Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog, Sam Emerson
Spoilers: If you haven't seen the movie you're unlikely to be reading this. But still very few if any.
Synopsis: Edgar has lost his voice. Sam tries to have some fun with it, Edgar gets revenge.
It was a slow time of year on the Santa Carla boardwalk. The town liked to boast that it was an all year round resort, but in reality people stopped coming when the temperature dropped a little, many of the rides and smaller shops shut down during the winter months, their owners heading off on their own vacations for the low season.
Not Frog's Comics. It was an all year round attraction. The regulars still came in once a week, collected their orders, perused the shelves for anything new and interesting, or old and even more interesting, and then left. Gaps between customers were long and boring.
Normally, Edgar hated the lack of things to do, but right now he was glad it. He took a deep breath, it caught uncomfortably in the back of his throat and and he exhaled in three horrible sounding coughs that moved the phlegm around inside his chest, the revolting sound made him wince in disgust. He sounded like an old man with a forty a day habit. He gasped for another breath, then reached in his pocket for a Kleenex, blew his nose loudly and dropped it into the trash. Frogs Comics, open rain or shine, in sickness and in health.
Sam, their most regular customer, to the point where when he wasn't there it felt like they were an employee down, was sitting a few feet away from him. He stared at him in disgust, then pointedly shuffled his chair a few inches further away. Edgar glared at him.
“If you don't want to be around me, feel free to leave.”
At least, that was what he intended to say. What actually came out of his mouth, however, was a series of squeaks and rasps, accompanied by a whisper too quiet to be picked up by human hearing. Edgar clenched his hand into a fist and dug the knuckles into his leg in silent frustration.
The corners of Sam's mouth twitched in amusement.
Two days. Two days without the power of speech. It was enough to drive a person insane.
“Still can't talk, huh?” Sam said. “That must be annoying.” He turned the last page of his comic book, closed it. The off season boredom had been getting to him too, and he was clearly eager for entertainment. The mischievous smile on his face told Edgar that for today, he might be it. “Did you ever get around to re-arranging those Superman comics?” he asked. “Because I could do it now, if you want. Say something if you'd rather I didn't.”
Edgar crossed his arms and looked at Sam levelly. Sam knew he liked the comics as they were, they had argued about it several times before, Edgar always won.
Not getting the rise he was hoping for, Sam tried a different tactic. “Did I ever tell you how terrible your dress sense is?” His hand reached into a bag of sweets on the counter, and he popped one in his mouth, sat back and looked at Edgar like he was a movie screen, waiting for the action.
Edgar shrugged. Sam was not good at insulting him. His dress sense, really? He knew Sam was just trying to irritate him, and he had a surprisingly poor grasp of what would do the trick but it was still annoying not to be able to respond, even if just to throw an insult back.
He opened his mouth and tried to speak again, trying to make his voice higher, and then lower in the hopes that something would get through. Again, nothing. It was like something in his throat wasn't connecting. It was made worse by the fact that his throat itself wasn't even sore, it was just... non-functional.
Sam listened attentively to the sound of Edgar trying to speak, then nodded as though he had understood. “Why, yes, I would like to read your comic book,” he said, as if that was what he had heard in the attempted insult.. He reached over and slid Edgar's copy of the latest Batman toward him. He turned it back to the front page.
Edgar opened his mouth to protest, but stopped himself just in time. Instead of snatching the book back again and risking ripping the merchandise, he calmly got to his feet, walked around Sam and took another copy from the shelf. The advantage of working in a comic book store was that there was never any shortage of reading material.
At the other side of the shop, Alan had set himself the task of picking up the slack left by Edgar's sick day. He was busily rearranging one of the shelves to display the things they wanted to sell quickly more prominently. Edgar glanced over to him and waved a hand in his direction. Alan didn't notice.
Edgar sighed and clicked his fingers in the air to get his brother's attention. Both Alan and Sam looked up to locate the source of the sound. Edgar then performed a series of taps on the shelf. Sam watched in interest as Alan listened intently and then nodded.
“He said 'asshole',” Alan said. “I assume he meant you.” He glanced at Edgar for clarification.
“Yeah, you're an asshole.” Alan confirmed. He turned back to his work.
Sam grinned. “Was that Morse code? Cool! You guys have to teach me.”
Edgar opened his mouth and squeaked again. He rolled his eyes.
“Yeah,” Alan said. “We thought it might come in handy. It doesn't though, really. Except for times like now. We should probably have learned sign language instead, most of the times we need to communicate without talking is in close quarters when we need to keep silent.”
“Sign language,” Sam nodded. “Yeah, that'd be even better.” He smiled at Edgar in mock sympathy, and let the false emotion spill into his voice. “I bet you wish you'd learned that now, don't you, Ed?”
Edgar gritted his teeth at the abbreviation of his name. Ed was slightly better than Eddie, but not by much, and Sam knew it. He treated him to a universally recognized hand gesture.
Sam's eyes widened as he feigned shock.
“That's one we do know,” Alan said with a smile as he moved a little closer. “We've also developed a few of our own. Signs for stop, quiet, stake, garlic, things that are useful in the field.” As he said each word, he demonstrated the sign for Sam, who watched and copied.
Edgar left them to their uninteresting conversation and found his page in the new comic book. Most conversations were uninteresting when he couldn't participate. He glanced outside, it was starting to rain. Perfect. He leapt to his feet, pointing at the comic display outside, clicking his fingers, coughing and wheezing in place of words.
