Chapter 1: Run boy, run
It was a decidedly quiet lovely day when the sky fell in on itself. It was by general consensus a very beautiful day indeed. The air had just began to crisp like the skin of the apples that had started their harvest season and the leaves had taken on the likeness of baby birds leaving the nest. The sun, which was on the setting side of midday, was shining brightly on a busy town. Smells from the carnival, funnel cake and popcorn and cavity inducing cotton candy, wafted through the town square from the nearby field which had long ago been designated as the fairgrounds. It was the sort of tranquility one wouldn’t typically ascribe in ones mind to a place soon to be home to disaster.
But that’s just Derry, ain’t it?
Four-years-old Richie Wentworth Tozier, named after his father and his father’s father before him, wandered carefully around an antique store which had been transformed into a mini-museum in honor of the town history week celebrations. He wore large butterfly wings on his back that he (or rather his Dad) had won at the fair the previous night before. The wings were always seconds away from bumping a few soldiers off of an old war model or a lighthouse into a plastic sea; yet they were always caught at the last second by a pair of watchful hands belonging to one 18 year old Laney Tozier, Richie’s older sister. At the moment Laney Tozier’s biggest concerns were making sure that her baby brother didn’t accidentally cost them hundreds in broken antiques, and subtly letting the cute guy at the register know that she wasn’t a teen mom and just a much older sister. Richie’s biggest concern was figuring out how to most sneakily touch one of the beautifully painted wooden soldiers. Life was simple then.
Laney grabbed a $5 brooch (or maybe it was a bracelet charm or some kind of hair clip?) that was missing its centerpiece stone off of a table full of old jewelry and grabbed her brother’s hand and dragged him towards the register with the cute checkout boy.
“Having a nice history week, ma’am?” He asked with a wide smile.
“Oh my god, I graduated last year and I’m already getting called ma’am! I really hope that the Community College isn’t aging me that much!” She giggled with a laugh that Richie knew was fake because it wasn’t anything like the laugh she gave when he gave her his very accurate (in his and his entire pre-k class’s opinion) impression of Arnold Jackson. “But yeah, me and my little brother here always enjoy it every year.”
“Really? Where are mom and pops then?” Checkout boy asked, leaning in. Richie had snuck into the living room enough times while his parents had a romantic movie playing to know where this was going. He gagged and walked towards the exhibits again.
“Oh, same as everyone else. Stockpiling up on tailgating supplies-.” Laney thought she answered coyly. “While I get to play good big sister.”
A very familiar pickup truck came into view through the crowded display window. Richie just barely caught a peak through the wooden slats of an old rocking chair. He ran up to his sister and tugged on her bell bottoms. “Laney! Mommy and Daddy are back!” He states with an unspoken yet clear command in his voice.
“One sec, brat. I gotta pay first.” Laney admonished, reaching into her purse.
“Nah~ keep it.” Checkout boy told her. “Consider it payment for being such a good big sister.” He winked. Richie rolled his eyes and tugged again. This time Laney gave in. She scooped him up and carried him outside. They stepped outside just in time for a most special sight.
The end times.
Or at least a very close approximation to it.
The first of the debris was the largest. It was large and shined like a speeding bullet, leaving a trail of black smoke in its wake. It fell to earth on the land of a secluded farm; not a too uncommon sight for Derry, honestly if you threw a dart at a map of Derry, Maine you had a 55% chance of hitting secluded farm land. But we’ll get to that juicy bit of information later, for now we’re focused on the central hub of Derry.
It was a real shame. That is how history would remember the events of that day. A shame. The first falling star was strange enough, and the eye of the storm was so long that no one was expecting to have to look for anymore falling objects. It was also a shame that the first of the second round of falling debris was on a beeline for one Maggie and Wentworth Tozier. A crying shame for sure that Richie Tozier was watching as his parents perished under the glowing green meteor.
Now, let’s get back to that first UCLO (unidentified crash landing object). This event would be looked back on fondly by history as a real miracle. Sonia Kaspbrak was on her way back home from Bangor, Maine fresh from her late husband’s funeral. She has nothing to remember him by except for title to their empty farm that Sonia couldn’t work on her own and an emptier nursery which they had failed to fill. So it was a miracle indeed when the first meteor missed her pickup truck and hit the bean field just to the left of her instead. It was an even bigger miracle when, upon closer inspection, the new crater produced a very small child, no older than 3 or 4. Sonia grabbed an old towel from the back seat of the truck and swaddled the boy up into its warm embrace. They boy was very tired and fell asleep quickly. Sonia marveled at how fragile he felt in her arms (unaware of how far from the truth of the matter she was). She then knew that she had to protect him. Her gift from the universe. Her reparations from Heaven for taking her husband.
“My little miracle. My little Eddie-Bear.”
~9 YEARS LATER~
Growing up, Edward Kaspbrak, known to the world at large as simply Eddie, knew he was different. When he was very young, Georgie Denborough young, it was as if his body wasn’t suited for this world. His eyes couldn’t stand the intensity of the yellow sun, so his mommy in her wisdom, gave him a pair of his Father’s old glasses. He didn’t need them for any sight purposes and his eyes had very much adjusted by now, but they helped at the time and were now a semi permanent fixture on his face. He at one point couldn’t stand the air around him. It was like an average person was teleported to the thin air atop Everest. Breathable, but just barely. His mother had come through with an inhaler. He could now breathe the air around him just fine, but it was better safe than sorry. An inhaler now also found itself a permanent part of Eddie’s personage. Soon, vitamins and supplements joined the mix of items that worked their way into his life to help his body adjust to a world it just seemed to reject.
As he grew, however, it became apparent that his body was overly suited for this world, like an invasive species. It started when he was 8 and his best friend Bill crashed his bike and Eddie threw it off of his body like it was made of paper. At the time it had been explained as freak adrenaline, but the accidents slowly became less freak and more commonplace. He would move tractors with a small shove or lift the couch above his head with his Mommy still in it to grab his dropped Thundercats action figure, he would be able to run from the Kaspbrak farm to the pharmacy and back in 5 minutes flat.
So yeah, a little above average.
Right now, Eddie paced back and forth in his room, holding a permission slip in his hand. It was for the Derry Junior High track team. Eddie knew he was fast, he knew that even when he slowed down to what could be considered plausibly human, he could run laps around his classmates. Him and the rest of his friends had made a pact that this year they were going to try sports. Well, not Beverly, who insisted that she would rather use the time to smoke behind the bleachers. Mike and Bill had committed themselves to Football, Richie had spent the summer learning how to do cartwheels to try out for the cheer team (“It’s perfect for me, guys! I’m loud, a great dancer, and we all know I would look excellent in a mini skirt.”) And Stan and Eddie had set their hearts on cross country and track. It was perfect for them. Stan was afraid to be touched and Eddie was afraid of touching others. Now, one final hurdle stood in his way before he could actually jump any physical hurdles.
Soniapologetics, as Eddie mentally called them, somehow ranged from him being too fragile to play sports with the other kids, to the OTHER kids being to fragile to play with him. He knew that he could control himself! Why couldn’t his mommy see that? All summer he had begged and pleaded only to be met with
“But your asthma, Eddie-Bear!”
