Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter Forty-Four - Things of Old and New

Riverview, Missouri
Septemeber 25th, 2022

The midnight sky screamed with thunder and lightning as rain fell to earth, soaking the land an torrent of cold, unforgiving water. People all over the city slept soundly as the storm rolled over their heads, children scared from the thunder nestled safely with their parents for protection.

In the storm, a man who called himself "Rodger" stomped through a field on the outskirts of town. He looked up, angry at the fact that nearly every day for the past week had been stormy and dark, and realized that he wanted to get someone warmer and quieter.

As Roger walked through the field, he tripped on a small rock and fell forward, scraping his knees while doing so. He angrily stood up and kicked the rock a few feet away, limping afterward. However, as he turned around to leave, he felt something coming from the rock itself, like the object was calling to him. Roger didn't know what to make of it, this feeling that he wanted to take the rock home. He stared into the glistening side of the natural object, staring for what felt like hours in the pouring rain.

Fascinated by the rock, Roger picked it up and carried it home. It was held within his hands with such a grip, it was as though his heart had stopped beating and that was the last thing his dying form was caressing.


Roger dropped the rock on the counter next to him as walked into the bathroom to tend to his scraped knees. He opened the medicine cabinet to grab some antibacterial medicine and some bandages, still feeling something strange in the back of his head. Roger then turned and washed his hands in the sink, but when he looked up at the mirror, his heart nearly jumped out his chest.

The reflection was that of himself, but as a dead person with graying skin, a decayed-looking face and hair as black as his lifeless eyes. he stumbled back and nearly fell against the bathtub, but regained his balance. When he looked in the mirror again, his reflection was normal. Horrified, he turned and looked at the rock that he had left on the counter next to the sink.

Hidden Springs, Alaska
October 17th, 2022

 "Annabelle has fairy wings." 

"Yes hon."

"Annabelle has fairy wings."

Mirabelle and Kelly sat in the latter's office. Kelly, who was reading a  local news story on her tablet, put the device on the table and smirked at Mirabelle. Mira, in the meantime, was still trying to wrap her head around seeing Annabelle in her new state.

"Are you trying to break the record for how many times you can say that?" Kelly asked, 'It's been established that Annabelle is a fairy. I got past it pretty quickly because, well, I've seen things. You've seen even more, so I'm surprised you're taking it so strangely."

"I'm just trying to contemplate what's been going on these past couple days. First we find a book that literally talks to me, and now Annabelle has fairy wings! It's odd seeing someone identical in almost every way to me have wings like that. Things are just getting strange around here. So did you ever figure out who wrote that into the novel?"

Kelly shook her head, and the both of them stood up. Kelly looked at the book on the table. "I've tried to figure it out but every time I get a new lead, the trail runs even colder. I called up the library to see if they could tell me who checked the book out last, and the guy who answered told me that he was going to call back when he looked at the records."

Mirabelle shrugged, "hopefully he calls back soon. Is there anything else?"

Kelly was the one to shrug this time as she walked over to her desk. "That night we came back from the library, when Annabelle showed up with wings, I felt something. I guess it's because of my... my 'abilities'... but I felt like I was being watched, that we all were. It felt so familiar but I couldn't put my finger on it. I've been trying for days to figure out everything, from the murder of that man outside the bar to Annabelle's new condition, to the writer of that note in the novel. I think everything is connected somehow."

"How can you be sure?" Mirabelle asked.

"Everything's falling perfectly into place. Annabelle mentioned something about the Vornek, and I heard that same word over a month ago. She says she saw one that night when she became a fairy, and described it perfectly as it was described in the Dark Hollow novel, and her description matched up perfectly to the creature we saw in the park a few days before attacking Jack Toomes and his army of robots at the graveyard."

Kelly took a deep breath, and continued, "That Genie we met after the graveyard encounter left us because she needed to stop 'the Abyss', and something called 'The Abyss' also showed up in the novel. And then, a copy of the same exact novel falls into your hands with a note directed to you written into it."

