(Warning! For an ableist slur, implied violence against a minor, and some other general fuckery)
Sinbad quietly stared through the glass window into the other room.
According to the doctor, Amy was already well into labor by the time she arrived. When he himself arrived, she was already in the process of pushing.
Rather than ask her why she waited so long, Sinbad just went in and tried giving what little support he could.
Now, all he could do was stare at the miniature humans, just on the other side of the window. Many of them were screaming at the top of their lungs, making for an interesting, if deafening screech fest.
He hadn’t missed the confused looks of the nurses as they held the newborn. Sinbad kept his mouth shut, however, knowing he didn’t want to admit the truth.
He watched Amy’s new baby, thrashing about and howling particularly loudly. What bothered him was that none of the staff seemed to notice or care.
Walking away, Sinbad leaned on the nearest wall. Knowing he had to be happy for Amy’s healthy new baby boy, he was instead preoccupied with the dilemma in regards to Shark.
Knowing he had to go leave to find him, Sinbad started off to Amy’s room.
Before Sagebear knew it, she’d found herself on the other side of town. She wasn’t fond of the wretched smells that came from the swamp.
Taking a quick break to scratch herself and go to the bathroom, Sagebear took notice of a distant cry. She raised an ear to listen better, and heard it again.
“Bruf?” She’d heard the voice many times back at the house, knowing it to be Shark. Instead of pleasure, however, this time his cries were riddled with pain.
Frantically, Sagebear dashed off in search of the howling. Before long, she found herself at an unfamiliar house. His cries were now better heard as actual screaming.
Pawing at the front door yielded no results. Try as she might, Sagebear was unable to get into the house.
She turned back. Now, Sagebear was on her way to find Sinbad.
Annette waited until she was certain The Builder was asleep. It was hard to tell, given her new spouse had no eyes.
She at least knew it was only a matter of time when they removed their sunglasses. Annette remained in wait, until their light snoring sounded natural enough. When hopefully enough time had elapsed, she crept out of the room.
The base had calmed down considerably. Although time didn’t seem to move in this place, Annette was sure the assistants considered it night.
Little if any noise could be heard, save for Ox-Head’s prattling and a much fainter series of footsteps. Remembering where all the rooms were, Annette entered his and Horse-Face’s room.
“Mice hate these flowers! Why don’t The Builder know that?” Ox-Head, strangely enough, was still awake. He was busy arranging red spider lilies when Annette walked in.
She immediately got his attention. “Where’s your partner?”
Ox-Head stopped, dropping a bouquet in the process. He quickly pointed towards a seemingly blank-looking wall.
“He went through there! I think he can walk through walls. Is he the Matrix?” He then gave a short yelp, and held his head. “Gah! I promised him not to tell anybody! Don’t tell him I told you!”
Annette was more concerned as to how he wasn’t dead. “Shouldn’t you be covered in third degree burns, or something like that?”
He raised his hand up, as if to look at it. “I dunno. Oh, hey! You wanna see something cool?”
Before Annette could stop him, Ox-Head was pulling his mask off.
Halfway back to Amy’s room, Sinbad was stopped by the overhead intercom, asking for security.
According to the announcement, people were to be on the lookout for a gray dog wandering the premises. The request was repeated, and then the intercom shut off.
“Gray dog…? Oh, jeez…” Sinbad facepalmed, only to be alerted by Sagebear biting his pant leg. “What? You’re not supposed to be in here!”
Sagebear persisted, mainly by pulling and then barking. Turning to look back at Amy’s room, he sighed and ended up following her.
It didn’t take long for Ox-Head to begin spinning his head around, projectile vomiting in a circle. The only thing Annette could really do was watch in mortified amazement.
“Um…” She glanced over to where he’d pointed. Nothing happened. She weighed her choices of continuing to watch, or sneaking into what may have been a hidden passageway.
Then she realized she had time to do both.
“All right, now look. Knock that off-” Annette’s dress was now spattered with barf as she approached him. Quickly reaching in, she took hold of his ears.
