“Yeesh, I thought he’d never leave,” Eddy grumbled, hands finally leaving the door. He rubbed his arms in an attempt to warm himself up; he always hated how cold Edd’s house was. He made a mental note to adjust the heater before the fun started.
Meanwhile, Ed was joyfully bouncing from foot to foot, eager to begin. “So what chores are we gonna do first, Eddy?”
“Uh, none!” Eddy scoffed, grabbing hold of Ed’s unibrow and tugging him into the living room. “I only said that to get Sockhead outta the house.”
“But Eddy,” the taller boy whined, “We promised Double D!”
“Didja forget what we came here to do in the first place?” Eddy retorted, finally releasing his improbable grip on Ed. “We got somethin’ even bigger planned, and once Double D sees it, he’ll forget all about doin’ those dumb chores.”
Sniffling, Ed gave his friend the most pathetic puppy-dog look he could muster. He’s been with his friends long enough to know that Eddy meant well, but Ed was also aware of how uptight Double D was when it came to household duties. This was indeed a big surprise, but Ed didn’t want it to be tossed aside by the recipient all because of unfinished chores.
It didn’t take long for Eddy’s resolve to waver, then abandon him completely. “Fine,” he said with a groan. “You can do his chores, but I’m getting started on everything else.” He stated the last bit as if he was the only one of the trio who ever did anything.
“Oh boy, oh boy!” Ed chirped, happy to have gotten his way. He bounded out of the kitchen and further into the house, grabbing handfuls of sticky notes along the way.
“And be quick about it; we’re expectin’ a full house soon!” Eddy called out over his shoulder as he cracked open one of the large cardboard boxes that he had snuck in beforehand. He swiftly released the contents from confinement and got straight to work.
Ed laughed with enthusiasm as he peeled through the halls, completing chores the best way he knew how, and placing the finished sticky notes somewhere on his body and out of the way. Dust the wall décor? Easily done with a swipe of his sleeve. Vacuum the carpets? Why bother when it could all be shoved under a rug? Clean the guest bathroom? Well, Ed actually didn’t finish that one. Upon discovering the abundance of soap and other cleaning products stored in the closet, he decided the bathroom was clean enough as it was, and scurried back out in fear.
He now stood in his friend’s basement, squinting at the neat handwriting that requested the laundry to be done. Ed’s face broke out into a huge grin. This one was the easiest! He had seen his own mother clean clothes before, and by Ed’s logic, that made him a laundry expert.
“It’s bath time!” Ed cooed to the basket of clothing as he emptied it into the washing machine. After clumsily finding the switch that released the water, Ed looked around for the detergent. Technically it was soap, but he was comforted by the fact that it was soap for clothing, not people. Once a box of detergent was in hand, he peeked inside to see the clothes now swirling lazily in the current. “Aww, they’re swimming.”
However, he paused, looking back at the box of detergent. How much of this stuff was he supposed to use again? He tried to think back to when he last watched his mom do this. He remembers her using a cup of some sort, and only using it once for each load. Would a cup really be enough, though? Ed glanced back at the wet laundry. Today was a special day, and he wanted these clothes to be extra clean for Double D. To make stuff extra clean, one would use more soap, right?
With a reassuring grin, he proudly tore open the top and emptied the entire box into the washing machine. The clothing was now hardly visible under the thick layer of detergent, which to Ed, meant every speck of dirt would obliterated. Just like the original zombie from Zombie Fish Robots Attack.
Ed slammed the now rattling appliance shut, and skipped away to complete the next task. “Double D will be so proud of me!”
“Double D Ed-boy?”
Edd was torn from his pondering as he found the blue-haired immigrant standing over him, brow quirked in mild confusion.
“Oh, hello Rolf.” He smiled sheepishly, unsure of how long his neighbor had been standing there. “My apologies, Rolf. I seemed to have gotten lost in thought and failed to notice your approach.”
“It must be dire, seeing as how you sit forlornly like the sack of Nana’s discarded nail trimmings,” the taller boy replied. Ignoring Edd’s visible cringe to the image that was just given, Rolf set down the barrel he had been carrying and sat across from Edd. “Come, what troubles the Ed-boy?”
