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She loves me.
She loves me not.
I felt more torn than the petals off the flower I just mauled. I knew that I loved Reese and that she meant a lot to me. I shouldn't have disappointed her like that. The receptionist at least led me to the nearest bus station. I hooked a ride towards Coral Lakes. I know that I made a mistake but I prayed Reese would take me back. I could change. As I sat on the bus and the deformed-looking kappa drove me to my destination, I went over in my head what I was going to say. I fantasized that Reese would throw her arms around me and cry and say she missed me. I fantasized things would be the same. When the bus stopped and the driver kicked me off, I found my way to the building. The lights were on upstairs. That meant she was still up. Good.
I crawled up the stairs and knocked on the door. I heard some shuffling and a pause. I could tell she was hesitant. She threw open the door. She was glaring. Not a good start to a warm welcome back. Neither of us said a word for a moment. I broke the ice with a nervous grin.
"Hi." I said. She scowled and folded her arms.
"Hi." We stood there again without saying a word. I scratched my wooly head, a little confused and thrown off. This wasn't how I expected things to go. I looked around the corner of the door. Tyler was nowhere to be found. I sighed and looked into Reese's eyes. I tried to salvage what I had known, but I think it was gone. That fire in her eyes...that passion. I couldn't see it. Maybe it was still there, but it just wasn't there for me. I stared down at the ground for a moment before regaining confidence and looking at Reese again.
"Can I come in?" I asked with a slight smile. She didn't break.
"No." She said staunchly. She moved to shut the door but I stuck my foot out and caught the door before it closed. Before I could protest however, Reese's face grew red and she tried to shove the door shut. "Cyrus Alpaca, don't make me smash your leg in this door. If you wish to walk out of this building intact, you would know what's best for you and remove your foot." I took a deep breath and shook my head.
"Reese, please! Be reasonable. I love you and I love us. I don't want to let this ruin what we have." Reese stopped trying to smash my foot but she didn't stop scowling. "Please, babe." When I said my special pet name for her, she turned away from me and stared at the ground in the apartment. I took the advantage, moving closer and cupping her face in my hand. "I'm sorry. I know I don't deserve another chance...but if you give me one more, I promise I won't let you ever regret it." Reese sighed.
"You can't think that everything is going to be okay." she stated as firmly as possible. I could tell she was wavering on the edge of tears and screaming. I was about to tell her 'I know' but she cut me off. "You hurt me and you hurt Tyler. You broke a sacred bond of trust that I don't think can ever be rebuilt. Even if you do rebuild some of it, there will still be scars." Reese turned her shoulders towards the inside again. "I'm a forgiving person. You know that, Cyrus, but I won't ever be able to forget it. Nothing you could do would ever make me forget what happened." I leaned in and kissed her on the cheek.
"I know that, but I could try." Reese finally opened the door. I gently picked up my bag and came inside. I set it down on the floor, next to the couch. It was my apartment but it didn't feel like my home. I had to make it my home. I cleared my throat. "Thank you, Reese." I glanced at the couch. "I'll sleep here tonight." Reese nodded.
"Okay. I'll go down the hall and get some blankets and a pillow." She walked down the hallway. The rest was a blur. I don't know if a minute or an hour passed, but before I knew it, I was lying on my couch with a late-night talk show playing on the TV. I tried to close my eyes but my adrenaline was rushing too fast. I was happy I was at home, but I had a lot of working to do. Walls were built up because of my actions; I had to "take action" to tear those walls down.
I'm going to be breaking a sweat working at it.
It was 6:30 when Elise trotted down the hall. This time, Sophia was with her. I stood up immediately and grinned. The blonde confidently had her hands resting on her hips as the monkey freed me. I was silent until I climbed into Sophia's car. Sophia started the car and began to pull out of the parking space. I grabbed her arm and screeched with joy. I startled her so much that she jumped and almost turned into a parked car.
"Rocket! Number one rule of the road: no scaring the driver." She said. I laughed.
"Sorry, Sophia, but I'm so happy! I can't believe you worked it out!" Sophia bit her lip.
"At a price. Your sentence is 1 week house arrest and 500,000 Bell bail. I wanted to avoid the whole bail thing but that ended up working out in the end." Sophia flicked on her turn signal and began to drive towards my house. "Al is going to be waiting at the house. I know the last time you guys were around each other you fought, but I know you guys can work things out. You're family. Family works things out." I stared out the window as Sophia drove. "I know I tend to play the mediator between you guys, but it's just my nature. I can't stand to watch people around me fight and be stuck in the middle."
"Or it's your nature as being a lawyer." I retorted with a smile. Sophia chuckled and leaned back in her seat.
"Maybe so, but that nature just helped you get out of jail," she quipped back. Before I knew it, we were in front of my house. Sophia parked the car carefully and turned to face me. "Congrats on being a free woman, Rocket. Wait it out, lay low, and everything will be fine. Remember, I'm working for you. I know you're innocent. We'll get through this together." I thanked her and opened my door. I got out of the car and waved to her. Just as I was about to shut the door, she held her hand out and I instantly stopped. "Also! Forgot to mention! Lady from the police station should be by in a few minutes to clap your braces on. She'll explain everything to you." I nodded.
"Okay, Sophia. Thanks for everything!" I said with a smile. She warmly grinned back and waved.
"Holla!" I shut the car door and as quickly as we came, she was gone. I sighed and headed up my steps. They didn't seem like my steps. It didn't seem like my home that I was walking up to. I entered the door and Al was sitting at the table. He shot upwards and fidgeted with his hands.
"Hey, Al." I greeted, sitting at the table. Al poured me a glass of water and awkwardly greeted me in return. Before we could exchange much conversation, there was a knock at the door. It was the woman Sophia was talking about. She was here to put my ankle bracelet on. It was all a mumbled blur as she knelt by my feet and clacked the metal circle around my foot. She was explaining to me what the bracelet was; she was telling me the basic rules and things. It was waterproof. I couldn't leave the yard. If I did leave the yard, a loud alarm would sound off and cops would be at my door in 5 seconds. I don't know how they'd even get there that quick. The station was across town. Nevertheless, the woman threatened that if I broke away, cops would be waiting for me.
I had no reason to take such a stupid risk. When the woman left, I sighed and slumped forward in my seat. Al poured himself a drink and sat across from me. He awkwardly looked around the room before staring into my eyes.
"Sis, I'm sorry..." he trailed. "I'm sorry about everything I said. I was just caught up in the moment. You know I didn't mean what I said, right?" he asked. I nodded.
"I know, Al." Al wiped some stray tears from his eyes. I pursed my lips. "Don't make me cry." I said slowly.
"I'm sorry." Al looked around the room. "Remember what Mom used to make us do when we would get in a fight and were tense?" he asked. How could I forget? Mom had a classic peach cobbler recipe, passed down to her from her mother and her grandmother. It was a generational recipe that was top secret. Right up until she died, she held on to it. One of the last things she did was give it to me. It was scribbled rather illegibly on an index card. It was still sitting in my kitchen cabinet; I hadn't touched it since she passed. I never could find it inside of me to make that peach cobbler. However, now seemed like the perfect time.
Whenever my brother and I were fighting and were tense from afterwards, my mom made us stand in the kitchen and make peach cobbler. If it wasn't perfect, we had to keep making it until we got it right. After a few of THOSE moments, Al and I always made sure we worked together and perfected the peach cobbler. At the time, I didn't really understand what my mom was teaching us, but now I know. She was teaching us how to work together and how to be patient with each other, even if we were angry or aware of the other person's flaws. I stood up and made my way over to the kitchen. I pulled out the recipe card while Al was rummaging through the fridge. He pulled out a basket of peaches. They looked freshly picked.
"They're perfect peaches! Straight from the orchard on the other side of town." They looked so juicy and delectable. Mom would always tell us that the best peaches in the cobbler were the perfect ones. We shouldn't bother making the cobbler at all if we didn't have them. Al gently took the index card from my hand and looked down at it. "Okay, I looked through your pantry and fridge. We should have what we need." He trailed a moment and scoffed. "Why do I even have to look at this card? We basically memorized this as kids." I laughed.
"I know." I realized how many times we actually DID make the recipe. We had to do it a lot. We were very quarrelsome children. However, another thing dawned on me. If we had made the peach cobbler so much that we memorized the recipe, how many times had we fought? How many times did we go through rough times but ride our way out? That's when I smiled. If my brother and I could get through all those times as kids, we could get through anything now. I nudged my brother away from the fridge and pulled an important ingredient off the shelves. "How could you even forget the coconut milk?"
Al smiled and we sidled alongside each other at the countertop.
Isabelle, Digby, and Megan followed me to the Resetti Surveillance Center. At least that's what Digby and I called it. Resetti has been carrying on some heavy espionage about Nook lately. One of the things that we found out was very controversial. We had all the proof to carry it but it was just so hard to believe. It's not like I wanted to keep the information to myself; it's just that I never really had an outlet to tell anyone from Griffin Beach before. Now that I did, my conscience pushed me to tell Megan.
We reached the section a few acres from the town hall where some bamboo clustered together and there was a small pothole in the ground. No one would really know what the pothole was; one would possibly believe the pothole allowed water to filter down or something to nourish the bamboo. It actually was the entrance to the surveillance center. A dim light shone from below. I tapped the top of the pothole lightly and then carefully lifted the lid. I gestured to Digby, Isabelle and Megan to come over. Digby held the lid open for me while I crawled in. Then Digby allowed his sister and Megan to crawl behind me. We lowered ourselves down the ladder. We were approaching the light.
I jumped off the ladder once I was close enough to the bottom. I helped Isabelle and Megan find themselves on solid ground. Digby can manage alright. A rustling could be heard in the back and a short, stocky mole waddled out of the back area.
"Hey! What are you doing down--oh! Mayor Noah! Sorry, I didn't notice it was you. I've been having issues with some kids lately. I thought you were them. Forgive me." he said with his head down. I waved him off.
"Don't worry about it, Resetti. If you're wondering about the crew, long story short, but I brought Mayor Megan and her secretary Isabelle down to show them the recent information we uncovered about Nook and his casino." The mole nodded.
"Okay. I'll be over in the other office working on some things. Knock yourself out, kid." Resetti turned and walked into the adjacent room. He puzzled me, but he wasn't a bad person. Just...hard to understand. I entered the office and sat down at the computer. The others huddled around my shoulder. I looked through some papers and pulled out the proper files.
"Meg, this may not be the easiest thing to read, but just believe me when I say that...this is real. It may not seem real and it may hurt but it's okay. We can handle this...together." I handed Megan the papers. She gave me a weird look and took the paper, reading it over. I blinked and turned away. I knew what it already said; I had no need to read it again.
I stepped into the Resetti Surveillance center with Digby close on my heels. I looked around the area and stared at Resetti. He was sitting ominously at the desk and staring at some papers. I asked him what was up. He sent his cousin Vinny the Vole over on a golf cart and told me to come with Digby immediately. I wasn't sure why; all Vinnie would say is that Resetti got ahold of some 'juicy intelligence'. When I stood there, my stomach felt twisted. I just wanted Resetti to spit out what it was. The suspense was killing me. The mole swiveled around in the chair and
"This is what's up, Mayor Noah." That didn't help my stomach. Resetti rarely called me Mayor Noah. It was always 'kid'. I took the paper out of his hand and read it carefully. It was in the form of notes. Like someone was writing this down. Resetti began to explain, just in case I didn't fully understand. "One of our sources has been heavily involved with Nook's inner ring for quite some time. He uncovered this information about how Nook is planning to have a secret laboratory in the basement of the casino. The full intentions of Nook's plans are unclear; the only words that really stuck out were in the mission title. It's called the B.L.A.T.H.E.R.S Project. Underneath that title it says Fossil Rejuvenation." I turned the file over in my hand and looked at it.
"Fossil rejuvenation? What does that even mean?" I asked. "I mean...can fossils even be rejuvenated?" Resetti shrugged.
"I'm not sure, but the wackjobs behind this BLATHERS Project believe they can. If you look at the first heading, the file mentions a Doctor Blake Cathers. Dr. Cathers is some owl who goes by Blathers on the street. He is the head doctor behind this whole project and I am under the impression that he's the main man. I'll have my source keep an eye on him." Resetti fidgeted in his seat. "We'll be watching Dr. Cathers and seeing what he's up to. We won't let him off our radar." I nodded and passed the file back.
"What does this mean?" I asked. "What will this mean for Griffin Beach...or the rest of us?" Resetti shook his head.
"I don't have all the answers, Mayor. We'll have to discover this over time. I'll have my source hone in on getting an answer as quickly and as safely as possible. If the mission gets too dangerous though, I'll have to pull out. We'll be in the dark but the safety of my source is the most important thing. You realize that, right?" I paused, blinking for a moment and then nodding.
"Yes, I realize that, Resetti." I twitched for a moment and looked around. "If that's all, Digby and I will be heading out." I said abruptly. I knew Resetti expected me to say something else, to propose some type of solution. I wasn't in a "hero mode". Resetti looked down and didn't say anything; he mumbled that I could leave. I turned on my heel and hurried up the ladder. A puzzled Digby followed in my wake.
