Flippy couldn’t see very well, let alone hear. His mind was still lost in his nightmare, as his alter-ego was still laughing after seeing Flaky for the first time. Flippy was never one to be emotional before, but when he imagined Flaky’s death, the only response he could think of was sadness. But he felt somehow relieved that it was just a fantasy, and at the same time he begged that it wouldn’t become reality. His mind was still centered on his vision of Flaky in her white dress; he imagined that as her wedding dress in the future. She looked so beautiful in it, so beautiful that Flippy wanted to buy her a dress like that one day.
Hopefully it won’t be stained with her blood like her foresaw.
He was so exhausted that he dozed off. Again. This time, he didn’t dream about meadows or Flaky or Fliqpy.
This time, he felt his mind having a flashback. Back to the first time he became a tree friend.
Flippy grew up with an abusive father and a drug addict mother, who died of an overdose when he was 3 years old. His father was an army general, wanting a perfect soldier as a son. But Flippy never showed signs of being a soldier. He liked sports and being a kid. His father, one day, planned to force his son to like the feeling of murder by letting him hold a knife and told him to stab a stray cat that the boy befriended. Felix didn’t want to kill, so he refused. The heartless man then took him to the kitchen and held a knife to a fire. Felix begged for him not to burn him as he struggled more and more, until he bit the man's finger. The man lost his grip, and Felix ran for the window. He jumped out, through the glass, cutting himself badly, but he didn’t care; he had to get away from this house. He had to escape the city, so he took for forest on the boundary of the city. He was afraid to go at first, after all he was very young. Barely even 6. He kept running and running till he found a man tending to a garden. The man immediately stopped and acknowledged the bleeding boy boy.
“Oh you poor child. Where’s your family?”
Felix sniffled; he sobbed with every step he took till he got to the tree. Feeling so afraid and unloved, he hugged the man, needing to hold someone for comfort.
“I don’t want to go back home! Please mister! He’s gonna kill me!”
“What? Who’s gonna kill you?”
“My daddy! Please, sir!”
“What about your mommy?”
“She…” He nuzzled into the man’s chest. “She’s dead.”
The man reeled back. This poor boy, one he’d never met before, was coming to a complete stranger for comfort which he hadn’t probably felt in years.
“A young child like you, all alone with his only family being monsters. Despicable. You must have amazing courage, kid.”
Felix looked up to the man’s eyes. They were sparkling, giving hope to his, which were bloodshot and red.
“Would you like to stay here? I’d take good care of you, like me and my wife do for all our young children.”
He motioned to the tree, which had children running through. All were happy and playing with each other. Felix never had many friends, so he wanted to play too. He looked back at the man, and smiled, the first time he smiled in a very long time.
The man picked him up and cradled him.
“What can I call you, child?”
“My name is Felix.”
“Felix. A name for a strong healthy boy, fit for a king.”
“Can I call you… Dad?”
“You can call me anything, but the others call me Pop.”
Pop led him into the tree. For being a tree, it felt like a real home. It was a hollowed out sequoia tree, the largest of any kind. The inside was large and spacious, holes in the tree led into special rooms on the exterior, which were made of lumber and built to hold. There were about twenty rooms, one for each child and one for Pop and his wife.
They got their water supply from the nearby river, which they made sure it was clean by manning it with a wood built dam. No electricity though, so they relied on candles; not too many and not too hot, in fear the tree will burn down. Food was prepared in a fire pit outside, where the club held bonfires and cookouts.
Pop worked as an assistant for the mayor of the city, who was ironically the dumbest man in town, a tall, light blue haired man named Gordon, sometimes called Lumpy. The wage was small, but it was enough to get the children by. Pop was married to a woman named Jeannie, who was called Mama. She worked as a maid for several households, usually for rich and wealthy bachelors. They never worked on the same day; one had to be behind to watch the kids. They really felt like parents, even though they didn't have a baby of their own.
Felix looked in wonder as he saw the inside of the tree; he felt accepted there. Like it was his real home all along. He looked happy to be there, knowing he has a home.
“Jeannie, we have company!”
A young woman strolled down what seemed like an eternity of wooden steps. She was dressed in a black maids outfit, with dirt and dust spots all over it.
“Oh, my goodness! Poor little boy, what on earth happened to you?”
She came to examine Felix’s cuts from the glass window, and almost broke into tears. She’d never seen such an injured, miserable looking child.
“I… I jumped out a window. I got hurt, and the red water won’t stop coming out.”
Pop introduced Felix to his wife.
“This is Felix. He escaped his abusive father, Jeannie. How about adding another mouth to feed?”
“Oh, of course. Come with me, little one.”
She held out her hand and Felix grabbed it. He’d never felt a woman’s hand, since his mother died.
Jeannie took him to a small room on the floor, fit with a bed and medical supplies. She handed him a pillow.
“Scream into this. This probably will hurt very badly.”
She began to pull out the shards of glass. She was surprised to see him not screaming or yelling. He was crying sure, but nothing more.
“It doesn’t hurt, honey?”
“I’m OK. I’ve felt pain like this before. I’m used to it.”
“What?! What do you mean?”
Felix told him the whole story. He brought up when his father nearly choked him to death for vomiting on the bathroom floor after eating medicine. He brought up when his father stabbed his knee with a pen for drawing on a wall. He brought up the days he spent with no food from his father with the intention to “build durability.”
