Somehow I managed to get 3000 words out of this. I'm really nervous about it since I'm not used to even hitting the 1000 word mark. Is this even readable? Go on, then. Have at it. I'll see you on the other side.
It was one of those really lazy weekends. You know the sort, don't you? The sky was overcast and little drops of rain fell every few minutes. The air was humid and muggy but you couldn't even really say it was drizzling outside. One hated those kinds of days, thinking the clouds should just make up their damned minds and either let loose a torrent or get the hell away. He was supposed to be hanging out with Five today but was in a particularly sour mood and decided against it. The depressed number had just picked up the phone and was halfway through dialing the number when Five came charging through the front door.
"Let's get this party started!" Five cried as he made his grand entrance. The effect was dulled somewhat by the fact that nobody saw it. The puzzled number deflated visibly and looked around, wondering where everybody was.
"Hey, One, you in there? Mr. Uni? Mrs. Uni? Geez, man, where the hell are y-"
"I'm right over here in the living room. And quit yelling, would you? My parents are out but my sister is home sick." The irritation in One's tone was plainer than the white paint coating his house.
Five scurried over in time to see One crumpling a piece of paper with what could only have been the deranged ramblings of a severely stressed number. As One tossed the page across the room Five couldn't help but notice Seven's name scrawled all over it, splotched in various places with red ink.
Five chuckled uncertainly to himself. "So, uhm… nice weather we're having, eh?" One just glared intently at the trash can and grunted his disapproval. "Man, you're so depressing like this. Come on! Let's go do something fun!"
One turned his head to look at his friend but said nothing.
"Alright, seriously dude. What's up? You're starting to creep me out." Five waited for One to something, anything. At length the boy shifted on the couch, making room for his friend to sit.
"It's that damned Seven again! He's just-"
"Well I figured that much." One bristled a little at the sudden interruption but made no comment. He'd already been cold enough to his friend and didn't want to make him angry too.
"Right, well it usually is. But have you heard what he just did? Have you heard the news? Oh, it makes me soooo angry!" One's face flushed and he looked almost like he was going to explode. Or maybe jump up and throw his couch cushion through the window. Not that he'd actually do that – he can be moody, sure, but he isn't a psycho or anything. Five just shrugged and said he hadn't because it was true.
So One continued, speaking in a low hiss, "He just got an endorsement deal with Pypsi-Cola Co. They're going to make a soda named after him! Within two months the whole world will be slaking their thirsts with the sweet and tangy awesomeness that is Seven-Forward!! It just isn't fair... I wanna be named after a soda." He trailed off and started muttering something about how there is just no justice in the soft drink industry.
Five gave his friend a sympathetic look and fell into deep contemplation. That lasted for about five seconds. Feeling suddenly bored and excited at the same time, he leapt from the couch and shouted, "Aha! I've got it!" He didn't actually, and while One reprimanded him, reminding the boisterous number to keep his voice down, Five made an attempt at finding a genuinely useful idea.
Within seconds he leapt from the couch again and shouted, this time in a whisper, "Aha! Now I've really got it!" One looked up at Five and stared incredulously at him.
"How did you do that?" One asked, awe-struck.
"Do what?" Five had that puzzled look on his face again, the one that he always gets when people react in ways he doesn't expect to his overwhelming greatness.
"How did you yell and whisper at the same time? That was really cool."
Five grinned impishly and struck a pose, hoping to capitalize on his moment in the limelight.
"But now you're pushing it," One interjected. "So anyways, what is that awesome idea you've got cooking?"
At the mention of the word 'cooking' Eight's face popped up by the window just outside the living room. "Can I have some?" His eyes were glowing with excitement and anxiousness and the other two numbers jumped back in shock.
"Do you always have to pop up out of nowhere like that?" Five shouted at the window.
Both One and Eight brought their index fingers to their mouths. "Shhhh."
