Second Chances

BY : ZombieWithANoose
Category: 1 through F > Drop Dead Fred
Dragon prints: 1665
Disclaimer: We don't own Drop Dead Fred and are not making any profit/money off of this.

Authors' Notes: Hello all! Zombierose3 and Halo4anoose here with our brand new story. Please be warned, the first few chapters will be somewhat dark, but hopefully we have added enough comedy relief in to balance everything out. Drug usage, death, and insanity ahead. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Also, try to think of the gods in this story as:

Axel – Michael Palin

Bastion – Graham Chapman

Cale – Terry Jones

Damion – John Cleese

Enzo – Eric Idle

Favian – Terry Gilliam

Disclaimer: We sadly don't own Drop Dead Fred (or Rik Mayall), or any of the Monty Python people/references we've slipped in here. Such is our lot in life. :P Cruel fate! Only the original characters are ours and we're also pretty sure we own ourselves. Mostly.



Prologue

New Beginnings

Thunder rumbled across the sky as thousands upon thousands of inebriated partiers stumbled about and swayed to the blaring music that was being pumped out of what seemed to be a never ending sea of speakers. Young women brazenly frolicked about in their bras and panties, while the men looked on, enjoying the sounds and sights surrounding them. The threat of rain didn't faze nor dampen anyone's spirits. Instead, it gave a shock to the already steady pulse of hedonism that was enveloping the entire crowd. It was 1969, and anybody who was anybody was here at the largest party the planet had ever seen: Woodstock.

While the frenzy of excitement continued to grow, one man looked up to the heavens in an attempt to predict when the next rain shower would start.

The day before, it had poured intermittently throughout the festival, and crowds of people had already begun to make mud pits and slides all over the vast countryside where the outdoor event was being held. The mud made it hard for walking, and as the man was always moving from one campsite to another, his mood turned a bit sour at the thought of having to trudge through more of the muck created by Mother Nature.

He shoved his hands into the pockets of his blue jean jacket and began to make his way to the nearest beer stand. His wild, orange hair began to mat against sides of his head as large raindrops began to fall from above.

"Bloody great," the man mumbled to himself. He hated being wet, other than from having the occasional shower.

He pulled the collar of his jacket tighter around his neck and continued his walk to the beer vendor. He could barely walk two steps without tripping over a group of hippies, who he hated as well.

He had been giving the majority of the concert-goers a look of disdain since he arrived yesterday. His face seemed to be stuck in a perpetual look of disgust, with his nose crinkled up and his piercing blue eyes glaring daggers at the heaps of inebriated, free-loving vagabonds.

A random hippie ran up to him and tried to give him a hug while chanting, "Give peace and love a chance, man!" The hippie was quickly knocked on his ass as the orange-haired man would have none of it.

"Peace and love? Piss off!" was the only reply the hippie got in return. 'Love' wasn't something this man knew much about. In and out of orphanages and foster homes since he was born, he felt that no one really wanted him. He always felt at odds with the world around him, almost as if he didn't belong.

He scowled at the mud the hippie had left on his jacket. "I'm too sober for this shit. Roland had better be on time, dammit. I need a drink and a drop," he muttered to himself as he tried to wipe the mess off onto his bell bottom trousers.

The thought of his friend momentarily brought him out of his crappy mood. The only reason he was at this God-forsaken concert was to help Roland make some good money with his homemade acid. Back in Liverpool, blokes would come from miles around just to buy from Roland. It had been his idea to come across the pond when they had heard about this huge concert.

Roland had said they would make a killing, and in hindsight he had been right. He had been out of drops for over an hour now, and the money he had made for Roland was burning a hole in his pocket. He wanted a drink and a hit, as he had been sober for almost three hours now. He hated being sober, the world seemed so much uglier and more pathetic through his eyes. Being smashed was the only way he could handle life, and Roland had been critical in making sure he was always tanked.

He and Roland had only known each other for about a year, but he counted him as his closest mate. He thought Roland's girl, Hannah, was alright as well. She had always treated him kindly, and she constantly had a smile on her face which he found contagious. Between Hannah's kindness and Roland's insistence on having him peddle his drugs, he felt the three of them were as close to a family as he ever had. Roland had said multiple times how good of a runner he was, and when he was high he seemed to make more money for him. With Roland fueling his addiction, he was practically a cash cow.

"Hey, Fred! Over here, mate!" Roland's deep voice carried over the tittering noise of the surrounding crowd.

Fred looked around and saw him standing next to the beer stand. He felt as if he'd hit a stroke of luck. Maybe Roland would be gracious enough to let him get a couple of brews and possibly a couple of drops. "Oi, Roland, I'm out."

"Oh? Damn, Fred. You're on fire, mate. You deserve a brew, and possibly a little pick me up as well," Roland replied with a coy smile, handing him a bottle and two small pieces of paper.

Fred greedily drank down the entire beer in one go and then quickly popped the two pieces of paper in his mouth. "Right. That hit the spot," he said as the paper quickly dissolved on his tongue. "Here's the money. Did quite well, I'd say."

Roland gave Fred a huge grin as he counted the cash. "Aye, mate. You did do well. Best damn runner in Britain, and now in the states as well."

"Hi, Fred!" Hannah said as she bounded up to the two men. "Make any friends out there?"

Fred gave her a crooked smile, combined with a snort of derision. "I hardly think so, not with this lot. Fucking hippies everywhere..."

"Come now, Fred, those are paying customers. Got to service the masses, you know," Roland chided him. He turned to his girlfriend and gave her a frown. "Hannah, I thought I told you not to leave the tent?"

"Oh, come off it, Roland. I wanted to mix in with the crowd a bit. These Americans are quite fun, you know," Hanna said with a laugh.

"Yeah well, they all seem around the bend to me. Playing around in the mud and singing about peace and love." Fred scowled.

Hannah gave him a huge grin and a playful push to his shoulder. "Now Fred, maybe you'd have a bit of fun if you'd loosen up a bit."

Fred gave her a wary look before returning her grin with one of his own. "Perhaps, but we're here to make money, right Roland?"

"Aye, mate. Now look, I need you to do me a kindness and travel on down the road a bit. There's a gas station about ten kilometers from here, and from what I've heard there's a phone booth there," Roland explained as he pulled a small piece of paper out of his pocket. "I met a bloke that's gonna help me get more supplies for the acid, but he said I gotta call him before he brings anything out. He lives around these parts, and I need those supplies before we can make any more money."

"You want me to leave the concert?"

"You won't be gone long, hell, I'm sure you can catch a ride there if you're persistent enough."

Fred's scowl returned. "I'd rather hoof it the entire way there than get into a vehicle with any of these people."

Roland rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Everyone here's a head just like you."

"I'm not like those... those... dirty bastards..."

"Whatever, now here…" Roland handed Fred the paper with the number, a few dollars, and multiple larger sheets that contained his homemade LSD. "This is the last of what I got. Now, do what you do best and go make that call."

