'Til Death Do Us Part

By: Kickbutt 297

Part 1- Ghost Goggles

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Jimmy watches with wide eyes as he reaches over to grab a handful of popcorn, never taking his eyes off the screen.

Girl: No, please, no!....AHHHHHHHH!

SWICK!

A nasty sound of blood makes everybody winch. Cindy looks to her right to Libby's, Sheen's, and Jimmy's frightened faces, and almost laughs out loud at Carl. She throws a curnel at Jimmy. It bounces right off his head as he looks, annoyed, at her only to see her grinning with silent laughter. She points to Carl to Jimmy's right. Carl's face is hid behind his popcorn box, shaking vigorously and dropping a litter of popcorn on the theater floor. Jimmy looks back to Cindy with a grin, but is soon directed back to the movie as a pretty blonde girl enters an office and leans on the desk.

Girl: She was killed.

A fat man in overalls behind the counter didn't look too interested.

Man: There's no proof-

Girl: Don't tell me about proof, Chief Holadrawn! She was murdered, I heard her cries!

Suddenly the lights go out in the movie. Carl starts to whimper.

Carl: Get out! Get out!

Jimmy: He's coming!

The door suddenly burst open to a man with a crazy grin, a blood-stained shirt, and an axe in his right hand.

Crazy Guy: Party's over!

He raises his axe and you see it dripping with blood. He brings it down hard and repeats this as screams fill the theater. All the kids' eyes are wide as he laughs will he chops.

Girl: NOOOOOOOOOO!

She suddenly grips the man's arm and stops him. She whispers weakly.

Girl: I love you...Dad.

The whole audience gasps in surprise. Jimmy points to an accusing finger to the screen.

Jimmy: I knew it!

Cindy: You did not!

Sheen, Libby, and Carl look at one another, annoyed. Jimmy and Cindy had been fighting all the way home. Libby finally decides to attempt to reason with them.

Libby: Maybe Jimmy really did figure it out before Taylor revealed the psycho's identity, Cindy.

Cindy: Yeah right, Libby. And spotted jellybeans are building a vast empire inside my nose.

Jimmy: You do know that's possible, right?

Cindy: That's not the point!

Sheen: Awe, c'mon, you guys, lighten up. At least the guy was caught at the end.

Voice: You know it's based on a true story, right?

They all turn slightly to see Nick Dean walking behind them. Instantly Cindy felt her face go hot and her eyes soften.

Cindy: Hey Nick.

Nick: Hey. So, you guys checked out Psycho Cop?

He took his lolly pop out of his mouth and smiled coolly.

Nick: Scared?

Libby: Yeah right, it was more suspenseful than it was scary.

Cindy: Yeah, I wasn't scared.

Jimmy: No, me neither.

Sheen: If Ultralord didn't freak out, I didn't.

They all look towards Carl. Carl still looks shaky, but instead of answering them he looks toward Nick.

Carl: Is it really based on a true story?

Nick: Sure, that guy lived in a house not too far from here. One rainy night his wife got killed in a car accident and he lost his mind. That's why his daughter was a cop. Legend has it that you can still hear the guy's insane laugh echoing through the house.

Jimmy: That's not true!...right?

Nick: Sure it is, that's where they got the idea for the movie.

Jimmy: Well, maybe there was a crazy guy who used to live nearby, but there are not such things as ghosts. You're just saying that to scarce us.

Nick puts on an angry look and points his pop at Jimmy.

Nick: Oh yeah, Neutron? Why don't you go down there and see for yourself?

Jimmy opens his mouth to make a comeback, but suddenly he looks surprised and puts his hand to his chin, smiling devilishly.

Jimmy: Hmmmm...maybe I can...

Nick: Whadda ya mean?

Jimmy: I owe you an apology, Nick. Instead of being your usual snobby self, you've actually given me a brilliant idea.

He turns around and started walking home mumbling to himself about his new idea. Nick rolled his eyes.

Nick: Whatever.

He puts his hands in his pockets and walks away down the street. Cindy says bye to everyone else as they all head home, and runs to catch up with Jimmy. She stops and walks beside him.

Cindy: Whatta you thinkn' up now, Neutron?

Jimmy: I wonder if it's possible to create a device that allows you to see ghosts.

Cindy: You juts said ghosts don't exist!

