Changed
Story by Doo



The TRUE (yah yah) Story of Doodles - and beware: It's LONG...

Let me tell you a story. A strange story about me and a Klayworld called "The Neverhood". I'm quite sure you won't believe me or even call me insane, but just listen. It'll be interesting. I promise.

You see, my life was quite normal. I used my days for watching TV or playing computer. I had a boring life. I liked it. Now, before I start telling you this weird, unbelievable and fascinating story how my life changed so much, I tell you some stuff about me.

I'm now 21 earth-years old, but I'm still and will be forever more quite childish (you wanna insult me? Then call me an 'adult'). I love watching cartoons. I love playing computergames. And every free minute I draw those funny little pictures of cartoony beings and fantasy-like landscapes... yeah, my fantasy really runs wild sometimes. And that's good. Else I'd maybe never made that great experience that started with that incredible new computergame I bought: The Neverhood. I hope you know it. It's fun.

Yes, it all started on one lazy day... I just hung at my computer again and played through that game for the, well, about 100th time. I just love it. And not only because it's a great game - no, because it's a great WORLD. I always had that thing for Klay. And aren't those chars in the game just loveable (especially Willie)? I had yet made up my own chars for that world, with own stories, and I know them like friends. You can't imagine HOW good I know them...

Well, on that lazy day my thoughts REALLY ran wild. I said to myself: Really. The Neverhood is just TOO COOL not to exist in real life. I mean, not in THIS real life but... well... there must be, technically, enough other dimensions (I don't want to tell you my whole train of thoughts here which ended up in quite complicated mathematical time/space theories), and in one of them MUST be a universe full of Klay... How could you change to another dimension?

Another thought: If you think of something very, VERY seriously that it's true... couldn't it become true? There ARE some things on earth where they said it's possible... Man, THIS would be a great story, I thought.

Man, I had NO idea HOW great this was.

Oh yes... if you believe, REALLY believe in a world full of Klay, and this world REALLYreally exists somewhere... the... WALLS... between the two dimensions can get reallyreally thin. They even can become... DOORS...

Ok, we are now at that part of the story where it gets interesting, right? So, if you still think of me as an at least partial sane human being - read on. And remember: THIS is none of my fanfictions. THIS is all true.

I thought it was fun. I wanted to use that idea for a story - changing dimensions and having weird experiences... Cool. But it must sound believeable, not just made up. With accurate explanations about HOW this could happen. So I thought, just as an example, of the Neverhood, in a way that there could be NO DOUBT that it wouldn't exist. Yes... using that believe-in-it-and-it-will-happen-theory would sound nice in a story...

My thoughts were interrupted. By a sound like a far away thunder followed by a deep hum. I turned around.

Behind me, right in my room (yes, really: IN my room) there was... well, to tell it for short: A dimension portal. It was as big as a normal door, approximately door-frame shaped and - don't look at me that way! It's true! - it was a strange tunnel of dim light, surrounded by earthy pink-like colored Klay.

Well, I COULD have run away or just freeze out of shock... or scream.... like you do it if you see something that totally crushes your SO nice daily thinking... But I didn't. I think there's a point where something in your brain goes 'click' and you think: "Oh look.... a dimension portal." I guess my mind couldn't stand it, and so it refused to let my instincts work (Y'know, like: See enemy - run. See banana - eat.)

I just stood up from my chair, turned my computer screen off (we don't want the picture "Klaymen standing in the Hall of Records" burned in for eternity, do we?) and went to the portal.

'Er... nice portal. Looks quite real...' I thought, carefully touching the clay-frame. Then I stuck my hand into the fog whirling in the portal (my right hand, in case some vile monster bites it off - I'd still have my drawing hand.) I didn't even think about it - "It's just a dream, anyway..."

Stupid me.

I passed the portal. What should go wrong? The worst thing that could happen was that I'd wake up and wonder what I had eaten last evening.

When I say 'passed' I really mean 'fell into it'. It wasn't at all on my Top Ten of Nice Things Happening. Not even in my Top 100. It was HORRIBLE! As soon as I had stepped into the fog I felt like I had suddenly been turned around so that my head was downwards now, my brain still hanging somewhere in the air AND like my guts were pulled inside out (I should have known that it depends on my mood how smooth I can pass the portal - being happy and calmed down lets it be like a normal door, being nervous or angry or whatever adds some uncomfy whirls to your journey... and being TOTALLY irritated and frightened doesn't make the thing too comfy...). In this luckily VERY short time I could see nothing - just white fog and something big grey speeding towards me, which came out to be a wall. A HARD wall. I crashed against it and went K.O.

WELCOME TO THE NEVERHOOD

When I woke up (or let's say: When I wasn't so dazed anymore and could move again) I had a rather strange experience... I wasn't sure WHERE I was, but THIS was surely not my room anymore (Toto? Where are you?)... I was alone in a big... no, wait - after looking around groaningly I saw that this was a *BIGBIG* room. A long tunnel or so in grey/beige tones. Looking at my left, this tunnel didn't seem to have an end - it just went on and on and on... on the wall I was leaning to were letters all over - the whole wall was FULL of letters and drawings... hm... it's familiar, somehow... all so big and echoy and clay - KLAY??

I looked at my right, ignoring the pain in my head from the rather hard collision with the wall. THIS way wasn't so long up to the exit - if you can call an about 4 inch high mouse-hole an exit - and directly next to me was a doorway - locked with some dark-brown spikes. I looked behind me, a little bit up, where there was a brown carving that went on all along the wall, ending with - I knew THAT really well, an arrow. I slowly lifted a finger and pressed on a certain point of the carving - the spikes sprung back and gave the way to an elevator platform free....

I KNEW all this. I played through it SO often - watching Klaymen walking past almost 40 screens just to get one disk to solve the game... The Hall of Records! Whoa, WHAT a dream! I passed out again.

This time seemingly a bit longer, since when I woke up there were people standing around me - amazed, curious and worried looking Klay-people... I wanted to stand up VERY fast and run away VERYVERY far, but I couldn't. My head was still a bit mushy after meeting the wall. I was even too dazed to react on the chatting and touching from the guys around me, so I just laid there and let it all be. Dunno what they were talking about or what exactly happened - I just saw sweet little birdies flying around my head (metaphorically speaking). Then there was Hoborg. MAN, what a dream... When I wake up, I have to write this here down - would make a good story, I thought.

Since I thought it was a dream, I acted quite normal - Hoborg asked me who I am and where I came from, and I answered as if this was one of those meet-your-new-classmates-speeches. And all the time I waited for waking up. After hours of talking we had built up something like a friendship - Ho was nice, the other Hoodians were nice, and they seemed to think of me as a strange but friendly being, too.

So, after maybe... well, three hours or so - don't know, since in the Neverhood time was relative - most Klayguys had left, leaving me and Hoborg alone in the Hall. For the first time I was wake enough and not too busy for looking around a bit.

Hoborg looked at me. "You want to be alone for a while?" he asked me as if I was one of them.

"Um... yes please... I'm... still quite confused about what happened... er, sir."

Man, Hoborg was TALL. And really impressing, standing in front of me, with his crown and in that light... I stared at him, until he had left the Hall without any further comments.

So, I was alone again.... time to collect my thoughts...

a) This is a dream. A strange, long, VERY long and VERY strange dream. I should enjoy it.

b) All here is Klay! Real Klay! I felt like standing in a child's Play-Doh-box.

I stroke over the walls and the floor with my fingers, trying to find out what sort of Klay it was. A really REALISTIC dream, I must say... Pretty cool. Erm... pretty COLD.

I realized that I had started shivering - the air in here was... I couldn't help to think of igloos and snowmen... DARN cold here... And yet so comfy, somehow... One thing was sure: This world had style. Not so boring like my dear homeworld, to which I surely would return soon, with the help of my annoying rings-at-6am-alarm clock.

I stayed a while longer. I had no choice, since the door was only big enough for a mouse again after Hoborg had left. I had TRIED to open it - or pull it big, like I saw in the game - but I didn't know how. Just pulling it didn't work... I guess you have to be a Hoodian to understand that mechanism.

So I waited. Waiting makes you quite sleepy, so I took a nap. Ha, NOW I would wake up again, being in my bed in my room, and there would be no dimension portal at all. I felt a bit sorry about that. It was cold, but REALLY nice here.

A sweet-sing-sanging voice interrupted my sleep. "Wake uuuuup! It's early mornin'! Do you want to sleep all day?"

"Awwww moooom...." I started to mumble, ready to turn around and continue sleeping. Then I noticed that THAT hadn't been mom's voice. I sat up, completely awake now.

Someone was standing in front of me. Someone out of Klay. WHAT A LONG DREAM! The guy grinned widely at me, stretching out a helping hand so that I could stand up. I took it, feeling the cold Klay of his fingers.

