July 9th, 2022
Keera had never been to a real movie studio before. Sure, she'd been outside of one, with her uncle John while the two waited for Scarlett to get off work, but never actually inside of one. This never made sense to her, as both her grandmother Maria Kethrin and Scarlett were both working in the movie business.
However Keera just chalked it up to them being too busy, as Scarlett had just only recently received permission from her executives to allow her to give the teen a personal tour, permission that Keera was sure was obtained by Scarlett threatening to destroy the studio or smash a few heads before the allowance was given. Keera, Annabelle, practically everyone in town had knowledge of Scarlett's random habit to go on a few angered rampages, and those who haven't had just moved to Hidden Springs and had not crossed her yet.
As Keera and Scarlett stood by the gate, waiting for the thing to open, the latter was starting to get a bit upset, wondering what was taking so long for the tour to begin. Keera had just started to walk back to the car to drive away as fast possible in case the inevitable happened when the gate creaked open and the two were able to walk inside the place.
From the first step in, Keera was amazed. She looked around in joyful shock as she recognized some of the sets from big-budget action movies and small drama films alike. Off in the corner were three large containers that looked like giant spray cans, and Keera had seen them in behind-the-scenes sets of a new movie coming out soon, one that involved a small alien exploring the giant world around it.
Keera was about to approach Scarlett to ask her for a tour of the costume department when Scarlett realized she forgot her purse in the car. The teen pleaded for Scarlett to take her into the studio itself, and Scarlett acknowledged she would... after she got her purse. Scarlett asked Keera if she wanted to come with her, but the younger lady smiled and told her she wanted to walk a bit more around the outside before going in. Scarlett nodded and walked out of the gate, leaving Keera behind.
Keera didn't know how she didn't get injured in the first, massive explosion that overtook the entire studio's back lot, knocking sets off the ground and buildings off their foundations.
Halfway across town Annabelle fell off her feet when the ground beneath her shook, she honestly thought it was an earthquake.
When Keera stood back up, she was dazed. Sets had fallen apart and collapsed into the ground, a fire had engulfed the entire place, and she could hear the oncoming sounds of fire trucks and police cars, first responders to the explosion. Over the commotion, Keera could hear Scarlett screaming out her name, her voice filled with terror and worry. Unable to see from the smoke, and discombobulated from the explosion, Keera thought she was heading for the exit, but in reality she was accidentally heading for the other side of the lot, back towards the origin of the blast.
By the time the smoke around her had been carried by the wind, it was far too late: she was face-to-face with the still-burning husk of one of the spray cans. Keera widened her eyes as the can flared, and a smaller explosion sent chunks of metal flying towards her. She tried to get out of the way, twisting her body backwards, but the battle of her reflexes versus a chunk of boiling-hot metal ended quickly, as the searing metal hit her straight in the left eye and the area of her fact surrounding it.
Annabelle, with her acute Torran senses, heard Keera's scream as it echoed violently across the area.
Keera grabbed a nearby tool to rip the metal off without burning her hand, and when it finally relented after a few agonizing seconds she realized that she couldn't see out of her left eye, soon coming to terms with the fact that she no longer HAD a left eye to see out of. Succumbing to the pain as well as the smoke filling her lungs, Keera passed out, but not before saying one last thing...
"Mom? I can't feel my face... please help."
Suddenly, Annabelle fell to the ground and started crying, and at the time, she didn't know why. She had no idea Keera was involved in the accident, though the had heard something... she kept crying, until she heard then news.
Then she cried more.
A few feet away from Annabelle, Kelly had heard Annabelle crying and ran into the room to make sure she was okay. Then, for some reason, she started tearing up as well. She hid behind the stairs because she didn't want Annabelle to see her like she was, as she always wanted to be strong for her friend.
It took five minutes for firefighters to get to Keera, and by the time they got there, her hair and clothes were singed from the fire around her.
It took five minutes for firefighters to get to Keera, and by the time they got there, her hair and clothes were singed from the fire around her.
