Chapter 2 - Part 19: Experiment No. 6

Charlton Island, a small landmass in the Simmean Sea, began its quiet history as a very small fishing village. Established in the early 1900's, the Island slowly became popular with a wealthier crowd who began buying up the land for their large vacation homes.

However, in the spring of 1936 a massive hurricane destroyed much of the island.  After the long rebuilding process was complete, the lower class construction and trade workers stayed on, making the island a permanent home and providing a working economy.

Throughout the more recent years tourism and the art scene had seen a big boom on Chartlon Island, making it a haven for all who find themselves there.

"Ugh, I hate it here," Flora whined.  "There's nothing to do!  It's too small!  There's not even a downtown, just your stupid Town Center," she emphasized with distain. "Who wants to hang out at Town Center, anyway?"

"People have survived with far less, Flora," her mother replied from the kitchen where she was preparing lunch.  It had been a long day of moving and the last of the furniture had finally been brought into the house.  Everyone was exhausted.

"I know this isn't easy for you. It's been hard for us all," Faith said as she continued chopping, trying to remain positive, "your father and I did what we thought was best for the safety of the family.  Who knows, you might grow to like it here, find a nice boy, perhaps?" she said light-heartedly.

Faith continued trying to lift her daughter's spirits, "They also have an excellent school system here.  I know you're graduating at the end of this year, which is coming up so quickly, but for the short time you're there perhaps you can meet some new friends or pick up an after-school activity."

It was several minutes later before Faith realized she'd been talking to herself.

One saving grace about this place, Flora thought, was that she got her own 'suite' downstairs.  She had her own bedroom and bathroom, as well as a large main area.  Unfortunately it was furnished with all the leftovers that couldn't fit anywhere else in the house, making her feel as if she was living in a thrift store.

"This place is so lame," she muttered to herself.

Making her way to the school the next morning, Flora tried putting on a brave face.  Being the 'new girl' this late in her senior year was so unfair.  She had been at the top of her grade back in Harmony and now she has to start over and work her way back up.  It would be impossible for her to get back up to top marks before the end of the school year.

I don't even know why I'm bothering to show up at all, she thought to herself as she made her way inside.

Once her uneventful school day let out she hopped on her bike and decided to take a ride around town to see exactly what this dump her parents had moved her to had to offer.

The small 'Town Center', as her mother had so endearlingly called it, definitely lived up to its small name.  Though, begrudgingly, it did seem to have some things to do, from what Flora could see.

She was passing by one of the many large brick buildings that seemed to fill every block, when she glimpsed a figure in a second floor window and immediately a strange feeling overcame her.  It was as if a tug coming from inside the building was forcing her to stop.

Once she went inside, she found herself inside a museum.  The pull was getting stronger as she made her way up the stairs.  Following the curious feeling, it lead her into an Egyptian artifact exhibit.

She rounded a corner and came face to face with the figure that had been calling her.

It was nothing more than a statue of a male Egyptian Sphinx, she realized anticlimactically, yet she couldn't stop staring at it.

A faint sound began to fill the room, or perhaps it was only in her head.  It consisted of a whisper-like sound of sorts. It was impossible to make out the words, yet the feeling she got was that the voice was beckoning her to come to it.  To follow the voice.

"How?" she said out loud, "How do I follow you?"  When she realized she was standing in the middle of a museum talking to a modern day re-imagined creation of an ancient statue she couldn't help but laugh at herself.

Yet the feeling didn't go away.  That sense of being pulled, that voice begging her to find it.  It couldn't simply be shut off or ignored.  In a way it even brought her a kind of peace, a feeling of wholeness.  Purpose.

Flora broke away from the faint whisperings and made her way into the next room where several people were watching one of those boring historical movies that museums always seem to have.  It was currently explaining that while all the artifacts in this museum are cheap replicas, the originals still exist in their native homelands.

So these items still exist in their native homelands, she thought.  What is life trying to tell me?  That I need to go to Egypt and try and find this statue that seems for me to want to find it? That's ludicrous, her mind raced.

She left the museum more confused and exhausted than she had ever felt in her entire life.  She had just been spoken to by an inanimate object, that seemed to want her to go to the other side of the world to find its original. Welcome to Crazy Town, folks!

As she does every time she feels lost and confused, she went to her grandfather for help.  In this case, it was the attic.

"This is a really lousy monument, grandpa," Flora said apologetically to the urn sitting unceremoniously on the floor, "but I wish you were here to help me.  Am I going crazy?  This voice in my head won't stop!" she said, distraught.

When no reassurance came from the gilded urn, it was clear her grandfather was going to be of no help to her.  She was left to ponder this dilemma alone.

