How much worse could it be?
Story by Doo

A beautiful day in the Neverhood (y'know: Klaybirds singin', laughing could be heard everywhere... that sort of things). And yet, somewhere near the Secret Fountain, a figure sat on a stone, staring holes into the air. This guy didn't look very happy, though there was really absolutely no reason for being sad. No further explanation needed to describe Thull. The other Hoodians are long used to this, and so they let him live his sorrowful boring life without disturbing him.

Or, MOST of them let him live his life - SOME still try to get him to laugh... Or at least they try to annoy him.

Another figure suddenly ran past, with a music box under his arm. He tapped on Thull's shoulder while passing him in an incredibly high speed and shouted quite good-mooded: "If I were you, Thull, I'd lift my lazy butt and RUN for it!"

Thull didn't even look up. But he indeed looked up when he saw why his brother Rem just rocketed by in that speed - following behind him was a big, nasty and very bad-tempered Weasel...

Half on the way to the Explosives Shack Thull had closed up to Rem. Then, reaching the Shack, they closed and locked the door, then both leaned against it.

Thull looked at Rem, who grinned his "isn't that fun"-grin.

"You don't have used the music box again, have you?" whimpered Thull.

"Of course I have", Rem answered, ignoring the bumps from the other side of the door. "How am I else supposed to get such a fine specimen of a Weasel? Buy it in a pet shop? Or what?"

Thull just stared uncomprehendingly at his brother, almost breaking into tears. "Why do you do this to me?" he asked quietly.

Rem patted on Thull's head and widened his grin. "You need exitement, boy! Something that prevents you from these dark thoughts you always have."

And a bit gloomy, but still smiling he added: "And since my jokes don't seem to do the trick..."

"You could have KILLED us!" Thull whined, then turned his head away to look at the ground, "Not that I'd really care..."

"I wasn't so sure if you were alive SITTING there. Seeing you running was just too funny!"

Thull snorted depressively. "And what are you supposed to do NOW?" he said resignatingly as the bumps on the door became louder. "You're good with explosives, yes?"

Rem's grin vanished a bit. "Ummm....."

A trapdoor in the floor of the Shack opened, and Klenn's head emerged from it.

"What's up in here?" he asked, referring to the arguement of the two brothers and the vile screams outside.

"We're doomed, that's up!" howled Thull, "And if at least you of us three want to survive, run away!"

"There's a pretty Weasel outside - want to have some fun?" said Rem, smiling at Klenn.

"Sure!" answered Klenn, jumping out of the hole in the ground. "Should be no problem to get rid of that fellow..."

He started roaming in his backpack to get one of his special "Weasel-Busters" out. But before he could get one, the lock of the door broke. And since Thull and Rem were leaning to a door that opens to the outside, they suddenly found themselves on the lap of a very hungry, very big crab...

Thull screamed. Rem uh-ohed. And Klenn knew he had to do something VERY fast. He randomly grabbed one of the dynamite sticks from the shelf, lit a match at the same time with his other hand and threw the whole thing into the direction of the Weasel. The last thing he did before doing that was reading the inscript on the stick: "Danger! Super-hyper-TNT!"

After throwing, the message reached Klenn's brain.

He said "Oh bugger..." and ducked as the Weasel was nearly atomized by the explosion.

He looked up again. "Whooaaa..." he whispered as he saw the cloud that now rose towards the sky. Then he looked at Rem and Thull, who were, fortunately both still in one piece, lying on the ground where the Weasel had stood a second before.

Klenn crouched to them, with no good feeling in his Klay-stomach. "Um... Rem? Thull? Are you... okay... or somethin'?" he carefully asked.

Thull moved, moaning. Klenn fastly crept up to him. "Thull! Are you ok? Sorry, I took the wrong stick... Are you feeling well??"

Thull opened his eyes. "Aaaah...", he mumbled, "yes, quite feeling well..."

"U-huh...", Klenn replied unsurely. Thull was alive, alright, but something on him was strange...

"Are you... sure?"

"Yes... I... I never felt better, really." Thull sat up, rubbing his head. Klenn looked worriedly at him. Until he remembered Rem.

He turned around to him. Rem was already sitting too, his knees tightly drawn up to his body and hands leaned to the ground, staring dazed into nothing.

Klenn got on his feet and went to him. "Rem?" he asked, feeling that something DARN wasn't in order.

"Awww......." Rem sighed, without looking up at Klenn.

"Are you hurt? What's up with you?" Klenn slowly became REAL frightened.

"Hurt?" Rem asked half-conscious.

"Yeah, hurt! Is. Your. Head. Okay?" Klenn waved one hand in front of Rem's eyes, until he seemed to notice it and shook his head.

"I'm..." he started.

"Yes?" Klenn kneeled down so he could have a better look at his friend's face.

"I'm......" Rem said again. Then he suddenly took Klenn's shoulders and shook him as hard as he could, shouting out: "It's all MY fault, Klenn! I was so STUPID to release that Weasel! I'm SUCH a JERK!"