Keera looked in a mirror, thinking of that day when she lost her eye. It had been a full month since the accident, yet not a day went by that she didn't have terrible daydreams and flashbacks, nightmares, and thoughts in her head that repeatedly told her "this was the end as it could have been." In the time since the accident her scar had begun to fade, but it would always remain.
Keera planned to have her eye repaired or replaced in time but she would never have any kind of corrective surgery on her scar, as it was a reminder that she should always be careful, always be aware of her surroundings, because if she wasn't, it could very well mean the end.
August 14th, 2022
"I could have lost Annabelle... I... I could have lost her. I could have never met her... I..."
Still, he remembered how he had to do something, despite the unspoken concept that he shouldn't have interfered with the way the other universe worked. After talking with the real Annabelle, Tom used the phone to call paramedics. Unfortunately he had to leave before he found out of Jessica would be okay, and continued to wonder if she survived that night.
"Hello.", he said. "My name is Tom, Tom Jameson." The woman continued to read the book, not seeming to listen to Tom's words. Unfazed, he continued talking. "I haven't seen you around town. You new here?" Again the woman didn't reply. "You enjoying that book? Hello? Tom Jameson here. Hello?"
"Oh I am so sorry!" The woman said. "When I get into a story you need to pry me out of it with a crowbar sometimes." She chuckled, then put the book away in her jacket. "Again, I am very sorry. Mr... Jameson? Was it? My name's Andy, Andrea Marie but you can call me Andy. I just... love this book of mine, and again I am very sorry I didn't answer you before."
Tom chuckled. "It's okay. I live with about three people who love books so at this point I'm rather used to it." Tom shrugged, then said. "In fact I was actually sitting here because someone asked me to get a book for them and I.. forgot about it... I just don't want to go back and face their wrath." He realized that was a half truth. Annabelle did ask Tom to go get a book discussing the idea of site-to-site teleportation but the bookstore owner did was out for lunch, so he decided to sit outside waiting for him to return. Then he started to think about the whole "Jessica" thing and his time just fell apart. "So what book were you reading?"
"Oh, it's just a fantasy novel. Witches, fairies, werewolves, stuff like that. It's called 'The Dark Hollow' and I love it. I especially love chapter fifteen when the evil witch reveals herself to the protagonist." Andy smiled, "I just didn't see it coming and BOOM, right there, it happened. You ever read it?"
"Nah, I am not really a fan of fantasy novels. I've heard it was good, and I even heard they're making some movie. My cousin was supposed to audition for it before she took a hiatus from acting. There was an accident on set and..."
Andy had a curious look on her face. "Wait, accident? Recent? I heard about an explosion here in town, it was all over the news. Your cousin was that teenager who got injured?"
Tom shook his head, then said "No, she is my best friend's daughter. My cousin's an actress. She was giving her a tour of the set and... well you've heard the rest it seems. I wasn't even here, I was in China, and even then there was an explosion that I would have been in if I hadn't gotten lost."
"Hmmmm...." Andy said. "Well, I'm glad that didn't happen. From this little conversation we've had, I can tell you're a good person and that would be terrible to have happened to a good person, as terrible as it was to have happened to a teenager at such an innocent age."
YOU COUSIN KELLY" on the screen. Tom laughed every time he saw that, because when Kelly was programming the name into his phone she was so happy about something she forgot the "R" on the end of "your". Kelly had been inordinately happy about something recently, smiling with every thing she does. Tom began to wonder if she wasn't the same person because he hadn't seen her this happy since they were children.
"TOM!" Kelly said when he answered the phone. "Scarlett wants you to find a book on weddings and if at all possible can you find a book on detectives I really really want to read one please thank you!" Tom barely had time to think of what she said when by the time she hung up.
"Okay.", Tom said dryly, then he turned back to Andy. "I have to find a book on wedding detectives, I think. Ever since my cousin Kelly... I don't know, she's been very bubbly. She's normally very stern and perceptive."
"Well maybe she found love." Andy said. "At least that's how it goes in books and stories. People are very straight-edge then when they find someone they care for they break from it. Happens all the time"
"Maybe." Tom replied. "Well I got to get those books..." Then suddenly, Tom felt compelled to do something spontaneous. "Hey, maybe you and I can see each other again, for... lunch, maybe?"