Mama covered her mouth.
“Oh… My god. Felix, you did the right thing getting out of that house. That man sounds like a monster.”
“I know. Hey, can I call you Mommy?”
“I suppose, but what about your real mommy?”
Felix told the truth as Jeannie finished pulling out the shards.
“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. A little boy like you needs so much more love than you have gotten. Well, no more.”
She hugged him tightly.
“I want you to stay here, Felix. You’ll be safe here.”
Felix felt like this was his mom. He felt the love only a mother could give, and he hugged her back. He cried tears of joy, knowing now he has a family, and several friends his age to play with.
He was happy. For the first time in years.
Felix felt his new mother’s touch and felt safe once again. However, when he saw his mothers face, he only saw a pair of blue nerdy glasses belonging to a Sniffles. He cried again, realizing the reality; what he saw was his past, this was his present life, and what lies ahead could be another war.
Sniffles realizing his friend needed support hugged him back.
“You had quite a fight, did you friend?”
Sniffles began to examine Flippy, noticing that his vision and his mind was still blurry.
“Yeah… Yeah, I did.”
“Tell me, what was the war like?”
Flippy appeared to tremble. In his mind, he heard explosions and gunshots. He saw fire and blood everywhere. Then, he saw the room he was in; it was blood ridden, with the walls, ceiling and floor covered in blood. The papers on the counter were burning, with orange flames emitting smoke. He looked on the floor, and saw Sniffles; beaten to death with his throat slit open. He saw his intelligent friend dead, his blood gushing from his throat, his eyes rolled back into his head.
He got off the bed; his leg still in pain from the wounds. He still had no idea how he didn’t feel the pain before. He slowly walked to a mirror on the wall, and saw his reflection. He saw himself, his real self. No yellow eyes. No sharp teeth. It was crying, tears full of red blood, his eyes full of guilt and dread. It began sobbing, more and more violently. He raised his fingers to his face and felt his teeth; he felt they were shaped like small triangles. He brought his fingers to his eyes; they were covered in blood.
The more he struggled to believe it, the more he started to scream. He started to beat his head, still in denial. His head actually began to dent, as he fell to the floor. His mouth began to leak blood and his nose began to drip blood as well. He was hurt, physically, mentally and emotionally.
But then, he saw a red-headed angel, walking towards him with light emanating all around her.
He brought his hand to his forehead to see better.
The angel came closer and knelt down to him, leaning her head in, aiming to kiss his mouth.
Then, she faded, and Sniffles, still alive and well, replaced her.
The room was back to normal. No more blood. No more fire. No more visions of Flippy’s hell. Flippy’s mind began to return to him. He started to sob, knowing his angel was gone.
“Felix. What happened to you?”
“I… I don’t know.”
“Can I ask… What did you see?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Well, after you came to, you started to get more and more angry. You started chuckling and sooner or later, you walked to the mirror. You stared at it for a bit, then you started hitting yourself. Then you collapsed.”
“I… I saw myself crying in the mirror. And I was a monster.”
“Yes, I noticed that. Felix, did you see or do anything out it the war?"
“Well, no. Other than what I was ordered to do. But one day… I was captured.”
“Really? Come on, let’s get you back on the bed. That leg won’t heal unless you keep off it for a bit, Felix.”
Sniffles helped him to his feet and began walking him back to the bed. Flippy looked at the nerd.
"Hey, Sniffles. Call me Flippy from now on, OK?"
Sniffles thought a minute, but then nodded in understanding.
As soon as that happened, Cuddles walked in the room. Behind him was Giggles, not all laughing. She looked miserable, and her bow was wilting, as it was normally upright and bright.
“Brother! You’re awake!”
Before he sat down, Flippy smiled and opened his arms to hug Cuddles, who immediately ran to his arms. For Flippy, Cuddles was like a brother to him; they were best friends since they met after Flippy moved into the big tree.
“Cuddles… I missed you, buddy.”
“I missed you too.”
Then, realizing they were hugging, they quickly backed away and apologized. But they were still brothers, so they smiled and went back in for another hug.
Giggles wanted the love too, so she pushed Cuddles aside and kissed Flippy on the cheek, then held him close. He’d never known, but she had a secret crush on him. But she ultimately fell out of love with him and fell in love with the lonely blond boy.
“Good to see you too, Giggles.”
“I know.” She giggled. It’s what she’s known for.
“How’ve you been, bro?”
“Fine. I just can’t walk now.”
“Yes you can, just use this.”
Sniffles interrupted, and handed Flippy a cane.
“Well, it’s either this, or a wheelchair. Your call.”
Flippy hated wheelchairs. It made him feel weak.
“Fine. Give me the stick.”
Flippy grabbed the cane and limped for the door.
“Cuddles, where’s Flaky?”
He scratched his neck.
“Uhh… You might not want to see her yet.”
He ran after him.
“She’s… Depressed. She’s crying in her room downstairs.”
“Well, I can probably cheer her up.”
He looked over the railing in front of him and was amazed to see several young people pace the floor, doing their jobs.
Some were construction workers, repairing furniture. Some were maids, cleaning the floors and the walls. Some were warriors, sparring with training dummies.
Cuddles came behind him and wrapped his arm around his friend.
“This… Is our life now.”
He let Flippy take in the environment, who was still wondering how this was all possible. He’d never thought society could be made out of his family.
“Welcome… to The Tree House.”