Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chapter Forty-Three - Omens and Oddities

"Ow! Son of a-"

After putting on some clothes, which the energy wings seemed to pass right though, Annabelle kept pinching herself over and over, wondering if what she was seeing was part of some crazed, psychedelic dream she was having after being thrown back into the tree by that childish fairy. Annabelle kept her eyes on the wings in the reflection while trying to touch them, being surprised to see that her hands phased right through them like they weren't even there. "No no no. I mean, what the hell?! Was this that fairy? Why did she turn me into one of these... Feen things!?!"

Suddenly, Tom knocked on the door. Having heard Annabelle talking to herself from the hall, yet unable to hear what she was talking about, he let himself into her bedroom to make sure she was alright.

. "Hey Annabelle, I was wondering if you maybe wanted to go get something to drink at the sports bar downtown or maybe have a nice dinner at the fancy restaurant that just ope-"

Annabelle stood in front of the mirror, trying to comprehend the fact that she had wings now that seemed to be made of some type of magical energy and didn't even hear or see Tom walk in and leave.

Annabelle turned and walked out of the bedroom, stopping to see Tom standing not too far away. His eyes were widened and he wasn't sure if he wanted to step away from Annabelle as she approached him.

"Well something else happened, let's go solve it..." Annabelle looked angry as she passed Tom, who kept a disturbed expression on his face, "...again."

Tom shook his head and walked after Annabelle. "Okay perhaps an explanation is in order? Like, uh, maybe..." Tom then imitated Annabelle's voice as he spoke,"Hey Tom, I got fairy wings."

"Well I didn't know I had them until I got to my bedroom tonight. Trust me, it was just as shocking to me as it was to you."

"Okay, now perhaps you can tell me what happened. All one-hundred percent of the details, so I can try and help you to go back to being normal."

"As normal as our lives can get?" Annabelle chuckled, then turned towards Tom. "Okay... so
I went to the park and met a fairy who made my clothes vanish, so I was angry. I yelled, and she tried to give my clothes back, but accidentally hit me with an energy that knocked me out. I woke up two hours later with fairy wings. And no, me saying what happened today is not supposed to sound completely insane."

"I wouldn't have it any other way." Tom chuckled, with a flirting tone. Annabelle chuckled back, then turned around towards the stairs.

"Now the only thing we can do is find the winged brat who made me this way, maybe she knows how to turn me back. Hopefully."

"And if she doesn't know how?" Tom asked as he followed her down the stairs.

Annabelle shrugged. "Well, then I'm gonna have to get used to the WHOOSH sound in my ears. Constantly."

Tom nodded and walked with her out the door and down the street. As they did so, he looked up at the sky, now cloudy again and spitting snow across the town of Hidden Springs, and closed his eyes. Stopping himself, he scratched his head and turned towards Annabelle. "You ever just stop and ask, 'why us'?"


"With all the billions of people, billions of families, and billions of households in the world, why does our family attract all the oddities like super-villains, fairies, and evil unicorns? I mean it's like we're destined to do this odd thing forever.

"I'm a green human and alien hybrid, Tom. I think from the moment I landed on Earth, all concepts of normalcy decided to take a patty-wagon trip to the Land of Nonsense."

"Yeah, I guess so. Still, I'd like one day to have a life that's sub-par, just normal. Mundane job, mundane life. That's all I wish for lately."

"Well I wish you have a mundane life as well, Tom." Annabelle chuckled as they walked down the street, looking around for any sign of the Feen that turned Annabelle. After walking for what seemed to them like hours, they became dismayed, worried they would never see her.

Strangely, as they walked down the sidewalk, cars driving down the street did not stop and question Annabelle on why she had giant purple glowing wings. The pair took this as a sign that the snow was too hard to see through and decided to cover more ground by splitting up, with Tom walking one way and Annabelle walking the other.


John and Scarlett sat down at the table in the kitchen that belonged to the latter's alternate universe parents. The other Scarlett, who came downstairs with her parents, left the room allowing the four to chat. Instead of talking, however, they sat in silence for what seemed like hours.