“Eddieeeee!The sun will hurt your eyes!”
“The other kids will get hurt, Eddie-Bear!”
“Eddieeeee! You’re too rough and strong to play with them!”
It was a fine line of contradictions that Sonia not just toed upon, but happily tap danced on like Fred Astaire. It drove Eddie nuts. Every day at the end of last year, he had been going through flyers sports to try out for on the bulletin boards in halls around the school gym. Every time he found a new sport, Momma Kaspbrak would find a new reason he couldn’t play.
Football like Bill and Mike? Sun was too bright and he could lose his glasses or he could dislocate another boy’s shoulder before you could say “Hike!”. Cheerleading like Richie? What if he accidentally threw a girl up into the stratosphere because he threw to hard, and anyways that sport was for girls, wasn’t it? Finally he and Stan came across running.
It was perfect. Practices were held in the inside track half of the week so no sun, he could run short distances in the sprint so no need to worry about his supposed asthma, it was no contact so no worries about the other kids, and he could fake being slower than he was. Plus he would already have a friend on the team! The perfect sport!
He presented all of these reasons to his mom over breakfast, sure he was going to get that signature on that 4 by 6 piece of paper.
“Wh- But Mom! Why?” Eddie whined. He had countered every possible argument! He even created new arguments and shut them down! What could possibly be holding her back?
“Because I said so!” Sonia said firmly “Eddie-Bear, I know that this seems unfair now, but one day-“ she tried to explain
“One day? Oh yeah, I’m gonna definitely look back one day and say ‘Thanks for letting me reach my full outcast adolescence potential, Ma!’ I already only have 5 friends, and every time I try to make more, you shut me down!”
“They’re very nice friends! What’s wrong with them!?” Sonia asked. Truthfully she didn’t really like her baby boy’s friends all that much, except for Mike, but who didn’t like Mike; but she’d rather have those five that she knew than several who she didn’t. More friends meant more noses where she preferred to be a nose free zone if possible.
Speak of the devil, a loud honk came from the front of the house. “Bye, Mommy.” He huffed as he kissed on the cheek, more of a ritual than a symbol of affection, and shoved the permission slip into his backpack’s side pocket. Outside, on the dusty grey gravel of the Kaspbrak Farmhouse’s driveway was the oldest Ford pickup truck that anyone in Derry had ever seen. It gave the impression that it had once been blue, but only through the peaks of rust and the spots on the car where the rust had been sanded away so much, there was only colorless metal. The car belonged to Leroy Hanlon, grandfather to the one and only Mike Hanlon.
The Hanlons had rented the land that Kaspbrak Farm sat on for a year short of a decade now. Sonia had insisted that they could buy it for cheap and annex it onto their already large ranch, but Leroy insisted that it wasn’t right to leave a widow raising a boy on her own without a source of income. So, due to a combination of proximity, parental interaction, and a shared trait of dead parents, Mike and Eddie became each other’s first friends. Eddie was actually the reason that Mike was taken out of homeschooling and put into public school. Shirley Hanlon, Mike’s grandma, had insisted that he needed more friends like Eddie and that being out in the ‘real world’ for a bit wouldn’t kill him and would do him some good. After that, it had become Tradition for Mike’s granddad to pick him up every morning to get to school.
Eddie hopped into the bed of the truck with Mike; Eddie’s mom would freak if she knew they rode to school like that nearly every day (with an exception in rain, snow, and days where it was particularly cold), but they had long ago outgrown the small front seats. Eddie put his backpack between his knees as he felt the engine rattling the frame of the truck and the tires rolling ungraciously over uneven gravel roads.
“You get your permission slip signed?” Eddie asked loudly over the cacophony of the aged motor and the crackle of popping gravel.
“Yep!” Mike shouted back in response. “Granddad said football would be just the thing to put muscle on my bones!”
“As if you aren’t already built like a brick wall.” Eddie rolled his eyes with a smile. Honestly, if you put their friend group in a lineup with their shirts off and asked who they thought was most likely to have super strength, Mike would definitely have the most votes in his favor. Years of farm work had definitely worked in his favor. Eddie was all lean muscle, deceptively small yet packing a mean punch.
“Speaking of brick walls, how did your talk with your mom go? Get that slip signed?” Mike asked.
“I’ll tell you guys when we’re all together, alright?” Eddie scowled. “I don’t feel like repeating myself.”
“Uh oh, Eddie Kaspbrak has a knot in his tail everyone, keep your distance! Wouldn’t want all four feet, eight inches of whoopass released on you at once!” Mike laughed as the sounds around them died down once the gravel gave way to smooth-ish asphalt. Eddie knew by muscle memory that the Junior high, which shared a building with the regular high school for some cruel reason, was only 2 minutes away. Sure enough, they reached the school in 2 minutes and 13 seconds. They unloaded themselves from the bed of the truck into the parking lot. They said their goodbyes and made their way to the front of the junior high entrance. Waiting by the front were 3 familiar bikes and 4 familiar faces. (Beverly lived in her Aunt’s apartment and didn’t own a bike of her own so she rode on the back of Bills every day.)
“Eds, Mikey Mike! Summer treated you well I see!” Richie greeted them as the approached.
“Shut up, Trashmouth, you saw me last week!” Eddie rolled his eyes.
“No, it was only a day or two ago?” Richie replied confusedly.
“What the hell are talking about? The last time I saw you was last week when we watched Little Monsters at the theater.”
“No, I definitely saw you when I came out of your Mom’s room.” Richie sharply quipped. Eddie face palmed, knowing he should have see that coming.
“E-Enough Guys. D-d-did you g-get the p-p-permission slips or not?” Bill said holding up his piece of paper. Everyone (besides Beverly and Eddie) held up their individual slips. Stan looked up at him.
“Where’s your slip, Eddie?” He asked nervously, knowing the answer. The reason he was nervous, and the reason that all of them had made the pact in the first place was because of a long held Derry Tradition. The Ritual. Every year, around homecoming, upperclassmen would round up some unfortunate pick of 8th-9th graders and strip them to their underwear and tie them together and stick them in the Canal until the game was over as some sort of fucked up homecoming good luck ritual. Go beavers!
The kids were usually left with a good bout of hypothermia and trauma for life. And each of the group knew that they were prime candidates. They were Losers after all. So the most obvious solution was to join the jocks and hope they wouldn’t pick from their own. Beverly was more than likely going to be fine because in all of the years the tradition had been allowed to carry on by careless adults, a girl had never been one of the unlucky kids. They may be asshat jocks, but they were GENTLEMEN!
“My mom said no…” he sighed, looking at his unsigned, crumpled sheet forlornly. “She said that I’m too delicate.”
“Well, you’re gonna be real delicate when you’re swimming out of the canal.” Richie smirked.
“Beep beep asshole!” Eddie snapped back.
“Oh my god!” Beverly groaned.”You’re so stupid. Richie bend over.” She commanded, snatching the permission slip from Eddie’s grasp.
