Chapter 45

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream,” rang through Beatrice’s head, not only because they were in a boat, but also because her mother was singing it at the top of her lungs, with Pepe howling in the background. Arthur sighed, audibly annoyed.

“What’s next?” Beatrice called over the crashing waves.

“Hopefully land,” grunted Arthur.

Just then, Beatrice heard a loud mechanical buzz coming up behind them.  It was a helicopter! Pepe, whose favorite pastime was chasing cars, tried leaping out of the boat, but was caught in mid air by Beatrice’s mother moments before plunging into the dark abyss. The helicopter slowed to a hover shining lights upon their dingy.  

“They found us!” Beatrice’s mother wailed, “I knew it was too good to be true.”

But Arthur sat smiling casually, seemingly unperturbed.

Arthur’s team popped their heads out of the helicopter, calling out to reassure the boat’s passengers everything would be okay, and they would soon be safe.

However, they soon found everything would not be okay. Because at that very moment a behemoth of a whale leaped out of the choppy ocean, hitting the helicopter with a flick of its tail and sending it spinning. Arthur’s team began yelling a series of expletives followed by some very official sounding numbers and concluded with Bobby screaming, “Abort mission!” One by one, they put on their helicopter hats and flew away, leaving Beatrice, her mother, and Arthur stranded once again.

Baffled, the three sat in the boat silently. Even Pepe didn’t move an inch.  Time seemed to have stopped.

After what felt like centuries passed, Arthur spoke. “Well, that didn’t go as planned.”

They sat a little while longer, unsure if Arthur’s team would come back and wondering what would happen if they didn’t.

Suddenly, as if answering their prayers, the water around them began to bubble and churn. The boat rocked perilously; Beatrice’s mother shivered. Looking to her right, Beatrice could see something moving in the water. She feared the whale was returning destined to sink their small boat.

POP

It wasn’t a whale, but the large metal hull of a submarine appeared instead.  As it settled parallel to them, the hatch on the top of the submarine creaked open. Climbing out of the vessel was someone Beatrice recognized, but could not place due to the individual’s uniformed attire and department issued cap.  

“That’s my boss,” Arthur leaned in and whispered.  Beatrice didn’t have to look to know Arthur was smiling and saluting.  

“Ma’am,” he said.

“Arthur,” she replied, “Beatrice, Tess.  Your work has been phenomenal.  Because of you we have finally been able to infiltrate the cousins and will be stopping them from any further terror.  We will need you to confirm the identities of each of them, and verify that none are missing.”

Her voice was what allowed Beatrice to identify, Arthur’s boss as…

 

 

 

Hillary Clinton.

#notmypresident #stillwithher  

 

Epilogue

The four of them, Arthur, Beatrice, her mother, and Pepe were able to identify all of the cousins, but one remained unaccounted for – Beatrice’s father.  

  • M.M. Gavin
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Chapter 44

Pepe waddle down the hall and turned the corner.  He sniffed diligently along the baseboard of the hallway until he came to an outlet.  Beatrice thought it was odd to have an outlet in the hallway and even more odd that she hadn’t noticed the outlet as they circled the home.  To be fair, the outlet was covered in a vertical striped wallpaper, which covered every inch of the hall – except the floor, which was creaky, worn wood – and looked more like a Christmas wrapping paper than wall paper.  Pepe paused, lifting his snot and loudly sniffing the air.  Whimpering and swatting Beatrice’s leg he sat down.

“Pepe?” Beatrice’s mother whispered, as she knelt down.

“This must be something…” contemplated Arthur, “but then again I am following a fat, little dog.”

Beatrice’s mother glanced around, taking a deep breath.

“What are you looking for, mother?” questioned Beatrice.

“There are no vents that I can see, and we have not seen a window since we left our room, but I swear I smell fresh air, salty air in fact.”

While Arthur, Beatrice, and her mother squatted down, crawling around to find the source, Pepe walked straight to the camouflaged outlet and let out  a shrill yip.

Startled and concerned her cousins would hear, Beatrice swatted at Pepe’s rump without turning.  The sound of gently rolling waves, sprinkled with shells rolling and chiming together, and a soft tickle on her neck by loose strands of hair and cool breeze, surprised her.

“What?” she turned.

The three of them gaped as the wall adjacent to the outlet gradually disappeared above them, while Pepe sat wagging his tail with glee and his nose touching the outlet.  He sprinted out, immediately lifting his leg onto the nearest patch of grass.

