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Quote:Chapter 11b: Souls in The Stars

"Hey, bro," Almond said when I got out from Uncle's car.

"I pretty much failed," I said. "Were you luckier than me?"

"Yes and no," he replied.

"Huh? What do you mean?" I asked.

"I found him, but because of a few things I lost him again," he said.

"Really? Where did you find him?" I asked.

"A tree house in the park," he said.

"A tree house in the park..." Uncle said. "The Secret Place?"

"How did you know?" Almond asked. "And who are you?"

"Alright, let me introduce you," I said. "Almond, this is Uncle, one of Randy's closest friends. I met him on my search and he agreed to help. Uncle, this is my brother Almond Cookie."

"Hey! My name is..." Almond said before I interrupted.

"He already knows everything from Randy. It's fine," I said.

"If you found him there, then I believe you found ChaCha as well," Uncle said. "What remains of him anyway."

"The yellow toy car?" Almond asked, and Uncle nodded. "Though I'm kinda confused now."

"I haven't told you about things here because I wanted it to become a surprise," I said. "Randy had a number of magical friends. They are souls of deceased animals possessing inanimate objects."

"I see," Almond said. "Come to think of it, I remember that there were a few things put in the car. A small green toy car, a toy robot, and an even smaller toy police car."

"I don't know the other two, but the police car is probably Papa Rat," I said.

"The green car is Pyoko, and the robot is Bull," Uncle said. "After their soul was gone, Randy gathered their bodies in that tree house. Unfortunately, four of them were just impossible to bring."

"The hippopotamus truck, Cindy the elephant excavator, the leopard sports car, and...?" I asked.

"The whale cargo plane," Uncle said. "The truck and the sports car were left in the plains not far from Greenhill, and the excavator is still used by people."

"How about the plane?" I asked.

"No idea," Uncle said. "There weren't any news about plane crash or such, so it probably fell down to the ocean and sunk. Nobody knows where it is now."

"That's sad," I said. "By the way, we have been talking for a while but Randy hasn't come back yet."

"Do you think it's because we're here standing in front of his house?" Almond asked.

"Maybe..." I said, then I noticed a familiar red car coming and parking right behind Uncle's car. Soon, Randy's father came out from it.

"Hi, what are you all doing here?" he asked.

"We are waiting for Randy to come home," I said.

"Why are you standing here outside? Come in and have a seat inside!" he kindly offered, and we accepted. All four of us then entered the house and sat in the main room. We all talked together for a while, but Randy didn't return home even after the sky had become completely dark.

"I honestly am starting to worry," I said.

"Me too," Almond said.

"I feel the same," Randy's father said.

"Let's go look for him," Uncle suggested, and everyone else agreed. Soon, all of us went out to look for Randy again. Randy's mother stayed at home in case Randy returned when we were out looking for him. I went with Almond to The Secret Place, but we didn't find Randy there. We then continued looking for him in the park, but it was of no success.

"I really wish your scanner worked right now," I said.

"Me too, Bro," Almond said. "But like I said, this planet has no soul. It won't work."

"Yeah..." I said, looking at the stars above. "Wait a minute! I think it can work!"

"Huh?" Almond asked in confusion.

Meanwhile, on a plain barely within walking distance, Randy was sitting alone on the top of a small slope. He kept looking upwards to the starry sky, musing and not knowing what to do. He was aware that his mother and father were probably worried about him, but he didn't want to meet the two visitors again. He would rather be scolded by his parents later than seeing them again and had his heart broken. He had decided to stay there until morning.

"Hey there," suddenly he heard a familiar voice from behind. Without looking, he knew that it was me, and Almond was with me.

"What are you doing here?" Almond asked, but Randy didn't show any response.

"May I sit here?" I asked, standing next to him at his right side.

"Whatever," he said, and I sat down. Almond immediately followed by sitting at Randy's other side.

"Nice view, eh?" I said, looking at the stars above.

"Makes you want go there," Almond said.

"You can't," Randy said.

"Why not?" Almond asked. "You won't know if you don't try."

"Well then how? We don't have a rocket or spaceship here!" Randy said, looking at Almond. I silently chuckled a bit, knowing that actually there was a spaceship right there.

"I didn't mean about going there literally," Almond said with a little laugh.

"If you mean telescope or book, I already know," Randy said, still looking upset.

"I think you should tell us why you don't want us to be here," I said.

"Why should I?" he said. "You don't exist anyway!"

"Eh? What do you mean?" I asked. "We're right here."

"No! You don't exist!" Randy shouted, closing his eyes and hugging his legs tight.

"Then you should just say it loud to the stars," Almond said.

"Huh?" Randy asked, seeming confused.

"We don't exist, so you're now alone. The stars are good listeners when you want to say something," Almond said.

"I don't want to say anything," Randy said.

"It's not good to keep it to yourself for long. You'll feel pain in your chest," I said. "Believe me, I have experienced it myself."

"No! I don't believe!" Randy shouted, quickly standing up. "I don't believe in you! I don't believe in Cindy! I don't believe in Leopard! I don't believe in Hippo Truck! I don't believe in Bull, Pyoko, and Papa Rat! I don't believe in ChaCha!"

"Eh? What are you saying?" I asked.

"I don't believe in miracles! All my friends were not and were never real! They were just my imagination!" Randy shouted with tears leaking from his eyes. "I keep telling myself in front of those toys that they were not real! I don't need to feel sad for them!"

"So that's what you do in The Secret Place?" Almond asked.

"Yes, but why should you care?!" Randy replied. "You both are from imaginary world! You're just my imagination! Please, make it stop!"