Putting his hands to his hips the guy said: "So you're the 'freaky being' them others told me about. I had imagined you a bit taller. And freakier. Man, Thull is freakier than you!"

I looked at him. What else should I have done?

"My name is Rem", he continued, "but if you say something nice to me and swear you'll not bite my head off, you can call me Rem."

"U-huh." I simply replied.

"Still a bit dazed, eh?" Rem patted me on my head. "No matter - come out and have some fun! Or do you want a stone next to my brother's? If you're more the gloomy type, Thull would be your companion."

I followed him wordless. Maybe I wasn't asleep - maybe I was hitten on the head by something and can't wake up now? I even considered that I might be dead - but then, was the Neverhood Heaven or Hell? I would def more tend to "Heaven", but... well... the Neverhood...

Rem brought me to some other Hoodians, which greeted me quite nicely, without any hint of hostility. Just interest. Well, THEY were interesting to ME, too. I forgot about all my 'What-happened' thoughts and started having some fun with them.

And WHAT fun! Man, after playing and joking about a day with them I felt better then ever before in my life! Some games weren't my style though, since the Hoodians used their special Klay-Toon-style to squish each other or played with toys I couldn't even tell apart from one another.

Slowly my human nature got a grip on me again - I was tired, cold AND, I suddenly realized, VERY hungry. I told them.

"No problem", they replied, and they showed me the way to the Apple Tree. I stood long and thoughtful in front of it.

Then I asked: "Say, what are the apples and what are the leaves?" I looked at the mass of Klay in front of me. Sure, the apples were green and the leaves were red... but neither of it seemed to be eatable. It was just Klay.

One Hoodian, I can't remember his name today, came up to me and took one of the green Klay-lumps. "This here is an apple, stupie!" he said, not nasty.

My hunger was enormous, so I put the thing in my hand and carefully sniffed at it. Smelled like Klay... Oh well...

I had an unsurely bite of it. It was my first and my last one - it tasted HORRIBLE! It didn't only SMELL like my modelling clay set at home - it tasted like it, too! (Not that I had ever eaten my modelling set.)

And it was the same with all other things they brought me - I couldn't eat something that looked like my school eraser...

So what should I do? 'Back to my homeworld', that came into my mind - but HOW? The dimension portal had vanished when my lights went out after that wall-crash... just a sec - I start talking like this here was REAL! I just have to wake up! I thought a moment.

Man, where are your red magic shoes when you need them? I'M STARVING! OR FREEZING! Or maybe even BOTH!!! And that in a world I always had dreamt of - of course, NOW I dream of it, too... umm....

At that point, I had my first doubts if THIS was really a dream...

THE BIG DECISION

Two days later (I think)...

Do you know how you feel after two days without food and, resulting out of my panic, sleep? You feel ICKY! Dangit!

I was so panicked that I just could think of one: 'Open, you freakin' dimension portal, or I'll go berserk!' And suddenly the portal was there. Right in front of me. And around me were all the Hoodians and Hoborg, who had really worried about me these whole two days - they're SO NICE!

I stepped a bit forward. Then I stopped. I just had to reach out my hand again, and I was in that fog-stuff that hopefully would bring me back to Earth.

But I didn't go any further. I had something like a vision... It said: 'Go through this door and you'll come home - and you will NEVER see the Hood again.'

Never?

I turned questioningly to Hoborg. He shrugged.

Never... if this here was true (I started thinking of it being quite real)... I should go and give up a world that gave me the best time of my life?? NEVAH!

But I'm starving...

I asked Hoborg. "I HAVE to go home! I can't make it any longer in this world... but I don't wanna leave you... can't I come back? Just sometimes - for holiday or something? Why do I just feel that this dimension portal will be my last if I go through..."

Hoborg seemed to feel it, too. I had been able to create this portal by my mind, because I really wanted to, and I thought it would be fun, and not at least because Douglas TenNapel and his crew created this little Klayworld for a computer game and made a, let's say a 'Link' to this real Neverhood... But I could only open it because I BELIEVED. Now that I know it exists - how should I BELIEVE in it? That's no more HOPE, it's KNOWLEDGE. And I had no real link to the Hood - I was, in fact, a normal human being that accidently had changed worlds once...

After standing there for a while, in front of my way home, unable to decide, Hoborg finally said: "I'll ask Quater."

I have never seen or heard Quater, since Hoborg alone, as one of Quater's sons, talked to him. But when Hoborg came back to me, he had rather bad news. As far as I understood, I had two choices:

a) Leave this dimension now and NEVER see it again or

b) Become one of them, risking to never get to MY dimension again...

'In each of our lives, we must make decisions. When these times come, be ready to make the right choices...'

Quater said that. I read that so many times before, on the Klaywalls, playing the computer game, and I always thought: THESE are big words indeed. But I'd never thought that they´ll become THAT important for me someday.

I looked at the bizarre beings standing around me... 'Become one of them'? It was rather absurd, but I was convinced that 'b' would be the right answer. To think about it - this here SURELY is a dream. So, why not?

But it wasn't so easy. Hoborg may be a creator, but he wasn't able to REcreate an existing being. And Quater had told him that none of his sons was able to do that, not even he himself. BUT: two sons could do. Now don't ask me how Quater did it, but after I chose Ottoborg as second creator he brought him to the Hood (making Willie endless happy).

I had to wait a while in the Hall of Records while they were 'organizing' something. Man, I was nervous...

When they called me to the Big Tree I saw that Hoborg, Ottoborg and almost all Hoodians had formed a circle, all holding their hands. I had to step into the center, where Hoborg gave me some little... Klaything...a lump at about the size of a bean. He told me that it was something like a life-seed, a piece of the Best Klay, you understand. I should keep it in my hand and take good care of it, until he and Ottoborg had 'united their powers with the help of all Hoodians and Quater' - whatever he exactly meant by this.

After that they started some kinda ritual. The Hoodians around me just stood there and stared at me, still holding their hands and, as I know today, imagine ME as a Hoodian.

Hoborg stood in front of me, holding up my hand which the life-seed was on. Ottoborg just stood behind me and did nothing but grin. Scary, I tell you.

What happened then... I just know that IT happened very fast and VERY painful.... Hoborg did something to the life-seed that it started to glow in a strange way (it looked like illuminated fog or something.... Dunno.) THEN he suddenly told me that I should EAT the thing! Ewww.... I was so surprised that I just did it. The same moment Ottoborg aimed some beam of light on me, what is HIS way to create beings - shooting beams onto the ground and creating beings directly from it.

I really felt BAD for a moment... it was like all of your atoms would explode and then implode again... in fact that WAS what happened to me - you know, like the thing about the caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but MUCH faster... (and I guess I didn't turn out more beautiful then, either)

The next thing I could remember was that I awoke in the Hall of Records again...

And for the first time, I DIDN'T feel cold...

CHANGED

'Aaaaawwwww....' I thought, trying to awake completely, 'this dream slowly starts REALLY getting weird...'

I still leaned to some wall and had my eyes closed, and I didn't want to change that too fast - I felt that my head would ache amazingly if I stood up too fast now.

The first thing I moved was my left hand. I moved it over the floor, so I could get a feel where's up and where's down. The floor felt... hard. Wooden, in a way.

Other parts of my brain awoke. Hey, if the ground feels like wood - I must be at home again! Nothing in the 'Hood wasn't even close to wood (I rhymed!). So finally, that dream was over! HOORAY! I knew I would miss the time I had there, but I had to eat again! Pretty fast!

So I tried to open my eyes... I felt strange - I knew I breathed in and out, but somehow it was dif than it had ever been before... oh well - I was in a quite bad condition, no eat, no drink, no proper sleep AND a hit on the head - everybody would feel strange.

I finally managed to open my eyes, and I saw... NOW I was awake!

"THE HALL OF RECORDS??" I shouted out at no-one in particular. As my voice echoed through the Hall my eyes grew even wider. Was that ME talking?? I quickly put my hands up to my mouth, shocked about what I just heard - that WASN'T my voice! I never had sounded that... that... cartoony!

And putting my hands to my mouth didn't make it any better - it just resulted in the next catastrophe. I slowly, totally frightened, took my hands down again and looked at them... WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME??

I stood up abruptly, looking panicked at my body - I WAS KLAY!

The next minutes were surely the weirdest of my life - I was shocked and couldn't believe what I saw. I now was SURE that I wasn't in a dream, but all I wished was to wake up! My instincts told me: "Being shocked - Melt to a puddle." Confusing... For some moments the only thoughts I had were 'Someone must have started some joke on me and put me into a costume of Klay...' and 'Wakeupwakeupwakeup!', but when I had calmed down a bit, my heart (or whatever) still beating wildly, I got the fact that NO costume in this or any other world could be THAT real...

I had to lean to the wall. Or at least, I TRIED to lean to it - something was in the way so that I couldn't press myself against it. I first looked at the wall, if there was anything sticking out of it, but I realized pretty fast and with a bad feeling that there was another possibility. I carefully turned my head to look at my back, which came out to be quite easy without breaking my neck.

