The !@#$?% Contest

By: Adam L.

Cid Highwind sneered at the spikey-headed braggart. The braggart being Mr. Cloud Strife, of course. He hated that hairdo of his. And he'd do anything to be rid of it. Anything.

"Can too," he growled in defense.

"I'm sure you could if you really wanted to," replied Cloud. "But come on, Cid. Everyone knows that you can barely go an hour without swearing. So what makes you think you could go a week?"

"Cuz' I'm smarter than a %&?@# like you!" snarled Cid.

"You wanna put a wager on that?" asked Cloud. Secretly, Cid smiled at the possibilities.

"Yeah, spike. If I prove you wrong and can go a week without swearing, I get to shave yer porcupine do'."

"Fine," said Cloud nonchalantly. "And if you swear even once, your airship's mine for a month."

"WHAT! You little--!" bolted Cid.

"Ah-ah-ah. You can't swear for a week, okay?" interrupted Cloud. Cid snarled at the boy, but considered the offer.

"Awright, you're on. Starting now." Cid got out of his chair, but Cloud stopped him.

"What?! What is it?"

"I don't trust you very much, Cid. I'd better send Cait Sith to watch you."

"What!!" Cid was tempted to swear and/or punch the kid, but he kept thinking: bald Cloud! Bald Cloud! So, unhappily agreeing with Cloud's demands, Cid nodded his head and allowed Cait Sith to watch him for the rest of the week. So at the end of the day, Cid returned home with a very willing and very annoying Cait Sith.


Dawn cracked. Cid woke, already dressed. He took little notice of Cait Sith, who was hovering around a nearby chair.

"Morning! Boy, you sure snore a lot!" grinned Cait Sith.

"Shut up, ya little--" began Cid. Suddenly, he remembered. Oops! Almost lost the bet! ". . . er, stuffed toy!" Cid shook his head, and went about his typical morning rituals, making sure he never let a profane statement leave his mouth.

By noontime, Cid's mouth was much cleaner than it used to be. Not a single profane comment escaped his tongue--Cait Sith made sure of it. But he was getting tired. Especially when Shera decided to pop in on Cid's paperwork.

"Good afternoon, sir! How are you doing?" she chirped. Cid cringed, but managed a clean "Fine enough." Shera nodded as if everything were okay and went about making the afternoon tea. In his thoughts, Cid mouthed off like a drunken sailor, but remained mute. After all, he surely didn't want to lose his Highwind now, or ever.

"Is there anything wrong, sir?" asked Shera.

"No, I'm fine," replied Cid gruffly.

"You sure?"

"I said I'm fine . . . uh . . . Shera," he said. This's gonna take some gettin' used to.

"All right. If you say so." Finally, Shera left Cid to his work.

Nighttime. Cid was shocked at himself. No profane words had been heard from Mr. Highwind since he made the bet. Not even a ghost of one. Not even to Shera. Suprisingly, Cid was getting the hang of things. I can do this, he thought as he went to bed. I can prove that porcupine-head wrong!


Cid was now getting the hang of things. In the morning, he was chipper. At work, he was a saint. With Shera, he was a perfect gentleman. During lunch and dinner, he had the decorum of a king. And wherever Cait Sith followed him, Cid made sure that he spoke clean words. All in all, Cid feared for his very life. "This may develop into a habit!" he had told Shera during that day. "And you know me--I stick to all kinds of habits!"

"Don't worry, sir," she had replied. "I'm sure you'll win."

"Thanks," said Cid sheepishly, and went about the rest of the day in a dreary mood.


By the fourth day, Cid was getting tired of his habit. For the entire day, Cid did nothing but sleep, eat, and use the bathroom. Which, somehow, he got more privacy for. Somehow, he coaxed (more like beat) Cait Sith into letting him freshen up alone--with a word of honor, of course.


It was the middle of the day, and Cid, Shera, and Cait Sith were conversing on a hill.

"Man! I never thought I could get this far without swearing! Amazing!" beamed Cid.

"We're proud of you, Cid!" announced Cait Sith. "We know that the past six days have been pretty rough on you."

"Rough nothing," he replied. "I felt like exploding sometimes. But I just kept on saying to myself 'bald Cloud, bald Cloud', and I kept my head. Besides, who knows what that moron would do with my ship!" The three of them sat there for a while, Cait Sith and Shera not knowing what to make of Cid and Cloud's strange bet.

"Do you think you'll win?" asked Shera.

"Heck yes!" grinned Cid, sucking on another cigarette. The three of them laughed for a while. Soon, Cid got up, stretched, and flicked his weed away. "Well, gotta get back to work. C'mon, cat," he ushered. Cait Sith skipped after the Captain, leaving Shera to muse.


"Cait Sith? Cait Sith? Where are you?" asked Shera.

"Here," he waved. "Why?"

"Have you seen Captain Cid today?"

"Nope," he replied, shaking his head.

"Oh. Where do you suppose he went?"

"I dunno. Probably to boast to Cloud on how he won the bet--I hope."

"Hm." Shera thought for a while, but put the thought away for the time being.

"Yahoo!" shouted Cid over the wind. Finally--the bet was off! The Highwind roared in the air, doing as much of a victory celebration as Cid was. "Proved you wrong, didn't I, baldy?" shouted Cid over his shoulder. In the shadows, Cloud glowered. Without his hair.

"Shut up, @#$%?. I'm in no mood to talk." Cid just chuckled.

"Maybe we need to make another bet. Put some money on the line."

"I don't think so," responded Cloud, shaking his head. He put on a large cap and went below decks to skulk about his loss. Up on the bridge, Cid merely laughed.

"You're a #$%?^ fine kid, chrome-dome. #$%?^ fine kid!" And, glad to be free again, Cid shouted that old Scottish war cry, "Freedom!!"

He was free. !@#$?%


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