"Alright. Where are you gonna be when I get back?" Fred asked, tucking away the money and papers.

"We'll be at the tent waiting. Unless Hendrix decides to come on early, then we'll be out in the crowd somewhere."

"Right," Fred replied as he tightened his thin jacket around his body. The rain had started to fall harder, and he knew it would be a miserable trip to the gas station. "Think I could have another beer before my trip kicks in?"

"Why not," Roland said as he turned to make another purchase from the beer vendor.

Hannah slid up next to Fred and gave him a hard poke in the ribs. "Come on, you need to smile more, Fred. You know you have a beautiful smile when you try."

Fred gave her a sidelong glance. Hannah was a very pretty woman, with her long red hair and brilliant green eyes. He always thought Roland was a lucky bastard to have her. Had she not been with Roland when he met her, Fred would have certainly tried to make a go at having her for himself. He decided to give her a real smile. "There, satisfied?"

"I am, thank you very much. And you need to slow down on the acid. That stuff is gonna kill you one of these days."

"Nah, I'm a rock. Besides, it makes life easier to deal with," Fred replied.

"So you say." Hannah noticed Roland had finally made it to the counter and was purchasing Fred's beer. "Just be careful on the way to the gas station, okay?"

"I'm a big boy, I can take care of myself, you know," Fred replied, rolling his eyes.

"Just do what I say." Hannah huffed. She suddenly leaned in and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek just as Roland turned around with Fred's beer in his hand. Neither Fred nor Hannah noticed that Roland had caught her showing Fred affection, and the sight did not sit well at all with the drug dealer.

Fred's cheeks had gone red from the innocent kiss, and he did his best to focus his attention on his shoes instead of the pretty redhead standing next to him. Roland could clearly see Hannah had a certain effect on Fred, and he didn't like the situation one bit.

He stalked over to them and thrust Fred's beer into his hand. "Here, now get lost."

Fred's focus snapped back to Roland. "Right, be back in a bit," he said as he took off into the crowd.

Hannah watched Fred until he disappeared. "Why were you so rude to him?"

"Why did you kiss him?" Roland shot back.

"It was innocent. Fred's a good guy, plus he's making a killing for us," Hannah said, trying to defend him.

"He's a fucking junkie and a mooch, and you're always hanging all over him. I'm about sick of it," Roland countered. "Come on, let's forget about him and go have some fun. He shouldn't be back for quite some time."

Hannah let out a frustrated sigh. "Fine," she said, stomping off without Roland by her side. He knew she had a soft spot for the orange-haired man, but he'd be dammed if he would stand by and watch Fred get the best out of Hannah while he got nothing but her scorn.

"Bastard had better watch his fucking step," he muttered under his breath as he chased after his girlfriend.



The events of the day were oddly about to intertwine with those across the void in a place called "The Other-Otherworld," where six deities had gathered to discuss a desperate matter concerning their underlings…

"This is terrible," said Axel. "If humans would only stop breeding like rabbits and pay a bit of attention to their children we wouldn't be in this mess!" He paced and continued to read over the quarterly reports.

"We could make some of them eunuchs. That would slow them down," suggested Bastion with an enormous smile.

Damion, the tallest of the gods, rolled his eyes. "You can't just go about castrating humans only because we don't have enough imaginary friends to go around, you bastard! What if I were to just blindly go about ripping people's mouths off when they gave stupid suggestions, eh? Would that solve the underlying stupidity?"

Bastion shifted uncomfortably.

"Um, I have a suggestion that might be helpful," said Enzo, who had been cowering behind the others. Everyone turned around to find him dressed in a lady's frock with a kerchief atop his head.

"What the devil are you wearing, Enzo?!" shouted Damion.

Favian leaned in to whisper at him. "I do believe it's a dress."

Damion glared at him. "I know what it is, you twit! WHY is he wearing it?"

Favian backed away and shrugged nonchalantly. "I don't know. No one ever tells me anything."

"I'm wearing it because I figured everyone else here would be dressed as men and I wanted to be my own individual." Enzo straightened with pride and smiled.

"We ARE men! We're not in costume!" Damion roared. His fists were balling up to hit this idiot.

"Don't you threaten me! I think I look pretty good. I think I might dress like this from now on. Maybe even be a woman. I'm tired of not getting all the attention. It's more interesting when you're a lady in a group of five men."

"Sounds like prostitution…" mumbled Favian.

Damion ignored the remark and went after Enzo. "You can't just decide that! The whole system will get thrown out of balance," he argued. The others just watched this with morbid fascination.

Enzo crossed his arms defiantly. "Oh, yes I can! I've decided that since I'm a god I'll just pray to myself for a miracle."

It was Axel's turn to interject. "Now hold on! You can't answer your own prayers. There are specific guidelines that prohibit that sort of thing. There would be complete chaos otherwise."

Enzo frowned. "Well then that kills my idea to pray for more imaginary friends…" he mumbled.

The sixth god, known as Cale, tilted his head up in thought. "You just don't see as many crazy people nowadays. It's not like it use to be."

"More like the right kind of crazy people," corrected Bastion.

"Why do you always have to correct me?"

Bastion gave him an uncaring expression. "Oh sod it. I don't always correct you."

"Yes, you do. See, you just did it again, and now you've insulted me as well," cried Cale.

"Pansy," Bastion quipped.

"That's it! Everyone shut up!" shouted Damion, throwing his arms out. "We've got to find more imaginary friends. Everyone take out your mystical monocle goggles."

The gods did as they were told, lifting glowing monocles from their shirt pockets, or in Enzo's case, his purse. Each device was attached to a head strap.

"Right," Damion continued, "now monocles on and shut up!"



Fred grumbled as he kicked his empty beer bottle down the road. The object of his abuse had been drained long before he left the campgrounds, and now it was nothing but a focal point for his inner-angst.

During his walk to the gas station, numerous people had stopped and asked if he wanted a lift. Fred had managed to successfully ignore all inquiries up to this point. He'd rather trudge through the rain and be soaked to the bone than get into a vehicle with a dirty hippie.

He cringed at the memory of a bus pulling beside him with close to ten of those bastards in there, all wanting him to come along and experience the 'love van.' He had given them the V's, which the American hippies took as a backwards peace sign, and continued his trek down the road.

He had been walking for a few hours now and the gas station finally came into sight. The acid he had taken earlier was well into his system, and he had enjoyed the effects of the drug during his walk.

He could hear the grass growing. The clouds in the sky had turned into shapes similar to pineapples and submarines. The pavement moved around him like a flowing river of asphalt.

Tripping out on the world around him seemed natural, as if this was how the world should be. When he was high, he couldn't be bothered with the fact that he was miserable with his existence. While sobriety brought out the cynicism in him, his acid trips bought out another side of his personality. This side was mischievous, irrational, and childish. Being rude, flipping the V's, and breaking things seemed to come more naturally. Sobriety brought nothing but isolation, pain, and hatred.

