The One Who Remembered
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There was a drop of water and then another. Evina hadn't been paying attention. He should have expected it at this hour, but there was nothing he could do about it now. He didn't even care about it anymore. Suddenly, the sky poured, and the sound of it was all Evina could hear in the streets. This was a regular occurrence every other day or so.
He spent most of the day wandering around randomly, unable to stop thinking about his decision to quit work. There was no more responsibility, no more pointless fighting, and no more Deputy Grunt. But on the other hand, there was no more Kyle and Jenny. They had fought by his side for years. Now he had nowhere else to go now.
Finally, when it had come time for the only other event he had planned for the day, he walked to Daisy Gardens. He didn't bother teleporting because his access was probably revoked by now. The use of portal holes was tightly restricted these days. The police claimed it would prevent abuse. Ironically, it only prevented the poor victims of the gangs from escaping.
His feet splashed in the warm water on Maple Street while he walked. By the time the rain ended, it was always colder. The glare of the streetlights and shop signs reflected up into his eyes. It made the area appear brighter than it was before, a confusing mess of neon colors.
It looked nothing like the Maple Street from his memories. He passed a boarded-up shop where an old, faded sign still hung, The Squirting Flower. He remembered how he had to save their business that time they ran out of flowers. Later he saw Bert's Dirt. Everything was still here as if nothing had changed, but it was an illusion. This was now a different street on a different world.
Most toons were wary to go outside, let alone in the rain. Evina was the only one in sight. He began to worry again about what Jenny had said before. Beneath his feet, there could be tunnels transporting criminals to every part of Toontown. Nowhere was safe. His eyes wandered toward one of the pink posters. Although he had it memorized, he read it again, just for the heck of it.
The Toon Council reminds you to do all you can to protect yourself and your friends. Never travel alone. Bring a friend. Avoid standing in the dark. Always look out for suspicious activity and report any findings to your local Toon HQ.
Thank you for doing your civic duty.
Keep staying toontastic!
It seemed particularly depressing today. Things weren't turning out well for him. The paper was drooping in the rain, and the text was smeared. No doubt Kyle or another officer would replace it soon. He turned away and kept moving. There was still one thing he could look forward to.
He found the flickering neon sign above his destination. It was the Barley, Hops, and Malt Shop.
He swung the door open, and it rang a bell. This place was still bright, clean, and well maintained. It had a style based on an era long ago in the past, even before his time. Nobody else was here except a cream-colored cat. She wore a periwinkle shirt and an emerald skirt. A little yellow bow was set on her head. Evina walked over and sat down in the chair across from her.
"You're late," she said, although it wasn't in an angry tone.
"Yeah, I'm sorry," Evina replied drearily, not looking at her directly.
"Are you ok?" she asked.
Evina jerked up. "Um, yeah, everything's fine."
She didn't seem convinced at all. His deception was pretty obvious.
"Ok, I... quit my job."
He shrugged and hesitated before answering. "It's hard to describe."
"You say that a lot."
"I know I do," he admitted. The pain was visible in his eyes.
She reached out her paws and held his hand tightly. They felt so warm compared to his coldness.
Evina sighed and looked up into her brilliant eyes. It calmed him. He knew she understood. He knew things would be alright.
An aqua-colored mouse looked up at Evina from behind her reading glasses with a kind of scowl. The librarian always looked unhappy whenever he saw her. "Yes?"
"I'm looking for books about the cogs," he said.
She removed her glasses and rubbed her eyes sleepily. "Have you looked in the history section?"
"Um, yes, but I didn't find anything there."
The librarian stood up and walked to the back room. She emerged a minute later. "Ok, I remember now. It's titled Machines of Malice."
"Thank you," Evina said. He walked back to the history section at the far end of the building. After locating the 'M' shelf, it didn't take long before he found the book the librarian was talking about. "Finally."
He reached out his hand to take it, but it was stuck. He pulled harder, but it barely budged. It was like someone was pulling it from the other side. With curiosity, he let go and watched it slide away.
Evina ran around the shelf to see who had taken it. A cat stood there, surprised to see him arrive so suddenly.
"Uh, hi," she said.
"Yeah hi. Listen, I was going to read that book."
"So was I," she argued.
Evina was confused for a moment. "You mean, you actually remember the cogs?"
"Yes," she replied.
"But I thought everyone forgot about them!" he exclaimed, trying to keep his voice down as to not attract unwanted attention from the librarian.
"Of course, I remember them! It was only like, what... nine years ago? But I wanted to learn more about it to refresh my memory. I like to think about the past; things were so different back then."
"Exactly!" Evina said. He hadn't expected to meet another toon who felt that way. Most toons longed for the past but really didn't remember much about it, and to be fair, most of them never paid attention in the first place. "Hey, maybe we can read it together."
"Great idea!" she beamed. She took it to a table, and Evina sat down beside her. She opened the first page and began to read the introduction.
"Do the cogs mean something special to you?" Evina asked. "I don't understand how you still remember them."
She shrugged. "I fought them long enough. I don't see why I wouldn't remember. And what about you?"
Evina paused a second before answering. He was afraid of saying too much. "I fought them too."
A small smile came to her face. "I know. I remember you too. You're Evina Gearloose."
Evina couldn't believe this. He was stunned and tried to figure this out while she read.
Then she stopped. A look of disappointment came over her face. "Wow, this is strange."
Evina bent over the book and saw what she was pointing at. There was plenty of information on the cogs here, but most of it was false. "I can't believe it."
