Jazz and the Great Shiny
© December, 2014
For David, Lord of the Castle. Merry Christmas
For David, Lord of the Castle. Merry Christmas
The Great Shiny was in peril!
Jazz rushed back to the lair, his most recent quest to gather the pretty things completely forgotten. He had to get back and find out why the Great Shiny was going to be dropped by the tall persons. Their curious ways had baffled him since leaving the sneaky-sneaky place. He grew too bored with their snip and steal missions. He'd left that behind in his quest for the shinnies all around, and the wonder that happened on Apples Island. Funny name for a tall persons place, Jazz thought, as he ducked around the pipes beside the speedy worm tunnels to his home. Not an apple tree in sight around Apples Island City. Lots of tall persons, though. And some of them now threatened the Great Shiny itself.
This could not be allowed!
Jazz stopped and looked around before entering his lair. It was a habit the ferret boy had long held. It protected his shiny collection, that extra step of vigilance. Who know if the sneak-sneaky tall persons would find him again, like last spring when they caught him breaking into the rent-some-junk shop. The tall persons had such weird ideas about what to do with shiny things. Jazz knew that he should collect, clean, catalog and stare at the most interesting shinnies in order to understand the Great Shiny better.
But all that required he be sneakier than the sneaky-sneaky tall persons. After checking that no persons of any kind were around, and taking a moment to scratch an itch on his thick tail, Jazz pushed the lever that opened the broken down side door washing machine and hopped inside.
As the door closed, he bent over and began rapidly running on all fours, causing the barrel of the washing machine to rotate. The barrel suddenly lurched backwards and started moving diagonally downwards. Jazz kept running, until the barrel hit the bottom of its traverse. The sudden stop caused Jazz to plow into the side of the barrel directly in front of his face. The barrel then slipped forward and tilted, dumping Jazz out onto a pile of used, dirty mattresses, discarded towels that were equally foul, and a single empty bucket of KFC that never seemed to get knocked over, no matter how many times Jazz used his main entrance.
The barrel retracted with a protracted SPROING sound and went back up to the entry. Jazz himself took a moment to consider finding an easier secret way into his lair. Usually, that consideration took about the same time as it took him to feel undizzy after using the washer barrel like a hamster wheel. He came to the same conclusion, that even if he did find another way to get in, it wouldn't be as much fun.
When his eyes focused again, he stood and hopped over the bed-place with all the piled cushions and blankies, and started up his 'puter. It obviously was the best type in Apple Island City, because it had a picture of a fruit with a bit out part on the back. He waited for it to connect to his secret internet tunnel path and considered how he'd get the information he needed.
Obviously he couldn't just ask the tall persons. First of all, they had very bad manners and accents. Every time he tried to have a simple conversation with someone in the big trees area, they all ran away, screaming. Jazz didn't understand that game, and some of the things they yelled were very, very rude. Even the short tall persons used the naughty words.
Jazz thought about maybe seeing if that falcon at the bright tower might have an idea. But it was dangerous talking to him. He usually only had food on his mind. No time for games with him.
Another option was seeing if the sneaky-sneakies had any information. It was getting risky tapping into their private 'puter 'work, though. They nearly caught him that time he got the plans for the fort place where all the yellow shiny was kept. Jazz still hoped to free that shiny one day. Being yellow shiny and underground probably made that shiny unhappy.
He briefly considered asking David if he knew anything about how the shiny was in danger of dropping. He'd talked to David before, but usually that confused him. Jazz wasn't sure if David was a tall person or another ferret person like himself. David had a lot of ideas that Jazz didn't really understand, but he liked to hear David talk about them. And then there was the spelly-wordy game they played on the 'puter…
No, no, no. Later for that, Jazz thought, patting his head over his right eye. Got to think about how to help the Great Shiny. Got to content-trate!