His reaction wasn’t one she wanted.
Ox-Head stopped puking, but then let loose with an ear-piercing shriek. Almost immediately she let go of him, but he didn’t stop. Trying to shush him did nothing.
Annette could hear a loud thumping from above her, followed by The Builder’s irate voice shouting, “Shut the fuck up, you retarded cambion!”
Knowing what might happen, Annette dashed toward the wall. Smacking it a few times, she was taken aback when it opened up. Taking this to be a form of serendipity, she ran in to escape Ox-Head’s screaming.
Sinbad recognized the swamp house all too well.
He remembered it to be the main operational base he and Dennis worked out of. At the least, he recalled the copious amounts of meth that had been made in the place.
“You sure you got the right place, dog?” He asked as Sagebear pawed at the front door. Sagebear looked over at him, and wagged her tail. “Right, just a sec…”
Sinbad tried opening the door, but found it locked. Yanking on it didn’t help, either. Finally, as a last resort, Sinbad rammed into the door, taking it off its hinges.
“Shark! Shark, you here?” The person that ran up the stairs leading to the basement was most definitely not him.
Sagebear began growling. All Sinbad could say was, “You…!”, and proceeded to emulate her.
Shark could hear voices above him. It mostly consisted of Sagebear loudly barking, and Sinbad angrily shouting.
As tempted as he was to call out to Sinbad, Shark just bit his lip. The sound of someone being thrown against the wall could then be heard.
“You were behind this?! You sick little fuck! I’m gonna rip your miserable little head off!” Shark could practically feel Sinbad’s intense fury from inside the basement.
Sagebear’s barking stopped, only to be replaced by his captor’s anguished screeching.
Then nothing, save for rapid footsteps leading away from the house. Trying to lean in as far as he could, Shark licked his lips, and finally called:
“Sinbad?” He didn’t get a verbal response.
He did hear someone coming down the stairs, and get the sensation of someone vigorously sniffing his feet. Then his blindfold was pulled off, revealing a very welcome sight.
“Sinbad! Sagebear!” The dog was shown to be the one sniffing his feet. Sinbad walked behind him, and undid his bindings.
“You okay, man?” Shark just wrapped his now free arms around his fiance.
All Shark could really say now was a choked up, “get me out of here.”
The new passageways were certainly nothing Annette was used to. It at least got her away from Ox-Head’s frightening behavior.
Instead of stone, the walls were made of wood, and only painted to look like stone. The further she went in, the shoddier the paint got.
“…Kind of wish she wasn’t trapped here with us…” Horse-Face’s voice could be heard nearby. Alongside his voice, the sound of machines whirring could also be heard. Wandering into view, Annette saw him sitting next to the source of the mechanical sounds.
“Who are you talking to?” Her query gave Horse-Face a jolt out of his conversation. Turning to look at her, he quickly insisted he wasn’t speaking to anybody but himself.
Knowing he’d been caught, Horse-Face sighed, and slumped down. He then walked over and looked into another passageway.
“You can come out now. She knows the two of you are here.” When he stepped back, Annette watched as two unknown figures entered the room.
One wore an outfit similar to Horse-Face’s, save for a face-obscuring hood. The other bore a striking resemblance to The Builder, but with eyes and a worried look.
Horse-Face seemed not to be upset by being interrupted. Instead, he stepped back near Annette.
“I can see Ox-Head tried entertaining you,” he said while pointing at her vomit-soaked dress.
Shark remained quiet as he sat in the passenger’s seat of Sinbad’s truck. Sagebear lay in his lap, being absent-mindedly petted.
“We’re almost at Blaise’s house. That’s, uh, that’s where your dad and uncle are right now. I think. We were going to go out and look for you, but I guess the dog did that for us.”
Sinbad’s words went ignored. For the rest of the truck ride, there was silence besides Sagebear’s panting.
Upon reaching Blaise’s house, Sinbad calmly lifted Sagebear out of Shark’s lap. In return, Shark reluctantly stumbled out of the truck.