Backspikes! I had backspikes! And four of them! I slowly could imagine how I looked like...

Slowly regaining my wits (and memories about the previous day) I peeked at my body again. First, my hands. I seemed to be yellow-fleshed, as far as I could see my arms and hands. My NAILLESS fingers had a dark-brown color and looked clumsy and somehow only loosely attached, but I didn't want to find out how loose they really were. And: I only had eight of them. I tried to wiggle them a bit, still with the feeling that these only were gloves which covered my real hands, but when I clapped them together once I could feel the contact, so: No gloves. Strangely enough I didn't miss my fifth fingers at all.

I slowly looked up along my arms. They were quite skinny and surely didn't contain too much muscle-power. At my shoulders they ended up in the sleeves of a red T-shirt. I decided to check my 'clothing' first, since that seemed to be less strange to me than looking at the form of my body. Well then. Um.

I looked down. Red boots. Brown shorts. Yes, not too bad, I'd say. Pretty nifty colors. Movin' on... The red shirt. It had a brown triangular collar around the neck - looked a bit like Klogg's, thinking about it. At the pointy end of it, right in the middle of my chest, there was a yellow... button...

My eyes were caught by the round thing. A button? Like... Klaymen's...? My whole bunch of worries came back. I carefully covered it with my hand, collecting and reorganizing my thoughts again. A button. Klaymen's buttons always did funny things to him when he played with them...

Putting my hand down again I looked at mine, wishing it wouldn't be, of all places in the world, on MY chest. Then I lifted a finger again, stopping hesitatingly in front of the button. I almost broke into sweat - what would happen to me if I press it now? Or... maybe, I first should just try to turn it into some direction.

So I grabbed the thing and turned it without further ado around, counterwise. Nothing happened.

After a little uneventful pause I carefully turned it into the other direction. Nothing.

I turned it a few more times, a bit faster now, just to be sure. Ok. I breathed out.

Now I positioned my finger again ON the button and waited a few seconds, staring at my chest. I pressed.

There was a little 'click' sound, and before I knew that I had activated some mechanism in my body, a little squeaky hatch opened downwards, directly under the button in my chest.

I stared, with increasing eye-size. MY CHEST!!! Okay, maybe I HAD mutated into a Klay-being, maybe I WAS really in the Neverhood - but THIS was too much! My GUTS are in there!!! AAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!

After a while WITHOUT any outcoming guts or other disgusting events I shakingly grabbed the hatch with both of my hands and slammed it shut, as fast as I could. Then I sat down, still staring.

I didn't dare to move for quite a while - I bet YOU would react the same way if you suddenly found out that your body was hollow inside, where there were your stomach and other slimy contents in before.

Minutes, or maybe hours later, I carefully lifted my hands to my chest again, checking it without looking. Seemed to be in order - no hole or gap. I looked down. Gulping, but knowing I'd have nightmares for the rest of my probably klayen life if I wouldn't do it now, I pressed the button again. The hatch opened.

I stared at the dark hole in my torso, wondering about what might be in there. Only one way to find out...

Closing my eyes and turning my head away I stomped my right hand into the hole. I could feel it inside my body when I touched the inner 'walls' of it... there seemed to be nothing inside, just warm and dry air. Roaming a bit further down, almost getting sick by the thought what I was doing, I found something. I first wanted to pull my hand out hastily, but then I noticed that it, whatever was in there, had nothing to do with anatomy. I carefully took it out, strangely curious about what it was.

Then I could see what I held in hand: It was a couple of papers! Klaypapers, to be exact. They had different colors - blue, red and yellow - and it was definetly normal paper. For writing on it. Or drawing... I put the whole bunch next to me on the floor and decided to explore my insides a bit more.

Some time later...

A small collection of different things had piled up next to me: Lots of papers, all in those three nice colors, two pencils (one big, one small), a yo-yo, a little what's-its-name-animal with wheels and a string to it (looked like one of the sheep which lived under the Mush Room, only it was yellow), three small bouncy balls (again, one blue, one red, one yellow), a short brown string and some other toys and gimmicks I had never seen before. There was more inside my chest-compartment, but I had stopped finding out what it was. Really weird. I didn't know if I should puke, seeing what happened to my ex-humanoid body, or if I should laugh - it was just STUPID what I had found inside my chest, and overall I felt quite good-mooded, ignoring the remains of shock.

Only, how should I get ALL this stuff back into my chest?

I decided to think about that later - now I was in the mood to explore the Hall. Of course, in the last few days I had done that so often, but after all examination, it had only been Klay. Looking at it now... The walls were stone, the floor something like wood. The brown spikes of that one door were made from some plant, and the button that opened them was illuminative... stuff. I didn't know the names of those materials, but they were different, sometimes rough and opaque, sometimes smooth and a bit transparent; you could see that the light was reflected in unique ways from every material. Why hadn't I seen that before?

I remembered the 'exit'. Walking up to the mousehole I nearly laughed - THAT was it? It was SO easy! I grabbed the rubber-like door-frame and pulled it open. Behind it stood Rem, hands to his hips and grinning at me.

I jumped backwards, holding my breath. Man, this guy ALWAYS tries to shock ya...

"Hi", he said, stepping in front of me.

I looked up into his face, waiting for his next comment. I didn't have to wait long.

"You look good today, my little hoop-headed friend", he joked.

I blinked. "'Hoop-headed'?"

He grinned even wider. "Yeah, hoop-headed. Or what would you call this thing?" He grabbed something on my head and shook me a few times fore- and backwards.

I looked up. Yes... I hadn't checked my head yet... I reached up with both hands, getting grip of the thing on my head... I was like Willie! Why wasn't I too surprised about that... I wondered what my face looked like - aaaw... a kingdom for a mirror!

Rem chuckled quietly as I tried to look at my own head, but in a pleasant way. "Come on", he said, "the others want to see ya too."

I turned back to the stuff I had piled up on the ground. "Erm... I have to put away all my... things... first", I said unsurely.

"Oka-ay." Rem crossed his arms and waited.

I stood in front of all my gimmicks and wondered what to do. I looked back at Rem, wordlessly crying for help.

"What is it?" he asked, coming to me, focusing my stuff on the ground.

"I.... got that out of m-my... chest-compartment..." I begun, starting to stutter again, like I always did when I don't know what to do.

"Neat stuff", Rem stated, "so what about it?"

"Umm...." I was ashamed. "How... how can I get all this IN again... p-please?" I looked away. This was SO embarrassing...

"Huh?" Rem eyed alternately at me and the pile of papers and toys. Then at me again. "Well... I'd say you just put them back."

I stood there and stared. ALL this? Suddenly Rem put one of his hands around my shoulders, and with the other hand he pressed my button. Before I knew what he was doing, he had grabbed the whole little hill of things from the ground and shoved it into the hole in my torso. He shut the hatch and let off me.

"So, what's the problem?" he grinned again.

I looked at my chest, both hands holding to it. "Umm...."

"Now co'mon." he said, heading to the exit.

"Umm.........." That stuff COULDN'T all be in there...

Rem came back and hooked his hand to the backside of my collar, pulling me with him to the door. I was too confused to react on it.

"Don't worry - I know how you feel," he chatted while dragging me behind him, "I was once like you, I just came to this world by accident."

I tried to look at him. "Really?"

He stopped and turned to me, smiling. "Nope. But it sounds good, eh?"

I rolled my eyes.

"Hoborg wanted to show you somethin'", he continued, "I think that might interest you. He's waiting at the Nursery."

DOODLES' FIRST DAY

Rem let off my collar in the Venus Flytrap Room in the Nursery. Hoborg and another Hoodian were yet waiting there.

I wiped some imaginary dust from my shirt, focusing Rem, who still stood next to me and grinned. After I made sure he wouldn't do anything but standing there I turned to Hoborg. What should I say now? 'Thank you'?.... 'Good morning'?... Erm... what do you say to someone who's a king and, from one day to the other, your father, too? And what will he say? With my new body I still felt as if I walked nude through a crowded city... All seemed to stare at you in the knowledge that THIS wasn't how you normally looked like... Or like those days where you come to school with a new haircut, afraid if the others would like it or not...

"You... er... wanted to talk to me?" I finally said, wondering if he noticed my new voice.

Hoborg seemed to search for the right words. The other Hoodian, who stood at the ladder and had looked down at the Mail Room, turned interestedly to us. Then Hoborg started: "Hello again, my friend. You... feel alright?" His tones were somehow unsure.

I looked at everyone in the room and shrugged. "Um, yes... I think so, thanks."

Hoborg didn't seem to be fully satisfied with this answer. "You... don't feel strange or... unfinished or something?"

I blinked. What was his point? I started getting nervous. "Um... no. I mean, I feel strange, yes - but not, er, 'unfinished'... Why?"

