Other [Fanfic][Untitled][Chapter 3]

Discussion in 'Fan Works' started by Rod&Root, May 4, 2016.

  1. Rod&Root

    Rod&Root Void-Bound Voyager

    So, here is my attempt at getting in some writing. It was going to be longer, but I think 3,207 words is pretty good for a first chapter. I hope you enjoy the introduction to my farmer, and find it worth the read. If it goes over well enough I'll try and continue it.




    Chapter 1: A NEW LIFE



    “Call me Ishmael…” he read out loud.


    Moby Dick was not one of Ishmael’s favorite books, but it had been the favorite of his grandfather—the opening line and character was where his name originated from. Before he was born his grandfather had already put the name forth to his parents, and the two took to the name immediately. In that sense, his grandfather had been the one to name him.


    Ishmael looked up from the book, and stared out the bus window as the scenery passed. He had quit his job as customer support for Joja Corp. and as per the request in his grandfather's will, was now on his way to Stardew Valley to take over the once prosperous farm.


    He's been gone so long. How many years has it been?


    Ishmael stared at the letter that had granted him ownership of the Rod & Root Farm, and smiled at his grandfather's final gift to him. He would have to be a farmer, a fisherman, and a well-rounded blue-collar worker—the opposite of his life in the city. The thought of the huge change to his life exhilarated and frightened him; it had been years since he had helped on the farm, would he do alright? Ishmael folded the letter back into the envelope it had come in, and made a silent vow he would do all he could to make his grandfather proud.


    The bus started to sputter and jump, the driver cursed loudly as the vehicle skidded, spun around, and screeched as the brakes were applied. Ishmael held onto his seat, and braced his knees against the seats ahead of him in an attempt not to be thrown. The bus came to a stop, and Ishmael looked around the bus interior and then to the bus driver. The bus driver was shaken up, his gaze fixed through the window ahead of him, his eyes wide as dinner plates, and he was pale as a ghost. Time seemed to have ground to a halt with the bus, until the driver finally spoke up again.


    “Uh...final stop, Stardew Valley. Watch your step and don’t forget your luggage.” the driver stammered.


    Ishmael rose to his feet, and grabbed his backpack before he made his way down the bus aisle. The bus driver had his head down on the steering wheel, and the radio in his hand to phone into dispatch, Ishmael patted him on the shoulder before he stepped down and off the bus. As Ishmael climbed down off the bus, he saw a single occupant was at the bus stop; a woman he had never seen before. She seemed to be entertained by the bus and the nearly horrible mess that the situation could have been.


    “You sure know how to make an entrance, kid!” the woman laughed, “You must be the new farmer. Thomas used to talk about you a lot,” the woman held out her hand, “I’m Robin, the local carpenter.”


    Ishmael took her hand, surprised by the firm handshake Robin had, “Ishmael, pleasure to meet you ma'am. I take it Grandpa Tom was a customer?”


    Robin laughed, “Friend, customer, and headache. You look like your grandfather— by which I mean corn-fed. Is everyone in your family the size of a moose?”


    Ishmael chuckled, “At six-foot-two I'm actually the runt of my family.”


    Robin turned and motioned for Ishmael to follow her as she walked down a dirt path, “Bit of a walk to your new home. We’ll have plenty of time to talk on the way.”


    Ishmael adjusted the straps on his backpack, and followed after the carpenter. It had been years since he had been to Rod & Root, and he was curious to see how it had held up in the years since his grandfather had passed. When he had been younger he had spent summers there with a fishing pole or an axe in hand to help his grandfather with the farm––maybe it would be like that again.


    ---​


    The farmhouse had seen better days. There was a hole on the porch area; the wood of the home was a bit worn in appearance, and any paint that had once been had long since peeled away completely. The old place would need some heavy work before it was even remotely at the former glory he remembered from his youth. Ishmael rubbed his beard and whistled at the run down shack.


    “Seemed bigger when I was eight.” he chuckled.


    “Everything does at that age.”


    Before Robin could continue on the subject, the door opened and an older man wearing a newsboy cap stepped out from the shack, and closed the door behind him. There was a slight familiarity to the face of the old man, and Ishmael struggled to put a name to it.


    “Ah! You must be Thomas’ grandson.” he said, and stepped down from the porch to offer his hand, “Mayor Lewis of Pelican Town.”


    Lewis has been the name in his grandfather’s letter. Ishmael stepped up and gripped his hand in a firm shake, “Ishmael.”


    “Do you have a last name, Ishmael?” Lewis grinned.


    Ishmael smiled, “State secret.”


    Lewis turned back to the shack behind him, “Well, the old farm house isn't much, but you have the essentials. Running water, electricity, and the roof don’t leak...too much.”


    Robin piped up into the conversation, “It’s a pit.”


    Mayor Lewis shot the carpenter a glare and spoke, “Don't mind her, she's just trying to drum up business and make you buy one of her upgrades.”


    Robin looked shocked, and appalled—but also guilty. Ishmael chuckled and stepped up onto the porch, “Well, I'll probably need some repairs and work done eventually. In the meantime, I need to get settled in, and—” Ishmael looked at the land around him, “—and get to work.”


    The land was overgrown with weeds, grass, rocks, and trees. It would likely take an entire week or more to clear the land of all the unneeded grass and trees. Robin and Lewis noticed the far and away look in the younger man’s eyes as he surveyed his new land.


    “Well. Thomas asked me to look after his old tools for the day you came,” Robin spoke, “I'll bring them by in about an hour. They're old, and a bit rusty being iron and all.”


    Lewis cleared his throat, “We have a blacksmith in town named Clint. He could make you some new tool heads from different metals if you can get some ingots together. Copper, steel, gold—”


    Ishmael frowned, “I heard gold is pretty fragile.”


    “Not the type around here; it's rather strong.” Lewis smiled.


    “Alright then,” Ishmael clapped his hands together and rubbed vigorously, ”I’m going to clean up the…pit…a bit and I'll see you in a bit Robin.”


    Robin nodded, turned and started to walk away, and called over her shoulder, “See you soon, Ishmael!”


    Mayor Lewis gave a nod, turned and followed after the carpenter. Ishmael watched the two of them leave; each moved to their vehicles for their drive home. He took another look at the land around him, and rubbed his jaw. This was going to be hard; no doubt about that and at best had minimal knowledge of being a farmer from his youth. Ishmael gripped the knob of the door, gave it a turn to push open the door, and stepped into his new home.


    “Alright,” he said, ”let’s see what the old place looks like now.”


    ---​


    The interior of the shack was in slightly better condition that Ishmael had expected it to be. There was a fireplace, a bed, an old tube television, a table with a chair, and a small bathroom. It was like a sparsely furnished studio apartment—much like his previous home but a little bigger. He set his backpack down in the corner of the room near the bed, and smoothed out the bedspread to get rid of the wrinkles. He moved to the window and opened it, went from area to area in the small space to clean away dust as well as other signs of disuse away, and kept himself busy while he waited for Robin to return.


    As soon as Ishmael had finished with the task, there was a knock at the door, and Robin’s voice called through; her timing was perfect. Ishmael moved across the small space from his bed to the door, and opened it.


    “Hi again, Robin; I hope this place wasn't as much a mess when grandpa was here.”


    Robin chuckled and shook her head, “Well I never really went inside the old place,” she pointed back to her truck with her thumb and nodded, “tools are in the bed of the Chevy. I’ve got a water can, a pickaxe, a hoe, and an axe. I threw in a new scythe I bought and never used. You’ll get more use out of it than I will.”


    Ishmael looked across the expanse of the farmland, “With the overgrowth here? It's more than a little appreciated.”


    “Don't thank me yet, you've got a lot of work ahead of you here,” Robin said with a smile, “The mayor probably forgot to say so, but when you can you should head to town. People will want to meet you. We’re sort of a tight knit community, and people like knowing who lives nearby.”


    “That, and I’ll need to get to know who I’m selling to,” Ishmael said, and stepped down from the porch towards the Chevy, “I think first, I'm going to clear out this area, then find a way to get some money now. I mean, I do have a bit saved from my old job, but it's probably just enough to get by for a while.”


    Robin nodded, “How do you plan to make a living then?”


    Ishmael rubbed his beard, and looked unsure, “Well, I'm guessing that the grass, rocks, and wood I get out here is worth some money. That will work until I can plant some seeds and such.” a thought came to him, and he snapped his fingers, “Fishing! Where can I buy a pole? Gramps used to take me fishing all the time.”


    Robin frowned, “Willy’s the local fisherman. But he's been on a vacation to go fishing in another part of the country. He should be back in a few days.”


    Ishmael sucked his teeth, “Not good; Well, I can survive a few days...I think.” he smiled, “Well, wood and grass are my bread and butter for now then.”


    “Just don't tire yourself out too much. Anything you don't bring to town to sell, Lewis can pick up if you put it in that bin—” Robin pointed at an unassuming wooden bin, “—over there. He’ll take a cut for expenses since he’ll be doing the selling. But he won't rip you off.”


