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ALL AT ONCE COVER PICTURE by MentallyIncorrect

Part 14: Facts and Fiction

„WHERE.ARE.THEY?!“ Gretchen whispered alarmed, sticking her head under the bed.
Her pillow and blanket lay scattered round the bed, separated from their covers.
WHERE ARE THEY!!!” she hissed once more grasped the mattress to throw it away.
Patsy rubbed her eyes drowsily as she spotted her raging friend.
“WHERE ARE THEY!?” the alligator growled, giving the bed a kick.
“Where’s what?!” Patsy asked annoyed, turning on the light. Gretchen clenched her fists.
“What’s going on??” Nina mumbled irritated and sat up slowly to put on her glasses.
“I put them RIGHT HERE on the ax!!” Gretchen snubbed angrily and knocked the whole bed frame over. “ROOAR!” CRASH!
All of the sudden Nina was wide awake. Her eyes widened and her breath caught.
“That’s no reason to keep us up!” Patsy complained and drew her blanket over her head.
The alligator flounced out of the room snarlingly. SLAM!
“Humph!” Patsy said irked and turned the light out. Nina lay down as well, notwithstanding that it was impossible to fall asleep again. She buried her face in her hands concerned.
A few hours later:
“Good morning guys!” Lazlo said with his familiar smile and yawned loudly “Did you sleep well?”
“My head aches…” Raj replied moodily.
“What about you Clam?” Lazlo looked at his other friend, who slept like a dog.
“Look how peacefully Clam is sleeping Raj.”
Gross!” the elephant responded in disgust “Look what he’s sleeping on!”
There Clam was, asleep on Gretchen’s gloves with a contented smile on his face.
“Uhm, well…” the boy said, scratching his head.
“I do not want to look at this! I’m gonna breakfast.” Raj said uppish and opened the door.
“Hey Raj!” a female voice shouted joyfully. He closed the door, went back to his bed and sat down.
Lazlo gave him a questioning look.
“I’m gonna breakfast…later.” The elephant stammered embarrassed.
“Hey!” the door flew open all of the sudden.
AH!” Raj exclaimed with a start.
“I just wondered if you wanted some pancakes for breakfast.” Joana said.
A few seconds elapsed. Lazlo and Raj looked at Clam. Not even a jerk.
“So?” she asked again.
“Um, yes! Of course.” Lazlo replied while Raj just gave a weak nod, and without looking at her.
He blushed again.
“Goody!” Joana answered cheerful and left.
“Gee, Clam is really fast asleep, eh Raj?” Lazlo said as he eyed the rhino wondering.
Philip dragged his feet into the kitchen bleary-eyed.
“Scented the pancakes, didn’t you?” Mina chaffed him with a grin. Philip just grumbled and sat down next to his girlfriend.
“Ouch!” he startled up.
“Heyyy! You’re sitting on – “Philip gave a growl, pulling out a pink stuff elephant from under his butt.
“That darned – !“ Joana cut him off when she gripped the stuffed animal “thanks!” the mouse said kinda snappish and put it in the middle of the table. Raj’s throat contracted.
“Is Clam still asleep?” Mina asked doubting before she put another piece of pancake into her mouth. Lazlo nodded.
“Shomeone’sh competing againsht you, Philip!” she mumbled with her mouth full.
Without reacting, he grabbed the maple syrup and squeezed the tube till such time as the pancake was literally soaked.
After breakfast:
“Almost gotcha Clam!” Lazlo said as he was starring at the screen mesmerized.
“I don’t get it! What’s so great about that thing?!” Philip burst in on their videogame when he entered the living room.
“Just…a second!” the monkey replied, still concentrated on the game.
‘YOU LOSE!’ the television voiced.
“New record!” Clam cheered.
“That’s just damn silly!” Philip continued griping.
“Damn! You beat me again Clam!...Sorry, what did you say Philip? I was only listening with half an ear.” Lazlo turned to his other friend. Philip slumped into the sofa next to the monkey.
“All this hassle over a crappy plush toy!!” He ranted and sat back vigorously. He jerked. Philip blinked,  knitting his brow even more. He clutched at the gadfly behind his back and opened his eyes slightly.
As expected it was the stuffed animal again. Philip took a deep breath. He clutched his hand tighter around the plush toys’ ‘neck’.
Next, he stood up and opened the window. Philip frowned one more time at the toy before he winded up.
“There you are!” Joana shouted happy as she came into living room, whipped it out of his hand without realizing his intension and left.  Clam and Lazlo glimpsed at each other, while Philip maintained the position for a moment. Then he let droop his tail, head and arms.
In the meantime Raj was entering the room. He looked around cautiously and headed for the sofa, being pretty relieved that she wasn’t there.
AARGH!” He growled furious and slammed the window at full tilt.
“I swear - NO! You have my sacred promise Lazlo: If I ever get my hands on that thing AGAIN, I’m gonna TEAR IT TO SHREDS!!!” Philip growled with clenched teeth and stamped to his room. SLAM!
“Dude! This guy has serious anger issues…” the elephant said.
“Bad temper.” Clam added.
“Actually he’s improving,” Lazlo argued. Raj wasn’t sure if this was contended as irony.
“His angry outbursts have become less frequent. He even got out of sleeping with a knife under his pillow.” The elephant gulped.
“Kn-kni – “ Raj stammered, but the monkey interrupted him.