Finally reaching his destination, Fred's eyes locked onto the phone booth that was located next to the restrooms. The acid trip going on in his brain made the silver structure look like it was melting from the rain, as if it were made out of some sort of silvery, chocolate substance.

Fred let out a small giggle in amusement. "He he... It's all melty." He sniggered to himself; however, by the time he stumbled across the parking lot, he realized there was someone already using the phone.

His mood was tainted instantly, and a scowl crept across his face as he stomped up to the booth. He slapped his hand against the glass doors and began to holler at the person inside. "Oi! You! Piss off!"

The man looked up and gave him a glare, before turning to ignore him and resume his conversation with the operator on the line. "Yes, I'd like to make a collect call to Polly Cronin in Minneapolis, Minnesota, please." He gave another glance at the scowling man outside the booth. "Just say it's from George."

"Are you deaf? I told you to PISS OFF!" Fred yelled as he continued to beat on the side of the booth. "You're bogarting the bloody phone!"

"Fuck off! Wait your turn!" George cried, flipping him the bird while he listened to the phone ring.

"I got your 'turn' right here, you wanker!" Fred yelled as he lewdly grabbed ahold of his crotch. He glared, and the acid began to once again addle his brain.

Fred's eyes widened in shock as he saw, or rather 'believed' he saw, blue smoke beginning to come out of the man's nostrils, followed by his eyebrows crawling up onto his ugly forehead to form some sort of hairy makeshift mouth. Fred stepped back a moment and blinked, trying to get his bearings and not laugh hysterically at the same time.

George was ready to punch the asshole trying to interrupt him, as he'd never encountered someone so explosive in wanting to use a payphone. He kept his eyes on the orange-haired maniac as he heard the tell-tale click, signaling that someone had finally picked up.

A very confused little girl's voice could be heard on the other end of the line. "Hello?"

George could barely hear her over the jerk-off's relentless banging, and pulled the phone away from his ear to yell at him. "Go fuck yourself, you queer!" He put the phone back to his head. "Elizabeth, is that you? It's your Uncle George."

"Hi, Uncle George!" Elizabeth cried happily through the phone. "Why are you yelling bad words?"

"Trust me, Elizabeth. There's an asshole outside the phone booth who deserves it," he answered as he gave Fred the finger once again. George heard Elizabeth gasp, and he knew the child's pending questions would prevent him from talking to his sister if he didn't speed things along. "Listen, sweetie, I'd love to talk with you, but could you get your mother?"

"What for?" Elizabeth asked.

"Please, sweetie, let me speak to your mom," George begged as he continued to watch the crazed man outside. The guy's face contorted from confusion to shock, and he ended by breaking into hysterical laughter. "Jesus this guy is nuts! Elizabeth, get your mother NOW!"

Fred was no longer mad at the fact this man was using the phone. Instead, he was pissed that the man's 'eyebrow mouth' had called him a queer. He couldn't help himself as he broke out laughing; it was really the eyebrow mouth that had pushed him over the edge. A crude idea suddenly sprung into his drug-fueled mind.

Walking to the side of the phone booth, Fred dropped his pants. "I'll show you queer, you bastard," he said, pressing his butt cheeks up against the glass.

George spun and hit the other side of the glass wall in a fit. "Holy SHIT! Elizabeth, for the love of GOD! Get your damn mother!" he yelled into the phone. He felt bad for yelling at his niece, however, he was desperate to get out of there before things got any worse.

Elizabeth dropped the phone and yelling was heard on the other end of the line.

"Elizabeth, who're you talking to? You know you're not suppose to answer the phone without my permission."

Elizabeth was heard screaming back, "I didn't answer it!"

"Well, then who did?" A moment of silence passed before Polly picked up the phone. "Who is this?"

George blinked, still terrified and unable to look away from the horror that was this man's bottom. "Uh, h-h-hello, Polly. It's your brother, George. I'm going to be quick as there's a certain... um... situation going on outside... I need some money wired to me."

Fred knew he had unnerved the man in the booth, so he went for broke. He bore down and clenched his stomach muscles. A loud noise erupted from Fred's bottom, and the air came out at such a forced velocity that the glass on the booth vibrated from the pressure. "Take that, tosser!"

George paled and his pretentious sister continued to chide him on the other end of the line.

"I don't have a brother and don't remember any Georges, unless they are sober and have started to become a useful member of society," Polly remarked. "I told you before, I don't lend money to druggies!"

George didn't have an answer for his uppity sister as he was too busy watching the orange-haired man push himself away from the glass. When the freak turned around, he had the most maniacal smile on his face that shook George to his core. His mouth went dry and fear gripped him. His original plan to call his sister and ask for money so he could get loaded had gone completely to shit, thanks to this insane man now prowling around outside the phone booth like a wild-eyed, hungry predator.

Fred lunged at the glass. "If you don't get the fuck outta that phone booth, I'll be forced to pull out my knob and beat you over the head with it!"

George could still hear Polly berating him over the phone, which didn't mesh well with his body shaking from fear over the thought of possibly getting assaulted with another man's penis. "Okay, Polly, shut up! I'm sorry I called... and right now I can't deal with your condescending bullshit!" he yelled. He'd known it was a long shot at calling his sister for money, but at least he could give her a little present in return for her denying him the cash.

"Oh, and by the way, there's someone here that wants to talk to you," he said, opening the booth shakily and holding out the phone to the orange-haired man. "Here, I'll let you finish this," he muttered as he pushed it into his hands. George then raced from the booth and straight into the gas station's bathrooms to lock himself in.

Fred smiled as he savored his small victory. He looked at the receiver in his hand and scratched his head. The decision to be as belligerent as possible to whoever was on the other end was just too tempting to pass up. He lifted the phone to his ear. "Who in the bloody hell is this?"

"Excuse me?!" Polly screamed, shocked that someone had the gall to swear at her.

"Are you deaf? I asked you 'WHO THE BLOODY HELL IS THIS?!'" Fred screamed back.

Polly gasped, absolutely floored. Who was this cretin? She spun around to glare at Elizabeth. "Just who in the hell have you been talking to, young lady? For God's sake! You're six years old! Can't you be trusted one minute alone?" she shouted.

"I'm sorry! I was only talking to Uncle George!" the little girl said, letting out a sob. Tears ran down her face as her mother refused to back down.

"You're lying to me! Why can't you ever stop lying or acting like a brat for five minutes?!" Polly screamed. Elizabeth sobbed louder and ran from her mother's side and into the kitchen.

Fred could hear the little girl crying in the background. He didn't understand why she was crying or why the mother was even yelling at her, nonetheless, the lonely orphan inside him became enraged. "HEY! Why don't you pick on someone your own size, you bitch!"

Polly's wrath returned in full to the man on the phone. "How DARE you! Who is this? Why are you talking to my daughter?"

"The only woman I've talked to is you, you ghastly whore!" Fred screamed back.