"So wait, Nook is planning some wacky Jurassic Park thing?" My sister asked, her voice breaking through my reverie. I gulped and nodded. She groaned and held her head in her hands. "It's my fault. This is all my fault..." Isabelle rushed forward and tried to console Megan. "If I didn't let Nook have all this power and control, he wouldn't even think to do something as crazy as this." She looked up and straightened her back. "It doesn't matter. Nook's crazy; he was going to probably do this anyway." I nodded.
"Exactly! Don't put this all on yourself. It's not your fault." I rested a hand on her shoulder. "We can work through this together, sis. I know we can. Nook is going down." I said with a confident smirk. My sister, on the other hand, didn't look as confident. She sighed and shook her head. "Resetti hasn't found anything new about Dr. Cathers but we're working on it." I added. She nodded and turned away from me.
"I appreciate you telling me all this, Noah. I really do. After everything that I've done and everything that we've been through, I wouldn't expect you to have so much..." she trailed off. I figured the depth of the word she was looking for (forgiveness, mercy, maybe even just heart or compassion) but I understood her inability to voice it out loud. It isn't a hesitancy; it isn't a reluctance. It's literally an inability. I looked down at the metal floor before wrapping my sister in a hug. Unlike the last hug, she actually gripped me back. She actually reciprocated the love. That felt like the world to me. It feels so stupid but this gave me hope. It gave me a hope for a brighter future. My sister and I...I know we could take down Nook. Together.
That's all that mattered.
When I woke up, my back ached. I groaned and sat up in bed. I heard some video game noises coming from my son's room. I sat up slowly in bed. There was a note besides me on the coffee table. I ripped it off and read it carefully. It was from Reese. She was telling me that she went to work downstairs; there was some leftover breakfast in the refrigerator. I got up and headed towards my suitcase. I changed out of my pajamas and walked into my son's room. He had headphones crammed on his head, violent noises filling his wooly ears.
He was playing some first-person shooter. From the voices I was hearing through the headphones, he was doing online play. I gently faded out of the doorway and shut the door. When I walked out towards the kitchen, I heard noises on the steps. Which was weird. We were the only tenants and the owners of the building. Customers strictly were not allowed on the steps. I stared out through the peephole and saw a pink owl and a brown owl holding some bags. At first I thought they were intruders but they looked too innocent. They looked like...people trying to move in? I opened the door and stormed out into the hallway.
"Excuse me? Who are you?" I asked roughly. The two turned and looked at me before replying. The pink owl flushed a deep red and the brown owl stuck out his wing.
"Pardon our manners! You must be Cyrus, the husband of Reese, and the fine proprietor of this building! My name is Blathers and this is my sister Celeste. We had contacted your wife about the ad in the paper...about a tenant opening up here. We were just confirming to ourselves that this was the proper apartment. Apologies for potentially startling you in your home." I nodded. I remembered the ad. Reese just never told me that someone replied. I nodded.
"Oh okay." I heard somebody coming up the steps. It was Reese. She looked genuinely exhausted and out of breath.
"Sorry! I should have escorted you to the apartment." she said in between pants. "There's your new place!" The two owls thanked her and began to move into the apartment. I scrunched up my face and dragged Reese into our home. "Hey!" she said. I quickly muffled her with my hand. Once we were inside, I let go of her. She scoffed and folded her arms. "Cyrus! What's the big idea?"
"What's your big idea?!" I asked. "Why didn't you tell me these two responded to the ad?" Reese made a 'hhmph' noise and turned away from me.
"I found no need to. It's not like I thought you were very involved with anything, much less our business." I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose. I wasn't in the mood for this right now. She turned on her heel and faced me staunchly. "Celeste and Blathers are very nice people." She hissed. "We are not kicking them out. We'll keep them in for AT LEAST a few months. I'm sure they won't bother anyone." I pursed my lips and folded my arms.
"I didn't say they would bother anyone! I just wished you would've informed me on what was going on!" Reese sighed and I shook my head. "I don't want to keep you from the store. Go back downstairs please...but just...promise me we'll talk about this later." Reese said nothing. Instead she quickly left the room and slammed the door. I winced at the noise and shuddered.
Why did everything have to be so difficult?
I would introduce myself properly and say my name is Blathers. However THAT would be a lie. My name is actually Blake Cathers, but I would prefer not to go by that name. Well, that's not really a choice of mine. Recently, I've been told not to go by that name. I was told that by my employer Tom Nook. Oy, where do I even begin? Nook contacted me through a third party last year. He told me that he desired my 'services'. What are my services exactly? Well, that's not an easy answer. Approximately ten years ago, I graduated from Animal Crossing University with my master's degree from the Archaeology & Anthropology Department. The very next semester, I attended the esteemed archaeology school in the capital. It was called the Didactic Institute of Archaeological Learning. AKA DIAL.
I was proud to attend DIAL. It's an honor to even get in. Unfortunately, I didn't finish out my four years. I only attended one year. I wouldn't consider myself a dropout. The word itself just sounds so dirty and corrupted. I would personally say that I underwent a short "education prolongation." It's not like I never planned on going back to school or never wanted to go back. It's just that I never ended up going. It's been four years. I hadn't gone back. Other things occupied my time. Technically, I consider myself a doctor of archaeology. Sure, I didn't graduate. However, I have a masters degree and I DID attend doctorate school for one year.
It's not the best intellectual logic in the world, but it got me where I am today.
Due to my lengthy education, I consider myself an expert in archaeological and anthropological information. In layman's terms, fossils and people. When Nook first called me, I didn't know what he initially wanted. People randomly showed up at my door and personally escorted me to Nook's headquarters. Of course no one except people in the man's inner circle KNOW where his headquarters is. I had to be blindfolded. It was a rather uncomfortable but understandable ride. When I got out, I was roughly led into the big man's office.
I'll never forget the smell that oozed from his body. I'll never forget the terror he made me feel. I trembled in my boots that day. He flattered me and acted like he was impressed with my credentials (The little credentials I had). He suggested that I head a project he wanted to sponsor for "fossil rejuvenation." I didn't really understand what he meant by that. In all of my studies, I had never fostered a thought that fossils could be rejuvenated. Fossils were fossils. They were old. They were dead. They could be examined and prodded and picked, but rejuvenated? It sounded surreal.
I needed explanations. But Nook didn't give me the best explanations. He solely looked at me and said 'I believe you have what it takes to reach new boundaries. I believe you have what it takes to break records and create a new era.' I have no idea what that even means. I don't know what it means for my future, but in the name of science, I'm determined to work for Nook and do as he says. Even if it means doing something that--up to this point--is considered to be impossible. I mean seriously, fossil rejuvenation? I don't even know how to approach this. Am I bringing things to life? Am I recovering fossils we hadn't discovered yet? I'm so confused but I'm so happy. Nook is the first opportunity for stable, enriching employment that I've had in years. I am not about to let this opportunity slip through my fingers.
I remember the first day I reported in the lab. It's supposed to be a secret lab, but since I'm the main man behind the project (it's literally going to be called the Blathers Project), I'm allowed to know where it is. When I first was in the lab, I remember how cold it was. It felt secluded and top-secret, like I was in one of those movies.
Tons of guards stood around me menacingly. Nook sat in front of me at a conference table. He drummed his fingers on the table and smiled. He offered me a seat and I wanted to decline. However, my mother always used to tell me I really shouldn't refuse a host's "gracious" advances. Not wanting to be rude--especially to my new boss--I took the seat. I felt like I was in a much more vulnerable position. Like his guards that wore that black and gray suit with the leaf logo would attack me at any moment.
"I wanted to just have a quick word with you before we jumped into such a project. I know we talked about this on our conference before, however I just wanted to lay down some basic regulations. Understood?" I nodded. He nodded back. "Good. Rule number 1. No talking about this to anyone. If anyone asks you what you're doing, you say that you're my project manager for the development of the casino basement. Otherwise, don't volunteer information you don't have to." I nodded again nervously, twiddling my feathers together. "Rule number 2. I don't want to hear the word 'no' from you. If I ask you to do something or get something done, no matter how impossible it is or no matter how much you don't want to do it, you say yes."
I gulped. This didn't seemed to be like your every-day job.
"Rule number 3. No surprise guests. This coincides with Rule number 1. I don't want you bringing anyone down here, ESPECIALLY someone that you hadn't blindfolded beforehand. This is to remain a top secret projec t and I don't need people finding out what's happening before it actually happens. Any questions?" I paused and put my head down. I'll find my way around. Nook nodded. "Very good. I think this will be a very satisfying relationship. My sources have told me you're one of the best. I have the faith in you." He stood up and walked around the room. "See, I believe in fossil rejuvenation. I believe that someWAY someHOW we can reproduce something that is capable of producing...life."
I narrowed my eyebrows. This mission is odd.
"We have the technology," Nook started as he paced around the table. "We have the power to create life. I believe that we can harness life itself and expose it to these fossils. I believe we can do this multiple times, without delaying, and [b]rejuvenate[/b] the dinosaurs and Peking men of old." The way his eyes bored into the back of my skull. It extremely bothered me. I wanted to look away but something compelled me to stare him in the eye. "Wouldn't that be wonderful? To revive a race that has been extinct for so long?" he got close to my face and breathed on my chin. His breath was repulsive. I closed my eyes instinctively. "From a true expert, you must realize how much this will change society."
I didn't know the truth. I couldn't give him an answer. Even if I could, I wouldn't honestly tell him. He was my boss, but I just met him. I couldn't disclose things of such weight in a gentle manner. It just didn't work that way. I tried to stumble backwards but I ended up bumping a guard. The guard's arms were folded and he probably would've choked me if I tried to dash out. I stared around and stuttered.
"Some species are meant to be extinct. It's the way the natural order works." I managed to get out. That's when I felt his furry paw close around my neck.
"Nonsense! Blasphemy!" I gasped with shock. "That type of pessimistic attitude can get you in some serious trouble around here, boy." I didn't know whether or not he was going to choke me. I closed my eyes and waited for the rest of it to hit me. I didn't feel anything though. Well, except my shoulder being thrown into the wall by a burly guard. Nook stood over my body and sneered. "I don't pay you to give me your opinion. I pay you to rejuvenate fossils." He tossed some keys and they landed on me, hitting me on the head. I groaned. Nook gestured towards the guards. "Get him out of here. Take him to the main labs. Research starts today. I don't want to be a second delayed in our schedule." The guards nodded and took me out.
It was then that I realized what I would be getting myself into. It didn't matter though. I knew from then on, that I did not want to get on Nook's bad side.
Noah's new information really helped me. It helped me understand what was going on in my town. It's so embarrassing to realize that something has been going on and I haven't even known about it. It breaks my heart honestly. I'm supposed to be this cool hotshot, pro mayor and here I am not even knowing what's going on. When Isabelle and I left Coral Lakes, I felt like a burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. Isabelle and I were relatively quiet as Porter drove us back. I didn't know what to say and unfortunately, I don't think Isabelle knew either.
When Porter drove into Griffin Beach, I suddenly spoke up. "Porter, drive by the casino please." The monkey acquiesced and headed towards the giant building. We passed through South Cove and looked around. It didn't look like the South Cove I knew. It wasn't the bustling, safe, suburban area of Griffin Beach where families could enjoy their summers and vacations together. Now, it looked like a wasteland. Isabelle sat up in her seat and stared out the window. You couldn't miss the signs for the Cove Casino. Nook's fat ugly face was plastered all over the area. The beach was all torn up and there were construction signs and equipment scattered everywhere. I sighed and looked around. It seemed like a typical construction site, with normal items strewn about.
"Isabelle, tell me something." I said blankly. She tilted her head.
"What's up, Ms. Mayor?"
"How can something from the outside look so normal but be hiding such a dark dangerous secret?" Isabelle bit her lip and said nothing. "You know, I truly thought that Nook advocating this casino would be a way for him to revitalize the community and Griffin Beach. Instead, he's just using it as a cover for some stupid fossil rejuvenation project. I have no idea what he's planning and I have no idea how to even stop him." Isabelle sympathetically placed a hand on my shoulder. She didn't say a word. She knew nothing she could say would soothe me. I knew that nothing she could say would soothe me. I sighed. "Noah says that it is possible to fight Nook but....Isabelle..." I paused and closed my eyes to choke back tears. "I'm just so scared. I'm scared of the future. I'm scared of Nook."
Isabelle embraced me in a hug and I cried into her shoulder. Porter drove us home.
I felt like a stranger in my own home.
Eventually, I acclimated to the cold environment but I didn't want this treatment to stay permanent. I wanted to be a husband, a father and a family man again. On a positive note though, Tyler didn't seem negatively affected by this whole thing. He didn't seem to notice. I didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but I had no time to pay attention. I needed my wife back first. I saw that outside of working, she spent a lot of time with Celeste, the new neighbor. The young owl seemed nice enough, but I didn't really know her too well.