Klenn was too surprised to answer. He had never seen Rem in such a bad condition... Thull walked over to them, patting on Klenn's shoulder from behind. "Manies? That thing you did with the Weasel was GREAT! How did you do it?"

"I don't know what has happened!" said Klenn a bit later. He sat on a stone and rubbed his head in despair. Some other Hoodians stood helplessly around him. "They act TOTALLY strange since the explosion!"

Klyphis, who stood next to Klenn, looked around. "Where are they now, by the way?" he asked.

"Oh I DUNNO! Thull said he wanted to explore the whole place a bit, and Rem ran away WHINING! What's wrong with them??" Klenn felt really bad about the situation.

Another Hoodian ran past. Serco called after him: "Muken, what is it?"

Muken stopped and looked at them, seemingly under stress. "Don't ask me - just get me away from THULL!"

Klenn looked up. "Thull? What has he done?"

"What he has done?? He's following me! He asks me one question after the other, what I do all day, and if I think I have fun in my life! Man, he makes me SICK! And if I don't run away now he'll find me again and KILL me with his interest!"

Muken speeded away. Klenn stared at Serco.

"THULL is interested in other people's LIFES?? You're right, Klenn - something is pretty wrong here..." Serco scratched his head.

A voice echoed through the whole place. "NOOOOOOOOO-HOOOO! Lemme! Lemme aloooone!!! I can't STAND people asking me thiiiings! It's all so SAAAA-HA-HAAAAD!!!"

Serco shortly turned around, then back to Klenn. "Say, didn't that sound like Rem?"

Klenn shook his head in resignation. "Don't ask me..."

Soon the whole Neverhood had made the unpleasant experience that Rem and Thull had somehow exchanged their moods - but not their personalities.

Thull was still the quiet and more serious guy he always had been, but his apathy had turned into curiousity, and his endless seeming number of questions were much worse than his all-time whining he used to do before.

And Rem was still himself, too: He shouted out what he was thinking at the moment. Unfortunately his usually optimistic thoughts were suddenly replaced by utter pessimism...

The Hoodians knew: They had to do SOMEthing, or else Rem and Thull would drive them all wild.

"SOMEthing, please!" Serco shouted pleadingly at Klenn, "For Quater's sake, bomb them up again if it must be! I'll become NUTS if they don't stop acting like that! Rem lies in wait for everyone who's passing and tells him how BAD the world is, in a volume that makes birds drop! And Thull - yesterday he chose ME as his victim - I had to tell him EVERYTHING about the Chronicles!!! Please! Klenn! Do! Something!!!!"

Klenn sat back and thought. In his room under the Explosives Shack he was comparatively save from Rem's all-destroying voice, since the walls were made soundproof because of his dynamite experiments, but Thull had already found him in there a few days ago, and Klenn had to give him a lecture about all different kinds of explosives and their advantages and disadvantages.

After - what was it? Three weeks now? - they still acted that strange way... It didn't seem to stop by itself.

But 'bombing them up again'? No... the risk that they could get REALLY hurt was too big - and who knows? It's hard to believe, but it could as well become even WORSE...

Not even Hoborg knew what to do...

If there seems no way out, there's always one thing left. Sometimes, you have to sit down. And. Talk.

It took them a while to get Rem and Thull to the Explosives Shack, where Klenn was waiting on them. He would try to talk to them. And if THAT wouldn't help - the explosives were right next to him on the shelf.

They sat down.

"Now then..." began Klenn, but he didn't come any further.

"DID you know that the POOOOOR LIIIII'L KlayBird on the Cannon is DAMMED for ETERNAAAATIEEEE to sit there and do "awk" before EVERI-IEEE shot??" Rem screamed full of sympathy.

Klenn looked at him. "Rem, that KlayBird isn't tied up there or something - I guess it LIKES its job."

Thull's eyes and smile widened. "Really? How did it come to it??"

Klenn turned to Thull, and he slowly had that bad feeling that he'll never come to what he wanted to say. "How should *I* know, Thull? The Cannon was created SO MANY years ago - *I* am only five years old! And now please LISTEN to me, you both, I have a few questions to you."

At his own surprise they both sat upright and waited for him to start.

After a silent moment of collecting his thoughts again Klenn started, looking at Rem: "Well, Rem - do you remember those times where you were that funny, good-mooded guy?"

Rem stared a moment at Klenn, seemingly to think about that question. "I... remember, yes..."

"Good!" Klenn exclaimed, sitting a bit more upright and feeling something like hope.

"... I remember..." Rem continued, "... I... remember... WHAT A *JERK* I WAS!" He slapped his both hands in front of his eyes while crying out: "SUCH a fool! I always made trouble! I was DANGEEEEROUUUUUS! Those jokes WEREN'T in the LEAST funny! AAAAAAH!!!"

Thull patted his brother caressingly on the shoulder.

