“Aha! I got ya!” Jera victoriously declared as he hopped down from the ceiling, or whatever this dimension had above our heads, and threw a net over Minna.
Minna yelled, “It’s the D!”
Jera confusedly responded, “Pardon me?”
“It’s the answer to the riddle,” Minna explained. “I gave you the answer, so now you have to let me go!”
“No! That was the last trap, you twit!” Jera barked. “And how did you figure that out anyways?”
Minna confidently stated, “I love everything about the D!”
Aidan interjected, “Bleck! You didn’t have to go there, you know that, right?”
“Oh, crap!” Jera groaned as he stared at Aidan and me quite lamentably. “Wade’s gonna kill me!”
“Isn’t it too late for that?” I taunted him.
Jera differed, “You know what I mean! I’ve done so much work to make this moment happen! I had to infiltrate the court system, manufacture black market items to fundraise for all of the necessary expenses, persuade a cult to go in another direction, and get a ton of sweat stains out of my clothes!” We ogled at him blankly, so he clarified, “It’s really humid here! And do you know how hard it is to do laundry when you’re on the run? Part of the reason I convinced ‘Mother’ to buy property was for the access to a washing machine! Apparently, she previously wanted to teach them humility! Psh! What a terrible week!”
Minna inquired, “I’m sorry, are you trying to get us to feel pity for your plight? Aren’t you trying to murder us?”
“You don’t get it!” Jera replied in anguish. “I’m doing this for your own good! Humanity has been nothing but cruel to each other! The planet doesn’t deserve that!”
“Humanity has done a lot of good too though!” Aidan argued. “When disaster strikes, people risk their lives to save strangers! When disease is rampant, so many individuals dedicate their entire being into caring for the sick and coming up with a cure to end their suffering! When famine breaks out, so do food donations! Heck, humans even built the washers you’re so fond of! Yes, there are some rotten ones out there, but most of us are truly decent if you give us the chance!”
Jera dismissed his speech, “A few charitable deeds don’t make up for all of the damage human beings have caused!”
I countered, “Says who? Who are you to judge? Your deception in the legal system took away justice from a lot of innocent victims, and the drugs you sold hurt and destroyed a lot of families! You manipulated enough people to get your way, and granted ‘Mother’ kinda did the same thing and deserved a little, you screwed over mostly honorable citizens! And for what? A delusional dream of a Fay’s utopia? You’re not destined for paradise- at the rate you’re going, you’re heading straight to Hell, and you deserve whatever punishment they give you on the other side!”
After I spoke, the floor beneath Jera began to open up! Aidan and I grabbed Minna, and we pulled her away from harm in the nick of time! A deep pit of fire and brimstone sucked Jera inside! Once the chasm closed and the skies returned to normal, I recalled, “Ah, that’s right! The whole purpose of this space is to make the case for Fay Folks to go to Heaven! Or not!”
Suddenly, ropes flew out and wrapped tightly around our torsos! We could hardly move, and Wade celebrated, “Ha-ha! I did it! I won! Though I’m pissed you removed my foster brother! Now, I’ll have to use some of my precious energy to dispose of you! I was trying to make sure I had enough to obliterate the Fate Particle’s wall and evoke the apocalypse!”
Aidan proposed, “You don’t have to waste your magic on us! We can’t really move, so you can work without interruption! And you can force us to perish with the rest of Earth!”
“Hmm…” Wade considered this notion for a second. “Nah! If you want me to do it, it’s probably not in my best interest! Nice try though!” As Wade raised his wand, I concentrated as hard as I could in producing a spell without a wand, but nothing was coming out! Panic started to set in- I couldn’t believe we went so far only to wind up with such an unjust ending! Villains aren’t supposed to conquer heroes, that’s not the course the epic journey was meant to take! I feared we were done for… until…
“Wade! You son of a bitch!” a woman around his age with teak skin covered in spots of dirt, thick & dark hair with twigs sticking out, and a tattered prison guard uniform held her wand in a threatening manner to him.
Wade nearly tripped over himself in shock upon her entrance! He sputtered, “Martina! I… You… How did you…?”
Martina indicated to someone behind her. “How did I get here? I had a bit of help…”
Peeking behind her was a very familiar blue Fay who sheepishly waved to us. “Hey!”
“Ben!” I gasped. “How did you find us?”
‘Well, I figured you’d come here to confront Wade eventually,” Ben illuminated us. “Then when Officer Pálido here said she was trying to find him, I recommended she check here.”
I snarled, “Did it occur to either of you that this might be useful information to the FBI?”
Ben apologized, “Sorry, babe!”
“Didn’t I tell you not to call me that?” I vexedly reminded him.
“I thought that was just when we were working together!” Ben contended.
I shot back, “It’s never okay! We haven’t been married for two years now!”
Prior to the continuation of this argument, Martina intervened, “Uh, could you two zip it? I didn’t travel to the underworld just to listen to your drama!”
“Actually, we’re above the planet,” Wade corrected her, “so we’re not in the under-.”
“Shut up, you double-crossing gilipollas!” Martina spat.
Wade wondered, “Where did you get a new wand? I still have yours!”
Martina repeated, “Shut up!”
Wade aimed the wand in his hand at her and queried, “What do you want? An apology? An explanation? To finish what we started in that hospital bed?” He gazed at her hopefully.
“No!” she resolutely affirmed.