“Oh wow, Bev! I’m truly flattered but you should know that Mrs.K and I have a closed relationship.” Richie winked at Eddie in that dumb way that always Eddie’s chest flutter uncomfortably. Eddie had decided that the emotion he felt in his chest was unbridled, feral rage and decided not to do any more soul searching.
Beverly scowled at him with a withering, no-nonsense look and Richie sheepishly did the toe touch that he had been working on all summer for preparation for cheerleading. Beverly dropped her backpack on the ground and pulled out a blue gel pen before taking the cap off with her teeth. She laid the sheet flat on Richie’s back, using her free hand to hold it still. She made a few flicks of her wrist before handing back the paper to Eddie. It was a startlingly accurate forgery of his mother’s signature.
“Woah woah woah!” Eddie shrieked. “I can’t turn this in! What will I do once I make the team? How will I explain away going to meets or why I need money for equipment?”
Beverly shrugged “Easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”
“I can’t just-“ Eddie tried to argue as he felt a hand in his back. It would definitely not even remotely move him if he wanted, but he had to appear normal and allowed himself to stumble forward into the lined up bikes.
“You shouldn’t talk so much, wheezy! Wouldn’t wanna trigger an asthma attack!” A sickeningly familiar voice sneered. It was Peter Gordon, cousin of renowned dick-head Henry Bowers. He was also already lined up to be captain of the varsity football team his freshman year, with his large frame and impressive skill. For now though, he was just captain of the Junior High team. In a way, Eddie had always figured that this made him even more dangerous than his psychopathic cousin. Henry was dangerous and everyone feared him and his gang, even the teachers. But Peter was dangerous because everyone wanted to be him or be a part of his gang. Teachers loved him and would turn up their noses at “a little rough housing.” When Henry bullied someone, everyone had sympathy, when Peter did the same thing, people laughed. Popularity truly was a reputation’s iron shield.
In an attempt to catch himself, Eddie dropped the yellow half sheet and it floated through the air right into Peter’s waiting hand. “What’s this? A love note? You really don’t have to try that hard, short guys with mile long allergy lists and old man glasses are really popular with the girls this year.” His eyes scanned the paper and wicked grin split his face. “Looky here boys! Wheezy wants to play with the big boys and girls!” He passed the paper around and the other members of his little posse read it and laughed out loud like the funniest joke was written on it. Finally the note made its way back to Peter’s hands. Eddie made a made grab for it but Peter pulled it back.
“Give that back!” Eddie whines.
“I don’t think I should, kiddo! I think I’m, like, morally obligated to not let you try out for track. Even if you do make it, Wheezy, I don’t want the quality of the Derry track department to drop, and well, I don’t want you to embarrass yourself.” Peter crumpled the paper into a tight was and threw the paper like an NBA player making a three pointer into the nearest trash can. “You should really thank me, I’m doing everyone a favor, especially you.” He gave a big, fake smile and they all sauntered into the school like a Caesar returning from the new freshly conquered countryside.
“Oh yeah, your definitely going to be the sacrifice this year.” Stan deadpanned.
“Duh-duh-Don’t wo-worry, Eddie, we’ll fuh-find ya b-before the g-game ends and p-puh-pull you out.” Bill clapped Eddie on the shoulder supportively
Eddie shrugged off the hand and made his way to the trash can, thankful for the new, unused liner and pulled out his permission slip and put it back into the front pocket of his backpack. He then quickly pulled out some hand sanitizer from the fanny pack around his waist and scrubbed hard. “The only thing I’m definitely doing is trying out for this goddamn track team.” He announced to the cheers of his fellow losers.
The day seemed to go by slower than a turtle. All day, Eddie turned his attention away from the syllabi and class introductions in favor of the ticking clock, he bounced his leg in anticipation all day, accidentally cracking the tile in Mr.Krelboyne’s bio classroom without thinking. Luckily no one noticed the crunch of linoleum under his foot.
Finally the day ended and he met Stan at the running track inside the school gym. Richie wished him luck as he passed through to go to the cheer clinic being held for a few days before tryouts out on the football field. Strangely enough, Eddie found himself being motivated by something even grander than spite now, something he was a bit to distracted to name right now. Mike, Bill and Beverly watched from the bleachers, waving wildly at their embarrassed friends; football tryouts weren’t for another week and Richie had insisted that none of them come until the actual day of cheer tryouts so ‘the excitement will be fresh’.
After the coach led them through stretches, he waved a hairy arm in the air motioning the hopeful runners towards him. “ALRIGHT, HAND IN YOUR SIGNED PERMISSION SLIPS UP HERE IN AN ORDERLY FASHION , PLEASE!” He screamed through cigarette ruined vocal cords. Neither Eddie nor Stan were keen on touching a bunch of sweaty preteens to get to him (Eddie was also incredibly worried about accidentally shoving a classmate to hard and breaking a femur or dislocating a shoulder or one of the several other horrible fates his mother had warned him about inflicting on others) so they stayed towards the back of the herd. They were the last to hand in their forms and the coach looked surprised when Eddie placed his paper into his pudgy hands. He had personally waged wars with Sonia Kaspbrak to let her (supposedly) asthmatic son participate in even the most basic of Physical Education activities, and now she had apparently agreed to let her son participate in a school sport.
“Are you sure, son?” He asked Eden, scratching his head. “A lot of these kids have been doing this for years, so it’s not a non-zero chance that you won’t make the cut.” The YOU held a lot of underlying meaning in it.
“I’m sure.” Eddie said through grit teeth, not appreciating the subtext. “Mom agreed I was ready so here I am.”
“Well if your mom thinks so…” the coach trailed off. He handed Eddie a large number 6 sticker. “You’ll be race number six, when your number is called, line up and run 4 laps around the gym.”
Stan was handed a number 1 and he pumped his fist triumphantly. “They don’t have anyone else but the other 3 guys to compare me with yet.” He explained.
Eddie nodded frantically, a nervous energy building up in him now as he observed how many people were actually in the room now. He looked around the room shifty eyed, fidgeting and bouncing on the heels and balls of his feet. Stan walked off as a loud “GROUP ONE!” Cut through the air. “Wish me luck.” He said as he jogged away to the starting line. Stan got into starting position as a timer beeped, nobody breathed as the only sounds that filled the gym were the sounds of sneakers squeaking against and pounding the shiny and scuffed wooden floors and the sound of heavy breathing from the runners mixed with the ticking of the stopwatch. Thankfully, a summer of training and 8 years of running away from bullies were paying off as Stan went from pacing himself for the first 2 and half laps to a full sprint, his long legs quickly pulling him ahead of the other guys and finishing first. The gym erupted into a symphony of noises, particularly from 3 rowdy teens in the bleachers with no shame.
Stan wheezed as he slowly dragged himself towards Eddie, clutching his ribs. “I’ve never ran so fast in my life, and one time Hockstetter tried to run me over in his car.” He breathily laughed.
“You did good man.” Eddie said supportively, clapping him on the back a little harder than he intended, earning him a soft ‘ow’ from Stan.