    “That's fair.” Ishmael said, and meant it.


    He gathered the collection of tools, and looked them over carefully. They had been cleaned, and a rust removal chemical had been used to remove the corrosion from the metal. The tools were misshapen, but with some work would be usable. He heard the door close to the Chevy, and realized Robin had climbed into the driver’s seat. He went around, and nodded his thanks and goodbye as she drove away.


    “I can work with these.” he said to no one.


    He looked over the field again, and placed all the tools aside, except the axe and scythe. He slipped the axe into his belt by his side, and held the scythe in both hands—the grassy field spread out before him, and trees stood tall peppered throughout it.


    ”Alright then, let's see how out of practice I am.” he said, and walked out into the field.


    ---​


    The sun went down around 1900 hours—or 7:00pm—and Ishmael had barely made a dent in the grass and trees on the farmland. He had gathered a lot of each; but the time it took to drag the split wood, and the harvested grass, had eaten a lot of his sunlight. He was coated in sweat, his clothes were soaked, and he felt like his muscles were on fire. He had long since removed his undershirt and over shirt, and the breeze soothed him as it washed over his body.


    “Just had to take after dad’s side in the body hair department,” Ishmael groaned, “I look like a damned grizzly bear. Someone’s going to shoot me with and have me stuffed.”


    His mood only grew sourer with the strain and discomfort of his work. He stood upright, and popped his vertebrae. He was tired and sore; the work he had done for the day had already taken an immense toll on his body. He knew he would be sore all of the next day, maybe more than he could imagine being. Maybe he had made a mistake, and he did not have it in him to be like his grandfather afterall.


    He could almost hear his grandfather’s voice bubble up from the recesses of his mind in response to his thoughts, City life’s made you soft, Ish! What happened to the little man I knew?


    “I'm trying!” he shouted out to no one.


    Trying ain't what you need! You need to do, boy! Doing gets it done; trying is what you do if you're planning to fail.


    Ishmael leaned on the scythe and sighed, “I forgot how much of a hard-ass you were.”


    I'm also not really here talking to you, you loony, the voice said as it faded away.


    Ishmael laughed as he lifted the scythe again, and returned to the task of the tall grass being cut down. He decided he would finish up with the grass, and then he would stop his work for the day to eat some of the food he had packed. He had brought a good supply of canned foods that he would be able to cook over an open fire; once he made one.


    He shouldered the tool and began the long walk back to the farm house from where he worked out in the field. There was mostly cans of Spaghetti-O’s and beef stew, but he also had a can of country-style baked beans, and some sliced franks he had brought in two plastic containers. He could cook the beans up in a pan over the fire and then cook the hot dogs in the beans; beanie-weenies were what his father had always called them when he made them.


    He gathered together a few rocks, some grass fibers, and some wood to make the fire burn bright; with the metal grate he had found and cleaned off, he had a usable fire pit to cook over. The beans needed to cook first and stirred with a large wooden spoon—the plastic container was opened and the sliced franks were dumped into the beans. Ishmael’s mouth watered as the smell wafted up into the quiet night air. The smell was incredible after a long day of work, and he could not wait to finally eat his dinner.


    “Tomorrow, I'll go to town. Maybe get some seeds and get to work on a harvest of some kind. Hopefully that Willy guy comes back soon—I can live off fishing, no problem.”


    Ishmael lay back, and stared up at the stars in the sky with a smile; the sky was aflame with brightly lit stars in the heavens. With all the artificial light of the city, they had never seemed so bright and easy to see as tonight—but the smell of dinner drew his attention away from the stars in the sky. He sat up, and sifted through his backpack to draw out a stainless steel canteen and cup, along with a two-sided fork and spoon combo. He set the canteen aside to fill the cup with his dinner using the wooden spoon he had stirred with, and then sat down to eat.


    ---​


    He had eaten the entirety of the small pot of beanie-weenies easily, and washed it down the water in the canteen. He felt full; solid, and almost felt recharged after the long day of work. His eyes wandered the perimeter of the camp fire, and noticed two orbs that shimmered in the darkness. At first he thought it might be a wolf, but as he tried to see better, he began to make out the details that were not apparent at first sight; it was a dog, a young border collie in appearance, and seemed to have followed the smell of the food.


    Ishmael slowly reached out for his backpack, and brought it to his lap to root through the large compartment to find the other plastic container with the sliced franks in them. Without much effort, he managed to find the other container, removed the lid before he set the container down in front of him, and gently pushed the container towards the dog.


    Ishmael smiled and motioned the dog to come closer, “It’s alright, I’m not going to hurt you. You’re hungry, huh?”


    Warily, the dog stepped out of the shadows outside the firelight, and sniffed at the container; a careful approach. Slowly the dog moved forward, and began to eat from the container—it stopped once or twice to look at Ishmael, as if to make sure he was not going to try anything. After the second glance, the dog maintained attention solely on the food in the plastic bowl.


    “I don't know how healthy people food is for you, but you are definitely hungry.” Ishmael said as he watched the dog devour the sliced franks, “So, eating hot dogs…does that make you a cannibal?” Ishmael snickered, “Silence followed by the boos of the audience.”


    He examined the dog at the distance he was, and noticed the dog had no collar and no license by extension—it was a stray. The food was gone, and the dog sat down with a silly grin across its muzzle, obviously it hoped for more food. Ishmael smiled and reached out to offer his hand for the dog to smell, but the dog turned and scurried away in alarm at the offered hand. He could see the dog in the darkness run towards the south end of his farm, and out of sight a few moments later.


    Ishmael frowned and looked down at his hand, “I just got dine and dashed by a dog.”


    With a sigh, Ishmael stood up to douse the fire, and kicked dirt on the embers that remained. He gathered the wares he used to make and eat dinner to be cleaned, and knew he would have to wash the dishes in the bathroom sink, or the bathtub; all the more reason to get Robin to build an extension to his home as soon as possible. As soon as he got his mess cleaned up, he would be able to go to bed, and he would deal with tomorrow’s problems as well as go to town to shop. With all the time he would be out in the sun, he knew above all he could use a good hat.

    TBC...




    Chapter 2: SOMETHING FISHY




    Sunlight poured in through the windows of the small home, heralded by the call of a rooster somewhere outside. Ishmael stirred slowly from his deep slumber, the remnants of his dreamless sleep clung to his consciousness and beckoned him back to sleep; he managed to stave off the lazy notion with a few blinks and a yawn. Ishmael stretched and slowly made his way to his feet from the uncomfortable spring mattress—as the thin blanket fell away, he realized he was naked head-to-toe. He remembered that when he had come in the night before he had immediately cleaned his dishes, then he had gotten into the shower, and then went directly to sleep with just the towel he had used to dry himself—though that had been lost during the night.


    Ishmael moved to the tube television at the end of the room, and with a turn of the knob it clicked to life. He tuned into the news channel, and was greeted by an overly enthusiastic weatherman in a charcoal suit with a red dress shirt. With the use of a pointer, the weatherman motioned to the chart behind him to explain his predictions for the weather. He proclaimed there was an immense thunder storm on the way, and urged everyone to get ready for the downpour. Ishmael cranked the knob until eventually he came across a channel with a gypsy woman in front of a crystal ball. She fixed the camera with a stare as she noted that someone new had joined her viewers, and that the spirits were in a poor mood today—likely to play tricks, or to invoke bad luck on those around them. Ishmael sighed and turned off the television, his attention moved to his reflection in the small rectangle of mirror glass that was in the corner of the room. He had always been self-conscious about his appearance and found that had not changed in the last twenty-four hours; his body hair, and his bulky frame had always been a sore point for him. He made himself turn away from his reflection and moved to his backpack of supplies to gather what he would need for his morning ritual. He retrieved a small hygiene kit from the smaller back compartment and removed dental supplies—brush, toothpaste, and a small bottle of mouthwash.


    "Hygiene is the key to presentation; don't lock yourself out," he smiled as he stood up and walked to the bathroom sink, “At least, that’s what mom always told us.”


    He turned on the faucet and waited for the water to warm up, then rinsed the brush, applied the toothpaste, and began to brush his teeth. He tried to think of ways to compress the day; to get as much done as he could in the few hours he had before the day ended. He had to check his mail to see if Mayor Lewis had left his pay, then walk to town to buy some seeds and fertilizer, and then come back to work the farm again. He spat in the sink and rinsed the foam and saliva from his brush, then his mouth. He set the brush on the sink, turned around and began to take steps towards the front door to go and check his mail.


    I wonder how much I’ll get for last night’s work? The rocks and the grass might not net me much, but the wood I chopped will be worth something. Firewood, furniture, or lumber for homesor for Robin to build her house upgrades. When I see her I should ask if providing the building materials will get me a discount?


