Chapter 4-Root of Most Evil: "Alright everybody, off the boat!"
The small and narrow fishing boat they were on proceeded to the shore. Vig and Rosaline jumped off and splashed into the water. The water reached Rosaline's shoulders and above Vig's head. Rosaline pulled him up and slowly moved the two of them to the beach.
Werner parked the boat, away from the beach as Azerty told him. He leaped into the sea water and swam behind Rosaline. When they regained the ability to take steps normally, they were soaked and partially covered in seaweed from the pile that washed up on shore.
"Everyone alright?" asked Werner.
"No," Vig said in the most blunt way possible. He plopped onto the beach once he got on. He picked himself up and his entire front side was covered in sand, along with the seaweed.
"I'll take that as a yes," he said anyway.
Rosaline was in the middle of rotating the end of her blouse to squeeze the permeated water off until she noticed something. "Look, the boat!"
Shortly after Werner had left the boat about 15 feet from the beach, the boat seemed to be drifting away. The trio looked at this boat oddly, easily recognizing the contradiction made up of the waves and the direction of the boat's movement. It became stranger when something in front of the boat began spinning. The vehicle accelerated and somehow perfected its direction to return to Ginseng Island.
"This somehow affected me... I just don't know how," Rosaline said quietly and to no one in mind.
Vig wasn't very fond of wearing cloth while carrying a half gallon of water and the light beach scenery on him didn't help his watered down mood. "Whatever, let's just go."
"Go where?" Werner asked.
As innocuous as that question was, it did manage to bring silence. The sounds of the waves and faint noise from the nearby amusement park were heard, but the trio toned it out with their wondering.
Werner had just the island where he had lived for most of his life. He saw the amusement park and behind it, he saw the buildings of Bennets that seemed to be halfway done, reaching the sky. As he thought about how they weren't as all tall when he was a child, he thought about what other advancements Bennets had gone through. He came from an island with little use of electricity and technology, save for the Athlon stadium. There might be times where he'd be confused at simple tasks that others find easy. There was also the fact he had no where to live.
Rosaline's situation wasn't as bad. She practically missed an entire school day (like Vig). There was still an hour before it officially ended, but at this point it would be entirel pointless to go. She also had days where she worked overnight at the shelter so her parents might not take notice if she waited some time until school ended.
Vig had involuntarily skipped school and he hadn't come to his cousin Jeremy, possibly starting a family panic about his disappearance. Despite that very real scenario, he knew his family well.
(They've probably haven't even noticed I'm gone,) Vig said in his head.
"Wait a minute!" Vig said out his head. "I have to see if my removed cousins went back to Jeremy."
"Oh, that's right!" The events before Ginseng island returned to Rosaline. "Although, now that I think about it, shouldn't some of your removed cousins be in school right now?"
"Maybe, but it wouldn't be surprising if none went. School isn't high on their priority list. Besides, we can still ask my cousin Jeremy if they came back or not."
"Right. It'd also give me enough time to help Werner out."
"Hm?" He dazed into his worries and was caught off-guard. "What do you mean?"
"You have no where to live right? I could give you a nice room at the shelter I work at, but obviously there are some who need the room more. Still, I do have a few places in mind where you can go. Come with us while I tell you some of the places."
"Do any of those include paying money? I don't have work either."
"No worries there. I also know some places that would love to have a muscular guy like you as a worker."
"Alright," he said simply. He literally had no power in status in Bennets so he would have to listen to her suggestions without objection, or roam and wander Bennets without a clue.
"Great. Let's get out of here then."
"Go where?" Vig said. "There's a fence around here."
"What?" Rosaline looked around them to confirm the strange remark from Vig. It was true. Breaking the strip of beach were two fences left and right of them. "I guess these fences were put up from the park to keep people out without paying. Kinda pointless since people can just go around it."
"You're forgetting that big door there." Werner pointed to a wooden gate with a thick lock around the handle. The gate and park were actually several meters above the beach. This out-of-the-way area of the park was held up through planks of wood with stairs made from the same type of wood leading to the gate above. Looking under the wooden floor above them and through some pillars, you could see a rocky wall. Most likely, the rest of the park was above this rock that enventually continued to Bennets where dirt and plants continued again.
"What's the big deal?" Vig said. "You can break through that door easy, Werner."
"I guess I could." Some hope had reached Werner. "Follow me then."
They climbed the rickety wooden stairs. Werner stepped in front of the wooden gate to large to climb over. The gate covered the whole bridge so going around meant falling to the ground.
"Here I go, step back you two!"
Rosaline and Vig obliged. Werner pulled put a small cloth from his pocket and placed it over his right hand.
With a single punch, the gate split into two irregular halves. Splinters and aalkjg flew forward and the two halves of the gates fell down to the ground.
The cloth fell and the wind brushed it off to the beach also. Werner brought his hand back and shook it to ease the pain from the three small cuts he received on his knuckles. "Wow. That door was a bit stronger than I thought it'd be."
"Great!" Rosaline said. "You did it. Now let's just get out of here before the security here comes after us."
Elsewhere, in a hidden camera room, a man in a red and orange uniform is panicking. The nine screens on the wall were usually vacant as the area he looked over had no rides or attractions to bring anyone over, ignoring the occasional couple. Today was different.
He picked up a phone next to him. The type of phone he was using was a special one that immediately connected him to a specific line.
"Sir, sir! Please answer!"
He nervously waited for a response. After several seconds of agony, a gruff voice spoke. ""Hello, hello? What is it? You sounded worried. What happened over there?"
"An emergency situation has happened!"
"An emergency!? Damn it, we just barely settled that lawsuit about that quiet kid falling over the edge. What happened!?"
"We've got trespassers!"
"..." A sigh could be heard. "That's all? While I'm glad you told me, calling trespassers an emergency is a little much, don't you think? Unless... do they look dangerous? In fact, how many are there?"
"There's three. There's young female and male adult with a kid behind them. They're walking up the stairs right now."
"..." A sigh could be heard. "You're getting excited over a small family?"
"No, sir! It's more than that! The camera pointing towards the sea showed them coming in a boat, and not just any boat. It looks like the same crazy boat from that dangerous old man! It even went backwards!"
"Backwards!? Damn it, I thought I told that old man to stop sending his boats in that direction!"