Eddie paced up and down the length of the gym, watching intently at the races and wringing his hands, occasionally interrupting himself to scratch as his face nervously. Finally a “GROUP SIX!” Pulled him out of his daze. Stan gave a tired thumbs up as he took another swig from his water bottle up in the bleachers as the other Losers catcalled him embarrassingly. Eddie went a little red when he saw that Richie was there too now, having apparently entered recently from the clinic, sweat sticking his messy black hair to his face and his shirt to his chest. Richie wolf whistled and let out and embarrassingly loud “MAKE THEM EAT YOUR DUST, SPAGHETTI MAN!”
Eddie had to win this.
He lined up, feeling very small next to the cavalcade of long legs beside him. His legs tensed up like a coiled spring, ready to be released. He knew he could beat them easily, he just had to play it down a bit. He could do that, right? His fingers dig into the yellowy-brown wood and his eyes set forward onto the first curve of the track. He somehow manages to hear the countdown buzzer over the pounding of the blood in his ears. Finally the high pitch starting bell rings and he’s off.
“STEROIDS?!” Sonia Kaspbrak yelled, scandalized.
Eddie sat numbly slouched in the burgundy plastic seats of the vice principal’s office. He looked at the peeling cream wall paper and at the dying fern and read the names of every book on the mahogany bookshelves and even at the gold ball chain on the lamp that sat on the vice principal’s desk. He wanted to look at anything but the three adults in the room; his mom, the track coach, and the Vice Principal.
He knew he was fast, but to be accused of steroids?
“Ma’am, he ran a the mile in a minute and 15 seconds. That’s nearly 60 miles per hour. The current world foot speed record was made last year in the 88’ Olympics by Jim Hines in the at 22 miles per hour.” The coach explained calmly. “How did your son, who you insist is asthmatic and is shorter than average, manage to break that record nearly 3 times over without chemical help? Also, before the race he was fidgeting and acting strangely. Mr.Sawyer, I demand that this boy be drug tested immediately!” He demanded, fists balling.
“Now Coach.” The Vice principal stated calmly. “Mrs. Kaspbrak won’t even let her son drink from the water fountain, do you really think she’d pump her son full of drugs for a sport she clearly doesn’t want him to even play?”
“Maybe he didn’t get them from her, but who’s to say he didn’t get them from another student? He probably knew he wouldn’t make it, so he doped up to get an edge. You know, I still think that the football players are-“
“Those boys all tested clean!”
“Because someone on the inside warned them!”
“Coach.” The VP pinched the space between his eyes “is it possible that maybe your clock ran a little fast? Even with enough steroids to kill a horse, there’s no way an inexperienced runner could beat the world record.”
“No way!” The coach looked undignified “I made sure they were calibrated all throughout the day before tryouts, and they worked just fine for the other boys.”
“ I’m sure that there is a reasonable explanation for Mr. Kaspbrak’s newfound talent. Isn’t there, Edward?” The VP asked with a look that said ‘please give me a reasonable explanation so I can go home and watch M*A*S*H reruns.’
“Yes, Eddie-Bear! Please give this kind man an explanation!” Sonia asked with wide eyes.
“Uh- Adrenaline?” Eddie shrugged nervously. It wasn’t that far off from the truth. He was super nervous about slowing down too much so he accelerated a little bit and then he realized that the others were watching and he didn’t wanna embarrass himself in front of them so he accelerated even more, and then he didn’t know how well he was doing so he sped up a little more and apparently the result was going as fast as a car on the interstate. “Yeah! Adrenaline! I spiked and now I’m really tired, so can we get going home so I can take a nap or…”
“Yes! Adrenaline! I saw on the news last week a story about a woman who’s adrenaline spiked so much that she lifted a car off a baby! And now my baby boy is going into shock! I need to get him to a hospital RIGHT NOW!” Sonia shrieked, grabbing her son’s arm and dragging him out of the office
“While you’re there, get a drug test or that kid will never see the track!” The coach screamed down the hall
“THEN I GUESS HE’LL NEVER SEE TGE TRACK THEN! GOOD DAY SIR!” Sonia screamed even louder
The were soon in the beige car that would drive them home. Eddie buckled up before turning to his mom.
“We will talk about this when we get home Eddie-Bear.” Sonia said low and dangerously
Eddie gulped and was never so happy in his life to live on an out of the way piece of farmland.
Chapter 2: You’re a rocket man, Eddie!
“F-found me?” Eddie’s eyes grew wide, “What are you saying? Mom, am I adopted? Wait, did you KIDNAP ME?” Eddie quickly scooted farther away from her, clutching the object to his chest protectively.
“No! Well, yes, you are adopted. But I did not kidnap you!” Sonia squeaked “I literally found you out in the field where we used to grow beans after the meteor shower of 79’.”
Eddie scoffed in disbelief, “Oh, and I guess you keep my spaceship in the attic!”
Eddie gets home and deals with the fall out and learns himself a thing or two about where babies come from.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
When the long awkward car ride ended, Momma Kaspbrak all but dragged her boy into the antique farmhouse. She sat him down in the plush chair that had been in that house longer than her and she paced the living room, wringing her fingers through her freshly curled hair. The squeak of the floorboards as she paced reminded Eddie of a metronome or a ticking clock
‘Or a stop watch’ the Trashmouth part of his mind that he undoubtedly got from Richie.
Squeak-Squawk-Squeak-Squawk-Squeak-Squawk went the floor. Eddie was wondering what punishment lay ahead for him and gulped nervously as his mother turned to face him. She looked resolutely at him and what she said next would have surprised even Mike’s psychic auntie Shauna.
“Pack your bags, we have to leave.” She sternly decided.
Eddie stared at her, gaping like a fish and the sentence had to bounce around his head for a bit before he could fully comprehend the absurd sentence that just spilled from her mouth. “Wh- Leave?! Why?”
“Because, Eddie, you were reckless, irresponsible, and completely disobeyed me.”
“Ma! I tried out for track! I just wanted to be normal, like you so desperately want me to be! So what? I’m fast, that Hines guy the coach was talking about was fast, but his mom didn’t make him leave his whole life behind because he tried out for Track and Field in middle school!”
“Eddie, I know this is hard, but one day you’ll-“
“Let me guess? Thank you? Yeah Mom, in fact, let me thank you right now! Thank you for never letting me have a life outside of this god forsaken farm! Thank you for forcing me to carry around an inhaler and wear glasses that I haven’t needed for 6 years, leading me to getting called Wheezy and Old Man by every jerk at school! Thank you, Mom, for only letting me have 5 whole friends in the entire world and then ripping them away from me because I wanted to have fun like everyone else and not get myself thrown into the canal in my underwear! Thanks. A . Lot .” Hot tears stung Eddie’s eyes and his voice began to feel hoarse.
Sonia looked shocked at her child. “Eddie, please, I’m not trying to be the villain here! I only want to protect you! I only want what’s best for you!”
“What’s best for me? WHAT’S BEST FOR ME?! How is locking me away from the world ‘what’s best for me’?”
