Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chapter Fourteen - Nature vs. Nurture

 March 2nd, 2013.
Three days before the Sunset Valley Meteor Shower.



"Um... so there's a dance coming up at school... maybe you could.... ... maybe..."
 "Is it hot in here or is it just me?" Scarlett asked. John was sitting in front of his computer writing on a novel as Scarlett sat near him, focusing all her attention on him. Recently she had found that she had feelings for John, feelings that went beyond friendship, and with every attempt to act out on them she felt like she had butterflies in her stomach. 

"John, what I was asking is if you want to go to the dance."

"Of course! I am going anyway."

 "I mean with me." Scarlett said. John turned around in his chair and looked at her in the eyes. John too had feelings for Scarlett, he liked her as much as she did him, and like her he never acted on them before. "Yes, I would like to."

"GREAT!!! I mean... uh, great, let's do that." Hey John, I have a question, I'm supposed to take a picture for the school Newspaper of... um... someone, can I take a picture of you?"

"Sure Scarlett."

 "I hope you get my good side!"

"Don't worry, John. No one will see this but me."

"I thought it's for the school paper!"

"Uh... no one reads that, you know. I do, but that's it." 

 "Scarlett, when is the dance?"

"Next Friday. A week from now."

"Oh okay, I can't wait."
Three days later, the meteors hit. John and Scarlett never did go to that dance, but that didn't change their feelings about each other. The day after the meteor shower, John asked Kelly to tell Scarlett that he liked her, and they became inseparable, yet neither acted on their respective romantic feelings.

November 30th, 2018
Present Day

 "Hey Scarlett, I was wondering if you could accompany me on a trip around the town. I want to show you my favorite places to visit in Sunset Valley!"

"Why?" Scarlett asked. She had been around Sunset Valley, all over the place, and knew every single little thing about it. She knew about the Stone Henge to the north and the mines to the east, nothing about this place surprised her. In any case, however, she wanted to go where John wanted to go, but wanted to toy with him a tiny bit more.

"Uh... just too. Please? I promise you you'll never forget it. Do I have to say 'with cherries on top', because I will... I know you like cherries."

"Okay okay, I'll go."

 "Again, I promise you'll never forget it!" John took Scarlett's hand and they walked to his car. After a drive, they found themselves on top of a mountain overlooking the entire town.

 "This is one of them. One of many." John said, "Now let's go somewhere else! I want to show you my second favorite place to be." 

 John and Scarlett spent the day going literally everywhere around town. The park, the beach, the springs, ponds, and even the Science Facility, the latter of which didn't surprise Scarlett because she knew her would-be romantic interest loved science. 

 "Oh come on John, the city junkyard? How could this dingy little place possibly be one of your favorit- Hey what's my cousin doing here?" Scarlett asked, seeing a small bit of blue amongst the gray and brown.

"It looks like she's in the middle of an investigation, let's go before we break her concentration. I wonder what happened here." John said. "Besides, I want to show you the waterfall."

"Ugh, is that your favorite place too?" Scarlett asked, exasperated.

"It might be." John said.


   Kelly sifted through the wreckage looking for any trace of anything that could lead to the whereabouts of Dominic Roberts, a man who vanished a week before and was last seen in the junkyard. Behind her, Commissioner Davis Cambridge was busy trying to keep Mayor Bebe Hart from prying too much into the story of a "monster" who supposedly chased Roberts out of the junkyard.

Cambridge also worked to keep away the fact that the seventeen year-old girl sifting through the garbage was in fact a young detective herself who was asked by Commissioner Cambridge to help solve this case. When Mayor Hart left, Kelly approached Cambridge.

"Well Commissioner, I don't see any trace of the man, his clothes, nothing. However I did notice something, footprints in the dirt that lead away from the crime scene."

 "How does that help my case? I'm trying to find this man, Kelly."
 "Sir, they morph. The footprints morph. They change into... something shaped like a serrated horseshoe pattern. I don't know how to explain it, and I would have told you if I would.

 "Are you saying that this person owns a horse? Ever since imports came in from Appaloosa Plains there have been all kinds of animals coming into town, including horses both wild and domesticated. What do you expect us to do?

"We should start looking for a horse, of course." Kelly said bluntly.

Connor Frio was reading a book in his house after eavesdropping on the conversation between Kelly and Commissioner Cambridge. Connor was present when Dominic Robertson vanished, as he was at the junkyard as well looking for some parts to fix an old radio of his in the basement. He saw something appear out of thin air and chase Robertson away, growling all the way, but he didn't get a good look at it. Connor didn't tell anyone this because he didn't think anyone would buy his story about a giant killer monster magically appearing in the center of a junkyard.