In the kitchen, Elizabeth stifled her sobs and quietly picked up the other phone. She had heard the man with the funny accent yelling at her mother, and she was curious to know who was brave enough to withstand her rage. She dared not breathe, fearing what would happen if she were caught. Dread washed over her as she listened to how livid her mother had become.

Polly was about to hand this man his ass and send for the cops, regardless of where he was calling from. How dare some random man scream at her like this? "I'll have you arrested for this... this... harassment!" She was fit to be tied, and this was all her daughter's fault. She pulled her ear away from the phone and continued her tirade, except it was now aimed back at her child. "Elizabeth, you get your ass upstairs now! You're not having dinner, and you're having your dolls thrown in the trash, and you're not to leave your bed until tomorrow!"

"OI! What kind of megabitch are you?!" Fred yelled, blown away at hearing the little girl's punishment. He hadn't even spoken to her daughter, and this crazy bat was fully planning on taking it out on her own child. "You're a vile, evil woman; a MEGABITCH!"

Polly gave one last disgusted look at the phone and slammed it down. "You have five minutes to come out of your hiding spot, Elizabeth," she warned before walking away from the phone. Polly stomped to the front door and let herself outside in need of a cigarette. "I swear this child will be the death of me!"

Elizabeth was frozen to the floor, but she still clutched the kitchen phone in her hand. Her heart raced as she knew she shouldn't be talking to strangers, but she wanted to see if the funny man was still there. "H-hello?"

Fred's eyes went wide as he heard the small voice on the phone. "Hello? Who is this? Was that loud beast your mum?"

"Yeah. I hate her," Elizabeth answered. "She's mean. What's your name?"

Fred scowled. His mind flashed back to how he was treated by previous foster parents and guardians and, oddly enough, his drug-addled brain allowed him to be sorry for this little girl. "My name's Fred, and mind you, it's not good practice to talk to strangers, you know."

"Yeah, I know, but I like you... and I don't have any friends... Mommy says it's because I'm a brat."

Fred frowned as he could hear the sadness in the little girl's voice. It didn't seem rational to him how this child could like him when she had no idea who he was. He realized she must be starved for attention if she was willing to be friends with a complete stranger. He knew that feeling all too well and it made him feel even sorrier for her. "What's your name?"

"Elizabeth," she said, perking up a little. "You're really nice. I liked the way you talked back to her. I wish I had someone around like you, Fred. You'd be my best friend."

Fred smiled inwardly. Kids were always easy to deal with. In fact, he liked kids because they were honest. Fred's ego received a small boost; it was nice hearing compliments, even if they came from a child. "Well, your mother sounds awful. Does she always take away your toys?"

"Yes. She throws them away sometimes to teach me to behave."

"Throws them away? What the... What about your dad?" God forbid if her father was just as bad. "Is your dad around?"

"He works a lot. I don't ever see him." Elizabeth sadly sighed into the phone. "Hey Fred, where do you live? Can I run away with you?"

Fred's eyebrows furrowed in thought as he let out a sigh. It was clear there was nothing he could do for this little girl, and he didn't want to get her hopes up by making promises to her that he simply couldn't keep. "I live far away from here," he explained. "I'm sorry Elizabeth, but I don't think that's a good idea." He knew he was probably breaking her heart, but he really had no choice. "Listen, just keep being yourself. No matter what your mum says. Think you can be brave and do that?"

Elizabeth swallowed down the lump in her throat. She admired this man, wherever he was. "I guess," she replied sadly. She was worried he was about to hang up now and she didn't want that.

Fred's brain was beginning to trip again, as he looked at the keypad on the phone and realized it was melting onto the floor. He shook his head in an attempt to stop himself from seeing things long enough to get off the phone with the little girl. "Just remember, that crap your mother told you about not having any friends because you're a brat; that's a pile of shit. And if she tells you something you don't believe, you just tell her 'that's a pile of shit.'"

Elizabeth giggled really hard. "Okay, Fred. You're really funny for a grown up." The front door suddenly clicked open and Elizabeth gasped. "I gotta go, Fred. I'll never forget you," she said before slamming down the phone and running upstairs for her life.

Fred blinked for a moment, not just because the little girl had suddenly hung up on him, but also because the keypad had decided to melt in reverse, and set the phone booth back to normal.

"Bloody hell, that had to be the weirdest conversation I've ever had..." He put the phone on the receiver and dug in his pocket for the phone number he was supposed to be calling. "God help me if another little kid answers the phone," he said as he punched in the numbers.



Roland sat back on his heels as he watched Hannah sway to the music. Sly and the Family Stone had just taken the stage and Hannah was entranced by the music and the drugs that coursed through her veins. He gazed at his girlfriend, completely in awe of how beautiful she was. He felt a sudden surge of possessiveness and he reached out to stroke her long, red hair.

Hannah turned mid-sway and gave him a dazzling smile. "Are you done being sore with Freddy?"

Roland internally scowled at the very mention of his name. "I'm fine," he replied.

Hannah leaned over to give him a tender kiss on the lips. "Good, now sit with me and enjoy the music."

Roland forced a smile as he moved to sit beside her. His mind, however, was busy mulling over the situation at hand. Fred was slowly becoming the competition, and he simply couldn't have that. But, the situation was a bit more complicated.

Fred had managed to become wholly dependent on the drugs Roland was supplying him. He knew he'd never be able to get rid of him completely by simply cutting him off. Hannah would also throw a fit if Roland even brought up the idea of getting rid of him. She had become attached, and getting her away from Fred would be almost impossible.

Roland looked to his side to see a man shooting himself up with something that looked different from what he had seen the other hippies using out here. He leaned toward the man's direction. "Say, what's that you got there?"

The man's eyelids drooped and his eyes rolled back into his head.

Roland scowled and snapped his fingers into front of the hippie's face. "Hey, I'm talking to you."

"He can't hear you, man," another hippie said from behind Roland. "He's... you know... comfortably numb. Black tar heroin, man."

"Heroin? What's that?" Roland asked, turning around to face the bloke behind him.

"It's good shit, man, but ya gotta be careful. Can't shoot up too much at once. It'll make you go numb forever." He laughed.

"'Numb forever'? What's that mean?"

"Dead man. Means you'll be dead."

"Huh, really?"

"Yeah, man. Some guy OD'ed this morning. Heavy stuff, man."

Roland turned back around and scratched his chin in thought. A cruel smile crossed his lips. Perhaps there was a way to get rid of Fred after all...



Back in the Other Otherworld, the six monocle-wearing gods pulled off their magical devices and turned toward one another. They had searched most of the mortal realm and had found one particularly promising individual…

"Gentlemen, I believe we have found our next imaginary friend," Damion announced proudly.

"Well, I told you we'd find somebody if we looked in at Woodstock, but did you listen to me? No! You had to start all the way over in bloody Kansas all because you love that stupid movie," Axel muttered, rolling his eyes.

"Oh shut up! You wouldn't know good cinema if it bit you on the ass and tickled your dick," Damion snapped back. "Now we've found a suitable man for the job—"

"Are you talking about that Fred guy?" Cale asked.

