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The Adventures of Sub Girl
an ongoing drabble passing itself off as a Proper Story.
: Contains silliness. May cause frivolity. Do not operate heavy machinery or consume large quantities of caffeine while reading this story as both may prove fatal to the already fragile storyline.
: This story contains (eventually) references to a multitude of fandoms, real life, my life, and suggestions from a number of diverse people unlikely to be understood by anyone save the suggester and the suggestee, and perhaps not even them. As I'm the one tying all these disparate threads of inspiration together, theoretically it makes perfect sense only to me. However, since it does not, in fact, always make perfect sense even to me, I will simply shrug and attribute the oddness to that particular and mysterious magic which is Writing, and call it a night.
The first fandom to be included will be (working on it now) the plotbunny that started the whole story. All I can say is it involves Subway, Lucius Malfoy looking like a muggle, and lots of snark! Whose Line is it Anyway? may or may not show up. ;)
: Speaking of suggestions, if you've got, lemme know! I will include all of them (within reason) and assuming they can be fitted in with whatever scraps of Plot I manage to tackle and attach to this out-of-proportion drabble.
Previous suggestions include:
- Encounter with a talking badger
- Include a/the word "loofah"
- The Magical Umbrella of Tornado Doom
- The SS Lollygag
And now, without further ado... The Adventures of Sub Girl!
1. The First Two Beginnings
The Pouffe stood next to the Subway in the small town of Middle. The two stores shared a roof, two walls, plumbing, and a ghost, but he doesn't come into this story.
Their shared owner does. Madam Eyebrow was the kind of cooky old lady with an adventurous past and a million interesting stories whose apartment seemed to breed cats. She also performed a kind of traffic control function for the inevitable gossip-jams in Middle residents' conversations.
The people of Middle liked their small-town, vaguely southern way of life, and even "in the middle" jokes (as long as they were the ones making them.) It was comfortable, like a fond childhood memory, or your favorite blasphemy when the hammer hit your thumb, or your best comeback when your hammer hit your neighbor's thumb and he threatened you with a power saw (which was actually yours but he'd been borrowing it so long it might as well be his.) So it was with somewhat unusually good graces that that they first accepted, and later defended, the eccentricities of Madam Eyebrow and her two businesses.
All things considered, the Subway was fairly routine. The Pouffe, in its magenta and turquoise siding, was not.
Its orange-trimmed front door was guarded by an old and evil-tempered bulldog called Sushi, who answered to no one save the sole employee ever seen around the place: a sinister, drooping old man who referred to himself in the third person as Mr. Ravioli.
Carnation Pepper was new in town and searching for a job. She hadn't been around long enough to be warned about The Pouffe, and so it was quite by accident that she ventured in past Sushi and sparked Mr. Ravioli's ire by asking for an application. That surprisingly explosive encounter led to meeting Madam Eyebrow, the sharing of some nerve-calming, conciliatory chocolate, and her eventual hiring at the neighboring Subway. Which was, of course, where it all started. But that was only the incidental beginning. The concrete beginning was several months back.
It began with the traditional bi-annual "I'm a Pepper!" family reunion camping trip, and it was all Uncle Arty's fault.
It was their third night out, tucked away in the hills on a distant cousin's ranch. They were the last three still awake. Carnation, her dad, and Uncle Arty sat around the dying campfire, encircled by tents, listening to the sounds of the night. Someone was snoring, loudly, but the moon was shining and the stars were twinkling, and Carnation decided it was all rather magical anyway. Plus, there were M'n'Ms. She contemplated the colorful circles in the palm of her hand a moment before eating them happily. Wonderful things, M'n'Ms.
Typically, it was Arty who broke the comfortable silence. "So..." he said, pulling a deeply burned marshmallow out of the flames and looking at it regretfully, "What's my favoritest little brother got his favoritest little girl doing for the rest of the summer?"
Carnation's father, Dave, was very nearly the opposite of his brother; small and quiet where Arty was big and loud, more cerebral, and unexpectedly, intensely formidable. Arty made a big bluff and bluster about everything, but tickle him and he'd collapse. Nobody tickled Dave.
For all that, they had a common, uniting bond: a mischievous, practically devious, sense of humor.
Dave gazed thoughtfully into the flames, considering the question and looking vaguely amused, while Carnation squirmed. Eventually he turned his calm, sky-grey eyes on his daughter. "What do you think? Are you up for an adventure this summer, Cara?"
Carnation's foreboding grew. He was the only one who called her Cara. And only when he wanted her cooperation. She heaved a sigh, and reached for another handful of M'n'Ms. "Well... I guess..."
