Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chapter Twenty-Six - Echoes of the Past

After returning home from the diner with Keera and John, Annabelle watched them walk inside and continued to think over things about Tom and herself, and everything else. She sat in her room, looking at her old SocialNet profile on the computer and noting that Tom was still a "friend" of hers, despite the massive argument between the two of them and subsequent rift that formed around the pair. She thought things over until she heard dinner was done, and then left the room after turning off her computer.

Tom wasn't there at dinner, no one really knew where he was at the moment. Annabelle assumed he was still at the bar, sulking things over. She didn't know that Tom was out in the town proper, looking under every nook and cranny could, under every one he didn't before. She didn't know her words to him at the bar changed his mind on giving up, and now he was more determined than before to find clues to Andy's last words.

Resting at a park, Tom sat on a bench and looked out to the Starlight Shores sign, wondering how he was going to get through things. Suddenly he stood up with a widened eye on his face, looking intently out to something. He ran towards someone he saw walking down the street, but when he had caught up to him the man was gone.

"Dad?" Tom whispered to himself.


The next morning...


"It's crazy, Kelly." Mirabelle said. She and Kelly were sitting in their shared bedroom watching television, trying to wake up before getting ready for the day.


"I'm sitting here, thinking things over. A month ago I wasn't here, but I really was. Everything about Annabelle is in me, and yet I am not feeling the pain of the rift between Tom and herself. I'm the same, but different."

"Wow, you've really been going through some existential crisis lately." Kelly said, smirking. "Is there something wrong with Annabelle that you have to deal with? What's wrong Mira? I hope I didn't do anything wrong! I mean I know I didn't, how could I? I am perfect."

"No, there's nothing wrong. I've just been wondering how things would be if Annabelle never stepped onto that teleporter, and I was never created. I just-"

Kelly kissed Mirabelle to get her mind off the subject, then said. "I don't even want to think about it. Knowing Annabelle she probably never would have returned the feelings I felt for her, and feel for you now. And it seems you were created just so Annabelle could have the best of everything."

"And the worst of everything." Mirabelle said. "Look at how she's been acting with Tom lately! They barely talk! If I was her I wouldn't be-... wait, I am her, technically! I... have an idea."

"Oh no, you're not going to impersonate Annabelle making Tom think it's her apologizing when it's really you under some kind of hair dye and sunglasses to hide the magenta parts of your hair and eyes. Then Annabelle shows up and you two get into an argument then a scuffle then Tom pulls out some kind of weapon and says 'which one of you is the real Annabelle?!' and you both say you are and then you trick him into harming the real Annabelle and you hug him and when his back is to you your glasses fall revealing your magenta eyes, are you?"

Mirabelle looked at Kelly with a bizarre look on her face, then said, "What the hell are you on about?! I'm gonna talk to Annabelle and see if the dual nature of our minds can come to some kind of agreement to get her and Tom back together. You know you watch waaaay too many detective movies, Kel."

"It's a hobby I share with Keera. She happens to be a fan of the evil twin taking over the life of the good twin genre, as generic as it is."

 "Well not everything that happens to us happens in movies... even though our life experiences would probably amount to about FIFTY summer action blockbusters. My point is... what was I saying again?"

Kelly chuckled. "Well forget what you were saying, I was going to say... breakfast. You can cook it because we don't want a repeat of the last time I tried to make something."

"Hey, hey! Your eyebrows grew back! And it didn't take long too! But since you're worried about turning the house into the centerpiece of a bonfire party, I'll make some waffles. Then I'll talk to Annabelle... if I have the time. Remember I'm planning Scarlett's bachelorette party and I need absolute concentration before setting fire to that boiling pot."

"Yeah." Kelly responded, "Tread very carefully with that and buy everything red you can. And when all else fails, change your name to Mary Ann and we'll move to Missouri."

"What? Why Missouri?" Mirabelle asked.

"No particular reason. I like Missouri, My dad was born there." Kelly smiled and looked at the television, watching the cooking channel in hopes of learning some kind of pointers. Mirabelle laughed when Kelly tried to recreate the motion of the cook on the television, failing miserably.

Mirabelle chuckled, then stood up. "I'm going to make breakfast. You want to come watch and/or help without actually cooking?" Mirabelle added the last few words as some kind of clause agreement line, just to make sure. She was surprised she didn't spontaneously bring out a contract or something for her to sign like one would see in comics or cartoons. Then she realized that things were different than they would be living in a comic.