"Yes," Damion said with impatience.

"Well I didn't vote for him," said Cale.

"No one asked you," Bastion interjected before Damion had the chance. "You know your rights have been revoked since the last time."

"That was circumstantial and we swore we'd never speak of it again!" Cale shouted, raising a threatening finger at Bastion.

"I'll bite it off! I've done it before!"

Amidst the squabble, Damion glanced toward Enzo and held out his hand. "Hand me that purse."

Cale guffawed. "That's not really a threat when they grow back," he quipped at Bastion with an uncaring shrug.

Bastion's mouth fell open in his rage before he could speak. "You… cheeky bastard! I'll have your—"

Damion smacked him hard in the face with Enzo's purse, effectively silencing him and sending him spinning to the ground. All the gods stared in shock, with Enzo gasping like he'd been wounded. Damion straightened and tossed the bag back at its owner.

"Here," he said.

Catching it, Enzo hurriedly looked it over, finding a mark across the fabric. "Oh, you've scratched it!" he whined.

Damion shot him a glare. "Technically Bastion's face did, and I don't care."

"But—"

"Oh decorate it with something." Damion growled and turned toward Bastion who had managed to get back to his feet. He opened his mouth to say something, but just didn't want to make the effort, so instead he moved on to Cale. Pointing at him he said, "The last time you voted can you tell me what happened?"

Timidly Cale shrunk back from Damion. "We swore never to bring it up."

"Yes, well we did, but someone seems to have forgotten what an idiotic twat they were and thinks they can vote again. So tell me, what was it?" His eyes seethed at him in wait of a response.

"I voted that no one could say no on Wednesdays because I wanted everyone to have a constant day of fun," he mumbled.

"Yes, and do you remember what happened on the first Never Say No Wednesday?" Damion asked with his voice grating higher. Cale lowered his head, not wanting to answer, so Damion pressed on. "Never Say No Wednesday was the worst day in Other Otherworld history because some of us," he stopped and glared at Axel and Enzo, "took the matter a little too seriously when considering their duties, and for an entire DAY, Adolf Hitler was the imaginary friend of one little Charlie Manson."

"That was circumstantial—"

"That was catastrophic and you're never voting again! I don't care if it's to decide what hat to wear on Sundays! You're lucky I've left you standing and—"

"Uh, Damion," Axel interrupted.

"What is it?"

"If you, uh, wanna vote on this Fred fellow being an imaginary friend we better hurry. Clock's ticking for him, I'm afraid."

Damion rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes. Right, right." He gave one last sneer at Cale and turned around. "Alright, all in favor of taking in Fred raise your hands."

Cale stepped into the circle with a weak smile and Damion pushed him back by the face.



Fred made it back to the campground just before it started getting dark. He figured whoever Roland's contact was should have made it to the festival by now, and he hurried his way through the piles of hippies, trying to reach his friend's campsite. He could feel his drops wearing off, and he wanted to get back quickly. He'd managed to sell the rest of the acid Roland had given him back at the gas station, so hopefully he would get a little pick me up for all his hard work.

He moved through the throngs of party goers, careful not to interact with any of them as if they were diseased, and finally made it back to the beer stand. A disappointed look crossed his face as he realized Roland was nowhere near the booth. Scowling, he looked at the surrounding crowd in an attempt to locate either him or Hannah.

While he couldn't see his friends, his eyes did spot that loathsome bastard from the phone booth. It seemed some young tarts were trying to get a picture of the bloke, so Fred decided he would continue his belligerence from earlier.

He moved behind the bastard and made a face as the girls snapped their picture, shooting the V's to the man's back before he walked off in search of his mates.

Fred only had to wander a few minutes more until finally recognizing his party's campsite. He rushed over and pushed back the flap to Roland's tent.

"Roland, you in here?"

"Aye, I'm here, mate. Come on in," Roland said, gesturing for him to come inside.

Fred stepped into the tent and saw that his mate was hard at work on his next batch of acid. "Take it your connection beat me here, eh?"

"He did. Thanks for making that phone call. Did you manage to sell off the rest of our stash?"

"Sure did," Fred replied as he pulled a wad of money out of his pocket. He sat it on the table in front of Roland. "We're making a lot of money out here."

"Cool, man," Roland said, eying the cash. He had to admit... Fred had a knack for pushing his drugs.

The tent flap rustled and Hannah came bouncing in. "Freddy! You're back!"

Fred gave her a nod. "Made some money too," he said, pointing to the wad of cash on the table.

Hannah's eyes lit up. "That's great! We'll be living the high life once we get back to Britain."

Roland let out a laugh. "I hope so." His hand felt the front of his pants' pocket, making sure his special concoction was still in its hiding spot. "Say, Hannah, why don't you and Fred go grab a couple of beers. I need to finish up this last batch before Fred and I hit the crowds again."

Hannah snaked her arm around Fred's. "Sure! Come on, Fred. Let's get a pint," she said, pulling the orange-haired man out of the tent.

"Right. Roland, you want a beer?" Fred asked as Hannah tried dragging him further.

"Sure, mate."

Fred nodded his head and finally conceded in letting Hannah pull him towards the beer vendor. Roland watched the pair leave and his scowl returned. He was tired of Hannah putting her hands on that filthy drug addict.

He dug into his pocket for the heroin he had hidden away. He quickly pulled out a spoon and a lighter to melt down the drug into liquid form. "Now... wonder how much of this it's gonna take… Fuck it! Might as well do the whole baggie."

Once he took care of getting the heroin into liquid, he poured it onto the blotter paper he had specially prepared. He set it aside just in time to see Hannah and Fred come back into the tent with their beers.

"Thanks, mate," Roland said as he took his beer from Fred. He took a long swig and nodded to the table. "I'm done with this batch. Let's get to selling it, eh?"

"Sounds good to me," Fred replied.

Hannah gave the boys a frown. "Why don't we all go and enjoy the concert instead? Fred hasn't had a chance to have any fun."

Roland gave her a pointed look. "We're here to make money. Once I sell this batch we'll chill out, okay?" He leaned forward and gave his girl a soft kiss on the nose. "I promise."

Hannah gave him a stern look. "Alright, fine, but you'd better come straight back once you're through."

"Yeah, yeah. Come on, Fred. Let's go."

"Right." Fred gave Hannah a sheepish grin. "See ya in a bit."

The two men stepped out of the tent. "Let's try over there by the edge of the festival," Roland said, leading the way as Fred obediently followed.

They eventually made it towards the back of the crowds, having generated lots of sales on the way, and Fred was beginning to get a bit antsy about the lack of drugs in his system.

"Say, Roland. Mind if I get a drop?"

"Actually, I'm glad you asked. I made a special set of drops just for you. They're a bit more potent, and I'd like you to test them out," Roland said, pulling out the special blotter sheets.

"Give it here, man, I'll take 'em," Fred said excitedly.

