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A gentle breeze ruffled the leaves on the trees, and the trolley quietly creaked on its rails. Warm summer air blew over the town park, or as it was more commonly known those days: the playground. The atmosphere was silent and tranquil; the sun unleashed its warm, soothing rays on the world. On most days, there would be lots of toons in the park for this was Toontown Central, capital of the world of Toontown, the home of the toons.
Today, however, was different from most days. Only one toon was present. His name was Evina. He was a red duck lying lazily on the grass with his gloves behind his head. Nobody knew what his name meant, but it didn't matter much to him. Toontown was filled with strange and wacky things, and the most unexpected events happened all the time.
Evina felt like his boredom was too much to handle on days such as this. There was nothing fun to do. He was not a toon that usually went to fight the cogs. He didn't find it fun at all because he noticed that whenever someone destroys a cog several more just fly down in its place. You can never get rid of them for good.
One strange thing about Evina that very few others knew about was the fact that he couldn't remember anything about his life prior to fifteen years ago. Most toons had impeccable memories from the beginning of their existence, but not him. Because of this loss of memory, he never knew who his parents were, but he had never really been concerned about that. He didn't mind being alone most of the time.
That happened about the time the cogs came to Toontown. Everyone he talked to said it was the most chaotic and dark day in Toontown's history. It was the day the cheerless robot invaders changed everything. Only ridiculous gags could stop them, and it became a constant war.
When he couldn't bear lying there any longer, he decided to see his good friend Harry again. He got up and casually walked to Toon hall. Harry was a friendly, wise, old toon. He was working intently at his desk as usual. Harry was short, green rabbit with slightly wrinkled skin. He looked like he had gone through a hard life. Evina was one of the only toons willing to be friends with him as everyone else had left him long ago.
"Hi," Evina said dully while approaching his desk.
Harry set down his paperwork. He didn't particularly enjoy Evina's frequent, unexpected visits during work in the summer. "Hi," he replied in the same, dull voice before turning his attention back to his work.
"If you haven't noticed, I'm still really bored," complained Evina, leaning on Harry's desk. "Is it just me, or is there nothing fun to do around here anymore?"
Once Harry stopped pretending that Evina wasn't still standing there, he looked up at him. "I think you're right," he said, adjusting his glasses. "The reason is that nearly all the toons have left to attack the Cog HQs and, as they say, max everything in Toontown. Nobody has played a trolley game here for ages. Nobody ever drops by to say hello... except you, of course." He smiled then returned to his work.
"I just wish I had someone to do something with. Wouldn't it be cool to go on some sort of adventure?"
Harry sighed and set down the paperwork he was reading again. "Why don't you get a job?"
"I'm not getting one, because nobody visits the shops around here. I don't understand what work you're trying to do. There hasn't been anything important lately."
Harry couldn't help himself from smiling again. "I guess you're right. These complaints will just have to wait. I'm sure Flippy doesn't want to deal with them at the moment anyway."
Evina leaned against a wall and sighed. The other workers in Toon Hall looked anxious to have Evina leave.
"I suppose you're not going to leave until you have something to do. I just remembered there's a pile of old movies in the closet back there. I don't know about an adventure, but perhaps I can show you something that you'll find interesting." He warily stood up. Despite his age, he seemed to be able to take care of himself well enough. He led Evina down a very long hallway. He swung open the door of a closet and motioned Evina to walk in.
"Watch your head," Harry said. Then he went in after him and shut the creaky door. He looked up and turned on a tiny light dangling from the ceiling. The room was small and hadn't been cleaned in many years. He pulled a sheet off a very old movie projector. "I think you will like this." He began searching the dusty wooden shelves. He then found the roll of film that he was looking for. He plugged in the film and flicked a switch. The projector sputtered to life and began to click as a black and white image appeared on a blank wall in front of them.
"Who is that?" Evina asked.
"That is Mickey Mouse, the first citizen of Toontown. Such great memories... it makes me feel young again."
"Mickey Mouse," Evina gasped. "And who is that dog that he's walking up to?"
"That's Flippy. You see, they met when they were much younger and became friends. They found out they had a lot in common, or they used to. You see, things have changed since that day. Mickey was the mayor of Toontown, but he was needed for work in movies and other things in a world far away. And he was a bit frustrated with the, uh, behavior of some toons. Mickey handed over the keys of Toontown to Flippy and left."