Kathy, Scarlett's mother, was the first to break the ice. "To be honest, we were rather skeptical when we heard what John here had to say. Then again, we met a green-skinned girl not too long ago. I don't suppose you know any people with green skin where you come from?"

Scarlett, looking around, nervously scratched her head. "Uh... one or two."

John nodded, "Yeah, my sister. Annabelle, she's green. In fact Tom must have met her when he was here last. My friend, her cousin Tom, he found himself in this universe last August. You have a nephew named Tom, right?"

Michael, the father, nodded. "Yeah he lived with his aunt Mei and Uncle Elliot down the street for the longest time before moving out. He was on a trip to China last I heard, that was a week and a half ago."

Scarlett perked up after hearing a familiar name to her. John looked at her with worry since, to him, she didn't seem that enthusiastic about meeting her parents. "And Kelly? Is she here in town too?"

"Yeah, she lives up on the hill with her girlfriend."

"Who's her girlfriend? Here, I mean?" John asked, "Because back at home, she's got someone named Mirabelle."

"Well here, it's Jessica Crawford... the green girl we mentioned before," Kathy replied, smiling. "I trust this 'Mirabelle' is similar to Jessica?"

"And then some," John said under his breath. He then spoke up at the table, "So, I can tell that Red is a bit shocked to be here at this moment. I brought her here so she could meet you in person, because... well I told you what happened where we come from."

"Yes, we heard." Michael said. "We were shocked to hear what happened. Kind of existential if you really think about it, which I try not to. All we need to know is that wherever she comes from, Scarlett is our daughter. She is just as much here as she is where you come from."

"Where I come from, you're not there," Scarlett softly said while looking at the table. "You didn't see me grow up, you didn't see me get married, you didn't see any of that because again, where I come from you're not there. I don't even know why I'm here."

John looked at her with worry still, "You're here because you wanted to meet your parents. You have your entire life! Michael and Kathy Keene, your parents. Just because they're from an alternate universe doesn't mean they aren't biologically the same people."

"They are the same people, but not mine." Scarlett stood up and walked into the other room, leaving John where he was.

John scratched his head, "sorry about that. I should have expected her to say those things because, well I've known her my entire life. In fact she IS my life."

Kathy smiled. "Don't worry about it, and our Scarlett says the same thing about you, well the you from here."

John shrugged, "Yeah, sounds like we're destined to be together."


 After a short walk through the woods, taking the time to wonder why he was doing this in the middle of the snow, and still confused as to why his life had become so strange, Tom found himself staring at a lot, shadowed by the mountain, that was all too familiar.

It was the graveyard.

"You couldn't let one good thing happen to me, huh? How very ALIEN of you, Kethrin."

"Tom, NO!"

"Tom... I'm so sorry I lied to you. I love you." 

"Please, don't die. Please! I'm begging you! Don't die!"

"Love you."

Working up the courage, Tom walked into the graveyard and looked around. A short time looking through the heavy snow let him lay eyes on a small, above-ground tomb which he himself had paid for not too long before. The end of the tomb was marked "Andrea Marie Deeten - 2022". He never knew when she was born, but he was with her the day she died. That was when she told him how she felt, and for him, it was too hard to say the same thing, even as she was lying in his arms.

Tom stood in the snow, in front of the tomb, while looking intently at the words. He remembered sitting not too far away, begging Andy not to die, to fight through her injury. He cried in secret for many days after her death, and pushed Annabelle even further away from him, blaming her for Andy's death when he had just as much to blame. If he hadn't started that argument with Annabelle when she stated she didn't like Andy, the two could have hopefully had a civil discussion, and Andy would still be alive today.

Tom stayed where he was for a few moments, looking at the tomb and lamenting his decisions leading up to this moment. He was serious, he thought to himself, when he told Annabelle about wanting a normal life. He wanted a normal job, a nice family of his own. He never told Annie who he wanted as his wife in his dreams because he'd always been too worried that she wouldn't want to marry him. What worried him was that she would become unnerved by his confession of love and that their friendship, or whatever it could be called, would become unraveled at the already-loosened seams.