Hoborg stepped from one foot to the other. "Oh, nothing. I'm just glad your... 'creation' worked... in a way..."

I became frightened again. "'In a way'?? What happened?"

My new daddy tried to calm me down again. "Nothing! Really. It's just... you remember the life-beam of Ottoborg?"

How should I ever forget that... I nodded.

"Well", Hoborg continued, "the beam didn't FULLY hit you..."

I tried to understand what that meant. "You mean... I'm no 100-%-Hoodian?? What -"

He interrupted me, lifting his both hands appeasingly: "Oh nonono! You're a perfect Hoodian. We... just don't know what effect the missing life-energy will have on you - I mean, you WERE already alive before. It's only... that small beam that reflected from you and hit the ground...."

I stared at him in suspense. "Yes??"

Rem suddenly raised his voice, sounding festively: "You've got a broooootheeeer!!!"

I turned around to him. "Huh?"

When Rem didn't make any further comments, I turned back to Hoborg, who - I couldn't help thinking of it - stood there like a little schoolboy on his first day, seeing his new teachers. He gave some nodding sign to the guy at the ladder. "Klenn?".

The Hoodian nodded back and looked down to the Mail Room again. "Shoddy? Come up here!"

After a bit of rumbling and the sound of someone climbing up the ladder a head emerged from the hole in the ground. Followed by a rather big and robust body. I looked up. In front of me stood a figure that must have been the Neverhoodian variant on an earthy bodybuilder - he was tall (not as tall as Hoborg, but still at least one head taller than me), broad (not to say 'door-frame-shaped') and he didn't seem to notice me at all.

Hoborg tried to add some background-info. "This is, er, Shoddy. He came to life after that beam hit the ground... but we're not sure IF he is alive... But we ARE sure that he's something like your twin..."

I looked at Shoddy again. He indeed seemed like someone who slept with open eyes - he stared straight ahead, with eyes that had no color in them. He was kinda scary.

He seemed to be a wild Hoborg/Ottoborg mixture (um... like me, I guess). He had a hoop AND a stem, which reminded me of the bell of an alarm-clock. His skin was flesh-colored, except for a brown ring around his left arm and two other rings around the top of his legs. His eyes... they were round, like Willie's, but not as big and they were more attached to the side of his head than at the front. The pupils were white, like the rest of the eyes. I wondered if I looked the same way...

His lips were thick and his teeth stuck out, and the whole face didn't show ANY expression at all. His shirt was red at the upper right and yellow at the left part below, the shorts (or pants?) were brown, and he didn't wear any shoes. The whole guy looked pretty strong, not as skinny as me, and he had no spikes or buttons (uh... lucky him...).

Seeing the fact that he was my brother, I stretched my hand out and said: "Erm... hi... Shoddy..."

He didn't show any reaction. The Hoodian at the ladder, Klenn, walked up to me and explained: "I think he can't talk. And he reacts only if you call him, or sometimes he moves around himself, but only to stand somewhere else. I've never seen him sleeping since you were made."

I looked at Klenn. "How long is that now?"

He turned to me. "About two days."

I realized something. "You mean, I've slept TWO days?? I've been here for... um... FIVE days now without any meals?? Man, so THIS is why I feel so bad..."

Hoborg joined the dialogue, his voice now normal and good-mooded again: "We thought about to put something with you into the Hall, but we hadn't expected that you'd wake up so fast - come on, we'll go and show you where to find your food."

We all headed to the exit. All except Shoddy, who still stood there and stared. But looking at him I somehow FELT he saw me, AND I knew he understood every word. I even bet that you could play chess or something quite good with him.

"Shoddy?" I asked carefully. "Do you come?"

Without changing his expression or looking at me he started following us. So he WAS alive...

HOW DO YOU SPELL 'ARVEN'?

Once again, we headed to the Apple Tree. While we were underway, Klenn walked beside me. He started a chat.

"Where do you come from?" he asked me, with sincere interest.

"Earth." I said. I couldn't think of anything better now.

"Is that another world? You looked so different from us when you came here."

"Um... yes. I'd say it's another dimension. It's not made from Klay." I stared thoughtful at the ground.

Klenn looked at me. "What... a world without Klay? How can this be? I thought ALL worlds of Quater were made from Klay."

I shortly turned my head to him, but then continued to stare holes into the ground. "Oh, my world wasn't made by Quater. Or Father. Umm.... it's.... the people on my world still argue about it - some say, our planet was created by God, and he made humans -"

"'Humans'?"

"Oh. That's us. *I* am...uh... I WAS human before I came here."

"Ah."

"Well, they say that God made humans as the top of his creations, better than all animals and plants he made before. *I* myself am not so sure about that..."

"Why not?"

"Earth isn't quite a peaceful planet... Anyways, today people know that our planet and millions of other planets were the result of a big explosion -"

Klenn stopped. "Explosion? How big was it?"

I stopped too, looking into Klenn's face that was full of curiousity now. "Um... REALLY big I think. Big enough to create an endless number of worlds and suns - oh, that are big balls of fire, in case you don't know it."

Klenn's expression was a bit sorrowful as he said: "Pity... I wish I could have SEEN that..."

Rem turned around to us, grinning. "Oh yeah, Manies - I can imagine."

Klenn gave him an annoyed look. We walked on.

"And the beings? Where did THEY come from?" he asked me.

"Oh, the beings just happened, I think. They started out as very small little lumps in the water and evoluted to many different kinds of beings - they needed millions of years to do so." I tried to explain what I knew about our universe in a way a Hoodian could understand it - which wasn't too easy.

"Just happened? Absurd." Klenn stated.

With that, our conversation ended for a while.

Then I begun, asking a question I was thinking about all the time now: "Klenn? I know this sounds stupid, but... How do I look like?"

He blinked at me. "What do you mean?"

I was embarressed. "My face, I mean... I slowly start getting used to the thought that I'm a Klay-being now - but I've never seen my face... do I look like Shoddy?"

He looked at my eyes. "Hm? Er, no. You... well, I'd say you look more like Willie... just that you've got blue eyes and your teeth are IN your mouth. You look friendly."

"I've got blue eyes?" I asked, tempted to try to look at my own eyes, until I realized that this was impossible.

"U-huh. And you can call me 'Manies'. Everyone does. My full name is Klenn Many Stemmer."

I could imagine why he had that name, looking at his whole bunch of stems on his head, which were hold together by a blue band.

"Say", he continued, "what is YOUR name, by the way?"

"M...", I started out of reflex. Of course, I had an earthy name, but... well, I didn't think that this name was even approximately fitting to my new form. "I... don't know..." I ended the sentence, looking at the ground again.

"Oh. Well, I bet you'll find one." Manies replied.

Then we had reached the Apple Tree.

Seeing it my full five-days-hunger came back. How came it that I was still alive? I went to the tree and looked at it. APPLES! REAL apples! I took some of them and shoved them without thinking into my mouth. They tasted GOOD! Not like any fruit I knew, but GOOD. I took some more.

Shoddy posted himself in front of the tree too, taking one of the fruits, putting it without looking at it into his mouth and swallowed it, without chewing.

While I ate almost the whole tree empty the others looked at me, smiling (I think Hoborg smiled, too). Normally I would stop eating at once, being ashamed of my behaviour, but I was SO hungry - and: Being ashamed of your manners seemed to be a human thing - and I wasn't human any more, was I?

After I had finished I sat down. I don't know WHERE all that food landed that I had eaten, but I felt much better now. I was ready to start my whole new life.

I decided to follow Manies a bit around, since he seemed to be the most patient of all Hoodians I knew up to then. He showed me the most interesting places of this small world (like the Cannon Monument, the Palace or the Chip Butty Building) and his home and hobby - the Explosives Shack - which ended almost in a mess from the size of Tschernobyl.

In the afternoon (yes, there ARE daytimes in the Neverhood - it even gets dark in the evening, but up to now I haven't found out from where the light comes) Klenn tought me the most important mechanisms in the Hood. I knew all this button- and sound-stuff before, from the game, but some things were rather new for me.

There were the teleporters. Everyone who had at least played once through "The Neverhood" knew that there were some small buttons with various symbols on it and one big button to start the transport. But it was a whole new feeling to SIT in one of those things. First, there were some new small buttons added, leading to some destination I didn't know (and the symbols still didn't tell me a thing - to be honest, I bet they don't even MEAN anything). And second, sitting in one of these nut shells on those comfy chairs was rather creepy, thinking of what they did to you.

We started at the porter in the Whale's Mouth (which reminds me - I should draw a complete map of the Hood sometime). Klenn sat down in it and told me he'd transport to the Palace. Of course, we could have gone together into the thing (and NO, our molecules wouldn't have mixed, and bugs which accidently came into the machine WOULDN'T start a catastrophe - in fact, most bugs in the Neverhood were so big that you can't miss them if they crouch into the porter), but Manies thought it was better if I learned to use it myself.