Jimmy: They don't if my Ghost Goggles don't pick them up.

Cindy: Ghost Goggles?

Jimmy: Yeah! All you have to do is insert a microchip with a tracking device capable of identifying beings beyond a physical state into a pair of special designed glasses and vo'la.

Cindy stares at him.

Cindy: Jimmy, you really need to get out more.

She crosses the street to her house as Jimmy does the same, only he goes strait to his clubhouse and into his lab. As he walks in Goddard jumps up from his bed and greets him.

Goddard: Bark!

Jimmy: Hey boy.

Jimmy was too occupied to say anything else. He rushes over to a wooden shelf and takes out a pad of paper and a sharp pencil. He goes over to a table, pulls up a chair and turns on a light.

Jimmy: Ok, let's do this.

And he begins to draw. Instead of showing every little detail of his invention building, we see him screwing pieces off of a pair of sunglasses, and next thing you know the glasses are green with thick blade lenses and a visible compartment on the side, with four wires coming out the sides; a red one, a blue one, a yellow one, and a black one. Jimmy walks over to his computer and presses a few buttons. The computer screen shows a high-tech diagram of the glasses, and a small box popped up on the screen with a waiting curser. Jimmy typed GHOST and clicked COPY. The screen shows a bar that's slowly filling with red and shows how much percent is compete at the bottom. It suddenly says COPY COMPLETE and from the side of the computer opens a disk drive holding, instead, a green microchip with four buttons that match the color of the wires inside the glasses. Jimmy pick it up with a smile and goes over to the table where the glasses are. Goddard jumps up on a chair beside him.

Goddard: Bark!

Jimmy: I hope these work-they should if this microchip holds the properly copied data.

Jimmy connects the colored wires to the buttons in the microchip that match-yellow to yellow, blue to blue, and red to red.

Jimmy: Let's see if they work.

Jimmy and Goddard look up as a voice is heard from above.

Voice: Jimmy! Supper!

Jimmy: Aw, gas planet, I'll haveta wait through three plates of creamed corn.

Goddard makes a sound like he's throwing up and sticks out his tongue. Jimmy calls back.

Jimmy: Coming, mom!

As he leaves, the screen shot shows the table up close, and in that small compartment in the side of the glasses, clear as day, is the unconnected black wire, spitting small sparks that mean one thing.

Trouble.

Part 2- Kisses of Sorrow

Jimmy walks inside from the back door and sits down at the kitchen table. Mr. Neutron walks in from out front, looking happy like always.

Mr. Neutron: Hey Jimmy! How was the movie?

Jimmy waves his hands vigorously at his dad, mouthing the words "NO! NO!" But Mrs. Neutron had already stopped searching through a kitchen drawer to look up at him.

Mrs. Neutron: Movie?

Jimmy: Ah...yeah, um...Larry the Cow's Big Adventure! It was a classic.

Mrs. Neutron doesn't look convinced.

Mrs. Neutron: Uh huh. Well, at least it's not Psycho Cop.

Jimmy's eye brows snap up in surprise, but he quickly smiles nervously.

Jimmy: Whatr' you, kidding? That looks way too freaky for me.

Mr. Neutron: Me too.

Jimmy stared for a moment, and then looks towards the screen. He shakes his head slowly and decides to not press that matter further.

***Back In The Lab***

Jimmy: Alright, Goddard, this is it.

Jimmy lifts the goggles into his hands.

Jimmy: The test run.

Goddard's standing behind Jimmy. At this he flips a helmet onto his head labeled NASA. Jimmy looks towards him.

Jimmy: Ready?

Goddard: All systems go.

Jimmy places the glasses on his head. The minute he does, the camera zooms in on the microchip and it's sparking black wire.

Suddenly Jimmy feels a pull in his stomach he knows isn't part of the

glasses's function.

Jimmy: Whoa!

Jimmy kicks as hard as he can as he feels his legs being lifted off the ground. Goddard stops panting.

Goddard: Huston, we have a problem.

Jimmy clutches the Ghost Goggles to his eyes, too scared to look out them. He can feel himself spinning faster and faster in a circle, like spinning down a black hole. Just as suddenly as it begins, it stops.