Twenty minutes of checking on the web, and Jazz found his first clue. He had to turn off the three games he was playing at the same time, but the searching was more important. Something about the Time Square, but the document didn't say where in the Time Square. It was a huge place, especially for a young ferret person. But the web page did mention when as well as where. Midnight point between the December 31st and the January 1st. The new year starter. Oh, how ironic that the tall persons wanted to destroy the Great Shiny just as everything was shiny and new again on the year-map. And as fate would have it, that night was tonight.
He picked up his tablet and slipped it into his mini-pack. The screen was almost as wide as Jazz was across the shoulders, but he'd long ago hacked the device so he had constant access to his 'puter. It would keep him on the map.
Jazz then ran around and made sure his various shinnies were all okay. The dark shinnies with their glossy tops. The clear shinnies, looking lots sharper than they were with all those color lines sparking inside. The red and green and blue clear stone shinnies. Even his plastic shinnies, about half of which could be had for just two Georgie heads and a spin in the glass jars. Or a couple of washers if you're a clever ferret.
Once he was sure his treasures were safe, he got the stuff he'd taken when he'd run away from the sneaky-sneaky tall persons. The red dot maker. The short stretchy ropes with the hooks on the ends. The beep-beep maker, that one was always fun for messing with the tall ones.
He also packed in two of the energy bars, his earpiece radio receiver, three foil packs of Capri Sun drinks, a small ball of fishing line with two lead weights, and, on a whim, the little troll doll with the neon green hair.
Then he quickly got into his disguise. A pair of baggy cargo shorts that dragged the ground, a big t-shirt that said "I'm with stupid," and had an arrow pointing down, a worn jean jacket with a hoody sewn into the neckline, a New York Rangers cap and a pair of large sunglasses. He pulled his pack on and looked at his reflection in the wall shiny. He looked like any tall ones teenie boy you might see on the speedy worms.
It didn't take long to navigate the speedy worms to get to the Time Square. Jazz was always worried about entering Time Square. If he was in there too long, and his time there was squared instead of like other places in Apple Island City, there was a greater chance that someone might swoop his lair and find all his shinnies. Bad enough that there were places in Apple Island City that they said never slept or where they said that time went by too quickly, but to make a place where time was times itself? Crazy tall persons. They even had to have small boxes are the city to buy extra New York Time.
As Jazz was getting on one speedy worm, he passed a father absorbing some New York Time while his young son sat beside him. The boy saw Jazz entering the worm entering area and tugged at his father's coat.
"Daddy, look! It's Rocket!"
"Uh huh, that's nice, Johnny. Daddy's reading the sports section."
"But Daddy, It's Rocket! From the movie!"
"Okay, son," the tall person said, still nose deep in his time gathering.
Jazz pointed his fingers at the boy, like in the cowboy movies and grinned. The tall one child giggled and made the cowboy fingers back as the doors closed on the speedy worm. Jazz found a seat and hopped up, knowing he'd have several worm stops before he got to the right crawl out place. Just enough time for a quick yawn nap...
Jazz woke with a start, his body twitching like he'd fallen, but surging with adrenaline. He looked around and saw he was still riding the seat on the speedy worm, but he'd obviously missed his stop. The worm had already gone back to the uptown. He needed to be more downtown.
But the worm was heading uptown. Jazz needed to move, quick. So at the next stop he hopped out and bounded up the stairs to street level. His disguise had worked so far, but he knew that running on all fours above ground would attract attention. He needed to hurry.
As he climbed the steps up, he noticed the sky was dark. Which meant he'd slept a lot longer than he'd realized. He had been on the worm for hours, and the Great Shiny only had a short time before the tall one assassins intended to drop it off the building.
Many tall persons were in the streets. But unlike when they did the required walks during the daytime, they were dressed nicer, they were making the "whoo-hooo," noise and had shinnie-shinnies all over themselves. If Jazz hadn't been so pressed for time, he might have felt a strong urge to follow some of these weird tall ones around and try to, uhmm, acquire a few of these shinnies. Some of the shinnies even made noises! What fun!