“Well, you owe me a rematch Clam!” Lazlo said playfully.
“Rematch later.” the rhino answered and stood up “Give back gloves first!” he added and pulled out Gretchen’s gloves.
Raj leaned back out of aversion.
“I told you to keep these things away from me!” He reproached Clam with a disgusted face while he was reaching out his hands in defense. He feared that his friend might pelt them again at him.
“Fair enough. But after this you’re due!” Lazlo said challenging. Clam turned around to grin at him in conformation and left the room. He seemed to ignore Raj completely.
“I wouldn’t rely on that Lazlo,” he raised his voice “Clam prefers playing with the Squirrel Scouts!!”
The door slammed. Raj snorted, assuming a sulky pose.
“Wanna play a round with me?” the monkey asked with a smile.
“NINA!” Ruby yelled fierce.
About a minute later, the front door slowly opened and a certain long-necked person peeked out.
That day was just not Nina’s day. She came up to Ruby cautiously, who was standing in front of the opened garage with crossed arms and a face like thunder.
“What. THE HELL. Is that???” Betty’s cousin asked, pointing at the lawnmower in the garage, or at least that was what it seemed to be in the past, before…
“An intelligent all round garden care system” she responded meekly “ – it’s turbocharged!”
She added with a self-conscious laugh.
“And what exactly. Is my PRUNER. Doing in the LAWNMOWER???”
Curious as they were, Patsy and Gretchen turned up as well.
“What’s wrong?” Patsy asked before she noticed the questionable gadget “uh-oh.”
“Well,” she hemmed “it can mow the lawn, cut the hedge, pull up weeds, turn the soil, rake leaves, water your plants and it’s watertight!” she explained, trying to sound as promising as possible and grinned. Silence.
“I’ll show you!” Nina said assertive and got the gadget out of the garage. Everyone stepped back with fear.
“NO!” Gretchen shouted alarmed.
“Are you crazy?? Your inventions never work, remember?!” Patsy joined.
“This thing is gonna blow us all up!!!” the alligator added terrified and stepped back a bit more.
The giraffe actuated the twitch and the engine started roaring. Patsy, Gretchen and Ruby adopted a defensive posture. Gretchen covered behind her arms, Patsy buried her face in her hands and Ruby squinted her eyes shut while turning away – all in disastrous anticipation.
Some seconds passed. Gretchen took her arms down carefully.  Her eyes widened in disbelief as Patsy and Ruby uncovered their eyes as well, showing the same facial expression.


Nina’s invention was just standing there and cut the hedge – it actually cut the hedge! Nina was next to it, having a smug smile on her face. She pushed the turbo button. The others were ready to flee, but apart from doing its work much faster, nothing happened, which was not exactly a reason to panic.
When it was done with that, it even started to mow the lawn on its own – and as if this wasn’t enough – after that, the machine turned itself off automatically.
The others were standing there with gaping mouths.
“I knew you’d be impressed.” Nina said self-complacent.
“It actually…worked.” Ruby said in amazement.
“ – without exploding.” Gretchen added as perplexed as Ruby.
“Well then, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do.” Nina said self-important, walked into the garage and pulled down the garage gate.
Nina was rightly proud of herself, never mind that of course she had to withhold the fact, that she didn’t construct that machine on her own.
Her proud feeling was interrupted by a twinge in the stomach region, but she decided to ignore it.
This day seemed to take a turn for the better after all, even though there was quite another problem she had to redress.
“Raj?” Lazlo looked askance at his friend, who was aggressively hacking the gamepad away.
“Uhm, Raj?” still no reaction. Raj sat there, trying very hard to take the digital spaceship of his friend to pieces. By the look of his face you could have thought that he hated that spaceship to guts, which was not quite correct though.
“You know, I’m very struck by your fervor Raj…” He started again “but something tells me that you really should have a word with Clam.” Raj stopped and dropped the gamepad.
“I won’t say a single word to Clam until he apologizes!” the elephant boy retorted, crossing his arms.
“Why not??” Lazlo asked clueless.
Why?!” he repeated resentful “because he is a traitor! Plus he called me names!”
“You called him a traitor…twice.”
That’s something else entirely!” Raj defended himself vehement “HE insulted me first! Apart from this he is a traitor!!”
“But – “
“I won’t lift a finger till he apologizes!!!” he interrupted his friend, running away like Philip did before.
Lazlo vented a weary sigh and dropped back.
“Hey Nina!” a husky voice shouted.
“Hi Clam.” She answered after a while, standing in front of one of her inventions, being deep in thought. There was a vague smile on her face.
“CLAM?!” she repeated startled, widening her eyes. The giraffe almost leaped to the garage gate.
There was Clam and he was just about to ring the door bell.
“CLAM!! What – “ the opening of the door stopped her. Both looked at Ruby, who looked rather confused.
“um…” she said “Is he yours?”
Nina just grinned sheepishly, grabbed Clam, dashed into the garage and slammed the gate. SLAM.
Ruby closed the front door and went back inside irritated. 
Nina face palmed.
“Clam! What are you doing here???” she asked troubled.
“give back gloves!” he answered and pulled them out.
“Gretchen’s gloves!” Nina shouted with relief “I’m history!” she shouted frantic in the next breath “we’re history!” the girl sank on the floor and buried her face in her hands.