"Of course I will!" Kelly said, then stood up. The two then walked out of the room towards the kitchen downstairs.


Tom walked into the art gallery, looking around for some kind of clue. As he walked around he couldn't help but notice that someone was watching him occasionally, making his way to each floor. He didn't let this bother him at first, and continued to look for anything closely resembling a hint to what Andy was talking about. On the second floor, Tom stopped and saw a giant ornate entrance.

A sign on the wall nearby said that it was a new exhibit, a replica of the Tomb of Vor-Sett, an Egyptian Pharaoh whose name struck Tom with a hint of familiarity. He opened the door and found himself in a dark, deeply ornate room filled with relics. At the end of the room was a sarcophagus with a creepy skull-like face. Rather than look around, Tom shuddered and walked back outside the room, where the man who had been following him around was standing there, waiting for him.

"What do you think of my new exhibit? I spared no expense making sure everything was as accurate as possible in there." The man said. "Everything."

"Are you the curator of this museum or something?" Tom asked, puzzled.

"No, I am just a local rich guy who loves Egyptian tombs. My name is Jacob Thompson, you've probably heard of me."

"No." Tom said, flatly. "I don't busy myself with learning about people I've never met."

"A shame. I really am famous. I guess it's you're one of those people who don't like the 'famous for being famous' crowd and all that stuff. I've been charitable to quite a few people since I came to this town a month ago, a regular beneficiary of sorts."

Tom didn't like this guy, and he didn't even know why that was. There was just something about him that screamed "untrustworthy". Rather than stay in his company, Tom said "I have to go, I need to do something.  I uh... promised a friend I would help them move stuff today."

"Okay. Then I shall speak to you later on. Have a nice day Mr. Jameson." Jacob kept walking and smiled as he did so. Tom, creeped out for the second time in less than a few minutes, kept walking, then stopped in his tracks.

"Wait a second, how in he hell did he know my name?!"


Annabelle was standing in a public beach house making herself some juice when she heard the door open. Expecting the usual crowd of beach-goers who love to fish in the ocean, she was surprised when a man with blonde hair walked in. Annabelle instantly knew who he was, and her eyes glared. "You. What the hell are you doing here?!"

"My sister told me that she met you at the market yesterday, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet you again, miss Kethrin. Or is it Mrs. Jameson, now?" Deacon smiled as he walked up to Annabelle, who had a decidedly different look on her face. "I saw how Tom cared for you when we were teenagers. I figured by now you'd be married, with a kid or two."

"You come near me and I'll put you down." Annabelle angrily said. "I'll do it too! I've been training martial arts! I'll-"

"I'm not here to harm you Annabelle. It would be a shame to myself, who is exceedingly handsome, to have any part of this handsome face injured by someone as exquisite as you."

"What?" Annabelle was puzzled, but Deacon started chuckling a bit. "What are you laughing about?!"

"I'm so sorry, Annabelle, I was going to do this whole thing where I was going to act like I did in Bridgeport, and then I decided against it because you look like you could rip my head off with your eyelashes at the moment. In the end, I thought 'why act like that? I was a complete and total a-hole, a snobby piece of sh'-" suddenly Deacon's cell rang, he saw a number he didn't recognize and ignored the call. "...What was I saying?"

"You were GOING to apologize to me for acting like that in the city of Bridgeport, like you did for years. And even if you weren't going to, I will make you."

"Ah yes." Deacon said, nodding to her before sitting down on a stool.

"I was going to anyway, and be very sincere about it. I am truly sorry for the way I acted. I was mean, and cold. It was Jack. Jack put me up to it by playing to my emotions, he tricked me into being the person I was by pushing every button he could. That man was pure malice, pure hatred... evil incarnate. He tricked you, and Tom, and everyone in your family. He convinced me he loved me as an adopted son, the son he never had and always wanted, but that was a facade. I heard he laughed when he heard the news of me being injured from the fall, a minor chuckle. I hate him."

Annabelle took a moment to process this. "We all hate Jack Toomes." She said, though still with a bit of a harsh tone in her voice. "Everything you said about him was true, and... everything you said about yourself was true, I think. I don't know why I know but I know, you poured your heart into what you said..."

