Story by DoodLeS
A wonderful new day had started in the Neverhood, and I woke up in my comfy soft basket-bed. Well, that's nothing unusual - I do that almost every morning.
But on *this* morning I mainly woke up because my back arched. Ouch... mebbe it's not THAT a wonderful new day...
I carefully sat up, concentrating on my back. It felt like I had been lying wrong all night - but how could you lie wrong on a bed that's as soft as a cloud? Trying to look at my own back I examined it with my hands, to find out WHAT exactly hurt there.
When I touched one of my backspikes a sudden pain ran through my body until it reached my head and vanished there - quickly I put my hand away again. Then I touched the spike at the top of my back - it hurt. And so did the two others... It was icky like a toothache!
I stood up, feeling every movement, and opened my cupboard to look into the mirror in the one door of it. I looked at my spikes in the image, but I couldn't see anything unusual. It kinda worried me.
I should better.... er.... I should.... hm. Best I just try to forget about it and wait until it's over. I surely just slept wrong.
So I ignored my backache and left my room to meet with Tra and Gni.
Tramen was in the Radio Room, as almost always. He sat and leaned against the wall and listened to the music of the radio, relaxing a bit.
He stood up when I entered.
"Kaydiju, Doo!" He greeted, smiling at me.
"Kaydi', Toast!" I replied, smiling back.
"Well, how's it goin'?" Tramen said, turning the radio off and stepping in front of me, ready to go with me to Gnimen's room in the Hall of Records.
I shrugged, then shortly winced when my back protested again.
"Well, like always." I answered, looking up at Tra and hoping that he hadn't noticed my wince.
My friend cocked his head. "Something not in order, Doo?"
"No, everything alright." I assured him.
Tramen looked a bit worried at me. "Why do you scratch your back all the time then?"
I hadn't noticed myself that I had put my hand behind my back and started to scratch carefully around my spikes - they didn't only hurt, they itched, too. I quickly put my hand down again. "Nothing, really. I just... slept wrong and now my back is a bit cranky, I guess. Nothing serious."
Toast didn't seem to be pleased with this answer. "Let me have a look at your back, yes?"
I turned around so he could have a look, but at the same time I said: "Really, it's nothing, Toast."
He examined my back. "Hmmmm...."
"What?" I nervously looked over my shoulder at Tramen.
He looked up. "Oh, nothing. Just as you said. I can't see anything. But still... you don't just wake up and your back hurts..." He tipped with his finger on one of my spikes, causing me to wince again. "Maybe we should find someone who might know what it is."
I turned around to face Tramen again. "Whom should I ask there? And... and... really - I bet it'll be over soon."
Unsurely I started to scratch again.
Toast still didn't seem to be happy with it, but after a while he shrugged. "Well, Doo - you must know best. We go to Gnimen then?"
I still scratched my back like an idiot when we left Tra's home.
Someone had set the stairs, which led up out of the LakeWall Ground, to bridge mode, what meant that we had to take the longer way up using the LakeWall Car. Tramen drove, and I sat behind him and scratched.
Without turning around Toast told me: "You really shouldn't do that, Doodles. Just makes it worse. You haven't been bitten by a...." He gulped at the thought, ".... a BUG or anything, have you?"
"No." I simply answered. If there had been a bug in my room it would be in my stomach now.
Soon we had reached Gnimen's room in the Hall. From the inside we could hear voices, so Tramen knocked at the door. The voices stopped. Then Gni told us through the closed door: "Just come in!"
Tramen opened and we both stepped in. The only ones in Gni's room were Gni himself, Okluss - Gnimen's pet mouse - and a red/white dog. I focused on the dog.
"Kaydiju, you both!" Gnimen greeted.
Tramen looked around and replied: "Kaydiju, Gni - whom where you talking to?"
I still looked at the dog, and the dog replied my stare, wagging his tail gently.
"Oh, just a bit conversing with my friends here." Gni pointed at Okluss and the dog. Then he turned to me. "Hi, Doo! Everything okay with you?"
I blinked and shook my head to get out of my train of thoughts. "Huh? Um, yes. Hi, Gni. Hi, Nez..."
The dog came a bit closer and I patted him on the head. Then Nez left the room through the still open door. I looked after him.
While Tramen didn't understand at all why I acted that strange in Nez's presence, Gnimen asked me: "You're still not used to him?"
I sighed. "Not really."
Tramen scratched his head. "I really don't get it, Doo - I thought you LIKE dogs. You have told me so much of your own one in your home dimension..."
I looked up at Tra. "Oh, I DO like dogs. But Nez is no ordinary dog. It's just.... OUCH!"
Tramen and Gnimen looked alarmed at me when I suddenly slapped my both hands to my back.
Toast now was worried again. "Doo! It still hurts?"
"Yes..." I relaxed again - it had only been a short pain, like a flash. "And it ITCHES... What's wrong with me??"
Gnimen cocked his head. "What IS wrong with you, Doo?"
I blinked at him. "I dunno! My spikes ache! What about YOUR spikes, Gni? Do they ache, too? Or *did* they ever ache?"
Gnimen shortly looked at his own three backspikes, but then turned to me again. "Um, no. Can't say I ever had problems with that."