The uniformed employee didn't take his eyes off the suspicious trio. His eyes with wide pupils watched their every move. The group reached the top of the stairs. Werner walked toward the door and- "AAUUUGGGHH!"
"Augh!? Damn it, why did you scream like a little girl?"
"The young male I told you about! He punched and broke the door in half!"
"Ah, not the door! That cheap old thing was amazing. It tempted trespassers to try to go around it, just to get hidden splinters and fall down."
"What will you do, sir?"
"That depends. When that geezer came, his only task was to go to the bathroom. I'll call around and note their movements."
A few minutes had passed. For the jittery and frightened man, it dilated to hours. The slow perception of time ended when the phone clicked and the gruff voice returned.
"Oh, sir! What's have you heard from the others? Is the gang harassing the customers? Threatening their lives? Declaring the sacrifice of the little boy they had there?"
"No, no," the voice placidly said. "They just left. Seems like they just went through the amusement park without any more reason than to just go through it. I told you that you were over-"
"You're wrong, sir!"
"Wrong!? Damn it, I just told my wife last week to stop telling me that! What do you mean?"
"The boat! It was from that man. That time it didn't explode, it came back later for the old man."
"Those three will come back! Who knows why they went to Bennets, but whatever the reason, they'll be back!"
"You're right." The voice refrained from speaking. A small humming noise that wise man make on television could be heard with some effort. The voice spoke again. "Come by my office."
"I don't know much about this group, but that old guy has a 'history' here. If my assumptions are correct, I'm going to need everyone on staff to come find me."
"But you never let us in, sir. Why now?"
"I'll explain once everyone who works here comes to me. For the meanwhile, keep an eye on the sea for that boat. My secretary will be calling everyone to come by, alright?"
"Right. You'll be the last to come. Put the phone down now and keep watch."
The nervous, citrus-colored uniformed man put down the phone and continued his job of staring, but only on a single screen this time.
Returning to our dear protagonist, we see he and company are walking away from the amusement park, entering Bennets.
"That was surprisingly easy. From the first three drafts of this story, I fully expected a chase scene to come up."
Rosaline nodded. "Ignoring the weird way you put it in, Vig, I agree. I snuck in here a couple of time in middle school and both invasion ended in me and my friends running from a dozen security guards."
"You sure got off easy," Werner said. "When I snuck in, hitting children was still legal."
"Actually, it's still legal."
"Really? Maybe they've gotten more lenient. Last I heard of the law about it was that the most you could do was some minor bruises."
"Yeah. Right now the law is stricter than ever. Now you can't even leave any markings. I think it's been enacted for 6 or 7 years now."
(Lucky me,) a quiet boy thought.
After some more idle talk, Vig had finally come back to his cousin after going missing for a night.
"Do you think your cousin is worried, Vig?"
"Nah, it's fine."
Vig was usually optimistic but when it came to the personality of certain people, he strangely became negative. He didn't like thinking that way, but it couldn't be helped. Especially since a part of him remembered how uninterested Jeremy was, talking about his children.
He knocked on the door twice and waited. Rosaline and Werner stood by to the right.
A voice that wasn't Jeremy's said that. It could easily be assumed that the question belonged to another of Jeremy's partners but Vig recognized the voice.
The person saw Vig through the peephole of the door. After seeing him, the person promptly welcomed him.
Usually, Vig would return greetings similarly to the greeter, but he was too distracted with the scene behind Bered. Each and every removed cousin he told to come was there with his Jeremy. Marle was wrapped in bandages and sitting in the chair of the living room. The rest encompassed her. They were all staring at Vig.
"W-what's going on here?"
"Vig!" This time it was Jeremy who spoke his name. "Eh, um, come in!"
He didn't seem to be stable. There seemed to be a dry trail under his eyes as if he had been crying. His hair was a mess, but his eyes had a genuine look of relief.
Vig quietly walked in and felt out of place. "Did something wrong happen?"
"No, no. Nothing at all." It was a short sentence, but the voice trembled and held a heavy feeling in it. "In fact, things have gone great because of you, Vig."
"When I sent you to get my kids, it was just a poor excuse to be alone with another one-night stand. When they started coming here, things started getting awkward. It wasn't until I got Marle and George from the hospital that we all started talking. We spent the whole night getting acquainted with each other again."
Everyone shortly replied "yeah" or "really" or something along that line.
(I guess I really helped them out,) he told himself this, but a part felt he was giving himself too much credit.
"So, where have you been Vig? I was going to call aunt Edna to see if you were all right but you're here right now. So tell me."
A distraught smile appeared on Vig while he started touching the area between his left ear and eye with his index finger.
"Eheh, I've been around, you know? It would take a chapter to explain the whole event in detail so I'll just say I slept at a friend's house."
"Huh," Jeremy said. "I thought it was strange of Jack to call me, He told me to send you to the hospital."
"Eh? Really?" He headed back out the apartment. "I guess I should head out-"
"Wait, Vig." His cousin gently grasped his left shoulder. He directed Vig to turn around. "I'm really thankful for what you did for me and the kids."
"Oh, it wasn't a problem," he politely said.
"Oh, but it was. I never knew how negligent I was to them. In return, I'd like to give you some money."
Vig shouted in a low volume, "No! Really, it's fine, I don't need anyth- huh?"
During Vig's humble denial of the well-deserved reward, Jeremy pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket. The money was not what caught a special interest from Vig. After pulling out the money, Jeremy's hand unclasped itself. The money unfolded and on top was some coins. Among the change was a yellow scrap of metal.
(I have something like that, don't I?)
Vig's hand frisked the outside of his pocket and felt the yellow metal from the first chapter.
"Uh, would it be okay if I only took that nasty looking metal on the money?"
"What?" He looked down and saw the object Vig asked for. "Where did this come from?"
"So can I?"
Jeremy stared at Vig like someone who was trying to understand a language they had never learned. "Uh, sure but is that all? You can have the money I just pulled out."
"No," he picked the metal from him, "just this will be okay."
He went away from him and was now at at the doorway with the door still open as Bered held.
The rest of the family repeated him. "Bye, Vig."
He looked back and waved goodbye with a small open smile. He took a step forward, leaving the apartment. Before he did, he heard Jeremy say one last thing.
"Thanks for the family reunion!"
The door shut, leaving Vig out with a new look. A horrified look.