Clam watched her behavior somewhat perplexed.
“History?” he wondered.
“What was I thinking?...” the giraffe said “It just had to turn out like that!”
“I didn’t tell the others you were here.” She completed after a moment, freeing her face from her hands slowly.
“I didn’t tell them that we build all these inventions together either.Nina looked down.
“That was weird.” Ruby said as she came up to Patsy and Gretchen, who were sitting in the living room.
“Who was it?” Patsy asked prying.
“Some boy. I opened and he was standing there with Nina.” They started to listen attentively.
“Actually, she was standing next to him, anyway – “the pink-haired mongoose gasped for air.
“What’d he look like???” Patsy asked excited.
“Uh, well,” Ruby scratched her head “it’s…kinda heard to describe. Very pale, must’ve been blond, rather small, not to say – “
“BULL’S EYE!” the mongoose shouted confidently “this is our chance Gretchen! We will catch them in the very act!” Patsy leaped up and left the room with Gretchen. Ruby screwed up her face.
She slumped herself down on the sofa and turned the TV on.
‘What’s going on with everyone today??’ she thought irritated.
“I just…couldn’t tell them!” Nina tried to explain frenetic “Gretchen would’ve bitten off my head…and yours too!”
Clam looked slightly surprised at her. It got silent again.
“You know…” she started anew “back at camp, at the time when we pretended to be brother and sister…” she stopped “…You were the only one who’s been sympathetic.”
“I remembered that when you popped up and helped me with my construction…You’re …the only one who understands me.”
He smiled.
“I didn’t want to put that at risk…” she continued with her head lowered “but that’s exactly what I did!  And I dragged you into it…again.”
“You really ought to hate me!” she added, burying her face in her hands again.
She felt somebody hugging her from behind. Nina freed her face from her hands cautiously.
Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“I-I’m s-sorry Clam.” She said shakily.
“It’s okay, sister.”
“Do we really have to check this out Patsy?!” Gretchen asked low-voiced, being slightly revolted by the whole action “I’m not sure I want to find out what’s going on in there at all.”
“Shush Gretchen! Or she will hear us! On three!
3!!!” Patsy yanked up the garage gate. What they saw bowled them over.
“PATSY! GRETCHEN! It’s! I’m! – “Nina uttered alarmed.
“CLAM?! Teee-heeheeheeheeheeheeheehee!”Patsy dissolved into psyched giggles.
Gretchen just continued goggling at them in disbelief. She had probably never been as wide-eyed as in this situation.
“I NEVER would’ve thought of It!!!” the mongoose shrieked, still psyched.
“But Patsy! I’m! - ! Nina tried to explain, as Clam walked up to Gretchen as a matter of course.
She stepped back automatically.
“Giving back gloves.” He said, holding out the missing gloves towards her.
Gretchen looked at them stonily. She suddenly realized something. The girl saw stars. A shiver ran down her spine. The alligator whipped them out of his hand very ungentle.
Her facial expression had changed. She raised her eyes to look at Nina, who was frightened what would happen next. She was just about to spring to her feet.
Gretchen looked back at Clam. The girl clenched her fists. She was determined to kill both of them here and now on the spot.
Having said this, Gretchen winded up, chucked the gloves at full tilt on the floor right there at his feet and bugged out instead.
“First she makes a big deal of these things and then she runs away!” Patsy broke the silence and rolled her eyes. Next she started to giggle again.
“So, how long have you two been going out??” she asked roguish.
In the meantime:
Gretchen ran. She ran and ran and didn’t even know why she was running at all. She was unable to stop. There was no space for rational thoughts in her head. It was so noisy that she couldn’t hear anything. In fact, it was little short of a miracle that she didn’t run into any of the trees.
“Patsy!!” Nina shouted harsher than desired “I’m NOT dating Clam!”
“Oh please, you can’t fool me anymore!” she answered with conviction. The giraffe heaved a deep sigh.
“I’m NOT in love Patsy!” Nina tried to spell it out “We were friends all along!”
“Then why all the secrecy?!” Patsy asked irritated, looking at her reproachfully.
Because!” she replied, pointing in the same direction in which Gretchen ran off before.
“And what you just saw was…” the giraffe sighed and lowered her head again “Clam just consoled me because…because I was so afraid of that moment. I…knew how Gretchen would react” Nina wagged her head “or so I thought.” she corrected herself “the point is: I lied to you.” The girl heaved another sigh.
“Oh, and I don’t even deserve all the credit,” Nina pointed a finger at  the former lawnmower “for this thing over there…” she added ashamed. Patsy gasped.
“I knew there was something wrong!!” she shouted “But that means…” Patsy pondered “CLAM has brains???” the mongoose burst out in disbelief.
This was the moment they realized that he was gone – along with the gloves.
“Where did he go?” she asked wondering.
Gretchen’s legs were starting to give in.  In fact, she was so drained that she simply crumpled.
The panting alligator abutted against a tree. She trembled even though it wasn’t cold.
‘CLAM?!...I NEVER would’ve thought of It!’ Patsy’s voice resounded in her head.
She couldn’t keep her eyes open.
No sign of Gretchen.
Clam’s legs started to become weary as well. He’d been walking for about half an hour now.
After all he did come here to restore Gretchen’s gloves to her and he was determined to do that,
even if they’d made a really nice pillow last night.