Alan was frustratingly slow to understand. It wasn't until Edgar ran outside that he got the message and joined him in the rain to pull the display back inside. Once the comic books were safe, Edgar sat back down. He looked at the desk. His own comic had not so mysteriously disappeared again.
Edgar clicked his fingers again and tapped on the desk. Alan listened.
“He says thanks for helping,” Alan translated. He frowned. “Do actually mean thanks to me, or are you trying to be sarcastic about Sam?”
Edgar sighed. Sarcasm didn't work in Morse. He pointed at Sam, who was still sitting reading his comic book.
Sam frowned, “Me? What? I don't speak lost-voice, I didn't know what you were saying til it was too late. Anyway, you guys work here, I'm a paying customer.” He rustled in the bag of sweets and popped another one in his mouth, before turning it around to offer one to the brothers.
Edgar clenched both hands into fists and held them there, letting the tension go into them. Paying customer? Sam hadn't bought a single thing from the store in weeks. He turned up, he read the latest issues, he took his favorites home and usually promised to pay when he got his allowance. He had built up an impressive tab. Edgar really wanted to say something, but tapping it out on the wall and listening to his brother translate his words wasn't quite the same. Besides, what he wanted to say dripped with sarcasm, and they had already established that that art was lost to him for the time being. Instead he filed away the words for later use.
“So what did you think of the new Batman?” Sam asked.
The comic book that Sam had stolen twice. Edgar automatically tried to answer. He watched his supposed friend smirk at the unintelligible sound, and felt anger rise again. That was enough. Sam was having way too much fun with this. He didn't seem to get how frustrating it was to be robbed of the ability to communicate.
In his head, Edgar began to plot. He wondered whether a good punch in the throat would render him speechless for a couple of days. But no, too dangerous. He wanted Sam to suffer, but he didn't want to risk crushing his windpipe.
What he really needed to do was infect Sam with the same bug that was currently ruining his week. He felt the smile spread across his face and saw Sam notice it.
“What are you so happy about?” Sam asked.
Edgar shook his head dismissively and began to tap again. This was a longer one. He took it slowly, making clear the gaps between words and giving Alan time to work out what he was saying, he didn't want to have to repeat the whole thing. A pen and paper would have been so much easier. He decided to remember that for tomorrow if he was no better. But for now it was probably not a good idea to write this down anyway.
When he was finished, Alan frowned. Edgar's heart sank as he contemplated redoing the whole message. Yes, sign language was definitely next on their to do list.
“Are you sure?” Alan asked.
Edgar smiled in relief, and nodded.
“Well, you could...” Alan stopped, glanced at Sam and then tapped a possible solution on the shelf next to where he was standing.
Sam noticed tapping coming from the wrong brother and realized something was being concealed. He looked up with a frown. “What's going on?”
Edgar ignored him and shook his head in response to Alan's suggestion. By acting like he had, Sam had initiated a prank war. There was no way he was going to drink anything Edgar gave him, he would know something was up. He tapped again.
“Really?” asked Alan. His eyes sparkled with amusement.
Alan shrugged and made his way across the store towards them. Sam turned to watch him. “Does someone want to tell me what's going on?” he asked a little nervously.
“You've made Edgar angry,” Alan said with a badly concealed grin. “He wants revenge.”
Without any further warning, Alan pounced, grabbing Sam from behind and pinned Sam's arms behind his back. Sam struggled and protested, but he was no match for vampire hunter muscle. “Come on, Alan! Two on one isn't fair!” he tried. “What did I do to you?”
“When you make Edgar angry and then go home, I wind up suffering for it,” Alan told him. “Anyway, relax; you're probably going to enjoy this. I know he is.”
Sam struggled again, but eventually realized it was pointless and surrendered. With a vaguely terrified expression on his face, he stood still, waiting to see what was going to happen to him.
Edgar advanced slowly, menacingly.
“What are you doing?” Sam asked. An edge of hysteria crept into his voice that Edgar found quite satisfying.
He leaned forward, putting his face right up to Sam's. Sam tried to lean back as far as he could, but Alan held him firm. Edgar took a breath and slowly exhaled into Sam's mouth and nose. Sam tried to turn his head away, but Edgar grabbed him with one hand on either side of his face, holding him firmly in place. Then, he leaned forward a little closer, letting his lips brush against those of his victim.
Sam went very still, knowing what was coming and powerless to escape. Edgar smiled. His lips parted slightly, and made contact with Sam's again.
Sam resisted at first, but quickly surrendered. Whether he responded through instinct, or whether he knew he had probably already caught the bug and he might as well enjoy it, Edgar didn't know, but Sam opened his mouth in response, accepted Edgar, and kissed him back.
Sam's mouth tasted of the strawberry flavor sweets he had been eating. Edgar closed his eyes and enjoyed the moment, but it was over all too soon when a bout of coughing forced him to stop. He took a step back and looked at Sam. The younger boy's expression was a mixture of shock, bewilderment and happiness.
Edgar took a moment to examine his handiwork, then he leaned forward again, toward Sam's ear this time.
He spoke as clearly as he could, still a collection of squeaks and rasps, but at this proximity he was sure that Sam could make out the underlying whisper. “Germ warfare,” he said.
He nodded to Alan, who released his death grip on Sam's arms and patted him once on the shoulder, sympathetically. Sam sank back to his chair wordlessly, still not taking his eyes off of Edgar. His cheeks were flushed. It was too soon to be the virus kicking in. Edgar turned away, victorious. He picked up his comic book from the desk in front of Sam, and resumed reading.
Revenge was always sweet.
Sometimes, it was even sweeter still.
And sometimes, it tasted of strawberry.