Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chapter Thirty-One - The Storm

"Isobelle? You're Avalon?" Annabelle said, "You're Avalon?! But... you... I... what??!?"

"Yes I'm Avalon. Kinda hard to understand I know but it's a really a long story and it's getting late so I don't have too much of a feeling to explain it. Long story short- I... am.... me. And you are you. There really is no other way to explain it."

"That..." Annabelle said, confused, "That uh, that explain nothing. What's going on? What happened to you, Isobelle?! Last time I saw you, you were like you wanted wipe humanity off the face of this planet!"

Isobelle walked over to a window, looking out at a small drizzle that had formed outside. "I hated humans. But like I said, I embraced humanity. I built up a few funds, opened this casino, and one thing led to another. I do charities, now. Humanity may be imperfect, but it's all I have to work with. I've come to accept that. So. Why are you here? What brings you to Avalon?"

 "I need your help. There's someone in this town who is looking for something, both of these are very dangerous. Dr. Xan Vu. He's, this close, to getting a genie lamp, and I have no idea what a man like that could do with it. And there's another thing: there is a man named Jacob Thompson... he's part of a group of villains who, in the past, have tried to take over the planet."

"The Benefactors. Yes I know."

"How?" Annabelle asked. "Unless... that makes perfect sense! At his trial, when Jack Toomes was ranting about an Alien attacking him, he wasn't talking about me! He was talking about YOU!"

"Yes. When you and Thomas defeated Jack Toomes, I visited him in his little, 'restoration chamber'. I basically told him to turn himself in or I would rip his heart out and shove it down his own throat. He turned himself in. And now there's another one." Isobelle then did something that surprised Annie. She gave out a sarcastic "...yay."

Annabelle had noticed something was different about her sister. For instance, her hair wasn't purely white anymore, nor were her eyes, they had started to develop a cyan tone to them. She thought that maybe whatever had turned them that blank value was starting to wear off. Another thing was her personality. She used joking terms, sarcasm, everything that the Isobelle she had known the four years before never used, at all. Perhaps she was telling the truth about embracing humanity. In any case, Annabelle trusted her sister, even though she knew she shouldn't have with the way she acted before, she still did.

"So, will you help me now?" Annabelle asked. "Please?"

Isobelle looked at her reflection in the window. "I can't. I'm still the same I was. I'm sorry, I cannot help you. I know people change, Annabelle, but I haven't. I cannot even think to help you until I do." She then turned around and walked into an adjacent room.

Upset, but not unfazed, Annabelle turned around to leave, realizing that perhaps she was imagining a change of personality. "I understand. I'll leave you alone." She said, not caring if Isobelle could hear her or not.

 She then walked downstairs towards Tom, who was waiting. "So, is Avalon a powerful help or an evil mastermind?" Tom asked.

"It was Isobelle, my sister!" Annabelle said, excitedly, but with a sad tone of voice. "She's Avalon. She didn't help."

"WHAT?!" Tom jumped up from the ground and gasped. "Your sister? The one who was all gung-ho about how 'humans are evil' and all that garbage?"

"Yes but, she's different now. I think." Annabelle replied. "I don't know. Let's just get the hell out of this place. I don't want to look at it anymore."

Annabelle and Tom started walking to the outside of the casino. Out there, that small drizzle had ballooned into a massive storm, one that caused nearby palm trees to sway violently. Annabelle, realizing she didn't bother to bring an umbrella because it wasn't rainy before, stood where she was for a few minutes, still upset by Isobelle's choice to not help."

"Is everything okay Anne?" Tom asked, calling her a name that she rarely heard.

"Ya. I just... wish she could have-"

"Annabelle wait!" Annabelle and Tom turned around and saw Isobelle walking towards them, wearing an all-white outfit that was reminiscent of the one she wore as a teen.

"Isobelle?! What the-I thought you weren't going to help me until you 'changed'?" Annabelle said, sarcastically.