He had had that strange and pretty confusing dream which made the last night remarkable in general. It wasn’t bad though, just confusing.
Confusing. Gretchen was very confusing.  Why did she ran away from him all of the sudden?
Wasn’t she the one who always chased him? And after all, why would Gretchen bite off Nina’s head because he was friends with her, since he was the one Gretchen was down on?
And why did she smile at him when she raised her fist to him all the time?
Clam casted his mind back to the situation at the fun fair. That smile…he had seen it before.
Then it came back to his mind: There was that dance back at camp! He recalled that the boys had to dance with the girls. And he had to dance with Gretchen.
She had the very same mysterious smile on her face back then, which confused him so much.
Suddenly the reminiscence of the tug o’ war surfaced. He remembered bumping his head with Gretchen’s.
Except feeling awful and delighted at the same time, his memory was rather vague. He pondered.
They had been on the site of the squirrel scout territory, bumped their heads again and –
The vibrating of his phone roused him from his thoughts. A message from Nina.
Clam where are you??
Being a bit conflicted, he decided to go back after all, even if it left a feeling of uneasiness.
“Clam! There you are!” Nina shouted from afar with relief. She sat at the top of the stairs in front of the house.
“Why did you follow her??” Nina asked almost reproachfully.
“Um, gloves!” he answered without thinking too much.
“Oh, just give them to me!” Nina replied, wondering in silence why anyone would follow a person who tried to beat you up at any given opportunity for such a trifle.
She simply took the gloves from him.
“I think you should go home now Clam…” the giraffe said with caution “before she returns.” Nina added. As a matter of fact she felt slightly relieved that he didn’t find Gretchen. That sounded strange to him.
“Ok..” he agreed nevertheless “bye Nina.”
“Bye Clam.” She smiled and went inside.
“Hey Clam!” Lazlo greeted his friend cheerful as he entered the living room.
“Humph!” Raj said, got up from the sofa immediately and went straight past him, not deigning to look at the rhino.
 “Are you ready to be shellacked?” Lazlo challenged him in a playful way.
“Uh, sure.” The rhino replied not being with it. He actually had forgotten it in all that excitement.
Mina opened the bath room door unsuspecting, when –
“GODDAMN! Such a bitch!!” Philip cursed under his breath as he flushed the toilet again, flooding it even more as a result. He reached for the force cup. Philip didn’t seem to notice Mina’s presence.
“IS THAT - ?” Mina said shocked, when she got cut off.
“MINA!” He burst out with a start. “Do you like to watch people using the toilet??!” he snarled, slammed the door in her face and locked.
She was glued to the spot for a moment before the girl walked to the living room.
‘YOU WIN!’ the television sounded. The awaited cries of victory failed to appear though.
“Clam’s very tired. Good night Lazlo.” The rhino said and left. Mina sat down next to her boyfriend, still dumbfounded.
“Mh, that was weird.” Lazlo thought aloud.
“You’re telling me!” the raccoon girl commented, screwing up her face.
“Somehow I get the idea that he made no effort this time. It strikes me that he wanted me to win. Everyone’s acting odd today…” Lazlo wondered.
Yes, indeed!” Mina indorsed him.
“Clam, Raj and Philip as well.”
“By ‘acting odd’, do you mean flushing a plushy down the toilet?” She asked, still looking a bit stonily.
“Exactly!...Wait – WHAT?!”
“Philip is flushing the plush elephant down the toilet.”
“Uh-huh.” He answered agreeing some seconds later.
A few hours later:
Gretchen opened her eyes. She saw the sunlight shining through the leaves. The Dusk was approaching. Only now she became aware again of what happened.
For a moment she had in contemplation to stay there, but her sanity banned it.
Gretchen got up slowly and started back.
Having arrived, she eyed the vicinity suspiciously. At least the sleep cleared her mind a bit.
She didn’t feel better though.
 When Gretchen arrived at the corridor she paused. The door to their room was closed.
Gretchen was very certain that Nina was the last person she wanted to see right now. Well, among others.
She adjourned to the living room and was quite relieved to see that it was empty. The alligator closed the door and hit the sack or rather the sofa. A pretty awful feeling went through the girl. It was foreign to her. Gretchen felt heavy and empty at the same time. Her head was thumping.
All she wanted at the moment was going back to sleep, which, fortunately, happened very quickly.








ALL AT ONCE COVER PICTURE by MentallyIncorrect

Part 13: Lies have long necks

“Time for you to pay!” Gretchen growls with a triumphant smile on her face, forcing him into the corner. There’s no way out. She’s taking a swing at him, but her arm is as heavy as lead. It seems unusual skinny to her, effectively meager. Her blow is without effect. She’s trying again and again with all her might, there’s no effect. Everything’s going black all of the sudden. Her body starts to feel strangely numb; she can’t move and drops –
Gretchen cringed, opening her eyes wide. Her heart throbbed. There was a loud roaring in her ears and she felt an oddish tingling in her limbs, almost as if her whole body was asleep.
Damnit!” she hissed and rolled over violently.

Gretchen buried her face in her hands and rubbed her eyes.  5:09

She rolled on to her back, starring at the ceiling with narrow eyes. The voices in her head were running riot. She set up with reluctance and eventually got out of bed. Her body felt cold from sweating. Gretchen slightly shivered, pulled on her Bermuda shorts and a shirt, opened the door and closed it on the way out as cautious as possible. Prying eyes and annoying questions were the last things she needed at the moment.