"CeeCee!" Flora squealed pulling her big brother into a hug as he came through the door, "Oh, I'm so glad you guys are here!" she said excitedly.  "Thanks for coming all this way, I know that Flora will be so happy to have family around for her birthday.  She's been feeling pretty alone here," she said, holding onto her brother tightly.

"Jett," Pete welcomed, shaking the elder man's hand, "it's so good to see you again.  How's retirement treating you?" he asked.

"Crappy," he replied, blunt as always, "guys on the force won't even let me carry my gun anymore.  Though I did keep all my shirts.  They can't have my shirts."

"How are you guys settling in?" Cecil asked, even though they both knew what he meant was 'How are you coping'.

Flora took a deep breath, she'd been going strong for so long now, it wouldn't do anyone any good to break down at her daughter's birthday party.

"It's been good," she replied, "getting the house set up has been quite a chore.  It's both bigger and smaller than our place before, if you can imagine that.  I can't wait to show you around!" she finished, leaving his true question unanswered.

Pete, on the other hand, still had trouble maintaining a simple conversation without drifting off, losing himself in thoughts of how much life had changed recently and how much he wished he could fix the problems his family were dealing with.

"How do you do it," Flora blurted out to her cousin, Leeann who was plucking away furiously at her laptop.

Barely looking up from the screen she replied, "do what?"

Flora tried to formulate the question she had been trying to ask without sounding like she was twelve years old.  "How do you know?  I mean, what makes you figure out what you want to do with your life?"

The younger girl paused a moment, thinking.

"It's a pull, I guess," she said casually, with a shrug of her shoulders.  "Something pulls at you, drives you to it.  Doing anything else other than what pulls you doesn't feel right," she finished, going back to her laptop.

Flora sat in quiet reflection.  If you had asked her two days before she would have thought nothing pulled at her.  Were things different now?  That little voice was getting louder.

The girls heard Faith calling from the other room, "Cake time!"

They were herded with the family out onto the back patio.

Once they were all gathered around the birthday girl, Flora stood with her eyes closed, silently making a wish.  It wasn't about making straight A's or wishing for a boy to ask her to Prom anymore.  This wish meant more than that.

This wish wasn't that of a little girl...

... but that of a woman.

Flora nibbled at her cake distractedly.  She was an adult now.  Life was completely open to her to do with what she wanted. An open book, so to speak.

"How about now?" Leeann asked her nonchalantly between bites.

Flora looked at her quizically.

"Are you feeling that pull a bit stronger now?" the quiet girl asked rhetorically.

A small smile played across Flora's face.

What was confusing a moment ago for a teenager to think about now made perfect sense to an adult.  In fact, she wasn't sure why she had been so scared of it to begin with. It was quite a simple thing actually.

She stood up from the table and cleared her throat.

"I have something I need to tell you all," she announced.

 Title Lemon Jelly

Morand is still missed by Cecil, Khalilah and a gnome as well. 
Awww...  Wrinkly old elderly love. 

Clearly this stylist needs to expand her palette.

Chapter 2 - Part 18: She Blinded Me With Science

Faith looked in on Flora as she lay napping on the couch.  The teenager, having gotten in so late the night before, had run out of energy and passed out on the sofa shortly after a supper full of awkward silences.

"I hate that have I to hurt her like this," Faith expressed to her husband.  "It isn't fair to her, it isn't fair to any of us."

Pete wasn't quite sure how to respond to his wife.  It seemed anything and everything he said these days wasn't the right thing, so he attempted to be helpful with a simple and neutral, "I know..."

It still wasn't the right thing.

"No, you don't," Faith scolded him under her breath, trying to keep her voice down to keep from waking their daughter.  "You don't know what she's been up to.  Do you know where she went after the boys' funeral?  To a Vampire's house, to his lair," she seethed, her face reddening from anger.

Faith didn't wait for him to answer before continuing, "did you know that she's been sleeping with Drake?"  

Her eyes shot daggers at Pete, who could only look away.  It seemed she only got angrier if you looked her in the eyes.  "Hmm?  Did you know that?" she asked vehemently.

Yet, before he had the chance to respond, her anger boiled over once more, "of course you didn't know!  Because you're never here, Pete!  You're supposed to be here, but the basement is always empty!  When we need you, it's empty!!"

Not knowing what to say or do to calm his grieving wife, Pete's only option was to let her continue to yell and scream until the anger worked its way out of her.  It has to run out eventually, he thought.

But it never seemed to, "If you aren't going to do anything to help this family, then I am!" she screamed. 

Flora, jarred awake from the sudden outburst, jumped up from the sofa.  

Unaware her daughter was now wide awake, Faith continued her tirade, "I'm getting this family the hell away from here!  Pack up your gadgets and widgets and God knows what else you have, we're moving as soon as possible!" she blasted.