Annabelle then looked at him again, and then turned to leave the building without even looking back. "...but I can't trust you right now. Not after what happened in Bridgeport, not after you assisted Jack Toomes and his Benefactor alter-ego. Not now, maybe not ever. Trust is something you have to earn, Jones. And you have a LOT to make up for. Now I must leave, and if you're as persistent as you were in Bridgeport, I'm sure I'll be seeing a hell of a lot of you around."

Annabelle left the building, leaving Deacon behind to his own thoughts. After thinking it over, she didn't really care for what he had to say. Every time she looked at his face she saw the same snob she met in Bridgeport, no matter how much he had changed in his life or claimed to have changed. Annabelle hated Deacon for what he did back then, and the recent incident with Tom and Andy had proved to her that people are never what they act like on the outside, and it wasn't Andy she was thinking about.

"You couldn't let one good thing happen for me, huh? How very ALIEN of you, Kethrin!" Those were his words. Those were Tom's words before he left to find Andy after Annabelle yelled at her. Every time Annabelle remembered that phrase she wanted to punch something. Here is Tom, who spent his entire life helping her out, who stayed with her when she didn't want to be alone, who cared for her, calling her inhuman because she didn't trust Andy. That hurt her more than Deacon or Jack or Nightmare ever could, and him basically saying "go to hell" at Andy's funeral caused Annabelle to become a jaded, negative, shell of her self, a cynic in every possible sense of the word. Annabelle was sure that if Tom never met Andy and Deacon still showed his face she would be able to accept his apology and trust him, but she couldn't now, not after what had happened to everyone.

After a short time walking, Annabelle found herself in the middle of a park, off in the distance she could see the Starlight Shores sign, and this place gave her a great vantage point to look at the northern side of town. She just sat there on the bench, looking out to the distance, lost in her thoughts. Suddenly someone walked up to her and sat down on the seat beside her.

"I hope this seat's not taken." Cassie said, "But you seem to want to be alone so why would it be?"

Annabelle scoffed, "And you didn't take that as a hint to let me be?"

Cassie looked away. "My brother told me about how he acted towards you, he's told me numerous times about the way he was when he lived in Bridgeport. That wasn't him you saw in that city years ago, he was changed. I know he told you about the way Jack Toomes manipulated him, but the real Deacon, the one I know, isn't like that. He cares for people."

"He didn't seem to care for you." Annabelle said, "He didn't even mention he had a sister, such love there."

"He didn't know I was alive." Cassie said sadly. "I didn't know he was alive too."

Annabelle was startled by this. "What? What do you mean?!"

Cassie stood up and walked over to a tree. "You probably don't want to hear about this. It's depressing..."

"I do. It's the least you can do for setting me up on a surprise meeting with someone like your brother." Annabelle said, then stood up next to her. "Spill it."

 "I told you, Deacon wasn't always like he was in Bridgeport! When we were younger, Deacon and I visited Sunset Valley with our parents and uncle Peter. I was sick this one day when my parents took Deacon to the park, so they left me with my uncle at the place we were staying at. I asked Deacon to take my teddy bear to the park with him, to keep him company while I was in bed. Deacon did, and left. This was the Day of the Meteor Shower."

Annabelle felt her stomach turn. The same damn meteor shower that killed fifty seven people in Sunset Valley over a decade before. Even now the memory haunted her, the inability to do anything to stop it, the destroyed park, and Tom being there for her, telling her it wasn't her fault. Tom helping her cope with the destruction, his strength giving itself to her strength. This was the second time in two days that she had thought over what Tom had done for her in their life. She then realized Cassie was still talking.

"My parents were killed, and I thought Deacon was killed as well." Cassie said, sadly. "I found the burned remains of my teddy bear in the park after the explosions. Deacon assumed I was killed in the event as well when he couldn't find me. Eventually my uncle Peter took me back to to my home city of London, and Deacon was adopted by Jack Toomes. You know what happened there. Eventually my uncle Peter and I saw news of Deacon's injury at your house, and his subsequent selling of his goods and hospitalization in Hidden Springs. We immediately picked him up from there and brought him here to Starlight Shores, where I have been trying to nurse him back to full health alone since my uncle went to Bridgeport so he could run for mayor." Cassie then closed her eyes. "I told you it was depressing, and dark."

"Look lady, if you knew half of the stuff I've been through in my life, you wouldn't tell me that. I've seen things that would make people question their sanity. I AM someone who would make you do a quadruple take if you could see me for who I really am. And you can. You can see me as green, my hair as black and purple. You can see everything in me that most others can't, and that means that you are someone that I can deeply trust, even if I've never met you before."