Jazz joined in with the crowd, feeling that the tall persons were in a good mood. No one paid him much attention and he managed to slip between clumps of tall persons having conversations as he moved south. He crossed the streets with the signals, stayed clear of the parking meters and even managed to avoid the unwanted nosings of some tall person's growly-pet. Things were going well, but he needed to go faster. He looked around for a southbound speedy worm tunnel.
That's when Jazz walked face first into the butt of a tall person cop. He'd been looking around instead of looking where he was going and turned his face to the front just in time to bonk off the police person's round backside. It sat Jazz down, and made the police person turn to see who'd bumped him.
"You okay there, little guy?" the cop asked, bending over to give Jazz a hand up. Forgot the paw covers! Jazz thought, terrified. His little claws would be detected, his not-tall-person paw hands would be a dead giveaway that Jazz was working for the Great Shiny and his mission would be over even before he could get to the Time Square.
"Jazz okay," he said, pushing up to his feet. "Not watching where goes. Very sorry."
"Where's your parents?"
"Oh, right there. Mom, wait up!" Jazz called, tugging his mini-pack up on his shoulder more and hurrying to melt back into the crowds. He could feel the police tall person's eyes still on him until he was many steps away, but his keen ears still heard the police person mutter under his breath "Huh, tourists."
Tall persons were still something of a mystery to Jazz. Some were all happy and laughing and being noisy while others were huddled in the shadowy narrow parts between the buildings. As he walked down, trying to avoid being trampled, he stepped left into an alleyway, where a pair of young tall ones were shivering together around a small fire of burning garbage. The young tall persons seemed to be alone without a tall person elder to guide them. From what Jazz had observed, that usually wasn't good for such young ones. Something bad must have happened.
Jazz frowned at this. Without thinking, he popped the two protein bars out of his mini pack and slid them across the ground to the two short tall ones. They looked over as the light of their meager fire glittered cheerily off the metallic wrappers. Then they looked up at Jazz, slightly worried.
"Go on, friends," Jazz said, motioning with his paws. "For you."
One of the boys reached out and pulled the bars to his chest, before handing one to his companion. The other looked at Jazz and smiled big. "Thank you!" the smiley short tall person said.
Jazz waved and then pulled his tablet out of the mini pack. A flick of his paw over the screen and his map app flickered to life. He was off course. He'd been heading downtown, but the shift and flow of partying tall persons had drifted him several blocks from the nearest speedy worm tunnel.
"Oh, Jazz. Must get to station."
"Station?" one of the boys asked around a mouthful of energy bar.
"Jazz must hurry. The Shiny is in trouble. Must get to the Time Square."
"Your name is Jazz?" the other boy asked, his breath billowing before his face.
"Yes. Chester Z. Arthur. Jazz for shorts."
The short tall persons looked down at Jazz's tablet. "I know that station," the older of the two said. "There's a short cut. Here. They're doing construction on this block. You could cut across the corners and save almost four blocks. It's right through there." He turned and pointed to a large culvert. "If you follow that pipe, you'll come out in the cellar of the building, but the ground floor's unfinished. You can get out easily."
"Jazz can save time?"
"Yeah," the smaller short tall person said, still chewing.
"Thank you, friends. Jazz must hurry."
"Good luck!" the older short person said as Jazz packed up and bolted for the culvert.
"Wow, he's like a mutant, huh? Like an X-Man."
"Naw. He's something different. But he's cool."
"I hope he gets to do whatever he's got to do."
Jazz hopped out the end of the culvert. He'd had a bit of fun in the tight confines of the tube, actually able to run on all fours fast enough to charge up the sides of the narrow culvert and loop over. He leapt out into the basement of the new building, bouncing along. He easily slipped past the construction equipment and piles of supplies, around partly constructed parts of the structure waiting to be hauled into place. Jazz was in the zone!