Suddenly, he felt a dark chill run over him, like the frozen air was getting even colder. It was a feeling he'd only encountered once before, in the presence of the Grim Reaper himself in this very graveyard. Tom turned around and fully expected the robed figure of death to be standing behind him, ready to take him into the World Beyond, but what he saw instead made him stumble backwards, almost into the tomb of his lost love.

The creature walked towards him, shambling as it did so. Tom could only see one of its eyes in the dark, but that was enough to scare him. The dark, rag-wearing monstrosity edged closer to Tom, its arms outstretched as it shambled closer and closer. Tom closed his eyes in fear, and when he opened them again, the monster was gone.

Shivering, Tom pulled his cell phone out and called Annabelle.

"Did you find her yet?"

"No, I don't think I'm doing so well. I'm gonna head on back home. I just... I saw something and I have to head home."

"I understand. I'll talk to you later, Tom. Wait... I see her! I think I see her!"

The line on the other end went dead as Tom put the phone back into his side pocket. He then walked out of the graveyard and back home, not seeing a strange being standing behind one of the graves...


Scarlett stood by a fence outside the Keene house within the alternate universe, trying to process everything that was happening.  As she did so, she heard footsteps behind her and quickly turned around to see a mirror positioned nearby. Scarlett then focused her eyes and realized that it was actually herself from this other dimension standing there instead.

"What do you need?" Scarlett asked her counterpart, "I'm not in the mood to talk."

The other Scarlett chuckled, and stepped closer. "If you're anything like me, then you're never in the mood to talk. I only have three moods... angry, happy, and angry. John's helped me get through the angry one, though. He's truly my knight in shining armor."

"What about your parents? Haven't they helped you out? Haven't they been there for you? Some of us don't have that luxury. Every night before I go to bed, I wish to myself that I had your life."

"Who raised you then?"


"Who raised you? Someone had to, and they had to do a great job at it. Look at you! Married with a kid on the way! My John and I just now got engaged."

"My aunt and uncle, Mei and Elliot. They raised me, treated me like their own daughter. I always wanted to know my parents, though. My real parents. Is that too much to ask?"

"No, but it is impossible to change to past. I even asked John about that, and he said time travel is one of those feats we cannot attain. What I'm saying is that even though you never had what I had, you had the next best thing, and nothing can change that. "

Scarlett nodded at her counterpart, "You know me better than I know myself. Though I don't know what I should do about your parents. Should I acknowledge them as mine? Would that bother you?"

The other Scarlett smirked and patted her on the shoulder, "Not really. As far as I'm concerned, we're just... twin sisters. We've just been separated for a long, long time. I just hope we'll never be separated like that again. I would be interesting to get to know the real me."

Scarlett shook her head. "No, you're just as real as I. I guess that's why I was so worried about... my parents."

"You don't have to worry anymore."

Scarlett stood there for a few moments, letting her counterpart's words echo in her mind. By the time everything clicked, she was gone, and Scarlett was alone again. This gave her time to wonder, and to think. And when she was ready, she walked back into the house.

John was standing with Michael and Kathy in the living room. Her parents, they were right there in front of her. Scarlett mentally kicked herself in the head, thinking that they weren't really hers to call her parents. With no more words, she walked up to each of them and embraced them in a hug, her face expressing sadness as she did so. John felt warmth in his heart at this image, and walked toward to talk to the group.

Hours had passed, filled with talking from both sides about what had happened to them. After a while, John and Scarlett walked out the door, standing outside as the sun began to set. John pressed a button on his smartphone, and the two felt a wave of energy pass over them.


 Seconds later, the two found themselves back in their basement, the portal shutting down. As John was about to walk out the door, Scarlett tapped on his shoulder.

"Hey," she said while smiling brightly, "thanks for what you did. It was an amazing experience. I hope to do it again some time."

John nodded. "Of course, my Life. Any time." John walked out the door, leaving Red alone. Scarlett noticed he called her his "life" instead of "love" or "wife". Maybe "life" was just a way of combining the two. Or maybe, as Scarlett thought to herself, that she was John's life. Maybe he couldn't live without her. With nothing else to do, she turned and pulled her phone from her pants pocket, selecting the contact "Aunt and Uncle Coen".