Roland handed him the paper. "Well, you've earned it. You've outdone yourself these past couple of days," he said as he tipped back his beer, draining it of its contents.

Fred popped the sheets of paper in his mouth and his face twisted up for a moment. "Damn, these are bitter."

"Think it's the paper. Not quite the same stuff we get back home," Roland explained, hoping that Fred would just shut up and accept whatever he told him.

Fred nodded and allowed the paper to dissolve all over his tongue. He swallowed the excess spit his mouth generated, and then chased all of it with the rest of his beer. "Damn, you're gonna have to flavor that shit differently."

Roland wasn't sure how long it would take since Fred had taken the large dose of heroin orally. He sat down by a fence post and took in the scene around him. It was completely muddy and fixing to become even muddier as the sky threatened to release more moisture on top of their heads. "Here, take a seat. We've been walking for a while and I'm sure you'd rather rest until your drops kick in."

Fred sat on the ground next to Roland and they watched as the hippies danced and played in the muddy field. Roland nudged Fred's shoulder. "Bunch of crazy bastards, eh?"

Fred gave a nod. "Aye, loony wankers."

As they watched, Fred began to feel tired, very tired in fact. He was having a hard time keeping his eyes open. "Oi, this stuff must be good. It's making me tired as hell."

"Well," Roland began as he looked at Fred from the corner of his eyes, "let's just sit here a bit longer and see if it passes." Fred's eyes kept closing until finally rolling back into his head. Roland watched as his breathing gradually became more labored and intermittent.

He leaned in and looked closely at Fred's face. "Oi, Fred. You alright, mate?"

Fred tried to answer, but found it impossible for him to make any noise. He was in a state of overwhelming euphoria, and the feeling scared him. He had experienced bad trips before, but this time it felt like it was impossible to breathe. He could feel his body beginning to get heavier and heavier and drool started to ooze out of his mouth. He couldn't stop it, and even when he tried to panic, the feeling seemed to be too weighed down by the drugs for him to even get excited.

Roland stood up and walked in front of Fred. "Took it long enough," he muttered. "Sorry, Fred, but this is where our friendship ends. You're not coming back with us... because I simply can't stand the sight of ya anymore."

Fred could hear Roland's voice, but he could not process what he was saying. He tried to gurgle a response, but his mouth was too full of foam and drool. He began to slump forward and lean to the side as if the top half of his body was weighed down in lead.

Roland took a quick look around him to see if anyone was watching. His impatience had begun to surface. "Dammit, why don't you just drop dead, you bastard?!" He took his empty beer bottle and brought it down forcefully on the back of Fred's head, rendering him unconscious. Fred fell face down into the mud.

Blood ran down the back of his neck and ears and the open wound in his head showed no signs of stopping.

Roland kicked his limp body out flat, making sure his face was buried deep in the mud. He could see Fred's body attempting to take in air from the bubbles gurgling in the muck, but he knew it was too late for him to be saved. He started to kick mud over Fred's body in an attempt to make him blend in with the surrounding mud pits.

Once he felt he had done a decent job, he spat onto the almost lifeless body beneath him.

"Pathetic sod. You were nothing but a worthless piece of shit. No one's gonna miss you."



"Quick, pull him through! We're gonna lose the bastard!" Damion roared.

"I AM pulling!" Bastion cried. "HE needs to concentrate harder!" He rolled his eyes over at Cale. The accused man gasped.

"OI! I AM concentrating!" he shouted, waving his fingers away from his head for emphasis before returning them to his temples like the others.

Bastion shook her head. "Then you're not concentrating hard enough, now are you?"

Cale shot him a glare. "Yeah well, you concentrate like a girl!"

"Hey! The only person who's supposed to be concentrating like a girl is me!" Enzo spoke up with great offense.

"Oh piss off!" Damion shouted. "And put that glue gun down for Gods' sake! Now's not the time to be gluing rhinestones to your bloody purse!"

"Seriously, it is for our sake... We're gonna lose him!" Axel warned.

"Well, concentrate then!" Bastion rolled his eyes and felt a headache coming on. It was like he was the only one here with any brain cells and they were dying from the strain, as well as the stupidity.

"I am, you wanker!" Cale remarked.

"Enough with the bollocks!" Damion interjected. "Ready, on three—"

"Wait, are we going on three, or after three?" Axel asked.

"On three, dammit." Damion's eyes looked like they were about to spew fire.

Bastion tilted his head curiously. "Why not five? What's wrong with five?"

"OH BLOODY HELL! JUST PULL HIM THROUGH ON THREE, YOU BUNCH OF BOLLOCK LICKERS!" Favian finally shouted.

Cale's mouth fell open in complete surprise. "Have you seen any of us lick bollocks? Because I'm going to have to disagree with that statement..."

Favian clenched his jaw a moment. "Would you just piss off and do what I say?"

"You piss off!" Cale spat.

"No you!"

"Both of you piss off!" Enzo shouted. "If we bugger this up I may be forced to slap you with my handbag!"

Axel leaned over to Cale and Favian. "Oi, better listen to him... He's got a lot of jewels glued to that thing... It's gonna take off some skin..." he mumbled.

Damion threw his arms up with rage. "Fucking hell! A man is DYING! Concentrate! Now, ON three… One... two... THREE!"

All of them squinted their eyes and put their full concentration on dragging Fred from the mud and into the Other Otherworld with them. Straining sounds were heard from them as their target's body sank deeper into the puddle, vanishing completely from the mortal realm. He began to materialize, curled up in a ball at their feet, wet and covered with mud.

The six gods dropped their hands from their heads and looked down at their newest recruit.

"He's making a mess on the floor," Favian mumbled with some disgust.

"Well, I'm not cleaning that up," Bastion said and pointed at Enzo. "That's woman's work."

"Hey!" Enzo's jaw dropped.

"You wanted to be the woman! You wanted to be different!" Bastion pointed a finger and Enzo shook his head.

"Different, not the bloody maid!" he answered.

Cale smirked. "Who said 'maid'? There's also mud wrestling." He shrugged.

Axel started laughing and Enzo smacked him with his bag.

Damion, meanwhile, was ignoring them and gave Fred a light kick to see if he was conscious or not. All he heard was a low gurgle.

"Alright, you bastards!" he shouted to the others, bringing back their full attention. "Seems Fred's out cold for a moment, nearly dying and all that, SO, it's time we set up our little welcoming wagon." Damion grinned and rubbed his hands together deviously.



Back on Earth, Roland watched with a smug smile on his face as Fred's body disappeared into the mud. A problem now stricken forever from his life. "Perfect."

He strode away, quickly blending into the throngs of people at the edge of the festival, but soon found his mind clouded and fuzzy, as if he were suffering from a bout of dizziness. He staggered a few steps, grabbing his head, until suddenly the feeling was gone. His mind completely cleared.

Stopping in his tracks, Roland looked around at where he was. "Why am I out here?" he muttered to himself, slowly turning and seeing the mud pile he had just walked away from.