One walked over to the front door to let Eight into the house. It took longer than it probably needed to but Eight didn't fit through the door's frame quite as nicely as Five did. Once they were all comfortably seated in the living room – Five sat in the armchair and One sat on the floor because Eight took up too much space on the loveseat – Five announced his master plan, but only after it was explained to Eight that, while there wasn't any actual food, there was a new soft drink in the works. And that Seven was behind it.
"This is it guys – the scheme to end all schemes. I propose we trick Seven into tricking Pypsi-Co. to change the name of the soda from Seven-Forward to High-Five!" Five drove his fist high in the air and looked awfully smug with himself.
Eight stared at Five in wonderment and One visibly brightened, he was so excited. "Awesome! How about we call it One-Up instead?"
Five just shrugged and looked to Eight. "If we're gonna debate the name we'd might as well hear your suggestion. Watcha' got for us big guy?"
Eight laughed a little, "Doesn't really matter to me. I just like soda. Do you know what it's gonna taste like?" he said as he sank another half an inch into the couch.
Five tapped his chin and paced across the comfy shag rug in front of One. Every once in a while he would shake his head or murmur, "No, no, that won't work." It was apparent he was deep in thought. It was also apparent he was making little progress and that Eight was growing dizzy watching Five walk in concentric circles, sort of spiraling further in and out as he went along.
"How about we just do rock-paper-scissors to determine the name?" One suggested when he was tired of waiting for Five to come up with exactly the same idea.
"You know, One? I was actually just thinking about it. Great idea buddy! Eight, you're the judge, okay?"
Within seconds Eight's demeanor changed completely. He towered over the other two, a dramatic mass of numerical flesh. His deep voice rumbled and almost shook the room when he spoke. "This match will decide the new name of the already-named Seven-Forward soft drink by Pypsi-Cola Co. Paper beats Rock, Scissors beat Paper, and Rock beats Scissors. The match will be determined by the first to win three rounds. I'm expecting a good, clean match from the both of you. Begin on my signal: Rock… Paper… Scissors… Go!!"
In a flurry of hands and voices the battle was waged and won within a second.
"Damnit!" Five cried. "How do I always lose?!"
Eight started laughing when a horrible, angry, scratchy scream came barreling down from the second floor. "Keep it down, will you? I'm trying to sleep!"
"Sorry Penelope!" One yelled back. "Let's take this outside, shall we?"
The three boys stole their way into the heart of the neighborhood as they discussed their plan. It was really more of One and Eight realizing there was no plan while Five grumbled on and on about how he doesn't get why he never wins.
Seven was playing a game of backgammon with Four when the group found their way to the right house and started pounding on the door. Four was so shocked he fled and in his haste knocked over the game board. Before Seven could even blink Four was upstairs and hiding under the covers in his room.
Anyone that knew of his presence would find the situation very unusual. As it turns out, Four has been living with Seven the past few weeks because of a termite infestation in his house. Rather, he lived in a termite-infested house until it was so worn down it collapsed on him. He was so scared of dealing with the pest-control guys – even that really nice couple his (online) friend knew that dealt with chemical-free removal methods – that he just never dealt with it. The duration of Four's stay is indeterminate at best.
"I'm coming!" Seven called as he strode unhurriedly to the door. The three numbers must have been piling against the door because they spilled into the room – flooded, more like, with Eight in the mix – in a jumbled heap the moment Seven opened the door.
Seven's eyes lit up and he busied himself immediately with a perfectly normal display of hospitality. "Welcome! What a surprise to see you here. Please, please, make yourselves at home. Take a seat on the couch. Can I offer you anything to drink?"
Eight was so excited at the prospect that he began to splutter incoherently. Five was trapped beneath Eight's massive girth and was struggling to breath, much less speak. It was One that loosed the first comprehensible string of words. "I heard you got a soda named after you." He said lamely.
"Oh, so you know about that too? Amazing how quickly news travels. It is such a silly thing naming a soft drink after me – I don't even like soda." Seven excused himself and went across a short hallway leading into his kitchen to whip up some snacks for his guests.