"I did change!" Isobelle smiled, "I couldn't wear that outfit I had on just now, it was far too constrictive. Are we going to your place?" She then continued to smile and kept walking to Annabelle's car.


 Kelly was looking over a few files in the house's library when she heard a strange noise. At least it was strange to her ears. She then realized it was the doorbell, with a sound that was relatively unfamiliar.

"Can someone get that?" Kelly yelled out, with no answer. "Hello? Anyone here?" Again, a silence. "Ah, great, probably alone in a big house on a stormy night. Woo-friggin'-hoo. I've read enough detective books to know where this is going."

Kelly stood up and walked carefully to the door, looking through the window. To her surprise, Deacon was standing outside, along with a strange blonde woman who's apparel was less than appropriate for a stormy night... or any night outside.

After a rather vocal "What the hell?!" from Kelly, she opened the door. The storm outside was beginning to pick up, forcing Deacon to speak a bit louder, but still with a saddened voice.

"Kelly. Our house... it's gone. Everything. All of my books, all of my sister's clothes, everything. We are freezing, cold, and homeless. Can't we please, please stay here for the time being? We have nothing! We had to walk all the way here, in the rain!"

Kelly was going to turn him away, partly because she knew what he had done when they lived in Bridgeport, but looking into his eyes, and the eyes of his sister, she saw a true sense of loneliness in them. After a second of contemplating, she nodded. "Come in. Both of you. Get out of this weather before you catch your death."

Deacon and Cassie walked into the house, and Kelly stood where she was for a few moments. "Wow did I really just say 'catch your death'? Damn, I read too many old books."

Suddenly Annabelle's car pulled into the driveway and into the garage. Kelly walked into the garage to see Annabelle, Tom, and to her shock, Isobelle standing outside her car. "Wait wait wait! She's Avalon?" Kelly asked, knowing what Annabelle and Tom went to the casino for. "That's... something I did not expect. At all."

"Neither did I." Tom said as he walked into the house. "Neither did I. Things around here are getting a little off the wall."

"GETTING?!" She replied. As Isobelle and Annie walked into the house, Kelly stopped the latter. "Annabelle, it's Deacon, and his sister. Their house exploded. They're here, safe, but they have nowhere to go. I... told them they could stay for a bit until they get things sorted."

Annabelle slumped her shoulders. "Damn. I'm glad they're okay. And yes, I'm sure them staying here won't be a problem. I'll get the guest room ready." As Annabelle walked away, Kelly couldn't help but notice a bit of a twitch in her eye, and a different gait as she stepped into the house.

"Something's wrong with her.", she said, and then walked back to the library to continue her research.


The noise from downstairs prompted Keera to run down the steps. Isobelle, who hadn't seen her since she was little, smiled when she saw her, but her smile faded when she saw her face.

"Isobelle!" Keera said. "I... you! I can't believe it!" Keera was overjoyed to see her, and was a bit curious as to why she looked so sad.

"Keera? Last time I saw you, you were so little! So young!... what happened? Your..." Isobelle couldn't speak. She never expected to see Keera like this, the young, cheerful spirit she came to know for a couple days back in Sunset Valley was seemingly replaced by a scarred young girl, and Isobelle could sense a bit of cynicism in her, even though she didn't speak much since seeing her.

Keera, however, quickly figured out exactly why Isobelle was upset. "My... face, yes. I know. There was an accident. An explosion up in Alaska. I don't want to talk about it. Right now I want to talk about you! How have you been since we last met?"

Isobelle, still sad about Keera's scar, couldn't really convey the words. "Good. I gotta... I gotta go. Sorry. I need to talk to Annabelle, or Tom." She didn't want to leave but couldn't find any way to continue the conversation. The last time Isobelle saw Keera she was much younger, a mere child. She had the whole world in front of her! But now, everything changed. Isobelle wasn't prepared to see it.