"Hey, Aunt Mei?... Yeah I'm sorry to call so late. Look, I don't know if I ever said this enough, but... thank you for everything you've done. I love you. Can I talk to Uncle Elliot? ... he's asleep? Okay, I'll call you guys back tomorrow. I really want to talk to you. ... Love you. Goodnight."

Scarlett put the phone back in her pocket, and turned towards the portal mechanism, thinking back to the day with a smile. She did plan on using the portal again, now that she knew that her parents were somewhere out there in the world beyond.


Kelly and Mirabelle walked into the house after returning home from the library. Mirabelle, visibly shaken from what she read in that book, was trying to get a hold of herself as she sat down on a couch in the foyer.

"The name you read, it might be another Mirabelle Kethrin? I mean that's probably one of the most common names here in Alaska... right? Mirabelle Kethrin?"

Mirabelle looked at Kelly's backpack. "No, someone wrote my name into that book intending for me to read it! I want to know why! I want to know who, and I want to know when."

"We'll figure it out," Kelly replied as she took the book out to read again, sitting next to Mirabelle to do so. "What is this Vornek the book keeps talking about? It never really describes it, just 'two red eyes in the darkness and claws in the night'.  What does that even mean? Why did they write these books in the past to sound like riddles?"

"Well I'm going to check up on the internet, then go to bed for the night," Mirabelle said as she stood up, "It's been a while since I've been in our room here in the house. Our room. I love saying that."

She stood up and walked upstairs, with Kelly not too far behind. However, as Kelly was about to head up to join her, she felt a presence nearby, one that she had felt before. Putting it aside, she simply shrugged and walked upstairs.


Kaley Botha stood on the side of the street, watching cars occasionally drive past. She'd never interacted with cars before, but she loved technology, and loved to see vehicles go as fast as they could. Suddenly she heard a noise behind her, and turned around to see a furious green-skinned woman who had glowing, flapping wings like herself.

"Hello." Kaley looked into her eyes and felt scared for her life. "How did you find me?"

Annabelle scowled as she looked into the blue eyes of this fairy. "It's not hard to spot someone with giant glowing wings and orange skin in the middle of a snowy forest if you're actively looking for them."

"Oh, right. Look, I'm very sorry about the whole thing with the thing and the glowy wing things but maybe I can help you fix it!"

"You'd better, before I rip your damn wings off!"

Kaley stepped back, her wings telling her that she was about to fall backwards in the snow. "They're not... you can't rip them off. They're energy."

Annabelle leaned in with an irate look on her face as she whispered. "I'll find a way."

Suddenly, they heard a low growling sound. Kaley looked at Annabelle and silently asked if she was the one growling, who shook her head "no". The two turned in tandem and saw a strange creature standing less than twenty feet away, its black silhouette and red eyes easily visible in the cold gray snow.

"One of yours?" Annabelle asked.

"Fly. No questions, just fly. Or run, running works too."

The two turned and sprinted in the opposite direction of the monster, who chased after them while snarling the whole time. The two kept running, with Annabelle jumping upwards occasionally.

"Do you know how to fly or was you flying earlier just some parlor trick?!" Annabelle yelled out as the two tried to escape the pitch black creature chasing after them.

"I don't know, it's just some reflex action! Think happy thoughts or something! Anything!"

Just as Annabelle was about to stop and strangle Kaley, the creature stopped in its tracks. Annie and Kaley turned around and watched as the monster froze in place, its black-as-night skin glowing a muted gold as it did so. Annie turned and met eyes with a purple-skinned fairy with yellow wings and hair who had a determined look on her face, her hand angled towards the monster.

"Let's get to the den," the purple fairy said as she lowered her hand, "the spell will only last a few moments."

Stunned, Annabelle walked with Kaley and the purple fairy as they stepped into a strange distortion field. Seconds later, they found themselves in the same town, but in an area Annabelle had only seen one or two times since moving to Hidden Springs, with a windowless rock-walled structure behind a concrete wall. The purple fairy waved her hand towards the structure, and a door in the center of the wall suddenly revealed itself. However, it did not open.