    Ishmael rested his hand on the doorknob; he braced himself as the knob turned, and stepped out into the cool, crisp morning air. He exhaled, then inhaled deeply again to intake the fragrances of the spring morning; wet grass and pine sap. He savored the scent of the season, stretched his arms and legs, and was rewarded with the audible pops of his joints—he had to fight to stifle the groan that wanted to escape him. The day was an absolutely perfect—except that he felt like he had forgotten something important.


    "Oh! Oh my goodness!” chortled a soft voice.


    Ishmael froze with the cold terror cling to his spine with vice-like grip. Hesitantly, his gaze fell from the tops of the trees in the distance, and came to rest on the source of the cry; a matronly woman with wild reddish-brown hair, partially pulled into a thick braid that fell down her left shoulder. She stood at the base of the stairs that lead to the porch, her hands clasped over her mouth to hide a sly smile under her rosy cheeks; her eyes twinkled with a mischievous amusement as they took in what was in front of her. Ishmael felt a flushed heat rise up into his face, and his hands moved to cover himself as he threw himself back inside the small shack. In the sleepy haze of the morning, he had forgotten to get dressed before he had stepped outside.


    The gypsy on the television was right! The spirits are against me!


    Loud barks broke him from the stupor of the awkward moment and drew his attention to the window he was nearest to. There was the border-collie from the night before with its paws on the window, barking for all it was worth, the sound seemed like laughter coupled with the grin that split the dog’s muzzle. Ishmael lunged forward from the door in a crouch-walk and moved swiftly around the small shack to retrieve the scattered clothes from the floor to dress himself quickly. Whoever it was the dog had brought to his home—most likely its owner—he could not face them again without being dressed. He gathered his clothes; jeans, boxer-briefs, and red plaid shirt, hurriedly he slipped into the articles of clothing and moved back to his front door. The dog was still barking to his left, and through the right window he could see the unexpected guest move up the porch steps as she came closer to the door.


    Ishmael inhaled deeply and opened the door; he could still feel the burn of heat in his cheeks as he spoke without eye-contact, “Uh, hello. Sorry for…that. I’m Ishmael, uh…how can I help you?”


    She smiled wide and let out a bemused chuckle, clearly entertained by his embarrassment, “Hello Ishmael. I’m Marnie, your neighbor to the south,” she turned and looked at the border-collie with a smile, “I found this dog sitting outside the entrance to your farm! I think it’s a stray…poor thing. When I approached he turned and led me here to your door! I think he likes it here.”

    Ishmael turned and looked down at the dog; the dog met his gaze with a big grin. Ishmael decided right then the dog was a cheeky little bastard. Before he could think of anything to say in reply, Marnie had leaned into his field of vision with a smile on her face; that sort of smile someone gives when they have something to ask, and want to make it that much harder for someone to refuse.


    “Hey, um… Don’t you think this farm could use a dog?” she smiled wider, leaned in closer to him, and fluttered her eyes a few times, “What do you say? Will you take him in? What will you name him?”


    Ishmael felt a flush in his cheeks as Marnie closed the space between them, and noticed the slight shift from a question to a statement. If she had asked if he could take the dog in, he would be able to refuse, as in he literally could not; but she asked if he would and that meant if he refused he was saying he could, but was too much of a jerk to give a stray dog a home. Ishmael sighed and nodded his head, “I guess…a dog could keep other animals away? I’m sure there are raccoons and other things that would steal any crop I make.”


    Marnie gave a little hop in place and clapped her hands together with an excited cry, “And how about a name?”


    How about Ass-Pain?


    Ishmael cleared his throat, ” Uh…Boy? Boyo? Yeah, Boyo.”


    Marnie arched her eyebrow, then smiled and turned to the newly-named dog, “Well, Boyo…you be a good dog now, okay?”


    Boyo gave a bark and a wag in response. Marnie smiled brightly at Ishmael, turned and walked away towards the south-end of the Rod & Reel farm; she glanced back a few times as she went. Ishmael waved dumbly and looked down at the new canine occupant of his grandfather’s farm, “All that awkwardness was your fault, you know. I bet you’re one of those spirits the lady on the tube warned me about.”


    Boyo wagged his tail, and ran off to run around the farm, likely to start marking it as his territory. Ishmael turned and walked to his mailbox; the little red flag on the side of the metal box was up. He opened the mailbox and removed several letters, each labeled for him officially, except for two—one had his name, and was likely from Mayor Lewis, while the other simply read, “Farmer”. His curiosity drove him to open the “Farmer” letter first, and read the note in a rough scrawl on the page.


    Farmer,


    I just got back from a fishing trip, and I heard you’re looking to take up the fine art of fishing! I got something for you, come and meet me down at the docks.


    -Willie


    Ishmael smiled, folded the note and tucked it into his back pocket; now he had a better idea of where he needed to go today. He opened the other note, and was greeted by a decent sum of money that the Mayor had left as his pay for the amount of wood, grass, and rocks he had managed to turn in the night before. It was a hefty sum for the work—Three-hundred and sixty in total—and would certainly come in handy, as he now had to shop for himself and the dog. He pocketed the money and stepped back up the stairs to his home to pack up for his trip to town; he would look at the other letters later on when he got home.


    ---​


    Not long later, Ishmael had changed to clean clothes and was ready for his trip into town; his tools and gear were tethered to his backpack for the long walk. Boyo met him at the bottom of the stairs and grinned up at him, his tail swayed hard enough to rock the dog’s hindquarters back and forth. Ishmael pursed up his mouth and gave the dog a half glare, “Alright trouble-maker. You can come along. I leave you here I’ll come back to some horror I can’t even imagine.”


    Boyo barked and ran towards the eastern gate; Ishmael rolled his eyes and walked after the excited dog with a much more subdued pace. The two set out, and passed by the bus stop where Ishmael had first arrived. The bus was still there, broken as before; they had just left it there and not towed it away. That meant whoever around here was supposed to drive the bus from that stop to wherever it went was out of the job until that was fixed or replaced. Ishmael looked down to his side to see Boyo had settled in at his side, the dog’s pace matched his own. Boyo simply looked back at him, and then ran ahead of him again down the road. Ishmael chuckled, but maintained his pace—this was going to be a long walk and he could not afford to exhaust himself this early in the day.


    The remainder of the walk was uneventful for the two until they came to Pelican Town. The various properties were all very close knit, but with enough space that the people could choose to walk from place to place or even use other modes of transportation. The homes and residences seemed to all be more along the west side of the town, and the majority of the other types were in the middle, or the east side of the town. As Ishmael approached the first store just after the clinic, he saw a familiar face near a bulletin board on the front of the small store, he smiled as he got closer, “Mayor! How are you?”


    Mayor Lewis jumped in surprise, whatever he had his attention on had apparently had it in full, but the Mayor smiled and waved back at the approaching farmer, “Ishmael, good to see you! Here to do some shopping? While you’re in town you should introduce yourself to everyone as well, it’s always a good idea to get to know your neighbors.” his attention shifted to the border-collie at Ishmael’s side, his mustache twitched with a smile, “And who’s this? Is this your dog, or is he just following you?”


    “That would be a little of column A, and a little of column B,” Ishmael said and smiled, “This is my dog, Boyo. A neighbor of mine came by the house this morning and asked if I would adopt him.”


    “Marnie,” the Mayor nodded, “she sure does love animals. A few people around here call her the ‘animal mother’, though no one would say it to her face. She takes care of her animals like they were her children. Good woman.”


    “Well, I’m going to take a peek into the store here, see what I can and introduce myself, then I need to go to the dock to meet the local fisherman.”


    “Well don’t let me keep you then, boy. Get on with your day! Don’t waste it chatting up some old fart.” the Mayor chuckled and motioned towards the door to his right.


    Ishmael chuckled, bid the Mayor goodbye as he stepped around him and in through the doors to the store with the jingle of a bell. Inside he could see a man behind the counter across the room, and two customers that browsed in the aisles. He walked across the hardwood floor through the aisles to look at the display of seeds, fertilizers, and various books on farming for people who wanted to learn. He took a few of the potato seed packets, parsnip packets, and a box of basic fertilizer from the shelf. With the items in hand, Ishmael walked to the counter to purchase the items.


    The clerk gave him a quick glance over, smiled and extended his hand, “Hi, I’m Pierre; this is my humble little store. Welcome to Stardew Valley!”


    Ishmael took the offered hand and shook it, “I’m Ishmael. I’m the new resident at the farm down the way from here.”


    Pierre adjusted his glasses and smiled, his eyes flickered between the items placed on the counter and then back to Ishmael, “Explains the things you’ve got here. Anything else you’re looking for?”


    Ishmael looked to the side at a backpack that was displayed on the counter, “That’s a bit bigger than my bag. What’s it cost?”


    “That backpack there is priced at two-thousand gold. It’s hand-made with a lifetime guarantee; the maker said if I manage to sell it they’ll make another, bigger one.”