Upset, Isobelle walked past the teen, who herself was a bit upset that her scar and eye patch messed up yet another possible conversation with someone. Keera looked over at Isobelle, having wanted to talk to her for a long time since she left. While she never really told Annabelle, Keera had developed a bit of a friendship with her aunt during her stay at the house. She didn't expect Isobelle to be so upset at her scar, but realized she should have. After hearing the commotion, Mirabelle came down the stairs and looked at her. "Keeki? Whats's wrong?"

"Ask your sister." Keera said, angrily. "The one in white."

Mira turned around and saw Isobelle standing there, talking with Tom. Annabelle was busy chatting with Deacon and someone else, who she assumed was Deacon's sister. Then her attention turned back to the one Keera was talking about.

"Isobelle!? What the f-"

"She's different apparently." Keera said, interrupting her. "In any case she didn't want to talk to me. Why would she? I mean it's not like I look normal, right? Huh?" Keera started to turn around and go back upstairs, but Mirabelle stopped her.

"Wait, let's get out of here." She said, trying to calm her down. "We can go someplace to get your head clear, please?"

Keera nodded. "Okay. What about Isobelle? Don't you want to talk to her? You know, show yourself. She probably doesn't know about you."

Mira shook her head. "Nah, Annie can get her filled in on the details. I want to make sure you're alright." With that, the two walked to the garage, to Annabelle's car, and drove off.


"So... the guest room is upstairs." Annabelle and Cassie were in the former's room. Annabelle had donated some of her clothes to the woman after hearing about what happened. "The bathroom's right outside this room, and all that good stuff."

"Thank you for doing this, Miss Kethrin." Cassie said as she slipped on an outfit behind a screen. "When I can I will go to the store and purchase some more clothes, then I'll give these back."

"Don't worry about it." Annabelle replied. "You can wear them as long as you want."

"Thank you. Deacon thinks that someone planted a bomb in our house, with the intention of killing us. I believe him as much as I don't want to. The notion that someone would want us dead is... unnerving to say the very least."

"Happens to me all the time. You get used to it after a while." Annie replied. She was talking about Jack, Nightmare, Andy's evil clone who ended up being Nightmare, and numerous others. "If it keeps happening to you, you might get used to it as well."

"I don't see how. In any case I would like to change the subject. You know, Deacon talked a lot about you when we were younger. After I retrieved him from that hospital in Hidden Springs not a day would go by without him talking about 'that green girl' or 'the lovely lady'. He talked a lot about you."

"Ya I bet. Did he mention how he was getting a little creepy around me sometimes?"

"Yes, and he was apologetic for it. I trust you know that that Deacon, the one you met in Bridgeport, it wasn't my brother. It was, but not."

Annabelle nodded. "Yes, I know that."

"Besides, he kind of realized that he would never be with you. You have someone else, a bit of a hat wearer."

"TOM?! Uh... well... I... uh... well ya I guess. Uh... so how do the clothes fit?"

Cassie backed off a bit. "Touchy subject, huh?"

"The touchiest." Annabelle's eye twitched again, and Cassie noticed it.

"You alright?"

Annabelle touched her face. "Ya it's just... allergies I guess. I think. But ya, Tom. I... don't know really. After what happened in Hidden Springs - long story - I've come to the conclusion that if Tom wanted to date anyone, he could. I would be jealous, but I would let him date her without interfering. Besides, I too would like to change the subject... the clothes!"

"Oh they fit grandly. Thank you again."

Annabelle smiled, and walked out of the room, her eye twitching yet again. Cassie didn't worry too much about it, and went to look at herself in a mirror.


 "So I heard you punched someone today, Red. That did not surprise me. Then I heard it was a supervillain's evil henchman. That didn't surprise me either."

"Ya well, it felt good either way. Tom actually made me think he insulted me for wearing too much red. So I punched him. No one insults my color. Ever."