Beatrice’s mother was the first to exit.  Her broad smile lit her face and the setting sun improved her fading dye job.  Arthur and Beatrice followed.  Moments after leaving, the wall behind them returned to its place.  Despite the setting sun, they all squinted in its brightness and the harsh wind blowing salty air on their faces.  Moving forward and away from the house, Beatrice could not help but feel relief.  

“Watch where you step!” called her mother, “This must be where they let Pepe out.   I should have set him down ages ago!  He would have led us here straight away.”

Amused, but not distracted.  Beatrice began assessing the situation.

“It is almost dark,” she said plainly, “but if I remember correctly there was a small town not too far from here. Right, mother?”  

“It has been years since I’ve been up here, but I believe so.  We will probably have to pay someone to take us to the mainland.”

“The mainland?” stumbled Arthur.

Beatrice looked surprised, “It makes sense doesn’t it?  This is an extremely private island, where everyone has and keeps their own secrets.  Where better for them to go when they aren’t terrorizing the planet?”

-M.R. Gavin

Chapter 42

Beatrice moved hurriedly down the hall reaching a stairwell and sprinting up two steps at a time. She reached the top, violently crashing into someone.  Flailing her arms and on the brink of flying back down the stairs, she thought, I guess he lied, they’ll never let me leave.  As she thought of her foiled escape, a firm but familiar hand grasped her shoulder and grabbed her wildly moving arm, pulling her back to the landing.

“Beatrice!” the being said in a hushed surprise.  “Arthur?” she questioned. They looked at each other in disbelief.

“My dad-”

“They said we could go”

“- He said I could go”

“Can you believe it?”

“Where is my mother?”

“Your dad?”

Tired of the unmoving banter, Beatrice gripped Arthur’s hand, dragging him forward.  Arthur continued to blurt a series of questions, the same questions they had been contemplating since Janelle moved in down the street.

Half-way down the hall Beatrice slowed.  She had a vague memory of walking up here as a kid.  Uncle Gerald had the room two doors from the stairs on the right Grandma and Grandpa had the big room at the end of the hall.  Her mother and father had the room on the eastern corner of the house with many windows, so her mother could see the sunrise.  Of course they would keep her mother and Arthur there.  When she reached the room Arthur had stopped babbling and looked at Beatrice with astonishment.  

“How did you know which room?  Did he tell you?”

“I remember this room as a kid.”

Inside her mother turned to them with her eyes wide; Pepe waddled – he really had put on weight – with excitement toward them.  

“I need something to wear and then we need to leave.  Now,” Beatrice demanded.

Arthur nodded in agreement, but said nothing. His face was blank, though Beatrice knew he was contemplating.  

“They are letting us go for a reason,” he said solemnly.  

“I agree, but I am not letting them know and I am leaving,” Beatrice declared, “We can figure out what their plan is once we are out of here and in contact with your colleagues.  

“What did you dad say to you, Beatrice?”

“Your father is here,” gasped her mother.  

“Yep,” replied Beatrice changing into a pair of purple tie-dye jeans, probably from Janelle’s teen years, which she found crumpled in the closet.  “Good thing I lost weight,” she mumbled to herself.

“Anyway, he has been there the whole time, watching us.  He said he ‘needs me’ for them to be successful again.”  Fully clothed, she tosses her mom a coat, scoops Pepe off the floor, and walks to the door.  Striding right up to Arthur, Beatrice says, “For three years, we had a marvelously stable life.  The past several months have been insane, but I know who you are and what you can do.  Get us out of here.  Please.”

He stared, astonished by how much she had changed, knowing he would do whatever she asked.

“Let’s go.”

-M.R. Gavin

Chapter 40

“You look beautiful,” said a low, gravely voice.

Sure, thought Beatrice, in this disgusting room, in a nightgown I wash in the sink, with my extremely unkempt hair.  I look like a fucking queen.

“The last time I saw you was in this very room.  I tucked you in.  It feels like just yesterday.”

The memory you cling to, I threw away years ago, Beatrice taunted in her head, counting paint chips all the while.

She heard the floorboards creak.  More precisely, she heard the sixth board into the room creaking, most likely being stepped on by his right foot.  The constant comings and goings of her cousins had given away that much.  She listened to the hesitant steps continue toward her, but never turned.

“I wanted to see you so many times since then.  It’s not like I wasn’t near.  Every time your cousins visited you, I was nearby. In fact, I coordinated most of their trips, hoping to see you.”

Knowing the room’s precise size, Beatrice side-stepped his hand at the exact moment he reached for her shoulder.  His signature move of comfort.

“When your mother took you away from me, she destroyed me.”