Back in the other room Five was working very hard to re-inflate his lungs and restore his rib cage to its proper shape. One was reddened with shame at his sub-par entrance and decidedly tame one-liner which he was hoping would have loosed a bit more of a sting on his long-time rival. Eight was primed and ready to go; he knew full well that food was on its way. Seven's ridiculously off-key humming drifted through the walls like a piece of rotten plywood across the dead sea.
"So… you know… what to do…" Five wheezed to One. "As soon as… he gets back… hit him… with our Unbeatable… Super-Secret… Master Plan!" He put a bit too much of his precious air in that last burst and One thought he was going to faint from the exertion. Poor Five was pale and shaking horribly as he struggled to draw breath.
"You okay, Five-o?" Eight asked, genuinely concerned.
Five just glared at him and leaned against the couch, feeling like he could just sink into it. Eight leaned back against the couch and actually did sink into it.
There was a terrible crashing sound in the kitchen. "I'm okay!" Seven yelled across the hall as several more clanging noises followed.
"Damn," One muttered under his breath.
A few minutes later Seven waddled back into the living room burdened by a mountain of delicious-looking food. "Sorry for the wait, guys. I wasn't expecting to see Eight this weekend."
As Seven busied himself with the herculean task of fitting and arranging all of the food on his tiny coffee table Three came in the room from the very same hallway. "What did I tell you, Seven? I understand that nobody else observes it, but you of all people should rest on the Sabbath day. It is your day, after all. Seventh day of the week, you know? And for that matter you shouldn't be – oh, hello there." Three looked over the mound of delectable confections and smiled at the three numbers sitting on the very crowded couch.
"Three's here?!" Five burst out, his face turning from a pale white to an off-colored blue.
"We've been quiet," Three said with a wink and a flourish.
Seven just gave his trademark sheepish grin and placed his hands behind his head, letting his elbows jut out in front of him, "Sorry Three. Unexpected company and all that. You understand, right?"
Five's mind was racing and his mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. "W-we?? Who else is here with you?"
Three giggled. "Yeah, Six is here with me. We've been in the guest room for about an hour now practicing – "
One quickly clapped a hand over Five's mouth just as he was about to say another something. "I have no idea what you think they are practicing but that is not it."
"Don't worry – we'll try not to make too much noise." Three gave a scandalous wink and left the group wearing a catlike grin, placing careful emphasis on the movement her hips as she sauntered away. By this point Five started to hyperventilate and fainted soon thereafter.
Eight poked and prodded at Five to make sure he wasn't dead. There were a few spastic twitches and jerks, which Eight thought was good enough. He then set to work on the great feast that lay before him.
Ignoring Five's prone body as if it were as much a part of the room as that ugly lamp by the curtains, Seven tried to strike up a friendly conversation. Eight was too busy stuffing his face to care, nodding politely every once in a while but otherwise being completely inattentive. One passed went back and forth with small talk but decided he needed to steer the conversation back towards and the soda and strike just as soon as the iron was hot.
"Yeah, the weather has just been wonderful today. I kinda wish it would rain more though."
One fixed Seven with a placid stare and considered his words carefully, rolling them around on his tongue as if he were tasting an exotic wine. "It isn't quite to my taste. But that aside, we came here hoping you could tell us a bit more about this soda in the works."
"Is that what brings you here?" Seven let his head back and laughed appreciably. "Like I said, the whole idea is so silly. Pypsi-Co wants to call it Seven-Forward and use me as the soda's mascot or something. And they'd give me free soda out the wazoo but to be honest with you I just can't stand the stuff – get sick whenever I drink it. But, you know, there's bills to pay and expenses are only going up with all the guests I've been having lately. Doesn't hurt to have a bit of extra money aside to fund my research, but…" Seven trailed off, wary of the steely glint that flashed ever so subtly across One's eyes.
"So you really just don't care about it? Like, at all?" One asked incredulously.