Climbing out of the partly constructed basement, Jazz quickly melted back into the crowd, heading south. His disguise had picked up some dirt and mud, but he felt he could still pass a tall person's casual glance long enough to vanish in the mass of walking, loud persons. He managed to sneak into the speedy worm station and on a southbound worm without further incident. He was suddenly quite hungry. He settled sucking down one of the foil packs of liquid. Those other small tall persons needed the food more. Jazz would have to forage later.
He got out of the worm tunnel at the right station this time. The groups of tall persons were more active here. Some were singing, badly, while others were sharing liquids and dancing oddly. He managed to weave through the tall ones resisting the urge to search them for "unnecessary" shinnies he could liberate. His mission was guiding him.
He walked a few blocks and found himself in the Time Square. There were many many security tall persons, but not nearly enough for all the other tall persons who were busy enjoying themselves. Streets had been blocked off to roller traffic. Jazz had to really struggle to move through the throngs of tall persons. Their movements were less logical and orderly down here. Clearly the squared time thing was affecting them oddly.
Jazz jumped up on a steel fence blocking the highway and looked around. The whole of the Time Square was shiny. Brilliant lights flashed with the names of the gods. Cocacola, Sony, iPhone, all these were blinked and flashed and lit up. Jazz felt his tail tingle with excitement. His right paw shivered slightly.
"Oh Great Shiny," he breathed out reverently. "You hide among so many of your children. But I can not helps you if I can not finds you."
"Hey little man," one of the tall persons said near Jazz. He looked around and saw the tall person looking at him. "Tha's a great trick! How you do dat, man?"
"Jazz not a man," the ferret boy said, petulantly.
"Right on! How'd you do that, though?"
"Do what?" Jazz asked, beginning to think he needed to not be talking to this tall person.
"Like all balancing on one foot on that barrier, man?"
"Oh," Jazz said, and he pointed off towards a police tall person in the distance. "He taught me."
The speaking tall person looked around and Jazz took that moment to bolt. He quickly made his way to the nearest building and hid in its shadow. A door on the side of the building opened and Jazz dashed inside as it began closing, brushing past the legs of two tall persons who were giggling loudly and stank of sweatiness. He ran until he found a fire stairs and hopped up them three at a time.
That was close, Jazz thought. He stopped after climbing four stories up the stairs and he caught a glance out the window. A glance of a glow reflecting on the windows of the building across the big empty space. It stopped Jazz in his tracks and he sat back, his tail forming a sort of tripod with his legs.
Far above him, reflected in the opposite glass, he could see a shimmering, color shifting globe or purest shiny. He had somehow found the actual building that the Great Shiny was being held prisoner on. He was almost there.
He had to reach the top, soonest! He looked out the exit of the stairwell, knowing that tall persons often built up-lifters near the stairs. He was not disappointed. He pressed the call button and pulled out another foil liquid pack and drained it while waiting for the up-lifter doors to slide open.
The door slid open and a rather portly tall person in a not-police uniform was about to step out when he and Jazz noticed each other. For a moment, they stared at each other, neither moving. Then Jazz twitched his whiskers and the thick-waisted tall person rubbed his hands over his eyes.
Jazz moved first, ducking back around the corner near the stairs. He pushed the stairway door open as he passed but did not enter it. Soon as Jazz was around the corner from the up-lifter, he flattened himself against the wall and held his breath.
The guard tall person stepped out into the hallway, his heavy foot falls echoing in the empty passage. The door to the stairwell closed with a bang and the guard tall person called out "Hey!" and ran to the stairs. He tugged the door open and stepped inside, looking up and down.
Jazz rushed into the up-lifter and hid against the button panel, trying to make himself as tall and narrow and invisible as possible. The doors slid shut and he sighed in relief. After checking the buttons, he reached up for the highest number he could and pressed it.
