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Blackberry's Second Journal: Chapter 7
#1
Quote:Chapter 7: It Takes Talent, or Not?


Two days have passed since my travel to the future, and Albatross was still as mysterious as ever. It had somehow gained the ability to talk, and my friends were so excited about it after I had told them. Every few hours there was always at least one friend visiting Albatross just to try talking with it, or maybe I should mention Albatross as 'him' from now on. Albatross always responded to everyone talking to him with his unique robotic voice, and I noticed that day by day the way he talked became more alike to a human instead of a machine like he had used to do the first time he could talk. Still, the mystery of his origin kept giving me headaches. My future self had told me that he had figured it out, so I had faith that I would figure it out. However, not knowing when had made me a bit impatient.

"Still thinking hard?" he suddenly asked. I was lying down in muse on the ground next to him, and I realized that I almost had fallen asleep because of the cozy afternoon spring weather.

"Why ask that if you can always read my mind?" I asked back, getting up to sitting position.

"I don't do that anymore," he replied. "Your mind is your privacy."

"Eh? Then how should I call you when I need you someday?" I asked.

"I don't read your mind anymore, but I still hear all words you say and hear," he said.

"Alright..." I said, lying down again. "I still wonder why you won't make everything easy for me and tell me what you really are."

"Because it's already easy enough," he said. "I'm the one wondering why you still cannot figure it out."

"Easy enough? I don't think so," I said.

"You're thinking too hard," he said. "Why don't you relax for a while?"

"Yeah, maybe you're right," I said. "I think I'll visit Strawberry now. On foot."

"Take your time," he said as I got up and went away. While walking, I recalled a conversation which had happened in the clubhouse at the day of our return from Oz.



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

"It's now March 21. The first day of spring!" Blueberry said. "What's the matter?"

"Where was the mistake? I remember the calendar from Sour.. eh, Stella Grapes showing that it's summer..." I said in low voice. Everyone else only heard me mumbling unclear words.

"What are you saying?" Raspberry said, but I didn't respond.

"Hey, Blackberry! Do you hear me?!" Peppermint said a bit loudly, which caught me surprised.

"Eh?" I asked.

"Everybody is confused and needs your explanation!" Peppermint said.

"Well..." I said, thinking for a moment. "Alright..."

"So, what's the matter?" Rainbow asked.

"We're not supposed to return today," I said, which obviously confused everyone else.

"Care to explain?" Apricot said.

"We left Strawberryland four years ago in the middle of summer, and then we spent almost exactly four years in Oz," I said.

"So?" Peppermint said.

"That means we should have returned in the middle of summer too!" I said. "It seems that something went wrong in the time travel. We ended up arriving four months earlier than our supposed time."

"Does that mean we have to travel four months forward now?" Huck asked.

"I want to say yes, but..." I said, looking at our friends who had not traveled to Oz. "We have been separated for three years and eight months, four years for us who were away. It doesn't feel right, having to add four more months to you right after we are reunited."

"Is there anything bad going to happen if we stay?" Strawberry asked.

"Well, I don't know," I replied. "It's like traveling four months to the past, but never returning to the present. The difference is that there are no our past selves because we are still in Oz by now."

"Argh, just cut it out!" Peppermint said. "Everything you said confused me, and maybe everyone else! All I care is that we're here, back in Strawberryland, safe and sound! No need to think about those complicated things!"

"Well..." I said. "I'm not sure about many things, but if everyone agrees, we can forget all I have said. Raise hand if you agree to stay."

After I said the line, one by one all kids raised their hand.

"We're staying then," I said.




I was glad that everybody had made that decision. I had no idea what would have happened to Coco and Seaberry, and also the mermaids if we had decided to travel to our supposed time. I still didn't know how we could have landed on the wrong time, but I decided to let it by because all had ended well.

Soon, I arrived at Huck's fort. I had no intention to visit him, but suddenly it rained. I then quickly entered his fort through the front gate to cover myself from the rain. There was nobody home, so I sat down on the nearby sofa and waited. Soon enough, I fell asleep on the sofa. I didn't know how long, but when I woke up there was a blanket covering me.