    Ishmael coughed and laughed nervously, “Well, uh…just the seeds and fertilizer then.”


    Pierre rung up the items, Ishmael paid, then reached for his purchases to place them in his bag and turned his head to look when he heard the jingle of bell by the door. A short man in a blue suit with thick, round glasses stepped into the store; there was something familiar about the man to Ishmael, though he was unsure if he had ever met the man before. The man in blue walked quickly across the floor, stopped just before the small carpet on the floor, and cleared his throat to gather the attention of those in the store; everyone turned to look at him.


    “Come and get it folks! Fifty percent off coupons for your next purchase at Joja Mart! Any takers?”


    Pierre let out a mortified cry as his customers flocked to the man as he waved the coupons over his head. Ishmael stood his ground and did not leave the register; he tried to remember who this man was and how he knew him. The customers flocked out of the store to go and use their new coupons, to the delight of the blue suited man, and Pierre’s horror.


    “But…” Pierre whimpered, “I can’t match those prices! I’d be selling at a loss!”


    The man approached the counter, with a smug smile and a strut; he spoke to Pierre with a false pity that quickly became blatant gloating, “It must be so difficult for you to lose your loyal customers like that. But can you blame them? Joja Mart is the clearly superior choice,” he grinned like a toddler with a cookie, and grabbed the lapels of his jacket, ”soon the whole town will realize that!”


    Pierre folded his arms on the count and put his head down with a defeated groan. The man in the blue suit turned to Ishmael, and held out one of the coupons to him, “Ah, we have a holdout! Well, you just can’t beat our prices, and this coupon will—“


    Ishmael raised his hand to stop the blue suited man, “Pass. No thanks.”


    The man in blue was visibly irritated by the refusal, and tried to maintain his composure, “Well, I don’t think we’ve met. My name is Morris; I’m the manager of the local Joja Mart…”


    Morris’ words faded into background noise as the gears clicked into place for Ishmael; now knew who this man was. He felt his pulse jump, and adrenaline run as he resisted the urge to lose his temper and throttle the smaller man, “No, I know exactly who you are. You need to leave…right now.”


    “Well then,” Morris said and slid the coupon back into his jacket, “if you change your mind—“

    “I won’t.”


    “—ahem, if you change your mind. Joja Mart is just right across the bridge from here. Have a wonderful day!” Morris said with obvious disdain in his tone, and walked away. Ishmael could hear him mutter insults under his breath as he hurried out of the store.


    Pierre smiled appreciatively towards Ishmael, “Thank you. But how do you know that underhanded little troll?”


    Ishmael sighed, he felt deflated as sudden spike of adrenaline subsided with the return of his calm, “It’s a personal story, sorry.” Ishmael said as he packed his items into his backpack.


    Before I go I should pick up some food for the house
    , he thought as he stepped away from the counter and back into the aisles.


    Ishmael quickly moved from shelf to shelf as he gathered a few canned goods, some snack foods, and a few gallons of water for the week. He brought them to the counter and set them down, “I’ll be needing a few more things before I go, since I won’t be going to Joja.”


    Pierre smiled and leaned on the counter, “I think since you’re the only customer who stayed,” Pierre rung the items up, but then set the register to a completed sale, “one-time special, it’s on the house. Just…don’t tell anyone.”


    Ishmael smiled and nodded his thanks as he packed up his groceries, and slung the bag over his shoulder. He turned, walked towards the door, and gave one final wave over his shoulder as he stepped through the door to continue the course of his day. Outside, Boyo had waited patiently for him. Ishmael scratched the dog’s ear; happy the dog had waited for him patiently without being told. They started the walk towards the south end of Pelican town towards the bridge to the beach, and Ishmael looked around at the various other houses, as well as the other stores in Pelican Town besides Pierre’s. He made mental notes to visit each of them before the day was over. He would do so as he introduced himself to the remainder of the valley’s residents; though that could take an entire week, unless he made it his sole priority.


    With the bridge just ahead of them, the two continued on their way to the beach; Boyo ran ahead and across the bridge, excited to get to the beach and play. Ishmael shook his head and adjusted the straps of his backpack as he followed the lead of his canine companion towards their next destination. Ishmael could smell the sea in the air, and it brought back fond memories of days spent fishing with his grandfather. He stepped across the bridge onto the beach and took in the sight before him. The beach was well maintained, it was clean, and only had two shacks that he could see. One stood alone near the tree line, and the other, larger one sat alone out on the pier—a lone older man stood with a pole in hand. Ishmael took a deep breath, and walked towards the pier.

    TBC...
     
      Last edited: Dec 8, 2016
      Byakuren, mrobake, Gabaw and 2 others like this.
    • MagicallyClueless

      MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer

      Yay, more fanfics! We started around the same time, too. I'm eager for your next chapters.

      I just wanna say I really love the name Ishmael. I really, really love -el names (mostly because i'm a bible nerd and i love bible names OTL ) and the origin of Ishmael's name in this case is really sweet and endearing. I also love the big and gentle guy types, he's already an enjoyable character for me to read about.

      I wish the best of luck for big hairy man-beast
       
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      • zcsnightmare

        zcsnightmare Scruffy Nerf-Herder

        I have to say that I'm impressed by your writing style: descriptive, great flow, your character started off quite interesting, and formed a goal/objective to complete that's not shoved in the reader's face but naturally implemented.

        I normally just kind of skim through fanfics, especially since most are written in first person (which isn't my personal preference). But, as I started skimming yours, I got caught and had to start over to read it word for word. Glad I did. Refreshing take! I look forward to additional writings you may submit. ^.^ I especially loved the humor dashed in there, like a pinch of seasoning.
         
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        • Gabaw

          Gabaw Scruffy Nerf-Herder

          Highly recommended by ZCS "Wicked Writer" Nightmare and Magically "Ultimate Darklord" Clueless, I just had to check it out. It's a downright Rebel Yell and I want more, more, more. In addition to others, I'll add that you've got a good pace going. 3000 words for Day 1 and it felt just right.
           
          • Rod&Root

            Rod&Root Void-Bound Voyager

            I wanted a fisherman sounding name when I started the game, and Ishmael seemed the best choice.

            I'm not too familiar with being tall since I'm not, but I wanted Ishmael to be different in that sense, but I know too many gentle giant types to not make him one; plus I just love that trope.

            Here's hoping what lay down the line isn't too rough on the big lug. :3
             
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            • Rod&Root

              Rod&Root Void-Bound Voyager

              Thank you very much! I'm glad it flowed out so well, and humor is going to be pretty constant(because I can't help myself).

              Hopefully the next chapter won't disappoint.
               
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              • Rod&Root

                Rod&Root Void-Bound Voyager

                The critics are raving. :rofl:

                I actually had passed the 3000 words barrier, and with the stuff I cut back out I was pushing 4k x_x;

                I figured it was best to leave some for the next chapter to start on and not get too far ahead of myself.
                 
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                • zcsnightmare

                  zcsnightmare Scruffy Nerf-Herder

                  I only wrote one half-assed thingy, lol, I'd hardly count that as a reason to give such a really cool nickname. But, thanks ^.^

                  Being surrounded by all these talented and passionate writers is making that old writing itch come back. It's been like four or five years since I've written anything unless it was just me being obnoxious. I think I'll give an actual go at it.

                  Ooooo, which reminds me, I use to toss up my short stories and the rough draft to my murder/mystery novel on a cool site. They were mainly about collaborations. It would be neat (neato, gang!) to see a thread where someone would start a story and other folks would go off that and add a few paragraphs or up to a chapter.

                  See what kind of Frankenstein's monster story would manifest. But, I've rambled.

                  Anywho!
                  The only chapters that disappoint are the chapters that are never written ;)

                  When ya aren't reading it, ya can tell it's kind of hefty. But, when ya are reading it, it's like one of those really good, long movies that you're surprised it's been three hours since it first started.

                  What genre is your forte for writing?
                   
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                  • Rod&Root

                    Rod&Root Void-Bound Voyager

                    I'm not really sure. I've tried my hand at a few things, I think mostly my old work was all action/adventure/sci fi with a little drama thrown in for spice. Doing something like this so far is sort of new for me.
                     
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                    • Rod&Root

                      Rod&Root Void-Bound Voyager

                      And now that it's been forever since I've been able to actually sit down and write without my mind blocking it...here it is, Chapter 2. x.x




                      Chapter 2: SOMETHING FISHY




                      Sunlight poured in through the windows of the small home, heralded by the call of a rooster somewhere outside. Ishmael stirred slowly from his deep slumber, the remnants of his dreamless sleep clung to his consciousness and beckoned him back to sleep; he managed to stave off the lazy notion with a few blinks and a yawn. Ishmael stretched and slowly made his way to his feet from the uncomfortable spring mattress—as the thin blanket fell away, he realized he was naked head-to-toe. He remembered that when he had come in the night before he had immediately cleaned his dishes, then he had gotten into the shower, and then went directly to sleep with just the towel he had used to dry himself—though that had been lost during the night.