The front door swung open, and Dennis practically flew down the front steps:
“Boy! Oh hell, what’s happened to you?!”
The moment Shark saw his father, he broke into a run, opening his arms and shouting, “Daddy!” Sinbad could only watch as the two men held each other tight.
“So who are these three?” Annette sat gingerly on the edge of the gurney that held the person on life support.
Horse-Face clasped his hands behind his back, and looked down at his feet. “Well, the one you’re sitting next to? In layman’s terms, that’d be your mother-in-law.”
This sounded too hard to believe for her. “You’re telling me this,” she motioned to the comatose body before gesturing towards the main section of the base, “created that?”
“Yes. And this,” Horse-Face said as they gestured towards The Builder’s doppelganger, “would be your sibling-in-law. They are…let’s say they’re different in plenty of ways.”
“Show me, then.” Annette showed caution in the event that Horse-Face was lying.
Nodding, Horse-Face tapped the doppelganger’s shoulder. In response, they opened their mouth to speak.
Instead of words, Annette felt the room shake. This prompted The Builder to yell, “What the fuck was that?!” When she turned her attention back to the double, they’d clapped a hand over their mouth.
“See?” Horse-Face then began searching for something, possibly writing materials. “In case you’re wondering, they can’t talk. Well, they can, but they’d need a ‘filter’.”
“A ‘filter’? What, like some kind of deciphering program?”
Horse-Face shook his head. “No, like someone to whisper into the ear of.” To demonstrate, the twin uncovered the hooded figure’s ear, and spoke into it.
At once, the young man spoke. “Sorry about that.”
“Wait, who’s speaking? The kid, or the twin?” Annette felt she should have known the answer, but also felt the need to ask.
“I am.” The voice was from the hooded figure, but the twin then pointed to themselves. “It’s confusing, I know. But this way I don’t cause damage or keep alerting my twin.
“And it’s how I’ve been talking to Horse-Face, here. I doubt either of them really appreciate it, but I didn’t want to waste paper, either.” The twin broke off at that point.
Hearing the young man’s wavering voice made Annette feel bad for him. It didn’t even matter that it wasn’t actually him speaking.
Wrapping a blanket around Shark, Dennis sat next to him in an effort to calm him.
“All right, boy. I know you probably don’t want to, but…Can you tell your Uncle Dudley what all transpired?” His answer came in the form of a headshake.
“I don’t really know. I was blindfolded. And I kept having all these horrible things done to me, and…Yeah, I don’t know.”
Sinbad tapped Dennis on the shoulder. “I know who started it.” He then whispered his earlier events into Dennis’ ear. The more he spoke, the more disturbed his face became. After Sinbad pulled away, Dennis could only look at him in disgust.
“Are you sure?” Sinbad just nodded.
“If you went home, I bet you that it’d all be true…”
Lolly was sitting home watching TV when her father came home.
“Hi, Daddy!” Her cheery demeanor did little to change his grim expression. He merely stared at her, growling softly.
“Child…Stand up.” His tone demanded she obey. Slowly, she did so, revealing a fresh bite wound on her lower leg.
He stared at the bite mark, knowing what Sinbad had told him was right. “Best you start explaining yourself, child.” Dennis crossed his arms.
Lolly feigned ignorance. “Explain for what? I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“Don’t you dare try that tactic with me. I already know what you tried to pull on your brother…”
After everyone had made it to the police station, Sinbad made his way back to the hospital.
Even though she’d been waiting longer than expected, Amy was still happy to see him. In her arms she breastfed her new son, while she was contemplating papers in need of signing.
“That must’ve been a bad case of a bellyache, if you took that long!” Amy giggled at her attempt at a joke. Sinbad just gave a chuckle so as not to make her feel bad.
“Yeah.” He glanced at the papers, curious. “What’s all those for?”
Amy looked back down while getting a better grip on the baby. “Oh…Just some forms I need to sign. You know, release form, maternity leave, all that.”
“Uh…Okay.” Something told Sinbad not to buy that explanation completely.