The Legend of Toontown

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Chapter 9

The Cave

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	After much pestering and pleading, Gyro finally gave into the pressure. He decided to drop out of hyperspace early to find a world to rest on. The group had suffered a lot of stress, and everyone wanted to get some real fresh air without any more threats to their lives. They gave their newest member of the crew, Kate, the opportunity to choose the next world. She chose one without any hesitation.
	The ship descended onto a sandy beach on what appeared to be an uninhabited world. They unfastened their seatbelts and stepped outside into the chilly air.
	Evina took a look around. The sky was gray, but everything around them was surprisingly serene. It was almost kind of sad, and the feelings that he had been hiding time and time before were beginning to surface again. He began to realize that, if he didn't deal with this now, he wouldn't be able to face whatever lay ahead.
	"I'm leaving now."
	Gyro was inspecting the still dented exterior of his ship. "Why?"
	"I need some time alone. It's hard to explain."
	"Oh, well ok then. We'll be busy here. The ship needs to charge a lot, and this is the perfect time for repairs."
	"I can help," Glue Stick said.
	"Yes, I was planning on having you help. There's a whole lot to do," Gyro responded.
	"Then afterward I need to teach you some of the basics of fighting and defense," Kate added.
	The others looked like they would do well on their own. Evina took a flashlight from the ship because he had a hunch he was going to need it. He didn't know where he was going, but that didn't matter right now.
	Further along on the beach, he sat down on a rock and looked out at the dark waters of the ocean. Just like the beach at Harry's island, he had thought about some of his personal concerns. But still, the sky was as dark as the water. Dark like the feelings inside him that he couldn't shake off.
	The thing that lived inside of him he felt he needed to understand. He knew there was a reason why that curse was given to him, and he had to discover what it was. If not, he strongly believed that his chances for any lasting happiness were slim if not nonexistent.
	The rock he was sitting on was still too close to the others. He felt like he needed to explore some more and find someplace even more secluded. So, he followed the beach without knowing how far he would go. He just walked without stopping to see anything. Then about half an hour later, he paused to notice the cliff by the beach, how it was now so high, and the rock was so smooth. Something caught his eye, something very interesting. It was a cave in the side of the cliff. He took the flashlight out of his pocket knowing that his instincts had been right once again.
	He didn't even try to guess how deep the cave was because it seemed to go back as far as he could see. The flashlight only illuminated a small area in front of him. But there was no fear that could stop him now. He was on a quest to save himself from the forces that held him down.
	The very moment he entered, the sounds of the wind and waves faded away. He had to rely on the flashlight to guide his way. In and out of the tunnels he wove, going ever deeper into the unknown, and it didn't seem to bother him as much as he thought. Mineral formations were seen after not much time had passed. This included many little crystals that sparkled eerily. Sometimes he would pause to stare at something, but then he continued onward. The path became steep, but still, he marched downward until he arrived at a large pool of water with a small island at its center. From what he saw, it appeared to be the end of the tunnel, so he sat at the pool's edge. He looked down at his reflection in the water. It was perfectly still, and his faint image was realistic like it was a mirror.
	All I see is utter uselessness. I was a tool that was helpful for saving the world, but now there is no place in that world for me. I am abominable, a freak show, a pained soul who needs relief from his suffering and whom everyone else wants to get rid of. Maybe the ending of the cogs would have been more impressive if everyone had died heroically. Good job for ruining everything once again, Evina. Do people really love me? No, they don't. They love being famous and thinking they're related to someone famous. My chances of real love are zilch. Nobody cares for me, the genuine me. Wait a second, who even is the real me? Are these feelings me? Were my feelings as a 'toon' a different individual, of someone who died in a way that day, or have I yet to discover my real self? Maybe my existence has been different with this thing inside. Who would I be without it? Only my father tries to understand me, and that doesn't count for much because he's in this same mess and has been in it longer than I have.
	He turned off the flashlight. Now it was absolutely dark and silent, except for the occasional drip of water. There were no more distractions and nobody around to see him, so this was the time that he needed to let his feelings work out. He didn't stop thinking about it. He let the anger, loneliness, and sadness crush him. He wanted all the emotions to come. He let them rip through his soul. He understood the feeling of complete isolation from others and the knowledge that he had never been free. He had been controlled and emotionally drained by a strange thing his whole life. The horror burned his mind in ways that words couldn't describe. He begged for relief. He longed for understanding. He wanted others to understand even though he had no way to properly express it. Then he unexpectedly thought about his mother, the one he had never known. She must have been someone who could comfort him and give him advice. Why did she have to die? What kind of cruel, sick world would let that happen? Was there no justice?
	As this train of thought continued, he felt increasingly unstable, and it was almost tangible. Inside his mind, he felt like he was getting dangerously close to a precipice. Soon he felt like he was only hanging by thread. It was uncomfortable, something he didn't understand, and yet it felt so real. What's happening? But then, at that moment of panic, before he could know what was happening, his mind fell.
	His memories flashed by violently as he plunged back and back in time. There was no control and no way to stop it. He continued speeding backward and feared there would be no end. But eventually, he hit rock bottom. He couldn't fall further, because there was nowhere else to go. He had reached the very beginning.

