Eleven year-old Ross just walked into his new school for the first time. It was scary for him to be in a new middle school after moving out of Kansas, leaving all his friends behind. It was obvious he stuck out like a sore thumb when he first went there.
He was outside during his first recess at school. He saw no one willing to hang out or talk to him, so he took it upon himself. He saw a group of kids playing soccer on the school's field.
"Hey, guys," he tried to say cheerfully. "Can I play?"
"No!" said one of the kids in a snobby way.
"Sorry, but we got plenty of players."
"Yeah, we're all good."
The kids resumed their game of soccer, leaving Ross feeling very rejected and hopeless. He looked down at the ground and was about to start walking away until he saw one of the kids wasn't playing soccer with the rest of the kids anymore.
"Hey," the one kid said. "I'm Mike. And I don't want to play soccer anymore."
Ross was pretty confused. "Why not?"
"Uh…I don't know. Got bored with it, I guess. Hey, you don't look very familiar…you new here?"
"Yeah. My name's Ross."
"Hey, Ross," he said cheerfully. "I'm Mike."
"Hey, Mike," Ross said, trying to respond just as cheerfully.
"Don't worry about those guys," Mike tried to comfort. "They're dumb, anyway."
"I…wasn't worrying about them," Ross lied.
Before Ross even realized what had happened, he and Mike were walking around the school yard, talking as if they had been best friends for years. They just made small talk for the most part, but at least Ross now had a friend.
Ross smacked himself awake. "Gah! Will you stop thinking about that kind of stuff?!" he ordered himself out loud. "It's over and done with. All your adventures are over. Don't even THINK about starting to think back to how all of them started."
He was lying on the bed in his room and staring up at the ceiling, even though it was just about entirely blank. "Oh, man…what's wrong?"
He stat up and forced a smile on his face and he tried to pretend he was in the best mood he was ever in. "You know what? I'm done with those adventures now. I'm just gonna relax and enjoy everything now."
Ross sprang up from his bed and put his hands on his hips. He just stared out the window and tried to enjoy the scenery while being able to know full well for the first time that everything was truly over for him as far as any more adventures went.
"You should've seen Ross!" Mike said at their lunch table.
It was about three days later and everyone was heading back to school after taking a short amount of time to try and regroup from the monsters attacking the town. He, Ross and Alicia were sitting at their table and eating the typically unhealthy lunches again. Ross still seemed a bit down, but Mike was acting about as excited as he was pictured to act at graduation.
"Ross took the sword…" Mike said as he picked up his plastic knife, "and shoved it right through the monster like this!"
Saying this, Mike plunged the knife into the center of the chicken fillet in front of him, even though it was hardly an accurate representation of what actually happened.
"Oh, man, you should've seen it!" Mike finished.
"Yeah…it was a pretty good fight," Ross admitted.
"Um…yeah," Alicia said, obviously not wanting to talk about it that much. "Hey, do you guys know if the End of the Year dance is still on?"
"Why wouldn't it be?" Ross asked as he took a large sip from his milk carton.
"I dunno. It's just that the teachers are complaining about their pay and the town is still kind of a mess after what happened. I dunno…I just think worrying about a school dance is kind of weird right now."
"Not really," Ross answered as if the solution was simple. "From what I heard, the tickets to that dance sold pretty well. That's a lot of extra money the school raised, you know."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Not to mention what happened here is now national news," he added. "Scientist and researchers are gonna be paying a fortune to come here and do research to see if they can find anything out about those monsters. Heh…poor guys."
"So…you think the dance is still on?" Alicia asked.
"Yeah. I think so."
Mike leaned back in his chair and smiled. "Wow, Ross! Who are ya gonna bring to it?!" he sarcastically asked.
"He already promised he'd go with me!" Alicia said proudly.
"Yeah. I did, didn't I?"
Mike laughed a little. "Oh, what the hay. School's gonna be ending in a few weeks, and I always love the end of the year. Maybe I'll go too just for kicks."
"Who ya bringing?" Ross asked.
"Me? Are you kidding? There's no girl stupid enough to go with me."
"Oh, come on, Mike!" Alicia said. "I'm sure there's someone who'd love to go with you! Just go ask someone and I'm sure they'll say 'yes'!"
