The Legend of Toontown

Generations

Chapter 9

Memories

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	"Freddie, stop drawing pictures and get over here."
	A young boy sat in his messy room, leaning over a mess of papers covered in detailed doodles. He ignored the voice and continued drawing with his crayon.
	"Freddie! For the last time, I told you to stop!"
	The boy threw down the crayon. "Ok, I'm coming."
	"Don't use that tone with me!"
	Evina looked up and saw the angry woman, standing with her hands on her hips, tapping her foot. "This obsession of yours has to stop," she said.
	"It's just pictures," the boy said.
	"Is it?" she shot back. "It's taking up all of your time. You never play with the other children at school. Your teacher tells me your grades are getting worse. I can't allow you to become a hermit. Why are you doing this?"
	"I have to let them move," the boy said.
	"What?"
	"They're not happy if I don't let them move," he said. "That's why I have to draw them."
	"Why are you talking about these drawings as if they're people. They aren't real."
	"Yes, they are," he protested. "They live in the paper!"
	The mother walked to the papers and scooped them up. "Let's see what Doctor Schwartz has to say about this!"

	The scene suddenly changed to a small office. The doctor leaned back in his chair and stared at the woman through his thick glasses. "I've made a thorough evaluation, and he appears to be normal."
	"But, don't you think his drawing—"
	"It's perfectly normal for children to create make-believe worlds as well as have imaginary friends. Fred's creations just happen to be more elaborate than most."
	"But what about school? What about his lack of friends?"
	"Maybe the other children are avoiding him because they don't understand him. Personally, I see no harm in his fantasies as long as they don't become violent."
	The mother was seething. "So, you're just another quack. How many so-called experts will I have to see before I have to take matters into my own hands?"
	"Ah, I would not suppress this if I were you. That may hurt his fragile psyche. His creativity should be given room to grow. Someday it may blossom into something beautiful. He might even have a promising career in animation."
	"Animation? No, no, no! It won't do. His father insists that he become a lawyer. It is the family profession."
	"Well, you may take my advice or not, but I have offered my professional insight."
	"And I have offered my hundred dollars for nothing," she muttered.

	The scene changed again to a hall inside a school. Fred looked into the mirror in his locker and combed his hair back. Then he winked at himself with a smile. "You are one cool cat, Johnson. I can't wait for the dance. I wonder what the girls will say tonight."
	"What girls?" a voice shouted. Fred turned around to see another boy. He wore sunglasses and a leather jacket. And he was accompanied by some fierce-looking cronies.
	Fred's heart rate increased. "You heard me?"
	"That's right," the bully answered. "I thought I heard someone talking to himself like a lunatic. And it makes me wonder, why would any girl want to think about a worthless no-good freak like you?"
	"A freak? Have you seen yourself lately? Your dad's jacket doesn't fit you well."
	The bully stepped forward and grabbed Fred by his collar. "Don't play games with me, Johnson. You couldn't win a fight with a toddler, let alone me. You know that, right?"
	Fred nervously gulped and nodded.
	"So, you do know something after all. I suggest you leave the girls alone tonight. I don't want a weirdo like you scaring all the good ones away." He pushed Fred to the ground and dumped the contents of his locker on him. "If you want a girlfriend so badly, why don't you draw one?"
	The cronies laughed crudely and gave the bully a high-five. Then they turned and walked back the way they came.
	Fred stayed on the ground for a minute, trying to hold back the tears in his eyes. One day, however far away it was, he knew he would have the last laugh. He would show the world what he could do. Then nobody would laugh at his drawings ever again.

	Fred sighed loudly and slammed the newspaper down on the table. He lifted his hands and rubbed his eyes. Evina saw that they were now in a tiny, dilapidated apartment.
	Fred was growing restless. Money was getting scarcer every month. He didn't know if he would able to pay next month's rent. If only he hadn't had an outburst at the store. As much as he hated it, at least it was a stable job, and any job was better than none.
	He turned to look at a paper pinned to the wall. It listed the names of a couple dozen animation studios. Half of them had been crossed-out. "Why won't they get back to me? Didn't they see the work I sent them? Can't they see that I have the talent?"
	Just at that moment of despair, the phone began to ring. Fred jumped up and frantically ran over to pick it up. "Um, hello?"
	"Is this Mr. Fred Johnson?"
	"Yes, this is he," he replied anxiously. This felt like the longest moment of his life.
	"I'm following up on your application to our animation department. Mr. Disney was impressed with your work and would like to see you for an interview. Would tomorrow work out for you?"
	Fred could hardly contain his excitement. "Tomorrow would be perfect!" he exclaimed.
	"Sounds good. We'll see you then." The person on the other end hung up.
	Fred stood motionless and listened to the dial tone for a minute. Then he dropped to his knees. "Yes, finally!" he cried out.