"Hey there, Blackberry," a voice which I could easily recognize greeted from my left.

"Eh, hey Huck. Sorry, I fell asleep here," I said, getting up from the chair and folding the blanket.

"No worries. You don't even need to fold that," he said as I put the folded blanket on the sofa. "What brought you here?"

"That," I replied, pointing at the front door behind me with my thumb. It was still raining outside. Not as hard as before, but it was still a bad idea to go out without umbrella and rain coat. "I actually wanted to visit Strawberry, but it rained when I was by your fort so I took cover here."

"I see. I was just relaxing under a tree when it rain fell. I then hurried home and found you sleeping there," he said.

"How long did I sleep?" I asked.

"Not long, maybe less than one hour," he replied.

"I see," I said. "So, what are we going to do now? Can't go anywhere in this rain."

"Well, I have a board game around here..." he replied, searching on his shelf. "It's honestly not too exciting with only two players, but at least better than nothing."

So, the two of us played a board game which indeed became boring pretty quickly because there were not enough players. By the next hour, we had already stopped playing but the rain did not show any sign of stopping.

"I think I'll just go home," I said.

"Want to borrow my raincoat?" he asked.

"You only have one, don't you? Don't worry about me. I'll have him to pick me up," I said.

"Him?" he asked.

"He's not my ship anymore," I said. "I now consider him as my close friend."

"Oh yeah. Albatross," he said. "I agree with you. Now he can not only fly by itself, but also talk like us. I still wonder how he can do that, though."

"I'm wondering about that too," I said. "He just won't tell me because he said that it was already easy enough to figure out."

"That's right," a robotic voice said from outside the fort. Both of us approached the front gate and saw Albatross parked right outside with opened canopy. The rain somehow stopped dropping only at the space between the front gate and Albatross himself.

"Thanks for coming, Albatross," I said. "And a very nice way of using the internal gravity field to repel the rain."

"I can do this all day, but are you really going to have me do that?" he asked.

"Of course not," I said, walking to him. "See you later, Huck."

"See ya!" Huck said, waving his hand as I climbed into the cockpit. I then arrived home within seconds.

The rain somehow lasted for days. Sometimes it stopped during bedtime, but that meant it always rained when we were awake. During the rainy days, I spent time doing nearly nothing to the point that I got really bored.

"Now I wonder how bored my friends are," I said to myself while lying down on a sofa. Suddenly the doorbell rang and I went to open the main door. Once I opened the door I saw Blueberry in her rain coat down below.

"Hey, Blackberry!" she said, looking upwards and waving her hand to me.

"Hi, Blueberry," I said, lowering the ladder. "Come in!"

Before she could grab the ladder, she suddenly floated up into the entrance of my house and stepped on the floor smoothly. I easily understood what had just happened, but she looked surprised and confused.

"What was that?" she asked.

"It was Albatross' doing," I said. "He can control the gravity around him."

"Really? It's absoloooo-tely cool!" she said. "I have to say thanks to him for that."

"He can hear everything I hear, so you can say it to me," I said.

"Alright. Thank you, Albatross," She said.

"So, what brought you here?" I asked.

"Strawberry just visited me telling about her 'berry amazing idea'," she replied.

"Really? What is it? I'll gladly take any idea to get out of this boredom," I said.

"A talent show," Blueberry said. "First ever, almost annual, nearly yearly Strawberryland Talent Show"

"First ever? I actually think it has been done before... Oh wait, it was a pet show," I said.

"Everyone is welcome to come and participate, or just to become an audience," she said. "And it was just at the right time!"

"Right time? Why?" I asked.

"Friends from outside Strawberryland are coming tomorrow!" she replied in excitement.

"You mean... Frosty Puff, Crepes Suzette, and others too?" I asked.

"Absoloooo-tely!" she replied.