Beatrice finally turned, tilting her head, “Destroyed you?  Like you and my cousins have destroyed so many others?  Destroyed you?  When you tried to turn us into the monsters of mayhem you all are?  Seeing as it didn’t stop you from ruining lives, I am sure it didn’t destroy you.”

She turned resolutely, scolding herself for saying anything, and resolving not to say another word.

If there had been another person in the room, they would have seen how alike Beatrice and her guest were.  Similar defensive posture, the same mousy brown hair, round faces, each with a slightly too small nose, and too big ears.  Their resemblance was unmistakable; the primary difference was Beatrice’s hazel eyes, and petite mouth (in those regards she favored her mother).    

He had left his hand floating in the air while she spoke; slowly dropping it, he asked, “Would you mind if I sit on the bed?”  Receiving no answer, he quietly sat down – every spring in the bed squeaking.

“I know that what happened that day was horrible for you, but that is just what we do.  We aren’t just destroyers of the lives of people we don’t know… we are equally as mean to each other.  It is what we do, who we are.  We have to,” he sighed.

“I don’t know how much you know, but the reason the rest of your cousins brought you and your mother with them is because your grandfather passed away, leaving me as head of the family.  I needed to see you again.  To talk to you.  I ordered them not to leave without you this time.”  His voice had a sudden youthful joy as he finished, “And now we can finally be successful again.”

-M.R. Gavin

Chapter 36

Arthur continued to feed Beatrice coded sentences and phrases over the course of the next four hours.  By the end, Beatrice was lying on the bed, sprawled on her stomach, covers kicked to the floor, and head face-first into the mattress.  Arthur leaned against the bedpost, head tilted all the way back, and let out a sigh.  

Beatrice turned her head to face him.

“I’m sorry for hating you,” she said simply.

“I understand.”

Beatrice shut her eyes tightly, a tear quietly escaping.  

“I feel like we are in a permanent stasis; every time we figure something out, we are right back where we started.  No closer to figuring out where my cousins go, or how to get home and back to normal.”

“At least you know what Gerald Sr. told me, and that he is here,” Arthur suggested, trying to lighten her mood.  

Beatrice rolled to her back and stared at the ceiling.  She allowed herself to zone in and out of focus while considering all that she had learned.  Her mother was safe, but experiencing trauma.  Gerald Sr. had his hands in everything, and was a leader in discovering and manipulating the blips.  Plus, Gerald Sr.’s gift for Arthur was, in fact, Arthur’s appeared betrayal in return for traveling with the cousins.  Finally, Arthur helped her recall the unidentified person from the photograph she found in her last period of wakefulness.  Thinking about this, she realized despite having been heavily sedated for a long period, she had not slept peacefully for a very long time. Slowly sitting up, Beatrice wiped her eyes and took a deep breath.  

Swinging her feet to the bedside, she slid down next to Arthur.  

“What are we going to do? Again.”  Beatrice stammered.

Arthur took a moment.  He couldn’t decide what move to make.  The classic yawn and arm around shoulders – too juvenile.  Patting her gently on the head?  Too maternal.  Instead, Arthur chuckled, “Well at least you don’t have to worry about walking in on your mother doing nude yoga.”  Shit, too paternal, channeling dad jokes.  Beatrice punched him in the arm, “Don’t try to make me laugh. He used to do that too.”

“How you are related still blows my mind,” he stated matter-of-factly, “It goes beyond your focus, how did the evil skip you?  Is his evil just limited or is your mother’s uniqueness just enough to prevent it?”

Beatrice let her head fall to Arthur’s shoulder, “how would I know?  I forgot about him until five minutes ago, and my mother refused to talk about him.  Plus I am sure if I dig to deeply into my own memories I would blib.  Can’t your spy people tell you?”

“Somehow, he escaped our knowledge completely.  He disappeared many invasions ago, long before we knew about you.”

Allowing a shudder breath to escape her lips, Beatrice shrugged.  Gradually she drifted to sleep resting her head on Arthur’s shoulder and dreaming they were at J. G.’s Restaurant and Grill.  

“Sweet dreams, Birdie,” Arthur whispered.

-M.R. Gavin

Chapter 32

Arthur couldn’t take his eyes off Beatrice.  He knew they had not been kind, but this was beyond anything he imagined.  Her nightgown clung to her body, and lines of her bones jutted through it; her hair was stringy and matted, but what startled Arthur the most was the pure fury and hatred her eyes flung at him.  