That term. He couldn't explain it, but those two words grouped together. It striked his heart for reasons he didn't understand. He didn't have a slight explanation of why he didn't like it, but it didn't stop him from showing pure horror on his face.
"Vig, what's wrong?"
Vig's face and personality snapped back to his original, optimistic self. "Yeah?"
"What happened? I was going to say how noble it was to bring back a family and denied money for some metal (whatever the reason), but you just stepped out bewildered."
"There's nothing where you're looking at, kid," Werner added. "Just another apartment building across the street. Nobody is even out on the balconies."
Before their concern had developed further, Vig took a shot at stopping them. "It's nothing. I thought I saw a bee, but it's actually a fly."
Rosaline and Werner's head both moved in sync, seeing a fly from the corner of their eyes. "Oh," Rosaline said. "That's all?"
"You need to toughen up. You can't be afraid of bees."
"All right, all right," Vig said bitterly. "Let's just go to the hospital. My dad wants to talk to me."
"You're dad, huh?" Werner scratched his head and looked away as he said that.
Not sure what to make of that reaction, Vig said "Yeah. Is there something wrong?"
Still scratching his head, he looked down on his toes. "How do I say this without sounding rude," he mumbled.
Rosaline was as puzzled as Vig, but a sudden explanation popped into her head. "Oh, your situation."
"Yeah. Since you're going to your dad, I was going to say if me and Rosaline could go and find me a place to stay at, but I'm not really, uh, sure what kind of relationship you two have. You both seem really close."
"Really?" Rosaline glanced over at Vig.
He didn't really look like he had paid attention to what Werner had said since got distracted by following the fly from earlier with his eyes. He didn't even realize Rosaline was looking at him. A simple mind, he had, but what should people expect? He was a child after all, changing his focus from a fly to a floating dust ball in the air. An innocent being with little to no worries. He did not care how he looked. He did not care if girls liked him. He had no interest in money. A true representation of a child and not of an adult.
Even with that in mind, Rosaline could sense a special fondness over Vig. It set itself apart from Miley and other kids she interacted with. He had something she couldn't find in others, but she didn't quite know what. Regardless of that, her opinion of him was clear.
"What the hey. I've only known him for about 24 hours, but he's already managed to make my top ten friends."
Werner couldn't understand how someone could make such an impact on someone for a day, but he had a hint of what she meant. His time with Vig was considerably shorter by about 15 hours, but already Vig had given a different feeling from the friends he had on Ginseng Island. Maybe this was the effect of befriending a boy almost half your age?
"In any case, we'll talk about the places in detail during the walk and bus ride. We'll decide what to do when Vig gets to his dad," Rosaline said.
She climbed down the stairs, followed by Werner. The footsteps warned Vig and he broke out of his dust-staring trance. He saw Rosaline and Werner going downstairs and shouted, "Wait for me!".
The white and cool atmosphere of the hospital did not change in the slightest. This did not bother Vig right now. The reason was because his uncle had upgraded from hospital bed to wheelchair.
"Hi uncle Gootenmire." He didn't have the same enthusiasm as his uncle, but the feeling was still there. "Can you leave the hospital now?"
"Ha ha! Almost. All that's left are some paper signing, some medication, some talking with the doctors, all of these silly things."
His eyes were on Vig, but two outliers by the door caught his eyes, uncomfortably looking around the room.
"And who are these two, Vig?"
Rosaline and Werner snapped and swiftly moved their gaze towards Gootenmire. Rosaline, used to introducing herself, stepped up to him.
"Hello, sir. I'm Rosaline. I went with Vig to make sure nothing happened to him during the walk back."
"Well, nice to meet you!"
Before she even had a chance to offer shaking hands, Gootenmire grabbed her hand and shook it up and down with a firm grip.
Werner repeated Rosaline's actions and also stepped towards Gootenmire. "I'm Werner. I came with them."
Unlike Rosaline, Werner had experience in these belligerent handshakes. He and Gootenmire simultaneously gripped the other's hand. Clap! With almost equal strength, they shook up and down with the same rhythm and an instant bond was made.
"Men," Rosaline quietly mumbled.
With greetings gotten out of the way, Vig led the attention to his dad. "Uncle Gootenmire, do you know where my dad is?"
"Your dad?" He looked pondered and searched his memories. A click sounded and his eyes moved to where his ears deduced the origin of the sound. The door. "Oh, he's right here! Hey, Jack!"
It was only one word but the combination of its volume, sound, and tone were a perfect description of what "irritated and annoyed" would sound like.
Rosaline sighed. (If we waited for a couple of minutes, we could've just introduced ourselves once.) She put aside those feelings and introduced herself anyway.
"Hi, you must be Vig's father. I'm-"
"Does it look like I care?"
Harsh, bitter, and succinct. A few words from Jack Voidson was the same as tasting a drop of anger.
Rosaline was left speechless and somewhat hurt after receiving her first rude greeting. Werner saw this and felt a bit chivalrous. He opened his mouth but before a word was said, Jack gave him a glare. More fierce than any opponent he has met and stricter than even his father. Those eyes stopped his mouth with such ease.
"Vig!" Jack was still staring at Werner, who still had his mouth agape.
"Yes?" Vig calmly asked, to the surprise of Rosaline and Werner. Such a normal tone Vig let out, but it wasn't completely normal. It was more in the area of how a subordinate answers to his superior. That's because it was exactly that.
"What did I tell you about talking to strangers?"
"Hm? They're not strangers, they're my-"
"Aaugh!" He violently threw the door to the wall. The lock doorknob penetrated the wall, leaving a clear mark. The door did not swing back to the doorway. "You know I don't like your backtalk." He exasperatedly sighed. "Forget it. It's fine." He cooled down, but the tense feeling stayed and coagulated. "There's something I need you to do."
"That's right," Gootenmire blandly said. Jack's outburst hadn't completely silenced him, but it did remove a majority of his up-spirit. "Your aunt Bootch called."
The name Bootch had broken Rosaline and Werner out of their trance. Rosaline and Werner both whispered, "Aunt Bootch?".
The name held significance at Vitcrea and the three countries surround it.
Gootenmire continued. "Earlier today she called me."
"Eh? What's with the annoyed tone, uncle Gootenmire? She just called to say 'get well'."
"Don't interrupt, you." As punishment, Jack brought his fist over Vig's head flicked it so that his knuckles would hit and bounce off his Vig's head. A usual thing for him to do.