"Ugh," The purple fairy put her hands against the door and began pushing, "this stupid door never opens properly." She kept pushing, and Annabelle turned and saw a strange arch with curtains next to it. She tapped Kaley on the arm to get her attention.

"Hey, what's that?"

Kaley turned around and looked at the arch. "That's the veil, it's supposedly a transport between entire planets! It was built here by The Cosm-"

Suddenly, a noise behind the two interrupted them as the wall opened behind them quickly, with the purple fairy almost falling down as it did so. She caught herself, however, and kept walking inside. Annabelle turned around and followed Kaley and the other fairy into the building.

Inside this strange structure were a variety of plants and rocks across the interior, with a center fountain against the back wall. Annabelle was amazed to see such vibrant plants growing in such a small, cold, windowless room. Then again, it was perhaps the fairies themselves who were keeping the plants alive.

"Wow."  Still amazed, Annabelle turned and saw another fairy walking up to her, this one with light-blue skin and orange wings.

"HELLO," the blue-skinned fairy yelled out while standing in front of Annabelle, while at the same time holding up her right hand, "My name is Nizume! Nizume Posha! This is my hand puppet, Lefty Fredericksen Von Richards. He's invisible, and always right!"

Annabelle smirked. "You mean, he's always on your right hand, which he clearly is right now... I think."

Nizume smiled. "Noooo no no nope nopey nope-nope! He's on my right hand because I get confused, his twin brother is on my left foot but he's invisible too. His name's Mr. Right. Everyone always says they want to meet him. Why does everyone want to meet my left foot?! Anyway Lefty is always right because he always tells the truth, even if I don't believe it. This one time, he told me that my house would be knocked over, and I was so stubborn that I refused to believe it, then one day I came home and took a BULLDOZER to it!"

Annabelle looked horrified as Nizume kept talking with a calm smile on her face. "But I knocked down only one wall. Lefty was wrong for once! Then a wind came and knocked down the rest of my house. Then he was right! Then Mr. Right told me that Lefty was wrong because my house wasn't knocked down by just me, then Lefty told Mr. Right that he was wrong, but Mr. Right is always right, except he's left when he's actually right because his name is Mr. Right, right?"

 "Uh........... Look, Nizume, right?"

"YUP! That's my name! Though everyone calls me 'A Danger to Myself and Everything Around Me Within 500 Miles'. I see it as a nickname. Nizume 'A Danger to Myself and Everything Around Me Within 500 Miles' Posha... the First!"

"Look, Miss Posha, I need to talk to someone about removing these fairy wings. Anyone around here mentally sound enough to help me out? I mean it's not that you're not mentally sound, it's just... I need someone else. Can you help me?"

"SURE!" Nizume yelled out, "I'll find someone! Maybe Lefty! Wait... no... Lefty tells me that you should find someone who hasn't lived in a box for ten years with only her own mind to keep her company. No idea who he's talking about. Hey, there's Zanya!"

Annabelle turned around to see Nizume hovering over to the purple and yellow fairy she'd met earlier.

After brushing aside Nizume, who was getting a little too close to her, the purple fairy walked up to Annabelle and bowed to her while Nizume walked through a wooden door on the far end of the room. "I know we didn't get much time to talk earlier, and I apologize. I am Zanya Drazali. I heard you've been changed into a Feen by Kaley. She actually told me herself. I understand you do not want this power that we have."

"No. Not really," Annabelle replied, "and I'd also do well without these giant glowing neon wings sticking out of my back. They're not exactly subtle, and the first person who sees me and doesn't know me personally will be wondering if I'm strange or if they are strange, and that undue attention to my household is something I really don't want to happen... again... if I can avoid it."

Zanya nodded. "Actually, the wings are hidden by those who do not know magic. It's a defense mechanism we came up with a long time ago. Only those who know magic and those who share a spiritual connection to the Feen can see the wings upon their back."

Annabelle stepped back in shock. "That's very, very close to something that involves me."

"Perhaps she should consult with the Fountain of Knowledge," Kaley interjected, having stood outside of the conversation for a while, "perhaps it can tell her what she can do, to return to normal?"

