Ah Bartleby, Ah Lonesome Night It had been two years since the Bones and Bartleby had come to Boneville. Since then, Fone Bone had written a book called “The Valley”, (telling the story about the Valley through his eyes) which had skyrocketed to the Boneville Number One Top-Seller three weeks after its release, with astounding reviews and inconceivable book-signing lines. Phoney had been in a good mood every since after mountains of money started pouring into their cash vault. “Fone Bone! You‟ve made us rich!” He‟d exclaim once every week. Smiley had opened up his own bar called “Thorns on a Rose” after Thorn and Rose Harvestar, of which he was both the owner and the bartender. It was also exceedingly popular. Phoney would wake in the morning with giggle fits, since his dream of becoming the “richest Bone in Boneville” had finally come true without the use of heartless scams. Bartleby (who helped Smiley at the bar) was very pleased for a long time, especially with the Bone children, who adored him and begged him for rides or to sit with them at the picnics or to see their pets. Things were slightly different for him now. Growing pains in his limbs worsened, muscles in his arms, legs, stomach, and chest hardened, testosterone was becoming high- flying in behavior, and final teeth growing in with incisors becoming prominent. His voice had cracked during the last winter and refused to speak for three hours until he croaked a comment about a joke Smiley told-and it kept cracking and deepening every month. Biologists and Zoologists were fascinated with him. Bartleby allowed them to visit and talk to him about his Comrades. As he got older, however, he started having aches in his stomach and flutters heart when he talked about them-especially about Does- female Rat Creatures. Smiley had slight pains with Bartleby‟s rapid growth. He was no longer the cute baby cub he had coddled and shielded from harm for so long. He outsized Smiley now and at one point knocked him over when he tried to lean on him. His muscles had tightly firmed and bulged slightly through his long fur. He talked about his female comrades more often- clearly he had reached maturation-, and treated Guinea Pigs like baby Rat Creatures (he claimed they looked like baby cubs). He cradled them and (tried) to groom them, but they would chirp and try to wiggled away, or freeze completely when he tried to pick them up. After some of his Guinea Pig incidents, he began to act depressed. Smiley began to express deep sympathy for Bartleby and tried to keep him company as much as possible, so he wouldn‟t feel lonely constantly. An expert biologist and conservationist named Irwin Steve Bone was the first to identify Bartleby‟s depression-he missed his comrades and was desperately in need of their company. He concluded that Rat Creatures were just like rats. They loved their „nest mates‟ and enjoyed their company and affection. One day he came to the Bone Cousins‟ (very large) house with a gift for Bartleby-a huge Alpaca-wool blanket wrapped into a roll. The hair hung loose like Bartleby‟s fur and greatly resembled it in texture and softness. It had a similar width to a fully grown and matured male Rat Creature. Bartleby kept it in his „nest‟ of blankets and towels that had been given to him by the excitable and sparrow-like Bone children, who often did spoil him with soft, simple gifts. For some nights, he would try to sleep with his head on it and snuggling up to it, but it wasn‟t the same as nestling with a group of comrades on a cold night. The wool was not a very good surrogate sleeping partner. Certainly, it felt like another Rat Creature, but it didn‟t feel like another Rat Creature. It was far too soft in the middle; it was supposed to be firm, but comfortably firm; He couldn‟t hear the deep, soothing breathing of another comrade, nor could he feel the long and easy inflating and deflating of the body; He couldn‟t feel the pleasant warmth of a companion; just the heatless hair of an alpaca. It didn‟t help soothe his heartache at all. Its only purpose was something to cry into. He missed the others, but he knew that they wouldn‟t accept him back with them. Smiley was trying his best, it was true, but it wasn‟t enough. He needed something his size and girth to be with-a familiar. Boneville had scared him slightly when he was little-especially the statue of Big Johnson Bone. He still couldn‟t figure out the reason, but sometimes he dreamed of himself as an un-weaned, six-month-old cub getting seized by the tail by something and getting dragged away, then raked in the back by a single sharp thing before he knew what had gotten a hold of him. He‟d wake up crying and gasping for breath, and then seek comfort from either Fone Bone or Smiley in their rooms. At some points, he‟d bump into Phoney in the hallway on his way to Fone or Smiley‟s room and stay in his room over night instead. In the morning, he‟d wake up with a dry throat and hardness in his stomach, making him uninterested in eating. Every summer, Smiley, Fone, and Phoney would go out on a camping trip with several other Bones and take Bartleby with them. It was a large, annual event held by the Bone Scouts as a Boneville gathering. Of