Jimmy sits perfectly still, waiting to make sure it's all over. Slowly, he lowers his glasses he stares. He was put in front of a long building the looks formal, and he blinks as he realizes why his drop didn't hurt. It was snowing outside. Jimmy picks up a balls of it and holds it in his hand. It was cold, and wet-definitely snow. He stares at it in confusion.

Jimmy: What the...?

He looks up at the long building and now sees a sign in front of him that reads, in formal Times New Roman:

RETROVILLE

FUNERAL HOME

Jimmy eyes get wide as he realizes what he's there for. Too scared to shiver in his T-shirt, he pockets the Ghost Goggles and walks towards the door.

As opens it and peeks inside-he seems to be the only one there. There are light, but also candles, and on one table there are two red candles on the upper corners of a book with faded pages and a fancy pen beside it. Jimmy walks all the way inside and looks around. There was a narrow hallway leading out of the room he was standing in, and two comfortable looking chairs besides a table holding a fancy green lamp. The rug Jimmy was standing on was a deep red velvet, but he soon looked away from that as he realized it was the same color as blood. That's when he noticed two black doors, side by side, right beside him, closed shut. Jimmy saw the second one first, and felt his heart stop as he laid eyes on a golden name in the middle.

VORTEX

His blood starts running cold. He feels all the color drain from his face. He knows that name, and who belongs to that name, but he tries to pretend it's a coincidence.

Jimmy: It can't be! She's not the only one on the world named Vortex...

Though Jimmy could say it, he didn't think anything of the sort. But it's not very common, and there's obviously something wrong with the Ghost Goggles, because this isn't how there suppose to work. Jimmy sighs; if the glasses had somehow dropped him off here, there has to be a reason. With a small hesitation, he walks forward to push open the door, too occupied to notice that instead of pushing it open he went right through it. As soon as he steps down on the dark carpet...

***Cindy's House***

Cindy's taking out the garbage in the street-it had started to get dark. Suddenly, Cindy's eyes widen as she gets the feeling that she's being lifted off the ground, and soon a black hole opened right below her, dropping her into a void of pitch black. Cindy yells until she hit the ground with a small "thump". She looks to the building, then to the sign, and suddenly looks mad.

Vortex: Neutron...!

Jimmy blinks-he opened that door, right? He looks back, confused and suspicious, but shakes his head to erase the idea-he was letting the "ghost" part of this get to him. He turns to face forward and almost wished he hadn't.

There was a polished black coffin right in front of him.

Jimmy stares and thought...Who could be in there? He felt his hands go hot with nervousness, why was he being shown a coffin? Duh, Jimmy, Jimmy thought. Some spirit's trying to show you something, but who?...and why? Were they murdered? Do they want me to find their killer? Jimmy's eyes only get wider as he thought of how crazy the crook was in Psycho Cop and thought of him, short and though not weak, not strong enough to take on running after a murderer with a deadly knife down a dark alley-

Jimmy: Stop! You're freaking yourself out, Jim.

He whispers this, afraid a loud sound will wake someone up...someone in a coffin. He looks to the side of him to see an old fashioned table holding a vase with roses in it. Thinking it would be respectful, he takes a rose and slowly walks up to the coffin.

Wait- why am I doing this? I already know ghosts are real, or I wouldn't be here! I don't need to see who's in this coffin, I don't need to find out why Vortex was written on the door. I can just leave now and forget about it! No one needs my help, that's crazy! I can put the glasses back on and see what happens...

Jimmy realizes that for the time being, his brain had no control over his feet, because even as he thought that, they kept moving forward towards the eerie scene. Jimmy could now see some of the inside-it was spotless white material that was very pretty supporting who ever was in it. Jimmy finally got control and stops. He hesitates, wanting to take out the glasses and go home, but what about this person? They had obviously taken him there for a reason, he couldn't just leave. Holding his breath, he walks his final pace and lookes inside.

If he hadn't been so horrified, he would have screamed out loud.

It was a girl-a blonde girl, actually, with a red hat that was folded over to make a black border and a small black lump on top, like a French hat. Her suit was a pretty red velvet winter coat with black buttons, and she wore black mittens that only let her thumbs free, but covered the rest of her fingers. Her pants were black also, and her snow boots were red with a black strip running through the middle. But it was the face that caught Jimmy's attention, and upon seeing her hair down up in ponytails he thought he was gonna drop dead.