Evina stared at the black and white image then looked turned to the direction of Flippy's office was. "But then... where is Mickey now?"
"Like I said, he is working on making movies and other stuff, but he should have come back ages ago. Nobody has seen him in such a long time. He left about the time the cog invasion began." The old rabbit adjusted his glasses. "I'm sure he's fine, though. He's never let us down before."
"Have you met Mickey before?"
"Oh yes, I have. It was very long ago when we met for the first time. It even might have been before this movie was made."
"Do you think that the cogs are one of the reasons that made him want to leave?"
Harry considered this for a moment. "I'm not sure, but that may be one reason. I can't remember if they came before or after he left. I think another possibility may have something to do with Scrooge McDuck. He disappeared at about the same time."
Evina wasn't paying attention. "Where did the cogs come from, anyway?"
Harry sighed. "I knew you would ask that. We all ask ourselves that question eventually. The truth is that nobody really knows. I've been searching for an answer for many years, but with no success." He paused in silence for a moment. "I have something that might help, though. I found this flying around the park a few days ago." He pulled out an old tattered piece of paper and unfolded it. It had a single, quickly written, bold word on it. HELP!
Evina's eyes widened. "This is what I've been looking for!" he exclaimed.
"This is my adventure! I'm going to find out where this note came from. It must have something to do with the cogs. And I want to know where the cogs came from! Will you come with me?"
"Whoa! Wait a second! That could be nearly impossible! It could take years, and we might not even survive! Anyway, I have some work to get to."
"Please! I've been so bored these last few weeks. Toons live forever! The worst thing that happens to us is go sad!"
Harry paused for a second with a grim expression. He seemed to be at a loss for words. Evina wasn't sure if he wanted to stand there and find out what he was going to say. "That's just what you think," the old man shuddered. "No offense, Evina, but you are still very young. The world out there is fierce, and you can't be sure we're immortal. There is a legendary substance that can make toons go away forever." He sat down on a barrel and began to tear up. "Nothing remains of them!"
"And what would that substance be?" Evina asked nervously. "I didn't know you believed in such rumors."
"Never mind, I'll tell you later. Just please go get me some ice cream cones from the playground before I go sad!"
Evina had never seen Harry so frustrated before. As he jogged to the exit to retrieve the ice cream cones for the old rabbit, he wondered if he had accidentally reminded Harry of a bad memory. When Evina returned, he found Harry already back at his desk. Other toons working in the building were staring at the sobbing toon.
Harry took them and ate them eagerly. After a minute, he calmed down and started smiling again. "I'm sorry about that," he whispered to Evina. "For all I know, we could all be wrong. We may never know what danger is out there. We may never know if there is the substance that could destroy toons."
"We could find the answers if you decided to come with me," Evina said.
Harry looked up at him sadly. "I can't do that." His words were final. "As much as I would love to go on an adventure, this is just absolutely ridiculous. Nothing like this has been done before, and I don't want to be the first to find my doom out there."
Evina left Toon Hall feeling as though an anvil had just been dropped on his head. For the rest of the day, he was crestfallen about Harry refusing to go on an adventure. For just a small moment, he thought his idle summer days were over. He believed he was about to do something important for the first time in his life. Sadly, he dragged his feet back to his Toontown Central estate.
His doodle, Raspberry, looked just as bored as he did. He panted when he first saw him. Evina gave him a jellybean and went to bed.
The next morning, he got up and went back to the park. He didn't expect anybody else to be there, but he was wrong. He turned a corner and bumped into a pink cat.
"Hey, will you watch where you're going?" she snapped, rubbing her head angrily.
"Oops! I'm so sorry about that," Evina said. "I never expected anyone else to be here. I've been the only one here for weeks! Why are you here, anyway?"
"There have been tons of little sheets of paper flying around with the word 'help' written on them. I came to ask the Toon Council what they were about. By the way, who are you?"
"I'm Evina," he smiled.
"That's an odd name. Well, I'm glad to meet you. I'm Pink!"
"I can see that, but what's your name?"