After he had vanished (it really just goes 'pop' and the person has gone) I got into the machine. All little buttons blinked, ready to be pushed. I pressed the 'Palace' one (we KNOW which one that is, don't we?) and... stopped, my finger almost on the big button. I looked at the blinking Palace-button. Then I looked around me again, at the machine I was sitting in. Scary feeling... But then I thought: 'What am I afraid of? This wouldn't be the first time that I got atomized... And I really had stranger experiences in my previous days... I just hope it doesn't hurt too much...'

I pressed the button.

I had expected that it would be a painful feeling like it was when I was... created, or at least I thought I would feel ANYthing - but it just went white around me, for such a short time I didn't even see it fully, and then I was in the Palace, Klenn waiting in front of the machine.

He also tought me how to use the Cannon (but I didn't aim it somewhere - it went up much too high for my taste), telling me that this thing should produce a bigger flame to make more fun, he showed me the Disk-Screens and how they worked (but I still don't understand how you could record with those disks - I only knew that you had to stand in front of a screen-shaped plant which spat out the recorded few-seconds-disks, which you could put into the Screens afterwards), I had a short ride with Big Robot Bil, and I saw the Bobby-machine (at the moment it's called 'Robby', since the first crystal's 'blue' seemed to be broken) and the Lakewall-vehicles - but I didn't test either of them... being shrunk was a just too scary thought for me, and the Lakewall...

I HAD sitten in the green car, and for some cool reason I even knew how to steer it without anyone telling me before, but... These things are just beyond every physical logic! Only held by a thin stick attached to the wall they should crash down, but they don't. And, something that hadn't changed after I became a Klay-being: I was afraid of heights. DEEPLY afraid. I would use the vehicle if I had to, but I would never have fun with it... I don't wanna bore you with the details.

Instead, let me tell you how I spent my next days as a Hoodian.

That's easy: I slowly got used to the fact that I was Klay now - even more: I slowly really LIKED it. It was an easy and pleasant life - you just have fun with the other Hoodians; it's almost impossible to hurt yourself seriously since massive Klay regenerates quite fast, and though the Neverhood is a very small world you never get bored.

And after one day I almost did what I had done all my life before: I sat down somewhere and drew pictures. My stock of Klaypapers was endless (but getting them from outta my chest is one of the things I'm still not too happy about), and I had learned fast how to use the uncommon pencils (it was actually more carving than drawing).

And with all those gimmicks I had, those juggling balls and whatnot, I even was something like a toy-loan for a while. I just was a bit disappointed that I had no computergames (I'm tempted to say 'a Klaystation', but those flat jokes are not quite my style). The only thing was that I was still nameless. I just couldn't think of one.

However, one day I sat in the Hall of Records (which was somehow my favorite place at that time, since it reminded me how I came to the Hood), near the window, looking at Arven's picture. After a while I took out one of my papers and tried to copy it.

Concentrated on my work I didn't notice that Willie entered the Hall and walked up the whole way to me, looking at what I was doing.

After a while he grabbed my picture and took a closer look, turning it a few times around. Then he looked at me, grinning.

"This good doodles!" he exclaimed.

Suddenly I knew my new name.

A HOME FOR DOODLES

"'Doodles'? Are you sure?" Hoborg and some other Hoodians stood around me, back in the Nursery.

I nodded happily.

"Well, if you think that's the right name for you, then it should be this way." Hoborg said, patting me friendly on my shoulder.

"Rather unusual name", stated one of the others around me.

"I like it", I simply replied. I thought myself that it sounded rather strange to name me like this, but 'Doodles' seemed to have exactly the right ring to it. And, well, it WAS what I did all the time - drawing doodles. Funny - I had changed my body and homeworld, and after the first phase of shock I did what I always had done: Drawing. On papers that seemed to APPEAR in my chest. Yes. I was pretty sure that I was 'Doodles'.

"Well then, Doodles, I think it's time now to show you your new room", Hoborg told me suddenly.

"My room?" I echoed, rather confused.

"Yes. In the last few days I have created a new room that should fit perfectly to your personality. I think you'll like it. Follow me." Hoborg went out of the Nursery, taking me by my hand and pulling me with him. The other Hoodians stayed where they were, looking after us.

We stopped in front of the green Lakewall Vehicle. Hoborg took a seat in it and waved me to follow him. I hesitatingly sat behind him.

"You mean... my room is somewhere up at the Lakewalls?" I asked a bit nervous. I really HATE big heights.

Hoborg pulled the lever, and the car started to drive upwards. "Yes. You live right next to Willie."

I sat upright, first looking at my KlayDad, then down, then up to Willie's house. "What?? UP there??" I grabbed both sides of the seat and held them as hard as I could.

"Yes. I think it's the best place for you to room. Something wrong with that?" Hoborg turned around to me.

I carefully looked down again. "Um... no. No, everything alright, I guess." I gulped. BIG height...

Ho-daddy turned around again and drove on.

He drove all the way up to Willie's house, and all the time I wondered WHERE my room could be there. Even now, being pretty near Wil's room, I couldn't see anything that looked like an entrance. But then my question was answered. At a point in the driveway, just a few yards under Willie's entrance, there was a new intersection I hadn't known before. It went around the corner of the outer housewall, and there, right under the roof, was a small round hole. The car stopped in front of it.

"Here we are!" Hoborg said in jolly tones, "Go in and tell me if you like it."

I curiously stood up, peeking through the hole. Behind it was...

I stared in surprise - this room was BEAUTIFUL! While I kept on staring I leaned more and more to the frame of the window - until I lost balance and fell over, onto the rather hard floor of the room. While sitting there I thought: 'Wow! THIS is where I'll live from now on? NEAT! My own room in the Neverhood! And it was PERFECT!... Well... a pillow at the entrance would be useful...'

I jumped to my feet and looked around a bit, with big gleaming eyes. It was a small comfy square room, with bright-orange walls and a red floor. In the middle of the floor was a round blue carpet, fluffy and nice to walk on. At the left wall (if you look from the entrance), in the corner next to the exit, stood a big orange-blue wooden - or klayen - trunk, like those you know from those pirate-films or something. I always wanted to have one of those! In the other corner of the left wall there was a cupboard. It was orange, too, and had green spirals and other ornaments on it. At the top it was rounded. When I opened the right door of it I saw that it had three vertical shelves, and provided lotsa place to put things in. Next to the cupboard was a little brown table, or maybe a chair. Multi-purpose, I guess.

And in the right corner there was a bed. It was surely the most bizarre looking bed I had ever seen, and I liked it at once. It was dark-green and was bowl-shaped, like the Lakewall Cars, but with no spikes on the outside. And it was about twice the size of the Cars. To tell it for short: It looked like one of those baskets for cats or dogs, but it contained a pillow, a soft-looking brown-white quilt and an even softer looking sheet. Oh, HOW had I missed a real bed in the last few days... Of course, they HAD given me a bed, there in the Hall of Records which provided quite a bunch of rooms on the other wall (that one without the Chronicle-inscripts), but that one had been quite small and hard. Not that I'd care about that, but I still had my problems with those backspikes - try to lie on your back with some of those and you know what I mean.

But THIS bed was.... I HAD to try it out at once! So I hopped into it and let me fall onto the sheets. Lying there on my back, staring at the orange ceiling, I felt as happy as I could be. Relaxing was my second name, and I had never before felt SO much at home like now. Yay!

Above my bed there was a lamp attached to the wall, with one of those pull-strings to turn it on. With this one, I could read or draw easily when it had become dark - and I had in mind to do that very often. Oh happiness!

I sat up and looked at Hoborg, who had followed me into my room and watched me now, and I could swear he smiled.

I stood up, ran to my dad and hugged him as hard as I could. "Oh, thank you!" I exclaimed, "this room is... is GALACTICAL!!!"

I was so excited that I even forgot WHERE my room was - about 50 yards above the ground. Who cares? THIS was MY room!

And I stayed there for the rest of the day, examining the insides of the trunk, putting some of my recent drawings to the walls and a nice big pillow with the inscript "Come in!" in front of the entrance. After that, I lay into the bed again and looked happily around. What a home! After a while I fell asleep - this bed was just TOO COMFY!

I woke up again when I heard Willie's voice. When I opened my eyes he stood directly next to my bed, smiling and waving at me.

"Oh! Hi Willie!" Unusual for me, I was upright immediately - I mean, think about it: He had been my favorite character in the game - and now he was my big brother! Just too cool! I knew him now for quite a while, and he really was as nice as I had imagined him.

"You come? Klenn wait for us at his home!" He went to the exit where he shortly looked down, then back at me again. "Niiice doormat!" he commented, before he climbed into the vehicle in front of my room. I carefully followed him - the height was still something I had to get used to first.