Mike looked a little nervous. "Eh…I don't think so. What if they're already going with someone? Or what if they just think I'm a weirdo? I mean, you guys are my best friends, and you probably think I'm nuts."
"Only 'cause you are," Ross answered as shoveled a fork full of food into his mouth.
"But that's why we love you," Alicia said sweetly. "Go on. Ask someone if you want to."
"Uh…I really don't…"
Ross nearly spit his food out from laughing when he realized what was happening. "Mike, you should've said something earlier!"
"What are you talking about?"
"If you were afraid to ask someone, all you had to do was ask me for help!"
Mike's teeth gritted and he inched back into his seat. "I…I'm not afraid or embarrassed to ask!"
"If you're not, then how come your face is turning the same color as Ross's did that time I made him come with me to a tanning salon and he didn't put on enough sunscreen?!" Alicia yelled excitedly.
Several weeks passed and it was now the End of the Year dance. The school was packed with kids celebrating the end of yet another year of school, jamming to loud music and drinking a seemingly endless supply of soda, punch (that was alcohol-free) or water or stuffing their faces with some unhealthy looking food that the school put weeks into making that they knew wouldn't last the night.
Ross was in a small corner of the school straightening his collar and patting down on his hair to make sure it looked just the way he wanted it to. When he was ready, he went back into the cafeteria where the main party was and saw Alicia waiting for him. She was sitting at a table, and the only person sitting next to her was Mike.
"Hey. D'ya miss me?" Ross asked as he came back in.
"You know we did," Mike sarcastically answered. "Man, I can't believe you guys brought me here. I could've spent the entire night watching movies on TV and falling asleep on the couch."
"And I can't believe you didn't have the guts to ask someone to come with you," Alicia retorted.
Ross laughed softly to himself as he listened to the bickering between his two friends.
The night went on and eventually Ross found himself sitting down and just taking everything in rather than actually dancing or doing something. And as always, Alicia came to taunt him about it.
"Hey! Did you spend fifteen bucks just to sit and watch?!" she yelled.
"No, but there's nothing to do."
"Oh, really?!" Alicia said. "Come on. You and me. Dance floor. Now."
"No way," Ross said. "There haven't been any good songs. And if that stupid one starts playing again and I can't get it out of my head for the rest of the night, I just might scream."
"Oh, relax," she said. "Look. A nice slow one is playing now. Get up there!"
"All right, all right!" Ross gave in.
He stood up and accompanied Alicia to the dance floor. It was a slow moving song, so naturally everyone was just moving around slowly and gracefully; Ross and Alicia were no exception. (The only rough part came when Ross turned around while dancing and saw Mike was still sitting down but was pretending to be dancing with someone. He was trying to mock Ross, and Ross's response was mouthing, "Shut up" to him)
"Hey, Ross, how you feeling?" Alicia asked a while in.
"I…truly and honestly have to go to the bathroom," he answered.
"Sure you do."
"No. Really. I do."
He forced himself out of her arms and walked quickly out of the room and into the bathroom. Just as he finished up and went over to the sink to wash his hands, he looked in the mirror and stared at his reflection for a while.
Ross and Mike from just a few days before were in the Lair of the Everlasting. Mike was hardly conscious and able to fight, and Ross was almost at the end of his strength as well.
He latched onto the Everlasting and stuck the sword through the Everlasting. The white lights burst from it and filled up the entire room, making it impossible to see anything. Then it was quiet…
It was all over…the final adventure had come to its end.
"Hey, wake up, man," Ross said as he smacked himself yet again. "Come on. You're supposed to be partying tonight. Go out there and have fun."
He walked out of the bathroom and back out into the cafeteria, only to see the song was over and everyone was back to dancing as they were before. He took one last look in at everyone before seeing Mike sitting alone at the table.
"Hey, Mike," Ross said as he walked over, "Where'd Alicia go?"
"Just to get a snack or something, probably."
"Hmmm…could you tell her I went outside?"
"Sure thing, buddy."
Ross turned around and went to one of the side doors. He stepped outside and savored the crisp, almost summer air. He looked up and saw that the moon was only about half full, but there were plenty of stars in the sky to make up for the lost light of the missing moon.
He sighed and stood around for a few seconds before a noise surprised him. He jumped, but turned around and saw that it was Alicia. He smiled when he saw her come out, and she, too, was smiling.
She didn't say a word as she walked over to him. She moved a bit slowly, maybe to savor the moment.