Surprisingly, it reminded him of their first official meeting.  He had been watching her diligently for weeks and had learned the depth of her routine, which she broke for nothing.  His job was to make himself a part of it.  He started by casually passing her in the dairy aisle, where he would grab milk and cream cheese, and she would pass on the left to get plain yogurt.  Then, he began to go to the movies every Saturday, but to the showing after Beatrice’s so they crossed paths.  It was at the cinema, he made his move on Beatrice.  As he entered, Beatrice exited focused on her quiet, isolation.  She made it almost too easy for Arthur to trip into her, popcorn flying above them and coke splattering her face and blouse.  Looked up and actually saw Arthur for the first time, Arthur thought she would kill him then and there.  Her fury took several weeks to dissipate, lessening each week as they attended the same film, Arthur prepared with a small popcorn and drink, which he handed her, following her into the theatre,and sitting a few seats away.  Eventually, they would sit together.

Arthur’s memory rapidly shut as Janelle’s snickering returned his thoughts to the present.  Janelle.  Janelle, Gerald Jr. and Gerald Sr.  Why hadn’t Arthur been able to see it before?  They could simply not let a member of their family escape.  Beatrice had to be one of them and by making her hate him, they just might be able to not only have her with them, but also be a willing participant of their destructive path.

Beatrice glared at him, then back to Janelle.  She didn’t know who she wanted to scream at first, or what she needed to ask them.  Ultimately, she decided to ignore Arthur; he didn’t even deserve her hate.  To her, he would no longer exist.  

“Janelle,” Beatrice said anger seeping through every utterance, “Why do I blip?  WHY can’t I remember?  WHY can’t I hear or see or even think about certain things?”

Janelle began, “Birdie, there are reasons, but I have never been told why, or even how.  All I know” she shrugged, “is that he knows.”  Casually gesturing to Arthur, Janelle’s grin flickered between amusement and anger.  

“As I said, we used these blips to our benefit, but unfortunately, we are not totally immune.  Arthur, has been most uncooperative and only agreed to disclose the information upon seeing you.”

“Those weren’t the only terms,” he quietly interjected; turning to Beatrice with an unfamiliar look in his eyes, “You get to know, too.

-M.R. Gavin

Chapter 30

Uninterrupted darkness.  Another endless black abyss.  

Ended abruptly by a flash of blinding light, and a sudden saturation of ice cold water.  Stunned and gasping Beatrice screamed, shot up, and began shaking uncontrollably. Her little room and antiquated quilt were the same, but the light filling the room had the intensity of the sun, the air combined with the ice cold water chilled her to the core.  Cousins filled her small prison.  Gerald Jr. stood snickering with an empty bucket.  Every second generation cousin was screaming their heads off.  Despite the pale pink nighty being soaked through, her throat was drier than a Christmas tree on Christmas after not having been watered since Thanksgiving.  Her head was spinning as she turned and turned trying to account for all the people in this tiny, brilliantly lit space.  She sniffed in search for the tiniest remnant of her mother’s perfume, and the loathed – though welcome – smell of Pepe after rolling his way through the dog park.

She gawked at the cousins. All just as she remembered them, unlike her sickly looking self, but even louder.  Head still spinning she tried to speak, “Where’s my mother?” her voice croaked.  No one answered, no one even seemed to register the sound of her voice.  Beatrice’s eyes refused to focus.  They swept back and forth looking for signs of her mother; when everyone else’s’ heads stopped spinning (though the yelling and screaming proceeded as if on loop), she concluded her mother was absent from this “revival,” as was Arthur.  She could only hope her mother was safe and Arthur gone forever.

Gradually, Beatrice began to focus on what she could see, trying her best to ignore what she could hear, and push aside the now howling grumble of her stomach.  She started by focusing on Janelle’s youngest.  He appeared the same, maybe a bit bigger than she remembered, but screaming at the top of his lungs with unhinged glee.  From him, she shifted her gaze to Janelle, who stood unblinking, baby on her popped hip, and a quizzical, yet not unfriendly look.  For an instant, Beatrice recalled the photo, Gerald Sr. and toddler Janelle, oddly reminiscent of how Janelle and her son looked now.  She scanned the room to find the unknown figure from the photo, but he was not there.  Coming back to Janelle, she sighed; Janelle had not stopped watching her for a moment.

They gazed at each other for what felt like an eternity.  Janelle slowly tilted her head, never shifting her intent stare.  Raising her hand, everyone in the room stood immobilized and silent.  The silence was almost as overwhelming as the uninterrupted screaming in its stark and unsettling contrast.  Everyone looked at her expectantly.  Janelle quietly announced, “I believe it is time you and I have a chat.”  Cousins began filing out the single door; Janelle’s handed her son to his father, but never broke her stare.  “Oh,” she said playfully, “and send him in.”

-M.R. Gavin