After a while of driving and walking we had reached the Explosives Shack. "Hi, you both! Ready for a nice picnic at the Apple Tree?" Manies greeted, picking up some basket next to him.

Willie just clapped his hands, nodded and mumbled something I couldn't understand.

"Hi, Manies!" I replied smilingly, "We're going for a picnic?" The pure thought of it made me feel hungry again, and so I just followed Klenn and Willie wordless, until we had reached our aim. At the Apple Tree Manies took down his basket again, opened it and pulled a colorful blanket out, which he positioned on the ground. We sat down on three small stones, Willie polishing his seat with a small hanky he got from his beltpocket first. Then Klenn pulled out some Chip Butties and gave one to each of us - whoa, I had never eaten one before! I really wondered where he got those.

While Willie started to shove his one into his mouth, I still held mine in my hand - I first wanted to ask Klenn a question I had in mind - it had occured to me the day before, while lying there in my bed and thinking about my new life. "Say, Manies... I'm now in this world for some weeks, and up to now I haven't found anything that's in the least dangerous - are there REALLY no dangers here, or are there some things I should be aware of?"

I bit into the Chip Butty and started to chew when Klenn answered: "Well, most of the time everything IS peaceful, yes. You surely noticed that. Some things to be warned of... hm... there's the rim of our world, and the drain - falling down from our world is surely one of the biggest dangers, but I think you wouldn't try to jump off, right?"

Still with a full mouth I just shook my head wildly - why should I try to jump off this place? Man, these Chip Butties are GOOD...

"And another danger might be the Weasels, but we're not often pestered by them - mainly it is my job to get rid of them. And don't use Willie's music box, it calls Weasels."

Willie stopped eating for a second to throw in: "Yep, it there to call Weasels. Weasels GOOD food! And exist everywhere. Box is Snack-Caller." He continued eating.

And I stopped. "Weasels? You mean, they still exist?" I suddenly felt like we'd been watched.

"Yes, of course! What do you mean with 'still exist'? How can you know about Weasels if we haven't told you before?" Klenn looked questioning at me.

I thought for a second. "Um... I... hm..." How should I explain that? I couldn't just tell him that the Neverhood is a computer game from where I come...

"I... read it in the Hall of Records. Yes. There was a Weasel mentioned in the section where Klaymen saved the 'Hood. And I somehow thought that... might have been the only one." I grinned and took another bite from my bread.

"Oh." Klenn stopped looking at me and continued on his Butty too. Then he said while chewing: "And another danger might be to hurt yourself, so, just for an example, never stay too long under the Mush Room and watch out if Bil is walking along - sometimes he just doesn't watch his step. But the main dangers are really the drain and the Weasels. And maybe some bugs or plants might be poisonous - but only if you eat them." He looked at Willie.

For about an hour we just sat there and talked about different things, and from time to time Manies pulled out some new food from the basket. Then suddenly, we heard footsteps. Heavy footsteps.

Klenn was the first one who looked up and around. Putting the apple he was just eating down he exclaimed a silent "Uh-oh..." and stood up. Willie jumped to his feet too and scratched his head. I hesitatingly followed their example, but didn't really know why. "What is that, Klenn?" I asked timidly - the regular vibrations of the floor scared me.

Without turning to me Manies answered: "I think you'll get the chance now to MEET your first Weasel."

I gulped. I really wasn't interested in meeting one!

A moment later one of the near walls collapsed and a scream went through the plain - and we faced a giant green Weasel! It looked just like that one in the computer game, only it seemed to be MUCH bigger... I carefully stepped back a bit.

Willie stayed where he was, and the only thing he did was shouting out: "Boom it up! Yummy big Weasel!"

Klenn reached for his backpack, took it off and roamed around in it, mumbling: "Where are those special sticks...."

I still tried to back away, into some hiding place. And the Weasel saw me. For a few seconds it just stood there and focused on me, and I realized that I had brought quite a big distance between me and Klenn and Willie. Then it came slowly into my direction - it seemed to think of me as an easy snack. Walking backwards deeper into the plain I looked at Klenn, who still searched for the right dynamite stick, then at the beast in front of me again. And suddenly I couldn't back anymore - I had bumped into a small tree. After another second of thinking I decided to run to the left now, into the direction of the Explosives Shack. But when I wanted to start off, I stuck at the spot. Shocked I looked upwards - this CAN'T BE! While walking backwards I hadn't noticed that there had been a branch directly above me, in exactly the right height to slip through my hoop... NO!

The Weasel stood now right in front of me, and all my attempts to free me failed. I pressed myself against the stump of the tree as far as I could, looking panicked at the Weasel's huge mouth. Willie and Klenn were too far away to help me... The crab opened one of its claws and aimed it directly at my neck - and I couldn't do anything about it! Just when it wanted to snap at me, I lifted my hands out of reflex - and got a grip of the both claw-halves at my neck, preventing the Weasel to cut. But it still tried to close its clipper, and I needed all of my little muscle-powers to keep it open. Closing my eyes I only thought: If Luck him/herself wouldn't help me now, I'd have a rather hard first practical lesson in 'Dangers of the 'Hood'...

Then I heard Klenn's voice: "Wait! Don't worry! I got the stick!"

'Don't worry'??! I opened my eyes again and searched for Manies - he stood behind the Weasel now. But where was Willie?

The Weasel tried even harder to cut, and I could feel the claws at my neck now! Sharp!!! This can't be the way my life would end! It just had started to be fun!

Almost fainting I heard Willie's voice from far away - he was at the Explosives Shack. "Heeere, Mr. Weasel! Come and geeet meeeeee!"

I couldn't see him, since I really didn't want to turn my head right now, but I BET he was waving wildly... and the Weasel let go of me. They seem to react on movements... I should have known earlier...

Breathing out relieved I looked around as far as I could. Sticking here in this embarrassing situation, that wasn't too far, but enough to see what happened: When the Weasel was about in the middle of the plain, not near to any Hoodian, Klenn threw a lit dynamite-stick at its direction - and boomed it up. After that, Klenn and Willie came up to me again, trying to get me down from that branch.

"Are you ok?" Manies asked me while holding the branch.

I wanted to nod, but after a short second of thought and a look upwards I decided to answer instead: "Y-yes... thanks..." I was still shaky - what a shock! I never, *nevah* wanted to see one of those beasts again!

Willie stood behind me and pushed me away from the tree, and finally I was free. I sat down. THAT was what I needed now. Just sitting down.

Klenn sat beside me. "Well... THAT was a Weasel."

I looked at him. "Oh... REALLY?..." I put my hand around my neck to make sure that it still was there.

Manies seemed to be a bit worried. "Are you really ok? Or do you want to lie down for a while or something?"

After breathing in and out a few times and making sure that I still was in one piece, I stood carefully up again. "Nono... I'm ok, really. Just... just let us go somewhere else, yes? Somewhere where none of those... beasts are, okay?"

A bit later we continued our picnic - in the security of Klenn's room under the Explosives Shack. Over all the day came out to be a quite nice one and I had a lot of fun for the rest of it - only I nevahNEVAH wanted to hear the word "Weasel" again.

In the evening Willie and I got into the Lakewall Car again. He first drove me to my room, and when I was in he drove on to his own home.

"Er, good night, Wil!" I called after him, waving.

"Nighty, Doodledoo!" he answered, shortly turning around to me and waving back.

I went to my bed. 'Doodledoo'... hmm... nice ring to it.

I lay down, but instead of sleeping I turned on the lamp above my bed and stared at it for a while. What a day...

I tried NOT to remember that... that CRAB-experience, but of course, exactly that was what I had to think of. Those horrible, sharp clippers... even now I could feel them around my neck, just because of THINKING about them...

I shook my head. Come on, Doo... think of something else... ANYthing else!

And I DID think of something else. Suddenly I remembered my old home on Earth. And suddenly I noticed how much I missed it. If I just could get there again... just for short, to, well, for example to leave some note for my family about where I was now... of course, I shouldn't tell them the WHOLE truth... OH!

Something occured to me: I had left the computer on! Oh dear...

Just a moment! THAT was REALLY the least problem now! I'm here now for so long... someone SURELY had tried to get into my room in all that time... man...

I sat up abruptly. The dimension portal! Hey, I KNOW I still can open it! I just KNOW it! I lay down again. Right tomorrow I'll ask Hoborg! I'm SURE it'll work!

BACK ON EARTH

Right after breakfast the next day I spoke to my Klay daddy.

"You miss your old home... yes, I fully understand you." Hoborg said, sitting back on his throne, "Yes... and you're SURE that you can open your... portal to your world, is that right?"

I nodded. I couldn't explain it, but I had twice been able to open it, and I would another time be able to. Only...

"Do you think that I can come back here, too?" I looked at my dad - my feeling didn't answer me THAT question.