“Because I don’t want you to get taken away from me!” Sonia finally broke, falling to her knees and sobbing into her chubby hands. Eddie started to feel guilty for his outburst at her and crouched down by her weeping form and lightly rubbed his hand over her back silently, not wanting to hurt her more.
“‘Mommy, what do you mean? Why would I get taken away? Who would even want to do that?” He asked sincerely.
“The government! The FBI! The CIA! Interpol!” Sonia sobbed out. Eddie stopped his hand.
“The government? Ok, Mommy, you’ve lost me now.” Eddie admitted.
Sonia let out the last of her sobs and wipes her eyes with the back of her baby pink tracksuit. “Well, I always knew this day would come. God, I just kept putting it off and here we are now.” She pitifully laughed. “It’s going to be easier if I just show you. Eddie, sit down… I’ll be right back.” She shuffled out awkwardly and lightheaded from the tears shed. Eddie wiped his own eyes and realized that too many tears were shared between them for one day and it wasn’t even 6pm yet. Sonia came back, eyes still red, blotchy cheeks shining with tears. She was holding something that Eddie first thought was a grey VHS tape. But as she grew closer he realized that there were no reels and the entire box was an opaque metal. She shakily handed it to him and as he took it, he realized that the metal was textured. He looked at it closer and saw hundreds of symbols that gave him a weird ache in his sinuses. It was like his body was trying to say “YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS DUMB DUMB!!!!” But couldn’t pull out the information. He flipped it over and saw that the bottom of the rectangle had an indentation in it where it looked like it was clearly meant to be inserted into something; like the cartridges on Bill’s NES that he had gotten for Christmas when he was 10, making his house the most popular hangout spot with the Losers club.
“Mom? What is this?” He finally asked after a good 5 minutes if inspection.
“I’ve been asking myself that for years. I can’t find anything about what language that is. But it was with you when I… found you…”
“F-found me?” Eddie’s eyes grew wide, “What are you saying? Mom, am I adopted? Wait, did you KIDNAP ME?” Eddie quickly scooted farther away from her, clutching the object to his chest protectively.
“No! Well, yes, you are adopted. But I did not kidnap you!” Sonia squeaked “I literally found you out in the field where we used to grow beans after the meteor shower of 79’.”
Eddie scoffed in disbelief, “Oh, and I guess you keep my spaceship in the attic!”
It turns out she kept it in the storm cellar. It sat there, a silver tear shaped cocoon, covered in dust and 9 year old dirt. The pod, which was dented from its crash landing, had a hatch on it which was popped open. It was just the right size for a toddler to fit into.
“I always figured that this brought you here… to me.” Sonia admitted. “And then your were always so special and I knew that you weren’t 100% human.”
Eddie stared at her and then the pod in silent wide eyed shock for what felt like and eternity to them both. Finally Eddie opened his mouth to speak.
“NO! NO NO NO ! I am NOT hearing this. This cannot be real. This has gotta be paper mache, or some broken machine part! C’mon, Mom. It’s gotta be fake.” Eddies voice warbles
“Eddie…” Sonia says delicately
“C’mon Mom, it’s not funny anymore! Tell me this is all one big joke!” Eddie could feel something blocking his throat.
“Baby, I-” Sonia started before her son cut her off
“C’mon…please…tell me you’re lying…tell me it’s not true. Tell me it’s not real, Mommy. Please. Please just tell me. Tell me it’s not true!” Eddie’s voice finally cracks and he’s gone weak in the knees. He grabbed Sonia by the hand to keep him steady as his world fell apart beneath him.
“Eddie-bear, please calm down! Your asthma!”
“ Really mom?! You just told me that I’m a mars man or something and you’re worried about my asthma?! I just found out you’re not even my real mom! These aren’t even my dad’s glasses! These just belong to some dead guy that I never met!” Eddie threw them to the ground, to which Sonia squawked and quickly grabbed them and wiped them off on her sweatshirt sleeve. “How are you so calm?! Oh yeah, that’s right, you’ve had a decade to adjust, and I found out 20 minutes ago that you left me in the dark about what SPECIES I was all that time! I’ve spent practically my whole life living a lie!” He ran out of the storm cellar, leaving behind a very distraught Sonia Kaspbrak in his wake.
He was a good distance from the barn and he could still hear the distant cries of “EDDIE! EDDIIEEEE! YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME! PLEASE COME BACK!” Don’t do this to her? TO HER? She had no right to say that to him. He wanted to be far, far away from that voice. So he did what he did to get into this mess in the first place.
Eddie ran as fast as those short little legs would carry him. He felt light in a way when he ran, like he was about to start walking on air, yet right now he felt more uncomfortably grounded than ever. It was like everything he was avoiding his whole life was confronting him at once. Of course he was an alien! It made sense! Yet he so desperately didn’t want it to. He wanted to just be Edward Kaspbrak, the weirdly athletic son to town hypochondriac and PTA nightmare, Sonia Kaspbrak and her deceased husband, Frank. Was that too much to ask? To know where he came from? What planet was he from? Who were his birth parents? Why did they send him here, to a planet where he had to hide and got bullied every day? Did they not want him? Was this what they did to unwanted children wherever he was from, a banishment of sorts? Oh God, what if he was some sort of violent criminal who killed a million people and they had a weird death penalty where they turned you into a memoryless baby where you were either left to starve on an alien planet or get raised by the wildlife like Tarzan? Were there others like him on earth?
His head hurt.
Soon, though, it wasn’t just his head that was hurting as his foot awkwardly hit an uneven bit of tilled soil, in the area where field met road. He picked himself up and realized, as he took in his surroundings, that he had run into the land that was owned by the Hanlons. The sun was starting to set and the air was uncomfortably sticky with summer heat. A low buzzing was picking up volume as the bugs started to mingle in the darkness. He checked his hands and knees for cuts or scratches and felt relief for a moment that he was uninjured. Then a sickening realization kicked in. He was uninjured. He had always been uninjured . He couldn’t remember having ever come home with bumps and bruises like his friends, and he was unable to recall a time where he scraped his shins or nicked his arms when they rode bikes or played in the woods. He didn’t even know if he bled the same color as his friends.
He was interrupted by a flashlight in his face and a soft voice going “Eh-Eddie?”
He looked up and saw the faces of all of his friends, concerned looks on their faces, towering over them, Stan helped him to his feet. He felt a hand rest upon his tricep and saw the arm belonged to Richie. Richie; whose brows were furrowed in concern and kept opening and closing his mouth as if to say something, but for the first time in his life was at a loss for words. Luckily, Beverly spoke for him.
“Eddie, honey, what’s wrong?” Her voice was soft and hushed, like an early autumn wind.
“Yeah, we just were on the way to your house to check up on you and instead we find you crying on the side of the road.” Stan said bluntly. “Did… did your mom do this to you.” his voice was much quieter when he said this.
“No… yes… kinda sorta a little bit.” Eddie squeaked. He felt Richie’s hand clench for a half second.