"And the murder?"

"Well, the slash marks on his face came from a higher angle than his head, and from different sides, so it really couldn't have been a mountain lion unless it jumped at him, and ran away. Seeing as Annabelle saw one of these Vornek a few days ago in the town, it's possible that creature attacked the man. If that's the case then we have a connection between the man's death, the vornek, the novel, and the Abyss. But, one question remains."

"What's that?"

"What are the Vornek, and the fairies for that matter, doing in Hidden Springs?"

Mirabelle and Kelly looked around, both worried about the question.

Meanwhile, Annabelle stood confidently out on her patio atop a platform which had been covering her pool for the winter. Nearby, Tom and Keera were watching her, waiting for her to make a move. Seconds later, Annabelle closed her eyes and jumped upward, but instead fell longways and face-planting into the hard platform. Seconds later she stood up, holding her head and stumbling around in a dazed manner.

"Are you okay?" Tom asked as Annabelle continued to stumble for a few seconds.

"WHY yes I AM, MISTER WATERMELON KING!!" Annabelle shook her head to regain her composure, then stood strong again before jumping a second time, this time tripping and falling forward.

"Dammit!" She yelled out, "I saw that orange fairy flying, it can't be too hard!"

Annabelle then stood up and turned around, trying to jump upwards. However, her feet slipped on a snow pack and she instead fell backwards onto the soft powder.

Keera chuckled, "What about thinking happy thoughts? Do they help?"

Annabelle hissed at her daughter, "Say that one more time and you're grounded. I've been trying to do this for hours and the snarky comments from the both of you have not been helping!"

"At least Tom's not making any green jokes", Keera mumbled under her breath. Tom nodded affirmatively as Annabelle jumped and fell again. Keera and Tom continued to watch as Annabelle kept jumping upwards, each time falling flat on the ground.

"Dammit!", Annabelle exclaimed again, her voice muffled from the packed snow around her mouth, "dammit dammit dammit! I know I can do this!" After standing up and getting her bearings, she closed her eyes again and looked upward.

She imagined herself flying up, into the sky, and landing safely. She felt her feet get lighter, and she smiled and leaped upwards into the air, seconds later she was off the ground and gaining speed as she flew upwards.

Keera and Tom looked at her flying with shocked faces, their eyes trained on her.

"I'm flying!" Annabelle yelled out, "I'm flying!"

Tom and Keera looked up at her as she gained altitude to the point that they didn't even see her anymore. Tom covered his eyes against the glare of the sun, trying to spot her.

"Where is she?" Tom asked, "where did she go?"

Keera kept looking and then nodded her head towards the sky. "There she is! She's flying very fast... down... towards the... river."


A loud splash echoed through Hidden Springs mountainside, followed by a louder exclamation of "DAMMIT!!!!" in Annabelle's voice. Both sounds forced a flock of birds to emerge from a tree and fly away in fright as Tom and Keera ran to the other end of their yard. They looked off in the distance and watched as Annabelle emerged from the nearby river.

"You okay?!" Keera yelled out, her and Tom nearing their breaking point in laughter while seeing her mother angrily kicking water off in the distance, "do we need to come get you?"

Annabelle's voice rang back, "NO! I'LL WALK BACK MYSELF!!"

Keera shrugged, and she as well as Tom turned and walked back inside, letting Annabelle vent her rage alone. As Tom walked off into the kitchen for something to drink, Keera walked up the stairs to her bedroom and looked around. Since coming back to Hidden Springs, she had barely left the house aside from that first day and wondered if it was because she saw the movie studio where her accident happened. She had been intending to explore the town again, with the studio in full view, but couldn't seem to find the courage to do so.

After closing her eyes and focusing on what she wanted, Keera reopened them and walked out of the room, keeping her coat on.