Why had he come to the edge of the festival? Was he meeting someone out here? He shook his head and decided to just make his way back to his tent.

Once he arrived, Hannah rushed out to hug him. "Did you miss me?" she asked while tickling his sides.

Roland returned the embrace and gave his girl a huge smile. "Of course, love." He kissed her on the nose. "Um, do you remember who I was supposed to meet out at the edge of the festival?"

Hannah gave him a confused look. "I thought you were just going out to sell off the new batch you made?"

"Huh. Well, I must be confused. I feel like I'm forgetting something…"

Hannah furrowed her brow, also trying to remember. She recalled Roland leaving the tent, but that was it. She felt she was missing something… but it was so distant in her mind she couldn't catch it. "Well, for the life of me I can't figure out what it is you could be forgetting. Apparently I've forgotten too, so I suppose we're both a bit around the bend."

"Hmm…" Roland scratched his head. "Well, whatever it is I'm, well, we are forgetting... it must've not been that important." He bent down and gave Hannah another kiss on the nose. "Come on. Let's go enjoy the rest of the festival."



Fred let out a wheezing cough as his eyes began to crack open. He could feel the mud drying on his face, and the weight of the muck seemed to force his head to the floor. He tried to get his eyes to focus in on his surroundings, but the lids were so heavy…

The image of Roland's beer bottle crashing down on the back of his head burst into his mind and his eyes suddenly had no trouble opening. His gaze, however, landed on something even worse.

A man with red horns on his head stood over him with a shovel in his hands. Fred's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "What the fuck?"

Damion cackled maniacally as fire shot out from the heads of two stone gargoyle statues perched behind him. He raised the shovel high and twirled it around his head before pointing the spade at Fred's face. "Hello, Fred!"

Two of the other gods were cloaked in black robes and crawled in abnormal movements across the ground, leaping onto rocks and snorting like beasts. The remaining three were disguised as a three-headed giant troll monster, wielding a large axe.

Damion smiled evilly. "Welcome to your eternal Hell!"

Fred's mouth gaped like a fish out of water and he blinked in sudden notice of his surroundings. He was in the center of what looked like a stone altar with fire lapping at its edges. He blinked again and let out a strangled cry as he pushed himself away from the devil man.

This had to be the WORST trip he had ever had, and in that moment he swore he'd never touch acid again. This living nightmare had him officially terrified. He knew he had done some bad things in his life, but he had never really caused anyone any serious harm. Never in his wildest imagination would he have believed that he would wind up in Hell. "D-don't hurt me, please! I SWEAR I'll never drop acid again!"

Damion tried so hard to keep a straight face, but it was impossible. He busted out laughing, throwing his head back and dropping forward to grab his stomach. The horns on his head started blinking intermittently.

"D-Did you see your face! HA HA!" He slapped his knee and materialized a floating picture frame containing a photograph of Fred's expression for him to look at. Damion wiped a tear and straightened himself back up. "Oh fuck! We're all just kidding, but that was bloody priceless!"

He kept cackling away as the others removed their masks and hoods and stepped out of the shadows. The Hell world suddenly morphed away and the room returned to its proper state of a lavish palace one might find in a fairytale.

Fred looked at the men standing above him in complete and utter disbelief. 'Worst. Trip. EVER,' he thought to himself. He slowly sat up and put his hands to his head. "What the fuck? Oh God... please... PLEASE let me sober up."

"Can't believe he fell for that one! Why are these mortals always so gullible? It's amusing, really," Damion prattled on with a huge smile.

Axel gave him a tired glance. "It's a wonder, given you dress it all up by sporting a shovel. Satan never holds a shovel... least he wouldn't if he existed..." he said.

Damion rolled his eyes. "What are you? The shovel squad? I get points for creativity."

Enzo perked up. "Oh hey! So, are you going out for individualism, too?"

"No. Go strangle yourself with your handbag," he answered. He turned back to orange-haired man. "Oh, by the way, Fred… you're completely sober, AND you're dead. Surprise!"

Fred blinked. "Do WHAT?!"

Damion grinned. "You died. You've ceased to be. You've kicked the bucket, or if that doesn't make it any clearer, you've DROPPED DEAD, FRED!"

Fred's mouth continued to open and close without any words spilling from his lips. He timidly reached up to his face, still finding the mud caked in multiple layers on his skin. He looked down at the rest of his body and did a mental check of all his appendages. His eyes once again flew back to the men standing over him. "I-I'm... I'm... what?"

Damion licked his lips and turned to Axel. "Is he slow? I can't make it any clearer."

Axel rolled his eyes and stepped toward Fred. "Well, you didn't quite die. We saved you just before so we could use you for some greater purpose, but your life is finished, so I guess you could still call it 'dead.'" He smiled kindly at the man, hoping that would make things better.

Fred frantically shook his head. This was a dream. It HAD to be. This was beyond a drug-induced hallucination. "I'm dreaming. This isn't real. This CAN'T be real."

"Bloody hell, he is slow," Damion mumbled with annoyance.

Bastion stepped forward with an idea. "Alright, then prove it's just a dream. What is the last thing you remember happening to you?" He raised his eyebrows expectantly.

Fred closed his eyes tight, forcing himself to remember. "I was sitting next to Roland. I... He..." The flashback hit him full force and his eyes flew open in despair. "I was tripping. I couldn't breathe. I... I could hear Roland muttering..." He sat up and pressed his palms to his eyes, trying harder to remember and force the thoughts out of his at the same time. "I couldn't move. Something was wrong with me. Then... then Roland... he raised his arm and... and..."

Fred suddenly let out a sob. The person who he thought was his best mate had hurt him, and hurt him through a vicious means of doing so. "WHY?!"

"Aww…" Enzo said with a sympathetic expression. He held out his arms and moved out to hug Fred. Damion smacked him back with his shovel.

"Stop it, you ninny!" This day was not going as he'd hoped. There was always a snag of some kind with these things. He turned his focus back on Fred. "Because he was jealous, Fred. His girlfriend was fancying you. He's complete scum and a bastard and I'm sorry," he said, suddenly turning sincere. He could see this man was very broken up about this and it wasn't like he didn't have a heart somewhere inside him.

"Do what? Hannah? Interested in me?" Fred's confusion finally reached a breaking point. He knew Hannah cared for him, but it was sisterly... right? "How do you know how she felt? What were you doing? Spying on me?"

Cale nodded with big eyes. "Yes. We spied on everything there."

"And Kansas," Favian added.

"Kansas? Who's that?" asked Fred.

"The STATE!" said Damion. "Honestly, I'm about to lose my mind," he muttered.

Axel decided to try to help out again. "We were looking for individuals to be imaginary friends to children and we felt you suited the job perfectly." He elbowed Enzo to add something next.

"Oh, and um, we thought you'd be a perfect friend for that Elizabeth you spoke to earlier. She was quite taken with you." He smiled.