Andy blushed and smiled. "I'd like that. Here's my number." Andy gave him a small piece of paper, pre-ripped out of a book with a cell number on it. "Call me anytime."
Tom smiled back. He had never done anything like that, ask a stranger for a date, especially considering his feelings for Annabelle, but something between him and Andy just, "clicked", he felt something right with her, maybe because they both seemed to love the color brown, but maybe because they simply met on the bench.
'At the very least', Tom thought to himself, 'that would give Annabelle a chance to be with someone aside from me.'
Meanwhile, Annabelle herself was standing in their house's upstairs bathroom, looking at herself in the mirror. The snug "membrane suit", that she was wearing didn't leave much to the imagination, but then again it was better this than the last time she used the teleporter and wore a thin, loose dress, and the resulting teleporter malfunction left nothing to the imagination. Still, after being teleported to the middle of nowhere with zero coverage Annabelle was still determined to test the teleporter John had been working on, because she knew how much he wanted to use it to teleport right to his wedding, right to the alter when Scarlett approaches it for that extra "wow" factor.
If anything, John had a love of flashy entrances.
Annabelle didn't want John to test it because he had Scarlett, and if anything happened she couldn't forgive herself for making Scarlett a widow before their marriage. Of course, she didn't like to think of anything resulting in "death by teleporter", especially since she was the one who was going to test it out. John promised Annabelle that the teleporter was safe to use, however, and this time wouldn't send her anywhere "in the altogether" again. Despite this, she still decided to wear her old "membrane suit" that her mother Maria had said came with her to this planet and seemed to grow in size as Annabelle had.
"What if something DOES happen, John?" Annabelle remembered asking him. What would happen to me?
"Well, the Teleporter has been equipped with a special tool I developed. It literally copies your entire genetic structure, weight, height, even MEMORIES. This way you won't be... dead. I basically created a giant human copy machine, but it won't be activated unless something goes wrong. But I assure you, assure you completely, that nothing terrible will happen this time."
Annabelle replied with a sarcastic "yeah, I'm soo much better." But then realized that John was smarter than she could ever hope to be. "Okay, let's do this."
Annabelle looked into her eyes in the mirror. She had thoughts pouring into her mind, thoughts concerning everything that had happened in the past month, and even longer before that.
She remembered a trip to France, one her family took after she graduated high school in Sunset Valley. She remembered one particular day, when all the other members of the family went to visit the Eiffel Tower, and she was back at the vacation house, sick with a flu. Tom had stayed behind to help her out, and one thing led to another resulting in a day she never forgot yet never told a single person in the house.
Annabelle chuckled to herself every time she thought of Tom being sick with the same flu the next day.
Lately, Tom hadn't been very approachable. Every time Annabelle tried to talk to him he wouldn't really react much. She had a theory that it was because of the accident which led him into an alternate dimension, but he wouldn't say if it was the case.
Thinking of France led Annabelle to ponder over other events in her romantic life. She thought back to a few days prior, when Kelly and her were trying on bridesmaids dresses for Scarlett's wedding. When Kelly had the dress on she walked into Annabelle's room to ask her what she thought of it.
"I like the dress, but the color is... meh." Kelly said as the two stood in front of a mirror. "I would prefer to wear a blue dress at the wedding."
Annabelle chuckled, and said "Would YOU want to tell Scarlett that you don't want to wear a red dress to her wedding? Mind you this is the same Scarlett who punched a hole through a car windshield when she stubbed her toe on the garage door?"
"You know this dress isn't that bad, I can live with it for a day!" Kelly said without missing a beat. This made Annabelle laugh. Changing the subject, Kelly looked at Annabelle and asked, "So what would you wear, to your wedding? Would you do a white dress or your average, ordinary black and purple colors?"
Annabelle took a few moments to wonder this, and said "Like Scarlett, I could go with wearing all white for a day. Then again I don't know when I'll get married, if I ever even do. Why do you ask this?"