“Woah! Dude! Do you need somewhere to sleep tonight? You know Casa de Tozier is always open.” Richie loudly announced, having finally found his voice.
“You know Grandma and Grandpa love you, you could stay with us too.” Mike added helpfully.
Stan, Bill and Beverly all agreed that their guardians would gladly help him out.
“No. It’s not like that! She didn’t kick me out or anything.” Eddie reassured and everyone’s shoulders slightly untensed as they let out the breaths they didn’t know they kept captive in their lungs. “It’s just that she finally decided that I could be told I’m… adopted… I’m not really taking it well” Eddie told a half truth. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust them, but he didn’t even know if he was accepting it right now and he had physical proof.
“Oh! Oh…” Bill conceded. “Th-That’s- wwwow.”
“I know.” Eddie rubbed his thumb into his palm. This was the first time he had said it aloud and he felt like this little action was keeping him grounded. He didn’t even register Richie pulling him into a hug until he had two skinny arms around him and he inhaled a breath of axe cologne and cigarettes. On anyone else the smell would be repulsive; but in his arms, it was just comfortingly Richie. Eddie weakly reciprocated. The other losers grouped in and hugged him as well.
“Welcome to the adopted kids club with Bev, Me, and Mikey Mike.” He said sweetly, just about ruining the moment. Just about. Because Eddie realized that he really wasn’t alone, over half of his friends had been adopted by family members after the meteor strike of 1979. Richie’s parents were crushed, Beverly’s dad got into a wreck (although, Beverly never seemed too bothered by it) and Mike’s folks were killed when a meteor hit a telephone pole that landed on their house and caused a fire. He felt a little better and hugged a little tighter.
“Hey, this means that we’re now 4-2 majority adopted.” Richie thoughtfully remarked, as he pulled out of the hug, the rest following. He pointed at Stan and Bill. “Look at these two outcasts, living with both of their birth parents.” He jokingly scoffed, earning him a “BEEP BEEP.” from the group.
“How ‘bout you come down to my house and I’ll show you what an outcast I am!” Stan sarcastically bit. “My dad’s been wanting to ask you why you didn’t come into temple this last saturday.”
Richie visibly paled and Eddie knew it was because, as Richie had bragged about to the group during lunch, Richie had used that day to sneak into an R rated movie. Eddie hadn’t met Stan’s dad more than a few times in their long friendship, the rabbi was usually in his office working on next week’s sermon or community events; but every time he had, Mr.Uris was overwhelmingly intimidating. He wasn’t really aggressive, just very intense. Rabbi Uris was also one of the only parents of their group to actually approve of his son being friends with Richie, if not for the sole reason that he was the only other Jew that Stan regularly hung out with in their majority Goyim group and also because he was the only parent that Richie was appropriately respectful towards. (“No way am I talking shit around a guy who’s chums with the Almighty!” “My Dad doesn’t talk to Ha-shem directly dumbass!” “Uh-huh, yeah. Sure Staniel.”)
“S-So, Eddie, wh-wh-what did the c-co-coach drag you away f-for?” Bill asked, Eddie internally decided that he owed Bill his life for changing the freaking subject.
“He thought I was on steroids.” Eddie sheepishly admitted. Everyone shifted eyes to look at each other before something snapped and they all started to laugh.
“Does he even know who you are?” Beverly asked. “You’re the same guy who brings his own knife and fork to school every day because you don’t trust them to wash them good enough and they think you would inject yourself with some sketch ass drugs?”
“Yeah, no offense Eddie, but if I were a dealer and you tried to buy something from me, I would ask where your parents are.” Mike smirked.
“Don’t laugh! They won’t let me run track now!” Eddie whined, and they all stopped laughing.
“What! They can’t do that!” Stan gasped. “We were with you all day up until the tryouts, we can testify!”
“Coach Dennis won’t care. You’re all my friends, they would think you’re just covering for me.” Eddie argued “Plus now my mom knows I tried out and she’s pissed.” Eddie left out the part where she told him that they had to move.
“Well maybe I could-” Richie started, only to be cut off by a beep-beep from the group “I didn’t even say anything!”
“You don’t have to, trashmouth, I could see the ‘your mom’ joke from a hundred miles away.” Eddie snapped.
“How did you run the mile so quick, anyways, Eddie? We’ve been practicing all summer for tryouts and I’ve never seen you go that quick.” Stan rubbed his chin, intrigued.
Eddie internally panicked for a moment, brain searching for any reason that wasn’t extraterrestrial. “Steroids.” He said quickly, causing the group to chuckle.
“Well, I hope when homecoming comes you can get your ass in gear and do that again.” Mike told the group, “You’re gonna need it if you’re gonna outrun those meatheads on the football team.”
“If all goes well, you and Bill are going to BE one of those meatheads.” Eddie reminded them.
“H-h-Hey, I r-resent that.” Bill stuttered. Beverly rustled his hair playfully.
“Oh yeah, you and Mike are going to be the smartest guys on the team, bringing their total brain cell count from 1 to 3.” Beverly teased.
“You guys have your own brain cells? Lucky! I have one on loan from Stan at all times, and if I don't pay the rent he takes it back, then me and Ed’s have to share one like a game of hot potato.” Richie reminisced.
“Don’t call me Ed’s! And how come you don’t take one of Beverly’s brain cells?” Eddie complained, just about missing the redundancy of arguing over the custody of fictional brain cells.
“Too powerful.” Richie shrugged, “It’s like trying to use the entire state’s power grid to power up one walkman.”
“Oh be still my beating heart, I don’t think I will ever feel deserving of such high praise.” Beverly said flatly.
“Hey guys, I hate to ruin the tender moment, but- “ Stan cut in. “It’s getting late and we’re standing on a dirt road in the sticks and I can hear the bugs waking up an it’s making my skin crawl. Can we go to someone’s house, now?”
Eddie sighed and he knew what he had to do. “Let’s head to mine, I left my mom crying in the storm shelter and I think I really need to apologize or at least have a talk with her.” He admitted.
“I-If that’s what y-you want.” Bill acquiesced. He picked Silver up off of the ground and hopped on. “L-l-Let’s go Losers.”
Beverly got on the back of Silver and those two were off, faster than the Devil in the direction of Kaspbrak Farm. Stan was gone next, quickly followed by Mike. That left Eddie and Richie the last to go.
“Shit, I don’t have my bike.” Eddie whined to no one but himself, maybe to whatever God there was. He’d have to consult Rabbi Uris about what the fuck kind of God could lead to his particular situation; an Alien abandoned on a foreign world, whining because he didn’t have a bike to ride like the other boys and girl.
“Hop on.” Richie said casually, patting the back of his bike. He didn’t have a luggage rack like Bill had but he did have these little pegs that stuck out from the bolts on the back wheel to stand on. Eddie opened his mouth to protest about how unsafe it was to do that, but then remembered that he was probably invulnerable and this mental shift was solidified when Richie said “Or you can turn down the ride and put those motor legs to good use and run back yourself.”
