(A quiet chapter, because quiet chapter. I figured there needed to be a breather chapter in here somewhere)
That night, Shark lay wide awake in bed.
Sagebear was curled up next to him in a cozy-looking set of dog pajamas. Underneath her paws lay the teddy bear he’d given her. Dennis was working late tonight, leaving Sagebear and Shark the only ones at home.
Although it was nearing the end of February now, it was as cold as if it were still December. The moon was shining beatifically through the bedroom window, illuminating the snow on the ground.
Deciding he wasn’t going to get any sleep tonight, Shark got up out of bed. He took great precaution not to disturb Sagebear while she was slumbering.
Stepping out into the hallway, Shark fumbled around for the light switch. When he found it, he shielded his eyes as soon as the light came on.
Then, with sufficient illuminated eyesight, he wandered over to the kitchen area.
Neither Shark nor Dennis had really cooked anything since Sinbad left. When they did, it was usually very simple or basic things.
Looking over a box of corn muffin mix, Shark decided to give it a try, and pulled out the ingredients needed. Then he set the oven to preheat to the right temperature.
When he’d gotten it all mixed and put into the muffin tins, Shark heard the quiet tapping of little canine feet behind him.
Sagebear was wagging her tail and licking her lips, seemingly curious as to what he was whipping up.
After the oven was heated up, Shark quickly slid the muffin pan inside. He then set the timer for seventeen minutes, and bent down to scratch her behind the ears.
Sinbad sat on top of his sleeping bag, looking at the peculiar sculpture in the corner of the atelier.
Until recently, he was a bit worried about whether or not to touch it. He didn’t want to risk making Harwood mad.
In the end, he decided to satisfy his curiosity anyway. Getting to his feet, he approached it and gently ran his fingers across it.
The feeling of it absolutely fascinated him. Now Sinbad wondered if Harwood made it himself, or if it were a decorative piece by another sculptor.
When he was finished marveling over it, Sinbad stepped away to look the whole thing over. It wasn’t a particularly bad piece, but looking at it made his head hurt.
In the other room, the soft whirring of Marc’s breathing machine could be heard. Earlier, he’d heard the door to Harwood’s room open and close.
Sinbad wasn’t certain whether or not he was the one who turned the TV on, or if Marc just fell asleep with it on.
There wasn’t any volume, so he couldn’t say for sure. He did know it was the only electronic device on in the other room, if its glow seen under the door meant anything.
Quietly tiptoeing over to the door, Sinbad tried peeking through the crack in it. He didn’t get enough vision that way, though. After a bit of consideration, he slowly opened it.
Watching a now sleeping Ox-Head slumber away, Annette wondered how he actually took everything she’d told him.
She’d noted his lip quivering in sadness when she finished her lifelong tale. He then pushed the other pear she’d gotten him towards her, and grabbed his bucket for her to hug again.
Annette was still holding said bucket when Ox-Head tried on the shirt she had gotten for him. He then grinned widely, clearly liking his new outfit.
There was still some doubt as to whether black was really his color, but she thought it looked nice on him anyway.
But now he knew everything about her. Annette only hoped the traumatic events of her life didn’t give him nightmares.
Finally setting the bucket down, she saw herself out of the room. None of the other assistants could be heard or seen in the hallways.
Peeking into her and The Builder’s room, she saw them slumped over an oddly-shaped coffee table. A lit menthol cigarette dangled in between their fingers as they snored away. Their sunglasses had presumably fallen off their face onto the floor.
Annette decided to take the chance to sneak off to the hidden room, with the surveillance tapes she’d been meaning to finish watching.
Besides freezing in place after hearing The Builder snort in their sleep, Annette was able to find it with little trouble.
She had no idea if she’d have any company this time, but she felt The Builder’s Twin wanted her to see everything.
Shark pulled the now baked corn muffins out of the oven. All of them came out looking nice and properly cooked, much to his and Sagebear’s delight.