Annabelle was conflicted. She could sense everything good about Cassie, and nothing evil, but she was still the sister of the man who treated Annabelle and her family like dirt in Bridgeport. "I need to go. I have some things to think about.", she said, then walked out of the park.


Keera was reading one of the books she checked out from the school library, specifically the one talking about the Legends of Starlight Shores. Tom, still worried about how Jacob Thompson, who he had never met, knew his name, sat next to her on the couch in the living room.

"This book is amazing, Tom." She said, "According to this, something's buried in the tomb of Richard Alan Laddeen with him, a relic he took with him from India a few years before his death. No one knows how to get into the tomb to find out what it is because apparently it's sealed with some ancient magic. In the 1920's, three grave robbers tried to break into the tomb and were found dead the next day with no visible injuries."

"That's interesting." Tom said, tuning her out. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk to her, it was just that he was so worried about finding whatever Andy was talking about and his current status with Annabelle, whatever that was classified as.

"Hey there." Annabelle said, walking in. "She saw Keera first, then saw Tom sitting next to her. "Saw Deacon at the beach today." Annabelle said. "He tried to apologize for the way he acted, do you believe that? Like an apology will fix anything."

Tom looked at her like she just threw a television through a window. "Yeah, imagine that."

"You're not surprised he's here? In Starlight Shores? I was! I was also ready to kick his snobby-"

"He changed." Tom said, interrupting her. "I told you, I saw him a few months after we fought and he apologized for the way he acted, and it was sincere. I forgave him and we went our separate ways. Kelly was there too."

"Oh, so he tried to kill you and you forgave him like that? Real classy, Tom. Then again I guess you've grown out of doing things like that." Annabelle scoffed, then stormed off to her room upstairs. Tom, realizing what he said, lowered his head.

"You know she wants to be friends with you again, Tom." Keera said. "I only have one eye and even I can see that clearly. Strange that you can't, huh?"

Tom sat where he was, thinking over now what Keera had said. "I'm worried that the rift around us has grown too far, I don't know how to salvage this relationship now."

"You don't? Or you don't want to because you're too afraid of losing her? Mom told me everything you told her about what happened to you in the other dimension. She told me that you met another version of her who had never known you, and how 'Jessica's' self-destructive lifestyle could have killed her. Yeah, you saw that universe's Annabelle on the ground like that, dying, and don't want to ever see it happen again the the REAL one, but do you want to know something, Tom? Mom's slowly turning into Jessica Crawford."

"What?" Tom asked, genuinely surprised at the words.


"Damn Tom!" Annabelle said angrily, walking around her room. "Yeah, accept Deacon's apology but not mine, yeah. Stupid clumsy hat-wearing as-"

"Hey am I intruding?" Mirabelle asked, walking into the room. "I didn't know you were home yet. Hi."

Annabelle looked at Mirabelle with a grimace on her face. "Hey. Sorry I'm just venting. I saw Deacon Jones today, and when I told Tom about it there were some words between us and I am now here, ready to throw darts at a board with a picture of Tom's face on it."

"Deacon? What's that snobby a-hole doing here in Starlight Shores?! If he comes near me I'll put him down! I've been training Martial Arts!"

Annabelle smiled, realizing that Mirabelle was saying almost exactly what she said when she saw Deacon at the beach earlier that day. "He's not snobby anymore I don't think. I talked to his sister, and she told me that he isn't like that. And he apologized too, but I couldn't accept it."

What? Why not?" Mirabelle asked, "Is it because of Tom? Wait, I know it's because of Tom because I would be exactly like you in this situation. Hell, I was like this he didn't believe me-you-US about the Unicorn when we were teens, and then again he did give... you... the potion to help fight Nightmare just in case."

"Yeah." Annabelle said. "I've been thinking a lot over how Tom's helped me in the past, how he was always there for me. You know what I'm talking about, right? Technically you were there. He saved us from Jack Toomes, he comforted us when we were in that explosion, he helped us through Keera's accident... he's always been there for us, with the exception of now."

"What do you mean Annabelle's turning into Jessica?" Tom asked Keera with a worried tone in his voice.

"She's becoming more cynical, and not to mention her tattoos which are the same as Jessica's, though not as numerous yet. She's also talking about wanting to party more and stuff. Mom's always loved the party lifestyle and since you're not there she's loved it even more."