"Soon, Shiny. Jazz is coming!"
Jazz exited the elevator at the top floor and he quickly realized he had no idea where to go next. The Great Shiny was being held outside the building, above it. Which meant he had to get outside and on top, somehow. But how? He was just a little ferret person, after all. Tall persons had weird ideas about building things. Where could he find the way up?
A flash of light caught Jazz's keen eyes and he dove for cover behind a planter box. The light came from a man opening a door with a picture of a stairway on the door. The tall person was older, stooped over a bit. He seemed to be talking to himself, heading for a bathroom door. Jazz knew that symbol well. He'd entered many a hidden place to find shinnies by going through the ceiling tiles in bathrooms many times before, that one time scaring that sitting down tall person lady.
That was a weird time.
As soon as the tall person was gone into the bathroom, Jazz ran for the stairway door and, after checking that no one saw him head that way, slipped inside. The room inside was all machine sounds. There were tubes and pipes and wires and the smells were hot and oily and greasy and dirty. The air was even hot but dry. Jazz didn't like the place. It smelled like a lot of the places that the sneaky-sneaky tall persons wanted him to go in the time before. He ran about and found the promised stairs going up, behind the casing of the up-lifter hole.
Jazz ascended the stairs, slowly. He'd come far, had to be clever and fast. He was so close to his mission, and he wanted to make sure nothing went wrong.
Then his tablet started beeping. That was his cue. He'd set the alarm to warn him when there was only 10 minutes left before the Great Shiny was due to be harmed. He pushed open the door at the top of the stairs and felt the door snap open, blown over by a stiff gust of wind. Jazz's Rangers hat spun away in the wind. He leaned into the door frame as the cold air whistled around him.
He stepped out and looked around, his paw coming up to protect his eyes from the whipping wind. He could see the tops of other, smaller buildings. Some of them, far, far, far below. Jazz gulped, realizing how really high up he was. Tall persons, it seemed, could never get high enough.
Braving the cold, howling wind, he scampered around the top, discarding his disguise as he went. He'd be needing his mobility soon, so the extra cloth needed to go. He left his mini pack as well. It only slowed him down at this point. Besides, the beeping of the tablet was annoying.
Jazz ran around the outer area of the roof, finding more structure above it. And as he rounded the top facing out into the Time Square, he found it. High above, on a tall pole, hung the Great Shiny. It was massive, glittery, and had lights inside that shifted color and brightness.
Jazz gasped, staring up in awe. As he watched, he saw the Great Shiny shake, and begin to move. Moving down. "NO!" Jazz cried and he ran to the base of the pole. He climbed over some electrical thing, full of small light bulbs and metal, and shimmied up the pole, going as fast as he could. His claws dug into the paint protecting the metal pole and helped him propel his thin body up, up, up!
He clambered over the outside of the Shiny, finding easy hand and foot holds. Clearly, whatever was lowering the Great Shiny was doing so from above. Once above, he noticed that the Shiny was suspended by a cable, running up to a pulley at the top. Far below, he could hear the tall ones cheering. Cheering the death of the Great Shiny! Jazz got angry and reached down to the top of the Great Shiny, wrapping his paws around one of the crystal holders on top of the sphere, and he held tightly to it as he put his feet up to grasp the pole.
He tugged, his back claws making screeching sounds as he tried to dig into the pole and hold on. But the great shiny continued to slide down the pole, slowly but not slowing. Jazz struggled harder, pulling with every tiny ferret muscle he could, tugging upwards, trying to keep the Great Shiny from falling.
And then, the unthinkable happened. Jazz's hands felt it, his body shuddered, and his mouth snapped open in surprise, as the large crystal he'd wrapped his paws on released from the rest of the Great Shiny.