Again, Gootenmire continued. "It wasn't a 'get well soon' call, Vig. She personally went on the phone to tell me she's going to sue me."
"Don't act so surprised," Jack immediately said. "She's always suing people, you know. I don't think we need to tell you more. The point is, your uncle Gootenmire needs your help."
"That's right. As the only person she likes, I need you to go over and ask her to stop the lawsuit."
"Uh, but why is she suing you?"
"Something about my meat products being tainted, I don't care. As long as she gets more money into her pile, she'd probably sue over sausages being too cylindrical or something. So, will you help me?"
He didn't exactly understand the nature of the problem, but of course that was no problem for a boy like Vig. "Sure I'll help!"
"Then what are you waiting for?" Jack grabbed Vig by the neck and pushed him to the door.
Outside the hospital again, Vig set out to embark on a new adventure. "Adventure? I'm just going to see my aunt."
His two companions paid no attention to Vig's random declaration. Their mind was focusing on a certain question. Werner was the most curious .
"Hey kid, um, I mean Vig."
"This might be a silly question to ask but, is your aunt Sarah Bootch?"
The response was as blatant as his face. "Yup."
Rosaline pushed Werner out of the way and whined, "Come on, Vig! You can't possibly be talking about Sarah Bootch! Are you sure you're not just related to someone related to her? She often complains about her lower-classed family asking her money." That idea was plausible. An envious family member could have sued Gootenmire in order to get a taste of wealth after receiving a settlement, but Vig waved that idea off immediately.
"Nope. It's the one we're all thinking of. The lady who owns a big part of Vitcrea and your neighborhood, Rosaline."
"N-no!" Werner couldn't wrap his mind over such statement. "I won't believe it until I see you talk to her in person!"
This disbelief. The subject of his aunt. What people usually wanted after discovering Vig's relation with her. He didn't like any part of it.
"Anyway, weren't you two going to go around and look at places?"
They didn't catch the bitterness in Vig's voice and gave contrasting answers.
"Personally, I'm here to see that you and your family aren't crazy."
"In the case your family is sane, though, it would be a great opportunity to ask her to help Werner out with living space."
Not the best response, but it ameliorated Vig's doubt of their character. They said nothing about giving the most despised request to his aunt, no, him. The one where he says he can't and is left alone as the bad guy.
The rest of the trip was tranquil, each member in their own mind about Sarah Bootch, the sanity of Vig' family, and how to help more people now with such an aid. To anyone, they were nothing special, if not, a somewhat strange group, composed of a regular child, a presentable high-schooler, and a young weight lifter of some sort. To the person watching them, however...
"They've gotten off the bus and are now approaching the premise."
A man in his 30s was on top of the hotel, observing our protagonist and friends. He wore a brown jacket and white shirt, nothing too noticeable. The thing he was talking too was a transmitter in his hands. It was small and the size of a die, meant only for small-distant communication. His overall appearance was perfect. It received absolutely no attention from anyone below or any couples together on the roof.
"They're heading down the one-way road to the mansion. It looks like our new member is wiser than his age lets on."
But enough about this guy. Right now, Vig, Rosaline, and Werner are now in front of the mansion where Sarah Bootch lived.
The property was in the shape of a circle with a radius was one-tenth of a kilometer. A metal gate and fence encompassed the entire property. They were for design only. In the center was the mansion. Everything around was pure protection.
Equally separated and evenly placed, poles that reached the heavens had cameras on them, foreseeing anything in and out of the property. From above, the poles where positioned as if on a clock.
Spread throughout the yard, small buildings resembling military bases increased in numbers the closer they were to the mansion. On top of the mansion, what looked liked people were laying down. A small thing stuck out. Most likely, they were snipers.
The amount of protection for just one person. It was understandable to most people. A person with as much money as Sarah Bootch needed it or risk some desperate maniac attacking her. It made sense.
(No it doesn't.)
Vig looked at the entire scene and felt a sadness come over. A part of him said it's because he did not understand why so much protection was needed. The amount of security, symbolizing the worth of his aunt's life. Her life needing more protection simply because she had a lot of money.
(That's not it.)
No, it wasn't. He also agreed that she needed the protection. Not so much on the worth of her life being more than another's, but she had to be protected. Vig knows there are people willing to attack an elder woman like his aunt for the sake of money. The depression he felt started from something else. He just didn't know what.
An armored truck drove and stopped in front of the gate.
"The moment of truth," Rosaline said.
"It sure is," Werner added.
In the armored truck, a man in green camouflage popped his head out. "Who are you and what business do you have here?"
"Vig? Is that you? How've you been!"
Rosaline still refused to believe Vig's relation with Sarah Bootch"B-being friends with the security isn't-"
"I'm convinced." Werner shrugged as he explained, "Somebody wouldn't go this far for a lie. I also don't think he's the type to lie."
"Not the type to lie?" The man laughed. "Nonsense. Vig here used to be a mischievous devil."
"What?" This grew concern in Rosaline.
Vig noticed the odd pitch in her voice. "People say this all the time, but I really don't remember acting like that."
"Well, it doesn't matter." The man sat back down. "So what did you want Vig?"
"I came here because I need to talk to my aunt."
"...it isn't because of money, is it?"
"Well, alright." The man bent down and reached behind the steering wheel.
The gate in front of them opened, barely missing the armored truck.
"Can my friends come too?"
"That depends. Do they want money?"
"Then they can in the back."
Vig hopped right onto the passenger's seat and put on his seat belt. Rosaline and Werner boarded in the cramped back seats.
The engine started and the gate closed. "Get ready, you three. This is gonna be wild!"
Atop the building, the man who attracted no attention smiled. "They've boarded the armored truck. Preparing to record the route."
Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out an ordinary looking camera device with basic features such as taking pictures and videos. The camera was bought off an electronic store.
Putting away the small cube transmitter, he held the camera up and began recording a video of the truck moving wildly across the yard.
Now in front of the mansion, everyone but the driver had gotten off. The truck drove away and returned to patrolling the yard.
"For such a protected place, this entire sure is empty," noted Werner. "Why isn't anyone else out?"
Rosaline held her head, calming her blurred vision. "What I'm wondering is why so many turns and loops had to be maze."
"He does that to have fun. Or at least that what he says. I actually think it's because of a code or something."