"You're going to lose, you know that right?"

"I didn't know you talk to yourself, Cass."

"Tough talk, for a kid."

"Kid? You're only technically a few years older than me! Or did you forget in your advanced years."

"Oh it's ON!"

Cassie and Gabriel leaned forward and started twisting the knobs on both ends of the Foosball table in the living room. Both players jumped up and down in excitement from playing the game. Suddenly, Annabelle walked in, drenched from head to toe. Her makeup was running and her hair was a mess. Before Cassie could ask, Annabelle angrily growled, stopping her.


Annabelle, presumably so angry that she couldn't think straight, quickly turned around and stomped upstairs, leaving Cassie and Gabriel to be confused up to the moment they resumed their game. A few moments passed and Kelly walked into the living room as well, sitting down on the sofa to watch some television.

"So, what was that with Annabelle just now?" Cassie asked, trying to talk over the sound of the Foosball table as well as the television. "Did you see her?"

Kelly shrugged, "I didn't see her. She said something about wanting to fly today using the wings she has, but I'm not sure if she was very successful."

From upstairs, everyone in the living room could hear Annabelle as she yelled out in anger about her inability to fly, with music from a nearby stereo drowning out some of the words.


Gabriel chuckled, "I'm guessing that's a 'no'. She sounded more angry than Scarlett when she... she just sounded more angry than Scarlett."

"I heard that." Scarlett's voice came echoing through the room from the foyer.

Gabriel gulped hard, then in an act of desperation quickly said "Cassie! That is a wonderful impersonation of me!" Cassie shot him and angry look, and then looked down again to continue the game of Foosball. A few more minutes passed until Keera suddenly peeked her head through the arch.

"Hey I'm going out for a bit. I'll be back later."

"Can we come?" Gabriel asked, with his attention being removed enough from the game for Cassie to score a point. "GRRR!"

Keera walked into the room proper and shook her head. "Nah, I'm just gonna go by myself, need to get out of the house for a bit because I'm going stir-crazy being here for days."

Everyone in the room nodded and Keera left, stepping out of the house and walking to the curb where a cab was waiting for her. As she walked, she saw John standing at the mailbox getting the mail, which seemed to be a small package. John read the name for the package out loud, "To Thomas, from Uncle Elliot and Aunt Mei." However, he read a small note attached to the package silently, and his expression dropped from a relatively happy one to one of worry. Keera felt that she could find out about this later and climbed into the cab, heading off towards the center of town.


Just as the cab drove off, a large container truck drove by and stopped in front of the house. The driver quickly stepped out and pulled a small, black, metal box from the inside of the cargo hold and carried it to the porch, dropping it off just to the right of the door. He knocked on the door, then left the box on the porch with an attached note.

"To Kethrin Humans Hybrids 
314 Winterfall Street 
Hidden Springs, Alaska"

Mirabelle, hearing the knock from the other room, walked outside and looked at the strange box. It felt familiar to her, but she didn't know what it was. However, after reading who it was addressed to, particularly the "Hybrids" part, she felt the need to try and carry it inside.

Mirabelle shoved the box into the house and looked around for something to pry it open. John, who was still reading the attached note nearby on the mail, heard the commotion and walked over to her after setting the package on a nearby table.

"What seems to be the problem, Mira?"

Mirabelle shook her head, "This stupid box, I can't find a single way to open it, and it was addressed to us as "Humans Hybrids" in a printed format. You think it might be something dangerous?

John shook his head, "nah, it must have been flown here and they would have done a thorough check." John then looked around elsewhere for some kind of clue to what the box could be. A few moments later he grabbed a paper off the side of the box. "Hey look at the outgoing address, it's our house in Starlight Shores. And this looks a bit like... MIKE."

 Annabelle, hearing the conversation from upstairs after having dried herself off and changed, walked down to talk to them. "So MIKE's here? Why isn't he saying anything? Is there like a button you need to press or something?"