Uncle Arty grinned, creases turning his face into a big, red rumpled blob. "That's very good to hear, Car, because with Dave's permission, I'd like to introduce you to a fascinating little town called Middle."
Dave was outright grinning now, and Carnation was starting to have a very bad feeling about this.
"Come on, Arty... surely not..." The two brothers traded identical, delighted glances.
"Well, you see Dave," Uncle Arty began, trying to look contrite, "I've sort of got myself into a spot of bother with Aunt Matilda."
Carnation closed her eyes and fought the urge to groan out loud. When an explanation started off with crazy old Great-Aunt Matilda, it just wasn't going to end well.
"Go on, Arty," Dave prompted, settling back and looking highly entertained.
He complied at once. "Well I had to drop by and make sure she knew about the reunion, though of course she couldn't make it this year, her health being what it is, and she was plying me with chocolate cake trying to get me off my guard--" he winked at Car, interrupting himself to add, "That's where you get it from you know--" (Carnation rolled her eyes.) "--And she had me going on about my plans and work and how summer's always the slow season and before I knew it, I'd agreed to come stay with her and help her clean out her attic!"
Carnation thought she saw where this was going, and she didn't like it at all. From what she'd been told, Matilda lived in a very large, very old, rambling house with a dozen unused rooms, a library that looked like somebody's old garage, and an attic-like upper room so stuffed with furniture and spiders people had been afraid to enter it even when Dave and Arty were little.
Dave was laughing outright now. "Don't tell me, don't tell me," he said. "You'd still love to do it, but unfortunately you just got the most amazing travel opportunity with an old college buddy you just can't say no to and--"
"And I feel bad leaving her hanging and all," Arty continued, nodding heartily, "so I promised her a replacement!" He leaned over and clapped his niece on the shoulder. "And you, my darling dear, would be ideally suited for the task."
"But--" Carnation started, carefully sealing the bag of M'n'Ms and wondering how on earth she was going to get out of this.
"It would be really good for you, Cara," her father said seriously. Too seriously. Carnation sized him up. "Really," he continued, apparently oblivious to her reaction. "You'd learn... responsibility."
"That's what pets are for," she countered. "Why do I want to go clean out some crazy lady's attic?"
Uncle Arty's arm swooped in and scooped up her bag of MnM's, lying forgotten on the ground. Too late, Carnation realized her tactical error, but she was too slow to stop him.
"Why do you love MnM's?" Uncle Arty teased, holding the bag perilously close to the fire. At her horrified expression, he tossed them over his shoulder, and they were lost in the darkness somewhere by her father, who was giving her the innocent, "What, me?" look.
Carnation knew when she was outnumbered. Throwing her hands in the air, she gave in to the inevitable. "All right, all right! I'll go! Just give me my MnM's back."
Dave and Arty graciously handed them over.
"Now if you don't mind," Carnation said with an attempt at haughtiness, "I am going to bed."
Their quiet laughter followed her all the way back to her tent.
2. The Previous Beginning
The Pepper family reunion was just where Carnation came in, of course. Another, earlier beginning had already... well, begun.
And well begun it was.
The great god Mica, claimed solely by the strange indigenous peoples of a faraway, little-known and less-explored European country, was the god of Chance. His siamese twin brother Bart was the god of Probability. Between them, legend has it, they compiled the Ledger of Universal Reckoning. (Some of the more theologically-minded natives suggested it was more accurate to say "forged" rather than "compiled," but an unfortunate confusion of homographs--which are like homonyms, only consistent spellers--resulted in their untimely deaths by angry religious mob.) This unusually cosmic document came to be known as Heath, by a mysterious process only Bart really understood and claimed had something do with some guy no one had ever heard of named Arthur Dent.
Replicas of Heath remained at the center of Mica-Bart temples for centuries, long after the famed original had been lost. But as Bart could have told anyone who was willing to listen, it probably wasn't really lost. Few important things really are.
And, in fact, it wasn't. A red-haired American archaeologist with Indiana Jones-delusions was poking around a rival's dig one day and found it in a pile of discared rocks. From there it was passed on, expert to expert, unrecognized and unprotected, until it was swapped by one fraud to another in exchange for some "Helioprator Rex" bones, took a dive into the antiquities black market, was sold to an unnamed and obscenely rich private collector in New York, and eventually, decades later, turned up at at a rummage sale in Haiawatha, Kansas.
Madam Eyebrow was browsing idly, generally disappointed by the selection, when she lifted up a particularly garish set of plaid rubber placemats and found it underneath. She was the first person in a handful of centuries to realize exactly what it was. She promptly bought it for fifty cents.
The next day, she sold her home, her local Subway, packed up her feline farm, and moved to Middle. And there she waited.
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