Buster woke up on his mattress on the floor. One problem with these beds everyone slept in? They were so comfy that one never wanted to get out of them in the morning. The hammock in his old tree hollow wasn't comfy, but at least he was usually up within a few hours of sunrise. A stiff back was nothing a little exercise couldn't help with.
Resentful of the bed's secret evil, he tossed off his warm blanket and let the cold of the day hit him. He went to grab his water bottle so he could take his “shower”, but found it to be empty. Then he realized that he and his bed were wet. Oops. It must have finally sprung a leak. Buster used his power to dry himself, his bed, and the floor, keeping the water hovering in front of him. For a while he pondered what to do with it since his bottle was no good, but soon decided to take his shower, drop the impurities out the window, and then absorb what water he could to keep himself hydrated using his power. It was sure a lot quicker than drinking it. The rest was dropped out the window as well.
After quickly getting dressed in some of his new clothes, Buster left his room. It was quiet out here today; He wasn't sure what the norm was around here, but perhaps he had assumed Rocky would be up and waiting for him. He looked at the digital clock on the oven. 1:34. That meant it was already afternoon, so Rocky would have been up by now. Oh, right. He was probably at work. Buster was on his own today, it seemed.
Before anything else, Buster was hungry, so he opened the fridge and looked inside for something to eat. Inside was a packaged object with “Buster” written on it in marker. He hesitated for a bit, but then assumed it couldn't mean anything besides, “This is for you, Buster!”, so he took the package and closed the fridge as he opened it up. Inside was one of the biggest sandwiches he had ever seen. It was probably as big as the biggest fish he had ever caught in the forest. On that note, the lake had been small, and there probably weren't that many large fish in it. But, still. Huge sandwich! Huge sandwich equals good breakfast.
He sat down at the table and took a bite. Whaaaaa-!? This was...!! It couldn't be!!
The most delicious thing in the world!!!
He lifted the bun to check the sandwich's content. Melted cheese and bacon! But that was only the tip of the iceberg.
“TUNA!!!” Buster exclaimed on purpose for the comedic relief of whatever invisible people were watching him. Without further ado, he finished both halves of the sandwich very quickly.
“This has been... the most satisfying experience of my life,” Buster sighed to himself as he leaned back on the couch. He could forgive the bed now; the score was now even between society and the forest.
For a while, Buster lay in his reverie. However, soon enough he got bored of sitting around. To be quite honest, he had never had time to just sit around like this before. He had always had to catch himself food or gather firewood, or some other menial task required for his continued survival. In the first place, nothing was handed to him on a platter like this. If he wanted something new to wear, he had to make it himself out of animal skin or something like that. He had certainly craved a sandwich at some point while in the forest, but he didn't have any bread. He didn't even have access to wheat or anything like that. All he had were the fish and other small animals and certain plants and berries which he had to learn the hard way were good to eat. Of course, they have machines that can do all that for people here. And for the things machines can't do, there are books and the internet to help educate people on how to do them properly. And then someone who is really good at some particular thing, who also happens to be good with machines, will invent a machine which can do that for them, too. Just like magic. Buster didn't pretend to know how any of this stuff worked, he was just glad that it did.
Having reached the end of that train of thought, he came back to his original problem: he had nothing to do. He didn't even have a water bottle right now. He hadn't seen any in the fridge or anything. Useful as one can be, he hadn't needed it at all yesterday (Except for a few quick drinks here and there), so he figured he would be fine without one today as well.
He decided to take a look around the house for a while, searching drawers and cabinets just to see what was in them. He remembered a bunch of things about living in the city when he entered the bathroom. He had forgotten that medicine existed until he looked in the medicine cabinet. He had also forgotten to use his new toothbrush when he had gotten up. Oops. He was a little hesitant to brush with toothpaste because he didn't want to wash away the taste of that incredible sandwich, but he was glad he did. His mouth had never felt so minty-fresh! Not in the woods, anyhow. He decided to give society and extra half-point for that. No, forest! Keep fighting! You can win this! The game continued.
After searching around for a while and finding nothing particularly interesting, he came to the realization that there was no phone in this apartment. He remembered Rocky calling his parents at some point yesterday, but he hadn't actually seen him do it. Perhaps he had a cell phone? Or maybe he went to his neighbor's apartment and used theirs. Both options seemed just as likely to Buster, so he decided to give up thinking about it. He would ask Rocky when he came home.
Having exhausted his current plan of exploring the apartment, Buster decided to look outdoors. He opened the front door and found himself up on a... Balcony? Bridge? He had no idea what to call it, but he was up in the air and there was railing preventing people from falling off. Lining the wall were a bunch more doors like the one he had just exited, presumably the entrance to other people's apartments. To the right was the elevator the two had ridden in before, and to the right of that, a flight of stairs going down. They were facing towards the wall and were built into the railing. Directly in front of him was a parking lot with surprisingly few cars in it. Everyone else was probably at work, too. He was unable to locate Rocky's car, which confirmed his theory that Rocky was at work. Er, he wasn't here, at least. But... most likely, he was at work. That was it. He was gonna have to get used to thinking that way in case someone tried to talk to him about something like that. Buster was smart, and the things he thought about usually made perfect logical sense as far as he could tell, but he knew people who had had a tendency to call him out because something he had said wasn't worded well. Kipo was one of these people, so it wasn't as if Buster was really a rusty speaker, but he wanted to try not to embarrass himself nonetheless.