                      Ishmael moved to the tube television at the end of the room, and with a turn of the knob it clicked to life. He tuned into the news channel, and was greeted by an overly enthusiastic weatherman in a charcoal suit with a red dress shirt. With the use of a pointer, the weatherman motioned to the chart behind him to explain his predictions for the weather. He proclaimed there was an immense thunder storm on the way, and urged everyone to get ready for the downpour. Ishmael cranked the knob until eventually he came across a channel with a gypsy woman in front of a crystal ball. She fixed the camera with a stare as she noted that someone new had joined her viewers, and that the spirits were in a poor mood today—likely to play tricks, or to invoke bad luck on those around them. Ishmael sighed and turned off the television, his attention moved to his reflection in the small rectangle of mirror glass that was in the corner of the room. He had always been self-conscious about his appearance and found that had not changed in the last twenty-four hours; his body hair, and his bulky frame had always been a sore point for him. He made himself turn away from his reflection and moved to his backpack of supplies to gather what he would need for his morning ritual. He retrieved a small hygiene kit from the smaller back compartment and removed dental supplies—brush, toothpaste, and a small bottle of mouthwash.


                      "Hygiene is the key to presentation; don't lock yourself out," he smiled as he stood up and walked to the bathroom sink, “At least, that’s what mom always told us.”


                      He turned on the faucet and waited for the water to warm up, then rinsed the brush, applied the toothpaste, and began to brush his teeth. He tried to think of ways to compress the day; to get as much done as he could in the few hours he had before the day ended. He had to check his mail to see if Mayor Lewis had left his pay, then walk to town to buy some seeds and fertilizer, and then come back to work the farm again. He spat in the sink and rinsed the foam and saliva from his brush, then his mouth. He set the brush on the sink, turned around and began to take steps towards the front door to go and check his mail.


                      I wonder how much I’ll get for last night’s work? The rocks and the grass might not net me much, but the wood I chopped will be worth something. Firewood, furniture, or lumber for homesor for Robin to build her house upgrades. When I see her I should ask if providing the building materials will get me a discount?


                      Ishmael rested his hand on the doorknob; he braced himself as the knob turned, and stepped out into the cool, crisp morning air. He exhaled, then inhaled deeply again to intake the fragrances of the spring morning; wet grass and pine sap. He savored the scent of the season, stretched his arms and legs, and was rewarded with the audible pops of his joints—he had to fight to stifle the groan that wanted to escape him. The day was an absolutely perfect—except that he felt like he had forgotten something important.


                      "Oh! Oh my goodness!” chortled a soft voice.


                      Ishmael froze with the cold terror cling to his spine with vice-like grip. Hesitantly, his gaze fell from the tops of the trees in the distance, and came to rest on the source of the cry; a matronly woman with wild reddish-brown hair, partially pulled into a thick braid that fell down her left shoulder. She stood at the base of the stairs that lead to the porch, her hands clasped over her mouth to hide a sly smile under her rosy cheeks; her eyes twinkled with a mischievous amusement as they took in what was in front of her. Ishmael felt a flushed heat rise up into his face, and his hands moved to cover himself as he threw himself back inside the small shack. In the sleepy haze of the morning, he had forgotten to get dressed before he had stepped outside.


                      The gypsy on the television was right! The spirits are against me!


                      Loud barks broke him from the stupor of the awkward moment and drew his attention to the window he was nearest to. There was the border-collie from the night before with its paws on the window, barking for all it was worth, the sound seemed like laughter coupled with the grin that split the dog’s muzzle. Ishmael lunged forward from the door in a crouch-walk and moved swiftly around the small shack to retrieve the scattered clothes from the floor to dress himself quickly. Whoever it was the dog had brought to his home—most likely its owner—he could not face them again without being dressed. He gathered his clothes; jeans, boxer-briefs, and red plaid shirt, hurriedly he slipped into the articles of clothing and moved back to his front door. The dog was still barking to his left, and through the right window he could see the unexpected guest move up the porch steps as she came closer to the door.


                      Ishmael inhaled deeply and opened the door; he could still feel the burn of heat in his cheeks as he spoke without eye-contact, “Uh, hello. Sorry for…that. I’m Ishmael, uh…how can I help you?”


                      She smiled wide and let out a bemused chuckle, clearly entertained by his embarrassment, “Hello Ishmael. I’m Marnie, your neighbor to the south,” she turned and looked at the border-collie with a smile, “I found this dog sitting outside the entrance to your farm! I think it’s a stray…poor thing. When I approached he turned and led me here to your door! I think he likes it here.”

                      Ishmael turned and looked down at the dog; the dog met his gaze with a big grin. Ishmael decided right then the dog was a cheeky little bastard. Before he could think of anything to say in reply, Marnie had leaned into his field of vision with a smile on her face; that sort of smile someone gives when they have something to ask, and want to make it that much harder for someone to refuse.


                      “Hey, um… Don’t you think this farm could use a dog?” she smiled wider, leaned in closer to him, and fluttered her eyes a few times, “What do you say? Will you take him in? What will you name him?”


                      Ishmael felt a flush in his cheeks as Marnie closed the space between them, and noticed the slight shift from a question to a statement. If she had asked if he could take the dog in, he would be able to refuse, as in he literally could not; but she asked if he would and that meant if he refused he was saying he could, but was too much of a jerk to give a stray dog a home. Ishmael sighed and nodded his head, “I guess…a dog could keep other animals away? I’m sure there are raccoons and other things that would steal any crop I make.”


                      Marnie gave a little hop in place and clapped her hands together with an excited cry, “And how about a name?”


                      How about Ass-Pain?


                      Ishmael cleared his throat, ” Uh…Boy? Boyo? Yeah, Boyo.”


                      Marnie arched her eyebrow, then smiled and turned to the newly-named dog, “Well, Boyo…you be a good dog now, okay?”


                      Boyo gave a bark and a wag in response. Marnie smiled brightly at Ishmael, turned and walked away towards the south-end of the Rod & Reel farm; she glanced back a few times as she went. Ishmael waved dumbly and looked down at the new canine occupant of his grandfather’s farm, “All that awkwardness was your fault, you know. I bet you’re one of those spirits the lady on the tube warned me about.”


                      Boyo wagged his tail, and ran off to run around the farm, likely to start marking it as his territory. Ishmael turned and walked to his mailbox; the little red flag on the side of the metal box was up. He opened the mailbox and removed several letters, each labeled for him officially, except for two—one had his name, and was likely from Mayor Lewis, while the other simply read, “Farmer”. His curiosity drove him to open the “Farmer” letter first, and read the note in a rough scrawl on the page.


                      Farmer,


                      I just got back from a fishing trip, and I heard you’re looking to take up the fine art of fishing! I got something for you, come and meet me down at the docks.


                      -Willie


                      Ishmael smiled, folded the note and tucked it into his back pocket; now he had a better idea of where he needed to go today. He opened the other note, and was greeted by a decent sum of money that the Mayor had left as his pay for the amount of wood, grass, and rocks he had managed to turn in the night before. It was a hefty sum for the work—Three-hundred and sixty in total—and would certainly come in handy, as he now had to shop for himself and the dog. He pocketed the money and stepped back up the stairs to his home to pack up for his trip to town; he would look at the other letters later on when he got home.


                      ---​


                      Not long later, Ishmael had changed to clean clothes and was ready for his trip into town; his tools and gear were tethered to his backpack for the long walk. Boyo met him at the bottom of the stairs and grinned up at him, his tail swayed hard enough to rock the dog’s hindquarters back and forth. Ishmael pursed up his mouth and gave the dog a half glare, “Alright trouble-maker. You can come along. I leave you here I’ll come back to some horror I can’t even imagine.”


                      Boyo barked and ran towards the eastern gate; Ishmael rolled his eyes and walked after the excited dog with a much more subdued pace. The two set out, and passed by the bus stop where Ishmael had first arrived. The bus was still there, broken as before; they had just left it there and not towed it away. That meant whoever around here was supposed to drive the bus from that stop to wherever it went was out of the job until that was fixed or replaced. Ishmael looked down to his side to see Boyo had settled in at his side, the dog’s pace matched his own. Boyo simply looked back at him, and then ran ahead of him again down the road. Ishmael chuckled, but maintained his pace—this was going to be a long walk and he could not afford to exhaust himself this early in the day.


                      The remainder of the walk was uneventful for the two until they came to Pelican Town. The various properties were all very close knit, but with enough space that the people could choose to walk from place to place or even use other modes of transportation. The homes and residences seemed to all be more along the west side of the town, and the majority of the other types were in the middle, or the east side of the town. As Ishmael approached the first store just after the clinic, he saw a familiar face near a bulletin board on the front of the small store, he smiled as he got closer, “Mayor! How are you?”


