Beyond the Boundaries
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A feeling of bravery and pride was in each of their hearts. Although they had no idea where they were going, they assumed that Harry knew exactly what they would do. It wasn't very long before they reached Barnacle Boulevard.
They all emerged from the tunnel at the end of the street into the busy port of Donald's Dock. They felt the cool spray of the waves. The Nutty River which comes in from Acorn Acres ends here.
Many toons were stocking up on gags and preparing themselves to go to Bossbot HQ. There was one sad toon walking towards them slowly. He was a purple dog.
Evina recognized him immediately. "You're Goopy, the famous glitch master!" He exclaimed, "I've seen you on TV! Uh... why did you go sad?"
The purple dog sighed and continued staring at his feet. "Once again I was foiled in my attempt to enter the legendary Bossbot tower."
"You mean the one in the Bossbot courtyard?" Zany asked.
"No," Goopy answered, "another one..."
"Well, we are going on a quest to find out where the cogs came from" Evina said. "I was really bored this summer, and then we kept finding slips of paper that say 'help' on them.
"I've seen several of those myself." Goopy said as he pulled a bundle of them out of his pockets. "They don't seem to make any sense. Where could they all come from?" He picked up several starfish nearby to replenish his laff points. "I guess I don't really have much to do. Do you mind if I come with you guys."
"Really?" Zany asked unbelievingly. "That would be great. You know, I'm one of your biggest fans!"
"Yeah, I think my skills might come in handy if we ever get in a tight situation." Goopy smiled.
Evina beamed. Things seemed to be getting better for them. "So where are we going?" he asked Harry.
"I think it would be best to head to Pete's Palace first." Harry responded.
Goopy stared at Harry for a second with his mouth open. "What is Pete's Palace?"
Evina, Zany and Princesspinkcat also wore similar expressions. "Yes, I think Pete knows more about cogs than anyone else in Toontown... or so I've been told." Harry explained.
"But," Evina protested, "Where is Pete's Palace?"
"You all have to understand, Toontown is much larger than most toons think. Dozens of playgrounds are not on your map. The palace is on the other side of Toontown's largest mountain, Mt. Giant. First we must go to Acorn Acres."
The group walked nervously in the direction of Acorn Acres while the others toons in the playground talked amongst themselves, wondering what other places there were in Toontown that they didn't know about. They wondered why the Toon Council had never given access to these places. How big is Toontown? Evina wondered. Could there really be more toons living out there?
"I have a question." said Zany, "Why is Pete's Palace not on the map?"
"Because, as you will eventually see, he does not much enjoy having company. There's a reason why he built his Playground so far away."
The adventurers approached Acorn Acres awkwardly. They still had no idea how they would get over the mountain ahead of them. There wasn't even a street or a path! There were only two toons here in Acorn Acres: a sienna monkey and a brown dog, talking to each other. The two of them glanced over at the group and saw the old rabbit leading several toons along the fence of Acorn Acres. They were curious and went to find out what they were doing.
"Where are you guys going?" The monkey inquired.
Goopy stepped forward. "We are going on a quest to find out where the cogs came from. I am Super Goopy Wackyroni. I bet you've seen me on TV!" He stopped and smiled smugly. "And this is Evina, Zany, Princesspinkcat and our leader Harry Oldman. He is Lil' Oldman's grandfather."
"I hate Lil' Oldman's tasks but I have always wanted to find out where the cogs came from. Can I come?" The monkey asked.
Harry looked around nervously. He was afraid that these toons didn't know what dangers might be ahead. They didn't seem to be taking it as seriously as he thought they should. "Ah, I suppose you can come. The more the merrier. But you have to understand it will be very dangerous!"
"And what's the worst that can happen?" the monkey snickered.
"You would be surprised." Harry muttered ominously.
"By the way, I am Bebop Bumblebee," the monkey continued, "and this is Rocky" he pointed to the brown dog who silently shoved a burrito in his mouth.
"I'm not coming," Rocky said with a full mouth, "unless you can ensure that I will survive, and you bring a lot of burritos."
"Yes you are coming!" Bebop insisted, and he yanked Rocky by the arm as they started walking again.
"We have to cross those mountains?" Princesspinkcat asked halfheartedly.
Zany's enthusiasm vanished as she glanced at the huge mountain. They approached the fence to Acorn Acres and stopped. Everyone paused for a moment, unsure of how to do it.
"So... are we going over the fence?" Evina asked Harry.
The fence wasn't that tall and could be jumped over easily. But no toon has ever gone outside the boundary of a street or playground before. Nobody knew if it could be done.
Harry thought about it and broke their silence. "Well, I know it sounds awkward but we must do this. Now on the count of three we all jump, alright?"
The other toons nodded but looked really tense. They each imagined what terrible things were going to happen when they crossed the fence.
"Remember everybody," Harry encouraged them, "the Toon Council is counting on us. We have to do it! 1... 2... 3!"
They jumped all at once over the fence. Their feet hit the grass on the other side. Everyone closed their eyes and cringed, but surprisingly nothing happened. There was no siren and no deadly traps. They were the very first toons to ever cross over the fence! But then they got a weird sensation. They saw the wide open spaces and the rough areas. The wild land made them feel lost and frightened. They didn't understand why.
"I know it feels funny," Harry said, "but we're just disoriented. We will get used to it soon enough."