Gretchen looked out of the window. The sun had casted its orange light on the twilit vicinity.
She got the ax out of the garage and walked to where she always did when she needed quiet – the    alligator headed for a small stretch of woods nearby, to chop wood.
Chop. The fifth in a row – in a single night.  Gretchen’s face, which just a moment ago had mirrored her sense of calm acquired in the fresh air and quiet, darkened again.
CHOP!  It was always the same. She finally attained her aim after seemingly endless chases, put him where she wanted him, could finally get her long-awaited revenge. But every time she stroke out at him - … Chop! Gretchen screwed her face up a little more. Her thoughts started to run riot again. She just couldn’t – CHOP!  Gretchen felt her face blushing with anger. CHOP!!
She couldn’t bear the thought.  
Rotten little - !!” CHOP!!  His face flashed through her mind.
“ARGH!”  CHOP! CHOP! CHOP!! The girl supported herself on the ax. ‘Weakness…’ The word etched itself into her mind. Gretchen’s face was taut with anger. ‘I DON’T HAVE ANY WEAKNESSES!’ a voice in her head insisted ‘and ESPECIALLY NOT for - !!!
“ROOAR!!!” CHOP!!! … creaaaaak – CRASH!  The tree was ultimately chopped down.  Gretchen, being as mad as hell, was standing in front of that wooden victim of her fury.  It had become a lot hotter in the meantime.  She just couldn’t bear the thought.
“Whom are you texting?” Patsy finally asked, realizing that her friend was glued to her screen all morning, which was very remarkable. 
“Huh?” Nina’s reaction took a few seconds “uhm… no one you know.” The girl lied. She felt the lie slowly sliding down her throat to end as a knot in her gut.
Patsy narrowed her eyes to slits, looking askance at the giraffe.
“I get it…” she said unsmiling. Nina stared at her friend, feeling pretty uneasy.
“You’re in LOVE!” Patsy grinned “why didn’t you tell me?!” she shouted enthusiastic.
Nina felt relieved at the first moment, but that state didn’t last long. She twisted her mouth into a convulsive grin.
 “What’s his name??”
“What?! Uh– “
“What does he look like???”
“Now, Gretchen is the only one missing!” Ruby joked “speaking of Gretchen, where is she?” she added wondering.
“I have no idea!” Patsy shrugged “haven’t seen her all morning.”
“Maybe she’s outside the house somewhere!” the giraffe interposed. She jumped to her feet and rushed towards the door before she stopped “uhm, Ruby? You don’t mind if I garage my device, do you??”
“Brilliant idea!” The pink-haired mongoose interrupted with relief “your device occupies half of our room!”
“Sure, as long as you don’t damage my car.”
“Thanks!” Nina said quickly and left the room. Her grin disappeared.  
“Phew!” Nina gasped as she was trying to reach the garage on wobbly legs. It was one of those rare moments where she appreciated her long neck.
“I thought you’d never get that thing out.” A familiar voice said.
“Oh, hey!” she returned with a strained voice “where have you been?” “Uh, could you –? “ The alligator opened the garage gate.
“In the woods.” Nina put down the telescope carefully.
“So early in the morning?” the giraffe asked puzzled.
“I couldn’t sleep…” Gretchen replied frustrated and went inside.
“There you are!”Patsy welcomed the alligator “Where have you been? We were wondering...”
“I went out to chop some wood.” She answered.
“Have you heard the news?! Nina’s in LOVE. “The mongoose said with a giggle.
“Well, well!” Gretchen japed “Who’s the lucky man?!”
“She didn’t tell me…” Patsy answered a bit sulky “anyway, they were texting all the morning!” she continued enthusiastic.
“She’s probably sitting there in front of that telescope at this very moment, gazing at the stars and asking: ‘Dearest stars, is he the one?’” Gretchen said faux-lyrical, while putting her right hand on her chest, reaching out the other one heavenwards “Wahahaha!!”
“Probably!” The mongoose chuckled.
“You can’t come with us?!  Why not?” Lazlo asked perplexed.
“Appointment?” he repeated wondering.
“With whom??” Raj asked.
“Nina?!” they uttered in unison “with a squirrel scout?!” Raj added.
“I didn’t know you were friends!” The monkey said a bit sheepish. Clam smiled.
“But - !” Raj uttered shocked “she is…one of them!”  The rhino gave his friend a blank look and turned around to leave.
“Bye Clam! Have fun!” Lazlo shouted buoyantly. The elephant stood next to him open-mouthed.
“I cannot believe it!”
“What?” Lazlo asked puzzled.
“He’s ditching us to spend time with…that!” He continued aghast at his friends’ behavior.
“It’s not so bad Raj, Nina’s really nice!” the monkey assured “There’s nothing wrong if he’s meeting her.”
“Squirrel scouts are NEVER nice, Lazlo! Don’t you remember anything?!”
“ – “
“They might look nice from the outside!! But they’re pure evil!! They look nice to make you buy their Cookies! Until you can’t stop buying cookies and keep buying more and more cookies!! –“
“Uhm -“
The cookies of EVIL Lazlo!!!”
“Man! These cookies are devilish good!” Mina interrupted.
“Agreed!!” Joana affirmed with her mouth full “hey Raj!-”
“AHHHHHH!!” the elephant screamed hysterical, running out the door.