They were in front of a door, once again, but this time was the mansion itself.
Green and white were the only color found on the mansion, save for the windows reflecting light away. Flat walls were white. Noticeable features were green, which included the pillars in front, window sills., the roof, and other small parts where the wall would temporarily stick out.
Three stories high and fifteen windows on each side of the center. At the bottom of the mansion were flowerbeds with flowers having the most elegant shapes and vivid colors.
The center of the mansion's exterior had six gratuitous pillars, three here and there. The wall had no reflecting windows. It was simply a white wall with "Bootch Manor" and a door.
Vig knocked on door. Greeting them, of all people, was the woman whose name I've typed repeatedly, Sarah Bootch.
Sixty-two years old, she has experienced, but having faced so little troubles in her life, mistaking her for a middle age woman was common.
Her head was more narrow than most people, giving her a long face. The face itself had small and almost unnoticeable wrinkles. Her naturally red lips were thin and sharp at the ends. Her nose resembled her head, long and narrow. Her eyes were average-looking, besides being at the same level as the top of her nose. Her hair was the only hint indicating her age. A lovely shade of gray was bestowed on her long hair. Combined with some lighting, it shone and attracted the same attention as a diamond. Under her head, her entire body was under a robe. It looked like the same as a judges robe, simple white collared and black everywhere else.
The strict lips of her curled up into an unnatural, but real smile. "Why, what a pleasant surprise. Who are these two?"
She takes her eyes off Vig and look at Rosaline and Werner. "Do th-"
"No, they don't want to ask money."
"In that case, hello you two."
Rosaline and Werner were still uneasy with this unrealistic turn-of-events. They nervously said their "Hello" and spoke no more to not look like delinquets.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Come in, come in!"
Shutting the door behind them, a drastically new setting was up for them.
White marbled floors, high-priced green walls with showy lines, a chandalier above with size and weight comparable to a small automobile, painting on walls for an art gallery look, antique vases on small round tables here and there next to the wall, lamps adorn perfectly on the walls, a verdant 10x10 meter square carpet in the center, and a extravagant staircase to the third floor that starts small from the top and widens the lower it gets.
"Waaug," Werner said, trying to say "wow." Rosaline couldn't get a sound out.
"So what brings you here, Vig?"
"Hm? Oh! I, uh..."(I came here for a reason, right?) He had already forgotten his objective. Except for, "the tainted sausages?"
Moderately confused, all she could do was blink. "Tainted sausages? W-what do you mean by that? Tell em so I don't have to call some local restaurants!"
Werner meekly spoke, "I think he means the lawsuit over his uncle."
"Hm? Oh! That." She lightly laughed and sighed. "I figured something like that must have been why you came. Your father is still stringent as ever isn't he?"
Vig nodded, guessing the meaning of stringent. "Yup. I've gotten a little bit more out though, thanks to negligence."
"Hm?" The long-nosed woman returned from her spacing out. "I'm sorry Vig, what did you say?"
He twitched his right eye. (It's hurts a little less each time.)
"In any case, do you really want me to drop the charges against your uncle? If you're only asking me because you're saving your father a negotiation match, I don't think I can comply with an such a request."
"Well, uncle Gootenmire just got a heart attack, so..."
"Yeah. It'd be kinda jerkish if you just threw a lawsuit at him. Worse if you just made up the whole thing."
"I suppose so." She sighed again, but it was more refreshing this time. "You know, Vig, what aspect of yours I most admire?"
"My child innocence?"
"No. Quiet frankly, I've seen and met other children and they disgust me. Their ignorance is a nuisance, constantly asking questions. The only child, besides you, I've seen not behave like that was also a bother. His above-all attitude and undeserved pride. He might have been born in a family richer than I but-" She rambled for a minute or so before returning to the lawsuit. "In any case, I'll drop the lawsuit. Honestly though, there's some great money to receive as compensation from your uncle, Vig. I won't be able to stop myself if the urge to sue him comes and beckons me."
"At least don't lie about what you're suing him for," he said worriedly.
"I won't have a problem with that. The food industry always have cases that give me legitimate claims."
"Thanks aunt Sarah."
They hugged each other. The depth of meaning and love in it were questionable, however.
Vig has been the only person she knows who treats her like family and has never asked for a cent. This meant nothing.
When she spoke about children disgusting her, she absolutely meant it, and included Vig. She didn't tell him as she was not rude, but the negative personal opinion of him was there. She really didn't like children for their ignorance, but not because they were naive and asked lots of question. It was how worthless was to them. Giving them a mere hundred dollars would make them giddy. Ask them how much a hundred dollar and they would answer "a lot". An awful misjudgment of miniscule monetary value.
Vig's part in the uneasy hug was because he wasn't very experience in hugging.
(A loving family hugs. I'm lucky if I ecen get a good-bye.)
Thinking about that, a feeling of being squeezed started. His eyes opened wide. This feeling. He knew what it was now. It was his bladder.
"I have to pee, aunt Edna."
The sudden turn of mood also caught the attention of Rosaline and Werner. Common urges were met.
"Um, excuse me Miss Bootch," Rosaline quickly let out. "May I use your bathroom?"
"Me too." The urgency in Werner's voice was small, but noted.
"Fine. There are two lavatories down the left hall. They're both the last rooms."
"Thank you," the all said simultaneously, rigidly walking left of the triangular staircase.
The hall continued the green and white pattern. The walls were green, the edges around doors and the ceiling was white.
The hall went on for a while, so Werner brought up a topic to talk about. "Anyone else notice the stairs skipping the second floor? It just jumps to the third!"
"Forget that." Rosaline had her own curious topic. "Have you noticed how empty this place feels? There's no butlers or servants to be found anywhere. She even opened the door herself. Same with outside."
The two subtly rotated their eyes to Vig. Vig saw them and felt they were expecting answers. "I don't know either. The most I know is that the vault my aunt keeps her money is in the second floor or something. I only overheard her about that once at a..." His memories went blank. He didn't speak again and the others didn't mind since they had other things on their minds.
The end of the hall was within reach. The closer they were, though, the more their bladder wanted to give away.
Vig looked at his partners and realized only two would make it, so he ran.
Rosaline saw him run. "Oh no you don't!" She now sprinted.
Werner also began running, but out of implicit memory.
Being the smallest and weakest, Vig lost.