As John, Mirabelle, and Annabelle stood there, the box started to glow a bit bright blue before suddenly hovering off the ground. The object started twisting and turning before suddenly taking the form of a humanoid android, with a single glowing eyeball in the center of its robotic head. The body completely, then stood up straight with accents on the robot's arms and legs starting to glow a bright blue. When this was done, the robot took a step forward at the group, Annabelle and Mirabelle having subtly nudged themselves to be behind John. Just as it activated itself, however, the robot suddenly shut off.

As the robot stood there, offline, Annabelle pointed at it. "Well that's something you don't see every day, and around here, that's saying something!"

Suddenly, the robot reactivated and began to speak with a familiar voice. "Greetings... ZZZTTT and hybids. I ZZZTTT MIKE."

"So it IS MIKE!" Mirabelle yelled out, "What did you do?! You look... AWESOME!"

"ZZZTTT-I... .... ...."

John quickly realized what was going on and walked over to the robot. "It looks like he transferred his personality matrix into a new body. In the process, some of his audio functions must have been fried..."

"Can you fix him?" Annabelle asked, "So he can tell us what happened?"

John took a tool that he had developed for reworking technology out of his jacket and used it to fiddle around with the interior of MIKE's head. "Well it's new technology which I have never encountered before in my entire life, and the tech happens to be advanced robotics beyond even our own-Done! That was easy!"

John took a step back, and MIKE sparked a bit before continuing. "My spherical hovering body was insufficient. I needed a new body for interpersonal interactions, and spent a length of time in the basement at the house in Starlight Shores to create one. As my new body was and still is ZZZZZTT rather incomplete when I transferred, it is safe to say that the transfer was not precisely seamless." Suddenly MIKE started making strange moves before shutting down for a few seconds, then reactivated himself while looking off in strange directions as he spoke.


Everyone in the room made odd faces at MIKE, who then corrected himself. "Perhaps the involvement of Jonathan Kethrin could help prevent my circuits from being further damaged." MIKE said, "He repaired me a few weeks ago, when I was damaged by a fire blast. Perhaps he can repair me again."

"Yeah I remember that. That's when I found out about your origins as my design." John then turned to Annabelle and Mirabelle, "it should only take a short while to fix him, but I gotta go do something first. Just keep an eye on him, and make sure he doesn't explode or something."

Annabelle shrugged, "Okee, be back soon, will you? He's creeping me out just standing there staring at me with his big ole' eye."

John nodded and walked away, leaving Annabelle and Mirabelle behind in the foyer with the robot. Mirabelle, trying to pass the time, took a glance at MIKE.



John walked upstairs, ready to knock on Tom's door, when the door suddenly opened. Tom stood at the door frame wearing an indoor outfit, having changed from his outerwear, and nodded towards John. "What's going on?"

"Can I come in? There's something you need to see."

"Sure bud. Come on." Tom walked inside and John quickly followed, shutting the door. Afterward, John took a small video disk out of his pocket and placed it on the dresser next to Tom's door, directing his friend's attention towards it silently.

"What is that? Your wedding video?"

John shook his head, but remained silent. He then took a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Tom, who read it right there.

"Tom, I found this old video in the attic of our house in Sunset Valley when we moved back this past week. This is a video log your parents took during their last trip to Egypt. Please watch this. - Uncle Elliot"

"My parents?" Tom stood in place, holding onto the note for dear life. All of the blood drained from his head and he felt weak in the knees, but he didn't want to move from where he was. "My parents made a video log and I didn't know about it?"

Tom took a long look at the disk that John sat on the dresser. "That's the video, right?"

Tom pocketed the note while John silently nodded, then handed the disk to him. "Are you going to watch it?"

Tom continued to stand there, holding the disk in his hand. He thought about the times in his life in which he had met his father's spirit, and how it helped him, how everything in his life was affected in some way by them. Yet he realized that he never actually knew them. And now, in his hand, was a log of their adventures in Egypt that was to be their last.