When she finally came over to Ross, she stood right next to him and they both stared up at the night sky for a long while. There was absolutely nothing going on around them, and for once, it seemed like they were perfectly at peace with the world.
Then they slowly turned their heads towards each other. They smiled for a short amount of time before they began inching their faces close together. Both of them slowly got closer and closer until they were practically touching. Then it happened.
Ross and Alicia slowly brought their lips to each other and had their first kiss. It lasted several seconds, and it felt as if everything around them had completely stopped and this would be one moment that would last forever.
Ross felt like he weighed virtually nothing when it happened, and when it finally ended, he knew that everything that had happened up to this point was well worth it.
They both smiled at each other long after it was over. Then they turned their attention back up to the sky, feeling more happiness now than they ever had at any point in their lives.
But then the sound of the doors opening behind them rang through the silence and startled them both. They turned around and saw Mike standing in the doors, although it was obvious he was there for only a second. And even though he missed the big moment, he could easily tell that it had just happened.
Mike walked over to them both. They both continued grinning as he advanced.
When he finally got there, he went over to Alicia and gave her a hug. He then turned to Ross like he wanted something.
Still smiling, Ross stuck out his hand and gave Mike a high-five that echoed through the night.
There it is: the end of Everlasting. And if you couldn't figure it out from reading, that's my last Ross and Mike story as well. That's right. It's all over for Ross and Mike now.
While they weren't a lot of them this time (a very disappointing amount, in fact) I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to review this. Pyro Emo Punk, Bob Evans and Carmel March (and anyone else) thank you very much for reviewing this. It's good to know that all of this wasn't a COMEPLETE waste of time.
Anyway, into my obligatory rant of how I came up with ideas for this story. I wanted to write another Ross and Mike story ever since around last Christmas and I had several ideas for a plot, but after a few weeks, it was obvious that those ideas just weren't working. So I simply scratched those ideas and instead worked on other stories in the mean time.
Work on this really started picking up months ago. Even when working on Strong to Save and Before It's Too Late, I was still thinking of ideas for a Ross and Mike story that sounded more promising than the one I originally had.
It was before the first chapter of Before It's Too Late even got posted that I decided I wanted to write a Ross and Mike story that made everything more connected instead of just making it a separate adventure that could make it on its own. So I just started brainstorming ideas until I came up with eventually having a group of scientists working on special monsters, and having some of those scientist be killed from previous stories.
Initially Xavian was going to be the main villain and the final scene was supposed to be the fight scene at the physics-defying lab. After a little bit more thought, I considered the idea of having something happen to Mike during the fight (like getting sent through a portal, which was an early idea that stuck to me) and promptly ending the story, leaving a cliffhanger and keeping the possibility of a direct sequel wide open. The sequel would have been written several months later.
I started thinking about ideas for what would be on the other side of the portal Mike got stuck in, but when I was trying to think, a thought occurred to me. By then, I realized I had been writing Ross and Mike stories for a long time, and if that were to keep up, then about every third story I'd write would be another Ross and Mike adventure, and I thought it would be boring quickly to just continuously write with the same characters over and over. (in addition to having to spend too much time focusing on the next Ross and Mike story)
So after realizing that, I decided I probably wanted the series to end. So after working on Before It's Too Late while still brainstorming ideas for (what would soon be called) Everlasting, I was pretty much sure that this would be the last story and the sequel would close it up for good. But after thinking a bit longer, I decided I wanted the last story to go out with a bang and to really be something I could be happy with to end the series. Ultimately I decided I wanted the last story to be one larger one, not two directly-related adventures (with the second one being Ross's attempt to rescue Mike from the portal)
From there I just had to decide what was going to be on the other side of the portal and trying to connect the two stories. The rest is just me coming up with ideas for the giant monster created by the monsters and eventually coming up with "Everlasting".
There it is. There's the process of how I came up with this story (in a nutshell…sort of) and how I decided it would be the final entry in the Ross and Mike series.
Of course, it feels a bit weird to be ending it all right here and now. In fact, it was around this time in September 2001 that I wrote the first story as a school assignment, and so many kids liked it that I decided to write a sequel. From there I really found out how much I enjoyed writing their adventures. But as you probably deduced, those were written when I was younger. People loved them back then, but looking at them today I can hardly bear to read them; they just seem that much inferior. (But that's to be expected, isn't it?)