"Nope, not really." Seven laughed again and decided he wanted a cookie.
This is it, One decided. This is my chance. It is time for me to unleash the Unbeatable Super-Secret Master Plan!
"So," One struck casually, "You aren't particularly attached to the name of the soda?"
"Oh, heavens no. In fact I think that it sounds a bit stupid." Seven said as he munched on said cookie.
"So," One asked, building up momentum, "Would you possibly consider changing the name of the soda?"
"Consider it? If you've got a better idea I'd be right glad." Seven grinned his happy grin and took another cookie.
"So," One pitched, getting excited, "How about One-Up?"
"You know?" Seven began as he finished his second pastry, "I actually asked the marketing guys if they'd consider Seven-Up. Turns out there were some copyright issues with the name so even a variation is probably a no-go."
Eight, wisely deciding to breathe for a few seconds before recommencing the stuffing of the face, looked at Seven and asked, "How about Victory Eight?"
One glared at Eight in spite of himself but Seven cut that idea short of his own accord. "I'm afraid there's trouble with that one as well. I'm pretty sure there's a veggie drink with a similar name. For the life of me I can't remember what it is though…"
Curses, One thought to himself. I knew this was going along too easily. Could he shoot down every name like this? I've got to set the plan in motion now. But… Damn! Five didn't tell me what to do the start it out, saying he'd get the ball rolling.
Just then Five picked himself off the floor and inserted himself in the conversation. "How about High-Five for the name?"
Seven practically jumped out of the chair that nobody ever noticed him bring into room and shouted with newfound joy. "Brilliant!" He cried. "Absolutely perfect! I'll run it by the brand department first thing tomorrow. Maybe they'll even let you be their mascot instead. The whole thing just seems like it would be such a pain and I'd rather not deal with it if I don't have to. Shucks, I could just have you sign the contract and have the whole project under your name."
Practically foaming at the mouth, Five said one of the dumbest things of his life: "Screw the money – I'm gonna be famous!"
And so the four of them sat around in the living room and chatted up a storm, leaving behind nothing but crumbs and a big, big dent in the couch cushions where a certain someone sat. At one point Five was certain he heard a girl moaning, raced upstairs and barged into what was actually Four's room, where there were most definitely no women. Four freaked and beat Five over the head with a pillow until he fled. Three and Six followed close behind, unable to contain their hysterical laughter in the large storage room across from Four's accommodation.
Five walked just ahead of the other two, a self-satisfied smirk plastered to his face. "That was fun! We should do it again some time."
Eight waddled onward, pointing out that his house was just another block from where they were. "I never realized that Seven was such a great cook. But those oatmeal cookies were definitely Three's. I'd recognize those cookies from anywhere."
Five nodded sagely and chimed back, "That was an awful lot of food to prepare so quickly. You don't think maybe Four bakes in the middle of the night when nobody is up?"
Eight rubbed his chin with his thumb as he considered the possibility. One just stared up at the sky, that glum, dull grey sky, and kept to himself.
"What about you, slick? You got one of those snappy one-liners to sum up the adventure for us?" Five smiled that ingratiating smile.
Oh yeah, he was on top of the world. He was going to be a start. It didn't really bother One so much that he wasn't going to get the soda named after him – that wasn't his goal. What really got to him was the fact that Seven lead him into his trap like that… making it seem so easy, as if he was really going along with it. One lost. Again.
"C'mon, man. What'll it be?"
One looked from the roiling mass of colorless clouds to the dimly lit sidewalk before uttering his favorite lamentation of despair:
"This way I went, descending from the first into the second round, that holds less space but much more pain – stinging the soul to wailing."
"Ooooh, good one."
So how was it? If you actually made it to the end then it couldn't be terrible in any case. Please leave a review on you way out, let me know what you think! Got any ideas/requests for a new chapter? Is there something I am doing terrible, horribly wrong? Is there something you think I did particularly well? Let your voice be heard!