Annabelle grew furious for a few seconds, then returned to a deceptively neutral disposition. "You mean, you don't know how to turn me to normal? You mean, you turned me into a fairy and can't turn me back? You mean I'm gonna be stuck like this?"

"Well we can try-"

"FIND A WAY TO TURN ME BACK!!!" Annabelle angrily erupted, causing the entire room to shake slightly. The three in the room looked around in fear as the shaking stopped. "What... the hell... was that?"

"Magic is an interesting thing," Zanya said, "for us, it's tied into our emotional state. As Kaley told me, she was scared, of you, when she accidentally cast the spell to turn you into a Feen. That fear affected her magic. Your angry outburst just now affected this entire room, so perhaps you can simmer down and focus, please, before you kill us all."

Annabelle sighed, and shook her head. "Damn good thing you didn't turn Scarlett into a fairy, she'd end up destroying this town."

Zanya looked confused, while Kaley was still scared from Annabelle's outburst. "What? Who?"

"Sister-in-law. So, what about this fountain thing you mentioned?"

Kaley perked up and floated over to Annabelle. "The Fountain of Knowledge! The thing is a powerful artifact, and it speaks to us. It gives us information that we need! It also gave us the knowledge on how to open a portal to our homeworld!"


Kayley laughed, "Just kidding! We actually have been on Earth our entire lives! We've just been in Hidden Springs for a few months!"

Annabelle turned to the fairies, "Why are you here?", she asked, emphasizing the first word.

"Well," Zanya replied, "we were told to be here by our advisort. He speaks to us usually through the Fountain of Knowledge, but that's not his only means of conversation."

"Where is he then?" Annabelle asked, as she looked around the room. "He told you to be here but is he here? No, he's not, instead he just talks to you through some mystical fountain mumbo-jumbo doohickey magical happiness fairy stuff."

"Actually he is here. He wishes to talk to you in private. Wait here, and speak to the fountain of knowledge. I must take my leave, there is an issue I must deal with outside of Hidden Springs and I am unsure when I will be back."

Zanya walked out of the room through the same door that Nizume took, and Kaley followed her. Annabelle stood where she was, confused beyond belief.  "Great, left alone in an ancient greenhouse with a strange fountain. Why does this kind of stuff always happen to me?"

"You're not alone, Miss Kethrin."

"Who said that?! Who's there?!" Annabelle turned around as she heard this voice in the room, which seemed to echo across the walls right into her ears. "Who are you?"

"I am the Fountain of Knowledge," the voice replied, "I am the all-seer, the every-hearer, I have existed since the dawn of man and will continue to exist until the Earth is swallowed by the red sun it is destined to become in billions of years. That is my purpose in what mortal beings would call a 'life', though you may not be a 'mortal' at the moment, are you, Annabelle Jade Kethrin?"

Annabelle was about to ask the "fountain" how it knew her name, then decided not to. Instead, she crept up next to the fountain and looked at her reflection in the mirror, taking a long look at the green-skinned woman on the other side. "What are you? Where did you come from?"

"I am not from Earth. Where I am from watches you when you sleep on the nights of its choosing, and darkens the skies when it dances between its eternal companion and the cosmic candlelight."

Annabelle sighed. "The Moon. You're from the Moon. You know, the whole 'mystical' act may work on the Feen but not me, I'm smarter than even the average human. And I also know that your voice isn't coming from the fountain because the acoustics are all wrong. I'm a singer, knowing how sound travels is literally my job, so why don't you come out from 'behind the curtain' and show me your true face."

"Actually, why don't you find me? I'm in this room right now, hidden among the rocks and the plants."

Annabelle walked around the room, looking for the origin of the voice. After a short time, she finally found something that could have been the source, but it was coming from a large rock in the corner of the room. "Okay, where's the hidden sound system? Where are you talking from? What, is this a fake rock or something"

"Miss Kethrin, the rock is me."


"Greetings. My name is Arkose Shale. Pleased to meet you."

