Floorboards (1/2)


We return to the sad AU for Oscar for this prompt. Cradle almost stumped me, but then this came to mind.

( For the first parts of this AU, follow these links to It Just Takes One and A New Doll )

Oscar stumbled, but he barely hit the floor before he scrambled back up and kept running. Everything in him focused forward, across the long expanse of hardwood flooring. He ignored the rumbling in the floor and the gaping space overhead, unfamiliar surroundings all looming in his periphery. He didn’t know this house, but he didn’t need to in order to recognize an avenue of escape.

It was the only chance he had.

They’d taken his bag. Tossed it out with the trash, no matter how much he wished they wouldn’t. It was only shabby cloth to them. Worthless.

To Noriko and her obedient boyfriend, Oscar was the one of value. A high priced little doll that needed to be fixed up and made perfect. They didn’t care how much he wept.

The first chance at escape came when Noriko left him out on her work table to go and fix herself a snack. She was so assured that he was trapped up there that she’d set him down on the middle of the surface without even a word to him after holding him up to her eyes, turning him this way and that.

From what Oscar understood, he and other smaller folk like him were a hobby to the dark-haired woman. She cooed over him and told him how precious he was, but she never treated him like a person. He had to escape.

Climbing down a table leg without the aid of his safety pin and string was difficult and risky, but Oscar hadn’t had a choice. Desperation had kept him safe for the haphazard slide all the way down to the floor, and he’d hit the ground running. He had to get himself out of sight before she came back.

He was a few feet away from a rolling stand raised off the ground a few inches by squeaky wheels when her footsteps returned to the room. “Oh, shit!” Noriko’s girly voice boomed overhead. Oscar flinched and it spurred him onward. Something clattered and more tremors stomped through the floor.

Oscar dove under the stand just in time for one of Noriko’s socked feet to land nearby. He pushed himself back to his feet and scurried to the back of the rolling cabinet near the wall, only turning to look at her when he reached the baseboard.

A curtain of black hair came into view before finally part of her face blocked everything else beyond the heavy stand. One eye bore into him and Oscar shuddered. Noriko had a way of smiling, appearing as cheerful as ever, while ice stabbed out of her expression. This was one of those times.

“Awww, who’s a little stinker?” she cooed. “You’re getting yourself all dusty, little baby. Why don’t you come out and we can rinse you off? I won’t even put you in time out if you come out right now.”

Oscar winced. ‘Time out,’ as she called it in that saccharine voice of hers, was an old pill bottle with holes cut in the lid. Oscar had yet to earn any time locked up in the cramped container, but it had been made clear to him what could earn him a stay.

An escape attempt meant at least half a day trapped in that bottle. Oscar would have no hope of getting out if he was stuck in there.

Still, he didn’t move to come out. This was his only chance to get away.

While Noriko kept her eye on him, Oscar glanced around for a new escape route. He knew she could move the cabinet if she wanted to get to him. He needed a better place to hide, somewhere out of reach. If she got a hand on him, it was over.

Just when he thought he wouldn’t find a way out of this mess, he spotted it. A hole in the old floorboard from a knot in the wood. It was barely more than an inch wide, but Oscar could tell that it bore all the way through.

The floorboards. If he could escape to the internals of the house, Noriko would never catch sight of him again.

“Don’t!” her voice ordered even as he dashed for the hole in the floor. Oscar shuddered but ignored her warning.

He almost tripped over his own feet to reach it. Right as he crouched by the opening to peer in, Noriko’s face disappeared from the gap at the front of Oscar’s current shelter. He had no time. He scooted forwards and slipped into the knog feet first. The wood floor groaned as the cabinet shifted ominously on its wheels.

Oscar was a skinny little guy. He didn’t need to make effort to fit, while the huge furniture overhead moved. He dropped out of sight before the human woman could get the stand out of the way with a loud rumbling of its wheels on the wooden boards.

Noriko swore loudly overhead, and Oscar fell a distance almost twice his own height. The dark under the floor welcomed him like an old friend. Relief welled up in him until he hit the ground.

Pain flared through his ankle, weak after years of fighting to get enough food. Oscar landed in a heap and stifled a squeal of pain. The wooden ceiling several inches above him rumbled with Noriko’s resentful stomps.

Oscar reached a shaky hand to brush over his ankle and foot. It stung when he touched it, and there was already swelling around the most painful spots, but his cloth wraps kept it steady through the pain.

Just a sprain. He groaned and pushed himself up to his feet while in the distance Noriko called for her boyfriend.

He wasn’t out yet. He couldn’t stop running until he was far from those two.

The first hobbled steps nearly knocked him over again. Oscar grimaced and stayed upright through sheer determination.

Under the floorboards was a thick layer of dust, rained down from above over the years. Thick support beams ran in rows, creating walls on either side of Oscar. He glanced behind and found more supports. The nearest wall was barred from him.

He’d have to trek across the long passageway under the room where Noriko did her work. She and her boyfriend would be right overhead the whole way, unseen giants looking for him. Angry at him.

Fear and a pounding heart drove him on, despite the slow progress on his hurt ankle. Pain pulsed up his leg with every step, preventing a full run no matter how much he tried to hurry himself along. No gaps showed in the support boards on either side, and Oscar needed to find one soon.

The earthquakes were coming back.

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