By the time he was ready to talk, John had let himself out presumably so Tom could have time to himself. As though he was still there, Tom answered his question out-loud.

"I don't know."


Keera sat on a park bench across the street from the movie studio, staring it down intently. She had fully intended to go there herself, but once again froze up after looking at it. Letting out a deep sigh, Keera continued to sit there, waiting for her own courage to come back. She looked up and noticed the clouds as they moved across the sky. This made her think back to her younger days when she and Annabelle used to lie in the grass on a summer day, watching the clouds float by. She believed things were simpler then, that the clouds were just clouds and her life would never spiral into the strange existence it had become.

Keera felt herself lost in the moment staring up at the clouds, and was taken out of it by a sudden shift in the bench's weight. Sure enough, she turned her head and noticed a teenage boy sitting next to her. She gathered he was roughly the same age as her, from his looks. She turned her head back and looked up at the clouds, trying to give this guy the hint that she wasn't in the talking mood, but he simply stayed where he was.

"He'yo." The teen said, his voice carrying what sounded like an Irish accent, "My name's Ethan Craft. What's yours?"

"Keera. Keera Kethrin."

"Keera? That's a popular name where I'm from. Keera. Probably be my own name had I been born a lass. Heck, I'm glad it's not my name now, my ma's a bit on the eccentric side and that's something she'd do."

Keera chuckled, then went back to looking at the clouds. "Look, Ethan, is it? I'm just trying to be alone right now. No offense to you or your eccentric mother, I'm just wanting to be alone."

"Okee." Ethan smiled, stood up, and walked away. Keera sat where she was after he left, and went back to cloud watching, but a short time later felt the bench shift in weight again.

 "I do apologize for talking about my mother like that. She's awesome."

Keera angrily sighed, and turned towards Ethan, "Can I help you, or something?"

"I'm just trying to get to know some people here is all. My family is here in town until next week. My mother's a doctor and she's attending a conference down the road and I find those things rather boring. Thought I'd mingle with the locals, that is if you are a local."

"What is that supposed to mean? Do I look different? Is that it? My scar? Is that what you're talking about?!"

Ethan smiled, "nope, I didn't even notice it until you brought it up." Keera wasn't sure if he was lying, or if his eyes were frozen up from the cold. "But your name, and the scar, make everything come together."

"What do you mean?"

Ethan pointed at the movie studio. "I heard about the accident over there, it made international news! My mother was a doctor who they wanted to bring in to help you. She wasn't able to though. Too busy, too many patients and not enough patience, if you get my meaning."

Keera looked at him, "Maybe she could have helped to make my scar not so noticeable.. I could have had it removed, you know. It could have been gone and I would have been normal. As normal as I can be. But I didn't. I wanted to wear this scar as a reminder that I should always be careful, and because of it, I can't even walk into that damn building over there!" She gestured towards  the movie studio nearby. "It's so damn ...shameful. A permanent badge of shame!"

"It's not shameful."  


"Well, you kept the scar despite what you felt about it, and yourself, so it's more a badge of strength than anything. And it makes you unique, everybody needs something to stand out in this world."

"Yeah." Keera replied, "I guess so. I guess I've just been worried about something."
"What's that?"

Keera sighed, "It's hard to talk about, especially to someone I just met. Every time I look at that place, I feel lost, that a part of me was lost there. I know it's obviously because I was hurt there, but still it feels... empty."

"Maybe something that was supposed to happen, didn't. Why did you go there in the first place?"

Keera shrugged, "A tour. Someone close to me used to be an actress there, and she gave me a tour. I begged and begged and begged her to take me, and on the day she did..." She made a sound like an explosion and pointed to her face, "this."

"Well, I'm no psychologist, but perhaps if you go back there and complete the tour, everything will fall back into place and you won't be afraid to go there anymore."