He had his arms crossed and was staring at the wall between the two bathrooms. "Is anyone done yet?"
"I'm almost ready," Werner replied.
"I might take a minute or two," Rosaline answered.
"Okay." Vig grimaced.
"Sad because you lost a bathroom race?" Torrents ridiculed.
He turned a full 180-degrees and verified the voice as Torrents'.
In the middle of the hall, Torrents was. He was in a different attire. He looked like he had dressed up for a costume party on the last minute and grabbed whatever black wool clothing he found, including a beanie to call himself a bank robber. The only thing ruining that costume was a red symbol on his sweater. It looked like a 'w' made from the three middle fingers on your hand, three lines starting from a dot.
He ran to Torrents and grabbed his shoulder to shake him."How and why!? Why, why, why, and how!?"
The shaking irritated Torrents. He punched Vig in the stomach to stop it. Vig's face scrunched up and his body froze. His hands were lax on their grip now so Torrents took a step back. He raised his right hand and repeatedly swatted his shoulders as if brushing off Vig's skin cells.
"I see no reason to answer either of those questions. I'm on my own quest. I'd have gone here whether or not you came, just like Ginseng Island."
Vig squeezed his breath out in pain to say, "But how did you get in? There's all this protection and-"
"No there isn't."
"Come on. Don't pretend you didn't know... didn't you?" Torrents face had relaxed and was leaning more into surprise. Surely an uncommon facial expression for this precocious blonde boy.
"No, I didn't. Or, at least I don't think I ever have. I'm a bit forgetful."
"Hm. You just never noticed how nobody but you're aunt and that driver guy appear? How riduculously cheap this mansion and property is for one of the richest women in the world? Please tell me you've at least notice her money habits."
"I've always assumed my aunt hired ninjas, the place is big so I nnever thought about it, and she likes to earn money."
Torrents shook his head in disapproval and kicked Vig in the knee.
"Your observations skills are a disgrace. How the hell can you be a skjls-"
Torrents stopped himself from talking anymore. Vig saw this, to his chagrin, and gave a small smile. "Quoting that skjs show you like?"
He kicked Vig's knee again. "Shut up. In any case, you know how you aunt is rich? She's not much richer than what she inherited. She makes her money the slow way using stocks or something boring like that and uses the least amount of money she can."
"Huh, how do you know?"
"That doesn't matter. The important thing is that by knowing her steel grip on the money she makes, I could use that weakness and direct the team to go through here."
"The Red Comet Gang," said a new voice.
Behind Torrents was a man in his 20s wearing the same thing as Torrents.
"Thanks to the new guy, we found out that the only means of defense this lady has are landmines."
Torrents kicked Vig's knee once more. "Stop repeating the last word people say."
Ignoring the throbbing pain from his leg, he connected the dots. (Hm, landmines would explain why ssgs has to take so many turns.)
"New guy figured out that the small military bases are just false security to scare off people. That Sarah Bootch sure loves her money to have so little security, ha ha!"
"Huh?" The fact that a group broke into his aunt slapped him. "What are you going to do to my aunt!?"
"Not much. We're only here for money. She knows whatever code or password that's need to enter the vault so we can't really hurt. Not that she's much a threat anyway."
Suddenly, a door click sounded and echoed the hall. Werner was done using the bathroom.
Torrents noticed. "Hm, is that one of your friends?"
"...I have to go, but I'll quickly tell you that if you want to leave uninjured, don't resist at all and be model hostages."
"Yeah!" The dim robber laughed but stopped. "Huh? What do you mean, leave?"
Torrents turned and ran down the hall. As he did so, he was removing the black habilaments to reveal the same clothes he had on Ginseng Island.
"Wait, don't go new guy!"
"Stop calling me new guy!" Shouted Torrents. "Your gang is only a month old!"
"And we haven't been able to do anything without you!"
His cries were useless. A small slam from the front door was heard. Torrents haad run off.
Werner walked next to Vig. "Who was that, Vig?"
"What about this guy crying?"
Vig turned his head to the histerical man. "I'll answer you after I go to the bathroom."
Vig went in and Rosaline came out. She turned left, naturally, and saw Werner gawking at the man in tears.
"Uh, what happened?"
"I don't know. Vig had to go before telling me. Let's wait a bit."
Two minutes passed and Vig was done. He told them that a group called the Red Comet Gang had broken in to rob his aunt from her money. He then answered their questions of how.
"That still doesn't tell us why there's a crying man in the hallway, Vig." Rosaline glanced back to the man. "His tears haven't let up and he's starting to hug some black clothes."
"The jerk that ran off just quit. He's crying because... he's weird."
"What do we do?" Werner asked.
"What else? We go help my aunt!"
Vig lifted his leg and was about to run until Werner grabbed him by the collar. He stopped before he could be choked.
"No, Vig! We can't fight a group of criminals. What if they have guns?"
"I dunno. Let's ask that guy. Hey crazy guy!"
"Don't call me that!"
"Do you any of you have guns?"
He hesitated. "Of course we have guns."
"What kind? Um, big kinds!"
"Gosh damn it!"
He turned to Rosaline with aplomb and said, "See? No problems."
"What about the number?"
Chunky sounding steps sounded. Werner was next to the man. "I'll figure this one out."
He got his neck and pulled him up. "How many of you are there!?" he screamed.
"Augh! There's six, me included!"
"Thanks." He raised a fist up and swatted him. He went out cold.
Rosaline shook her head. "What a pathetic group. You're right Vig. Let's go help your aunt. Lead the way, Werner!"
They ran out of the hallway and didn't see Sarah Bootch anywhere. Only a girl with a long purple hair in the same attire as the two prior.
She was sitting in the middle of the stairs with bored eyes. She noticed the trio and jumped into action, grabbing a broom she had by.
She twirled the broom like a baton. "Finally, some action." She was given orders to Vig and company from going to the third floor.
Vig ran up the stairs on the left. She countered and went to defend that side.
"You really thought it'd be that easy?"
Vig pointed behind her and she turned on a reflex. She saw Werner and then the mansion revolving vertically as she fell down the stairs.
She fell on the cloth Torrents left behind.
"Hm? When did that get there?"
"I put it there once we nodded to each other."
"Oh. How did we form a plan with that?"
"Ahem." Rosaline was atop the stair case. "If we can move on now..."