So they started their trek to the mountains. The toons from Acorn Acres watched them with bewildered expressions, wondering how they got over that fence. Every few steps they took, they tripped over a patch of long grass or a rock. It was strange to be a toon walking in the wilderness. After about one toonmile (500 Trolley lengths), they stopped to rest for the night. It was getting dark and they could no longer see Acorn Acres. Their real fear was beginning to reveal itself now. They had no idea what was out there in the darkness. They collected sticks to start building a fire, and soon enough they started cooking some food. They discovered that Harry had brought a large inflatable tent that could fit in his pocket when deflated. He pulled a string and it blew up to its full size like a balloon.
At dessert time, Harry got out some marshmallows. "OH MARSHMALLOWS!" Zany beamed.
Everyone was feeling alright, and it was a pretty decent meal.
"Let's tell some stories." Bebop suggested.
Everyone took a moment to think of something to tell the others.
"How did you are Harry meet?" Goopy asked Evina.
Evina had to take time to think about it. He didn't realize until now that his friendship with Harry was unique compared to what other toons had.
"It was a few years ago." Evina began, "I was wandering through Toontown Central as usual and I bumped into him. I was scared for a minute, but soon I found out he wasn't a cruel, creepy, old guy, but a very kind toon. He told me that he was a member of the Toon Council and had to get back to work."
Everyone continued listening intently to Evina. Harry smiled, recounting the memories of his meeting with Evina.
Evina continued, "I went to go see him more times over the next few days. He seemed to find it really annoying but soon we found out we have a lot in common. I loved learning all the cool things that he knew."
"Yes," Harry said, "I remember that well. I'm glad you've convinced me to go on this crazy trip of yours. It's getting to be quite fun.
Rocky reached for a handful of marshmallows. "Okay, so now why don't we tell some scary stories?"
Everyone searched their minds for something scary to tell until Evina spoke up. "Harry, why don't you tell us about that legendary substance?"
"What legendary substance?" The other toons asked with curiosity.
Harry sighed. "Ok," he said nervously as all the toons focused their eyes on him, "but you must realize that this is no ordinary scary story. This has evidence suggesting it is real." He cleared his throat and spoke in a quiet voice. "Long ago when the first toons were drawn by humans, they were discovered to be useful for making movies and making children happy. Soon they were in use all over the world in entertainment. Then our enemies, the people who didn't like toons in the human world, developed a special liquid. It was an absolutely disgusting brew and toons shivered at the sight of it. We see it as a thick, glowing, neon-green goop. It was called dip."
"Dip?" the rest of the toons asked.
"YES DIP!" Harry shouted irritably, but then he reverted back to whispering. "It was sold to the enemies and it proved effective at completely eliminating toons. They melted away the instant that they touched it. Many toons were dipped before the rest moved back to their own land, Toontown. They sealed the gate to Earth permanently, never to return again. They say that the original creator of the dip was eliminated. But then some others say that the enemies keep a special batch of it somewhere in Toontown. They could have enough to defeat Toontown. Of course, Toontown has very high security, but once we jumped over the fence and entered the wilderness, we are protected from nothing."
After he was finished speaking, there was continued silence. Everyone, including Harry, was petrified with fear.
"That's just a silly urban legend right?" Rocky laughed warily. "It's as ridiculous as those stories of molders."
"Most people think that," said Harry "but through my many years of experience I have found many clues to lead me to believe that it's true."
The toons climbed into the tent and tried their best to go to sleep, but they were still intimidated with the thought of the dip. A glowing, neon-green liquid that can destroy toons was a gruesome thought to consider. There was strong wind blowing outside and the faint noise of something moving off in the distance. Maybe it was just their imagination. They just hoped that they would never have to encounter an enemy. At least it was easier to sleep when they weren't alone.
In the morning they quickly cleaned up their camp and began walking once more. They were hoping that they were lucky enough to be protected from a disaster. For a while they walked and assured themselves that everything was going to be fine. After all, they knew that these were just silly urban legends. There wasn't any such thing as a molder, and also if there was any dip in Toontown, the Toon Council would have known about it long ago.
Acorn Acres was far away from being visible. They were all alone in the vast and unforgiving wilderness. There were no boundaries for them. They could go anywhere, as long as they were willing to accept the consequences of whatever would happen.
Nobody was happy that they had to get over those mountains, and when they got closer they lost all that was left of their motivation. Harry tried to encourage them as much as he could. "It's about six more toonmiles to Pete's Palace." he informed them, and everyone groaned in reply.
"It was you who wanted to go, Evina." the old rabbit said with a smirk. "So you'll just have to trust me, but don't worry; it will be worth the walk."
They continued tripping and stumbling over mounds of dirt and roots. Everyone was dirty and disappointed. The sun was bright over the mountains and was smiling at them. Then its expression suddenly changed. It was startled to see toons out in the middle of nowhere. What are they doing out here? It thought.
The mountains were getting closer and closer. It was almost evening when they reached the foot of the mountain. They set up camp for the second night. Harry got out the inflatable tent, food, and marshmallows while Rocky and Bebop started the fire. Evina, Goopy, Princesspinkcat and Zany were cooking dinner. It was a stew with an unusual odor.
"There is nothing out here but dirt and bugs!" Zany grumbled. "Ok, I can see why it would be a pain to live out here, but how could there be evil dangers out here?"
"But remember the dip?" Goopy reminded her.
"That's a bunch of nonsense." Princesspinkcat assured him as she placed a lid over the boiling stew. "It's just ridiculous. It's nothing but a scary story."
"Well I think we should trust Harry." Evina replied. The others were silent and just stared at him for a moment. "He's my best friend! I know he can't be lying! It has to be true." Evina promised them.
They stared at him silently for a minute before they turned their backs and walked back to the dinner table. Princesspinkcat returned to quickly take the stew and then ran away. Evina was left standing by himself.
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