Eddie very much did not want to do that and so he awkwardly put his feet on the foot rests and wrapped his arms around Richie from behind. He tried his best and failed not to accidentally inhale one of the stray black curls that tumbled down Richie’s neck. He could feel his cheeks getting very warm at the close contact.
“You uh- you look really nice without your glasses.” Eddie heard Richie croak out behind him. Eddie physically could not handle this right now and did something that the owner of the bike would make a career out of in the future: deflect his true feelings with jokes.
“You look really nice without my glasses too.” Eddie teased.
“Ooh! Eds gets off a good one! But, you know, that’s not what your Joe says.” Richie giggled
“Who’s Joe?” Eddie asked a feeling of dread settling in his stomach over this apparent new guy who had been complimenting his best friend.
Richie’s head turned almost 180 degrees with a shit eating grin on his face. “Joe MAMA! Oh my fuck- I’ve been-I’ve” he wheezed out between fits of laughter “I came up with that a week ago and I’ve been waiting to use it forever!”
Eddie didn’t want to lose his already precarious position so instead of smacking him like he deserved, he just scowled at Richie and yelled at him to pedal already.
“Your wish is my command, Prince Spaghetti!” He cheered in his shitty Butler voice as he took off towards Kaspbrak farm, now almost half a mile behind the other Losers.
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Eddie had his chin resting weakly on Richie’s scalp when he finally saw the lights of the farmhouse. The skull beneath his head began to buzz as Richie spoke up. “Seriously, Eds, if you aren’t ready to confront this right now, I can turn us around and you can have a sleepover at my house. Laney has a late shift tonight, she won’t care if you do.”
Eddie looked at the rapidly approaching house. The peeling white paint was barely visible under the light of the moon and the light from the kitchen window. The rest of the Losers were farther up the road, unable to hear the two. For a brief moment he briefly considered it, going home meant having to confront… Well all of it. Every bit of this singularly spectacular tire fire of a day was represented by that creaky homestead; The track tryouts, the storm cellar, the space ship, the suitcases, Sonia, and too many tears in puddles on the ground. He was very close to telling Richie to turn back and go to the Tozier house. Before the words could come out though, a very large woman came barreling out of the house to greet the oncoming parade of bikes. Even from here, Eddie could see the shine of tears on his mother’s face and could here pleading wails to his friends for information on where he could be. Oh super powers sure are fun, aren’t they?
He then decided on how to respond, “Thanks Rich, but me and my mom really need to talk about… all of this…” he sighed
He couldn’t see it but Richie knitted his brow and bit his lip in thought. Today was one of those rare days that his Trashmouth was able to take a hint and let him carefully choose his words. Finally he questioned. “Alright, if you say so. Do you want us there for, like, moral support and shit or should I tell them all to scram?”
Eddie put his cheek onto the top of his head, closed his eyes, and weighed both options in his mind. “No, I don’t think I need you guys to see this. This is something between me and her.” He decided. “You can tell the rest of them that I’ll see them at school, tomorrow.”
“Only if you tell her that I’ll see her tonight.” Richie said in his skeeziest voice as they pulled up almost to the long driveway. Eddie unwrapped one arm from his friend’s torso to give him a noogie
“Beep Beep, jerkwad!” He scowled.
“Home, James.” Richie announced in his shitty Butler voice as they rode up to the front door. Eddie hopped off and as soon as his feet touched ground he was immediately swept off of them when he was pulled into hefty bear hug from his mother.
“Oh Eddie-Bear!” She wailed, pressing her tear stained cheeks onto his forehead. Eddie used every bit of his otherworldly strength to turn his head to see Richie ushering the group away.
“One second mom, I’ll be right back.” He said pushing her away with a whimper (from Sonia of course). He walked back up to his friends who were all climbing back onto their bikes.He could barely see their faces in the flickering porch light. “So uh… thanks guys, I was really spiraling out there. I’d probably be having an asthma attack in a field if you hadn’t found me and brought me home. I’ll see you tomorrow?” He said the last part like a question because he didn’t know how this conversation was going to pan out.
He once again was swept into a group hug, surrounded by various reassurances. Finally the group split and sped off into the night towards their separate houses. The last thing he heard from them that night was Richie yelling out to Stan, “Tell Rabbi Uris ‘shalom’ for me and that I’m finally getting over my head cold!”
And Stan replied loudly and sarcastically and was now a little farther away, “TELL HIM YOURSELF, TISHA B’AV IS THIS THURSDAY!”
“ CRAP !” Was the last of the noise that Eddie heard before he turned back to his mother.
“Eddie-bear, I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. I just-“ she started, as she was cut off be her son grabbing her palm.
“Let’s talk about this inside.” He suggested. Sonia nodded and followed him as he led her inside.
Once inside, she fell easily into her favorite recliner and Eddie took his usual place on the couch. He saw the large metal cartridge was still on the scratched oak coffee table where he left it before he was taken to the storm cellar. Eddie closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down in preparation for the coming conversation.
“Can- Can you take me from the beginning.” Eddie sounded a lot like Bill.
Sonia stared intently at the white spots on her nails. “It was October 15, 1979. My husband, Frank died of cancer.” Her voice hitched a little at this. Eddie took a moment to reflect on her choice to say “my husband” instead of “your dad”. “I was about home from the funeral when out of God knows where, the Meteor Shower happened. Eddie-bear, you were the first thing to hit the ground. I was still pretty raw, I’d just lost my husband to a horrible sickness, and then you were given to me. Oh, you were so small and you were passed out, I guessed that you were only about 3 or 4 years old at the time. You were so… tiny, and fragile, and you could barely keep your eyes open, and some days you couldn’t breathe right; and when I looked at you, all I could see was Frank! But it was fine! I could take care of you, I would and will always take care of you. To everyone else, you were just a sickly human boy. But then you started t-to -well, change. You were getting stronger, and I was happy about that! But then you kept getting stronger, you were 10 years old and you were already 3 times stronger than your father as in his prime ever was. I knew it was only a matter of time before people would see how special you were, and so I did what I always did, I protected you. I taught you how to blend in. I made sure to vet all of your friends. I made sure that I was always within an arm’s reach so I could rush in when you got in trouble… but I guess none of that ended up mattering in the end.” Tears were crawling down her face once again, but she wiped them away with the heels of her palms. “It’s funny, you never got to meet him, but you and him… you’re so, so similar like that. When he was a teenager like you, Frank was a little rebel. He would sneak out to meet me at the pictures, he would throw parties when his parents left, he toilet papered the school our senior year-“ She giggled with fondness. Eddie could hardly remember the last time she spoke about Frank. Whenever he had asked about his supposed father, he had only gotten one of three responses.
1- A brush off and a sad look
2- A recount of Frank Kaspbrak, the patient, not the person. Frank, the dying man, the victim, the man with an evil sickness in his lungs. Frank, the story that Eddie recited to Richie and Beverly religiously when they would smoke. The illness, not the father or husband or friend.