Any attempt to change her mind would fail, Pete thought.  Fortunately, this wasn't going to hurt him and his business, after all, he could sell his wares anywhere.  What this was going to do, however, is devastate their daughter.  Her age-up day was just around the corner, starting at a brand new school would be detrimental to her grades.  

Though if this thing with the Vampire was true, perhaps it would be best to get away.

Faith continued to spout forth the anger she could no longer contain inside herself, "We're taking our daughter as far away from those creatures as humanly possible.  If they want us, they'll have to find us!"

Unable to listen to any more arguing, especially in light of this latest development, Flora hurried out of room before either of her parents could notice.

With tears forming in her eyes, she grabbed her bicycle and sped off down the street.  She wasn't even sure where she was going, but as long as she was out of that house, she didn't care.  She just continued to ride, away.

The sun was setting on Harmony island, and Flora's world was turning dark.

Eventually, she found herself at the Dixie Cagley Butterfly Pavilion, the park her family owned.  For a fleeting moment, standing in the flower garden, she could almost forget her problems.  Almost forget about what she had just overheard her mother saying.


As the moon rose over the dome, Flora pondered her life.

Everything had been so good once.  Her parents used to be happy, her brothers were their annoying selves, she had a crush on the most elusive boy who may or may not have been the wrong guy for her.  Why did everything turn so horrific so quickly?

Now this whole thing about moving?  Just when her and Drake had finally taken things to the next level, when she felt loved for the first time since her brothers died.  How could her mother do this to her?

No way was she was returning to the house, not while they were still fighting.

Without realizing she'd even fallen asleep, Flora was woken up with a start when she heard her name being called.  She jumped up and brushed the loose grass off her dress, as she saw Drake headed her way.

"I didn't realize it was morning already," Flora yawned.  "How did you know I was here?" she asked.

Drake's face became concerned, "I could sense you were unhappy, but was unable to break away until now.  I came as soon as I could.  What is troubling you?" he asked, placing his hand on her arm, comforting her.

Then the flood of what had happened the previous night came back to her, "They're taking me away!" she cried in alarm.  "My mom is making us move somewhere.  She... found out about us.  She thinks I'm in danger because of you," she finished, barely able to restrain from sobbing. 

"This is madness!" Drake said in disbelief, "She has no reason to fear me.  I vowed to protect this family after the kindness that she stowed upon me.  That she would turn on me is truly undeserved."

Flora embraced him, tears dripping onto his shoulder as she sighed, "Drake, I don't want to go.  I don't want to leave you.  This isn't fair!" she cried.

As the sun began to crest over the park, he put his mouth close to her ear and whispered, "Do not fear, my flower, we will meet again.  I promise."

He vanished so fast that she began to doubt he was there at all.

Less than two days later, Faith found herself signing off on the final order for the moving company.  The house was packed and they were ready to go.

"Am I doing the right thing?" she asked Pete hesitantly, as they were putting the lid on the last box.  "We have to protect our family, right?" she questioned in an anxious tone.

"I believe in you, love.  I know we're doing what is best for us," Pete said encouragingly.  Though, a sideways glance made him question that logic, "But, do you think she's going to be alright?" he asked.

Flora had been moping about the house ever since they told her they'd be moving.  Barely speaking or eating, they knew she was taking this hard.  Their only hope was that she would see this had to be done in order to protect them.

"I don't know if she will be," Faith replied.  "I feel like a monster, Pete.  I've been acting like a crazy person, I know.  I just don't know how to deal with all this.  I think she'll be okay.  And I will be too..." she gave him a weak smile, trying to apologize for her recent behavior with her eyes.

He was fully aware she had been acting like a monster.  That much was obvious, but he also knew that it wasn't herself that was acting that way.  It was grief and fear that drove her.

"I love you and I think that a fresh start will be exactly what we need," he said reassuringly.

He turned and faced the sullen teenager, "Come on kiddo, it's time to get a move on.  Let's give your mom a second, ok?"

Flora slumped off the crate and made her way to the door with Pete following behind, "We'll be right outside," he said to his wife.

Alone in the house that she grew up in.  Her father had built this house for her after she'd been born.  This was truly the end of a legacy.  Please, god, let this be the right decision, she thought.

"Bye, Dad," she said quietly as she closed the door behind her.

On the front porch, Flora paused a moment, a cold chill traveling down her spine.  She had hoped to see Drake before she left, but being under the constant watchful eyes of her parents, there was no way to get to him.  

But now she felt him close by, "Drake," she whispered, "please keep your promise."

Before she could climb into the truck, Faith stopped her daughter and said, "I know you must hate me right now, and I'm sorry for that.  I want this to be a fresh start for us both, Flora.  Let's work on that?"

Not ready to give in completely, Flora simply nodded her head and climbed into the cab of the truck.

'Big Red' took off down the street. The Cagleys, leaving behind the foundation of their heritage, were headed into the unknown.

Title / Thomas Dolby