"That is true." John replied. The two were sitting in their room watching a romantic movie on television, which was something they loved doing. "By the way did you hear about Deacon's place? It's gone! He's staying with us for the time being. What do you think of that?"

"I don't think of it. Deacon never messed with me in Bridgeport. He did hit you which made me want to rip his arms off but since Tom threw him off a building he achieved a proper amount of retribution. If he ever puts his hands on anyone in this family, I'll make sure his sister is notified AFTER what I do."

"Wow. Feisty, then again that's why I love you." John smiled, then kissed her. "You know, I'll always love you, forever and ever and ever, until the end of time."

Scarlett smiled back. "I'll love you for even longer. And there is something I wanted to tell you... I don't know how to say it." She stood up and walked over to a picture of the two. "I love this picture. I love the illusion in that there's only two of us in there, when there could be more in THERE." Scarlett pointed to herself in the picture.


Scarlett looked over and beamed. "I think I'm pregnant!"

"Pre-pre-pre-pre-pregnant? That is... that could be if, if it's true... Oh my- Scarlett, I hope it's true! This is WONDERFUL!"

John walked over to Scarlett and she jumped into his arms. "I hope it's true too, my love."


Tom was sitting in the living room while Annabelle was nervously pacing the floor and repeating herself constantly. Tom, worried about her, stood up and walked over to her, worried.


"I don't like this I don't like this I don't like this I don't like this..." Annabelle looked at Tom with a sad expression on her face but still repeated the same phrase in a mono-tonal voice.

"Annie, please, just calm down!"

"Why? Why why why? I mean, it's not like I CAN calm down. I can't go a single solitary day without hell happening! I mean Deacon's living here now! And his sister! She's-she's living here now too. EVERYONE! I mean, Isobelle's back, I mean, I mean she's just back like she was never gone and Keera's eye, and you and, John, and, and Scarlett's wedding coming up and-AND THE eclipse and the thought if we fail, the entire world could suffer the consequences, it's just a little too much to bear right now!"

"Annie, just-"

"CALM... DOWN?!" Annabelle yelled out, "HOW?! How could I possibly keep myself calm?! I can't stay calm, Tom! I can't just meditate on things! Real, terrible things are happening right now! I can't fix them! I don't even know if I can stop what's GOING to happen! And it's not like this is a first-time thing for me! When I was eleven a meteor shower destroyed a city!"

"When I was sixteen a supervillain tried to blow me up, and kidnapped me! Less than three months later and evil unicorn-witch-thing tried to kill me! And just two months ago, my CLONE got her eye burned off by molten shrapnel! YOU WANT ME TO KEEP CALM!?! I CAN'T! KEEP! CALM!" 

A bolt of lightning hit near the house, causing the ground to shake a bit. This knocked Annabelle out of her rage, but her eyeliner was still smeared by her tears. After a few seconds she fell into Tom's arms, crying. Internally, she mused, that this was exactly as Keera had done on the sleepless night, a few weeks before.

Tom, thinking he had to do something, grabbed Annabelle's hands and started swaying. Annabelle smiled, and let him do so. Suddenly the hand-swaying turned into a slow, methodical dance to quiet music from off in the corner of the room.

After a few spins and dips, Annabelle's panic attack was over, replaced by a new feeling. She then realized, once again, that no matter where she was all she had to do was think of Tom, and she'd be safe. The two continued to dance for hours, constantly looking in each others' eyes.


Mirabelle, wanting to get Keera out of the house for a bit, decided to take her to a karaoke bar a few blocks away from her house, the same one Tom had visited a week or so before. After a few minutes, and Mirabelle smacking herself in the forehead upon realizing she'd just brought a fourteen year-old to a bar, the two walked over to a karaoke machine and started singing on it.