Fred's mind was frantically trying to catch up with the entire situation. "Okay, wait. Let me get this straight… I'm dead... sort of... Does this make me a zombie?"

"Do you want to bite anyone?" Damion asked, feigning patience.

"Well, no..."

"Do you have a craving for human flesh?" he continued.

Fred thought for a moment. "Do you mean like, craving a woman? Or like, eating their flesh?" A horrible thought crossed his mind. "Oh GOD! Do I HAVE to eat hippies? Can I please be a vegetarian zombie?"

"This is not about you being horny, you sodding idiot," Damion uttered, grabbing his head a moment. "I'm going to need a long drink after this one," he said to himself. "No, Fred, you're not a zombie and you don't have to eat anybody, but what you do on your own time is your choice. What you are is not technically dead, or UNDEAD, because you haven't really died. You've just been suspended, as it were, and changed slightly in form to take on the task of imaginary friend if you so choose it." He stopped there to allow him to process that before going any further.

"You want me to be... an IMAGINARY friend?" Fred's lip curled up at the thought. "Jesus would someone PLEASE tell me what the FUCK is going on here? You want me to be imaginary? Are you MAD?"

All of them looked at him like he were the crazy one and shouted in unison, "YES!"

"But if you'd rather be dead, then we can make that happen. I'll send you back and you'll waste away into oblivion and that'll be it," Damion added.

Fred blinked. "Well, alright then. Answers that, I suppose," he muttered, reaching up to scratch his muddy hair out of nervousness. "So, an imaginary friend, huh? Why do you want me to be one of these... things?"

"Because you've already made a tremendous difference in young Elizabeth's life," Cale said.

Axel nodded. "Yeah, she's already telling her mother things are 'full of shit.' She needs someone like you. You're special, Fred, you've got this gift of not ever having fit in elsewhere. You weren't ever made for that world in the first place. Not everyone gets to be an imaginary friend."

Fred thought about man's words for a moment. It was true, he had never 'fit in' anywhere. He thought back to Roland and Hannah. Had he truly fit in with them? Or was that just wishful thinking on his part? Seeing as how Roland had pseudo-killed him, he felt betrayed by his own misplaced trust. "Elizabeth, you say?" Fred questioned, before he mentally made the connection of who they were referring to. "You mean, the little girl on the phone?"

They all nodded.

"Yes, she's basically picked you out already. You're a perfect match for her," Axel said. "You felt a connection there, didn't you?"

Fred again furrowed his eyebrows as he mulled over the question. "I felt sorry for her. You should've heard her megabitch of a mother. That woman was dreadful."

"Which is exactly why she needs you, to show her you're not afraid of her mother and to protect her and help her through it," said Axel.

Enzo chimed in with excitement, "And you'll get magical powers for it, too! You'll basically be able to do anything out of your wildest trips, and only Elizabeth will be able to see you."

"Wait, wait, wait!" Fred said, holding his hand up. "Magical powers? What're you on about? There's no such thing as magic."

"Pffft!" Enzo said. "How do you think you got here?"

Fred rubbed his eyes and groaned. Talking to this lot was becoming mind-numbing. "Okay then, let's back up a bit. WHO the FUCK are you people, and WHERE in the FUCK am I?"

"This is the Other Otherworld," explained Enzo. "And we're—"

"Five idiots amongst a genius," Damion said, inciting a glare from Enzo.

"…gods," Enzo finished.

Bastion bounced around with impatience. "This is the place where all humans who are chosen to be imaginary friends go. The others..." He stopped and ran his finger along his neck and made a ripping noise. "...simply disappear."

Cale grinned now. "So you're one of the lucky blokes to get an afterlife, you lucky bastard, you."

Fred took a good look at each one of the men standing in front of him. "Alright, but why is he wearing a dress?" he asked, pointing at Enzo.

Enzo straightened and pushed out his chest. He tilted his head up ever so slightly as he answered, "Because I feel it makes me look pretty. This place needed a bit of a change. So dark and gloomy."

Damion rubbed his eyes. "Or more precisely, because he's a fucking loon wearing milkmaid's frock."

"Shut up! I am not!"

"I will use this shovel and BURY YOU this second—"

"Gentleman!" Bastion shouted. "And lady," he snidely added in with a smirk. Enzo glared at him and balled up his fist in threat. "...we need to get back to Fred."

They all rolled their eyes.

"Oh, alright," Damion said.

Fred gave the lot a wary look. "Oooookay then. So, explain to me about these magical powers. What will I be able to do exactly?"

Axel shrugged and stared at a smudge on the back of his thumb. "Anything, really. Teleport, make things appear and disappear, morph, bounce off walls like rubber, glow in the dark, shrink, grow, and lots of other fun parlor tricks the kids love."

"Is there some sort of mumbo jumbo I have to say in order to do all of this? Like an incantation or something?"

Damion threw his head back and laughed. "Of course there is!" he lied. "It's bibbidi bobbidi boo."

"Seriously?"

"No, you twit! That would be absolutely time consuming and ridiculous!" he shot back. "Now, is there anything ELSE you'd like to know?"

Fred nodded his head slowly. "So, how do I learn how to do all this? Are one of you going to teach me?"

"You know, he's asked the most questions I think out of any of them," Damion remarked. "Bloody absolutely astonishing. Pluck a crazy bastard out of the mud and he's full of rationalizations and questions." He shook his head. "Yes, Fred, we'll put you in some training and then send you on your way. Now, are you willing to be Elizabeth's imaginary friend or not?"

Fred let out a sigh. His options were this, or being cast into oblivion. But still, he had some trepidations about this whole imaginary friend thing.

He pushed himself up off the floor and looked at the group of crazy men. "I'm a bit nervous about all this, but seeing as you've got be backed up in a corner, there's not much I can do." He frowned as he tried to wipe some of the dried mud off his jacket. "What if Elizabeth doesn't like me?"

Enzo smiled. "I very clearly remember her saying she already did earlier."

"Oh yes," Cale said with a nod. "She's been wishing to talk to you again since the phone conversation."

Axel tilted his head at Fred. "What makes you think she wouldn't?"

Fred shrugged his shoulders. "I've never gotten along with anyone. I'd hate to be a disappointment, especially to a child." He shuffled his feet nervously. "What if I fail at this?"

"It's that level of caring that's going to get you through it and make you a perfect fit for this job," Cale said. "And, you're just crazy enough to do it all right. We've never had any failures with anyone we've picked and—"

Axel cleared his throat. "Never Say No Wednesdays..." he coughed, looking upward.

"Alright!" Cale shouted. "You'll do fine, Fred."

Fred let out a huge sigh of relief. "Well then, I suppose I only have one last question."

Damion's eyes went wide with shock. "Just one? Alright, what is it?"

Fred gave him a mischievous smile. "When do we get started?"

"Right away." He held out his shovel and used it like a king in a knighting ceremony. "I dub thee, Drop Dead Fred." Grinning, he smacked the shovel down hard on his skull, sending up sparks of green light.



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