Then the brightness flared and his body shook and he felt tingles and numbies, and chills. All his muscles convulsed and he felt almost immediately after that a complete and filling darkness. As if mocking him, Jazz could still hear the distant crowd below shouting numbers. As his consciousness left him, Jazz fell forward onto the now dark body of the great shiny, still clutching the crystal, even as he crumpled onto the Shiny's darkened shell.
Jazz felt warmth spreading over his body, lifting up under him with pure white light. Groggily, he looked around. All under him, the world was clean brightness, the ultimate evidence of shiny. He glanced to the large, rectangular crystal clutched to his narrow chest, almost sobbing.
"Am I deads?" he spoke, softly. Somewhere in the far away he could hear crowds of tall persons singing. He took a shuddering inward breath and felt all his fur tingling, and a slight scorching smell wafted up his nose.
"No, noble Jazz. You are not deads."
"Who speaks?" Jazz asked, his voice sounding small, hollow.
"You know me. You have always known me."
"Sh-sh-shiny?" the ferret boi asked, awed.
"I have many names, but that will work. I have been watching you a while now. From a place not matched to this place, a world not matched to this world."
"I do not understand."
"It is not important for now. What is important is you, Jazz."
"Jazz is important?"
"Yes, you are. Some bad times will come this year. Bad tall ones will try to hurt other tall ones. They have already started. Things will get dark."
"Noooo," Jazz said, emphatically. His tail snapped around his body, wrapping up his belly and helping to hold the crystal.
"And I will need you to help resist the dark, Jazz."
"Jazz can help the Shiny?"
"Yes, my little one. You will have to find and help four special tall ones. Young tall ones who will help bring back the light."
"A four short tall persons?"
"You will know them when you find them."
"And Jazz must be their friend?"
"You will do what you must when you find each one. There are others you must find as well."
"I do not understand," Jazz said, feeling very confused. His head had hurties and he shook it briefly to clear it. The crystal felt warm under his paws.
"Shiny, how will Jazz know where to go? Jazz is just little ferret person. The tall persons are many and all over the lands. Even here in Apple Island City, there are more than Jazz could count in bunches of days." He turned his head about, quizzically. "How can Jazz do this?"
"You have time, gentle Jazz. First you need to get to the swimmers, they will need your help in the land of Oro. You will need to travel south into the place of flowers."
"The gardens in the middle of Apple Island City? But those are north of here."
"No, my small one. Far to the south. Many moons of running. Past the land of the tall ones' white buildings. Farther still, past the place of the burning weeds and the peaches, into the land of flowers. You will go to the place of racecars there. The Daytona."
"The Daytona," Jazz repeated. He had heard of this place. It was a holy shrine of the nascars religion among the rednecked tall ones.
"Bring my crystal with you. It will help guide you. They will know you are of the Shiny when they see it."
"I scared, Shiny."
"Do not fear. You only need to help the tall ones do what they have to do. You will not have to fight. If you do your job right, they wont even know you are there."
"I will try, Shiny."
"I saw what you did tonight, Jazz. You were very good. You helped others and hurt no one. You must keep true to yourself."
"Jazz will do, Shiny."
"You must wake up now, little one. Soon, tall ones will come here and find you. You must be gone by then. Happy New Year, Chester."
"Happy New Year, Great Shiny. Will I… will I see you again?"
Jazz felt as if he were falling and suddenly sat up, awake. The crystal was clutched tightly in his paws. Under him, the form of the Great Shiny was dark, with light from the electrical box thing under it glowing through the Shiny's body. Jazz felt a tear trail over his cheek as he held onto the crystal.
He had a mission, and he had to get started. Reluctantly, he climbed off the Shiny and slid the crystal into his mini pack. He looked down at the crowds of tall persons below and sighed greatly. No one would know what he'd tried tonight, or what he had to do now. But Jazz was determined to bring the message of the Shiny where it needed to go. He didn't know what that message was entirely yet, or where it would take him. But he knew that once he did what he had to do, the world would be a little shinnier.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Go out and make this year Shine.