"Da snebba tu no wah, 
da, snibby tami separoo, 
da snibby too no whaa nah soo 
Nebu taru, nozee, 

When they were done singing, the two stepped off the platform and smiled. Suddenly Keera turned around and looked at the machine. "Do you have any idea what we just sang?"

"Nope." Mirabelle chuckled. "Must have been a foreign song."

Keera shrugged and walked over to a barstool, sitting on it. Mirabelle walked over with her. "So kid, how's school going?"

The teen started to choke up a bit, spitting out words at the speed of a turtle, a turtle that keeps forgetting which way it needs to go. "Pretty good. There's this... well... teen... guy... Lee... Michael... Foreign exchange..."

"You really lost me at uh, 'this', what's going on, Keeki?"

"I am starting to like someone his name is Michael Lee he has black hair amber eyes he's a foreign exchange student from China. I'm worried if I tell him I like him he wouldn't do the same."

"Oh." Mirabelle said. "Have you... uh... told... wow I really have no idea how to deal with teen relationships. When I was a teen there was only one person I wanted to be with. Now I'm with his female cousin. Kinda strange how that series of events turned out."

"I understand. But I'm kinda worried for a different reason. And you know what that is."

"Keeki, I know. With Isobelle... You haven't talked much to anyone outside our little family circle since, you know, the accident. I'm so sorry for what happened."

"Don't be. You didn't cause it." Keera said, with a bit of a cold emotion to her voice. "Besides, no one would want to talk to me. Why should I give them the benefit of the doubt? Isobelle proved that."

"She was just probably shocked, Keeki."

"Ya well everyone I know seems to be shocked. It's like they're judging me. Ya, I don't have a left eye. Ya, it's true, I have a scar that covers half my face. Whooptie-freakin'-do! And frankly I can deal with the scar, it's the eye. I... wish I had a new one. But who knows if, when, HOW that will happen! I wake up every morning rubbing BOTH my eyes because, maybe, one will magically grow back in my sleep and that's how I'll find out! I believe that could happen, too! With everything that's happened to this family, that could damn well be true! But like I said, who knows."

Mirabelle and Keera sat there for a few minutes in silence. After a short while the door to the building opened, revealing a grungy-looking man wearing a knit cap.

"Collin!" The bartender said as he emerged from the bathroom. "I thought you left!"

"Waiting for my cab." The man said, "Say you don't happen to have an umbrella? It's storming something fierce out there!"

"No, you borrowed my umbrella last week! Why didn't you return it?"

"Oh, well... you know... the factory. It's distracting." Collin walked over to the barstool and sat down, chatting with the bartender. "I hate working there but it's the only job I could find after the accident."

"Ya." The bartender replied, "You never really told me what happened. What 'accident' are you talking about?"

Collin then said somberly. "I don't like to talk about it too much, but I guess I have to get it off my chest somehow. A couple months ago, I was a stagehand at a film studio in Hidden Springs. One day, early in the morning, I was moving a few props for a film when a couple friends of mine asked if I wanted to go to a noon basketball game at the stadium."

"They said that the line to see the game was already beginning to fill and I needed to go quickly if I wanted to get my ticket. So I left, I didn't see anyone to tell them to move the props, and... there was an explosion."

"I read about that!" The bartender said. "All over the news. That explosion up in Alaska? You caused that?"

"ACCIDENT!" Collin said. "I figured the next guy would see them and move them!"

"Yes but what about the teenager who got injured? Did you ever give an apology to her?"

"No." Keera mouthed silently to Mirabelle. "No he didn't." Mirabelle could see her face already twisting, and rightly so. She had just been done talking about her scar when, out of a chance encounter, the guy who caused it showed up at the bar.

"No, I didn't. I was too ashamed. I left Alaska after being fired from the studio, came here to get a job at a different studio, but my reputation followed me. So now I'm working in a factory, getting grunge and dirt spilled on me every day."

"Well, rightly so!" The bartender said. "I mean, ya. If I was a movie studio I wouldn't hire you. Hell, I'm looking at you right now wondering when you're gonna leave."