Jimmy: ...Cindy?

It was her...in a coffin...Jimmy shakes his head. How? Why? Where? When? Why was he here? He looks behind him, expecting to see some ghost that resembles Cindy standing there, but there was nothing. Cindy was dead, and Jimmy felt responsible. He looks back to Cindy with a sad face, wishing this wasn't happening. He looks down to the rose he's holding, then back to Cindy. Jimmy bends over to place his rose with the others and looks toward Cindy's face sorrowfully. He stares for a moment, and finally bends down and kisses Cindy lightly on her cheek just as a tear rolls down his own. He bends back and looks towards the ground, unable to look her pale face.

Jimmy: C-ya, Cindy.

Jimmy turns with a bowed head and walks slowly to the door, placing up a hand and not noticing something strange about the opening of that door, or for that matter, who just entered the other door...the one labeled...

NEUTRON

Cindy stared-she felt like he hand hadn't touched that wood...but she was too taken with what she was seeing to even notice that strangeness of opening a door. She stares with horror-filled eyes; there was a glazed black coffin with spotless white lining sitting in front of her. What is this, a trick? She thought silently. Why am I even here?, and...Who's in there? She looks to the side of her to see a vase of roses on a table, and in the thought it would be the polite thing to do she picks one out and, with a little hesitation, starts to walk slowly towards the coffin. She stops for a minute, afraid of what she might find. Maybe if I look, she thought. I'll know why I'm here...then again, If I look and something I don't wanna see I'll probably loose my mind and end up in a strait jacket in a fluffy room. Cindy blinks-where the heck did she think that up? But it didn't matter. She had to look. She takes a deep breath and steps forward once more. Her mouth opened with a silent scream.

It was a short boy, with tall brown hair that ended in a point and a red scarf tied around his neck with yellow zig-zags. His jacket was blue, with red mittens that allowed your fingers to move and black snow pants. His boots were brown and rubber-soled, with two white stripes on each. She narrowed her eyes with disbelief.

Cindy:...Jimmy?

Could it be? No...no way...but it was. His face was pale with a sick color, and Cindy suddenly felt guilty. How had this happened? Why was he dead? And why, of all the people, was she chosen to see him? She shakes her head slightly and looks to the ground, shutting her eyes tight.

Cindy: I'm not gonna cry, I'm not gonna cry, I'm not gonna cry...

She opens her eyes slowly, wishing this was a dream, but she knew it was no where near a sad fantasy. She bent forward slightly to place her rose with the others on the other side of him, and then looks towards Jimmy's whitish face. She stares for a moment, and then kisses him lightly on the cheek. She rises up, not even noticing a tear running down her cheeck.

Cindy: C-ya, Jimmy.

She turns and sees a spare room to the right of her, and a door she supposed led to a bathroom. She figured she'd better go clean herself up and dry her tears, so she headed over.

Jimmy sat on a comfertable chair, bent over on his knees and looking towards the ground, thinking. He sniffed slightly and noticed with no real suprise he was crying, and looked up to see a door beside the one labeled "Vortex" the he supposed led to the bathroom. Thinking warm water and a tissue would ease his sadness, he made his way for the door.

Jimmy reaches up to open it, and was sure when he enters the room he had lost his mind. Not only had he went through the door-he was staring at the same person he had just kissed goodbye.

Part 3- I See Dead People

Jimmy: Ah.

Cindy: Ah.

Jimmy and Cindy's face get more worried as they realize they're talking to a person they just saw dead.

Jimmy: Ah!

Cindy: Ah!

Both their eyes get wider.

Jimmy/Cindy: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

They stop suddenly and stare at one another, breathing deep and wide-eyed. They both point to each other.

Jimmy/Cindy: You!...You were!...I thought!...How?

Cindy looks Jimmy up and down-Jimmy does the same to her. Cindy gestures towards the door.

Cindy: I just saw you DEAD!? What typa sico ARE you?!

Jimmy: Vortex-

Cindy: Don't Vortex me, you big-headed rodent! What's going on?!

Jimmy: But Vor-

Cindy: Was I doing anything to you? NO! Oh...oh, ok, this has to do with those STUPID Ghost Goggles, doesn't it?! DOESN'T IT! I swear, I'm gonna beat you so hard when we get home it's not even gonna be FUNNY!-

Jimmy: CINDY!