Now, I constantly see her in my apartment having tea with Reese. It's not a problem, but it's nevertheless unsettling. She spends a lot of her free time around Reese or at work. She spends almost zero time with me. That needed to change. Tonight, I planned to talk to her. I was willing to go to counseling. I just needed something, some kind of hope to grasp onto. Communication was basically nil. Anything that we needed to say to each other or had to say to each other would be sent through our son Tyler. He didn't really care, but I didn't want to encourate such a practice. I'm sure he would eventually be scarred by always hearing 'Tyler, tell your mother __" or "Tyler, tell your dad that ___" It's not normal and I was not going to expose Tyler to such a thing.
Luckily for me, Tyler was hanging out with Celeste tonight. He really liked her and, despite the age difference, they became fast friends. Once Tyler was over at the apartment across the hall, Reese was all mine. If only she felt the same way. I waited patiently until 6PM. 6PM was when Reese would come up for her dinner break. Normally, I would go sit down there for her half hour break since I had nothing better to do. However, I had no intention of doing that. She just didn't know that yet. I passed her in the hallway as usual. She grunted to me there were no customers downstairs. I nodded and went down into the store. Quickly, I hustled over towards the door to switch off the lights and flip the sign to 'CLOSED'. Next, I ran back up the stairs.
When I opened the door to our apartment, I thought she would've choked on her rice meal.
"Cyrus? What are you doing? Did you forget something?" she asked. I shook my head, pulling up a chair and sitting across from her on the table. She scowled and furrowed her eyebrows. "What about the store? You can't just abandon it." she said, folding her arms. I leaned back in my chair and smiled.
"I know my track record hasn't been the best lately, but I'm not that irresponsible. I closed the store for the night." Reese formed an aghast expression on her face. I grabbed her hand and held it firmly on the table. "Babe, I just want to talk to you. I need to do this...for you, for me, for Tyler." She turned away.
"Don't talk about him! Don't hold that over my head like I'm the victim," she nearly screamed. She closed her eyes and sighed. "You're lucky he's at Celeste's...you can talk. But make it quick," she demanded. I shook my head.
"Faster than a speeding airplane. I want to go to therapy. We can see a marriage counselor." Reese merely blinked. She was absorbing the severity of my words; I knew she was. "Please, I want to make this work. I can't stand living like this anymore. I'm sorry for everything that I've done to you and I know nothing I could say can truly repair the damage. That's why I want to go see a therapist; there's an office right here in Coral Lakes. Her name is Doctor Opal Hamilton. She can help us. We just need a little nudge in the right direction...that's all we need." Reese put her head down.
"We don't need counseling; I don't want someone knowing all of our business. What if it...what if it gets around town?" I shook my head.
"It's not going to get around town. What is said in that room stays in that room, but the only way we can get better is if we talk about it with someone. We can't just hold it in like this for the rest of our lives. It's not healthy for any of us. I want us to be a family again, babe. We moved to Coral Lakes so we can have a fresh start in a different town and turn over a new leaf. This baggage we're holding, I don't want it weighing on us forever. Can you promise me that we could at least just go to one session? Try it out for one time and we can take it from there? If it helps, we can keep going. If it doesn't help or you're uncomfortable, I promise we won't step another foot in that building, but you never know until you try."
Reese looked down, contemplating her options. I don't blame her for being hesitant, but I wish she would open up again. Therapy is the way to do it. After a few moments, she looked into my eyes.
"Okay. I'll do it." I smiled and hugged her firmly. Without asking permission, I kissed her on the lips. When we broke apart, she looked at me suspiciously. "You're getting ahead of yourself now." I chuckled. She pointed out the door. "We can swing by tomorrow. As for you, you have a store to run for the rest of the night." I didn't even care that she said I would be down there for the rest of the night. Before she had even finished her sentence, I had sprung out of the chair and bounded downstairs.
It gave me hope for a brighter future and a stronger love.
A week had passed within my house arrest.
I felt like a prisoner in all literal and symbolic meanings of the term. How could anyone not? Sure, one week isn't very long however you're stuck inside your house all day and all night with no option of wandering past the boundaries of your porch. I couldn't even go and get the mail. They had set a tight radius on my bracelet. Al had to get the mail for me every day. I couldn't walk into my backyard and stare at the fish in the pond at the edge of my property. At first, the terms of the house arrest seem reasonable. But after realizing what you can and can't do, you feel trapped in a box. Luckily for me, the house arrest only lasted a week. Today is the last day.
Funnily enough, I hadn't received any word from Sophia about my trial. Supposedly, the terms were that I would be on a one-week house arrest and then we would go straight to trial. I hadn't gotten a call from my lawyer all week. I thought it was strange but who am I to argue about the tactics of a top lawyer? Al and I figured it was normal and that someone could be coming over to take my bracelet off today. Al was sitting on his chair, reading the newspaper, and I was watching television. We both must have read the same news. That's why we both jumped out of our chair at the same time and turned to face each other.
"Noah's dropping the charges?!" we bellowed. Like clockwork, there was a knock at the door. Slowly, Al went over to answer it. Sophia was standing there with the same woman who had come over last week to install the bracelet. I came over and narrowed her eyes at her, asking what was going on. Sophia let herself in the house and smiled.
"Holla! Or should I say HALLE-LUJAH? Mayor Noah has dropped the charges!" I allowed the woman to walk with me to the table, where I sat in a chair and let her take off my ankle bracelet. The woman worked quietly while Sophia spoke. "Turns out, some new evidence came up in Mayor Noah's findings. You weren't involved with the malterra incident at all. You were framed." I heard a gasp from shock but it didn't come from me. My brother stood alongside of me with his hand over his chest. I punched him lightly in the shoulder.
"What are you gasping for, you big baby?" I joked. He scoffed.
"You aren't surprised to hear you were framed?" he asked. I folded my arms.
"I figured something was fishy; I knew I didn't do it!" I turned to Sophia. "So who framed me? Who actually did it? What's the story?" Sophia shrugged.
"Mayor Noah won't spill the beans. He won't say anything and neither will anyone else. All that I know is that I received a call that apologized for any inconvenience, stated the charges would be dropped, and that the bail money plus extra restitution money would be wired to me. Which reminds me!" Sophia digged through her pockets and pulled out a heavy, bulging bag. She was barely able to lift it and throw it on the table. It landed with such indecency that the table nearly toppled over. Al's and my eyes bugged out. "Not only is 500,000 Bells in there from your bail money butttt alsoooooooo there's another 2.5 million Bells inside."
I thought Al was going to choke on his own saliva. I could barely believe the surreal feeling of the current situation. Sophia was grinning widely. And the ankle bracelet lady remained unemotional through it all. "I can't believe it!" I yelled. "They're trying to pay me off so I won't hold a grudge or sue for them doing all that and now they're dropping the charges..." I trailed. I looked up at Sophia. "Should I pursue this any further or just take the money and run?" Sophia shook her head.
"Take the money and run, girlfriend. You know a saying that I learned from my professor in law school? It goes like this: The golden hoe became golden from sitting back and buying what it needs but was very rare. The silver hoe became silver from only buying its way through life and was only semi-rare. The regular hoe is nothing special but everyone buys it. What's the hoe's secret? No one knows but to achieve hoe status, one must dig its way through situations and know when to sit back. Trust me as not only your lawyer but also your friend, when I say that you should just take this money and keep quiet. Don't just learn from these shovels; learn it from life." I looked down. I understood what Sophia meant but I wondered if they would win because they were buying me.
The lady looked up and smiled at me from her position on the floor. "Your ankle bracelet is uninstalled, deactivated and removed. Welcome back to being a free woman, ma'am." She nodded and stood up, getting ready to leave. I thanked her and she escorted herself out. I rubbed my ankle where the chain hung for a full week.
"It's good to be free again..." I mumbled. I glanced over at Sophia. "I get your shovel analogy, but I'm just not sure. They're literally bribing me to keep quiet and not squeal or whine about the social injustice I had to go through. All because they thought they were right. They turned out to be wrong; they deserved it! They got the wrong person and should have to pay for it." Sophia cleared her throat and nudged the giant bag of Bells on my kitchen table.
"Hello? They did pay. 3 million bells they paid, as a matter of fact. At the end of the day, Rock, it's your choice. You're an adult and if you want to pursue this, you can. I'll be with you if you choose to pursue it too, but as your legal advisor, I just don't recommend that you do that." I sighed and nodded.
"Okay. I'll take your advice, Sophia. Thanks for everything." The lawyer nodded and headed out, saying she'd be in touch with me sometime in the next 3-5 days. I nodded and walked her out of the house. I didn't tell her I wished I had more answers; I didn't tell her how unsatisfied I really was with everything. I had faith they would come in due time; I just had to be patient.
When Digby summoned me and told me to report to the Resetti Surveillance Center, I was nervous. When he told me that Resetti had just made an urgent, important discovery regarding the malterra incident, I was scared. How important was this information? Would it possibly reveal who the real criminal was? Apparently, when I got the center, Resetti had everything rehearsed and planned out. The mole knew exactly what he was going to say. He had his arms folded in a very official type of manner. He looked down on the ground really quickly and then stared me into the eyes. He told me everything he had found out. He knew who came up with the idea of planting the malterra, he knew who planted the malterra, he knew what their plans were, and he knew where they lived. Everything overwhelmed me at once and I feared for the safety of all of us.
The criminals lived in Coral Lakes.
Apparently, the plan was to distract us. The plan was to frame Rocket and spin so much drama that we wouldn't even notice it. It was genuinely the perfect plan. Unfortunately, it was a plan that we picked up on too late. When I found out everything, I wanted to break down into tears. I wanted to throw things around the room and I wanted to hurt these people. Unfortunately, I could do none of the above. I had to maintain my propriety and my honor. I didn't want to do this just because I was the mayor; I had to do this because I was a man. I couldn't just curl up in a ball like I wanted to die. I needed to be the strong mayor that my sister was. There are difficulties in politics and life. I had to look capable of handling these difficulties.
I brushed a hand through my hair and glanced at the mole. At the files on the screen. At their pictures. I should have known. It all made sense now. I nearly pounded my head in the concrete wall for not connecting the dots sooner. It hurt me inside but I couldn't let the pain reign anymore. I stared at the words on the files, studying the notes Resetti uncovered. Everything clicked. I wanted to tell my sister as soon as possible. I told Digby to send a message to Isabelle. The dog nodded and hurried out of the room. I groaned and Resetti walked over and placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Don't fret, kid. We have enough evidence to jail the whole bunch right now. This buck stops here. For good." I looked down at the ground.
"I'm scared though. What if it's too late?" Resetti shook his head.
"It's never too late to bust a crime for justice." A sudden thought crossed my mind. I jolted upwards and yelled out 'Rocket'. Resetti gently pushed me back on the chair. "Already handled, kid. I rang a call out to Lionel and he covered it." I sighed with relief. Resetti stared at the screen. "It makes sense now. Everything kinda does, you know what I mean." I nodded. "These people are sick and they need to go away for years and years." I nodded. "We have enough evidence to get all of them taken away. Everything will topple down..." Resetti looked down. "As cheesy as this sounds, you realize that we've changed history, right? The world's going to be a different place after this..." he trailed.
I stood up, walking across the room. "Don't bring that up to me now. I don't want to be hailed as a hero in the history books or any...type of person that I'm not." I turned and faced Resetti. "I didn't ask for this. I didn't want this. I don't need all this attention and focus. I just want to live a normal life without being hailed as the crime buster of the generation." Resetti pursed his lips, unable of what to say. I sighed. "I'm sorry. I understand the title comes with the position, but it's just hard. It's a constant battle that I was immaturely unaware of before." Resetti nodded.
"I get you, kid. You know, in the end, it's your call. We could sit back and let them play into our hands. Maybe we could wait and send a spy in or something to get more info. We could build up the evidence and then hand it over to the DA down the road." I groaned.
"I don't know yet. Give me a night to think on it, okay? We'll sit on this evidence for like 12 hours. First thing in the morning, call me, and I'll tell you my decision." Resetti nodded and I turned to leave. Before I could do so, Resetti stopped me and smiled lightly.
"Don't be so hard on yourself, kid. Don't let this weigh on you so much. Relax and don't stress yourself out over it. I know you'll make the right decision. You always have before." I thanked Resetti and hurried out of the surveillance center. I went back to the town hall. I had a heavy decision on my shoulders and I needed to act on it that night.
Celeste and Blathers were not getting away with this crime, but I just needed to figure out how to approach it.
It was another night in the lab. Like any other night. Hunched over fossil after fossil. Nook did not hesitate to fetch me the most diverse variety of fossils. He plopped torsos, skulls and tails in front of my face. He expected me to piece them together and somehow recreate these dinosaurs. My expeditions weren't always this hefty though. In the beginning, my experiments started small. Nook's attendants provided me with amber, fern fossils and coprolite. Coprolite wasn't the most pleasant fossil to work with (it was dinosaur feces for the laymen who aren't aware of the technical term) but it worked nonetheless. With the special rays and chemicals I had access to in my lab, I was able to make some process. The scientific process in itself is miraculous and lengthy; I have no intent of elaborating upon it. However I will say that with some organic chemistry and other basic building block elements, I was able to revive these fossils.