“Oh, then you think you’re gonna get revenge for hurting your feelings then?” Wade surmised with an arrogant smirk. “Well, sweetheart, I hate to break it to you…” As he spoke, I concentrated all of my energy to will my magic to manifest itself without a wand. “… No, that’s not true! I thoroughly look forward to telling you this!” I could sense our confines getting looser… “I can best anyone who dares to fight me!” Freedom was eminent… “So, this show was worth it to you! It’s gonna be the last thing you’ll ever do! No one can stop me!”
I brazenly ordered my wand, “Cuff him!” My overenthusiasm produced an abundance of shackles to appear! Wade attempted to halt the pathway of one of them, but too many of them were flying in all different directions, and he inevitably got bound at every major joint! “Man, I can’t believe we thought these wands were weak! Can you imagine if the kids knew this when they had them?”
Wade sneered, “No. What kind of question is that?”
“I wasn’t talking to you!” I stood over him and formally announced, “Wade Toonella, you’re under arrest!”
“Can you two get him out of here?” Aidan appealed to Ben and Minna. “I don’t want him to land on the Island of Death- he doesn’t deserve it!”
Ben asked, “He doesn’t? It sounds like he does…”
Minna answered him, “No, trust me! It does the opposite of what you’d expect it to! I… Why are you staring at me like that?”
“Oh, sorry!” Ben snapped out of his torpor and shyly smiled at Minna. “You’re just really pretty…”
“I am?” Minna became very bashful from his sentiments. “You know, I might get really obsessed with you…”
Ben returned with, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?”
Minna blinked in a pleasant surprise, but prior to her getting to verbalize her reaction, Martina demanded, “Can we go already? This place is kinda creepy…” Martina linked arms with Ben as he did the same for Minna, who was making goo-goo eyes at him as she held onto Wade. Martina addressed Aidan and me, “I left the backdoor open, so you can use that if you don’t wanna go through the maze again.”
Aidan catechized, “Huh? How’d you get through there?” They disappeared preceding a chance for her to explain it, which aggravated Aidan initially. He shortly shrugged it off, turned to me, and enquired, “Ready to go?”
“Nah! Let’s stay awhile!” I sarcastically told him. He chuckled, and as we walked hand in hand towards the exit, I mused, “It appears as though I’ll be getting my fibroids removed after all! But I’m still keeping Doctor Iona as my ob/gyn!”
“It’ll be nice to come here and not do any forced labor!” Aidan remarked.
We fell face first onto the grassy terrain! Moe checked in on us, “Are you two alright?”
As we collected ourselves, I assured him, “Actually, I feel better than ever!”
“It says here it got rid of uterine fibroids from the female,” Moe read from a nearby rock. “And it says it cured the male of a cancerous polyp.”
“Wow, I didn’t know I had that!” Aidan commented.
Moe quizzed him, “Really? You didn’t get your colon checked? Aren’t you over forty?”
Aidan huffed, “Barely!”
We climbed onto his back, and as our giant lizard friend glided to the shore, I posed to Aidan, “Is it weird that our exes are an item now?”
Cracking a grin, Aidan opined, “A tad, but not as weird as them meeting in the realm between Heaven and Hell! And our mode of transportation is a mythological reptile…” We all tittered at his quip, and as odd as this picture may have been in reality, I relaxed from the relief of this exhaustive ordeal finally coming to a finish!
When Aidan and I strolled up to the farm, Laraleigh proclaimed, “They’re alive! Didn’t I tell you they would survive?”
Mom ran up to us and squeezed us tightly enough that Aidan croaked out, “I’m not so confident that’ll last though!”
Samena approached us and extended her hand, which we shook. “Glad to meet you two officers! Forgive me for investigating you, but it was obvious you were lying! I didn’t have a clue it was for Witness Protection though- I thought you were connected to the cult I was investigating!”
“We were eventually!” I acknowledged.
“Speaking of apologies…” Clifton and Agent Hearne came over, and Agent Hearne ruefully conveyed to us, “The FBI deeply regrets overlooking the connection to Wade that wound up putting you into jeopardy! To make up for it, we’d like to give you a free weekend at a seaside resort!”
I was about to point out that a small vacation couldn’t have possibly made up for putting us in mortal peril, but then Laraleigh pressed them, “Can I send the kids to their grandparents and bring my husband?” Agent Hearne nodded, and Laraleigh shrieked out in delight.
This development made me grimace, but Aidan consoled me, “At least we’ll have our own room!” I gestured in acceptance of his logic, and I found comfort in knowing I could return home after this!
Okay, so this story set in Hawaii does have a cliché beach scene after all! Aidan and I dined at an outdoor restaurant that overlooked the ocean, and I happily sighed, “I’m so relieved we can finally be alone!”
“Sorry to interrupt!” Chief Mazarine appeared at our table with Sandra. “We’re here for some unfinished business.”
“Yes, business… It’s not about paperwork that we could have finished over the phone…” Sandra shiftily darted her focus back and forth. Aidan and I spotted her husband in the distance wearing a tropical shirt and a sunhat, and we couldn’t resist giggling as we waved to him.
Chief Mazarine encouragingly regarded us, “Yeah, so I know you’re tired of talking about the case, but you should feel good knowing it’s ‘cause we’re closing it!”
I asserted, “I sincerely hope this is truly closed and that we’ll never have to go through this ever again!”
Sandra unflappably articulated, “I’m certain it is! I mean, it’s not like a dying, imprisoned man can break out and try to destroy the world again, right?” She guffawed at the premise, but the rest of us did not. Chief Mazarine took out his file on us, and as the documents got filled out, I prayed that the angst I felt at this juncture simply stemmed from anxiety over the possibility that she raised of Wade resurfacing into our lives once more and that our misadventures were done at long last! Fingers crossed our happily ever after stays happy this time!”