Or, only if he was truly lucky:
3- Frank Kaspbrak, the man, the myth, the legend. The perfect man. The perfect husband, who brought his wife wild flowers every day after he came back from a day of hard labor in the fields that he perfectly managed all on his own. The perfect son, who made perfect grades and happily took it upon himself to stay in Derry to take over the family farm from his aging parents. The perfect father and family man, who loved Eddie and Sonia more than life itself. (Except that couldn’t be true, could it? He’d never even gotten to meet Eddie.)
Frank Kaspbrak was always an enigmatic figure in Eddie’s life. An angel of a man that loved his family and his farm and his town and was an invincible superhuman until he got sick and his body became made of glass. It was grounding to hear about Frank the high schooler, a Frank Kaspbrak who was not perfect. A Frank that was a person, not a legend.
“And when he got sick, he would always go against all of the doctors’ suggestions to stay home and rest peacefully during his final days, it drove me nuts. He wouldn’t even let me pick his favorite donuts up for him from the coffee shop, he always said that he couldn’t stand to be cooped up in this place when the world was outside.” A rapidfire flash of several emotions. Sadness, Realization, Guilt, Shame, and then Sadness again. Her gaze softened as she met his eyes. Her large and soft hand wrapped tenderly around Eddie’s small and bony ones. “... And I’ve been doing the same thing to you, haven’t I Eddie?”
Eddie squeezed her hand back softly, “Uh- A little bit, yeah.” He confirmed softly. “Ma, I really don’t want to move.”
“Eddie, I am so sorry.” Sonia earnestly apologized, “All, this time, I thought I was protecting you, but I hurting you. Fine, we don’t have to move, but you have to be more careful from now on. In exchange I do suppose I could… loosen up a bit. But don’t expect me to change into one of those willy-nilly parents who let their kids go missing until midnight, like those Denboroughs, overnight! I’m still your mom, and you’re still my Eddie-bear.” She explained.
Eddie didn’t care if she had grounded him until he could rent a car, he wasn’t moving! “I can live with that, Ma.”
Unbeknownst to most everyone in Derry, for the first time in almost 10 years, a meteor struck the earth. A ball of burning green flame hit an open crevice in the earth, swallowing it into the planets stony, cavernous maw. The ball fell another mile down until it hit the bottom of the cave system hot and hard. The heat seemed to melt the rock, the impact making an actual splash around the new crater, a spiked crown around the intruder. A long, crablike claw extended from the pit, pulling its owner into the moonlight. A terrible, wicked grin with too many teeth for one creature split Its face. It sniffed the air and the grin grew impossibly, terribly wider. Drool dripped between its teeth and to its feet. His senses were flooded with this planet’s hated thoughts and hopes and loves and it’s beautiful, delicious fear. He could smell these young, dull monkeys and could sense as they made their way about their pathetic, dull lives. But then he caught a whiff of something new, yet old and nostalgic; in a sense that one would get nostalgic over a meal that they ate once in a now defunct restaurant while on vacation abroad. Orange, hateful eyes widened as this creature licked his lips.
“I haven’t had a kryptonian in almost a decade…” he pondered. “He will make a wonderful pre-meal snack.”
This was a creature of many names. A shapeshifter. A living nightmare. A devourer of worlds. But as it shook and shrunk and squirmed and took on a new form, it took on a new persona. Eight deadly sharp legs became a 2 pairs of fleshy, cloth covered limbs. It’s skin became a silk uniform, the color of bleached skeletons left in the dank woods and slowly reclaimed by the eroding dirt with accents the color of fresh, still wet blood. It cleared its new, humanoid throat and it tried this new costume out.
“Hiya, I’m Pennywise! The dancing clown!”
Eddie looked out the window from his play pen. The red sun in the yellow sky beat down low over the city’s silver skyline. He didn’t know where he was. He looked closer out the window. The towers weren’t any shape he had ever seen before, seemingly physically impossible shapes. Floating, inorganic shapes zipped around like paper planes. The sun was rising and the four moons were falling. Perfectly tranquil.
Not for long Eddie thought, although he wasn’t quite sure what that meant or how he knew that.
His prediction came to pass as the room began to shake. He barely caught a large explosion in the center of the impossible city from his low vantage point. The room he is in shakes violently. He doesn’t even have the time to call for help before a stranger burst into the room.
Except he isn’t a stranger, is he ?
There is something so achingly familiar about this man. About this room. But the more Eddie tries to focus on the details, the more the world seems to blend like water colors around him.
He is held close to the man’s chest as the make their way through the building. The home a voice in Eddie’s head nags. He is muttering words in a language that Eddie knows that he has understood before, yet he can’t comprehend.
Finally they reach some sort of a workshop. He swivels his head to see what they are running towards.
It’s the spaceship in the storm cellar. Eddie thinks, but the other concurrent thought is He’s been working on this forever instead of playing with me. Why he had this thought was a mystery.
The man lowers him into the pod and kisses the top of his head. He says some final words, that even though the language barrier, Eddie knows are important. The hatch closes over him, leaving him in darkness and straps rise up to buckle him in. Eddie thrashes at the new and sudden restraints. The whole pod starts to rumble and the hatch above him lights up. A map of stars and the plotted course is on display. The pod around him becomes clear, like a screen of invisibility allowing him to see the burning city below him as the pod lifts into the void of space at breakneck speed.
The last thing Eddie sees of the planet is when he manages to twist his neck enough to watch the planet crack in half like an egg, sending glowing green bits of exploded planet after him.
Eddie woke up with tears in his eyes. He bolted up and hyperventilated for a minute. He instinctively grabbed the inhaler off his bedside table and took a quick puff. He then remembered that he didn’t actually need it and threw it hard at the darkness of his bedroom in no particular direction and accidentally knocked his Lion-O action figure off of his desk, where it had previously been posed from its last adventure.
Eddie turned his head to look at the dull red glow of his alarm clock. 3:28 the clock read. Eddie pulled his knees to his chest and stared into the steady light for a good 5 minutes. Then something in his brain went on autopilot. He swung his short legs over the side of the bed and crept silently through the room. He stuck his head out of his doorway, peering out into the long hallway for any sign of stirring from his mother. Seeing nothing, he tip-toed out of his room and down the stairs and into the living room. There he saw what he came for.
Sonia had forgotten to take the large cartridge back into the attic. Perfect. Eddie swiped it and made his way out of the front door. Once he was off the creaking porch, he booked it for the storm cellar.
Eddie stood over the shining pod, searching all over for… something. Finally he looked inside and saw a slot about the length of his forearm. He tentatively inserted it and a handprint shaped sensor started to glow on the side of the ship. He placed his hand on and a blue glow filled the room when the ship sprung to life. A loud, low buzz filled the air and Eddie fell back in shock, praying to everything that his mom wouldn’t wake up. Then, a glowing beam pointed upwards like a searchlight and started to shape and take form.
It was… a man !
The same man from my dream . Eddie’s brain yelled.
The man was old and wizened and reminded Eddie somewhat of a kind old turtle. The hologram opened its mouth. “Kal-Rin! You have finally awoken me!” He cheered.
“W-who are you?” Eddie stuttered
“My name is Matu-rin. And Kal, I am your father.”
Well not the weirdest thing to happen this week.
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