                      Mayor Lewis jumped in surprise, whatever he had his attention on had apparently had it in full, but the Mayor smiled and waved back at the approaching farmer, “Ishmael, good to see you! Here to do some shopping? While you’re in town you should introduce yourself to everyone as well, it’s always a good idea to get to know your neighbors.” his attention shifted to the border-collie at Ishmael’s side, his mustache twitched with a smile, “And who’s this? Is this your dog, or is he just following you?”


                      “That would be a little of column A, and a little of column B,” Ishmael said and smiled, “This is my dog, Boyo. A neighbor of mine came by the house this morning and asked if I would adopt him.”


                      “Marnie,” the Mayor nodded, “she sure does love animals. A few people around here call her the ‘animal mother’, though no one would say it to her face. She takes care of her animals like they were her children. Good woman.”


                      “Well, I’m going to take a peek into the store here, see what I can and introduce myself, then I need to go to the dock to meet the local fisherman.”


                      “Well don’t let me keep you then, boy. Get on with your day! Don’t waste it chatting up some old fart.” the Mayor chuckled and motioned towards the door to his right.


                      Ishmael chuckled, bid the Mayor goodbye as he stepped around him and in through the doors to the store with the jingle of a bell. Inside he could see a man behind the counter across the room, and two customers that browsed in the aisles. He walked across the hardwood floor through the aisles to look at the display of seeds, fertilizers, and various books on farming for people who wanted to learn. He took a few of the potato seed packets, parsnip packets, and a box of basic fertilizer from the shelf. With the items in hand, Ishmael walked to the counter to purchase the items.


                      The clerk gave him a quick glance over, smiled and extended his hand, “Hi, I’m Pierre; this is my humble little store. Welcome to Stardew Valley!”


                      Ishmael took the offered hand and shook it, “I’m Ishmael. I’m the new resident at the farm down the way from here.”


                      Pierre adjusted his glasses and smiled, his eyes flickered between the items placed on the counter and then back to Ishmael, “Explains the things you’ve got here. Anything else you’re looking for?”


                      Ishmael looked to the side at a backpack that was displayed on the counter, “That’s a bit bigger than my bag. What’s it cost?”


                      “That backpack there is priced at two-thousand gold. It’s hand-made with a lifetime guarantee; the maker said if I manage to sell it they’ll make another, bigger one.”


                      Ishmael coughed and laughed nervously, “Well, uh…just the seeds and fertilizer then.”


                      Pierre rung up the items, Ishmael paid, then reached for his purchases to place them in his bag and turned his head to look when he heard the jingle of bell by the door. A short man in a blue suit with thick, round glasses stepped into the store; there was something familiar about the man to Ishmael, though he was unsure if he had ever met the man before. The man in blue walked quickly across the floor, stopped just before the small carpet on the floor, and cleared his throat to gather the attention of those in the store; everyone turned to look at him.


                      “Come and get it folks! Fifty percent off coupons for your next purchase at Joja Mart! Any takers?”


                      Pierre let out a mortified cry as his customers flocked to the man as he waved the coupons over his head. Ishmael stood his ground and did not leave the register; he tried to remember who this man was and how he knew him. The customers flocked out of the store to go and use their new coupons, to the delight of the blue suited man, and Pierre’s horror.


                      “But…” Pierre whimpered, “I can’t match those prices! I’d be selling at a loss!”


                      The man approached the counter, with a smug smile and a strut; he spoke to Pierre with a false pity that quickly became blatant gloating, “It must be so difficult for you to lose your loyal customers like that. But can you blame them? Joja Mart is the clearly superior choice,” he grinned like a toddler with a cookie, and grabbed the lapels of his jacket, ”soon the whole town will realize that!”


                      Pierre folded his arms on the count and put his head down with a defeated groan. The man in the blue suit turned to Ishmael, and held out one of the coupons to him, “Ah, we have a holdout! Well, you just can’t beat our prices, and this coupon will—“


                      Ishmael raised his hand to stop the blue suited man, “Pass. No thanks.”


                      The man in blue was visibly irritated by the refusal, and tried to maintain his composure, “Well, I don’t think we’ve met. My name is Morris; I’m the manager of the local Joja Mart…”


                      Morris’ words faded into background noise as the gears clicked into place for Ishmael; now knew who this man was. He felt his pulse jump, and adrenaline run as he resisted the urge to lose his temper and throttle the smaller man, “No, I know exactly who you are. You need to leave…right now.”


                      “Well then,” Morris said and slid the coupon back into his jacket, “if you change your mind—“

                      “I won’t.”


                      “—ahem, if you change your mind. Joja Mart is just right across the bridge from here. Have a wonderful day!” Morris said with obvious disdain in his tone, and walked away. Ishmael could hear him mutter insults under his breath as he hurried out of the store.


                      Pierre smiled appreciatively towards Ishmael, “Thank you. But how do you know that underhanded little troll?”


                      Ishmael sighed, he felt deflated as sudden spike of adrenaline subsided with the return of his calm, “It’s a personal story, sorry.” Ishmael said as he packed his items into his backpack.


                      Before I go I should pick up some food for the house
                      , he thought as he stepped away from the counter and back into the aisles.


                      Ishmael quickly moved from shelf to shelf as he gathered a few canned goods, some snack foods, and a few gallons of water for the week. He brought them to the counter and set them down, “I’ll be needing a few more things before I go, since I won’t be going to Joja.”


                      Pierre smiled and leaned on the counter, “I think since you’re the only customer who stayed,” Pierre rung the items up, but then set the register to a completed sale, “one-time special, it’s on the house. Just…don’t tell anyone.”


                      Ishmael smiled and nodded his thanks as he packed up his groceries, and slung the bag over his shoulder. He turned, walked towards the door, and gave one final wave over his shoulder as he stepped through the door to continue the course of his day. Outside, Boyo had waited patiently for him. Ishmael scratched the dog’s ear; happy the dog had waited for him patiently without being told. They started the walk towards the south end of Pelican town towards the bridge to the beach, and Ishmael looked around at the various other houses, as well as the other stores in Pelican Town besides Pierre’s. He made mental notes to visit each of them before the day was over. He would do so as he introduced himself to the remainder of the valley’s residents; though that could take an entire week, unless he made it his sole priority.


                      With the bridge just ahead of them, the two continued on their way to the beach; Boyo ran ahead and across the bridge, excited to get to the beach and play. Ishmael shook his head and adjusted the straps of his backpack as he followed the lead of his canine companion towards their next destination. Ishmael could smell the sea in the air, and it brought back fond memories of days spent fishing with his grandfather. He stepped across the bridge onto the beach and took in the sight before him. The beach was well maintained, it was clean, and only had two shacks that he could see. One stood alone near the tree line, and the other, larger one sat alone out on the pier—a lone older man stood with a pole in hand. Ishmael took a deep breath, and walked towards the pier.

                      TBC...
                       
                      • Rod&Root

                        Rod&Root Void-Bound Voyager




                        Chapter 3: CATCHING UP WITH THE PAST




                        “Hold the line steady, boy!” Willy the old fisherman shouted.


                        Ishmael held the bamboo rod in his hands tightly as he reeled in the hooked fish, a determined smile plastered across his face as the line drew ever closer. The pole he had gotten from Willy was not the best he had ever used, but it was good enough until he could get a new one. Willy had promised he had some better ones were out of stock on backorder, and that they would arrive eventually, but with how out of the way Stardew Valley was it could take weeks. Ishmael could wait a few weeks, he would simply need to make do with the pole of bamboo he had to use in the meantime and with all the time he had spent fishing with his grandfather as a kid, he could do that easily.


                        The line had nearly been completely drawn back into the reel, and Ishmael gave a tug on the pole––the large fish shot out of the water like a scaled missile and onto the wooden dock. Willy gave a harsh laugh and used a net to scoop the still flopping fish from the dock. He appraised the fish with a glance, moved the net a little and nodded in approval at the catch, “Good job, boy, that’s a fairly healthy Halibut you caught there!” Willy rubbed at his beard and nodded again, “With a bamboo pole no less…fine angling indeed.”


                        Ishmael admired his own catch; he had caught much better fish in the past with his grandfather, but this was a great start to his two-part plan to really make something of the farm he was willed. He would plant vegetables for sure, but his main profit would come from fishing, and what did not become profit could be eaten. The halibut was more than just a fish––it was a great start. Willy stuck a pipe into his mouth and stuck a match into the bowl and began to puff out smoke from the side of his mouth, “You’re Thomas’ grandson alright. The man had a natural talent for the rod and reel, and that’s something only his kin would have,” Willy gestured with the mouthpiece of his pipe, ”I can see it in you, Ish my boy.”


                        Ishmael chuckled and shook his head, “You make it sound like I’m the avatar if Poseidon, Willy. You lay it on any thicker and you could fry the halibut in it.”