Hoborg scratched his, well, chin, I guess, and replied: "Hm... I don't know. You should first try to open your portal, and if that really works we can maybe find out more. And if we can't, well, then we still can bug Quater again, I think."

He stood up from his seat and lead me to the Big Tree - it's just the best place for opening portals. And another reason was that, if this here REALLY worked, I didn't know how long I would stay in my homeworld. It would be rather impolite just to vanish without telling my friends! While we had been underway, Ho-daddy had sent some fellow Hoodians to tell everyone to come to the Big Tree. And after about half an hour everyone was there.

I positioned myself at the same spot where I had stood when my first portal had opened, a few weeks ago. Then I thought: 'Let's see... I was exactly HERE, and the portal had opened THERE... hm... what had I done?'

I concentrated at the empty air, hoping that this would be enough to make the portal appear. But nothing happened. Had I done a certain movement? Or had I SAID something special?... No... I tried to remember.

On that day I felt... bad. I was... hm... human, for a start. I felt cold... I was REALLY hungry... heck, NOW I'm hungry, too. And that so short after breakfast. Oh well. Next thing: I was... frightened. I just WANTED to get home... YES! I just WANTED it!

I concentrated again, this time on my home. My room... this portal MUST appear! It WILL appear! It...

With a soft humming noise, the portal opened in front of me, just waiting for me to step through. Some Hoodians around me exclaimed quiet 'Ooooooh's, and one or two of them clapped their hands. I did it!

I stepped a bit closer and looked at the dim light. Now, looking at it, I knew: I could get to my homeworld with this, AND I could come back! Yeeeah - I was a Klay being now, and THIS here was my world! So I can come back whenever I WANT! And I HAD BEEN human, so I could get to Earth whenever I want! Cool!

I turned to my dad and friends. "It'll work!" I said, grinning happily. "I'll see my home again, AND I'll come back! I... I promise!"

Everyone around me stayed silent.

I went to my daddy and hugged him once more, then I walked in front of the portal again and turned to all my friends. "Um... bye guys..."

I waved unsurely, but let my arm sink again when they still didn't show any reaction. Then one of them asked: "You'll surely come back?"

I looked at him and answered: "Yeah, sure! Hey, the last few weeks were the best of my life! I'd be REALLY stupid NOT to come back! But my family at home surely misses me... I just wanna tell them that I'm alright, and there's surely some other stuff to be done... hm... really! I'll COME back."

I found Klenn between all the others. He only cocked his head when I looked at him, then he shrugged and showed something like a smile. Right next to him was Willie - HE smiled widely, and when I waved at him he waved back, not showing any sign of unsureness. And then everyone started to smile and wave, and they almost said in a choir: "See ya! Come back soon, Doo!"

Whoa! They LIKE me! On Earth you could stand an HOUR on one spot and wave bye-bye at someone, and the only thing the crowd would say would be something like 'Well? What are you waiting for?' Or something.

I grinned happily, turned to the portal and went through.

I was expecting such an unpeaceful journey like the first time I used the portal, but instead this time I came out on the other side like I'd have stepped through a door to another room. I was almost through, when I tripped over the klayen frame and rolled forwards for a second, until I bumped into my bed. I lay there upside down, feet into the air, and looked at the portal, which closed right after I was through completely. Then I looked at the surroundings. Yes, this was my room! Hooray!

I carefully stood up, trying not to throw down any of the stuff I always piled on my bed, and had a closer look around. Hm... nothing seemed to have changed in here. I opened the window and looked at the sky (hey, long not seen now - a sky with clouds!). It was dark outside. I went to my alarm-clock above my bed - 9pm. Alright. I pressed the button on it that flipped the numbers to todays date: 26/12/96. Huh? But that had been the day when I came TO the Neverhood! (Remind me to celebrate Recreation Day next year)

I crouched down from my bed again and sat onto the rim of it.

Hm... when all this started it had been about 3pm, same day. But that's impossible! I took the TV-remote that was lying at my left, and chose a program. Oh cool. A talk-show... Let's see what the TV-guide says: 'Today: "My child doesn't appreciate my cookery"'. Fascinating... I looked up at the screen and watched for a while. Yep, they're talking about cookery. Hm, and the TV-clock said 26/12/96, too... This REALLY confused me. I turned the TV off again, stood up and walked to my computer - really, it still WAS turned on... if anyone had come to my room in this time, he'd surely turned the computer off...

I sat in front of the dark screen and thought. So time in the Neverhood REALLY is different, eh? I leaned back, put my feet up on the chair and stared at the ceiling. Hm, while I had been WEEKS in the 'Hood, on Earth only a few hours had passed. Maybe no-one even had noticed that I was gone? Would make everything a bit easier to explain...

A sound came from the computer-speakers and interrupted my thoughts. I leaned forward again and turned the screen on. I saw: Klaymen standing in the Hall of Records. Just like I had left him. Strangely fascinated I put my elbows onto my desk, leaned my chin on and stared for a while at the scene. Then I pointed at the screen and said quietly: "You know, all this here started just because of you, Klay. Hm... really, you look much taller in real life."

Since I didn't get an answer (and I wasn't really expecting one), I pressed on 'Escape'. Then I stared a while at the Option-Screen. "Oh, beautiful Klay..." I mumbled - and I MEANT it.

'Load'.... Man, it's complicated to press the Mouse-buttons with only four fingers... Where IS this Save.... ah! I started the game at a point where Klay stands in front of the Cat Head Mountain. Heh, I'm glad I saved at that point of the game. After a second the familiar 'Klaymen! Up here!' could be heard - I started to smile. I just couldn't help it - I've gotta see Wil in the game again! Sorry for the plantpot, Klay, but THIS here is something personal.

So I watched the short sequence and caught me at waving dreamingly at Willie - that's the first time you see him animated in the game... ah, those nostalgic memories... Out of a habit I looked at that completely useless piece of wood at my right that was supposed to be a mousepad-holder - since I'm left-handed I used it as a shelf for food-storage. At the moment it only contained some jelly-bears, but I really didn't mind - I took a green one and looked at it. Hm... I took a closer look, narrowing my eyes - was that eatable? Looked like... plastic? Glass? Metal? I really couldn't say! Looked like everything else in here! Oh darn... I guess my eyes aren't made for this dimension... Anyways, I threw the whatever-bear into my mouth. Tasted quite good, really, although in my memories they had tasted different. But who cares? I shoved some others into my mouth and concentrated on the computer screen again.

I pressed another time on 'Escape' in the intension to load the part with those Disks That Tell The Story Of The Closing Of The Third Age (and I DEFINETELY didn't want to see a scene with a... CRAB), when I heard my brother's voice from downstairs: "Mom asks if you're okay up there - that crash sounded like an elephant has dropped on you!"

'Or a cow...' I quietly thought to myself. Really - you just need to drop a needle in this room, and they hear it and ask if you're okay. I just tripped over my own feet, okaaay? I didn't answer aloud, tho - normally they scream something up to me and then immediately go back to the living room, without waiting for any answer.

But then I heard the footsteps of my brother coming up to me. "Say, are you still alive? Haven't seen you for some hours now. If you aren't alive any more - can I have your computer then?"

I rolled my eyes. He'll nevah give it up. Always tries to get to my computer... well, yeah, come up and try to convince me!

I held my fingers up to my eyes and looked bored at them, waiting for my brother to come into my room - and jumped up abruptly, wide-eyed. Darn! I think I forgot a TINY detail... I still was a Klay being!

I'd have a rather hard time to explain him what happened if he sees me that way! I hastily looked around, searching for the best hiding place. Just half a second before my bro came in I opened the door to my bathroom, raced in and closed the door behind me again. Leaning to the wall I heard my brother saying in his special sarcastic tones: "You always go to the toilet when the light is off? You couldn't bear what you'd see, eh?"

I stuck my tongue out into the direction his voice came from, but I saw his point: It was pretty dark in here, and that was SURELY not my normal behaviour. But then he turned the light on from the outside - say, why IS the light switch *outside* the bathroom?

Thinking about what I should do now I stared straight forward, right into my bathroom-mirror. I blinked and stepped a bit closer - this was the absolutely first time I saw myself since I became a Klay being.

"I see you're not hanging at the computer - I take it that I can use it then, yes?"

I ignored him. Whoaaa... I really had thought at first that was Willie, there in the mirror... I stood now directly in front of it, staring fascinated at myself and lifting my hand to my face - I looked... cooool... Starting to smile and putting my hands to my hips I thought: 'Hm... I could get used to that! Man, I never noticed that I've got no nose or ears... Gack, I NEED a mirror in my room in the 'Hood!'

While my brother still was throwing nasty comments in I tried different expressions at my own image. Really nice! I now was glad to have decided to be a Hoodian. But still - what do I do NOW? My bro wouldn't go again until I showed some reaction...

"You are playing your stupid clay game again, huh?"

I could HEAR his grin. It is NOT stupid, hidiot!