"Sounds promising! So, what can I do for you?" I said.

"We're going to use the stage in my house for the show, so I thought you could help me with decorations," she replied.

"Got it. Let's go then," I said, taking a capsule-like thing from my shelf and going to the main door.

"Don't you need a rain coat?" she asked, seeing me going down the ladder without wearing any kind of cover from the rain. When I stepped on the ground, I threw the capsule upwards and a dome of light just wide enough to cover my body appeared and protected me from the rain. The dome followed me as I walked.

"I made this during the boring days. Better than the one I had before because now I can walk around and it will follow me," I said as she went down the ladder.

"As always, you're absoloooo-tely full of surprises with your devices," she said.

"And as always, your way to say the word 'absolutely' is what makes you unique," I said, and we had a little laugh together. We then started walking towards Blueberry Valley.

"By the way, is it fine to leave him there alone at your house?" she asked on the way.

"Well, to be honest I'm not sure how he feels about that," I said, shrugging. "But I don't think he will feel lonely at all. He hears what I hear, or at least that's what he had told me, though I still don't know how he can do that."

"I just thought that we might need his help as well," she said.

"Really? For what?" I asked.

"Let's ask him to come with us first," she said. Before I could say anything more, Albatross came to us and used his gravity field to carry us all the way to Blueberry's house.

"There you have his answer," I said as we finally stepped on the ground again. Albatross kept floating above the house waiting for further instructions.

"Thank you for coming, Albatross," Blueberry said.

"How can I help you?" Albatross asked.

So, the three of us worked together to decorate the stage inside Blueberry's house. Blueberry was right about needing Albatross' help. With his ability to control gravity, he was very helpful in moving heavier things. When we needed to decorate higher parts of the stage, he lifted us up so we didn't have to use any ladder or such. In no time, everything we assumed necessary for the contest was ready.

"Stage, check! Audience seats, check! Judges' table, Check! Everything else, check! We're ready!" Blueberry said, examining her checklist.

"That's nice to hear," I said, still floating near the last piece of decoration I had put. "And we finished everything before dark."

"It was absolooo-tely thanks to you, Albatross!" Blueberry said.

"No problem," Albatross said.

"By the way, what are you going to do in the show?" Blueberry asked.

"Eh, I still haven't decided," I said. "But I probably will just watch. I have nothing to show."

"Nothing? You absoloooo-tely have something to show!" she said.

"What is it?" I asked, wondering.

"Look at what you are doing now!" she said. I looked at myself for a few seconds, and then I realized what she had been talking about.

"You mean, floating?" I asked and she nodded. "No way, this is Albatross' doing, not my talent."

"Let me ask you this: Who made Albatross?" she asked as I stepped on the floor.

"Uh... me," I said.

"You made Albatross with your talent! That alone qualifies you!" she said.

"But for me that's kinda like... cheating," I said.

"Hey, there's no prize to get in this show. The whole show is just for fun! We won't care if you fly on your own or someone else control gravity for you, as long as you give us a good show nobody will complain!" she said, convincing me.

"Well, if you say so..." I said, pausing to think for a moment. "Okay, I'll do it."

"I'm glad to hear that," she said.

"Alright, I think I'll go home now. See you again tomorrow," I said.

"Bye," she said, waving her hand as I left her house with Albatross.

At the next day, I came to Blueberry's house not long before the audition round began. Albatross parked itself at an open field behind the house, ready to lift me up when my turn came. I sat on a chair in the backstage, waiting for my turn along with many other participants. I was really nervous that I didn't say anything to other participants when their turn came, while they always said 'Good luck!' to anyone called by Blueberry, who played as the MC.

"Our next contestant today is the bespectacled Strawberryland inventor we all know and love," Blueberry's voice was heard from the loudspeaker in the backstage.

"Hey, that's the sign for you, Blackberry!" Strawberry said, but I didn't hear her. I was too focused on thinking what to do on stage.

"Whoa, it seems our bespectacled inventor is very nervous he didn't hear anything! Yep, he sure is!" Ginger said.