I remember the first time I had detected bacteria growing on the coprolite. Fresh bacteria that just appeared. It was like a breakthrough for me. I looked up from my science table towards the guard standing by the door, the guard that I was supposed to notify if/when I made a breakthrough. I was almost beginning to think I would never cause a rejuvenation.
"Good sir! Go on and tell whoever you must tell that the coprolite has spawned bacteria! It is rejuvenated!" The guard nodded and sprinted out of the room. Nook was very happy that day, nonetheless. He urged me to continue with bigger things. I tried to tell him I needed to take it slow but he wouldn't listen. He demanded that I use the same process immediately on the other fossils I had. So I obeyed. The amber and the fern fossils underwent the same process. Aligning with my "hypothesis", the fly inside the amber began to twitch and I noticed the chloroplasts on the fern began to photosynthesize again. It was amazing. I had never seen anything like it. When the guard told Nook this, Nook was ecstatic. He burst into my lab and approached my project.
I waved my hands and cut off the raccoon, insisting he put on some goggles, gloves, and a lab coat. I told him the chemicals were currently in the middle of reacting. He couldn't expose himself like that; Gog knows what could happen. He huffed and slipped on some gloves and lazily had a guard equip him with a coat. However, he didn't look very protected. I ignored his poor laboratory safety techniques and allowed him to approach the amber. He leaned in closely and gawked with awe. His mouth formed into an 'o' shape and he soon grinned. He slapped me on the shoulder and laughed.
"I knew you could do it! You are exactly the right man for my endeavors. You and me, together, we're dreamers. We dream of a future, a better future with just a hint of the past. We're the smart ones, I tell you. We use the past to create the future. How ingenius." He quickly discarded the gloves and lab coat, speaking to me over his shoulder. "I will have my guards deliver you bigger fossils I have. You will be working on them immediately. I want you to try to learn how to connect different fossils and reproduce life." I gasped and nearly thought my heart was going to fall out of my feathery chest.
"But, sir! I have only just begun experimenting with the current processes. They must be analyzed further before I can go on to something bigger!" I tried to protest. Nook didn't listen. I didn't expect him to. By no,w I realized that Nook doesn't listen. He just orders. I have to obey or face the consequences.
That's how I got to the point where I am now, trying to figure out how to connect skulls, torsos, and tails. Thankfully, my education had provided me with sufficient biology and anatomy courses, but I am no miracle worker. Well...maybe I am. I did revive eon-old fossils. I can't get ahead of myself. I knew the factors of life. This chemical itself is magical and I have analyzed it to the best of my ability; however its full secrets evade me. How do I reproduce tendons and ligaments? How do I reproduce blood? How do I reproduce the natural functions of the body? That chemical was the secret and if I had to spend hours in the lab to discover that secret, I would do it. I had to. There was something spurring within my mind that urged me to keep going. In the beginning I questioned the integrity of the project, but after investing myself in it so much, I couldn't back out. I was obligated to finish it to the end and I wasn't entirely sure why. Whether it was my own curiosity and my urge to satiate it, or whether it was my inner desire to discover something new, innovative and successful, I have no idea.
I just know that I had to figure something out.
That's when I eyed up the hardware and rubber bands across the lab. Construction workers must have abandoned them here when they were finished with the job. Little did they know how it would affect me now. I walked across the lab and picked them up. My mind immediately flashed to surgeons. When they needed to, they installed metal rods, screws, and pipes inside patients who needed reconstruction and support. How was this any different? I stared at the rubber bands in my other hand. It would be advantageous for me to attach it to the bones somehow with the rods and screws. It didn't look realistic though. I had soon discovered though that if the rubber bands were more dense, they could accomodate such an attachment.
I immediately sprang to work. It took a little bit of time but I was able to make a master rubber band that could work as a tendon. I couldn't obviously experiment directly with the torso fossil. I needed something else. I glanced over at the Peking Man sitting in the freezer. It would be a risky move but worth it. The skin on him was wax; not real skin. However, it would work. I cut his leg open and immediately got to work. At that moment, I didn't really feel like a paleontologist. I felt like the surgeon my family wanted me to be. That's a flashback for another time. I carefully picked up a dropper from the table and inserted it with some chemical. I really didn't know if this would work. I mean, the chemical's properties might only be so powerful. Their potency might not affect everything...and that's okay. That just means I would have to find another way.
I carefully dropped the liquid onto the leg, now stitched up and looking semi-normal. I waited a few minutes to see what would happen. I realized two minutes into the examination that my heart was beating really loud. I was even panting. I could feel myself and hear my wheezes. How embarrassing. My lovely, nice, kind sister would chide me for being so pathetic and weak. I wanted to blink but at the same time, I couldn't tear my eyes away. Adrenaline was pushing me up this incline completely. Just as I was about to look away for a moment and focus my attention on something else, I spotted something in my peripheral vision. I almost fainted right on the spot.
The leg twitched.
My relations with my brother were slowly improving. They weren't the best, but they were better than they were a few months or years ago. I was grateful for that. It was a healing process I needed to undergo. Otherwise, I don't think I could have healthily continued on with my life. I'm happy that my family has a chance of rebuilding and amending themselves. It killed me to cause such a rift. The split personally affected my parents and that slaughtered my insides like you would not believe. Digby and Isabelle were regularly communicating and, because of that, I was able to know news as it reached Noah. That's how I found out who the malterra criminals really were. Their names were Blathers and Celeste Cathers. They were owl twins who lived in Coral Lakes at the moment. His name was familiar. He was the doctor in charge of that BLATHERS Project. I had never heard of them before that thought, and was relieved to hear that they had no correlation to Griffin Beach. For once, my town and I were free from the impact of scandals. When Noah and I spoke over the phone, I told him that I would help him in any way I could.
"Thanks, sis. I appreciate the offer, but this is something I have to handle myself. You understand."
Usually I would understand, but this time I DIDN'T. I came to Noah for help; I needed it badly. I admit I needed the help and I wanted it. Maybe it was a pride thing? I don't know. Usually, I understand pride things too. It's no secret I have some kind of a complex. Nevertheless, I had to let him do this by himself. It was his evidence after all. I just found out on a whim mistake, being in the right place at the right time. I wished I could've talked about it to someone. Isabelle may have been my best friend but she was also my secretary. It wasn't appropriate. I knew who I wanted to talk to, but it was dangerous. Who knows who could be following me? Who knows what danger I could put the person in? As much as I didn't want to literally endanger the person and the people around him, I needed to have this conversation. I needed to have a talk with him for a while; this just serves as the best opportunity.
Normally, I would let Porter drive me to where I need to go. But I wouldn't let him today. I had private cars that I would occasionally utilize. When Isabelle was in the bathroom, I left her a note on her desk that told her to take the rest of the day off. I grabbed a set of keys off the shelf and headed out to the underground garage. (Yes, I had an underground garage) Secretly, I was a huge car aficionado. I loved cars and didn't hesitate to splurge Bells on the cars that impressed me. From Land Rovers to Jeeps and Lamborghinis, the Bell worth down there is enough to buy Griffin Beach a thousand times over. I couldn't be too flashy though since I couldn't attract attention. I descended into the garage and flicked the light on. I fingered the key in my hand. My white Jeep with the same-color body hardtop flicked its lights at me from across the room. I strode across the cement floor and clambered inside. I smoothly turned the ignition and listened to the engine purr. Before Isabelle could discover my whereabouts, I pressed a button above my head and the distant garage door opened. It revealed an earthen ramp that led up to the surface.
I hurriedly sped up the ramp and headed towards Coral Lakes.
Today was the day.
We were meeting with Dr. Opal Hamilton. I was so thankful that Reese agreed to go to counseling. I wanted to hash everything out and move towards resolution. We allowed Tyler to stay at the apartment alone and we closed the store. He knew the rules: no opening the door or answering the phone unless it was us. No leaving the apartment for anything, unless an absolute emergency, but even if it was an emergency, he had to contact us. Tyler got the gig. He was a smart kid. Reese and I carefully left the apartment and headed towards Dr. Hamilton's office. I already had arranged an appointment. It was only a few blocks away. We walked. It was beautiful out and the birds were chirping. I just hoped it was a foreshadowing of how we would recover.
However, for some weird reason, it started to thunder and rain as soon as we neared the office. Reese's and my pace broke out into a run and we sprinted towards the office. When we emerged through the door, we were exhausted and soaking wet. Panting, we failed to notice what a presence we made. I heard someone clear their throat across the room. I looked up and the office secretary was sitting there. Reese and I humbly aplogized for our appearance and sudden arrival. She accepted our apology and said that Dr. Hamilton has been expecting us. We nodded and moved to go back there, but she stood up and headed towards a nearby closet.
"We keep some towels in here, just in case. Would you and your wife like to dry yourselves off?" We nodded. Wet wooly alpacas weren't exactly the life of the party to be around. We grabbed the towels and quickly dried ourselves off. Once we were mostly dry, we thanked the woman and headed back to the office. A green elephant wearing dark black glasses and a suit sat in front of us. She smiled and introduced herself, gesturing towards the couch besides us. Reese and I awkwardly sat down and stared at the woman. She paged through a file and made slight noises as she read.
"...So you two have been having marital issues. Care to elaborate exactly how? Start from the beginning if you like." I sighed and stared at Reese. I wasn't sure if she wanted to start or if she wanted me to start first. I took a deep breath and began.
"I don't honestly know where it began. Does anyone know when their life starts to fall apart? No one's paying attention to the point where they can see exactly where everything fell apart. Maybe for Reese it's different, but I just remember looking up and seeing myself crashed in a tree. I can't sit on this couch and tell you I remember exactly where it all went wrong, however I can tell you that I want to fix things. Psychoanalyze me all you want. I have nothing to hide and everything to gain. I know that Reese is so disappointed in me and it makes me feel like a disgusting, whiny shrivel of a man. A shrimp looks meatier and more muscle-toned than me." I stared off into the distance. When the wall of the room looked fuzzy, I blinked and turned back towards Reese and Dr. Hamilton. "I love Reese with all my heart and while I don't exactly know where I went wrong, I know that I did...a lot of things wrong. And I want you both to know that I'm sorry."
Dr. Hamilton didn't say a word and looked at Reese. She didn't break in her emotional wall. Her lips were pursed. Her arms were folded. The wool on her chest bristled together angrily. I knew the look too well. She huffed and her eyes drilled into my skull. Dr. Hamilton didn't seem to have any opinion or feeling about the whole situation. I wish I could have that woman's strength.
"I know exactly where it began, Dr. Hamilton. You're a woman. You know firsthand, that we neither forgive nor forget. I remember the exact moment I felt our marriage fell apart. When we were in the process of moving, our son Tyler didn't want to move. He wanted to stay in Griffin Beach however we had sold the store building so we had no source of income. Cyrus had to open up Retail in Coral Lakes so we could have some money coming in. I volunteered to stay with Tyler because I believe that my job as a parent comes first. If Tyler wanted to stay in Griffin Beach for three years, I would stay there with him for three years. Cyrus was angry about that and told me that Tyler was a brat for yielding such control over me. But Tyler is my son. He is my child, my flesh, my blood, my wool. Tyler is the most important thing in my life over anybody else--including Cyrus."
She stopped abruptly and my stomach sunk towards my tail. Dr. Hamilton said nothing and turned towards me. "Is this true, Cyrus?" I sighed and nodded with shame. She turned back towards Reese. "I understand your feelings completely, Reese. It's good that you have a strong maternal instinct and a very strong emotional bond with your son. That's an admirable quality in a parent. Why did you feel that was the moment your marriage fell apart? Were there any other moments that you felt that your marriage was on a rocky road?"
Reese clenched her fists and blinked away tears. "I felt that that was the moment because Cyrus disappointed me. I had never seen him like that before. I never thought he would have the capacity to have such anger towards his own child. It made me so sad and I couldn't imagine that he could really be like that. He should have been more sympathetic towards his son. It's his son!" Reese huffed and looked down for a moment. "Our whole separation made me pine for my husband. I seriously do love him and I wanted to be in his arms and feel safe. But unfortunately, being apart didn't fully make our hearts grow fonder. I couldn't wait to be reunited with my husband...but the first night that we can finally have contact with each other by non-electronic means, he ditches me and Tyler and leaves." She raised her hands and did the infamous air quotes. "He 'claims' he was at the bar hanging out with some guys and eating. I know from the koala secretary for a fact, that my husband was---" Reese choked on her words and collapsed into tears. My ears burned bright red and I was ready to crawl in a hole and die.
Dr. Hamilton observed both of us carefully and made some notes. After a few moments, she looked up at both of us and glanced over at the water cooler in the corner. "I'm going to give you two a quick break. I'll be on the other side of this door. Feel free to walk around, get some water." She stood up and headed towards the door. "Just tap on the door or give a holler when you're ready to continue the section." Before I knew it, the green elephant was gone. I felt more terrified now that this complete stranger was gone.
I was alone in the room with my emotional wife.