"How do you know it's because I'm not here?" Tom asked.

"Because Jessica Crawford never knew you, and mom doesn't seem to know you anymore either. She's turning into her because you're never there."

"I don't believe that." Tom said. "That Jessica woman never knew ANY of us. She never knew John, or Scarlett, or you. Why would I be so special?"

"It's not sure I can give you that answer." Keera smiled then stood up and walked away without saying another word. Tom realized she was telling the truth. Something was about Tom that Annabelle needed in her life, but he didn't know what it was, and thought he would never figure it out.

"You need to be friends with Tom again!" Mirabelle flatly said. "He's been there for you, and me, and everyone for all this time! He's just going through some bad times right now, and he needs you there with him."

"I told you what he said to me, not only before Andy's death but afterward! He hates me!" Annabelle said. "Until HE apologizes for the way he acted, I will not relent, no matter what he's done for me. And besides, He's right. I am to blame. I yelled at Andy to leave, I told her to get out of the house. If I hadn't told her that she wouldn't have been at that graveyard and she wouldn't be dead. I am to blame."

Mirabelle started to to walk out of the room, but not before saying "When we were eleven, Tom told us something. He told us that the Annabelle he knew would never blame herself for anything. He also stayed with us that night. Remember this, Annie."


John and Scarlett were watching a romantic wedding movie on the television in their bedroom, trying to get tired enough to go to bed. John smiled, and the two cuddled together. "So do you know where you want to have it?" John asked. "The wedding, I mean. I didn't plan on moving to Starlight Shores so... yeah."

"The beach. I've always dreamed of a beach wedding." Scarlett replied. "And we're in Starlight Friggin' Shores, so why not have a classy beach-side ceremony, at sunset?"

"Yeah, I only wish those two would get back to being friends so we could have this ceremony."

"Yeah." Scarlett said. It was her idea to delay the wedding until Tom and Annabelle got back to being friends, and she didn't like to see John sad about that, so he quickly changed the subject. "So have you decided who you're going to invite to the ceremony? I was thinking your mom, my uncle Elliot and Aunt Mei, Kelly's friend Peter Cambridge, and considering we don't know anyone in Starlight Shores... no one else."

"I was thinking the same. Keep it a private ceremony between family and friends. True family." John put extra emphasis on "true", and Scarlett knew why. She remembered John's conflict his biological father in that dive bar a couple months prior, and couldn't forget it because that was the night he proposed to her.

"You're right. True family." Scarlett said. "I only wish my parents were able to be there. It's a wish I've had my entire life, to see them again for just one day, to tell them how much I love them, tell them how their spirit has guided me through my life. That would be a perfect day. But wishes don't come true, especially ones like that."

"Yeah. I would wish the same, just for you." John said. "Just to see you that much more happy."

The two kissed and continued watching television, with Scarlett jokingly saying "Now all we need is a genie to make that happen."


Jacob Thompson looked over the town and smiled. He then took out his cell phone and dialed a number, waiting for the person on the other end to answer. "You can suspend your search because I have the piece of the stone, Dr. Vu. I took it upon myself to obtain it a month ago from that idiot museum curator in Hidden Springs. I just didn't want to tell anyone because that what I like to do. I'm very odd like that."

"Give me the stone so I can complete the key, Thompson!" Dr. Vu said on the other end. "We have very little time!"

"On the contrary dear Doctor, we have plenty of time. You remember, it's two weeks until the event. That's plenty of time to have fun with those who wronged us in the past. And besides, I am the one supplying you with what you need now. I know that foolish idiot Jack Toomes was different in his methods, but I am your new Benefactor, and I would appreciate a much nicer attitude from the people I benefit, understand? "

Jacob hung the phone up before Vu had a chance to reply, then turned back towards the town. "Soon I will have what I need, then I won't need you anymore, Vu. You've been a wonderful little puppet all this time." He smiled as he looked over Starlight Shores, happy that his plans are finally coming to fruition.


Tom tossed and turned in his sleep, unable to get comfortable for anything. Suddenly he felt like he was being lifted off the bed, like some ancient force was grabbing him and carrying him off to a strange world. When Tom opened his eyes within his dream he saw himself standing below the sign overlooking the town of Starlight Shores. The sky was cloudy, a rare event for the town.

Tom felt a warm presence near him and turned around to see someone standing behind him, looking at the town as well.

"Hello, my son." Thomas Richard Jameson said, smiling.