 Without warning, a fire spontaneously sprouted next to him. Connor quickly got up and tried to run for help but instantly he felt his legs get a little sluggish, and he felt like he was walking on air. It was a very peculiar feeling, and it filled him with unspeakable dread. Seconds later, he realized he WAS floating in the air, and a horrific creature was standing right in front of him making him do it...

 "Look at this, Annabelle. Look at what your Earth life has given you. Torrans are much more focused on the idea of living without possessions, each room was sparse with a bed, a dresser, and maybe a few other things... at least that's what I heard from my ship's computer."
 "Well I wasn't born a Torran, was I?" Annabelle asked, offended. "I was raised as a human, and that's what I am. I don't really care what you say. I've given up on listening to you for this week. All you've done is attack people's lifestyles simply because they're human.
 "You're right about that, and I have a lot more to say. I've grown up here on Earth with nothing. For eleven years I was in suspended animation, aging as you did, but I wasn't raised on earth life... I raised myself on my own nature, which as any psychology theorist would realize antagonizes your nurtured human life."

"Is there a problem with that?" Annabelle said.

 "I'd say so... you pride yourself on this Earth materialism, surrounded by this filth of human garbage both living and inanimate. If you were in my shoes you would pride yourself on owning the clothes on your back, Annabelle."
 "Hey Annabelle I was just coming by to ask if you maybe wanted to go to the beach today, maybe find that ice cream truck that always seems to park outside the house at 5:00 AM and get something to eat at the rest-

"HUMAN GARBAGE?!?!" Annabelle yelled out, taking deep offense to Isobelle's words.
 "Hey Maria I was just wondering if you maybe wanted to go to the beach today, maybe find that ice cream truck that always seems to park outside the house at 5:00 AM and get something to..."

 "Yes. I have not seen one thing on this planet that shows me anything regarding compassion and love, the so-called 'principles of the human condition'. Humanity prides itself on violence, and it's violence that sustains it, like a lion on it's hunting grounds."
 Suddenly Annabelle had an idea. "Okay Sis, you want to see a place that prides itself on compassion and sadness, the non-violent side of the human condition? Come along with me, then. We're going to a graveyard."
 Falling Skies Graveyard.  

When the meteor shower destroyed half the town and killed over fifty people, the city Chamber of Commerce decided to build a new graveyard to bury the dead because the Pleasant Rest site was already full. 

 In the graveyard rested the bodies of Agnes Crumplebottom, the Harts, Deacon's parents, and many more who lost their lives during the meteor shower. There wasn't much of a reason for the townspeople to come by, with the exception of the annual mourners who leave roses at their loved ones' graves.  

  Annabelle stood quietly amongst the graves, trying to meditate. She came here often, and it was always a quiet place, no matter who came along with her, they always remained quiet when in the presence of the fallen. 

 "It's not your fault." Tom thought to himself, silently.
 Annabelle felt that she had done her duty this day, and turned around, walking out of the graveyard. When she was out of the gate, Tom turned around to see Annabelle's clone daughter looking at him.

 "Why does she still blame herself for this?" Keera asked, having been walking around the whole time. When she told her about her life's experiences, Annabelle had confided in Keera that she had a guilty feelings over not being able to help people during the meteor shower, and from she heard, Keera knew that she had no time to do anything before the meteors began impacting.

 "I think it's because she will never stop being saddened by it." Tom said. "No matter what she does in life, there will always be that small feeling of pain for these people."

"That's terrible." Keera said.

"The contrary..." Tom replied, "You can say it makes her human. "
As Annabelle left the graveyard she saw her sister with her arms crossed, giving her a mean look. "So this is where you've come to regain a sense of humanity, Annabelle?" She asked. "What, did our little conversation earlier affect you more than you thought? Are you going to cry, Annabelle?"

 "No. I'm not." Annabelle then realized something important. "And even if I did, you probably wouldn't understand why. I'm different than you, Isobelle. I had the fortune of being raised by a human. I feel compassion, I feel regret and sadness... not you. I don't know if those feelings are common where we come from, but they are what makes up the human condition."

"Your human compassion makes you soft, sad, and a wreck. Even I can see that, and I was locked in suspended animation for ten years with nothing to do but age and dream about my hair turning white. If I learned anything while exploring this world, I've learned that humans are just plain weak, spineless. The world panics at every little thing that happens to it. I should have known: you were raised by these creatures, and that's what makes you weak." 
"You are wrong. That's what makes me human.", Annabelle retorted. 

"...I don't see a difference." Isobelle coldly stated. 

