Capture The Flag 2/6

From: Dan Drazen <>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 16:17:38 -0400 (EDT)

                                 Chapter 3

     The day's activities had been routine. The children had
either awakened before dawn on their own or else were gotten out
of bed by Rosie. They slept two to a hut: Sally and Bunnie in
one hut, Antoine and Rotor in another, and Sonic and Tails (by
mutual insistence) in a third. Rosie and Julayla knew that, when
the children were a little bit older and stronger -- probably in
the coming spring -- work would have to begin on additional huts to
encourage independent living and to prevent personality clashes.
Rotor was especially eager to set up housekeeping on his own,
though the fastidious Antoine would have balked at the use of the
word "housekeeping" in the same sentence as Rotor's name. It
seemed the one thing of which Rotor was incapable. Spare parts and
unrecognizable electronic components littered his half of the hut
and drove Antoine to distraction.
     The children then went to have breakfast in the largest of
the huts in Knothole: a general purpose building that served as
both a mess hall and a classroom. Bunnie tended to arrive last,
usually because she couldn't decide which color ribbons to use to
do up her ears.
     After the breakfast dishes were cleared away, it was time
for the children's schooling. At ten years of age, they were
literate enough in the Mobian language, except for Antoine,
though his grasp of the planet's history was almost as complete
as Sally's. Sally and Rotor were more adept at mathematics than
the others, and there was no question that Rotor outshone the
others in mechanics. Bunnie worked to keep up with the others,
finding botany to be her easiest subject. Sonic tended to lose
interest in just about everything after the first hour of
instruction. Though Tails would spend some time in the classroom
in the mornings, he was basically playing school.
     By the time noon rolled around, Julayla would signal the end
of class. From there, the children would tend to their chores,
for Knothole still required a fair amount of maintenance. The
huts and the bridge across the river had to be maintained, and
that meant carpentry. Rotor was able to fashion tools for some
of the tasks. The vegetable gardens that helped sustain them
also needed tending.
     It was at this point that Sonic tended to make himself
scarce. Not that he was lazy; as with his schoolwork, he simply
got bored easily. But if Tails wanted to "help," Sonic would pull
his share of the load without complaint. However Sonic might feel
about a particular task, he seemed to want to set a good example
for the adoring cub.
     Sally, however, would sometimes spend the afternoon in
Julayla's hut. There they would review old volumes of Mobian
letters and lore that Julayla had managed to save during the
invasion, and the gaps in Sally's knowledge of the history of the
House of Acorn would be filled in.
     As evening approached, everyone gathered in the main hut for
the second meal of the day. Then before bedtime, there would be
play outdoors (weather permitting). Lately, this had meant
dividing up to play Capture the Flag, a game of which Sally never
seemed to tire. Yet lately it seemed that nothing went right
when they played the game. No matter what team configuration
they formed, something would happen to bring the game to a
premature halt. Either Sonic would ignore strategy and make some
rash move that would give away his position, or else Bunnie would
refuse to try sneaking through foliage for fear of ruining her
ears, or else Antoine would find something new to complain about,
or else Tails (who was too young to take part in the game) would
give away Sonic's position by ignoring everyone else and walking
up to the hiding place of his older idol.
     But this afternoon, with a slight nip in the air and the
wind sounding through the trees, Sally seemed more than just lost
in thought as she looked at the blank piece of paper on the table
before her.
     "Your first question," Julayla said. "What happened on this
date in the year 2275?"
     Sally said nothing and wrote nothing.
     "Did you hear me, Princess?"
     "I'm sorry, Julayla. It's just that...oh, what's the point?"
She let the pencil she was holding fall to the table. Julayla
rose from her chair and seated herself on the bench where Sally
was seated. She knew better than to say anything right away.
     "Julayla, why am I doing this?" Sally eventually asked.
"This would all make sense if I were going to rule Mobius one
day. But it doesn't make sense."
     There was a pause. "What happened?" Julayla finally asked.
     "Last night, when I was in bed, I closed my eyes and tried
to remember what my old room looked like. But I couldn't. I
couldn't even remember the color!" She looked at Julayla, her
eyes beginning to fill with tears. "I'm forgetting it, Julayla!
I'm forgetting it all!"
     Sally threw her arms around Julayla and began to cry.
Julayla said nothing and simply held her close. After a couple
of minutes, Sally was able to regain her composure.
     "I'm sorry," Sally sniffled.
     "Don't ever apologize for caring too deeply, Princess. You
may go now, if you want to."
     "And tell the other children that there will be no class