Jimmy takes her shoulders and shakes her a little to get her back to reality. She looks a little shocked, but soon she pushes Jim backwards by his shoulders with a disgusted face.

Cindy: Don't even TOUCH ME!

Jimmy: Look.

Jimmy points to a tall and long mirror in front of the sinks they were standing in front of. Jimmy looks away as he points, not able to look at the mirrored image. As Cindy turned, she saw why.

Cindy: AHHH!

Cindy jumps backwards as she stares at her reflection. Her eyes weren't green, but black with one single white spot, and underneath them were black and purple colored rings that made her eyes look even creepier. She wasn't transparent, but her skin was chalk white and looked errocted. Her hair was scraggly and unbrushed unlike her usual clean and curled blonde look. But what really confused her was what she was wearing; a red hat with a black bump on top, and it was folded over to show a black under covering. She saw she her reflection was wearing black mittens with only moveable thumbs, and a red snow coat with black buttons. But as she felt the cold on her arms from when she was outside in the snow, she knew was still wearing a pink button up t-shirt and not the warm velvet coat her reflection was sporting. She stares at the image and points.

Cindy: Is that...me?

Jimmy: I dunno.

She looks up to him and gasps, walking one step away from him as well. His reflection was the same-his skin was white and eaten away, his hair was still brown and curled at the top, but it seemed more hangy than usual. And Cindy also saw his eyes had the same black circles as hers. Jimmy was gazing at his reflexion, unable to his his fear. Cindy walks up to the mirror and stars into the hollow eyes she saw but knew were not her own.

Cindy: Why do I look like this?

Jimmy: I dunno...

Cindy: Whatdda mean you don't know?!

She turns to him to yell-it's not like she wanted to, she knew he was just as scared as she was, but her fear was rising with every second and since she had no idea what to do one so ever, she decided to blame it on him instead.

Jimmy: This isn't how the goggles are suppose to work! I don't know why we're here or even why were...sent.

Jimmy trailed off as he stares at Cindy and she stares back. Cindy saw Jimmy has the same clothes on that she saw him in when she thought he was dead. Jimmy recognized her look from the coffin. They both point.

Jimmy: That hat...

Cindy: That scarf...

Jimmy suddenly realizes Cindy didn't know she was in a coffin in the next room, and Cindy figured he didn't know he was in the room next to her.

Jimmy: Uh...yeah, I saw that hat in...um-

Cindy: Oh my gosh.

Jimmy looks up from the floor to see Cindy looking at her reflexing with horror-filled eyes.

Jimmy: What?

Cindy looks back at him and speaks in a panicky voice.

Cindy: You're DEAD! And that means...

Her mouth opens with shock and she gestures towards herself.

Cindy: I'M DEAD, TOO!

Jimmy: Wait a second, how can I be dead?! You're the one who was in a coffin-

Cindy: SO WERE YOU!

Jimmy: Where?

Cindy: RIGHT BESIDE ME!

She was having a fit now, and it's getting harder for her to hold back her tears.

Cindy: Oh my gosh...how did this happen?

Jimmy hears the note of tears in her voice as she stares at her reflection. She holds up a hand to the glass and watches her reflection do the same.

Cindy: I can't be dead...

She looks to Jimmy desperately.

Cindy: You don't look like you're dead to me!

Jimmy: Because...

Jim had a look like he just figured something out.

Jimmy: We're both dead! That's it! So we see each other the same!

Cindy: Great.

Jimmy: Well, it's better than seeing each other white and flesh torn, right?-

Cindy: STOP IT!

Cindy's face was mad for only a second and went strait back to being worried.

Cindy: Are we gonna be dead forever?! I'd like to at least know how I died, for goodness' sake!

Jimmy stares, unable to think of anything comforting to say. He looks sadly down at the ground at his shoes, wet from melting snow. Cindy holds her head and paces.

Cindy: Ok, so I'm dead, and you're dead.

She stops and looks at Jim the same time that he looks up at her.

Cindy: Oh, Jimmy, I'm gonna KILL YOU!

Jimmy: If the Ghost Goggles are broken, I can fix them! Everything that's broken can be fixed, Cindy, just gimme some time.