course, Big Johnson had founded it five years after Boneville had been founded and the event was made to celebrate the completion of the Boneville Memorial Yard of Frontier and Wilderness Heroes (or, B.M.Y.F.W.H). It lasted a week, mostly so the civilians would know how it was like for their forefathers to live. The Cousins and Bartleby, however, gave no mind to it, for they had been in it for a year (and Bartleby had been in it his entire life). Bartley loved being back in the woods, and would assume his natural instinct in the forest-tracking down „small mammals‟ for prey (often causing mishap in the cap for bringing in a decapitated bird or squirrel, or rotting carrion), rolling in the dirt in fascinating places to mark his scent, and causing mayhem trying to be the top predator. He was often up until far after dark. One particular night, he came out of the deep woods licking blood off his teeth and shaking the dust off his fur. “Nice hunt.” He said to himself, sitting in the grass, a good few feet away from the tents. “I‟m sure something died under that tree,” He chuckled. “That goodness only my comrades would be able to smell it on me.” He said to himself. He sighed remorsefully. “I wish there were some Rat Creatures around Boneville. But…if the stature of Big Johnson scares me and gives me Jekk Dreams…it‟ll probably do the same to them.” Jekk dreams were a type of horrendous nightmare, usually about getting attacked by the Jekk. “I miss them so much.” Bartleby sighed. “Especially those two clowns.” Bartleby stifled a laugh, remembering how he had been „forced‟ into the care of the „Stupid Rat Creatures‟. “I swear, those two will never reproduce! Chances are they‟ll be stuck bachelors for the rest of their lives.” Bartleby‟s good humor quickly dispelled. “They probably won‟t need a Doe or cubs. They‟ve bonded to each other and will…probably stay that way. They had a chance that I never had.” He bemoaned. “Look at me; I‟m a coveting wreck!” He looked up at the moon. “At least you‟re not lonely.” He said. “You‟ve got the stars and the Earth to keep you company. You must be happy up there in the sky; you‟re surrounded by friends that you‟ve known for countless years.” Bartleby looked at the tents. All the lantern lights had been dimmed and all was silent except for the loud sound of crickets and cicadas. An owl hooted every so often. “But I‟m in a weird place. Except for now, the last time I was in a forest since our camping trip last summer. I miss the trees and the rocks, the shrubs and the moss. I was born near a forest. My mom and dad stayed in the forest with me and my…brothers and sisters.” He gulped. “I miss them.” He stared at the soft white sphere in the star accompanied sky, and let a tear roll down his face. “But they‟ll never accept me back in the Valley, as much as I want to be with them.” He sniffled. “I‟ll never have a Bride or cubs…” He shivered. “Did I make the right choice coming here?” He asked. It was not directed toward the moon, but more to himself. “I love the Bones and even though I‟m surrounded by new friends, I feel so lonely!” He wiped his eyes. “I was so young and naive when I came here. I didn‟t think about what would happen when I grew up.” He stood up; going back to the tent he shared with Smiley, Fone, and Phoney. “You know I‟ve gone barmy when I‟m talking to a floating rock in space.” He grumbled to himself. He pulled down the zipper and clambered inside the tent, careful not the crinkle the bottom of the tent and disrupt his sleeping friends. He zipped it back up and huddled between Fone and Smiley. Smiley opened his eyes groggily. “Ya back, Bart?” He asked. “Yeah, I‟m back,” Bartleby un-wrapped the alpaca blanket and put it over his body. “It‟s better off a blanket than a fake sleeping partner.” He emphasized „fake‟ boldly and dryly, expressing his distaste for it. Smiley pulled one of his hands out of his bag and scratched Bartleby‟s ear. “I know you miss them, Bartleby.” He said. “And I highly doubt we‟ll ever be going back to the Valley again.” As Smiley finished, Phoney snorted in his sleep. “I mean, take Fone Bone for example. Think about how much he loved Thorn.” “That‟s different; she‟s not his kind.” “What does that have to do with it?” “I don‟t miss one person; I miss an entire race.” Bartleby said. Smiley looked at his pillow. “You‟ve got a point there.” He muttered. Bartleby laid his head on Smiley‟s shoulder. “Careful, even your head is too heavy to be leaning on me.” Smiley laughed. “But you know what, Bart?” “Yeah, Smiley?” “I won‟t be surprised if we do end up going back to the Valley.” Smiley said. “You know how much the Townspeople have wanted to venture out and see new places for ages! Plus they want to know if everything that happened really did happen.” Bartleby wagged his tail. “You‟re right!” He said. “I doubt it‟ll officially happen though,” He said. “It depends on what Phoney does.” Smiley winked. Bartleby snickered. “Yeah, it does,” Smiley rolled onto his back and put his hands behind his head. “Wait and see, Bart!” He said. “G‟night, pal.” He ended. “Night, comrade,” Bartleby whispered under his breath before drifting to sleep.
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