                                 Chapter 4

     Sonic drew the shades of the hut and looked to see that the
door was bolted. "OK, Tails, nobody can see in. You ready?"
     "Uh huh."
     "Go for it!"
     Tails closed his eyes and his two tails began moving in a
circular motion. Nothing else happened for a second. But then
Tails began slowly rising off the floor.
     "Doin' good, big guy!" Sonic said. "Keep it up."
     Tails looked rather awkward with his legs dangling beneath him
and his rump in line with his head. But he continued to slowly
gain altitude. He managed to get halfway to the hut's ceiling
when, exhausted by the effort, he let himself fall into Sonic's
outstretched arms.
     "Way to go, Tails!"
     "How far did I get?"
     "About halfway up. You're getting better each time."
     "Cool! When are we gonna show the others?"
     "Pretty soon. But it's our secret until then, OK?"
     "OK. Sonic?"
     "How come you didn't finish your supper?"
     "I don't know; I guess I'm just tired of having the same
stuff all the time. And I was thinking about how Uncle Chuck
used to make chili dogs. They were great," he added as he unbolted the
     "What's a chili dog?"
     "Oh yeah, I guess you never had one. Man, are YOU missing
     "So, how did he make 'em?"
     "Well, you know what a hot dog is, right?"
     "Uh huh."
     "And you know what chili is?"
     "Oh, right. Well, it's sorta like a real spicy bean stew."
     "Eeeew! Doesn't sound so good to me!"
     "Well, trust me on this one: it tastes a lot better than it
     Just then there was a knock at the cabin door. That meant
one of the grown-ups doing a bed-check. Sure enough, a second
later the door opened and Julayla looked inside. "Is everything
all right?" she asked.
     "Uh huh," Tails replied.
     "Those aren't proper words, Miles," Julayla said. She never
missed an opportunity to correct Tails' speech, just as she could
never bring herself to call Tails by his nickname. She felt
nicknames to be improper, especially nicknames that were
     "Sorry. Everything's OK. G'night!"
     "Good night Miles. Good night, Sonic."
     She waited until the two boys were in their respective beds.
She then extinguished the candle that burned on a nightstand
close to the door. Once she closed the door, however, that was
no guarantee that Sonic and Tails would go to sleep. In fact,
most nights it was their cue to continue talking.
     "Where did Uncle Chuck live?" Tails asked in the darkness.
     "In Mobotropolis; in the city."
     "Where in the city?"
     "In a house, a place bigger than this one. And not too far
from a park with a really neat playground. I'll show you," Sonic
said as he pulled a flashlight from under his bed and turned it on.
He then got out of bed and walked to a small table and chair in the
room. He took a scrap of paper and a short pencil.
     "OK, let's say Knothole is here. This is the Great Forest
and it comes out to just about here. Right here's the park and
the playground in the park. And there's a block of houses over
here. And...THIS one, from the end, that's where Uncle Chuck's
house is."
     "Cool! Can you show me where it is for real some day?"
     "You can count on it, big guy."
     Sonic turned out the flashlight and the two found their way
back to their beds. "Man, this is nothing like living with Uncle
     "What was it like?"
     "In some ways it was kinda fun. It was just the two of us,
nobody else. He worked a lot, and that was kind of a drag, but
we still spent a lot of time together. Maybe that's why he made
chili dogs: they were real easy and it was just for the two of us.
     "I guess the worst part was cooking the chili, 'cause it
always took forever! He had to get the spices mixed just right,
and he always used to sweat that part. But that was cool, too,
'cause that's when Uncle Chuck and me, we'd just talk to each
other while it cooked. Kinda like you and me are doing now."
     "What'ja talk about?"
     "Just about anything. And Uncle Chuck never talked to me
like he was a grown-up and I was a kid--the way the grown-ups
around here do. I think that's one of the things I miss most about
Uncle Chuck.
     "He tried talking to me about his brother a couple of times,
about the kind of life he led and stuff, but I guess I wasn't
paying all that much attention back then. Now I wish I had.
'Cause now I know he was talking about...about my Dad. Only I
didn't know it and Uncle Chuck didn't want to come out and say
     Sonic was about to go on, but he stopped. Across the
darkened room he could hear the steady rhythm of Tails breathing.
Sonic smiled. "Sweet dreams, little bro," he whispered.
Received on Wed Sep 20 1995 - 16:35:47 PDT

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