The place Annette had been taken to felt eerily familiar. It was simply hard to tell, given how hazy everything looked.
What she could make out looked disgusting. Various rusted pipes were leaking from the ceiling. Several floor tiles had been loosened and broken to pieces, or just chipping away. There looked to be mold growing on the walls.
But what stuck out to everyone was the distorted weeping coming from inside of one of the rooms.
“When are we going back to my tea party?” Annette asked The Twin in a pleading tone. “The others still need their tea! I can’t leave them without it!”
The Twin just looked over at Horse-Face’s companion. In response, he nodded.
“I don’t think it’ll wreck her mental state too much further now.” Taking this as the go ahead, The Twin led both him and Annette toward the source of the sounds.
As soon as the chaos out in the main part of the palace died down, Shark left with the picture he was shown.
He hadn’t been told anything by Sebastian. The entire time, he’d remained silent as Shark waited for an answer.
It were almost as if a tragedy had rendered the man speechless. Further questions didn’t elicit a peep out of him.
Shark had just put the photo into his pocket when he saw two figures running up to him. The first was Sagebear, who quickly jumped up on his legs. The second was Marc, who wrapped his arms around him.
“There you are! We’ve all been worried, I’ll tell you!” Marc said as he hugged his half-brother’s fiance tightly. “Bro’s been worried sick and throwing up for you!”
“Marc?” It seemed odd that it was Marc and not any of the others that came for him. Shark decided not to question it, and just went along with him.
On their way towards finding the person sobbing, Annette watched with a bizarre curiosity as two figures passed by her. Their faces and figures were too obscured to make out who they were.
“Aww, what’s wrong with those two? What happened to their faces?” As if hearing her, one of them seemed to look back at the group before continuing to walk off.
Horse-Face’s companion sighed. “Time’s trying to erase them completely. Come on. We’re almost there.”
When The Twin peeked into the room that was open, they nodded once and led Annette and the young man in.
At the other side of the room, there was a pitiful sight. On a soiled mattress, covered with a white sheet, a young man lay naked and trembling.
Like the two people Annette saw before him, his face was blurred. Unlike them, however, it only affected his eyes.
Given the way Horse-Face’s companion reached towards him, it was apparent that this was him on the mattress.
Then, without warning, the lights in the building shut off. Everything was left in a state of pitch-black darkness.
“Hey, Marc?” Shark asked as they were on their way home, with Sagebear leading the way. “What was it like living with Sinbad in Bridgeport?”
“Hm?” Marc seemed caught off-guard or just distracted. “Oh, well…He was usually working. Sometimes he brooded a lot. Other times, he and I went out on the town!”
Here Marc chuckled at the times he managed to get Sinbad out of the house and doing something. He then sobered up again.
“But yeah. He missed you a lot. That answers your question, hopefully?”
Shark just nodded. He assumed he was only asking to get an idea of what happened To Sebastian’s mystery significant other.
Rubbing Sinbad’s back while he was bent over the toilet, Harwood felt a sense of relief when he heard the front door open.
Marc’s voice was heard cheerfully announcing he’d found Shark. Sagebear reinforced it by baying happily.
“Hey,” he said as she shook Sinbad by the shoulder, “sounds like they’re back. Come on.”
When Sinbad finished hurling, and flushed the toilet, he steadied himself against the wall as he pulled himself up. He then wiped his mouth as he followed Harwood out to the living room.
Blaise and Dennis were already hugging Shark close, squeezing him tightly. They did step back to give Sinbad a turn, though.
Sinbad couldn’t find the words to express his jubilation at seeing that Shark was all right.
For an undetermined amount of time, the darkness felt like it was weighing down heavily on them.
Annette started pulling on The Twin’s arm, begging to go back and resume her teatime.
“They’re going to get mad with me if I don’t get back soon-” but she was silenced by a hand on her mouth, and The Twin making a shushing motion.
Horse-Face’s companion looked back toward the door, not wanting to look at himself on the mattress anymore.
Out in the hallway, a bright orange glow was approaching. Then came disgruntled muttering about the lights getting turned off.
“He’s coming,” the young man whispered. The blurred vision of one of the earlier figures then entered, seemingly phasing through The Twin.
Now Annette watched as he knelt down in front of the young man on the mattress. In a moment of lucidity, she realized it had to have been Horse-Face that came back. Said lucid moment brought back the intense hatred, if only for a few seconds.
Then, the vision started to distort more so than usual. It didn’t get much farther than Horse-Face smoothing away his companion’s hair, before the entire thing disintegrated.
Immediately after they returned to reality, Annette collapsed in front of the dolls, apologizing profusely to them.
Leaving her to do so, The Twin and Horse-Face’s companion disappeared back into the hidden passageway.
Both of them hoped that what she just saw wouldn’t wreck her mental state even further.