“I was going to offer him some.” The mouse said chap-fallen.
“You really want to stay here instead of going whitewater rafting with us??” Patsy asked with irritation. Her cousin had just got the car out of the garage.
“I’m sorry but I have to accomplish my device.” The giraffe answered firmly.
“Very well then” The mongoose shrugged eye-rolling “see you later.” Nina’s cell phone made a noise.
“Is it your admirer again?!” Patsy said turning herself back to Nina, teasing her with a grin.
“No time for small talk Patsy! Have fun, see you later, bye!” the girl bounced her friend and closed the garage gate. The door lock made a clicking noise.
“Phew! That was close!” She soliloquized when somebody knocked at the back door.
Very close!” she added.
“Hi Clam!” Nina welcomed him friendly.
“Hi Nina!” He saluted her as buoyant as ever “frowzy.” the rhino added sniffily.
“I’m sorry,” The giraffe said, looking bashfully at the ground “I had to relocate my device here.”
Clam looked at the telescope.
“Well, that’s it...” she said with a sheepish smile “I re-checked the whole construction” Nina stated with the blueprint under her nose.
“According to my calculations it should actually be possible to –“
“Done.” The rhino interrupted. Nina lapsed into silence, gazing at him.
“Testing!” He started pushing the object doorwards. Nina hadn’t moved an inch in the meantime. She was standing next to the backdoor, which was still open.
He had hardly left the garage when Nina’s eye was already glued to the telescope. Her eyes widened.
AMAZING!” She shouted in excitement “you have to see this!!”
“Blinding!” Clam said squinting, blinded by the reflecting light.
“You did it Clam!” Nina shouted beaming.
“Uh no, we!” He corrected her and grinned, crossing his arms behind his back.
“Do you think they meet secretly??”  Patsy asked psyched and giggled.
“Huh?” Gretchen stammered sleepy.
“She’s keeping something from us, Gretchen! I know it!” the mongoose said insistently with a straight face.
“Sure…” Gretchen yawned boredly.
“Why couldn’t you sleep last night Gretchen?” She asked a moment later. It took the alligator a few seconds to answer the question.
“Had a bad dream.”
“What was it?”
“What?!” Gretchen asked in annoyance.
“The dream.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” She answered, crossing her arms in a stubborn manner.
“C’mon Gretchen, you can tell me.” Patsy tried to encourage her friend.
“No thanks!” Gretchen refused.
“Tell me!!” The mongoose shouted impatiently, if not harsh.
“I TOLD YOU I DON’T –“the alligator growled angrily when Ruby barged in.
“We’re there!!” It sounded a bit like a desperate attempt at arbitration.
“Finally!” Gretchen moaned in annoyance and got out of the vehicle.
“Humph!” She uttered huffily and followed. Why didn’t anybody tell her anything? She looked at her phone screen. Nothing. Patsy heaved a sigh.
“I would leave that here if I were you.” Ruby advised, pointing at her cousins’ cell phone.
“What? Why?!” she responded startled.
“What happens if you put a phone in water?” Her cousin answered drily with one arm akimbo.
Patsy pulled a wry face, threw her bag back into the car and slammed the door.
In the meantime:
Diverse absurd, brilliant as well as totally useless ideas and bricolages later:
“Hungry.” Clam said.
“Me too…” Nina commented wearily. She heard the lock snap open.
“Go inside.”
“Wait for me Clam!” the giraffe cat-called him with an uneasy feeling.
Arrived at the corridor, Clam was nowhere to be seen as a clattering which was coming from the kitchen attracted her attention.
“There you are!” Nina said slight tensely, when she startled at the fact that all cupboard doors were open, even the one of the broom cupboard. Clam was standing in the middle of the kitchen.
He was holding an onion with a bite taken out of it in his left hand and a partly eaten bun in the other hand.
Nina went to the fridge to take an apple out of it.
“Alright! Can we go Clam?” She asked quickly “Clam??” the giraffe repeated baffled when she turned around, realizing that he was gone.
Nina stuck her head outside the door. Left, right…LEFT! The last door of the corridor stood open.
“Oh dear!” She uttered troubled, dashing into the room.
“Fun!” Clam shouted joyfully, while he was jumping on one of the beds.
“That’s GRETCHENS’ bed!!!” She shrieked out, covering her eyes with her hands in horror.
The rhino stopped jumping and let himself crash horizontally onto the bed.
There was a look of satisfaction on his face for a split second when something fell down with a thud and caught his attention. Clam turned his head around and spotted an ax and a pair of gloves.
A big grin flitted across his face. He sprang to his feet, gloved up and grabbed the ax. Nina uncovered her eyes warily. Clam pretended to take a swing.
“ROOOAR!” He bawled with sharp teeth, aping Gretchen’s bearing and her voice amazingly exact.
The giraffe couldn’t help laughing.
“I’m gonna get you CLAM!!” He continued aping. Nina cracked up with laughter literally by falling over her own bed. 
The boy took a leap on the bed right next to her and started to jump once more.
“Nina too!” he called for her to join him. Nina sat up.
“Well, actually -!” she attempted to explain.
“Nina too!” he repeated and grabbed her arm to jerk her, so that she was forced to stand up.
Whoops!” She uttered in surprise, trying to keep her balance, which was not so easy with all that wobbling. His jumping was so vigorous that she started hopping automatically.