"I THOUGHT you said this was a place people could spill their sorrows!"

"Ya, well.. I don't like your sorrows. Get out."

Collin angrily stood up and walked out, stopping just before he got to the door. "You lost a customer. I'm not coming back here."


Keera stood up and watched Collin leave the bar, a serious glint of anger in her eye as she did so. Mirabelle, also standing, asked if she was alright.

Keera always thought it was an industrial error, that fire device being left next to the props. She always thought that a forklift accidentally left the device there and no one saw it. She didn't sue the movie studio because she thought it wasn't a human lapse of judgement. Then this man, Collin, comes in and says the entire thing was his fault because he wanted to go to a basketball game. Understandably, she was a bit upset.

 Keera couldn't respond to Mirabelle's question. Her mouth was frozen, her entire body was frozen as she stood there. "Stay... here...." Keera said, unable to come up with any other words. Mirabelle felt inclined to do this, but was still worried as Keera walked outside the bar, where the man was standing waiting for a cab in the rain.

"So you went to a basketball game? Did you have fun? Was it a joyful time?"

The man, surprised by Keera, was shocked a bit but turned around. Thanks to the darkness of the rainy night, he couldn't clearly see her face. "I guess. Like I said in the bar was fired from my job for incompetence because of something that happened."

"That's good! I'm glad you had fun. I'm glad you went to the game! Hey, one person's fun is another person's nightmare. An endless, unstoppable nightmare. But hey, you were fired for incompetence, and that's good too in my book. But hey, just as long as you weren't hurt. Just as long as no one you care for... was hurt. But maybe someone you didn't know was hurt. Maybe, I dunno, someone who didn't even get a letter of apology from you... was hurt. But hey, you were busy... you were so busy going to a damn basketball game that you didn't even realize what could have happened."

"Please just... leave me alone. Please?" Collin tried to walk away quickly but slipped on the wet cement, giving Keera time to walk around and look down on him on the ground, where she believed he deserved to be.

"I would have left you alone on the street. Except you left something alone yourself! A special effects device that shoots fire, you left it next to a trio of compressed gasoline containers because you wanted tickets to a basketball game. Oh 'the next guy will get it, don't worry' you thought? Well, what if there was a shift change, and there was no 'next guy'. Hmm? What if  there was a woman who hadn't spent that much time with someone she cared about, what if that woman took this friend of hers, this niece, and took her on a tour to the same set that you left behind because you wanted tickets to a basketball game, hmm? And what if your basketball game cost this young teenager her eye, and half her face, was it worth it? Was going to see your favorite team duke out with the other totally worth ruining someone's life?"

A bolt of lightning streaked across the sky, illuminating the entire area and giving Collin his first good look at the girl. Her rage-filled face and clenched fists highlighted and emphasized by the flash of energy. Collin couldn't tell if the rain was wetting her face or if she had tears streaming down, and whether the tears were of sorrow or rage. Considering everything she's said, it was pretty obvious it was the latter. Within seconds, he knew who she was.

"I am so sorry." Collin said as he stood back up. "I know what I did was wrong, I know that. But please, please don't hurt me. I'm begging you! I've lost everything, and I did it because I was a fool, and my foolishness did that to you. Please, please don't hurt me!"

"SHUT THE HELL UP!!" Keera yelled, her voice louder than the thunder that accompanied it. "You think I want to hurt you?! I would never want anyone to go through pain like I did. Like I still do! Even you, I would never want to put you through pain, no matter how much I hate you. Now that I've said this, get the hell out of my sight."

"You can do that quicker if you walk to my left, thanks to you."

Without saying another word Collin ran down the street, far away from Keera. Mirabelle, who was watching the drama unfold, lowered her head in sadness as Keera stood still, in the thunderstorm. After a few moments Mirabelle walked over to her, and the two silently walked back to the car.