He shouldn’t have even bothered getting out of bed.
At the moment, the thought of being home, the safest place he knew, with his family and finding a new way to get Audrey to let him into her house, seemed so far away and hopeless. Like he was not going to walk away from this.
His eyes had been trying hard to look away from the face so close to his, but they snapped back when the Once-ler suddenly spoke, “Something in particular you came here looking for?” At Ted’s questioning look, he hissed, “Surely you didn’t get yourself into this mess just because you wanted to say ‘hi’!”
He gulped, “Uh, yes.” His heart skipped a beat when he saw the man’s eyes narrow, but he continued, “I th-thought that, you know, m-maybe someone like you . . . The person who got rid of the trees wou-.”
“Would find it in their hearts to actually give a young intruder information, or heaven forbid, a seed?” He shook his head, and laughed, “Oh, you are not the first!” He released his grip on Ted’s hair and took a step back from the window, as if to observe him, “No, you’re not getting anything out of me. But I’m sure that you’re going to give me what I want . . .”
Ted felt a lump growing in his chest. It was both fear for his life, and the anger in the thought of never seeing anyone again. “L-let me GO!” He shouted, making the Once-ler jump in surprise of the sudden change of behavior, “I want to go back home! Back to my family! Let me go, you freak!”
The bitter smile that had seemed stuck on the Once-ler’s face slowly melted into a frown. “We’ll see if you still have such pleasant things to say to me when you’re in here, with me.”
“Wait, wha-?!” Ted felt himself drop abruptly and then, seconds later, touchdown harshly onto the ground, but he was still being held by that claw thing and escaping was pointless. It was stronger than he was.
He was then hauled over to the door that had sent him flying earlier, only it seemed to have changed a bit. Most obvious reason how, it was wide open, letting him see right into the Lerkim.
That was, until a tall figure suddenly blocked his sight, jolting him back into realizing the danger he was in. He slowly looked up.
For certain, the rest of the Once-ler sure was not what he had expected.
He would have at least thought that his suit would have maybe one rip, or be a little dusty or something immaculate after all the time this guy had spent doing who-knows-what.
But no. The Once-ler looked as though he had been preparing himself to go to an important date. His garments without a wrinkle and his hair perfectly trimmed. Even his teeth, which were poking out slightly due to his sneer, were as white as snow.
Ted felt as though he was being exchanged as the claw let go of his collar just as the Once-ler grasped his wrist and yanked him inside.
“What do you want from me?!” He yelled, trying to resist the firm grip, but failing.
The Once-ler, who seemed to be stronger than he looked, only turned his head slightly as he began up a flight of stairs, “It’s not as much what I want from you as what I need from you.”
A blinding light suddenly hit Ted’s eyes. He blinked rapidly, shielding them with his free hand and trying to get used to it. The Once-ler, however, seemed to be fine with it and continued forward.
It was discovered, only moments later, that it was only the man’s office and the fact that Ted had been accustom to the dark that had made the few lamps in the circular room appear to be so intense.
“Now, I want you to listen up.” Ted was abruptly thrown into what seemed to be a large, plush chair which he quickly gripped onto as he stared up at the Once-ler, who continued in a low tone, “As long as I will need you, you will cooperate until I am finished. Follow my every word without error, and I might let you go. There is no room for error in what’s about to happen in your life. Got that?”
Ted blinked in surprise. Might let me go? Hope began to churn madly inside of him as he nodded swiftly.
“Good.” The Once-ler reached into an open drawer that came out of the large desk that sat directly in the center of the room and acquired from it what looked like a pad of black foam with a dark red lining that was solid.
It was then slammed down on to Ted’s lap who stared at it oddly.
“Press your hand into it.”
“Oh . . . ” He squashed his hand into the foam only to retract it, “Gah! It’s wet!”
The Once-ler chuckled and then picked it up and placed it back onto the desk. Ted noticed that a perfect replica of his hand was now molded into it. The Once-ler then proceeded to pull a piece of paper out of his coat pocket along with a pen. “What was your name again? And give me your full, I need the details and nothing but!”
“Uh, Ted…” He shook his head, clearing his distracted mind, “Ted Joseph Wiggins.”
The Once-ler, who had begun to write, stopped as he mentioned his last name and looked up; A queer, thoughtful molded his face that slowly began to stare the boy down as it persisted, as if he had zoned off.
“Mister? Helloo?” His voice did the trick. The Once-ler shifted his eyes back down and he jotted the rest.
He then folded it up and shoved it back to where it had come from and cleared his throat, “’Wiggins’ wasn’t it?”
“Hmp . . .that’s a very rare name, you know . . . I’ve only heard it once before . . .” He proceeded to put everything else that remained on the desk away, his eyes still distant. After a minuet of that, he turned to face him. “Hey, kid, you see that extra room over there?” He gestured towards the open door.
“. . . that’s a closet.”
“It’s your sleeping quarters, goodnight.”