The third floor had an unusual layout, splitting into three. The center hallway was a dead end, leaving them with-
"Left and right, where must we fight?" sung Werner.
"Doesn't matter," Vig assured. "To save the reader time, situations like these always have us pick the correct route."
Rosaline and Werner stared at him. Rosaline broke the silence saying, "Whatever you say. No need to over-think a guess anyway."
She ran to the right hallway and the two guys followed. At the end of the mansion's reach, a left turn was necessary. When they needed to take another left, they faced a dead end. It was just a little area to force people to come over and see if they chose correctly.
They weren't pleased, especially Vig. "Life must really hate me for breaking the 4th Wall." Coincidentally, he was accurately explaining his misfortunes.
Concurrently with the group running to the left hall, two males seem to struggling with Sarah Bootch in front of steel elevator with large combination lock in the middle.
"Just tell us the combination!"
The blue-haired fellow yelling at her, violently scratched his hair.
"Look, how about we compromise?"
The person who spoke was a red-head with hair that looked moore orange than red. "Instead stealing everything, we only steal half?"
The blue-haired maan punched his cohart in the shoulder. "Stop that." He turned to their 'key', who was loosely tied up in a coil. "Listen, how about you give us a few thousand dollars and in a few weeks, you'll get triple the amount."
A "no" was expected, but it never came. Instead, Sarah Bootch raised an eyebrow and said "Explain how."
Returning to our amateurs fighting amateurs, Rosaline, standing in front of the men, has confronted black-haired man. The man was holding a jar by the edge with his right hand. Behind him were three dozen jars.
"You might have gone past Violet, but this is where you fail!"
She rolled her eyes. (Violet for a purple-haired lady. How original.)
The man threw the jar directly at Rosaline's head. The jar was as cheap as a public school. It had low-quality baby blue paint, possibly reeking with chemicals. If broken, the thin fragments of the ceramic material would cut into her skull. It's a bit too early for that sort of thing so of course she catches it.
After screaming, the man jumped towards the wall to avoid Rosaline's counterattack. She threw the jar and missed. Fortunately, that mistake had no negative consequences for her as the jar slammed into the other jars, causing a chain reaction of jars falling onto other jars. There was three jars left in midst of the area of broken shards.
"No! Those were my only means of defense!"
"Really? We're all drinking age and you focused on defense?"
"Sorin said he deserved the crowbar..."
They left the defenseless man and reached some stairs. They were already at the highest level. Naturally, the stairs headed down to the second floor. They descended and reached the second floor.
The floor was different from the rest. In accordance with the over-reaching stairs, the floor was two-thirds the size of the third. How could they tell such an indefinite thing despite hallways and rooms? Simple: There were no rooms. The only hallway lasted a few steps from the stairs. The rest was a spacious area with the floor and walls made with thick metal sheets of steel, giving the impression of being in an actual lock. The only noteworthy feature was a small rectangular box with the thick door opened with an elevator inside.
Werner held his arm up to keep the two minors behind. He looked at them and placed his finger on his lips to tell them to be quiet. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He opened them and took a number of step to exit the short hall he was in.
Woosh! From the corner, a crowbar was swung at Werner.
He expected as such. He turned 90 degrees, back faced towards the wall. He could see the armed assaulter. It was an ordinary looking man.
He raised the j-shaped tool next to his head and swung again. Werner knew better than to go left and risk the minors so he went right instead. This choice also gave him more room.
The average guy prioritized Werner, seeing Vig and Rosaline as anything but a threat.
The weapon rose again. In a single and continuous move, he rapidly swung away at Werner.
He kept taking steps back but he couldn't continue with the repeatedly removed space between him and the wall. Luckily, the strength in the man's arm diminished. The velocity of the swings had retarded. Werner reached for the prying bar after its swing.
The attacker quickly pulled back his weapon to prevent Werner from holding it. He moved the bar up, horizontally, and jabbed for Werner's head.
Werner flung his head to his shoulder in time and successfully got the enemy's weapon in his hand.
They both had their hands on the instrument. A battle of tugging was expected to see who would have ownership. Instead, the man let go and pushed the bar down, slamming into Werner's thigh.
He threw the crowbar away and the pained pushed him down.
The beak of that crowbar left two wounds from the flesh it tore off. He pulled the edge of the shorts he had to the wounds. The internal red liquid permeated into the shorts, leaving a dark spot about half the size of his hands.
The average man grabbed his weapon again. He pulled back to behind his shoulder. He smiled. "Did you enjoy your punishment? We only came for the and weren't intending to hurt anyone, but you provoked me. If you move, I will hurt you."
Werner was weak now. He could not do anything to save the moment. Then again, he didn't have to.
The man looked to his left where Rosaline's voice shouted. He should have moved because immediately after looking, a jar had hit him behind the head, throwing him to the ground.
Rosaline was too focused on the combating men to notice Vig going back upstairs. When he had returned, he brought back a jar to throw.
After seeing the man fall, Werner ignored the pain and jumped on him to limit his movements.
When Vig saw that in turn, he sprinted into the unlocked elevator and pressed a button with a down arrow. Something triggered and the elevator descended.
The yell didn't reach him at all. The elevator was heavily guarded with thick steel, locking plenty of sound away.
The elevator descended for quite some time. More time than it should take for it to reach the first floor. Clearly, Vig was heading underground.
The elevator stopped. Vig's heart was pounding. They had only taken down three of the five robber. That means two people were holding his aunt against her will. Truthfully, he felt idiotic for not bringing Rosaline with him, but Werner's injury and the small area of the elevator made him feel that was best. It didn't matter, though. He just had to save his aunt, so when the slinding door opened, you can imagine the surprise he had, seeing his aunt smiling while two men in the same outfit as the people they had fought were standing behind her, also smiling and with wads of cash in their hands.
She was also surprised. The elevator was actually activated by her, not Vig, as she was the only one who knew a secret access code on a panel hidden near the elevators.
"Aunt Sarah? W-what going on?"
"Hm? Nothing. Nothing at all. There was a problem, yes, but I solved it with a little negotiation."
Blue-haired looked at Vig strangely and asked, "How did you get past my subordinates?"
"They were pathetic."
"Hm, good thing for this money then."
Saying something as negative as calling someone pathetic was rare for Vig, even if they were enemies, but so was feeling absolute shame about his aunt.