	The vision was blurry. Evina tried to focus his eyes to see where he was.
	"Wow," Gyro spoke softly. His clothes were cleaner, he looked younger, his eyes were normal, and his face was full of admiration. "I can't believe it. I have a son."
	"Yes, and he's beautiful," an unfamiliar female spoke. It was Evina's mother. She gazed down at her newborn child covered in thin, fuzzy red feathers.
	"We shall call him Springwidget after my great uncle's second cousin once removed."
	The mother gave Gyro a cynical smile. "I'm not saying I don't respect your family and their traditions, but I think he deserves something different."
	"What did you have in mind?"
	"Well, have you noticed how there are so many toons born with colors these days? It used to be rare, and now there's hardly one that's not vividly bright."
	"What about it?"
	"It means something, Gyro. This world is changing. Things are going to happen, and I'm afraid it won't be good."
	"Sorry if I don't understand you, but what does this have to do with his name?"
	"I want his name to be Evina. You know, 'the hero' from the old toon language?"
	"Yeah, I remember."
	"He is going to do great things. I can't tell you how I know, but you must trust me. This kid is special. Do you promise you're going to raise him well?"
	Gyro gulped and stepped back. "Yeah, you know he's my son. But darling, there's nothing bad that's going to happen. You need to relax."
	The mother didn't answer. She simply stroked Evina's tiny feathers on his head. He was sleeping calmly.
	The father bent over the duckling. "Hey, Evina. I'm your dad. And I hope you know how lucky you are to have the world's best mother." Evina continued sleeping peacefully. "Hmm, you probably already know that," he smiled. Then he walked away.
	The mother went to the crib to set him down, but before she left the room she paused. "Evina... life may be tough," she whispered. A tear formed in her eye. "You need to be brave. You can't ever give up." Evina was tucked into his bed, and the light was turned off. "And always remember how much I love you."

	Evina rushed back into his body in the present time. He was crying and couldn't stop it. The emotions flowed freely for a couple minutes until he noticed something coming in through the corner of his eye. It was too hard to ignore. It appeared to be a faint light.
	He calmed down and opened his eyes. There actually was some eerie silver light forming over the island in the pool of water in the cave. He checked and confirmed that the flashlight wasn't turned on. This wasn't supposed to be possible, but yet it was.
	The light was swirling softly and grew brighter. It pulled together into a form, a living form. It was a beautiful white duck who glowed in a mesmerizing and ghostly way.
	"Mom?"
	The figure spotted him and smiled. "Hello, Evina."
	Evina jumped to his feet and backed away slowly. He couldn't be sure it wasn't an illusion. "I... I saw you in the forest."
	"Yes, that was me," she affirmed.
	"How is that possible? Aren't you... dead?"
	"There are some places where the connection is more sensitive. The forest was one, and so is this cave. But let's not worry about the details right now."
	"Wow," gasped Evina. He sat down slowly and put a hand to his head. No words were spoken. He just stared at the figure of his mother, trying to take in the realization that he was really talking with her. She too remained silent, sitting leisurely on the island with her eyes fixed lovingly on him. This lasted for a few minutes.
	"So, is there anything you want to say?" she finally inquired.
	"Yes! How did you die?"
	Lowering her head, she sighed. "I knew you were going to ask that. But is it really that important? Will the answer really help you at all, or will it just give you something more to be angry about?" Evina couldn't answer so she continued. "I'll only tell you this: It wasn't anyone's fault. There is not a single individual that can be blamed for it. Life simply comes with tragedies, and one of them happened to me."
	"Ok." Evina accepted her answer. "So, then why have you been following me?"
	She looked shocked. "Why wouldn't I? I'm your mother! Someone needs to look after you. Your father obviously didn't take that responsibility seriously."
	Evina suddenly felt a twinge of sadness for his father who had broken his promise to care for his son. "I know he regrets his mistakes."
	"Yes, I forgive him," the mother said, "and I'm glad you have come to a resolution with him as well. He needs you just as much as you need him. Don't lose your connection to your father or you will feel even more isolated and alone. But even then, remember that you aren't ever alone. I've seen all of the amazing things you have done, and you are living up to your name."
	"Thanks," he replied quietly. He knew that what he had been through and done was amazing, but this was no time to be boastful. He hadn't done anything special to survive. It was the all due to the parasitic entity. "Oh, do you know about this thing that's living inside of me?"
	"I do."
	"What is it?"
	She smiled apologetically. "I'm afraid you will have to figure that out for yourself."
	Evina was frustrated, but it only lasted a moment. He couldn't feel angry when looking into his mother's face.
	"But mom, it has ruined me. Now I have all these expectations that I never asked for. I can't get anyone to like me, let alone love me. I hate myself and feel so worthless inside. You can't understand."
	"Well, maybe I should give you something more to think about," she suggested. "If you never asked for it, then how can you blame yourself for anything? You've never done a single thing in your life to hurt someone. You haven't fallen short of anything when you did the best you could do. That's considered winning in my book. How can you think you are worthless?"
	"Hmm, I never thought about it in that way before," Evina admitted, scratching his head.
	"That's why you need some motherly advice every once in a while," she teased. "Don't immediately believe everything you feel. Oh, and regarding love, you will eventually find what you desire so long as it is right."
	"And it is right... right?"
	"Yes," she confirmed. "You won't be as alone as you think you are. And those companions you have up there at the ship, you may not think much of them, but they can become your closest friends if you would let them be."
	Evina considered this for a while. Every moment he listened to his mother was so liberating and comforting to his mind.
	"Do you want to know anything else before I leave?" she asked.
	"What? You have to go?"
	"I'm so sorry, but all good things can't last forever."
	Evina was shocked. He didn't want her to ever leave his sight again. "Then please... just tell me one more thing. How is it you are talking to me?"
	She carefully stood up and stared into his face with her beautifully radiant eyes. "Isn't it obvious? Evina, I live within you. My love is what binds us together, and that's why you will never be truly alone."
	Evina watched in wonder and terror as the light started to dim, and her image slowly faded until it yielded to the empty darkness of the cave. He was physically left alone, still questioning the reality of all that he had seen. The tears continued spilling from his eyes. There were so many questions that were still unanswered, and they might not ever be answered, but he didn't care about it right now. He knew with certainty that he was loved, and that was all that mattered.

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