                        Willy laughed and slapped his knee, “You got your grandad’s smart mouth too, boy! Come on back to the shop sometime and we’ll see what I can give you for that halibut. I can show you some of my wares too. I’m a bit short of stock as of the moment, but I have some bait and a few lures you might find useful. Also, I can tell you about some of the sea beasts we have around here. Only a real fisherman could catch those monsters, and I think you might be just the lad for that job.” Willie bit down on his pipe for emphasis and cast his own line into the sea.


                        Ishmael looked out to the ocean ahead of him, smiled and cast his line into the waves. He had a lot of time left in the day and was not sure where he would go from here, but a little more time fishing was a good way to spend some of the time.


                        ---​


                        With his new pole and fish packed and ready to go, Ishmael walked off the boardwalk and onto the beach. His dog––Boyo––rolled in the sand and chased after crabs that walked out from the surf, occasionally he even charged into the water to play in the sea. Ishmael gave a sharp whistle to get the dog’s attention and Boyo looked out at him from the surf, “C’mon Boyo, we’re going into town to go and meet some of the townsfolk.”


                        As if he had said nothing, Boyo continued to play in the waves of seawater, completely ignoring Ishmael. The dog was still being an enormous pain in the rear.


                        “Dogs, right?” someone said from behind Ishmael. He turned around and came face to face with a well-dressed man with long hair. He chuckled and looked embarrassed to have drawn attention to himself, “How rude of me, sorry. I am Elliott, you must be the new farmer who moved to Stardew Valley, right?”


                        Ishmael stuck his hand out in front of him, “That’d be me. Call me Ishmael.”


                        Elliott’s eyes twinkled a bit and he smiled wide as he shook Ishmael’s offered hand, “Are you quoting Herman Melville?” Elliott stood up and straightened his red coat, “’It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to look as if he had a great secret in him’, though in your case perhaps it is true that there is more to you than meets the eye! I am a writer by profession myself, and hope someday to truly make a magnificent novel.” He suddenly grew very flustered, cleared his throat and straightened his tie, “Though, I may be sharing too much. I apologize, I am quite excitable at literature.”


                        Ishmael chuckled and shook his head, “Not at all. Passion for writing is never something to apologize for.”


                        “’A noble craft, but somehow a most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that.’” Elliott smiled, “I will stop quoting now, that must get most annoying.” Muffled barking came from the beach and caught Elliott and Ishmael’s attention; Boyo was on his way up to the two, with something in his mouth. He sat down on the sand between the two, his head cocked towards Elliot, the prize in his mouth a gift for him, “Well, what have we here? A lobster? This is a beautiful gift! Thank you!” Elliott took the offered lobster from Boyo and scratched behind his ear, “Well this was certainly a pleasure, gentlemen. Feel free to stop by sometime and we can talk some more. Always nice to meet new friends.”


                        Ishmael smiled and nodded, “Sure thing! I have a lot of folks around here to meet and get to know, I’ve only met a few so far. Maybe you can tell me more about this novel you’re writing when I stop by?”


                        “But of course!”


                        Ishmael and Boyo set back out towards Pelican Town, waving goodbye to Elliott as they went. Elliott gave them a wave and turned to walk towards the lone shack at the end of the beach, he almost seemed to glide across the sand with the elegance of his movements.


                        Ishmael looked down at Boyo, “How the hell did you catch a lobster without getting pinched?”


                        Boyo barked in response, and wagged his tail.


                        ---​


                        Over the bridge and into the heart of Pelican Town, Ishmael walked without a set destination towards the northmost part of town. He strode past Pierre’s shop, up a set of stairs, and towards a run-down building in the distance. Boyo trotted ahead of Ishmael and then broke into a sprint towards a lone figure in front of the building. Ishmael cursed and gave chase after the dog, worried he may tackle or maybe even attack whoever was ahead of them, as he approached he could see it was Mayor Lewis who stood before the dilapidated structure, and he looked positively depressed at the broken sight of the building in front of him. Boyo ran up to him, circled his legs a few times and ran away just as Ishmael caught up with the dog.


                        Ishmael stood next to the mayor and looked up at the large structure before them, “What’s the big attraction, mayor?” he said with a light wheeze.


                        Mayor Lewis turned to Ishmael and nodded in greeting, “Oh, hi there.” He turned back to the building in front of him and sighed, “What an eyesore; this is the Pelican Town Community Center…or what’s left of it anyway.” Mayor Lewis ran a hand over his mouth and chin, “It used to be the pride and joy of the town; always bustling with activity. Now just look at it! Its shameful. These days the young folk would rather sit in front of the TV than engage with the community.” he turned to Ishmael, “But listen to me, I sound like an old fool. Joja Corporation has been hounding me to sell them the land so they can turn it into a warehouse. Pelican Town could use the money, but there’s something stopping me from selling it. I guess old timers like me get attached to relics of the past. Ah well, if anyone else buys a Joja Co. Membership I’m just going to go ahead and sell it.”

                        Lewis stepped up to the door of the Community Center and unlocked it, “Come on, let’s have a look inside.” The door swung open on rusted hinges as the door men stepped inside of the run-down building. Inside was a small grass hut of some kind in the corner of the main room, “Hm, I guess Vincent and Jas must’ve been playing in here,” Lewis looked around sadly, “this place is even more dilapidated than I remember.”


                        A small creature seemed to pop into existence by the grass hut, and waved at Ishmael. Ishmael just about jumped out of his skin and stared wide-eyed at the small creature; it looked like an anthropomorphic green apple. Mayor Lewis turned quickly to where Ishmael’s gaze was fixed, and the creature popped back out of existence. Ishmael moved over to the spot, he sputtered at he spoke, “I-I saw something. Small, and it moved!”


                        “You saw something? I wouldn’t be surprised if this place were full of rats.” Lewis said with a reassuring smile. A few feet behind him, the small creature popped back into the room, it seemed to be amused by this and dancing. Ishmael pointed at the small green creature and stammered, Lewis turned to look, and the creature was gone again. He turned back to Ishmael and put his hands on the younger man’s shoulders, “You’re worrying me, Ishmael,” he said and released him, “I think I’m going to go home. I need to eat lunch. I’ll leave this place unlocked from now on, maybe you can find a way to catch that rat.” Lewis turned and walked out of the building, leaving Ishmael alone in the run-down building.


                        Ishmael looked around for the small creature, but did not see it again. He slowly walked backwards towards the door as he left the building, and closed the doors behind him. He took a few more steps and turned back to the Community Center with a raised eyebrow, “I know what I saw. I’ll be back to look into this a little more closely, something weird is going on with this place,” he pointed towards the Community Center, ”You hear me you little green…uh, thing? I will be back!”


                        The little creature popped into the window, waved at him and jumped back down from the window. Ishmael turned and walked back towards town. As he passed by Pierre’s shop where he had been earlier that day, he was sideswiped by another walker. The man wore a blue hoodie with a ‘J’ stitched into the left breast and a green numbered shirt. Ishmael straightened up as the two made eye contact, the stranger however was the first to speak up about the incident, “Why don’t you watch where you’re going, pal?”


                        Ishmael felt the kneejerk need to respond with something less than pleasant, but bit back on the impulse, “Calm yourself down, it was an accident.”


                        “I don’t have time for this.” the man in blue said and began to walk away again. Ishmael watched him slowly make his way towards a good-sized brick building. Ishmael thought a moment and remembered it was the local saloon that the man had gone into. He seemed to have been in quite a hurry to get there, and in a bad mood as well. Ishmael stalked after the man and followed him towards the pub with the intent of making a nuisance of himself.


                        Ishmael approached the saloon door and steeled himself to enter; Boyo let out a snort and laid down by the saloon door. Ishmael leaned down and patted Boyo’s head, “Easy. I’ll be back out soon, then we’ll head home.” Boyo licked his hand as if to give him permission to enter the building, and Ishmael pushed through the door. He walked up to the bar counter and made sure to sit directly next to the scruffy looking man from outside, “Well, we meet again.”


                        “Why are you talking to me like you know me?” he snorted and gave Ishmael a side glance, “Gus, Beer!” in a moment, the bartender had a full mug of beer and slid it down the bar and into the man’s waiting hand. He immediately set to his drink, and ignored Ishmael. Ishmael chuckled and held up a hand to get Gus’ attention.


                        “Gus, right? Nice to meet you, I’m Ishmael.” He held out his hand, ”Thomas’ grandkid. I just moved into the farm yesterday.”


                        Gus smiled and took his hand, “Ah! Good to meet you, kid! You look a bit like your old grandad before age started to get to him––bearded and burly!” he laughed and leaned on the counter, “What’ll you have, kid?”


                        Ishmael smiled and thought a moment, “Pizza, pepperoni and mushroom. You have any hard root beer?”


                        Gus smiled and nodded, “Sure do. I’ll get that pizza up for you in a bit.” Gus turned and walked away from the counter.


                        Ishmael could hear more people shuffle into the saloon as it became a bit livelier inside. He turned to his right and looked at the man in blue, “So do you spend your days running into people and blaming them, or is that more of a hobby than a job? Not in the habit of giving out your name either, are you?”