Klenn closed his eyes. Oh NO... Then he opened his eyes again and argued: "But Rem! Many of us thought you're real funny! You got us to laugh! Even though most of us don't show it - you REALLY improved our moods! What I can't say about now..."

Rem just kept on whimpering and whining with loud 'UHOOHOOOO!' sounds.

Well then, thought Manies, let's have a try on Thull... "You, Thull - do YOU remember the old times?"

Thull sat there, upright and hands lying on his knees, listening carefully. "Oh YES! I was a grump. Rem always had been right - I had been a tiny depressing wimp! But that's over now - NOW I'll gonna be a good friend for all of you! I just LOVE this life!"

Rem shortly looked up, at his brother, then at the clueless face of Klenn. He again slapped his hands in front of his eyes and continued howling.

Manies alternately looked at Thull and Rem, not knowing what to say now. They really seem to think they're better beings now... So his plan to remember them about earlier times was spoiled... oh well... He looked at one of the shelves in the Shack before turning to Rem and Thull again. "Would you... um... please sit a bit closer, yes? While I... well, I'll fetch one of those boom-sticks in that shelf there and show you how it works, yes, Thull?"

While Rem didn't move, Thull excitedly sat right next to his brother, waiting for whatever Klenn had in mind. Manies had another worried look at the twins and grabbed one of the "Whackers" - small but VERY loud exploders. He quietly read the inscript on it: "Beware - don't let the size of this stick fool you..."

He positioned it carefully between the brothers, telling Thull to keep an eye on it while he closed the both doors of the Shack. When he just had locked the backdoor to the Secret Fountain, he heard something.

"Noooo! Come back here! Waiiiit!" The voice came from the outside, from the bridge. And it came closer.

"Come here, Frenchie! Where you gooo?" A second later Frenchie, Willie's pet-bug, crawled in, speeding for the other door. And after him was Willie - who bumped straight into Klenn.

"Waitwaitwait! What's it, Wil?" Manies calmed the hoop-head down, after a short moment of surprise.

Willie just looked back at Klenn, mumbling an excusing "Oops...". Then he turned back to Frenchie, who had reached the other door, but since he couldn't open it, he had decided to climb up the wall and stay at the ceiling, right above Thull. Who looked up and exclaimed: "Whoa, what a SPEED! Say, WHY can they climb up the walls and don't fall from the ceiling? Do you think they can trick gravity or something? Or do they have glue on their feet? But no... if they had clue to their feet they'd leave slimy marks wherever they'd walk... I guess they don't even KNOW that gravity exists, and that's why the gravity doesn't know anything about THEM, and so they can do what they want... But what about newborn Hoodians? If you wouldn't tell them about gravity, would they be able to climb up walls?..."

While he was continuing in his theories, Willie walked a few steps closer, looking worriedly at his 'pet'. Well, HE called Frenchie his pet, and HE gave Frenchie his name, but Frenchie himself DIDN'T seem to think he was anyone's pet. So he stayed motionless at his place when Willie called him pleadingly: "Come down, Frenchie! Here, boy! You play good hide and seek, but Willie now want you take back to home where Frenchie belongs! It is NO good to be so far from your home... come down here... you no be afraid, Willie'll catch you!" He spreaded out his arms to show Frenchie that he could let off the ceiling - and he did.

And hanging exactly over Thull he landed right in his face, winding instinctively all six legs around it.

Thull started to scream - this WASN'T interesting any more! And Frenchie, shocked himself about the scream, started to chew on one of Thull's stems, drooling a slimy greenish substance all over the Hoodian. Klenn, Willie and Rem all looked at Thull, for a moment not knowing what to do. Then Rem began to laugh.

At first it was more an unsure chuckle, but it soon became a loud laughter, and Klenn and Willie couldn't help to join him, while Thull still tried to remove Frenchie from his head.

Finally he managed to get rid of the bug. Frenchie landed on the floor, near the open front door, and he immediately left the Shack, heading for his home above the TV-Room. And Thull was dripping from the bug's spit, holding his arms half into the air and having a disgusted expression on his face. Rem still grinned at him.

Willie and Klenn both had stopped laughing and looked questioningly at Rem's brother. Then Manies asked: "Uh... Thull? Everything alright with you?"

Thull carefully looked up at him, causing some more of the spit to drop down. "NOTHING is alright! That's typical! Bad luck always hits ME!"

"*I* thought it was funny, heh", stated Rem.

Both Klenn and Willie turned to him. "You thought it was funny?" Klenn asked unsurely.

"Yeah! I mean: Look at him! Have you ever seen SUCH a pity incarnate, eh?" Rem grinned.

"That's NOT funny, Rem!" Thull whimpered, trying to wipe off some of the slime.

While Willie started to smile, looking at the twins, Manies continued: "Are you... REALLY feeling well, Rem?"

The brown-white Hoodian replied happily: "Never felt better! Why do you ask? Think I might puke onto your floor, or what?"

Now Klenn started to smile, too. He turned to the other bro: "Thull?"

"Oh... just leave me alone..."

That was exactly what Klenn wanted to hear.

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