Keera thought over what he said. Was she too afraid to go back to the studio after the explosion? Sure, Collin's mistake was a rare event, and she hadn't heard of any major incident since then.

"Yeah, I guess." Keera looked back at Ethan, who smiled.

"The best thing to do is to do what you want. That's what we all should do, right?" Suddenly, Ethan stood up. "Hey I'm gonna go, the conference my mother is at should be done. Hopefully I'll see you around again, Miss Kethrin."

Keera nodded, and as Ethan walked away she looked back over at the movie studio, contemplating.


Tom sat on a couch in the foyer, intently staring at the video disk on the table in front of him. As he did so, he noticed a flash of red in the corner of his eye and immediately knew who it was.

"Hey Scarlett." Tom stood up to talk to his cousin face-to-face, .

"Hey, Johnny told me about what he gave you. Did you watch it?" Tom shook his head, "Are you going to watch it."

"I'm still figuring that part out."

Scarlett shrugged, "well, whatever you do, just know that you have the support of everyone in the household, especially me. John showed me a video of my parents a few months ago, and it helped me out with some things. Maybe it could do the same for you."

"Didn't he also take you to a parallel universe a couple days ago so you could meet your own parents?"

"Yeah, but those are my parents and they aren't at the same time. It's like some sort of Schrödinger's Family thing going on or something."


Scarlett chuckled, "John made that joke. Anyway, as I stated before, whatever you do, you have my support."

"Thanks, cuz." Tom smiled at her, turned around, and walked away. As he was about to do so, he heard Scarlett's cell phone go off, and continued walking. Behind him, Scarlett spoke into the phone a single word of acknowledgement and walked upstairs.



Keera stood just outside the movie studio. By this time, the sun had fallen a little closer the horizon and the sky was getting darker, resulting in a temperature drop. A few moments passed by and a red car pulled into the parking lot of the studio, with John sitting out of the driver's seat and Scarlett in the passenger side. John, acknowledging that Keera called Scarlett, stayed in the car while the Red walked up to Keera.

"Hey Keeki, you ready to go?"

Keera didn't respond, continuing to look at the studio. Instead of answering Scarlett's question, she instead opted to ask her own.

"Did I die?"

Scarlett was taken aback by the question, but Keera continued. "I remember seeing a white light after the explosion. I'm not sure if it was the flash blindness from the explosion itself or something more spiritual, and I've silently asked myself that question more times than I hoped. Did I die? Am I a ghost?"

"No." Scarlett answered bluntly. "You didn't die, if I recall correctly, you never even lost consciousness after the explosion despite the pain you were in. You were strong then, and you're strong now. And you know something? You only get stronger as life goes on."

Keera smiled. "Yeah, Annabelle told me something similar after the accident."

"What did she say?"

"She told me I will always be a fighter. I didn't know what to say then, but I do know what to do now. I've been meaning to do it for months."

"What's that?"

Keera walked forward into the studio. The gate had been removed since the last time they were there, and Scarlett's presence meant that they could explore the area due to her history with the place. Keera walked up to the area where the two stood when they first attempted to tour the place. She looked up at the tall sets with the same wide-eyed wonder that she had in her face the July before.

Scarlett picked up on what she wanted to do and smiled. She then walked a few feet forward and turned around. "This is the main lot," Scarlett said, "this is where they used to film outdoor scenes for authentic lighting and weather effects, and still do occasionally. If you look over here, you can see where they filmed the goodbye scene for the movie "June Nights".

Keera smiled as Scarlett continued to give the tour, the one that she was supposed to give before that fateful day. John, in the meantime, sat in the car and looked off towards the direction of the house, worried on whether or not Tom had decided to watch the video of his parents.


Tom sat down on the couch in the basement after putting the video disk into a player. Taking a deep breath, he picked up the remote with shivering hands and pressed the "play" button. A few seconds of static started running, but then that faded into a brilliant view of Al Sahara, Egypt from a nearby hill, the sun shining on the golden sands as a woman wearing a brown jacket walked into the frame, looking around and smiling.