"Blackberry!" Orange said loudly, which surprised me.

"Eh? What happened?" I asked.

"It's your turn!" Angel said.

"Eh, really? Okay..." I said, standing up and walking towards the stage.

"Now let's watch... Blackberry Bun!" Blueberry said, and I came out to the stage. Everybody at the audience seats and the judges' table clapped their hands briefly and then they fell into silence, waiting for me to put something to show.

"Alright, lift me up now," I whispered, but nothing happened. "Albatross?"

I whispered calling Albatross to use his gravity field to lift me up, but nothing happened. The audiences and judges were staring at me, still waiting for me to show something, but without Albatross responding to my call, I had nothing to show. I was so panicked that I didn't know what to do, so I ended up standing there doing nothing at all other than dripping sweat all over my face.

"Blackberry? Are you okay?" Peppermint, who was one of the three judges, asked. I didn't answer at all.

"We are waiting for anything you're going to show," Huck, the second judge, said.

"If you have nothing to show, then get out of that stage," Custard, the third judge, cynically said. "We don't need a statue to obstruct other contestants."

"Hold on! What did you just say?" Peppermint suddenly asked.

"Uhh, we don't need a statue...?" Custard replied. She was a bit surprised.

"Ohh, I get it..." Huck said. "That's his show! He's pretending to be a statue!"

"That's right, Huck!" Peppermint said. "I was just about to say that."

"It's really perfect! Standing there not moving at all. I can't even see if he's breathing!" Huck said.

"You really have fooled us there, Blackberry," Peppermint said. "I thought something went wrong and you lost whatever you wanted to show."

"Yea, I thought just like that too!" Huck said. "You definitely passed!"

"I fully agree! You passed!" Peppermint said. The two judges then looked at Custard.

"Well, if it is really the case, then I will reconsider..." Custard said. "Actually, I still think that something really went wrong and these two made up that excuse to 'save' you. But, if you could make me think like that then you have played your show well. You passed."

After Custard finished her speech, everybody else gave me a huge applause. I really couldn't believe that other participants had to do preparations to make their show while I passed just by standing around doing nothing. That really didn't feel right, but I was still very nervous that I only could bow to the audiences and walked back into the backstage. Other participants there applauded me as I entered.

"Congratulations, matey!" Rainbow said.

"You really have fooled us all!" Frosty said.

"Yea, I t'ought zomet'ing went really wrong!" Crepes said.

"Sorry, I... I'm a bit tired. I... I need to sit down," I said, walking to a chair and sitting there. Soon after, I decided to go out and check why Albatross had not given any response to my calling. I went out using the back door without having rain protection, and when I came close to Albatross I saw someone standing leaning to him. The person was juggling a shiny spherical thing with one hand. It didn't take me long to recognize everything I saw.

"Pomegranate," I said.

"Hi there, Blackberry," she said, looking at me with her mischievous smile.

"You came and stole the Sun Stone just at the worst time possible," I said, and she giggled a bit.

"But thanks to that I learned something about the past," she said. "The friends here are really good friends. Except that cat."

"Custard is usually not like that. She just put herself too much into her role as a judge," I said.

"Really, huh?" she said. "Whatever."

"But I still don't like you stealing the Sun Stone again even though you know it means a lot for me," I said.

"Again? I have never taken this thing from your ship before," she said.

"Come on, don't pretend that you haven't done it. It was just two days ago in the afternoon, at my house!" I said.

"Two days ago?" she said. "Heh, whatever. Here!"

As Pomegranate said the last word, she threw the Sun Stone to me. I caught the stone, but at the same time she made a dimension door flat on the ground and jumped into it. After she entered, the dimension door disappeared immediately. Without second thought, I entered Albatross' passenger space and inserted the Sun Stone back into the insertion.

"She did it again," Albatross said as he came back to life.

"Maybe I should just nail this lid," I said. "But I thought you could capture her with your gravity field."