So ten of the twenty adventures (two being one larger story separated into two parts) were written within a year after the series started, and then they both obviously took more time to write.
I wanted this story to be finished at around the time of the sixth anniversary of the series, and at first it was moving so slow and the reviews seemed so petty I didn't think it would happen, but somehow it did.
In case you couldn't guess, there were several references to the older stories in addition to the ones that were pretty critical to the plot of this one. Just for memory's sake (you can skip them) I'm going to list all the separate ones and their completion dates:
1.) Ross Takes a Stand-
Late September 2001
2.) The Adventures of Ross and Mike- Mid October 2001
3.) Trapped on Planet Zoda- Late November 2001
4.) Ross Inside Mike- Early December 2001
5.) Return of Big Sad Sobber- Mid January 2002
6.) Beast of Burden- Mid March 2002
7.) Kid With the Golden Gums- Mid April 2002
8.) Once Friends, Now Enemies- Mid May 2002
9.) Forever is Yesterday- Early June 2002
10.) "The Mole People" (changed title)- August 2002
11.) Lucky Not- Late October 2002
12.) Return of Zozu: Part 1- February (?) 2003
13.) Return of Zozu: Part 2- March (?) 2003
14.) Weapons of a Dangerous Mind- March (?) 2003
15.) War of Meridell- Mid April 2003
16.) Monsters in Toyland- Late May 2003
17.) Camp Glaregon- Late August 2004
18.) Two Zones- Mid May 2005
19.) The End of Time- Late October 2006
20.) Everlasting- Late September 2007
As you can see, they really became less frequent over the years. The stories have grown a lot since then, with many of the early ones being shorter than literally one chapter of this one. Yes, they got longer and took longer to write as time went on, but I think this one is easily longer than the other nineteen put together.
So after deciding this was going to be it, I wanted to make sure that just about all questions were resolved and something happened to let everyone know that this truly was the end and there was no other way they could possibly get drawn into another adventure.
That's just about it. I know this one was a bit longer than the other "ending messages" I've written in the past, but when a series ends after six years, I think it's appropriate to take some extra time to remember everything that's happened since the beginning of it all.
I said long ago that if I stopped writing Ross and Mike stories, I wouldn't miss the two characters, but I'd definitely miss writing their stories. I'm still going to feel that way, but everything has to come to an end, and I think those two are long overdue for their curtain to fall. So yes, I'm going to miss writing these stories, but maybe Ross and Mike can finally get some peace now.
On a side note, I also decided that after having a few jokes made about my pen name (And I, too, think it's a little…weird) I've decided to change it. I waited until this was over to do it, but from this point on, you'll no longer refer to me as Velkan the Impaler.
Saturday, September 22, 2007, 1:22 p.m.
THE ROSS AND MIKE SAGA: September 2001 – September 2007
And now, the first new sneak peak of a story since the day Before It's Too Late debuted…
"You've got the job," Lisa says. She's a woman in her early forties in a Park Ranger's uniform. She shakes the hand of an eighteen-year old. "Welcome to Arbur Winslow State Forest, Collin."
"Thank you," Collin says as he shakes her hand.
-"Collin, why'd you want to work here?"
A knife is stuck in a middle aged man's neck. Someone rips the knife out and runs off with it.
-"Because I like being outdoors. That's why."
-"Collin…why are you REALLY here?"
Collin is at a police station. "Please, sir, can you reopen the Arbur Winslow murder case?!"
A dark figure is seen dropping something into a shallow hole in the dirt and covering it up. A graffiti coated sign on a tree is seen, and then it's gone.
Sergeant Teneire of the police department looks grim. "Not unless you can give me a reason to reopen it, Collin."
"I want to find out what happened there a year ago!"
"We all do, Collin. But we have other cases to work on."
"I'll find out who did it!"
Collin is in a police questioning room, talking to the person called in. "Tell the truth…I know you're hiding something!"
"I have no idea who killed Scott!"
A murder at a state forest…a trail gone cold…a killer on the loose…
A prosecutor is walking up to Collin, who's sitting on the witness stand in court.
"Mr. Bansen, would you point to the murderer in this case?" the prosecutor asks.
Collin slowly raises his hands and, very nervously, points it at someone.
THE NIGHT SHIFT