Annabelle stepped backwards while stuttering. "Are... you... am I.... what the hell is going on here? A talking rock?! I must be going insane!"

"You are a green alien-human hybrid who has met genies and unicorns yet someone like me is something that makes you question your sanity. Great to see your priorities are in order, young lady."

"You're a talking rock!" Annabelle yelled out while holding her head. "A talking. Rock. What do you think my reaction should be? 'Oh hey I met a talking rock, I can't say that the phrase dumb as a rock any more because I met a talking rock! A talking rock, a talking rock! Can you believe it?!!' Wait... are you educated?"

"I'll have you know, I graduated top of my class at Oxford."

"Oh well, that makes perfect sense." Annabelle rolled her eyes, "I'm sure you got the highest honors... so how does a talking rock graduate from a school?"

"It was the 1700's, you could do anything, just as long as you wore a powdered wig while doing it." 

Annabelle shook the feeling of meeting this thing out of her mind when the thought of it summoning her in the first place came to the forefront of her thoughts. "So, why did you call on me? And how in the hell did you know about who I've met in the past?"

"Well, I'm a rock, you see. I'm part of the Earth. It's not too hard to transfer my energy to other rocks across the world as long as they're grounded. In fact, I was actually present at the battle in the graveyard a few weeks ago."

"You were?"

"Yes, I was the rock that your friends Tom and John hid behind, before they discovered the dome was actually made of pure energy. I took the brunt of the drone's laser blasts for them as they were behind me. I know rocks shouldn't feel pain but I have to tell you... That. Stuff. Hurt."

Annabelle shrugged. "Well I'm sorry to hear that but hey, these things just happen. Just like these things happened," she pointed at the glowing wings jutting out of her back. "So perhaps you can tell me how to get rid of them?"

"Ah, yes, well the thing is I do not really have knowledge on how to do that. The Feen are born with their wings, and only they know how to remove them."

"Oh, such a great and powerful 'Fountain of Knowledge' you are, then."

"I never said I was the fountain. However since you bring it up, that could help you out." 

Annabelle turned and looked at the fountain standing nearby. "You mean this could help me? How?"

"What you see before you, it is a powerful artifact. Those who drank from it would tell stories of a past which they did not witness, and a future which then came to be. Of course that's just them telling me. I'm a talking rock, not a psychic talking rock."

"At this point I'm ready to believe anything."   

Shale chuckled, "If you haven't already."

Annabelle bent down and scooped some water up from the fountain into her cupped hand. She then drank the water and stood back up, looking around the room as it grew progressively darker. Suddenly, the room grew pitch-black, and a red light emerged from the wall nearby, then another, and another. Before too long, the room was bathed in red and black, and Annabelle could make out small red eyes similar to the ones that belonged to the onyx-skinned creature from earlier in the night.

Another face stood in the light next to a strange door. The face had a large scar, and a black pair of eyes even darker than the area around it. There were no noises from the creatures, and no ambient sound of any kind. Suddenly, they all faded away, and Annabelle found herself back in the Feen's greenhouse.

"What... the hell... was that?"

"What was 'what'? You have to tell me."

Annabelle shook her head and stepped away from the fountain. "I saw something, a vision. It was red eyes surrounding a man next to an ornate door in utter blackness. Everything was soundless, like I was deaf for a few seconds there."

"So it's true." Shale sounded upset when he spoke, "The Vornek have returned."

"The what?"

"Vornek. Malevolent shadow-dwelling beings from another world. They were banished by old Feen hundreds of years ago, their king and queen were sent to different ends of the universe through magic! Why have they returned here?"

"Okay, you're going to have to tell me what the hell is going on NOW! What was that thing? What did I see in my vision? What are the Vornek? What do the Feen have to do with this? Why am I standing here talking to a rock?!"

"Calm yourself, Miss Kethrin."

"I was turned into a fairy and an ancient rock is telling me about evil shadow aliens! I DON'T WANT TO BE CALM!!"

"You have to, it is a dire necessity. Not only are your magical abilities tied into your emotions, but the Vornek are back, and it's not too long before they reveal themselves to the world. When that happens, people will panic, and as they do so will become easy targets for the vile alien creatures."