It was strangely relaxing being outdoors like this. He thought at first it must have been the fresh air, but the air here wasn't all that fresh compared to the forest. Hey! The forest is ahead by a half-point now! He wondered which of the combatants in this little game of his was the underdog.
At this point, Buster dared not leave the general area, because he would forget the apartment number for sure and get lost. So, he went back inside for the time being. Upon looking again at the clock, it appeared he had been able to waste time rather well. It was already 3:02. He wondered when Rocky would come home. For a moment, he thought about going back to the forest. Would Rocky notice he had left? But he quickly shook off that thought. After all, Rocky had left him that sandwich, hadn't he? And he probably hadn't woken Buster up this morning because he knew how tired he would have been after all that happened yesterday. In fact, he had been pretty sore from all the moving around. In the forest he would always take his time to do things, but it's very rushed in the city. No points either way for that, he thought. It was hard to say one way or another which lifestyle was “better”. He supposed that was up to the personality of the person living the lifestyle. For himself, he thought maybe the forest was a better fit, but he had only been here for a day and a half at this point. Perhaps he would decide after having another one of those delicious sandwiches...
In the end, he had ended up watching TV all day. At one point he had thought to try Rocky's computer out, but it had a password on it, so Buster couldn't even make it go to the desktop. So with nothing left to do, he had grabbed the remote and started flipping through the channels. He hadn't known previously why Rocky had told him he didn't want to watch that “Jersey” show, but after watching an episode for a while, he realized it was pretty stupid after all. As he flipped through the channels, to his surprise, he found a lot of shows that were like it. Apparently it was called “reality TV”. He found it somehow interesting to see how other people lived, but at the same time, there was always something negative going on. He figured if there was a camera on him all day, he probably wouldn't be laying around watching TV. In fact, he might have tried going outside and gotten himself lost, or showing off his power and bringing the world's unwanted attention to him. It would make for good TV though, wouldn't it?
It wasn't until the oven read 8:00 that Rocky finally came home. Buster's ears perked up as he smelled the undoubted smell of chicken coming from the plastic bag he was holding. Rocky waved at him as he set his jacket and some other small items on the table. Buster slowly got up and went to sniff the bag more closely.
“Is that... a sandwich!?” Buster asked, a bit of insanity in his voice.
Rocky laughed. “No, it's just fried chicken. Here,” he pulled a cardboard bucket out of the bag and removed the lid, revealing golden, juicy, tender little morsels. This is what Buster saw: Meat.
What followed was the mindless ripping and tearing apart of fried pieces of chicken, the likes of which would be considered a terrible tragedy to chickens all the world over. As he ate, bones seemed to fly straight from Buster's mouth and onto the plate of their own volition, and Buster's stomach seemed to be a black void of nothingness that no amount of meat could satisfy.
All Rocky could do was huddle in the corner in the fetal position, fearing for his own life as he cried silently. He should stop him! ...No. There's nothing he could do now. If he tried to stop that monster, he would be eaten, too. He called out to Rose, his girlfriend who was just now coming through the door.
“It's too dangerous! Leave me! SAVE YOURSEEEEEEELF!!!”
“Um... what are you doing?”
Rocky switched to his strange, high-pitched voice that he used only with Rose. “It's... it's Buster! Look! Look how scary he is! See?”
Rose looked at Buster, who was eating with the dignity of a three-year-old. “Scaaary,” she said sarcastically. She looked back at Rocky. “So, go save me from him!”
“What!?” He replied, still using his strange voice. “But... but he'll eat me!”
“It's okay!” She pulled Rocky up by the arms. “I won't be happy if you die, even if it's for me...” She stepped behind him. “BUT I WILL AVENGE YOUR DEATH!!” She pushed him violently towards Buster. Rocky let out a cry of horror as he fell on the floor next to Buster, who suddenly fell quiet. Rocky slowly looked up to see Buster with a bone in his mouth, his eyes wild, his fur uneven. He stayed very still so as not to provoke the monster's wrath.
“Buster!” Rose called out. “Rocky wants to steal your chicken!”
Rocky gasped. “N-No! No I don't! Eat all the chicken! I don't need any!”
Buster began growling.
“Get him, Buster! He wants to eat all the chicken!”
“Don't listen to her! It's not true!!”
Buster's eyes grew wider as his growl became more intense.
“Don't let him get away with it!”
The bone in Buster's mouth snapped in two, just like the feral instinct telling Buster to mutilate his brother.
“NO, BUSTER, NO-- AAAAHHHHH!!!!” Rocky screamed like a banshee as Buster began tickling him as if he had rabies. “ROOOSE! HELP ME!! NNOOOOOOOooooooo.........” His voice slowly died out as he collapsed to the floor. Buster placed a bone upon his head as a sign of victory. He then got up and offered a piece of chicken to Rose. She accepted it. She was now in his pack. And they would defeat any all and intruders who wished to steal their food at any time in the future. Rocky swore his revenge and promised to return with the Galactic Police next time. For now, the threat has ended...