"I don't know, just... wondering. If I got married I would wear white too, just something very beautiful about a white dress flowing in the breeze. I've imagined my wedding for years, a bright spring day, on a hill overlooking the town. Maybe even under the Starlight Shores sign on the west coast. There would be me, my bri- I mean, erm, groom. A few family members, friends, acqu-"
"Whoa, go back... you almost said bride. I heard it!" Annabelle said, apologetically interrupting her. "Kelly... I... you never..."
"There's a reason." Kelly said. "I-I-" Annabelle could sense a struggle in her friend's words. "You know this is a great day for a walk, let's go out walking."
"Kelly... what's wrong?"
Kelly finally bit the bullet and relented. "I LOVE YOU!"
Nothing prepared Annabelle for what her friend had just said. "What?" Then again, Annabelle could always tell something was up between Kelly and her, every time she walked into the room Kelly would perk up and be a bit happier. But still, after all this time, Kelly LOVED her?! Annabelle was floored. She had no idea what to say, and Kelly could tell. She continued to talk.
"It was that explosion, that one in Bridgeport that injured you and Tom, it's been since then that I've thought this way. I don't know why, I didn't even think I liked other... you know. But every time I think of someone I care for, someone I love, your face pops into my thoughts. "
Annabelle remained where she was. "I... don't know how to... I've never had this happen before. Ever."
"Well I've never done this before" Kelly replied. "You are the first to know this, and I wanted it to be that way. In time maybe, I can tell the others, but- I am having trouble getting through this. I really am. I never thought I would tell you and now it's tearing me apart!"
Annabelle turned around to face her. "Look, I want you to know I am very... astonished... to hear this coming from you. In hindsight maybe not that astonished but it's still nice to know this for real. I-" Annabelle grabbed Kelly's hand and lifted it to her cheek, smiling. "I don't really think I'm... but you have always been a great friend, and I would be happy to help you get through th-"
With no more words Kelly quickly leaned in and kissed Annabelle, shyly. Afterward, she ran out of the room quietly, leaving Annabelle in shock.
She had no idea what to say, or do. She didn't expect her day to go like this. But everything seemed to come together perfectly. Kelly was her best friend, and now she revealed that she loved Annabelle. Annabelle remained where she was for a good solid hour, contemplating the events of the past few moments.
"Hey kid, can I talk to you for a moment?"
Scarlett approached Keera, only recently having been able to talk to her due to the guilt she felt over the accident which scarred the teen. Over the month, she'd have a few sessions with Dr. Richards but they didn't seem to help much. After talking with Annabelle, John, and Tom, Scarlett finally felt the nerve to approach her young friend.
"Hey Scarlett!" Keera said. "Happy Birthday!"
"Scarlett... please, you don't have to apologize every time you see me!" Keera said. "I'm just happy to have you talk to me! Now, what do you need?
"Well, I... I want to make up for not being there to help when you needed me. I know you told me a thousand times that I don't need to do anything for you, but I just want you to do one thing for me. Please do this?"
"What is it?"
Meanwhile, in John's lab under the basement, John was sitting at the controls of the teleporter, accessing the doors that would allow Annabelle entrance into the room with the device.
And then everything went black.
"As your President, I am honored to announce the launch of the Perigee, may it travel to new worlds and find launch new discoveries!'
"I told you a thousand times, Jamie... DON'T USE THE LIVING ROOM FURNITURE AS YOUR FORTRESS! Now where's your brother!?"
"Come on, you have to remember, I told you what happened in Starlight Shores was a mistake... Please... listen!"
A few seconds later, Annabelle was back in the teleportation chamber. "What... the hell.. was that?" Annabelle asked, still shivering. She questioned herself, did she actually see what she thought she saw? Was that Kelly, and her, and Tom and everyone else? "What went wrong?!"
"I don't understand, the computer locked up! It's a dead screen, I cant' get into the network at all!" John said, furiously hitting at his computer's keyboard. "This damn thing's crashed! I need to get into the log to find out why you didn't teleport."
Suddenly, the communication device activated on the wall. "Hey John, it worked! I'm in the living room and I'm NOT naked! It worked!"