Annabelle glared her eyes, "Hey, alien right here!"

"Oh, well bad aliens."

Annabelle nodded, then held her head. "Yeah... look, I need to process this. That means that I have to go home, tell everyone why I have fairy wings, listen to their shocked reactions, then pass out because I seem to pass out or get knocked unconscious every five minutes."

"I know, you should really get that looked at. In any case I cannot divulge any more about the Vornek until I learn more about why they may be on Earth. You should return at a later date, Miss Kethrin."

Annabelle chuckled as she turned around, heading for the door which opened by itself this time. "One more thing, the Feen said that I can't be seen as one of them by other people, non-magics and whatnot. That's very similar to my nature as a Torran-Human hybrid, isn't it?"

"I'm not in tune with many other Hybrids, Miss Kethrin." Shale said, "I can't be too sure about your nature in that case."

Annabelle shrugged as she walked through the open door. "Oookay. Whatever. I'll just let myself out. Here, right? Yeah, here. Okay, let me go... right now..."

Annabelle stepped outside the door and walked in the snow. Despite not wearing outerwear, she noticed that she wasn't cold at all at night in this dead of winter. In fact, she felt warmer than expected. Looking around to get her bearings, Annabelle turned and walked off in the direction of her home, trying to figure out how she was going to break the news of having fairy wings to the rest of her family.

Some time later, Annabelle found herself in the living room of her home, looking around. By the time she got back, everyone had gone to bed with the sole exception of Keera, who was sitting in the living room watching late television. Annabelle took a deep breath and over to the couch, sitting down beside her.

"Hey Keeki," Annabelle said, "I know the whole wing thing is a bit odd, but-"

"Tom told me about the wings. I didn't really react much."

Annabelle looked at her confusingly. "Why not?"

Keera muted the television and looked at her mother. "Because last month you and everyone else in this household used witchcraft and wands to get a genie lamp during a magical eclipse. To be honest, I'm surprised it took us this long to encounter fairies."

Annabelle thought back to the rock's words from earlier in the night, about being shocked, as well as Tom's words about normalcy. It was just then that a realization finally hit her: Her entire family had become desensitized to odd things. "Strangeness" was just another word for "normal" around their house. Rather than fight this, however, Annabelle simply smiled. "I suppose you're right. Hey, what's on television?"

"I dunno, some T.V. marathon about superheroes. Want to watch it?"

Annie smiled. "Yeah, yeah I do."

Annie and Keera sat back against the couch as the latter un-muted the television. They then spent the rest of the night talking and watching television, having fun as mother and daughter.

"Just wait until you hear about the talking rock."


Jack Toomes stood in a small white prison cell, within a facility just outside Bridgeport, New York, angrily mumbling to himself.

"Grrr, I'll teach those jackasses who they were dealing with. Mess up my plans, do they? Get me locked up again? I'll teach them. I'll teach them all!"

Suddenly a small device fell down in front of him. Jack looked up and saw small hole carved into the ceiling, not big enough to fit his hand through, and then he noticed the device as it began to beep.

"What have we here?" he asked himself as he stood in place. Suddenly, the device opened, and shot a blue beam into the room, which quickly formed into the holographic image of a masked figure. The guards on the outside of the room did not see the image, as it did not appear through the glass.

Jack smiled. "So it's you. I've been waiting for word from the group. Sure as hell took you long enough."

"Oh it will take us longer than you think, Jack," the hologram said, "you see, our group has decided to... delay your next release. We had such high hopes for you, for the lamp you promised us when we first broke you out. But since you decided to, again, fail in your endeavors, we figured you needed to stay in there. Maybe in prison, you won't disappoint anyone. Maybe"

"No!" Jack yelled out and tried to flip his bed, but it was welded to the floor. "I trusted you!"

"And I you. You were my greatest knight, but unfortunately you were knocked off the board by the enemy queen. Now you're just sitting on the table while I do my best to salvage this game. Goodbye, Jack. Your King wishes you well."    

The device exploded in a small puff of smoke, leaving Jack to stew in his anger.

"Your game will be over, soon enough."