His aunt saw his sour face. She still saw him as ignorant, but he really did have a place in her heart.
"Listen Vig, I'm grateful you came all this way for me. How about I make it up to you by letting you have one thing from my vault?"
Money. Even when trying to comfort him, she used money as a solution. He almost refused, until he saw something behind the two men in dark clothing. It was another scrap of metal.
He slowly walked towards it. The adults moved out of his way as he glumly picked it off the floor. "Can I have this?"
"That? Are you sure? That scrap is..." Before saying how worthless it was and how it appeared in her vault was a mystery, but saving her wealth was always top priority. "...that scrap is perfectly fine."
They went upstairs, one at a time. Rosaline and even Werner prepared to fight the two men with money until Sarah Bootch calmed them down.
She demanded everyone go outside. Everyone accommodated and stood outside.
Mike, the driver, was also standing out with them, coincidentally. His ride had their tires punctured and he had to walk to the entrance of the Bootch mansion. He didn't know what was happening, but stared frighteningly at all of the people who claimed to be in the Red Comet Gang.
"I want you to escort everyone, including yourself out."
"What? What does that mean?"
"I am revoking your employment here. Clearly, I underestimated the ambition of people. I managed to get an investment here, but I'm going to have to enforce security here a lot more than I did. It will hurt to spend the money, but it's best if I want to protect it."
"But, you can't just fire me! I've worked for you for over two decades! How can you just drop me like that!"
She shrugged as if to say "Who cares" and went back in her mansion, locking the door behind her.
He continued to yell. The gang had seen the route he took earlier on video so they left.
Vig wanted to comfort him but Rosaline stopped him and reminded him about Werner. They followed the group in black, avoiding all landmines, and left the cirque.
The gang minded their own business and headed east. Vig and Werner were interested in going to the hospital. Rosaline called the emergency number and specifically asked for the hospital Vig's uncle was in. She accepted the extra charge and soon an ambulance had arrived.
Reaching the hospital, it was sunset. Vig went directly to his uncle and told him the lawsuit had been dropped.
"That's a relief. Why'd you take so long?"
"Oh, just some stuff she wanted me to do."
He wasn't going to tell him. He didn't have it in him to explain the whole story. Even he'd like an explanation on how someone can just pass something, like a robbery, off for an investment. He understood as much as Mike who was fired without a second thought. She did it to protect her money.
(Why is she so selfish!? She was never this-!) She was never this greedy.
A doctor comes in and begins speaking to the wheel-chaired Gootenmire. "You're all set to go home."
"I'd just like to advice on your large intake in consumption. If you reduced your-"
"Thank you doctor, you really helped me."
"Wait, let me finish-"
"Let's go Vig!"
They left the room and went down the cold white hall together.
"I think you should have listened to that doctor, uncle Gootenmire. He was helping-"
"What the hell does he know!?"
Gootenmire's unnatural anger scared Vig.
(Why did he yell? Did I do something wrong? No, no. Uncle Gootenmire just wants to eat and eat. Why he get so angry, though? He's never yelled before...)
He had never yelled before.
"I'm sorry Vig. I just want to go home, you know?"
Prior to Vig's answer, his parents appeared out of the corner.
"Vig. Did you do what I told you?"
"That's good," his mother said. "We can go home now. It's a shame we don't have an apartment here like most of the people here, though. I'd really love the short distance."
"Actually Mom, can I check on my friends?"
"Your friends?" His dad was getting irritated again. "Don't they have lives? Why the hell would they want to see you anyway?"
"I just want to see them again before we go..."
"Now, now, Jack. Let him check on his friends. We'll go too and thank them for being so tolerant of Vig."
"No need for the trouble." Werner came from behind Vig limping, along with Rosaline. He had bandages around the wound.
"Oh, so these two are your friends?" Vig's mother showed interest. "My, how wonderful they are!"
"Um? No, no!" Rosaline and Werner denied such claim, but fully welcomed it.
"Don't be modest you two! Especially you, young lady! You more beautiful than me, ha ha!"
Rosaline with her. Although she didn't hear it, there were hints of jealousy. Actually, no one heard it. Except for Vig. He has heard it for years. There was a problem with that.
(She wasn't always jealous about everything...)
Vig was starting to notice a pattern, Adding his cousin Jeremy, four family members had changed.
(Wait, had dad changed?) He thought for a moment. "Hey, dad."
"Shut the hell up."
(Yes. That's five now!)
Five of his closest family members had changed for the worse. Why?
"Ah, damn!" Werner said under his breath?
"What's wrong dear?"
"I-I still don't have a place to sleep tonight."
They had both forgoten. With the verification of Sarah Bootch's relation withh Vig and Werner's injury, the topic of place to stay had wander off.
"A place to stay? Why don't you come with us then?"
Everyone got a puzzled looked and they all said, "Huh?". Even Jack himself.
"Yes. You're friends with Vig, right? I would be glad to have an actuall strong boy at the house! Oh, and you too!" She was referring to Rosaline.
Rosaline shook in surprise. "Ah, no! I actually have to go home and..." She looked at Vig's glum face. (He must really not want us to leave,) she thought. "Actually, I'd love to go."
"Wonderful! Let me just get my son and we'll leave. Come with me Jack. You too Gootenmire." She looked a bit dissapointed when she said "my son". They left and the trio were alone again.
"Psst." Werner nudged Rosaline with his elbow. "Why are you coming with?"
She took a deep breath and smiled. "It's because of him."
"Him? Don't tell me you have a weird crush on him. That's illegal here, right?"
She lightly punched him on the shoulder. "No, don't be dumb. You know how I said I didn't know why I liked him so much?"
"Oh. Yeah, I think so."
"I finally understand why."
"I think I see it too."
Rosaline had promised to find a new way to help the world using the money she was gifted with. Werner was abandoned as a child raised with skills in fighting. Vig was a mixture of the two. With a strong need help the people around him and doesn't hesitate at all for the obstacles ahead. A bit stupid, considering he would easily get hurt by a dangerous person, but he didn't thiink about the consequences. He just went and did what he could to help.
They smiled at him, who was no longer frowning.
Vig had not gotten the sick feeling about his family though. He was trying to answer a very important question.
(Why did they change?)
There are ten chapters of this crap left. Up to it? No? Oh...sorry to have been a bother.