"Sorry about that," he said. "She appeared inside me and took the Sun Stone right away. Everything happened so fast I couldn't react."

"For real? Was it coincidence or..." I said. "In any case, I think I know what you really are."

"Really? What is your guess?" he asked.

"You are the Sun Stone itself, right?" I said. Immediately, I heard something from the inside of Blueberry's house. It was a very badly played music, so bad that I thought it was a joke.

"I think that sound answers your guess," he said.

"Eh?" I asked.

"You guessed it wrong. I'm not the Sun Stone," he said. "I'm still here no matter how far the stone is taken away, but indeed I can't do anything without its energy."

"Oh..." I said, rather disappointed. At the same time the bad music stopped.

"Relax, you can take your time," he said.

"Oh well..." I said. "I'll just go inside and see what's happening. You can go home if you want."

"I'll wait here," he said, and I went back inside the house.

"Hey, everyone. What was that sound?" I asked as I entered. In there I saw Strawberry, Angel, Orange, and Ginger looking very depressed. Other contestants there seemed to be trying to comfort them to no avail. "What happened? Don't tell me..."

"We didn't pass..." Strawberry said, and then the four of them left the place without saying any more words. I wanted to ask more about the matter, but Blueberry's speech heard from the speaker in the room prevented me from doing it.

"Our next contestant is the owner of a boutique in Pearis," her voice was heard. I knew right away that it was the sign for Crepes Suzette.

"Let's go, Eclair," Crepes said, with tall hat and magic stick ready on her hands. However, Eclair stood still with sad face. "Eclair?"

"What's wrong with Eclair?" Tangerina asked. "Is she sick?"

"Don't worry," Crepes said, approaching Eclair and put her in her hug. "Zee iz just 'omezick."

"Homesick? But that means..." Watermelon said.

"Yea, I 'ave to go 'ome," Crepes said. "Zorry, but could any of you tell t'em t'at I muzt leave?"

"Alright, I'll do it," I said, and I ran to the stage. In there I immediately went to Blueberry and whispered the news to her. She nodded after hearing it.

"I regret to inform that Crepes Suzette is unable to participate because her partner Eclair is homesick so she has to leave," Blueberry announced, and some disappointed sighs could be heard from the audiences.

"She's the last one, right? So I guess that wraps everything up," Custard said.

"No, this doesn't feel right," Peppermint said. "Now we have an unexpected opening."

"Hey, how about we give the Strawberry Jam another chance?" Huck asked.

"Another chance? Are you kidding?" Custard said. "They couldn't sing, they couldn't play their music. What do you want me to say?"

"Let me ask you this," Peppermint said. "What is the purpose of this contest?"

"Err... For fun?" Custard said.

"Do you think this was fun for them?" Peppermint asked again.

"Well, don't blame me for their lack of talent to show," Custard replied.

"There are things that don't take talent. These things take a lot of practice instead. So why don't we give them a chance to practice more so they can try again tomorrow and have fun like the rest of us?" Peppermint said. "And don't tell me you didn't have fun playing strict judge."

"Uh... If you say so..." Custard said. "I'll leave the decision to the audiences."

"Alright, everyone who agree to give Strawberry Jam another chance, raise your hand!" Huck said, standing up and raising his hand. Without taking any second thought, everyone else in the room including me and Blueberry raised their hands. Immediately, every other contestants who were at the backstage came out to the stage raising their hands. I was amazed by everything I saw. Indeed everyone here were really good friends like Pomegranate had said.

"I suppose that settles everything," Huck said. "I'll go to tell them the good news!"

Huck immediately left the place after saying his last sentence. Not long afterwards everyone else went home to come again at the next day. At the backstage, I saw Crepes Suzette packing her things.

"So, you're going back to Pearis?" I asked.

"Yea, I just 'ave to. But don't worry! I 'ad my fun 'ere!" she said, smiling.

"How are you going to go home?" I asked, wondering.

"I 'ave an 'ot air balloon," she replied.