"That is my name. HEY LOOK OVER THERE!"
Evina spun around instantly to see none other than the one and only Mickey Mouse. After checking to make sure he wasn't imagining it, he ran over to meet him.
"Well, hello there!" Mickey greeted them cheerfully. "My movies have been going great! Now, where has everyone gone to?"
"Uh, Mr. Mickey? I think... they're all at the Cog HQs."
"Cog HQs?" Mickey asked with a puzzled expression. "I didn't know they even had an HQ! I heard they came just as I was leaving. Has it really been that long? What else have I missed?"
"Oh, tons of stuff like Acorn Acres, it's on the map now."
"Acorn Acres is on the map now?" Mickey asked skeptically. "What is this about maps? Was it closed? It doesn't sound good. I thought—"
"I'm Evina," he interrupted, "and it's a pleasure to meet you, sir."
"It's nice to meet you too, Evina. Have a swell day! I need to go talk to the Toon Council about all these papers I find flying around with the word 'help' on them."
Before Evina could catch up with Mickey, the mouse had already slammed the door of Toon Hall behind him. Evina stood there staring at the door. Pink came and stood by his side.
"Hey what are you doing up there!" called an unfamiliar voice from behind Evina.
The two toons turned around and saw a light blue duck coming up to them. Her arms were full of jellybean bags.
"Hi, I'm Zany! I haven't been able to find any fish today, and I needed jellybeans. I haven't been here for such a long time, but I didn't expect it to be this... empty. What are you doing?"
"Mickey Mouse has returned, and I wanted to ask him if I could go on a quest to find out where the cogs came from."
"A quest? Oh, I WANT TO COME, PLEASE! I PROMISE I WON'T BE ANY TROUBLE!" she begged.
"Um, we don't want everyone to know about this," Evina said.
Zany didn't listen. She turned around and shouted, "HEY WORLD! MICKEY MOUSE HAS RETURNED!"
Soon, Zany's voice spread the news of Mickey's return, and the park filled up with hundreds of confused toons from all the surrounding streets.
"So, are all three of us going on this quest?" Evina asked the other two. "I think we're perfectly capable of doing it, even without Harry."
"Yes!" the other two girls replied in unison.
"Wait," Pink said, "who is Harry?"
Suddenly, the majestic doors to Toon Hall swung open, and the Toon Council marched out into the plaza.
"Wow!" Mickey said. "This place sure filled up!"
Flippy step forward. He looked much more stressed and unhappy than the toon Evina saw in the video. An official-looking document was placed in his hands. "We, the Toon Council, decided that for the greater good of Toontown, several brave toons will go and find out where the cogs came from. This group will be led by Mr. Harry Oldman—"
"And me!" Evina added.
Flippy rotated his head toward Evina. "Excuse me," he spat, "but just who might you be?"
"I am Evina, this is Pink, and that is Zany. We will be the toons who will accompany Harry on the quest!" Cheers emitted from the crowd below.
Flippy turned to his side and whispered something to the rest of the Toon Council. Then he smiled and turned back to the crowd. "Alright, it has been settled. The quest has begun! We wish the best of luck to Harry and his friends!"
Harry descended the steps with a scowl on his face. The crowds cheered as the group made their way to Punchline Place. Several of them asked if they could come on the quest.
"NO!" Harry shouted. "You have no idea just how dangerous this journey is! We might not survive to return home!" But the rest of the crowds just giggled. Nobody believed there was anything worse than going sad. The group exited the tunnel to the deserted Punchline Place and stopped.
"So, did you change your mind?" Evina asked with a smug grin.
Harry let out an irritated sigh. "Clearly, I did. I think my knowledge of Toontown will help out luck on this hopeless journey. But whether it will be enough to save us is something I have yet to find out. From the look of these notes, it seems that someone may be in grave danger. I'm also almost certain that the cogs have something to do with it. So, I hope you like walking because we have a lot of it ahead of us."
"Why did they let you come?" Zany asked.
"I don't even know who you are, but that's not important now. I think the Toon Council is trying to get rid of me, but I don't know why. You never give up, do you, Evina?"
Evina was grinning. "Not really."
Harry groaned. "With this crazy bunch, I'm not sure we'll survive a single day."
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