I took my lawyer Sophia's advice and took the money. It went against my personal beliefs, but my personal beliefs were not up for interrogation. After I took the money, everything was quiet. No one bothered me. No one followed me. But like they say, money doesn't buy you happiness. My pockets were heavier and my ABD account was larger but that really didn't mean anything. It didn't change much. If anything, I felt guiltier and corrupted. I accepted money like a bribe. I was paid into staying silent. It's not like it changed my standing around town. People were still rude to me. People still didn't talk to me. My only companion in life was my brother Al. I guess runner-up would be Sophia. I know you really can't count your lawyer as your friend, but she was the only person who showed they cared. She came by to my house every now and then, asked what was new, went to lunch with me...It was like she respected me for who I was and didn't give a yam what town I came from. Although that's no judgment to go off either. Sophia IS a Beacher.
I stood in the kitchen washing off my plate from lunch. Al wasn't here. He was on the other side of Coral Lakes, showing a house to a new family. He had left a half hour ago and brought a packed lunch with him. A knock on the door alerted me to someone's presence on my porch but I already knew who it was. I craned my neck around and lifted one hand out of the sudsy water to wave.
"Hey, Sophia! It's unlocked." The door swung open and a tall blonde human stood there. She waved awkwardly and entered, shutting the door behind her.
"Hey, Rocket. I was in the area and I figured I would drop by real quick. See how you are...so how are you?" she trailed. I turned off the water and placed the wet plate in the dish-drying rack, shrugging indifferently.
"Okay. Same as yesterday...same as the day before." I glanced out the window. "There's no more drama or anything like that but something inside of me still makes me feel empty and blah. When will this all be over? Will there ever be any closure? I don't feel like any monetary value can be placed on emotional closure. Agreed?" Sophia nodded.
"Totally. The thing is, it's not up to us to determine what the closure is. They're the ones in control. As awful and manipulative as it sounds, it's the cold truth. There's nothing we could have done and there's still nothing we can do. Everyone is just working had to ameliorate the circumstances and swipe this far under the rug. I don't know all of the details and it's none of my business but Mayor Noah and Mayor Megan have a lot on their plates right now. No one, in a million years, could have predicted that these two would be working together to fight a common enemy. Yet here we are." Sophia placed a hand on my shoulder. "I understand how hard it is and I can't pretend to know what you're going through internally. However, the best thing that I can do is be there for you and help you discover these things you are." I nodded.
"Thanks, Sophia. You're a good friend." She smiled warmly and glanced at her watch.
"Shoot, my lunch break is almost over. I still have to swing by the delicatessen and pick up a sandwich." She turned on her heel and headed towards the door. "Glad we had this talk." She added with a wink. I laughed as she cheerily waved. "Holla!" Just as soon as Sophia entered my house, she was gone. That emptiness quickly set in her spot. When she or Al...or anyone else for that matter...was around, that emptiness was replaced with a happy bubbliness. When I was alone, a grim dark feeling would always set in. It wasn't just loneliness. Even though I was a young, single gorilla in need of a mate, that wasn't my problem. Maybe I just needed a hobby. Watching TV wouldn't work. Neither would cooking. I needed something where I could meet people and be active. That's when I remembered a little flyer that I found one day, hastily stuffed underneath a rock on my front porch. A flyer for Copper's Sunday Morning Aerobic Class.
Today was Saturday. Maybe some calisthenics and walking now would prepare me for tomorrow so I didn't look like a total unfit loser. I grabbed my jacket and keys, hustling out the door.
I sighed heavily and pushed my goggles up. I had a fully complete fossil in front of me. None other than the king of the beasts too. Nook pushed me so hard and demanded that I move forward every time I made a breakthrough.I had dropped some liquid on the T-Rex and waited for it to move. The legs convulsed and the chest twitched but nothing major happened. The guard in the back was watching me warily. Like I really could sabotage my own project. I made some notes in my notebook and moved towards my kit in the corner. This kit held some tools that I used to test reflexes and other bodily functions. I picked up a hammer and lightly tapped on its joints. The legs moved but showed no intention of travelling. I hummed lightly and began to dig through my kit, looking for another dropper. I needed to drop some calcium on the bones to strengthen them. The guard behind me cleared his throat while I struggled to find the dropper. I peeked my head out and frowned.
"What is it?"
"You know, I'm no accolade-packed scientist that dropped out of doctoral school but...why don't you just bathe the fossils in the solution? Or paint the fossil with a small paintbrush?" I scowled and tsked to myself.
"I wouldn't expect you to understand. Now please, let me do my job and I'll let you do yours." The guard folded his arms and abruptly left the room. I waved my wing at him in frustration and finally found the dropper. "I would've found this sooner if he wasn't distracting me." I mumbled under my breath. Dropping the calcium on the bones allowed the fossil to have a little bit more mobility but still nothing fantastic. I contemplated what else to do when Nook came in. I stood up straight and saluted him lightly. "Sir! What brings you here?" Nook smirked and approached the fossil, choosing not to answer me. I stood there awkwardly while the returning guard had a pompous smile plastered on.
"You know, Blathers, if you just listened to other people's criticism and consultations, I wouldn't have to come in all the time. It's such a waste when you refuse to listen to anyone but yourself so I have to come in here and knock some sense into you." I gulped. "Randall here," he said pointing to the guard, "had a wonderful idea and suggested it to me. He said you didn't really listen to him." Before I could stop Nook, he reached over me and grabbed the liquid and a brush.
"Sir, no!" I yelled. Nook slathered the liquid on lazily, taking no care at all. Some spilled on the floor. Some even got on his clothes. When Nook quickly finished, he looked proud of himself like he had just finished the world's best masterpiece. However, the T-Rex started to move. It walked and then rushed towards us. The creature screamed and leaned over us all. I grabbed the nearest thing I could grab: a hammer. "No! Bad dinosaur! Stay down!" I screeched in a meancing tone. The T-Rex abruptly stopped in its tracks and calmly sat down. Nook grinned and clapped me on the shoulder.
"Excellent job, mate. Looks like the lizard is already trained.
I thought my wife was going to snarl at me and be nasty like she has been doing for the past few weeks.
However, when I was left in that room with her, I noted how frail and fragile she really was. I finally saw her shell of a frame and noticed how tired and weary she truly was. I refrained myself from grabbing her shoulder and holding her. Instead, I sat in my seat carefully and stared at her heaving body. Tears flowed down her cheeks and dampened her fur. She choked a few back and stared at me with red eyes. The words she attemped to speak could not leave her mouth. Being her husband for a good amount of time though allowed me to know exactly what she wanted me to say.
"It was a moment of weakness." I said with a deep sigh. "No words can portray how much I love you. I know you needed your space and maybe I needed some too, but I just want you to know that not a second went by that I didn't think of you and Tyler," I said cupping her face with my hand and lightly kissing her. "I can't sit here and tell you I thought of you when I was in that hotel room." I added with a light chuckle. I expected her to scowl at me and sneer like in the past. This time, I saw a light smile. "But I can tell you that I realize it was a poor judgment. We're all human and we make mistakes. My mistake was not staying faithful to you."
She pursed her lips and smiled again. "Thank you for giving me the space I need to heal." She said looking off into the distance. "I'm sorry I've been so bitter and nasty. All you have been doing is trying to win me back but I've been pushing you away..." she trailed.
"But I understand!" I exclaimed. "You didn't need me at your heel like a herding dog and I get that. I just want you to know I'm here." We held hands for a short moment and I started to speak again. "I'm glad we went to counseling, babe." She glanced over at me. "It gave us a chance to open up and talk things out. It was exactly what we needed to move forward." She nodded and blinked away some more tears. "So...can I let Dr. Hamilton back in?" She nodded again. I tapped lightly on the door and she came in again. I felt like she heard everything we were saying. A comically light expression adorned her face.
"Did you guys work out some things?" This time, Reese spoke up.
"We did. I seemed angry earlier and I do apologize for that, but I think I needed to have that outburst to level out my feelings." The elephant rose her hands.
"Hey, never apologize for your feelings. They're our emotions. We shouldn't be ashamed of them." Dr. Hamilton quickly jotted down some notes and smiled. "I think you guys need to rekindle some flame. I get that it can be a slow process but something about you guys tells me that nothing about your life is slow." The elephant said with a wink. Reese and I both laughed. Dr. Hamilton leaned back in her seat. "You should arrange a date night. Just a little something where it's just the two of you. It doesn't have to be anything overly fancy if you aren't comfortable with that yet. Just enough to get the passion churning again. Also, a family night with your son should be considered as well." We both nodded. "You both seem like you're in love but you've just experienced a bump in the road. Infidelity is unfortunately a major bump for many couples but it can be overcome. It takes some time to build up trust and love again but it is possible." Dr. Hamilton looked at both of us. "Do either of you have any questions or concerns you would like to bring up?" Reese lightly raised her hand.
"I just worry about my trust issues. I know Cyrus loves me and I hear what he says but in the back of my mind, I'll always be thinking. I'll be wondering what he's doing, who he's with. Every second, I'll automatically think he is cheating on me." Dr. Hamilton nodded.
"I understand completely, Reese. I think in due time, these feelings will pass. However, if you do continue to experience these emotions and you would like to combat them, I can send you two to a specialist for some trust exercises. But, I will personally tell you that trust exercises probably aren't as helpful as one expects them to be. Time often is the best medicine. I'm sure that if you let Cyrus prove that to you, you won't be sorry." she added with a smile. I grinned at my wife and Reese at least didn't look so unsure.
Before I knew it, we were thanking Dr. Hamilton and leaving the office. Reese and I were on our way back to the store. We walked slowly, hand in hand. I admired the puffy clouds and pointed out their resemblances. When we neared the store, I noticed a car parked in front. A shiny, loaded white Jeep sat alongside the sidewalk. A young human girl with brown hair leaned against the hood. When she saw us coming, she unfolded her arms and began to approach us. I couldn't see who she was at first but when I finally realized who it was, I instinctively stepped in front of my wife and hissed at the human.
"Stay back! What are you doing here? Get away from my family and my store!"
I made the decision on how to pursue this case.
I immediately told Resetti and Lionel when I woke up the next morning. We would be actively pursuing it and not sitting back anymore. I think Lionel and Resetti were pleased to hear that. Lionel was working on processing the warrants with the DA and Resetti was making sure Blathers and Celeste wouldn't try to flee. Once Lionel compiled all the warrants together, we could have the go-ahead to storm both Nook and Blather's places. We could shut down that lab for good and possibly burn it. If that was okay with my sister. Speaking of Megan, I really needed to call her. I was about to grab the phone when I heard the loud revving of an engine. I looked up and saw a shiny white Jeep zoom down the road. It had to have been speeding. I sighed and Digby perked up, hearing my exhale.
"Karma will that get driver eventually, Mayor Noah." he said lightly. I nodded and suddenly narrowed my eyes. That license plate. MayMeg? I pieced the puzzle together and groaned again. Digby looked at me. "What is it, sir?" I didn't answer and picked up the phone. I dialed my sister. The line rang a few times before she picked up. Her voice sounded so casual.
"Oh hey bro, what's up?" she asked. I asked her where she was and what she was doing. "Me? Nothing special. I'm just sitting here in my office, wrapping up some work for the day." I rolled my eyes.
"Even when we were kids, you were the worst liar." She gasped and didn't say a word. I laughed. "MayMeg? That is like such an obvious license plate. Not to mention that you're speeding around my town in a flashy car..." I trailed. Megan huffed. "Meg, what are you doing here?"
"It's none of your business! You didn't want to talk to me so I'm here because I'm meeting with someone else." I bit my lip.
"I'm the mayor. It kinda is my business. Look, if you don't want to tell me, I get it. I can't spoil my own surprise!" I said with a cheeky grin.
"...what are you--OHMIGOG YOU CONCEITED--I am NOT planning anything for your birthday!" I laughed again. I missed these exchanges with my sister. It's been so long but now, it feels like no time has passed. I told her what my plans were with Blathers and Celeste. I told her that I would be having SWAT teams and FBI storm the construction site in South Cove. Of course, I asked her permission. I could hear her relax. "Sure, that's not a problem. I'm glad you're proceeding with this. They need to go down. What about Nook though?" I paused and Megan sensed my hesitation. "Noah, I know Nook. He will scream lawsuit faster than you can say 'pinky'. He will have the best lawyers on his side and emerge from the struggle with barely a scratch. PLEASE tell me you have a plan." I actually didn't have a plan, but in that moment it came to me.
"I do have a plan, sis. What type of man do you take me for? I will have the best lawyers on my side, including Sophia Robbins. I'll have something arranged with Lionel." I said confidently. "Besides the best lawyers can't fight the evidence. Resetti has all the items and surveillance together. They can't fight the law." I retorted. Megan scoffed.
