own mismatched eyes. He picked up another yarn doll with a grey face and a tiny hat on its head and clutched the both of them to his chest. “It was never like this before. When we argued it was over quickly and we were laughing in no time. No one ever said those kinds of things to each other.”
“I’m so sorry, The J-j-jon,” she stuttered, surprising herself. “I-I didn’t mean...”
“Please talk to him, Rabbit!” The Jon begged her. “I don’t want it to be like this!”
“But he doesn’t want to talk to me!”
“He does! He’s just being a stupid-head about it.” Rabbit shook her head, but The Jon was insistent. “Please do this for me, Rabbit. You’re the only one who can.”