“ – Hey!...This is fun!” Nina shouted slaphappy.
“Come in Raj! This is fun!” Lazlo invited his friend once more to join them, who kept his seat like he did the last few times.
“I’ll be right back.” Lazlo told his friends before he got another load of water right into his face.
He sat down next to Raj, who was – almost – completely enveloped in a towel. Only his face showed up.
“You haven’t dipped into the water even once since we arrived… what’s biting you?” Lazlo asked concerned.
“I-I don’t want to go…” he halted unstably.
“Why not?... I thought you had overcome your …uhm…what was Clam calling it again?”
“He sure would tell you this himself if he wasn’t having a great time with Nina at the moment!”
He responded caustically.
“You shouldn’t be mad at him…” the monkey said “Besides, you can have fun with us!” Raj looked worried again. He turned away.
“That’s not it.” The elephant boy said so low, that one could scarcely hear what he was saying. His heart started pounding.
“Is it about the dirt? The water is quite clean!”
“N-no Lazlo…, it’s – “
“Guuuys?!” Joana called out to them. Raj creased his face. She got out of the water, heading their way.
“Why are you just sitting here?” the mouse asked wondering, when she noticed Raj’s suspect state.
Mina and Philip were on their way out as well in the meantime.
“Is anything wrong?” she asked caring. He stared straightforward. Raj was incapable of moving, let alone speaking.
“Raj suffers from … - how do you call it when someone is scared of water?” Lazlo asked clueless, scratching his head.
“No, no. There’s another word for that…”
“What’s wrong?” Mina asked.
“Raj is water-repellent.” Joana answered sympathetic.
“Mh, I wish I was...” The raccoon-girl said, wringing out her tail.
“What’s the problem?” Philip asked unlovingly, being the last one to arrive.
“Raj’s scared of water…I thought he’d gotten over it.” Lazlo replied guiltily.
“Well, that makes more sense…” Mina said.
“How can one be scared of water??” the squirrel commented gruffly.
 “I am NOT!!”  Raj blurted testily. He was still hiding under his towel.
“Then why are you sitting here?” the mouse asked puzzled. Raj squinnied. His stomach cramped.
A sneer flitted across Philips face as he reached out to tear him off the towel. Joana slapped his hand, looking askance at her boyfriend, who crossed his arms offended as a result. She put her head under the towel.
“Yoo-hoo Raj!” 
Eek!” He uttered alarmed, while he was blushing like a peony.
“Come with me!” she said lively and grabbed his hand.
“N-n-no!!” he stuttered out panicky, trying to draw back his hand quickly. Philip rolled his eyes.
“Come on Raj! There’s no need to sit here!” Lazlo spirited the boy anew, took his arm and stood up.
Joana virtually pulled him towards sea, in fact so much that she nearly made him trip.
The weak-kneed boy was forced to keep step with the girl, staring dumbfounded at her hand clutching his.
A few hours later:
“Ohh - Ouch!” Nina blurted out as she awoke. She found herself horizontal on her bed, or more precisely, it was only her neck which was horizontal. The rest of her body was sitting vertical in front of the bed, which had caused a very painful bracing. There was an opened astrology book on her right.
She straightened herself slowly, looking at Clam, who was asleep as well. He lay on his back, surrounded by Nina’s science fiction books. The giraffe had a scare.
20:47  „Oh no!“ she shouted alarmed and set straight her glasses. The girl jumped to her feet so quickly, that she became giddy.
“…Back hurts!” Clam complained, straightening himself as well “really uncomfortable!”
“Look at this mess!!” the giraffe shouted exasperated.
SNAP!  “We’re back!” Patsy exclaimed when she got out of the car “Ninaaa?”
Did you hear that?!?”  Nina gasped.
“Nina?!” Patsy shouted once more. She stuck her head through the gap between garage gate and wall. All she saw were heaps of parts and apparatuses that she couldn’t place.
“She’s probably inside, reading her science fiction stuff. Let’s go.” The alligator said.
“They’re back!!” Nina shrieked hysterical, hastening through the room to tidy it up.
“You have to go Clam, NOW!” she said panicked, pushing the boy towards window, which headed in the backyard. She yanked it open “I’m so sorry!!!” the giraffe added guiltily and pushed him out.  
Nina bolted out of the room, nearly running into her friends.
“O-oh, hey!” she uttered convulsively grinning “did you have fun??”
“Looks like someone was very hungry!” Ruby shouted from the kitchen.
“U-uhm, yes…sorry!” Nina said with a sheepish smile.
“What have you done to your hair?!” Patsy asked screwing up her face.
“M-my hair?” the girl wondered, touching her head “oh, that!...I had a nap!” At least that was no lie.
“Cold in here!” Patsy soliloquized with a shiver when she entered the bedroom “what’s the window doing standing wide open??” she complained heading its way, but Nina leapfrogged her and slammed it.
“I needed fresh air!” the giraffe explained tensed. A few seconds passed.
“If you’ll excuse me, the garage is a mess!” she said quickly to scram anew.
“Wait a second…” Patsy said. Nina gulped. “There’s something on your back.” The mongoose removed it. Nina starred at the object tensely, while her friends examined the short, blond hair with quizzical expressions. All of the sudden, a light flashed in their eyes.
“Well, thanks!!” she smiled constrained and rushed out.