“Seriously Buster, you sure can eat,” Rocky commented as the threesome finished eating dinner. Rose had taped a piece of paper to his forehead reading, “Galactic Police: Dunce Detective Moon-Rocky”. She would not allow him to take it off.
“I haven't had chicken in years... What do you expect?” Buster replied unabashedly. “Fish and rabbit and stuff is fine for a while, but I never tried to find things I could use as spices or anything like that.”
“So Buster, you've really been living in the forest all this time?” Rose asked.
“Uh... yeah.” Buster didn't like having this conversation. Usually the next question everyone wanted to ask is “why”. He did not like to talk about why.
Thankfully, Rocky leaned over and began whispering something in her ear. It worked.
“So... what was it like living there for so long? Rocky says you were there two years...?”
“Right. Well, it's hard to say what it was like. It's nothing like living here in the city. It was really tough at first, but once I found some shelter and made myself a few things, it started getting easier. I made a lot of stuff out of animal hide, mainly a hammock that I slept in and stuff. I had to hunt every day for food. I didn't have anything like a fridge out there, so nothing would keep for very long other than a few types of plants I could eat. I was lucky to find a huge tree hollow right next to a lake that had fish in it, although I didn't know how to cook it at first...” He suddenly stopped at this point. He looked at Rocky, who in turn looked away. “Um... Rocky brought me stuff sometimes. One time he brought me a little pot and pan. I was able to make myself a little stove using what I had on hand. Using that, I was able to cook my meat, which was great, because while I can survive on berries, and raw fish won't kill me, it's nice to have some good hot food sometimes, y'know?”
“I really can't imagine living like that,” Rose said in disbelief. “And you did that for two years?”
“You said you lived by a lake, right? But isn't stagnant water bad to drink?”
“Normally, yeah, but I just purified it...” Crap. He purified it with his power. She didn't know about that yet, and he wasn't planning to let her. Quick, an alternative...
“How did you purify it out in the wild like that? Don't they usually use machines to do that?”
“Oh, uh, er... well, you can purify water by boiling it... All the impurities float to the top.”
“Oh, really? I didn't know that.” Phew. Saved. He wasn't even sure if that was right. They taught him something like that at school years ago. Not that he ever needed to use a skill like that.
“So then, did you have to catch the fish by hand like a bear?”
You've gotta be kidding me, Buster thought to himself. “I caught them... um... sometimes by hand... sometimes I used a, uh... bucket,” Rocky had never brought him a bucket. “...which I had made out of wood.”
Rocky gave a knowing look to Buster and leaned over to whisper something in Rose's ear again. Buster heard her ask Rocky a quick “why?”, but somehow Rocky was able to provide her with a satisfying answer, and she dropped the subject.
“Well... It can actually be pretty fun once you know what you're doing. Only your imagination and the materials at hand are limiting you,” said Buster.
“That's why I thought he might like Minecraft,” Rocky replied. “It's pretty much the same thing. Just, it's a game for us city folk who don't wanna take any actual risks. Right?”
“Uh, sure,” Buster said, feeling a little insulted for reasons even he couldn't comprehend. “By the way, I tried to look at your computer today, but it had a password. Can you tell me it?”
“Oh, yeah. Come over here and I'll show it to you.”
The three of them got up and went to the computer. Rocky was quiet for a few moments after sitting down. “So, um... it's kind of embarrassing, so...” Rocky whispered the password in Buster's ear.
“...What??” Buster exclaimed. Rose giggled. Buster typed it in and the computer granted him access. “Seriously!?”
Rocky blushed. “Well... it's true!” Rose hugged him from behind.
“Aw... geez... I feel like I could barf! Oh, boy...” Buster imitated the sound of barfing at the obscene cuteness of the password.
“Oh, come on, it isn't that bad,” Rose protested jokingly.
“How is it not that bad!? What would it take for it to be that bad!?”
“I dunno, maybe... 'Sexy Lady Poodle Cutie' or something?” Buster began fake-barfing again.
Rocky switched to his high-pitched voice. “But you not a poodles!”
“I know, but it's for the sake of the bad password, sweetie.”
“That sentence would be so random if you took it out of context,” Buster pointed out.
“So? What is that supposed to mean?” Rose retorted.
“Nothing, just, it would be funny if you took it out of context!”
“And why would I want to take it out of context?”
“Because it would be funny!”
“Well, at least I'm not a picnic basket...” Rocky muttered under his breath, still in his 'cute mode'.
“”What?”” Buster and Rose asked in unison.
“Er... It's from a game...” Rocky let out an awkward laugh and scratched at the back of his neck. “Anyway, what should we build next in Minecraft?” Buster and Rose had been so focused on their banter that they hadn't noticed Rocky starting up the game.
“Uh...” said Buster.
“I dunno,” Rose finished.
The night continued in this manner until Rose had to be taken home by Rocky. As soon as the two of them left, Buster found himself very tired. He went to bed soon after; But not before eating one last piece of fried chicken.