"Noah, that's what Nook and his legal team does every day. They evade the law. You need a better plan than 'I got a couple lawyers.'" I frowned and rolled my eyes. "Anyways, I have to go. I'm nearing my destination here and I'll be busy." I opened my mouth to ask her what she was doing but she cut me off. "And don't me ask what I'm doing here. It's none of your beezwax. I'll be in touch. Talk to you later!" She quickly hung up the phone and I was stuck on an open line. I sighed and hung up the phone. I turned to Digby who was hunched over his work. The door slammed open and Lionel stood there with an aghast look on his face. I asked the lion what was wrong and he hurried into the office, shutting the door behind him.
"I have some good news and some bad news, sir." I groaned and leaned back in my chair.
"Hit me with it." I winced.
"The good news is we got the warrants. The bad news is Nook is on his way to the airport, ready to fly out of the country."
I slowly held up my hands and walked towards the two alpacas. I could sense the aggression and apprehension in their tones. As I moved closer, the wool on Cyrus's neck bristled and stood up straight.
"I know that I'm not the first person you would want to see. Heck, I don't even know if I'm the first person I would want to see. However, I just wanted to talk to you guys. Please give me a chance to explain myself and to explain...all of this craziness." Cyrus and Reese exchanged quick glances and whispered to each other. I stepped back once, just to show them I wasn't threatening them or closing in on their space. I just wanted to talk. Finally, Reese placed a hand on Cyrus's shoulder and he slowly released some tension. He nodded.
"You can speak." I thanked him humbly and took a deep breath.
"Everything just got so out of control. I had no hold on anything." I hung my head in shame. "Nook runs the town and he runs me. Anything that he wants goes because I'm so naiive and terrified. I'm no staunch, strong bulwark that can stop anything. I let a businessman take over my town." I glanced at them. "I wanted to tell you guys and explain to you before...about me vetoing your permit." Cyrus and Reese didn't look persuaded. "I really did! I couldn't though at the time. I had no choice but to go by everything that Nook wanted. It's not easy to voice out loud, but I have a secret." Reese's expression lightened and I saw her pinch her husband's shoulder. "This secret has been burning inside of me for years and I never talked about it until now. Nook is the only person who knows and he holds it over my head at every opportunity." I blinked away some tears and I actually saw--in my peripheral vision--Reese attempt to come forward and embrace me. Cyrus stopped her.
"I allowed Nook to boss me around just because he knows my secret and I don't want to allow it anymore. I am ashamed that this even happened but I'm more ashamed that I kept it a secret for so long. I admire you both so much for being able to fight off Nook and his influence. He is an evil man and he wants nothing more to crush those who oppose him. You two have managed to escape his wrath and I have so much respect for you." I sighed, proceeding to move this conversation along. "I'm here now because I would like to tell you two my secret." I lifted my head and stared them both in the eyes. "I need to show both this secret and Nook that they cannot enslave me and my life anymore." Cyrus and Reese turned to stare at each other. I gulped and closed my eyes for a moment. I was actually doing this. "Is that okay with you?" Cyrus and Reese exchanged another quick glance and nodded.
Cyrus puffed his chest out, looking more like his old self. "Yes. You can tell us. But please. We shouldn't be standing outside like this. Why don't you come inside? We can make ourselves comfortable, have some refreshments and relax while you tell us your secret." He suggested. I smiled. I appreciated the invite. He went from yelling at me protectively to hospitably opening up his home to me.
"Thank you, Cyrus. However, it won't take very long. I just need to tell this story right now. Nothing can delay me." I looked around and pointed to a yellow bench that was conveniently located outside the store. "Sit there. I'll relax on the sidewalk. I know it seems informal and strange but I would just like to get it all out while we're here." Reese and Cyrus acquiesced. Soon, I sat cross-legged on the concrete sidewalk and rehashed my story.
Smoke rose in the sky and billowed with the clouds. Fire still blazed angrily, spewing from the roofs of villagers' homes and stores. A thin layer of ash covered the ground and made breathing nearly impossible. However, a young woman still was able to hike through the seemingly abandoned town. She had seen the smoke miles out, while she was journeying through the forest, and made a quick pit stop here. She wandered around the oddly-shaped beach town, searching for any survivors. She walked around the town, calling out to someone--anyone who could call back. Finally, when she reached the Town Hall, she could hear a call for help.
Desperately, the young woman kicked down the door of the burning building and made her way upstairs. To the clock tower. When the human approached the tower, she saw a shocking sight. An old turtle was holding a random frog villager hostage. The turtle gripped the frog around his throat and was dangling him over the rafter. Every now and then, the turtle's grasp would falter and the frog would hang a few centimeters closer to the burning fire below. The young woman screamed out and demanded that the turtle set the frog free. When both men saw the human girl, a cacophony of voices reached her ears. The frog wailed the desperate cry for help that initially drew the woman into the building. The turtle growled at the girl and told her to go away.
"Meddle in your own business! What are you doing in this town anyways? Get out and leave if you know what's good for you!" the old turtle screeched. The girl clenched her fists.
"I was walking in the outskirts of the town and saw the rising smoke! I got concerned and came into town. What is going on here? I called 911. The fire company is on its way--" The turtle coughed viciously and then angrily screamed out.
"Foolish girl! Now the authorities will catch us all!" The girl just stared in confusion. "This town is cursed! Cursed, I tell you! Katrina herself will not even step foot in this town. No human and no animal is meant to live in Griffin Beach. It is a terrible, terrible place and everything about it must be destroyed and cleansed. Its spawn must be purified or it will spread to kill us all!" the old man yelled out. "Get out while you can! While you are--" The turtle broke out into a coughing fit, on the verge of gagging and collapsing. His grip on the frog weakened and the frog almost fell to his death. The turtle however regained himself and glared at the girl. "Save yourself." The turtle suddenly let go of the frog and he fell. The human screamed out.
"No!" There was nothing that could be done. She turned towards the turtle and leapt across to tackle him. The two fell on the opposite side of the clock tower. It was a wonder that their combined weight did not cause the floor of the tower to give out underneath of them. They wrestled for a moment before the girl pushed the turtle out of the glass window. She fell with him and landed on the stone plaza. She grunted in pain and lightly felt her side. She thought her rib may have collapsed. She groaned and tried to sit upright. The turtle was already standing and slowly hobbling away. "Hey! Come back here!" The girl scrambled to her feet and hobbled after the limping turtle. She followed him down to the beach and before she knew it, the cool brisk wind was pulling at her hair. She heard the large crashes of the waves and realized she was standing at the edge of the ocean. The turtle had stopped and wavered in the middle of the sand.
"You know..." he croaked in a hoarse voice, "Katrina told me I would run into someone like you." She didn't know what to say. "Is this the way it is supposed to happen? By a stranger that never knew me? Let it be then." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun, gently laying it on the ground and backing away. "Just do it. Get it over with. I've already seen your future; I know the type of person you really are." The girl scowled.
You don't know me! And even if everything you say is true, why should I believe you?" She angrily took a step closer. "I just watched you murder a man!" The turtle didn't say anything. "Don't feed me any of that crap like you had to do it and had no choice. Everyone has a choice about their actions." She stared down at the gun. "What is that? Do you expect me to-to-" she trailed off. The turtle still didn't say anything. "What a coward. If you're going to go on a spree and burn up your entire town, at least live to tell the tale." She glanced down. "I wouldn't normally do this because I think you deserve to replay these memories in your brain for the rest of your life. However..." she knelt down and picked up the weapon, "you're a special case."
Sirens roared and the girl looked up. Police cars, fire trucks and ambulances surrounded her. She threw the gun in the ocean and slowly walked towards the cars. An officer exitted the car and questioned her. He asked her what she was doing there and what her name was. The girl sighed and shrugged her shoulders.
"I was taking a walk through the forest and saw the rising smoke. I came into town to see what was going on. My name is Megan."
Cyrus and Reese stared at me with aghast expressions. They didn't know what to say and finally, the man broke the silence.
"So...you killed Mayor Tortimer and rebuilt the city from scratch?" he asked. I nodded. "Jeez. For years, I looked at that picture of that old turtle and thought he was just the best old man ever." Cyrus looked down. "And I thought you were elected of your own accord." I lightly frowned.
"It isn't exactly the way I expected to stumble into politics either. It just happened like that. I have no regrets." I looked down. "Turns out, that day, everyone thought the mayor did himself in and disposed of the weapon. I didn't have the heart or the bravery to tell anyone the truth. I was hailed as the hero of Griffin Beach and crowned the mayor. From there, I worked on rebuilding the town but it didn't come without traumatic memories. That night came back to haunt me. I later found out that Nook was evacuating his store and saw me do all that. He took pictures." I trailed off and Reese placed a hand on my shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Mayor Megan. I had no idea."
"I'm just glad I got it off my chest," I said. I straightened up and shrugged my shoulders. "It's been so long that no one would probably care, but it just still terrifies me to think that people would find out." I stared off into the distance. "I'm happy I don't have that fear now. Nook can't hurt me anymore." The two alpacas slowly stood up and offered me to finally come in and relax and have some refreshments. I accepted their offer. We climbed the steps into their apartment and we encountered a neighbor in the hallway. A pink owl warmly extended her wing and greeted me. I thought I almost was going to tackle this chick in the corridor.
"Hi, my name is Celeste. Nice to meet you!
Nook hustled around my lab unauthorized and poured the chemical on all of the semi-complete fossils I had assembled. Around me, the creatures rose to life and they began to crawl around. Before I knew it, I had a whole army of dinosaurs in my laboratory. They were all screeching and walking around. Nook seemed to take joy in all of it. He enjoyed seeing all these dinosaurs under his command. Well, really more like my command. They seem to listen to me. Where I walk, they walk. If I command them to sit, they all sit. It's a sick Frankenstein complex but Nook doesn't mind. He's been walking around, dubbing me Commander Blathers. He's talking about how I'm going to lead him into battle.
Whatever that means.
One of the guards came down with a grim look on his face. He beckoned Nook over and whispered in his ear. They tried to exclude me from the conversation but I could hear every word they were saying. Apparently, some warrants were processed for Nook's arrest and SWAT teams and the FBI would be storming the lab soon. I instinctively squawked, making them aware of my eavesdropping. The two turned to stare at me and I asked what we're going to do. Nook said nothing at first but soon approached me calmly. He turned his head to face the guard.
"Initiate Plan B. Ready the helicopter." He turned back to me. "As for you, Commander Blathers, you will be leading a special mission." I narrowed my eyebrows. He pointed at the dinosaurs. "You will be taking the dinosaurs to the Town Hall and taking over in the name of me." I gulped. "You will command those dinosaurs to terminate Mayor Megan and Isabelle." I spluttered with shock.
"Wha--but, sir! Do you realize what you are asking me? Are you aware of the all-around consequences?" Nook walked away from me and began to exit the lab. Before leaving though, he turned in the doorway and sneered.
"Yes, Blathers. I am aware." The raccoon left and I remained alone with a complicated situation. I groaned and faced the dinosaurs. Guards were still in the room. I could easily command the dinosaurs to kill the guards so they wouldn't tattle on me but Nook would still hunt me down and have my feathers in a platter if I disobeyed. I mounted the T-Rex and pointed forward. The dinosaur leapt out of the lab and we made our way to the front cove. Other dinosaurs bounded in my wake. The people screamed and police officers were rushing for their squad cars. The dinosaurs stomped on everything in their path, demolishing cars, houses, roads and people. I could barely hold on as the T-Rex bounced along. National Guard soldiers with megaphones and tanks called to me from their ant-like position on the ground. Through all of this craziness, as I approached Town Hall, I wondered where Mayor Megan was.
I noticed Mayor Megan tense up as she shook hands with Celeste. I wasn't exactly sure why. She seemed awful eager to get away from the owl and go inside our apartment. We greeted Tyler and offered Mayor Megan a seat. Her face was a pale white and the muscles in her hand bulged as she gripped the mug of coffee. I asked her if everything was okay and she was hesitant to answer. Finally she shifted in her seat and made a silent gesture towarsd Tyler. I understood what she was getting at and told Tyler to go over to Celeste's and give her this candy we had been meaning to give her. This actually looked like it distressed Megan more. She held her head in her hands as Tyler left the apartment. When the door shut, she looked up abruptly.
"Celeste is not to be trusted!" she blurted out. Reese tilted her head.
"What are you talking about?" she asked. Megan cried out and beat her fist on the table.
"I knew Blathers and Celeste lived in Coral Lakes but I didn't know they lived with you!" I stared at Reese, unsure of what our ex-mayor was getting at. She turned to us. "Blathers is working with Nook on a secret project. Mayor Noah has been collecting surveillance on it for years and it's all going to come to a nasty, screeching halt." She sighed and closed her eyes. "That's another thing I wanted to talk to you about today too. Now that I know how close this can affect you, I can't have a clear conscience and allow you to stay here." She stood up. "Please...you have to believe me. Your lives are already in danger because I came here. Nook will think you guys ratted out Blathers or something. I can't risk him hurting you and your family."
Now I was angry and incensed. I stood up and pointed at Megan. "I understand you wanting to tell us all this stuff, but at this point, you're babbling nonsense. How do you expect us to believe you?" Megan opened her mouth to answer back but her phone rang. She scrunched her face up in confusion and then answered it. She put it on speakerphone for some reason. It was Isabelle. The poor dog sounded frantic.