I really started being nervous now - it had become worse. Especially the itch...
Gni walked around me to look at my back. "Geeze... they don't look too healthy, too!"
I turned my head. "What?!"
Tramen now came and had another look, too. "He's right, Doo... the yellow of your spikes has become kinda pale..."
Peeking over my shoulder I could see it too - the color of my spikes was suddenly much paler than the rest of my skin... Half-panicked I widened my eyes and grabbed one of the spikes. "OUCH!!!"
You ever burned your fingers or something and touched the wound afterwards? THAT's how it felt like to touch my spikes now. I whimpered.
And then my top spike just losened and fell on the ground, leaving only a yellow round itchy shape on my back where it had been. I panicked!
Staring at my lost spike I screamed: "AAAAARGH!!! I'm..... I-I-I'm.... f-.....f-falling ap-p-part!!!! HELP ME!"
Then I raced out of Gni's room, still in panic, and headed for my room, as fast as I could, ignoring the strange stares from some other Hoodians who crossed my way. Finally in my room I threw myself into my bed and buried me between the sheets, shivering.
After quite a long while, someone entered my room. I still hadn't dared to move and stayed under my quilt, so I couldn't see who came in. I was pretty sure it were Tramen and Gnimen.
But I was wrong. The newcomer stepped in front of my bed and asked: "You okay, Doodledoo? Your scream went through AAAALL the Neverhood!"
I recognized Willie's voice, and so I slowly and still shivering lifted the quilt until I could see my brother.
"W-Wil...!" I whimpered softly, not knowing what else to say.
Willie blinked. "You not okay?"
I shook my head wildly. "M-my.... BACKSPIKES! They're.... they.... THEY'REFALLINGOUT!!!" I shivered even more.
For a second Willie only looked blankly at me, but then he gave me a wide smile. "Oooooooh! You go through Spiking!"
Surprised about Willie's answer I even forgot shivering and the pain for a moment. I left my hiding place a bit more. "'S-Spiking'?"
Willie grinned even more. "Yeeeeees! Every hoop-head loses his spikes one day! When dad made Willie and Hondo and Al and other brothers he only gave us blunt spikes so we no hurt ourselves with them. But when we old enough we lose old spikes and get new and better ones! That called 'Spiking'!"
Now *I* looked blankly at him and left my bed completely, stepping in front of my brother. "It's... it's normal?"
Willie just grinned and nodded.
I thought for a second. "And... and they'll grow back?"
Wil just grinned.
Starting to scratch my back again I added: "And..... they'll be even better than the old ones?"
Willie nodded. "Better, bigger and pointier! Spikes Doo can be proud of! Then he be grown-up hoop-head!"
I thought while continueing to scratch. This is natural?... Like... teething, only with spikes?
I had never before heard of that... On the other hand: I only was about a hoodian year old, and there're LOTS of things I don't know. Better backspikes? Somehow, I really felt kinda proud.
"When'll this here be over?" I asked, scratching madly around my remaining three spikes.
"When all spikes fell out, new spikes will grow in a few days." Willie beamed at me. He really seemed to feel happy about it.
I kinda started a smile... so nothing was really WRONG with me... At that moment, another of my spikes dropped to the ground. Both Willie and me looked at it.
"Oh." I exclaimed softly.
I happily went back to Tramen and Gnimen, who had been half on the way to my room, too. I met them on the LakeWall Ground.
"Doodles!" Tramen shouted out, running together with Gni into my direction. I smiled.
"Doo, are you okay?" My both friends looked VERY worriedly at me, but I waved my hands in front of their faces (well, in Tra's case: In front of his chest) to calm them down.
"I AM okay! Willie explained me everything! I'm in the Spiking! Willie sez that happens to everyone of Ottoborg's sons!"
Gnimen blinked. "I hope it doesn't happen to everyone with spikes..."
Tramen seemed a bit confused. "'Spiking'? What exactly IS that, Doo?"
I scratched my back. Only one of my spikes was left now, and that looked kinda funny, but I didn't care anymore. The pain was slowly wearing off, too.
"I'll get new backspikes! Willie sez, in a few days they'll grow back! And they'll be better than the old ones!"
"'Better'?" Toast and Gni looked puzzled.
I shrugged (and it only hurt a bit). "Let's just forget about it, okay? We'll see it in a few days!"
I smiled and moved my hand over my almost empty back - I felt really naked somehow, without my spikes.
A few days later....
"Tramen! Tramen!!!" I ran into the Radio Room where Tra looked up from some of his work.
"Hi, Doo!" he smiled.
"Tramen, look!" I turned around so that he could see my back - over night my new spikes had grown. They weren't much bigger than the old ones, but they sure were pointy. I felt GREAT!
Toast stood up and hugged me. "Doo! I'm so happy for ya! You know, you looked kinda strange without spikes!"
I hugged him back, exclaiming: "Yeah, I know! Aren't these new spikes just NEAT??"
"They sure are!" Tra agreed. "Come on - you want to come to Gni with me? He surely wants to see you being complete again, too!"
We headed for the stair that led to the Hall of Records. Then Tramen stopped again and looked smilingly at me. "And, Doo?"
"Remind me the next time to hug you a bit more careful from now on, yes?" he said, rubbing his arms.