"Hey, can I watch the bad ending? Tha-anks!"

Hmph... BadEnd-lover! He makes me feel SICK! And he doesn't like Willie!! Or Ho-daddy! Grrrr...

"Go away!" I shouted out through the door, but then quickly put my hands to my mouth. Oh, oops... I forgot about my voice...

For a second he stayed silent, and I really thought I'm in trouble now... but then he just asked, a bit unsure: "What?"

"Um..." I said this VERY quietly... Come on, Doo, think... prove that there's some brain in your loopy head... ack!... I looked around - something in here MUST help me to get an idea!... The shower!

I turned the water on - the shower is pretty loud. Then the radio. Yep. Now I tried to imitate my own human voice - but I think myself that I wasn't too good at it: "I said: Go away! I don't feel good at the moment, ok? Just... just leave me alone! I've gotta headache."

I carefully pressed my, um, ear against the door and waited for my brother's answer. I hope this'll work!

After a short while he replied: "Oh no, this is one of those stupid games again you're playing, eh? You wanna kid me, yes?"

He thinks I'm playing a GAME on him!

"In other words: You want me to shove off, yes?"

That's what I SAID, deary!

"You know what you are? Dumbface!"

I stepped back from the door and answered: "Hidiot!"

I heard him walking out of my room while he said: "Go playing your 'Nevah-Hooood' thing - since that's the only thing you can!"

I waited for about a minute, but he didn't seem to come back. Phew. I carefully opened the door again and looked around. Aaaah - sweet senseless brother/sister squabbles - he really thought I just wanna kid him! Man, he's dumber than I look! Heh!

I turned the shower and the radio off again and locked the door to my room - er... mebbe I should have thought about THAT a bit earlier... Oh well, now I should write a nice little note about where I'll be from now on... how should I do this best? A bit hard to explain... hm... I could write that I just HAD to leave, but they'll hear of me from time to time... awww no! Sounded like one of those "I love you but I prefer to live my own life, bye" letters... Mebbe... I should TELL them the truth? It would make everything a bit easier - I wouldn't have to keep this here a secret. They'll get used to it... I'll... yes! I'll first write them a letter, and THEN I'll *carefully* try to show them my new looks. By Quater, this is gonna be HARD...

I sat in front of my computer again. First: I'll let the screen on, with Klaymen on it, as some kind of... a 'hint'. Then... I took a paper from my printer and one of my pencils that lay around and started to write: "I know you won't believe me, but -"

I stopped - I had a better idea! I threw paper and pencil aside, and opened my chest-compartment instead, pulling out one of my red KlayPapers and the thin carving-pen. Man... doing this in my own homeworld was even stranger than doing it in the Neverhood - it's just unnatural to have a hatch in your torso!

I shortly looked at the paper again and began to carve a text on it. After finishing (and I signed the whole thing with 'DoodLeS' and drew something like a self-portrait next to the sentence 'And: No, this is NO game.') I lay the note onto the keyboard. And now?

I decided to wait until somebody would come up into my room again. I'd hide, and when they'll see the note and call me I'll answer. And THEN I'll come out of my hiding place and SHOW them... I KNEW this won't be fun.

But up to then... I pulled my brother's Nintendo out from under my bed (it's in my room 'cause I've got a bigger TV-screen than he has, just that you know) and played a few games (and I'll NEVAH get beyond that DANG stampede-level in the 'Lion King', mumble!). About two hours later still no-one had looked after me - gee, ISN'T that nice? I decided to go to bed. Of course, I didn't want to sleep... not right now. I just lay onto the quilt, took one of my books and started to read.

My mother'd KILL me if she saw that I'm in my bed with SHOES on... uh...

Some hours later... it was now 3am. I wished I just could go out of my room, step in front of my family and say: "See, I'm a Klay being now! Call me Doodles, ok? If you don't mind - I'd like to go to my friends in the Neverhood now, but I'll visit you sometimes. Well, see ya. Bro? You can use my computer while I'm gone."

But I guess I wouldn't get past 'See, ...' without them starting to scream.

And I didn't have the guts to do so, either. Pun not intended.

Well, not that I'd mind to wait. Give me some papers and a pencil, and maybe something to eat, and I can amuse myself for WEEKS. Talking of 'eat'...

I looked around in my room - there MUST be something eatable in here! Except for those jelly-bears. I'm hungry! And if I don't find anything now - I'll not hesitate to eat the wallpaper! Or something. I just walked through my room and wondered if I should risk to sneak down and get something out of the fridge, when I noticed something: Say... DID the light in here become brighter, or was that me? I should check the lamps sometime...

Really, it got DANG bright in here - it was almost white in front of my eyes... and I didn't feel too good either... Holding my hands to my stomach I carefully sat down on my bed. What's happening to me?

I closed my eyes - my whole body began to hurt now! For a second it hurt so much that I couldn't even think... and then it was gone. I opened my eyes again and stared at the floor for a moment. What WAS that? Then I looked down, at my body. Which wasn't Klay any more. I jumped up and ran to my mirror - I WAS human again! Somehow it disappointed me.

I slapped my hands in front of my eyes and let me fall against the wall - and there WEREN'T any backspikes that prevented me from doing it. Somehow I had started to like them...

Then I opened my eyes again and looked at the mirror. Why? I mean, WHY did I turn to human again now? Or... had it REALLY only been a dream at the end...?

Nyaaaa. I'd sue the sandman if THIS had only been a dream! I thought for a while... SHODDY! Ho-dad... um... Hoborg had said Ottoborg's beam didn't hit me FULLY, and so Shoddy came to life... of course, this is only a theory of mine, but mebbe the missing life-energy caused my body to be, well, flexible or something... If this REALLY is true - then I can live in BOTH worlds! "HOORAY!!!"

I needed a moment to realize that I just had shouted that 'Hooray' out aloud... I carefully went to my door and opened it, to listen if my family still was asleep. The door of THEIR room opened, and I heard my brother's voice: "Mom asks if you're nuts."

Of course, they send my brother to complain... "Shut up."

"Oh, you feel good again, yes?" he said sarcastically. He went up to me.

"I... just played through a REALLY hard level of Tomb Raider, ok?" I crossed my arms when he came in.

He looked at the screen, that still showed the Neverhood scene I had loaded. Then he looked down on the keyboard. I quickly grabbed my note and crumbled it to a unrecognizeable lumb of Klay. I grinned.

My brother just looked at me. "Claaaay-fanatic!"

"Go to bed." I stated boredly.

"Yeah", he grinned stupidly and went back to his own room.

I looked after him. Then I exclaimed "YES!", but much more quiet than the 'Hooray' before, and jumped into the air. Then I sat in front of my computer and turned it off. Better *I*'ll go to bed now, too. Heh! I can choose between two bodies! I hopped into my bed and stared at the ceiling for a while. Whoo! Yeah, I KNOW I can! I'll stay here for a while now, but then I'll go back to the 'Hood, as soon as there's nothing to do here. I just need to lock my room, in case someone wants to look after me - they'll think I'm sleeping and let me in peace. Yep! No prob there! Man, my life'll gonna be FUN now! Neverhood - I'll be back!

EPILOGUE

... And I really came back there. A few neverhoodian weeks later (that were about three Earth days - I'll never get those time-differences fully) I returned, and it only needed about one hour until I turned to Doodles. It still was painful to change my body, and that has never changed up to now, but - hey - I can be glad THAT I can choose between two complete different beings!

Well, I just can say that most Neverhoodians, except for those who were newborn, remembered me, and they even had WAITED for me (they had made bets if I'd ever come back).

The first thing I did after visiting my dad, Willie, Klenn, Rem and all the other Hoodians I knew (and except for Wil and dad none of them called me 'Doodles' - they still thought that it was a rather strange name), was going into my room. It was still like I left it (and why not) and I was happy to be there again. But after a while it started to be a bit boring - Shoddy, who stood in one corner of my room (I wonder how he got there) wasn't that much a companion... I realized that I had many brothers in the Hood, but no-one, who really was something like... well, my FRIEND. Someone who might hang around with me every day... some FAVORITE brother, if you will...

But it was just a short thought. It was quite fast replaced by the wish to awake some nostralgic feelings - I decided to go back to the Hall of Records, read a bit on some new parts of it, and then mebbe draw some nice pictures on that cool KlayPaper...

When I reached the Hall I found out that there just had started something like an assembly - a bunch of fellow Hoodians seemed to discuss something about the Chronicles, or whatever. I didn't know them, and it sounded not very interesting what they were talking about, so I left again. It wouldn't be very polite just to sit down next to them and start to draw. I'd surely find another place.

Wandering a bit around I had the idea: The Radio Room! I could go there, draw and even listen to some nice music... I was just in the mood to do so.

So I carefully climbed down the stairs of the StairBridge again, and headed for the big Radarhouse. And that's where I met Tramen.

But THAT is another story.


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