"It will take too long to go home using that," I said. "I'll take you home."

"Really? T'ankz! But 'ow?" she asked, finishing her packing.

"That," I said, opening the back door. Albatross was still parked there with his engines roaring. "Meet Albatross."

"Wooow! That iz amazing!" Crepes said. Soon, all of us were boarded in Albatross and he flew fast towards Pearis. We couldn't talk much because we arrived in Pearis two minutes later. After she got off at her home, we parted waving hands to each other and I flew back to Strawberryland.

In the afternoon of the next day, at the time when Strawberry Jam was given another chance, I sat on the audience seat waiting and hoping that I would not have to hear the badly played music again. Soon, with Blueberry's announcement, the stage curtain opened revealing Strawberry Jam members ready to play.

"Let's go!" Strawberry shouted, and then the band started playing their music. This time, they played the music and sang their song about working together really well. I was very pleased with their performance, and I could bet that everybody else were pleased too. After the song was finished, every audience applauded cheerfully.

After the band performance, there were more shows by other participants for the finals. I took part there, and this time I really floated and flew around the stage. Everyone were amazed and gave me big applause once I stepped back on the stage.

"Now, Strawberry Jam is going to play a different song. So without further words, Strawberry Jam!" Blueberry announced, and once again Strawberry Jam were back on stage welcomed by applause.

"Thank you berry much, everyone!" Strawberry said. "This time, we're going to play a song about how berry hard we trained but we couldn't make it come together. I'm berry glad that now we have! Anyway, hope you enjoy!"

Immediately, the band started playing a song which sounded a bit depressing at start, but became more cheerful towards the end. I didn't know the title of the song, but the line 'I'll keep on hoping' in the song got stuck in my head and I started to believe it as the title. Like before, everyone applauded as the song finished.

All in all, I must say that the talent show was a complete success.


--End of Chapter 7--
[Image: TheGrapesChildrenSig.png]
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#2
I love long and eventful chapters. That said, this could have been Chapter 7 and Chapter 7.5 with all that was going on.

Do you actually know what Albatross is yourself, dear author?

Regardless of how confusing chronology is, good news is you're not doing what some writers do. I have seen fans of other shows trying to put different versions of the same show on one timeline, which can't make sense no matter how you look at it because that is, as the saying goes, trying to add apples with oranges.

Perhaps a bit off topic: Blueberry didn't say "absolutely" in the final episode. It seems she grows out of it by the latter half of 2008.

I liked your writing of the It Takes Talent episode. You wrote very in-character, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next, especially in regards to dancing the tango with the time-space continuum. You referenced the Back to the Future trilogy, so I will as well: I suppose Blackberry Bun has found himself playing a younger (saner?) Emmett Brown role in respect to Pomegranate Parfait playing an irresponsible version of Marty McFly's role.

Your grammar was fantastic this time around. Yay!
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#3
First of all, thank you very much.

Stella Grapes Wrote:Do you actually know what Albatross is yourself, dear author?
Oh yes of course!

Stella Grapes Wrote:Regardless of how confusing chronology is, good news is you're not doing what some writers do. I have seen fans of other shows trying to put different versions of the same show on one timeline, which can't make sense no matter how you look at it because that is, as the saying goes, trying to add apples with oranges.
Could you explain further about this? The way I understand it, I'm afraid that's what I'm doing right now with Chapter 8.
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#4
Blackberry Bun Wrote:Could you explain further about this? The way I understand it, I'm afraid that's what I'm doing right now with Chapter 8.

By "different versions", I mean entirely different shows with the same titles and a number of the same character bases. The equivalent here would be you trying to tie in the 1980s Strawberry Shortcake timeline or the current Strawberry Shortcake series' timeline, or both, and fit all different versions' timelines together. (There are five versions of My Little Pony, for example, and I know of someone who is trying to make all five versions have the same continuity, which is completely impossible.)

You are working within one world, not more than one. You are adding different types of apples, not apples and oranges.
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