Edd smiled warmly at how the other was so willing to lend his ear. He then shifted on the porch step to resume thinking. “It’s Ed and Eddy, I’m afraid. Why, just this morning they intruded my home and made me breakfast.” He motioned to the now empty plate that sat beside him. “At first I was touched by their generosity, but mind you, said generosity is such a rare occurrence.” Edd then gestured behind him to the front door. “But the most perplexing is that they insisted on completing housework for me, and have excluded me from my own home. This behavior is unusual, unexpected, and very unlike Ed and Eddy.” As Edd finished his rambling, he looked back to Rolf, vaguely hoping for any insight.
After a moment of silence, Rolf broke into a carefree grin. “Oho, is that it? Rolf thinks Too-smart-for-his-own-good Ed-boy worries too much about such small matters.”
Edd bit his lip while trying to piece his response together carefully. “Forgive me, Rolf, but I don’t think you quite understand the gravity of the situation.”
“Poppycock!” Rolf exclaimed. “There is nothing to fear. Double D Ed-boy is as high-strung as a slab of meat ripe for butchering.”
Edd was about to protest again when a third voice interrupted him from across the street.
“Yo, Double D! C’mere for a sec.”
He turned his attention towards another boy donning a red baseball cap and leaning casually against the bike in his garage. “One moment, please, Kevin. Rolf and I are in the middle of-”
Edd fell silent as he glanced back to the darker-skinned boy, who – along with the barrel – was nowhere to be found. He looked around in confusion. “...Rolf?” Concern began to ebb at him. It was common knowledge that Rolf’s mannerisms were...eccentric, to say the least. But he would never just up and leave in the middle of a conversation.
“C’mon, Double Dork, I ain’t got all day!”
Edd jumped at the nickname, despite it no longer carrying any malice. It was a hard habit to break, sadly.
“C-coming!” He hurried over to the redhead, not wanting to keep him waiting. Edd’s eyes rested on the bike as he got closer, and he smiled. “Oh, you fixed it!”
Kevin grinned back and patted the handlebars lovingly. “It wasn’t easy, but I got the parts you told me about, and now she’s running just like how she used to!” The bike still had a few kinks in its frame and many scuff marks, but otherwise looked good as new. “You check to see if you had those special parts?”
Edd nodded, reaching a hand underneath his beanie. After a few seconds of searching, he pulled out a handful of small, unique looking parts. “I just so happened to have all of them. These should not only aid in keeping your bike intact, but also allow for much more efficient locomotion.” He beamed as he spoke. It was a rare occasion to have such a casual interaction with any of the other kids, especially Kevin. Now that they were all on good terms with each other, these friendly conversations were happening more and more often, and it never failed to brighten Edd’s mood.
“Choice.” Kevin eagerly went to work, with Edd watching over in case further assistance was needed.
He pondered a bit more before finally asking, “Um, Kevin? Have you noticed anything strange about Ed and Eddy lately?”
“What, you mean stranger than usual?” Kevin joked. Upon seeing the concern on the other boy’s face, he sighed lightly. “No, not really.”
Edd sighed and began retelling his morning events to the redhead, who was only vaguely listening. Kevin subtly peered between the spokes of the tires to see Jimmy, Sarah, and Jonny heading towards the blue house across the street.
“...I just fear that they may have some elaborate hoax planned,” Edd continued. “Honestly, I hoped that after our life-changing journey they would have ceased such juvenile behavior.” He shuddered at the memory of the swamp. Despite making amends with the other two Eds afterwards, that prank still left an unpleasant taste in his mouth.
Kevin scoffed to himself as he fixed the last part into place. “Well whatever it is, it’s definitely not a prank.”
Edd quirked a brow and tilted his head. “And how do you know for certain?”
Kevin’s eyes widened a bit as he realized what he had said. “Uh, I don’t. How should I know?” he replied a little too hastily. He fumbled a bit while mounting on his bike, yet still tried to act nonchalant. “F-forget I said anything. Later, dork.” And with that, he pedaled out of his garage, leaving a bewildered Edd in the dust.
The beanie-clad boy could only scrunch his face in confusion as he wracked his brain for a logical explanation. First Rolf, and then Kevin...and Kevin seemed to know something that he didn’t. That pushed Edd to investigate more than anything.
He left the redhead’s garage in search of any other kids to interrogate. However, as he made his way to the center of it, he noticed how quiet the cul de sac was. In fact, it was almost unnerving. There was no Nazz rollerblading, no Sarah and Jimmy playing in the front yard, not even any sign of Jonny getting himself stuck in a tree. The absolute stillness of the once lively environment immediately put the boy on edge.
...Where was everyone?