The Funeral [Part I]
There was nothing out of the ordinary when Buddy woke up on his first day in the neighborhood. Warm sunlight streamed across his face, pine trees swayed gently outside, and a wood thrush trilled somewhere in the distance.
In such a peaceful neighborhood, Buddy never suspected that someone would die in a few days’ time. But it was true.
Soon, one of the neighbors would be gone, and only seven would be left.
But for now, Buddy’s stomach was growling.
“Oh, man, I got the morning munchies…”
He gazed into the refrigerator. “Right on. Cereal-o’s!”
He ate outside on the porch, savoring every bite of his fruity loops as the sun rose. It was the best thing he’d ever tasted.
He suddenly froze.
“Hold on. This isn’t my spoon.”
“This isn’t my cereal. I don’t live here.”
Buddy bussed his plate and strolled out to the backyard, and his eyes widened.
“No way, man. This, like, totally explains why I can’t remember anything!”
He had never seen such beautiful kava plants, all neatly lined up in the backyard, and he sniffled, tearing up a little.
“I’m gonna name you Eleanor,” he said proudly to the kava bush in front of him. “You want something to drink, Eleanor? What about you, Abigail? Samantha? Tiffany? Elouise? Raquel, you too?”
“Whoa, is someone there?” Buddy paused watering his newly-named kava plants to look up, feeling like someone was watching him, but no one was there.
“Nope, it’s just you and me, Emilia. And Giselle, and Gabriella, and Leila…” He bent back over his plants, whistling a merry tune.
A few days later, when his first kava plant was thriving and ready to harvest, he received his first visitor.
Buddy loved seeing all his neighbors and saw no reason not to trust anyone in this neighborhood.
Shortly after, Alice and Carl came by asking if they could search his house for a basement. Alice was worried about something sinister going on in the neighborhood, given the basement full of coffins in the mansion and the basement full of weird doors in their own house, but Buddy couldn’t imagine anything bad happening in his lovely log cabin with its perfect kava garden.
“Right on, right on,” said Buddy, nevertheless. “You can take a look around. But first, share a bowl of kava with me.”
Carl crossed his arms and said, “Um, actually, I was taught to ‘just say no’ to drugs, so-” But then Alice elbowed him, and he took a drink, sulking.
After a drink and a lovely chat, Alice and Carl checked the rest of the house, but found no creepy basement.
The Llama stopped by next, asking if Buddy had seen any Evil to be thwarted. He hadn’t, but he did offer her a drink of kava.
The Llama peered down at the bowl, grabbed the whole container with two hands,
-and downed it in one long gulp.
“Ah! Like the nectar of the gods!” she exclaimed.
“Whoa man,” said Buddy. “That’s like totally an outrageous quantity of kava to consume, you should mayhaps sit down-“
“Flapdoodle, my flaxen-haired friend! I feel fantastic!” She strode out bouncing, completely unaffected. Buddy was left stunned.
The blue-haired girl knocked on the door next, and Buddy offered her some kava.
“Wait,” he said. “How old are you?”
“I’m 16. And I’m trying to warn everyone that we’re in danger, but no one’s listening to me! I’ve been talking to a ghost called Cassandra, and she said she has something important to show me, but she hasn’t appeared in a few days and-“
“Ah, just take a drink,” said Buddy, not hearing her whisper. “I’ve been drinking kava straight outta the womb and I turned out most righteous.”
In the afternoon, Dr. Professor poked his head in, muttering something about rheumatoid arthritis and stiff joints. Dr. Professor didn’t look stiff at all to Buddy, but he happily shared some kava with him.
Finally, in the evening, Rogelio popped in, dramatically confessing his problems to Buddy.
And with a full heart and a very heavy head, Buddy tucked in for the night.
Early the next morning, Buddy was walking out to water his plants,
-when he gasped, his heart plummeting in his chest. “She’s dead!”
“Eleanor’s dead!” he wailed, tears streaming down his cheeks as he glimpsed the withered, rotting corpse of the first kava plant he had met here.
And he trudged back inside to write the sad news to his neighbors.
A few hours later, just before noon, all the neighbors gathered in front of the cabin, confused.
“…two, four, six, seven… well, that’s everyone except for Buddy,” counted Alice. “But if he’s dead, who sent us the funeral invites?”
Buddy suddenly emerged and the neighbors murmured. He wept and wiped his sniveling nose on his polyester jacket sleeve. “Th-thank you all most righteously for coming,” he said between sobs. “E-Eleanor would’ve been most jubilant to know you’re all here to say goodbye-“
“Who’s Eleanor?” whispered someone.
“-after all, each of you carry a piece of her inside you,” he continued, blowing his nose loudly. “Please, follow me around back…”
Buddy led a trembling and barely coherent eulogy while the neighbors stood respectfully off to the sides.
Alice elbowed Carl. “Psst. Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”
“You mean, am I watching a funeral for a plumming plant?” he whispered. “This is the biggest waste of an afternoon I’ve ever-“
“No, Carl,” Alice said urgently. “There, in the bushes behind the outhouse. I think I see another ladder leading down…”
Meanwhile, Buddy scooped up Eleanor’s remains into a trash bag,
-and deposited her into the garbage.
And finally, he planted a new kava root in Eleanor’s old spot.
Afterwards, the neighbors surrounded Buddy to offer their condolences, and Buddy graciously accepted every one of them.
Buddy’s heart was warm and happy again, filled with gratitude for his kind neighbors who had shown up at his saddest hour.
As the neighbors trickled out, Alice and Carl wandered over to the mysterious ladder in the bushes.
“Alice, I don’t want to go down into another creepy basement,” whined Carl.
“Well, we have to figure out what’s going on!” she said. “I have a hunch that the only way to escape this neighborhood is through one of those underground tunnels…”
“Yeah, but what if there’s something evil down there?”
“Did someone say Evil?” The Llama butted in. “As a sworn protector of Simanity, let me be your escort into the bowels of the unknown!”
“Sure,” said Alice. “I’ll take the backup, thanks!”
“Also, you look terrible, little boy,” added The Llama.
“I’m a man!” groused Carl. “And I didn’t exactly sleep well last night…” He glowered at Alice and she glowered back.
“Well, I’m glad we have no unresolved tensions here.” The Llama grinned obliviously. “Onwards, civilians!”
So they climbed down the ladder.
Below, Alice gasped. “Has someone been living down here this whole time?” She found herself in what looked like a roughly dug hole in the ground filled with shoddy, scavenged furniture. A book on the table caught her eye.
Carl joined them next, taking cautious steps down the ladder.
He approached the icebox, wrinkling his nose. “Why does it smell like paperclips in here?”
“That’s the smell of blood, little man,” said The Llama, sitting down on the stained sofa next to Alice. “Reminds me of the stench wafting up from the battlefield after the slaughter-“
“Uh, guys,” interrupted Alice. “What’s a вампир?”
But before anyone could answer, all the candles suddenly ignited, casting their flickering light across the hidey-hole,
-and there was a thud as someone slid down the ladder.
long episode is long so it’s got 2 parts 😬