"Ms. Mayor, where are you?! The town is complete chaos now that you're gone. I know you left a note saying to take the day off but...it IS JUST SO HECTIC! There are all these fossils. Giant walking fossils! It's like somebody rejuvenated the dinosaurs and they're back from the dead Jurassic Park style! One of the dinosaurs is ridden by Blathers and he's heading this way! I don't know what he wants but it's terrifying! The dinosaurs are causing havoc all over Griffin Beach and they're just destroying everything. Not to mention that there's a helicopter over Nook's headquarters and I think they're prepping him to board it and take off somewhere. Ms. Mayor, I don't know where you are right now. I'm sure you're on important mayoral business and you might even be mad that I'm calling and interrupting but I'M SCARED! The police and the National Guard are helpless. These tanks don't even touch these fossils and I don't know what to do! I know you've always told me that in emergencies, I could be the interim mayor but...I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!" It almost sounded like Isabelle was audibly crying. That shocked me. That girl never broke down and now I'm hearing that my neighbor is riding giant dinosaurs to the Town Hall? It sounded so preposterous.
Megan shook her head and sighed. "It's worse than I thought..." she mumbled. "Don't worry, Isabelle! I'm sorry I kinda ran away...I tend to do that a lot. Don't worry though. I'll be heading back now. I'll call some backup and be there as soon as I can." She hung up the phone and stared at me and my wife. "See? Celeste is not good company. It's a long story and half of it is probably confidential, but they're not good news." She faced the door. "Tyler! You need to get your son as soon as possible." Reese squeaked and ran out of the apartment. I was left with Megan. "Pack your family's belongings. Clothes, food, toiletries, family pictures...the whole bulk." She looked around the apartment. "I can't guarantee you guys will be able to return here." I turned on my heel and ran for the bedroom closet. There were suitcases there that we could use.
Within a few minutes, Reese was back with Tyler. We all were packing our belongings in the bedroom. Meanwhile, Megan was locking down the apartment and keeping a lookout. I could have sworn she was being paranoid. When my wife and I were alone, I turned to face her.
"Was Celeste suspicious?" I asked. She shook her head. "Good." I looked around, seeing if Megan was going to waltz in the bedroom. She wasn't. "If Mayor Megan is right, I just want to tell you something before we get too involved." She batted her eyelashes.
"What is it?" I kissed her firmly on the lips, taking her by surprise. We were together for a few moments before breaking apart.
"I love you." She couldn't look me in the eye. She looked down. She looked over at Tyler. She looked up at the ceiling. I kissed her lightly again. "I understand if you can't tell me you love me back or if you can't see yourself reciprocating those feelings right now. I just want you to know how I feel." She nodded and sniffed back some tears.
"I understand." We were interrupted by the noise of loud sirens. Megan burst through the doorway and urged us to get moving. Tyler, Reese, and I scrambled to get our belongings together. We needed to leave. As we hustled out the door, Reese called out. "Where are we going? Where are you taking us?" Megan didn't answer and we just clambered inside of our car. I adjusted myself within the seat and soon, I was following that flashy white Jeep.
This can't be happening.
I jumped out of my chair and bellowed commands. I barely even remember what I said. I think I told Lionel to shut everything down. I demanded that they chase that raccoon down and not allow him to take off. Lionel didn't waste a second's notice. I groaned and looked at Digby. He was waiting for orders. I knew he wanted to help and I didn't want to just sit here and do nothing. I needed to be proactive. My sister was messing around in my own town when her town is immersed in chaos. We're both approximately 40 minutes away and we need to be there now. It looked nearly impossible. However, I learned long ago that nothing is truly impossible. I turned to Digby and grinned.
"Let's go, Digby. We have a plane to catch." He narrowed his eyes at me.
"But, Mayor Noah, how?!" I grabbed the keys to the golf cart and gestured for him to follow me. We clambered onto the cart and I sped across town. I carried no regard for pedestrians, cars, or flowers. Unfortunately, some pretty roses and pansies got smashed along the way. Digby stared at me with a confused expression but he just needed to be patient. Digby didn't know about what I had stored over here...in the outskirts. When we got closer, a face of realization crept upon the poor dog. He gasped suddenly and slapped me on the shoulder. "Mayor Noah! Wha--WHAT IS THIS? ARE YOU SERIOUS? HOW COME I DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?"
I laughed and slowed down the golf cart. The wheels soon made contact with the smooth asphalt of the runway. That's right. I had a small airport built for my private jet. Digby stared up at the plane in awe and was speechless. I parked the golf cart, turning it off and stuffing the keys in my pocket. I pulled another set of keys out of my pocket and gestured for Digby to follow me. He hurriedly skittered after me. I jogged up to the plane and smirked. "Don't take it personal, Digby. If you knew I wanted to build an airport and get a private plane, I don't think you would've made room in the budget for it..." I trailed. Digby's face was stretched too seriously to laugh.
"For good reason, sir!" I said nothing else as we boarded the plane and I started up the engine. He looked at me curiously. "You know how to fly a plane?" I nodded.
"Absolutely! I took classes a while ago. You're looking at a licensed pilot." I added with a wink. Digby rolled his eyes. "Besides, I have always loved planes and have wanted to fly them ever since I was a little kid. Megan had her love for fancy cars and I was an aircraft aficinado. I guess you could say...I was more plain than her!" As I pulled on the control wheel to tip the nose of the jet up, Digby's face colored a deep red.
"Sir, NOW IS NO TIME FOR JOKES!" I barely could contain my laughter. Digby sat alongside of me after my humorous outburst subsided. He folded his arms. I leaned over once we were steadily speeding through the air and reached underneath my seat. I always kept these items under my seat, just in case I would always need them. I gripped the pilots' caps and extended one towards Digby. He sighed and put it on his head. I had to admit, he fit the role of co-pilot. I saluted dumbly and grinned.
"Welcome aboard the C-39 Turbo. Or as I affectionately call her: Charger. So basically, the plan is to intercept Nook in the air. This baby is the best in her class. We're currently at 650 mph and I'm not even pushing her as hard as she can go. We'll arrive in Griffin Beach in approximately 4 minutes and I just want to make sure we both know what we'll be doing." Digby nodded. "Just as I see Nook in the air, I'm going to point Charger in his direction and set her on auto. Then you and I are going to jump--" Digby held out his hand and looked distraught.
"Jump? Won't we fall out and die?" I shook my head.
"I have parachutes that you can use in an emergency situation. Like you know...if we miss or he shoots us down." I clapped him on the shoulder. "Don't worry about that. One thing at a time. Anyways, we're going to attack him. It's down to you and me, and I am not going to let him slip through our grasp." Digby nodded and we fell silent. I think the adrenaline rush was either falling or just building up. Neither of us spoke as the severity of the situation sank in. I looked down and noticed we were at Griffin Beach. I grunted and nudged Digby. "Go in the back hatch by the seat on the left and pull out two brown backpacks." He obeyed and quickly returned. I helped him put the backpack on and tighten it. He did the same. Digby suddenly gasped and pointed.
"Mayor Noah! It's Nook! He's taking off!" I gasped and quickly sat down and flipped the plane off autopilot. I revved up the boosters and took off. The helicopter pilot must have seen us. He attempted to take off at a steeper altitude but I was able to cut him off. The helicopter was forced to veer out and go towards the city. I could see the frustrated expression on Nook's face as they headed in the opposite direction that they intended. I chased the helicopter, dodging buildings, people and dinosaurs. Dinosaurs...jeez. What has this world come to? The people stared up in awe and I saw the police below stop their fire to stare at their new ally. I was now telling Digby what to do next.
"This model of the C-39 has some limited missile range. Lift this glass cage and press the blue button!" I exclaimed. Digby obeyed. I hurriedly aimed the one toggle and directed the aim towards the helicopter's top propeller. The missiles underneath our hull flew out and hit the helicopter where I wanted it to hit. The propeller exploded and the pilot lost control of the helicopter. I sped up and approached the side. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to where I was going and clipped my one wing on the side of a dinosaur. Stupid reptile. I groaned and could feel my control wane. I grabbed Digby and dragged him towards the exit. Digby didn't have time to say anything but I knew what he was thinking before we jumped. "Trust me, Dig! I know what I'm doing." The dog grabbed my shoulder and we leapt onto the helicopter. The aircraft shuddered under the new weight. Meanwhile, my baby crashed into the side of Nook's under-construction casino. I broke myself out of my reverie to stare at the two in front of me.
Nook looked surprised we had managed to hijack his plane. We throw the pilot overboard (Don't worry, it wasn't a long fall) and manage to corner Nook. He was armed but Digby tackled Nook and wrestled with him. The weapon managed to become dislodged and fly across the plane. Without thinking, I kicked it off the plane and jumped on Nook as well. We tussled with him on the floor of the plane. Nook hit his head on the steel wall of the plane and finally rose his hands. "Alright, alright! I give up! Just get off of me..." He shoved me backwards and I stumbled a few steps. However, I told Digby to stay on top of him. I managed to find some spare duct tape and a coil of rope. I immediately sprang to work. It took me several seconds and then, I ran over to the controls. I tried to pull up on the wheel but I couldn't control it enough. I turned around and yelled back at Digby.
"Dig! I can't land us properly. We're going to have to jump!"
"What?! Sir! Can't we--" I sprinted to Digby and grabbed him and Nook.
"No time! Worse comes to worse, pull the brown string!" I screamed, jumping off of the plane. We fell to the ground and I had my arms wrapped around both of their fuzzy bodies. Nook was grunting protestedly under his duct tape restraints. I didn't pull the parachute. Neither did Digby. Upon second thought, we probably should have pulled the strings. We crashed to the ground, smashing our shoulders and bodies into the concrete sidewalk. Our faces became scratched and bloodied. Nook's fur already looked a dull red. We groaned and slowly pulled ourselves up. Before I knew it, the police officers surrounded us. Some were even smiling. A gray rhino wearing a Griffin Beach uniform strode up and quickly began issuing orders. Nook was to be taken under customdy immediately. Digby and I grinned and stood up. The rhino lightly grinned and shook my head.
"Pleasure to meet you in person, Mayor Noah. The name's Tank. I'm the police chief around here." Behind Tank, I noticed two cars pull up.
One was a white jeep. The other car was the Alpaca Family's car.
I jumped out of the car and rushed over to the Alpacas. My first priority was getting Cyrus and Reese to safety. I was not going to let them be vulnerable and die in front of me. After I hugged Isabelle (she needed it), Isabelle promised to protect the family. I thanked her and hurried over to the figures on the ground. Isabelle told me it was Digby, Noah, and Nook. I had to get over there. My brother looked happy to see me. We hugged for a few moments and then, I looked up and thanked him. He mumbled something indistinctively but I didn't push it. We had time later to talk. I stared over at Nook. He sat there looking defeated. Even though this was a pretty pitiful situation, I couldn't help but grin. I lightly fingered something underneath my shirt and asked Digby and Noah to leave me with Nook. Noah kept his hand on my shoulder and looked concerned.
"Sis, are you sure? Nook may look weak but don't underestimate him...I don't want him to hurt you." I shook off my brother's grip.
"I appreciate the concern, bro, but I'l be fine. Trust me." The two realized I was serious and walked away. As I looked down at Nook and watched him breathe heavily, I contemplated just calling the police. They could handle him and I wouldn't even have to say a word. They could handle him judiciously anyways. But did I want Nook to be handled judiciously? That was the real question. I closed my eyes and just began to speak. "Are you proud of yourself? Are you happy? You're rich, famous, powerful...you really have it all. You are the ultimate tycoon whose name makes people shudder in their showers. You have done nothing but control this entire city ever since I came in here and you've tromped all over innocent people in your quest for domination." I paused and he lifted his head up to look me in the eyes. Those eyes...they didn't hold the same power over me anymore. He was weak. "You make me sick. I can't even look at you right now." I said, folding my arms and turning away. He angrily spat on the ground and sneered. I sensed his pompousness and strength were returning.
"Then don't look at me. Just kill me! I see the gun in your shirt. I'm not stupid. Do what you did to Tortimer. It'll make you feel such a big strong woman." I turned on my heel and scowled.
"How dare you compare the situation! You are a hideous, awful person who doesn't deserve to be even called a man! But...and I say but with heavy hesitation...Tortimer makes you look like a saint." He bit his lip.
"It's nothing to consider a compliment so don't ruffle your fur happily that I made such an admission." I fingered the weapon in my pocket. "You clearly have seen a dark side of me, a side that I regret to have let out of its cage. You know what I am capable of, which coul be a good thing in this scenario." I sighed. Glancing over to my left, I could see the cop cars approaching. I looked back at Nook. "Normally, I would want to suck the breath out of you because you're such a despiscable creature." I glanced down. "However, you deserve to replay those memories in your brain for the rest of the life." I stood up, smiling, and started to walk away.
Nook spoke up, his hoarse croak spilling out like a teenage boy's developing tonsils. "I'm not a special case?" I just smirked.