                        “It’s Shane. Not that it’s your business farmer boy. I just want to sit here and have a few drinks before I go home––in peace, so if you don’t mind?” he made to wave Ishmael away from him with his hand. When Ishmael did not move he stared at him, “You’re starting to aggravate me.”


                        “Something tells me that’s not particularly hard to do, so I apologize if I don’t start feeling like I’ve accomplished something.” Ishmael grinned, “Tell you what? Since I’m being so nosey right now, you order another beer. If I can make you stop being a grumpy little turd, you share my pizza and tell me why you’re acting so hostile towards a complete stranger. If I can’t, I’ll find another part of the saloon to haunt; deal?”


                        “What have I got to lose?” Shane shrugged and raised his hand up to order another beer, “You’ve got until I finish the next beer.” He said and downed the rest of his first drink.


                        Ishmael rubbed his chin and chuckled as he started to speak, but kept his voice low enough that in the noise of the saloon, only Shane would hear him, “Alright, I’ll tell you a story: A man walks into a bar, and sees a strange-looking bird sitting on the barkeep’s shoulder. He asks the man what kind of bird it is, ‘It’s my Crunchbird!’ the bartender explains.

                        ‘What’s a Crunchbird?’ asks the patron.

                        ‘Watch!’ says the bartender as he puts a scrap of newspaper on the counter and says, ‘Crunchbird my paper!’ the bird flies down and shreds the paper until its confetti.

                        Amazed the customer puts his shoe on the counter and exclaims, ‘Crunchbird my shoe!’ and the bird lets into the shoe and tears it up until it’s just a few bits of leather and string.

                        Suddenly, in walks this guy, making a nuisance of himself––spilling drinks, pushing people around, you know the type. He walks up to the counter and slams down his hand and shouts, ’Get me a drink, right no––what the hell kind of bird is that?!’

                        ‘Its my Crunchbird!’ the bartender explains.

                        ‘Pfft, Crunchbird my ass!’”


                        Shane sprayed his beer across the counter, alternating between laughter and coughing as he shook with laughter, “That’s not fair! You said it was a story! Not a joke!” he said between his dual fits.


                        Ishmael laughed and shook his head, “No weaseling out of it now, tough guy. Deal’s a deal.”


                        ---​


                        A few hours passed between the two as they ate the pizza and talked. Shane admitted he had been having problems with his lot in life and that he did not enjoy his job, but did not know what to do with his life. Ishmael was able to relate, as he had worked for Joja for a time himself before there had been a particularly large problem that set the wheels in motion for the end of his time with them, but he did not share what it had been. Shane listened and laughed at their shared experiences, and gave Ishmael a playful shove that almost sent himself backward off his seat, but Ishmael caught his arm and dragged him back onto the bar stool, “Y’know what? I shink I owesh you an apogelly….apogelly….a shorry.” Shane slurred and swayed in his seat, “You’re not sho bad, Ishpmael. I’d shay you’re a shtand up guy…but you’re not shtanding!” Shane cackled and leaned against the bar, “Ohhh man…good thing my Aunt Marnie’sh here. I’m going to need a ride home,” Shane pointed behind Ishmael, “That’sher right d’ere.”


                        Ishmael though buzzed, had drank much less and had his faculties still intact as he turned to look where Shane was pointing, and froze when he saw the woman from this morning sitting at a table with a glass of wine. She was alone, though looked like she was waiting for a friend to show up. She turned her head to the bar, and smiled when she made eye contact with Ishmael; a little red came into her cheeks and she gave him a wink and a wave. Ishmael felt his cheeks burn with embarrassment again and he offered a polite raise of his hand before he turned back to the bar quickly. He heard Marnie snicker as if his ears had been finely tuned to catch that one noise in the entire bar.


                        Ishmael gave Shane a pat on his shoulder and chuckled weakly, “Well, I need to start on my own way home, lots of farm stuff tomorrow. Uh, I’ll see you around Shane. Nice to know we managed to get off the wrong foot from earlier.”


                        Shane chuckled, “H’yup! We’re palsh now. See y’round town!”


                        Ishmael dropped the money he owed Gus on the counter, said goodnight to the barkeeper, and turned to make his way towards the door. He tried not to make eye contact with Marnie at her table as he slipped out of the saloon and into the night. Once outside Boyo glared at him in a judgmental way. Ishmael shrugged as he looked down at the dog, “What? You think I forgot about you?” Ishmael pulled a sandwich bag of ground beef from his coat pocket and held it out to Boyo. The dog greedily ate the meat, wagged its tail and gave what looked like a smile to Ishmael, “There. All good? We’ve got a long walk home from here.


                        ---​


                        The walk seemed longer on the way back than it had on the way to Pelican Town. Ishmael could swear he could hear something in the woods, but when he would stop to listen, the sounds would stop as well. Boyo had noticed the noises too and was visibly on alert––there was definitely something out there. Ishmael had taken his wood axe from his back and held it low and at his side as he watched the woods around him. Suddenly the bushes by the side of the road rustled, Ishmael held his axe at the ready and Boyo fixed on the spot alert and ready. A doe jumped out of the woods, stared at the two as if they were doing something incredibly silly and bounded back into the woods across the path from where she had jumped out. Ishmael relaxed at the sight of the doe and smiled at Boyo, “I guess I’m just letting my imag––“


                        A dark figure sprung from the woods behind Ishmael and struck him in the head with a broken branch it had snagged. Ishmael stumbled, groaned and tried to stomp towards his attacker, but the blow to his head had taken its toll and he fell forward onto the ground as he passed into unconsciousness. Boyo snarled and barked, the figure hissed and swung the branch at the dog until he bounded away into the woods after a final bark. The figure knelt by Ishmael’s side and began to pat him down, “Has to have a wallet…I need ID.” He found Ishmael’s wallet in his pants pocket and pulled it out, he dug into the wallet until his found a driver’s license.


                        He held his prize before him and used a small light to illuminate the card, the illumination reflected off the spectacles on Morris’ face, “Age…height…eyes…hair…bingo! Yes, now I know who you are! You look a lot different with that beard,” he kicked Ishmael in the ribs several times, accented with angry grunts, ”You’re the reason I’m stuck in this backwoods hick town!” Morris dropped the wallet and license on the ground, “What are you doing here, though, I wonder?” a thought came to him and he began to panic, “He’s seen that I’m here!” Morris grabbed handfuls of his hair and paced, “No! No, no, no! The company lied to the courts and said I’d been terminated when they moved me here. If he tells anyone, I’ll be finished!”


                        Morris scrambled along the ground and grabbed the axe that had fallen at Ishmael’s side, “No, I’ll…I’ll make this look like a bear attack! He’ll be out of the way and no one will be any the wiser!” Morris raised the wood axe over his head. He hesitated, could he murder a man for his career at Joja Corporation? Yes, as unpleasant as this was, it was necessary––his position with Joja Corporation was his life, his very identity was tied to the company. Morris tensed to swing the axe, but before he was able to swing the axe down Boyo shot out of the woods like a missile and latched onto Morris’ forearm. Morris dropped the axe with a shriek as the dog’s maw clamped down onto his arm. He struck Boyo on the nose and managed to free his arm from the dog’s jaws; Morris knew he was beaten for now, and ran away from the scene as fast as his stubby legs would take him with his hand clamped around the wound on his forearm. He needed to escape, he could not be found here by anyone and that dog would tear him apart if he did not put enough distance between them. He would deal with his problem another day and in another way.


                        With the danger over, Boyo stood protectively over Ishmael’s unconscious form as he watched the figure of Morris disappear into the night. There was not much else the dog could do. The silence of the night was suddenly broken by the growl of an engine, and a pair of headlights came into view. The vehicle rolled to a stop a few feet away from the scene, and a man jumped out of the jeep, “My god! What happened here?!” he slowly approached the downed figure and his canine protector, Boyo growled softly and the man raised his hands to show he meant no harm, “Easy boy. I’m a doctor, I’m going to help him.”


                        The doctor checked Ishmael’s head, he sucked his teeth at the sight of the wound he found, “I need to get him back to the clinic. This could be a concussion, he’s going to need treatment and observation.” The doctor tried to lift Ishmael by his shoulders, but found he did not have the strength to lift the heavy burden. He had to drag the heavier man to his vehicle, and it took some time to load him into the vehicle. Once he had loaded Ishmael, Boyo had hopped into the vehicle and laid on the floor near where Ishmael lay prone on the back seat. The doctor climbed back into his vehicle, buckled himself in and turned his vehicle around, they were going back to Pelican Town. Boyo looked at the doctor in the front seat of the jeep, and whimpered softly.


                        “Don’t worry, my canine friend; Doctor Harvey hasn’t lost a patient yet.”


                        To Be Continued…






                        At least this chapter came out faster than the last. Anyone who gives a read, let me know what you think.
                         

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