“Hey Clam!” Lazlo greeted his friend as he entered his room “Did you have fun?”
Raj did not deign to look at Clam. This day had been exhausting enough without him and he was still mad at the rhinoceros.
“What are these… gloves, Clam?” Lazlo asked quizzically. Clam looked down at his hands.
“Clam forgot to take off. Gretchen’s gloves.”  Even Raj was staring at him now. Fright and disgust were written large in his face, while Lazlo looked rather confused.
“Why are you wearing them in the first place?!” the elephant griped hostilely.
“For fun.” He answered.
“What is funny about a bunch of – YECCH! Do not get that near me!” Raj screamed frightened while repulsed when Clam approached him “who knows what atrocities that murderous crocodile has perpetrated with these things!!”
“Ehehehehe! Deadly gator germs!!” Clam teased him, approaching the elephant.
Ah! Go away Clam!!” He shouted upset and dashed his pillow at his friend, which hit him right in the face. The rhino gave him an angry look, flinging one of his gloves at Raj, which hit him right in the face, too. SPLAT!
Ahhhhh!” Raj shrieked in horror “GET IT OFF ME!!!” he threw it back at Clam on impulse. SPLAT!
 Raj rubbed his hands clean on his legs hastily.
Grr!!” Clam snarled “Sissy!”
Traitor!!” He retorted.
“Guys please!” Lazlo interrupted “Stop fighting!!”
He started it!” Raj defended himself angrily. Clam scowled and flopped himself down on his bed stubbornly with clenched fists.
“Is everything all right??” Mina bolted in. She saw Clam and Raj sitting on their beds with angry faces, while her boyfriend was sitting between them, looking pretty lost.
“Great!” Raj grumbled low-voiced and got up “I’m going to wash my face now!” he snubbed angrily and left.
Two hours later:
“I told you she’s keeping something from us!” Patsy said for what Gretchen thought was the zillionth time.
“I got it Patsy!” she replied in annoyance.
“ Anyway:  When she walks in I’ll –“
They were interrupted by Nina, who was just entering the room. The two girls became silent instantly. Nina avoided making eye contact with her friends.
She knew on her own that Patsy hadn’t stopped thinking about what had happened earlier, which set Nina’s teeth on edge. 
She sat down on her bed and grabbed her science fiction book immediately to give no rise to any conversations.
Patsy chuckled. Nina peered over her book cautiously. She caught sight of two grinning faces.
Patsy chuckled again.
“Is there…a problem?” the giraffe asked with a doubtful feeling.
“I don’t know?” Patsy replied faux-naif “I was hoping you could tell me.” she giggled.
“Is there something you’d like to say, Neckerly?” Gretchen asked provocative.
Nina gulped. She starred into her book as if she was hoping to find an excuse in there.
“W-well…,” she started “you know, I’d love to talk to you guys all night but I’m really tired!” Nina faked a yawn and put her book aside to lie down.
“I bet you are!” Patsy said with a giggle.
“Uhm…good night then!” the giraffe said quickly and rolled over.
Sweet dreams.” Gretchen teased low-voiced. They looked at each other, chuckled and lay down as well.
The blond girl pulled the blanket over her head, took a deep breath and closed her eyes, before she opened them wide again a split second later. She stared into the darkness bug-eyed. Gretchen kicked her blanket to the foot of the bed.  
This is not possible, this is not possible, THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE!!’
Patsy screwed her face and put the light back on.
“All right??” she asked puzzled while facing Gretchen, who was lying on her back, looking kinda uptight.
“Uhm, y-yeah. All’s well.” She answered shakily trying to hide her nervousness.
“Okay…” the mongoose replied confused and switched the light off again.
THIS. CANNOT. BE. POSSIBLE.’ It ran through Gretchen's mind again. She squinnied. 

Camp Lazlo Fanfiction: ALL AT ONCE
the attempt to finish this chapter quicker/make it shorter FAILED COMPLETELY. 
But better late then never, eh? XDD
Patsy redraw by MentallyIncorrect
Patsy redraw
Have a Pepsy.

©Patsy (Camp Lazlo) belongs to Joe Murray

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F4TH0MABLE Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
False curly-one. ovo
MentallyIncorrect Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
No, no! 'Fake' - Curly-One...
F4TH0MABLE Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, yes. ß)
MentallyIncorrect Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
No, no! 
(1 Reply)
CARTOONFANATIC3 Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the llama! :dummy:
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MentallyIncorrect Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
thx ^^
FERNANDODF96 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2015
you're welcome :huggle:
hunlin Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2015  Student Filmographer
And thanks for the favourite!
MentallyIncorrect Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
you're very welcome ^^
Talentless-Actress Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Tag a quality deviant, You’re it! Quality doesn’t mean that you have a lot of followers, or a lot of messages. It means that you’re nice to other people, and you deserve to be happy. If you get this message, someone is telling you that they love you as you are, and they don’t care how much followers you have. Send this to 10 deviants who deserve it. If you break the chain, nothing will happen. But it’s just good to let someone know that you love them!
DirtySeagulls Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
u rly like lazlo huh
MentallyIncorrect Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Well, yes, though there's another cartoon I'm more interested in at the moment. ^^ But I still have to finish that fanfiction xD
F4TH0M Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy (late) birthday! Hope it was a great one and hope you had a great Christmas as well! ^^
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