	The scene changed once again. But this time, there was no joy in it. Fred was petrified with fear. He sat in a chair in front of an empty desk. He had a blank expression on his face. His eyes no longer had any color. They had become gray.
	After a couple minutes of painful waiting, he was startled by the door. It opened with a squeak.
	A man walked inside, strolled to the desk, and sat down. Although Evina had never seen him before, he immediately knew who he was.
	"Mr. Disney," Fred whispered. "I can explain. I—"
	Walt held up a hand to silence him. "You don't need to say anything," he said. He pulled a cigarette from his pocket and lit it. The silence was awfully tedious. But eventually, he spoke again. "What you did today was over the line, Fred."
	Fred didn't reply. There was another minute of silence.
	"I thought we were friends," Walt continued. "I thought we had an understanding. I thought you were brilliant. You are so darn talented, after all. But then..." he paused, and his face tightened in frustration. "You had to go and throw it all away. That was months of work, Fred. And not just animation work, but our whole relationship. How could you do it?"
	Once again, Fred couldn't find the words to speak. He didn't know if he was supposed to speak. He sat there in awful silence. Every second was agony. But before Walt could speak again, he mustered the strength to open his mouth. "Sir," he protested. "I couldn't help myself. You know how I can be sometimes."
	"I know that you can be a violent lunatic. Is that what you mean?"
	"No, sir. You see, ever since I found a mysterious black rock, I haven't been feeling like myself. It's like I'm angrier than I was before. It's like something has changed inside of me. What I've created here is something that only I can control, and when it got out of hand, I had to stop it. I know this doesn't make any sense. I wish I could do something to make up for it. But... I can't."
	Walt stared at him for another minute. "Interesting," he muttered.
	"What?"
	"It makes perfect sense to me," Walt replied. "I too have had experiences that nobody understands. Trying to explain them to a man is hard enough without having him think you're crazy, but maybe you are just crazy enough to get it."
	Fred shrugged. "Maybe," he said. He was still scared and confused.
	"It happened on that fateful day, many years ago," Disney began. "As I was riding that train, I sketched my first drawing of Mickey. I knew he was the toon I had been searching for. He was the one. But then, at that moment of inspiration, my lucky pencil disappeared out of my hand."
	"Wait, a pencil?" Fred asked. He was so confused.
	"It wasn't just any old pencil!" Walt protested. "It was a special pencil. It was the one that brought Mickey to life. And I swear I didn't drop it; it vanished into thin air!"
	"Well that's interesting, I guess, but what does that have to do with me?"
	"What I mean to say is that we all have experiences that we can't understand. We all have streaks of bad luck. We all have disappointments. They happen to you, and they happen to me. But we can't let them define us. We can't let them change us. We can't let them hold us back. You know what I've always said. We must keep moving forward."
	Fred paused again. "Sir, I want to move forward."
	Walt shook his head. "Son, what you did today was a giant step backward for all of us. And in this business, we can't afford to take risks like that. You had your chance and you blew it. Pack your stuff because, after today, you won't ever step foot in this building again."
	Fred stood up, but he felt so lightheaded that he thought he might fall over. "I understand, sir," he said. But the words weren't true.
	He turned around and walked to the door, but he was not as calm as he looked. He was brimming with rage. He didn't know how the darkness had influenced him, but it had complete power over him now. He had become another creature.
	He was angry at his coworkers for changing his designs. He was angry at Walt for not giving him a second chance. He was angry at his family for shunning him after he followed his dream. But most of all, he was angry at the toons. His life's work, everything that he had loved had turned against him. He had followed this path hoping that it would bring him happiness, not lead to his destruction. And all of this anger was amplified by the strange presence that was lurking in his mind.
	But he wasn't going to take it sitting down. He had a plan in mind. He knew of their precious secret, the source of their silliness, the land of Toontown. Soon, very soon, the world would see what he was capable of. He was going to tear down the empire of animation from within and watch it burn. Every person and toon who had betrayed him was about to meet their doom.
	Evina was overwhelmed by a feeling of intense fear and hatred, by far the strongest emotion he had ever felt. Horrific images from the following years flashed before his eyes. He saw the wild, evil eyes of Doom, heard the screams of the toons watching their friends being dipped, and watched the fearful humans closing the gateway to Toontown once and for all.
	Evina knew what he had to do. Although he could not see them, he had to free the memory from the insidious vines. Only then could he escape it. He reached out and pulled with all of his might. As he expected, he was seized by an agonizing pain. The vines did not want to release. He had felt it before. It was a battle between embracing the darkness and the desire to overcome it. But finally, after what felt like an eternity, the vines released. The dream ended, and he saw the sphere with his own eyes, shedding the last remains of its cage. What was once dark and diseased now glowed brightly.
	Once he had finished his work, he was no longer needed in the dreamscape. He tried to look for an escape, but it wasn't needed. It seemed he was already on his way out.
	He was thrown backward, and the memories and dreams of countless years whizzed by in a bright blur. Never before had he felt such powerful emotions. All the anger, passion, fear, sadness, and joy of his life and Fred's life overwhelmed his senses. There were music, words, ideas, and sensations that he did not recognize. He was dragged through it all on his violent journey up to the surface. At last, the nightmare was over; or at least this one was. He had no idea what was still ahead.

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