"Come on, Tom!" The woman said, "this trip won't last forever!" 

Tom was taken aback by his own name, and knew that the woman on the tape was his mother. "Tom" on the video was obviously Thomas Richard Jameson, his father. He paused the video to get his bearings, then turned it back on.

"Don't worry, Tina!" Thomas said, his voice clearer than his wife's. "We got plenty of time to goof around." Thomas then turned the camera to face himself as he looked into it. "We do have plenty of time. I mean, five days is enough time to go spelunking into mysteeeerious caves and tombs. I love this part of my hobby!"

Tom smiled at seeing his father, then continued watching. The tape went blank, and seconds later another image popped up revealing Thomas and Tina standing outside in their sleepwear waving to the camera. The timestamp on the video indicated that twelve hours had passed since the last video.

"Well Junior," Thomas said into the camera, "we tried to make a video log of our first day but your mother accidentally dropped most of the tapes into a ravine."

Tina make a joking scoff and looked at him. "Well you know how clumsy I am, it was your fault to give me the tape in the first place!"

"My fault? Yeah I guess so. Next time I'll hold on to it. Anyway, nothing of real importance happened today so we'll restart this whole video log thing tomorrow. We do want to make sure to catch the opening of Al Sahara's Sphinx in two days, so I'll make better judgement calls on who to give the camera too." 

Tina chuckled, and looked back into the camera. "Goodnight, little son. We love you."

A few seconds of static passed, and when the camera was back on Thomas and Tina were standing outside the Spinx of Al Sahara. It was a couple of days later, according to the time stamp on the video. Thomas reached in and pulled a switch on the outside of the door, while Tina stood beside him.

A few more seconds of static passed and Thomas was gently walking into a small room presumably deep within the sphinx itself. A few moments later, a sound was heard from deep within the room. Tina dropped the camera and ran to help her husband as an otherworldly screech echoed through the video and directly into Tom's ears.  

Tom looked away, and when he turned back, the view on the screen showed a small building with dusty walls and a small bed next to it. The camera suddenly moved, and was set on an object where Thomas walked into view. His appearance was disheveled, and he looked sick. In the background, Tom could see his mother Tina lying on a bed with the cover up to her. Her breathing was erratic, and Thomas occasionally looked back to check on her.

Tom still sat in front of the video, but Tom closed his eyes, not wanting to see his parents like this. He could still hear, however, and listened intently to Thomas' words as he spoke.

"Son, you're probably too young to understand this now, but... your mother and I, we're not coming back. We can't come back. Something happened to us while we were down in the Sphinx, and we can't leave. I'm sorry, son. The doctors here did everything they could. Now, all they can do is help us to be comf... look, we love you. We will always love you, you're our son. We won't be there, but you know we'll be watching over you."

"The sky is beautiful here. When the sun sets over the desert, and the moon rises, it's one of the most beautiful things I've seen, aside from your mother. She has trouble talking, she wanted me to tell you to..." Thomas covered his mouth, and continued, "...to be mindful of your aunt and uncle. They're gonna take care of you from now on."

Tom decided to look at the video while it played.

"She wanted me to tell you that she loves you, and that you are the best thing to ever happen to her. She told me that, hopefully, when you find that special someone to always stick with her, and she told me that... what did she tell me? Well the camera's battery is dying, just know that we love you. We love you, Tom."

The video went to static, and when it came back, the tape glitched and it suddenly showed an older video that Thomas took of Tina, teaching their son how to walk.

"Come on! Come on! That's it! You're doing it! Awesome little Tom-Tom!"

Then, unceremoniously, the tape ended. Tom remained where he was, unable to move for what seemed like hours. Finally, he stood up, and before he could even take a step, he broke down in the middle of the basement.