"Randy..." I said, looking at Randy, who sat down again hugging his legs and sobbing.

"Please... make it stop... Make me forget... Please..." Randy said, still sobbing. From what we had heard we could understand that Randy had been suppressing his deep sadness of losing ChaCha and his other friends by telling himself that they had not been real, hoping that he would forget them all. His hate upon us was because our presence reminded him of his lost friends, and it broke his heart.

"No, you shouldn't forget," Almond said. "You have a room in your heart for them, right? Leave the room as it is. Don't lock it off and forget, because after they were gone they can only live in others' memory."

"I don't get what you said, and I don't want to care," Randy said, still in sad tone. "People said that Greenhill is a city of miracles. If it is true, then why the miracle didn't keep them to stay with me?! I lost my best friends! They're gone! I don't believe in miracles anymore!"

"No, they're not gone," Almond said. "They are still there," he continued, pointing at Randy's chest. "In your heart."

"I know! Mom and Dad have told me that! But it's pointless if I can't talk to them and play with them!" Randy said. There was a silence for a moment because neither of us knew what to say.

"Randy, hold my hand," Almond said, with his right hand offered to Randy.

"Huh? For what?" Randy asked.

"Just do it. Please," Almond said. Randy reluctantly complied without saying any words. Almond then held his forehead with his other hand and concentrated. From seeing what he was doing, I could immediately guess that he was going to communicate with the souls of Randy's lost friends, just like how he had done it to locate Randy. This planet indeed didn't have a soul, but there were the souls of Randy's friends among the stars above. With his ability to telepathically communicate with souls, Almond had been able to ask them for Randy's location.

Soon enough, I could see Randy's face looking surprised. I couldn't hear what he heard, but I could safely assume he heard the voice of his lost friends. He was so surprised that he couldn't say anything. Tears then started to leak from his eyes, but he smiled. The communication lasted for quite a while, and in the end he fell asleep on Almond's shoulder. Almond smiled looking at Randy, then he looked to the sky while still holding his forehead.

"Thank you," Almond said, and for a moment the stars twinkled brighter than before.

"Is it over?" I asked with low voice, and Almond nodded.

"He sure has good friends," he said. "And now I know his real reason."

"Huh? What is it?" I asked.

"He actually could accept them being gone, but he wanted to at least say proper farewell before that happened," he replied. "Too bad it happened so suddenly without any warning."

"So that's what has been burdening him for years," I said, and Almond nodded.

"He also couldn't forgive himself for starting to forget about them back then. All he said about desiring to forget them was just a cover to suppress his sadness. In truth, he would never forget them, ever," he said.

"I guess it's time to bring him home," I said.

"Yeah, we cannot keep his parents worried for too long," Almond said. He then carried Randy on his back and we walked back home. Later when we arrived, his mother was waiting anxiously at the front door. When she saw us, she was surprised and immediately came running.

"Is Randy alright? What happened?" she asked.

"He's just asleep. We better put him on his bed now," Almond replied. She agreed and then all of us entered the house. Almond followed Randy's mother to the bedroom and then he put Randy on the bed. After that, the three of us went to the living room. Randy's mother immediately used the phone there to call the others and tell that Randy has been found and returned. Within minutes, Randy's father and Uncle came back to the house and all of us sat in the living room.

"Where did you find him?" Uncle asked.

"The plains not too far from here," I said. "He was looking at the stars."

"Ah yes, I completely forgot that it is his favorite place when the sky is clear at night," the father said.

"How did you know that place?" Uncle asked.

"We were just lucky," I said, thinking that it would be better not to reveal that Almond could telepathically communicate with the souls.

"Please don't scold him tomorrow when he wakes up," Almond said. "It's our fault that he went off like that."

"No, don't blame yourselves," the father said. "And don't worry about that."

"Thank you," I said. "I guess it's time to go home."

"It's already late," the mother said. "Why don't you spend the night here?"

"Don't worry. This time we got good transport," I said.

"Good transport?" the father asked.

"Oh, you mean that?" Uncle said. "But you put it pretty far from here. I'll take you there with my car."

After saying that, Uncle gave us a wink, which we immediately understood.

"Thank you," I said. Soon, all of us went outside. Almond and I entered Uncle's car, and with handwaves from us we left Randy's house.

"Can't have them see you opening the portal to your world, right?" Uncle said while driving.

"Yeah. Thank you," I said. "I couldn't think of a good excuse."

"No problem," he said. "By the way, take me to your world some time. I'm curious about many things there."

"We will, when we come back someday," I said.

Soon, the car stopped right outside the city and the three of us got off from the car.

"Be careful on your way," Uncle said.

"You too," I said, taking the Time Remote II from my pocket.

"Goodbye," he said as I opened the dimension door to Strawberryland.

"See you next time," Almond said, and both of us entered the dimension door. We ended up right in the living room of my house, and the dimension door vanished immediately.

"So, how was it? I mean, our trip to Greenhill," I asked.

"If you ask me, it was actually great," Almond replied. "But there were too many sad things."

"Indeed," I said. "But I believe everything will turn up okay."

"We have the same thinking," he said, and I yawned.

"It's bed time. I'm going to sleep," I said.

"Good night, bro," he said, sitting down on the sofa.

"Happy watching life," I said, going into my bedroom.

--End of Chapter 11b--
On a grammatical level, this was perfect. Well done.

On an emotional level, goodness, that was sad. I'm glad you gave it a peaceful resolution. What inspired the idea to write this, do you know? The emotions were amazingly portrayed.
Thank you! =D

About the inspiration, I'm not really sure. Like any other chapters, the events are made up as I write.