Sagebear clambered over to him as he set the muffins onto a plate, and then set that onto the breakfast table. Shark waved his hand over them, trying to get them to cool a little quicker.
He still hurt his hand by grabbing one, and blew on his hand for good measure. When he was able to handle it without it searing his hand, he sat down on the couch.
Right away, Sagebear jumped up on the couch next to him. She began sniffing the corn muffin he was holding. Shark responded by scratching under her chin.
Then he pulled off a chunk of his treat, and offered it to her. Sagebear sniffed it for a second or two, before snapping it up into her mouth.
Shark grinned as she gobbled it down, before eating the rest of it himself. When Sagebear started licking the crumbs off his face, the front door opened.
A tired-looking Dennis came in, trying to wipe off the snow on his head. Outside revealed that it had indeed begun to snow. When Sagebear saw him, she jumped off the couch and went to greet him.
After petting her on the head, Dennis turned his attention to the muffins on the table. Rubbing any sleep from his eyes, he looked over to his son to see if he could have one.
Immediately, Shark nodded. He and Sagebear certainly didn’t expect to eat the entire batch by themselves.
Grabbing his own muffin, Dennis then took a seat next to his son on the couch. He tried taking his boots off with one hand, and then leaned back.
When Sagebear leaped back up in between them, Shark turned on the TV. All three then watched the late-night programs in silence.
Harwood was watching TV in closed-captioned silence when Sinbad came out of the atelier.
He was baffled at the recent events that had been happening in Riverview, and as an elderly man was glad he didn’t choose to live there.
Sipping his late night tea, Harwood looked over at Sinbad when he was coming over. He quickly put a finger over his lips, and pointed to Marc on the couch.
Marc himself was dead to the world, with his arm hanging over the other side of the sofa. A blanket hung over his legs, lending evidence that he’d kicked it off in his sleep.
Taking a seat across from Harwood, Sinbad watched as he pushed an empty tea cup in front of him. Getting the idea, Sinbad poured himself some of the still warm liquid.
Already he found the current news report to be freakishly confusing. He raised an eyebrow and looked back to Harwood for answers. Harwood just shrugged, still not understanding himself.
When the broadcast was ending, Marc groaned loudly in his sleep. It was sudden enough that Sinbad nearly fell out of his chair in shock.
Just before he stumbled to the floor, Harwood grabbed him by the arm, and pulled him back up.
He didn’t even notice he’d spilled his tea in the process. Seeing the golden-yellow liquid staining the floor worried him deeply, but Harwood only waved it off like it was no big deal.
Sitting back down, both men watched the next show start.
Much to her relief, Annette found The Twin and Horse-Face’s companion in the hidden room. Even more relieving was that Horse-Face himself wasn’t there.
Checking to make sure she wasn’t followed, Annette closed the door and sat down. Right away, The Twin pulled out the next DVD for her to watch, and started it.
The black-and-white footage showed the same woman from the other videos, albeit crouching down away from the camera.
Annette bit her lip, wondering what could be wrong with her this time. She also noticed The Twin looking away, covering their mouth and trembling.
Horse-Face’s companion crawled over to them, holding them in a tentative embrace. The young man patted their back, seemingly aware of who the woman in the video was.
Keeping her hands to herself, Annette continued watching, holding her breath.
In the video, the woman was now scratching various words that didn’t seem to make much sense in the wall. Annette recognized them as Latin, but didn’t know what she was trying to say.
When the last word was scratched in, the woman stepped back and looked directly into the camera. Her eyes were intense and piercing, even with a no color video. She then pointed to the words being repeated on the wall.
Annette then gasped quietly when the woman smoothed out her dirty gown, revealing what looked to be a large bump on her stomach. She gently rubbed it, giving a clue as to what she held within.
Looking back over at the other two, Annette finally realized who it was in the video. Leaning over, she wrapped her arms around both the young man and The Twin.
The Twin readjusted themself, holding both her and Horse-Face’s companion with an arm. Stretching an arm out, Annette stopped the video.