"You get surprised a lot," she said.
"Yeah... sorry about that." He was feeling embarrassed. "But what kind of idiot wrote this?"
"I know, right? If only there were some way we could fix it."
Evina found some blank sheets of paper nearby. He grabbed them, found a pen, and scribbled down notes as fast as he could. There was so much knowledge that he had in his head, and it frustrated him that nobody cared about it. Nobody was around to share it with. This cat was the only exception for some reason. A minute later, he placed his filled sheets in between the pages of the book and slammed it shut.
"Are you allowed to do that?" she wondered.
"I don't know," he said, "but I feel like I don't care." It was weird how he admitted his feelings so easily. Usually, he buried them deep inside. "I think this needs a lot more work. I'll probably return to add more."
"Yeah, me too," she said. "I'll write some pages on the cog headquarters. Ok?"
"Alright," he agreed. "Oh, and what's your name?"
"Ok, I guess I'll see you later, Lily."
After she left, Evina remained at the table and rubbed his head. The way Toontown's history had disappeared, the way it was being blotted out with false information, was immensely frustrating to him. Yet, somehow, it was a relief to know of someone who understood this. It was proof he wasn't actually going crazy. In fact, he didn't believe this had happened to him before. He felt like she understood more than history. It was like she understood him as a person. She didn't suddenly reject his existence, even after seeing his gray eyes. And there was no doubt she had heard all the lies the media said about him and his friends. He couldn't explain it, but it was powerful, and it was rare. And at a time when he felt so alone, he knew he needed a friend more than ever before. And so, without knowing what he was doing, he stood up and briskly walked to the exit.
For a second, he was afraid he missed her, but she was seen walking away down the street. Nobody else was around, just like before. The rain was surely due to start soon. But he couldn't stop thinking about her. All he could do was walk and keep her image in sight.
For a few minutes, all they did was walk. Eventually, she glanced over her shoulder and saw him. A look of confusion came over her face, and she stopped walking. "Why are you following me?"
Evina was speechless. He didn't think to prepare for this, so he shrugged. "I really wish I knew."
She stared back at him, looking deep in thought.
"Uh, it doesn't bother you... does it?"
She smiled warmly. "No." She walked up to him, so they were face to face. "It's ok. I understand." She kissed him on the cheek, then turned and quickly left.
Evina stood still for a while; he didn't know how long. The rain began, just as he had predicted, and he became drenched. Inside, he felt a mixture of pain and joy. The Shadow clearly didn't like her, but Evina didn't care about what it thought. This one time he chose to live his life without its opinion. He felt amazing. Was this what love felt like? He couldn't help but smile just a little and watched her disappear before turning around to go home.
"I know that look," Lily said.
Evina woke up from his trance. "What?"
"You were remembering something."
"Cool! So, what was it?"
"It was the first day we met."
"I remember it well, and it feels just like yesterday."
"Yes, and not much has changed since then."
"What do you mean?"
"The world is still dark and miserable, and I'm still dark and miserable, and I don't think The Shadow likes you either."
"I'd like to see The Shadow and give it a piece of my mind," she said defiantly.
"Thanks," he said in a voice without emotion.
"And I still can't believe you like me," she continued. "I'm so weird, I don't know what you see in me."
Evina was surprised, and he pointed to his eyes. "If you don't think this is weird then I don't know what is!"
"Ok, so we're both weird. How is that a bad thing? Is it so bad to be different?"
"Apparently, it is to others," Evina mumbled. "I don't know why I'm still concerned about what people think of me. I guess it was one of the last things I had left, my reputation, my legacy. And now it's being forgotten."
"But I thought you didn't like all the attention," she said.
"I know, but it's not just me they've forgotten. The toons forget how they banded together to fight the cogs," he explained. "They were strong, and now they are weak. And if I can't be famous, I certainly don't want to be hated. It's kind of confusing, and I don't know how else to describe it."
At that moment, the waitress came up to them. She took a pencil and notepad from her apron pocket to take their order. "Ok, so what'll it be for you two today?"
"I'll have a double chocolate banana special," she said. "What about you?"
Evina didn't move. "Uh, I think I'll pass."
The waitress walked away, and Lily looked back at him with puzzlement. "What? You usually get two malts for yourself. What's happening to you?"
Evina looked down at the table. "I'm just not feeling so well today."
"You mean, even worse than normal?"
"Yeah. I did quit my job, after all."
"And I still can't believe you did that."
"I can't seem to shake this feeling that something's wrong."
"Wrong with what?"
"I had this vision long ago about some kind of evil force that waited for me in the future, and it still haunts me. It hasn't gone away, even after all this time."
"Could it possibly be s<um or d!rt or the sun?"
"No, this is so much worse," he insisted. "And I don't think it will stop bothering me until I find out what it is."
"Are you sure you have to do this?" she asked.
Evina still couldn't look at her. "Yeah, I think I am destined to face this, and I don't even know what to do about it. But I can't sit here doing nothing anymore. I have to try something before it's too late." He stood up suddenly.
"Where are you going?"
"I don't know, but I have to do it now, and I have to do it alone." Now he had the urge to leave. He had to do this now. He quickly dropped some money on the table and walked to the door.
Lily was looking extremely worried. "Are you sure? Because... I don't want you to leave."
Evina turned around and looked into her sad eyes. "I will really miss you too. I'm sorry, Lily." And with that, he opened the door and left.
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