Annabelle ignored this last line from her sister and walked away, making Isobelle glare at her as she left. Isobelle, knowing that she was unable to sway Annabelle to her side, yelled out towards her sister.

"You may have been raised as a human, Annabelle, but you are still Torran. You always will be, and that green skin will be a reminder of that. Remember your heritage, Annabelle, don't be weak, don't be pathetic... be someone like ME!"

Annabelle continued to walk away, and Isobelle decided to walk away herself, away from the house. Annabelle wouldn't see her again for a long time. She never did discover Isobelle's true nature, where she would kill anyone who see saw as evil. The first person she killed on earth had robbed a bank and killed two people in the process, hiding out in the woods afterward. It was unknown if Annabelle would think any more different about her.
 "It's after nightfall... we pretty much spent an entire day walking around, and literally every place we went was your 'favorite' place to be. Why would you spend the time taking me everywhere I've already been?" 

 "Well... because..." John decided to finally spit it out, his true feelings, just as he planned to do. 

 "Because everywhere I go with you IS my favorite place to be." John said. Scarlett was shocked at this, finally realizing that he had true feelings for her, not just a crush.

She was speechless. 

 "Wow that was awkward." John said, scratching his head. "Look, Scarlett, if you don't want to talk to me anymore I would understan-"
Suddenly Scarlett grabbed John's arm and kissed him for the first time. It was as wonderful as they both had hoped, and it made them feel like they were going to fly into the sky and explode like fireworks. 
 ..."and now Davis is leading an investigation into finding as many horses around town and people who owned them, cross-referencing the sightings from that night."

 From the moment Kelly said "horse" Keera was eying a picture on the wall. She remembered a story about Annabelle seeing a movie when she was younger that had a similar idea of a "horse", one based on a true story.

"Well... what if it's not just a horse, Kelly?"

 "What are you talking about- oh... um..."


 Annabelle was walking by the house of Connor Frio when she heard a struggling noise from inside the building. With no cell phone she couldn't call the police to report it, so she decided to check things out for herself. 

Suddenly the house violently exploded into a fireball. The structure itself didn't seem to sustain much damage but the heat of the blast knocked Annabelle back. She had a small flashback to the Bridgeport Library but this explosion was much more mysterious as there was no real shrapnel, and the blast wave was limited to only around the house as if there was some magical shield there. Another thing that worried Annabelle was that she had seen something like this before and she didn't like where she saw it.

 Annabelle regained her composure and stood her ground, but when she saw something standing in front of her she would have fainted if she wasn't so afraid.

 February 3rd, 2013 
 Two months before the Sunset Valley meteor shower.

 "Come on mom, we're going to be late! I want to get good seats!" Annabelle was excited to see the first horror movie her that her mother actually let her watch. It was her eleventh birthday and to celebrate Annabelle begged Maria to take her to see a movie called "Night of the Killer Unicorn", which was a horror film and also a "found footage" documentary based on a real event that took place on a night in Sunset Valley during the fifties.

 Seeing as how it was a Tuesday night, Sunset Valley's theater was rather empty with the exception of maybe two teens in the back row of chairs who were making out. When Annabelle and Maria showed up in the theater, the two teens promptly stood up and walked out, leaving the entire place to the mother and daughter. 
  After a few moments of silence and darkness, the title screen of the movie popped up and Annabelle already felt uneasy about the film. The scary music didn't do well to alleviate her fear. 

 "Mom, can we go see something else. I think this movie will be a little scarier than I thought."

"Just give it time, I'm sure it will just be a campy movie like all these 'Night of the Whatever' movies are, okay. If you get scared just close your eyes okay? I'll be right here with you."
 For most of the movie, Maria was right. The acting was sub-par, effects seemed a bit cheap, and there were no murders through the entire first hour.

Suddenly the actual eponymous Unicorn showed up on screen after about an hour of build-up, setting fire to everything visible. Suddenly the dark, raspy voice of the on-screen monster filled the theater, screaming nearly inside Annabelle's head. 


   Wasting no time, Annabelle jumped from her seat, stormed outside the theater, ran down the street, into her house, up the stairs, into the bedroom, and for good measure she threw a bookcase in front of the door. Maria, who thought the movie was still laughably campy, didn't notice this until Annabelle was about halfway down the street. 

 "Annabelle, open the door."


"Annabelle, please open the door."

"Is something blocking this thing? Annabelle, open the door!" 

Annabelle was terrified of the things since then.

 Back in the present, Annabelle realized that the story was based on a true story just as she heard, and now she stood in front of the thing she feared the most...

"Hello there... alien life form. And how are we on this fine evening?"