"Nope!" He scowled as I walked away. Chief Tank parked his cruiser alongside of me and hopped out. He brusquely ordered other officers to handle Nook and get him in police custody. He turned to me and asked if I was okay. I nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks. Get an all points bulletin out for that son of a fowl, Blathers. I want him. Alive. In my town." Chief Tank nodded and hurried off to process the APB. I strode into the town hall to check on the Alpaca Family and Isabelle. Thankfully, Isabelle had seemingly recovered and was offering around soup and crackers. Tyler was munching on the soup ravenously and Reese was helping Isabelle pass around the food. Cyrus silently pulled me aside and hovered over my desk to speak to me.
"I...just wanted to thank you. For saving me and my family." I smiled politely. "I can't thank you enough. I'm just grateful this whole...ORDEAL is over." He said, gesturing to Nook. I opened my mouth to reply when the loud screech of a dinosaur pierced all of our ears. Cyrus and I shared a laugh and I pulled him away from the serious discussion with a grateful smile, so we could eat some soup.
I ran into the apartment speedily. I prayed Cyrus and Reese weren't around to overhear me. Luckily, I think it was just Celeste. The Alpacas were out somewhere; the car was gone. I burst through the door to find my sister on the couch watching a soap opera. She looked up at me curiously; my face must have been priceless. I hurriedly rushed around, recklessly grabbing random things and throwing them in a pile. Celeste followed me to ask what I was doing.
"I don't have time to explain everything but we're in danger! We have to leave NOW." Celeste pursed her beak and quickly helped me pack. That's the greatest thing about sibling intuition. I didn't have to explain a thing. I didn't have to tell her anything. She just trusted me and knew that I was being truthful. My senses picked up the sound of sirens. I looked out the window and saw police cars heading this way. I stuffed everything we had gathered into a burlap satchel and held onto my sister's wing. "No time, let's GO!" She followed me out of the apartment and I rushed to make it downstairs and into the woods. We could either hide, run, or fly. Unfortuntately, the second we stepped onto the concrete pavement, we were surrounded. Police officers were pointing at us and demanded we put our hands in the air and knees on the ground.
An older lion with a white mane immediately handcuffed us and loaded us into a police car. I asked where we were going and he just sneered. "You're headed back to Griffin Beach."
The 40 minute drive was grueling and I couldn't look my sister in the eye. I'm sure Celeste had an idea what was going on, but she didn't know everything for sure. I couldn't explain. Not here. Definitely not now. I just had to wait or at least trust that my sister didn't totally hate my guts by now for getting us into such a heap of trouble. When we were finally back in Griffin Beach, Mayor Megan nearly pulled me of out of the squad car and shook me vigorously.
"You have to do something about these dinosaurs! Control them, kill them, shut them down...I don't care. Just do something!" My face paled and I immediately looked around. Where was Nook? Was he gone? What did he think about all this? Would he be mad if I disobeyed his initial orders and destroyed the dinosaurs? Mayor Megan scowled when I didn't answer and smirked when she realized why. "Boss Man Nook is arrested. He got busted and he'll be sitting in jail for a long, long time." I sighed and put my head down. There was no longer any authority to fear. No reason to worry that a henchman may shove me around if I didn't obey immediately, loyally or completely.
"Fine. I'll do something about the dinosaurs. I just ask that you do one thing for me in return." The human scoffed.
"You're barely in any position to bargain."
"I...I realize that. Just please...keep my sister somewhere safe while you and I round up all the dinosaurs." She rolled her eyes but acquiesced. I felt that when she acquiesced, her expression gained a subtle yet soft tone. It took a few minutes but I had the plan mapped out and the preparations complete. I was riding in the passenger seat of Mayor Megan's white jeep. The hardtop was off. My feathers whistled in the wind. I continued to call out to the dinosaurs and jingle a bell, a training bell I used to control them in the initial stages of prepping them. They followed me as Megan drove to the outskirts of Griffin Beach. I was their master.
The low purr of my Jeep was the only noise that could be heard. I kept my guard up and my suspicions heightened as I drove Blathers to the edge of town. I don't really know where Blathers is taking me and all the dinosaurs. We didn't discuss the details of the plan. While all was silent and the dinosaurs were compliantly huffing along, I figured I would ask. Blathers explained it was simple science. The formula he used to create the dinosaurs has a sulfuric like component that reacts violently with salt. That is when I was able to put two and two together and realize where we were headed to. Nadium Lake. Nadium Lake is the saltiest lake in the mountainous region between Coral Lakes and Griffin Beach.
It made sense.
That's when I saw the lake in front of me. Blathers jumped out of the Jeep and gestured for the dinosaurs to follow him. I watched in awe as they all herded themselves into the lake. Their joints and bones dissolved into sticky purple goo. The goo dripped into the lake. Upon contact with the salty water, steamy smoke rose up and fogged the entire area. A smell emitted due to this entire reaction and polluted the vicinity. I coughed violently and Blathers glanced back at me.
"This lake is going to become a toxic wasteland. It must never be used for drinking or swimming." No duh, Blathers. I think I could've figured that one without a Ph.D. As the last dinosaurs were dissolving, I watched Blathers pull the vials of his secret formula out of his pocket. I had demanded that he disposed of the contents. He turned to me and had a strange expression on his face. I couldn't describe it. He looked sad but at the same time he had an angelic aura about him. He was happy to be sad? Beats me..."Drive away while you still can." He said, cutting my confused reverie short. "Tell my sister I love her." I furrowed my eyebrows and just stared at the owl.
"Don't be stupid. I'm not going to just leave you here. Now, throw the vials in the lake and get in the jeep. I'm gagging."
"I can't." He said firmly. The owl looked down. "My conscience won't let me survive. I was the hands behind Nook's brain and the ultimate conspirator behind this whole project. I mean, come on, it's named AFTER ME!" After the short outburst, Blathers sighed and spoke quietly. "I can't stand myself.You're giving me the kindness and mercy I do not deserve." I didn't expect him to do that. If I was closer I would've stopped him. If it was possible, I would have jumped in the dang lake and pulled him out myself. He jumped in the water and poured the vials out. Some of the contents washed over him. I screamed out for him to stop but it was too late. There was nothing that could be done. There was a violent explosion and the smell became so rancid and pungent. I cowered behind my Jeep and coughed heavily. The smoke basically shielded the entire area and I couldn't see anything. Struggling heavily, I scrambled to get in my Jeep and drive away. I felt halfway dazed as I made my way out. I had no hard top or soft top to protect myself from the fumes. As I drove I thought I was going to collapse. I saw glittery stars and believed that I was going to pass out behind the wheel and crash into a tree.
It felt like destiny. Somehow, by the grace of Gog, I remained conscious. Ten minutes later, the smell was gone. I felt a little less lightweight. I looked back at the woods. The steamy fog was still rising and now, smoke from the explosion was billowing as well. I scoffed and shook my head with disbelief. I may have called the owl the son of a fowl, but I was actually going to let him live. Maganimity isn't a strong suit of mine, but I've been working on improving it lately.
After we had eaten the soup and waited for the threat of dinosaurs to disappear, Reese and Tyler and I had a bonding moment. We talked about old family memories, relished in the good ol' days, and dreamed about our future. It was a blissful moment to share nevertheless. Tyler was exploring the office (Isabelle was kind enough to give him a tour) while I sat alone with Reese. I was nervous to be alone with her since this was the first time we had been by ourselves since we were so dysfunctionally displaced. I expected emotions from her for sure. Anger, resentment...something. I figured I would be the target of blame. That's why I was surprised when Reese turned around and started talking civilly. She was opening up to me.
"I was too cold to you."
"What?" I asked, taken aback.
"I was too cold to you. I-I was so quick to shut down your advances. I was so abrupt with you and I shouldn't have been. You were only trying to improve the relationship. I let my stubborness and my feelings and my thoughts overshadow everything else...I'm sorry for being so unsure of myself. It wasn't--and isn't--fair to you." I looked down, unsure of what to say. "I realize now how much I love you. Being through all this...it's really changed our marriage and our lives but none of these events have ruined us. That's how I know we have a strong bond." She said with a warm smile. I couldn't help but smile back. "I was foolish for ever forgetting or questioning our strength in the first place. I should know that you love me and I should know that you're also human. In a metaphorical way of course." Reese laughed. I couldn't help but laugh with her. She suddenly got down on one knee and looked up at me. "Will you do me the great honor of being my husband again?"
I smirked. "I'm not usually the person that is in this type of position but I will respond nevertheless." She blushed. "When I married you, I pledged that it was for better or worse, and for richer or poorer. I made that promise for the rest of our lives. We may have had our ups and downs and I'm not going to claim being faultless in all of that. But believe me, babe, I never stopped." Reese jumped up and wrapped her arms around my shoulders. We embraced without having to say a word. We didn't need to; we just had that bond.
"Awwwwww OHMIGOSH YOU GUYSSSS!" Reese and I confusedly turned around to see Isabelle swooning over our sweetness. Tyler stuck his tongue out and pretended to be sick. Isabelle noticed and poked Tyler in the shoulder. "Oh stop it you. Don't be disrespectful. You'll be oogy over some alpaca girl sooner or later." Tyler scoffed but said nothing. I remember when I was like that. Isabelle glanced over at her brother Digby, who was standing next to her. "I feel like punching you in the stomach and hugging you to death like a giant teddy bear, Digby Parker." She said folding her arms. Digby smirked.
"For what? I saved the day!" He said, folding his hands on his hips and looking prideful. She shoved him gently.
"You also could have DIED." She said, placing heavy emphasis on that last word. She rolled her eyes and wrapped him into a hug. "I'm just glad you're okay too." Digby laughed. A sniffle in the corner roused everyone's awareness. Celeste was still sitting in the corner. I felt bad for her. She was worried about her brother. Understandably. Reese, Tyler and I kinda ignored her since she got here. Mayor Megan stuffed her in the Town Hall saying Blathers wanted her to stay somewhere safe. We tolerated her presence, but she was the enemy. It was difficult to ignore. Just as Isabelle was about to speak up and console her, Mayor Megan walked in the door.
Everyone stood up when I entered the town hall. There was a still vibe in the air. I could sense nervousness, tension and worry. But I also could sense a warm feeling of love and dedication. Opposites attract, I guess. Celeste was the first one to speak up. She asked where Blathers was. I sighed inwardly. I knew I had to relay the news in a gentle but firm way. It wasn't going to be easy. Not like something I've ever done before. I couldn't feel the words come out of my mouth but they did. I couldn't possibly delve into the emotions or I would break down. I had to be strong about it. As I told Celeste what happened, I watched her entire resolve disappear. She broke down into tears and was kneeling at my feet, bawling like a baby. I blinked away some tears myself and couldn't choke them back when Chief Tank came in. He wasn't prepared to encounter such a scene. The rhino confirmed that the dinosaurs were all gone. There was no trace of them. I nodded and told him to take Celeste downtown for processing. I really didn't want to do it. I REALLY DIDN'T but I knew it was the right thing to do. Justice needs to be served.
I glanced over at my brother who was standing in the corner. I asked him to take a walk with me. He looked confused but followed me outside. We walked down the torn up road, staring at the destruction and the damage. The asphalt was torn up. Buildings had gaping holes. Cars were smashed. Broken glass was scattered everywhere. Noah stared it all with me. We watched locals walk around and check everything out too. Their homes...their cars...their town...it was all damaged. I sighed and muttered under my breath to Noah.
"It's going to take a lot of time, money and patience to rebuild all this." Noah nodded.
"It will. I'll be by your side and help you every step of the way." I looked up at him with shock. He smiled to confirm his words. "I mean it, sis. I will help you through this and we can work it out. Together." I smiled and examined the wreck of the plane and helicopter.
"I'm sorry about your plane. I know it probably meant a lot to you." Noah scoffed and shook his head.
"You weren't sorry about my plane when you crashed it in 3rd grade." I rolled my eyes and looked at him with a jokingly disapproving glance. "All kidding aside, sis, destroying my C-39 Turbo was worth it. Charger died for a good cause." I stared at the plane and wondered the panic and fear rushing through my brother and Digby as they took Nook down. I shook my head.
"Thank you for saving the day." He frowned.
"Sis, it wasn't just me. We all--" I held my hand up.
"No, I'm serious. Never in a million years would I have thought that my brother Noah would save my town from the corrupt monster that has controlled it all these years. Never would I have thought that my brother would unconditionally be by my side and help protect the world we share and the town that means so much to me. I have been an awful sister and I hope that, somehow, I can make all of this up to you." I blinked away some tears; my emotions were reeling again. "You've forgiven me and I need to repay the favor." Noah wrapped an arm around my shoulder.
"You already have, sis. You have by just...being there and being you. You're a great mayor and a great person. And you know what? There's nothing I can do about it." He said with a sly grin. I couldn't stop laughing. The irony of the whole thing...it was too much for me to handle. Noah started to laugh along with me and before we know it, we were both laughing hysterically in the middle of such damage and destruction and metaphorical sadness. When we broke apart from our laughing session/half hug moment, I clapped Noah on the shoulder.
"You turned out to be a pretty great mayor too, little bro."