Cindy: Give you time in what? Is an hour a year in ghost time?

Jimmy gives her a worried look. She throws her hands up in aggravation.

Cindy: WHY DID I ASK?!

A sudden "thump" made them stop their argument. They both look towards the door, and clearly hear people's voices, and the opening and shutting of doors. Jimmy leans towards the door and Cindy comes up behind him and put her hands on his shoulders, looking from behind him.

Cindy: Who's that?

She whispers, not knowing whether she can be heard or not.

Jimmy: Cindy...

He hesitates...

Jimmy: I think they're hear for out funeral.

Part 4- In One Side and Out The Other

Jimmy opens the door a crack and peeks out with Cindy below him. They see a bunch of people walking in all dressed in dark colors, mostly black. Cindy grips Jimmy shoulder hard as they see they're parents walk inside, their dads comforting their moms. Jimmy blinks as he sees all his realities come in, and Cindy sees they all have hair that ends in a point. And as a group of people Jimmy figured was Cindy's family came in, he saw some green eyes and blonde hair that looked exactly like her own features.

Jimmy: This can't be good.

Cindy: Now do you believe me? We're both dead.

Jimmy: But how?

Cindy: Let's find out.

Before Jimmy could stop her, she was out from beneath him and walking towards the same door her family was, labeled VORTEX. Jimmy tries to catch her shirt to stop her, but she was too far away, and he didn't want to risk the chance of someone seeing him. He blinks as he watches Cindy walk right in front of her family pack, a look of determination on her face. Her mom starts to walk forward, but Cindy stayed put.

Jimmy: Cindy! Cindy, get outta there!

He whispers the words feverishly, but Cindy ignores his shouts and waits. Her mom walks forward to reach the door...

And went right through her.

Cindy's eyes got wide and she gasps. Had what she thought really happened, really just happen? Cindy turns around.

Cindy: Mom! Mom, it's me!

But she didn't even glance back as she went through the door. Cindy slowly steps out of the path of her family, but doesn't stop.

Cindy: You guys, it's ME! Dad, you see me, right? Dad?!

Cindy waved her arms as Mr. Vortex passes with a saddened face, but says nothing to his daughter. Cindy lowered her arms slowly and felt her lip start to quiver with approaching tears. She stops it herself as her sadness turns to anger.

Cindy: Is ANYONE here aware of my existence?!

She realizes she shouldn't have even asked, because the fact that no one responded only made her more frustrated. Soon everyone was in their separate rooms, and Jimmy could see Cindy staring at the door labeled VORTEX like she could see right through it to her family. Jimmy felt his heart sink, and as it did, Jimmy promised himself that he would never do anything to make Cindy wear that face of longing again as long as he invented.

He walks out a little as the door shut surprisingly gently behind him.

Jimmy: Cindy?

His voice is soft, and Cindy knows he's sorry, but what would it do now? No one could hear them, no one could see them, and if they did, who would believe them?

Jimmy: Hey, that rhymes!

Cindy didn't answer, but closes her eyes and lowers her head. Jimmy wonders why she isn't crying, but decides keep that to himself. As of reading his mind, Cindy responses.

Cindy: Ghosts don't cry.

She looks up to Jimmy and opens her eyes slowly, and Jimmy knew that though no tears streaked her cheeks, her heart was wailing a river. They both look up in surprise as Mrs. Neutron and Mrs. Vortex walk out of the NEUTRON pallor and cross the room to the chairs. Mrs. Neutron had on a black dress with black pointed shoes, still wearing her pearls, and Mrs. Vortex had on a silky dark purple dress and white pointed shoes. Jimmy blinks as he sees there are beautiful Chinese flowers, lilac in color, spotting it, though the lilac seemed a darker shade. They sit side by side, separated by the table with the lamp on it. Mrs. Neutron holds her head with her hand and leans on the table.

Mrs. Neutron: How could this have happened?

Mrs. Vortex: You always say it could never happen to you, and then "Pow!", right through the heart.

Mrs. Neutron: I just don't understand, how bad could the crash have been? But then again I haven't the slightest idea where Jimmy got a snowboard in the first place or how he got the idea and the equipment to attach rockets to the end...!

Mrs. Vortex places her had gently on Mrs. Neutron's arm as she sees she's becoming frantic.

Mrs. Vortex: It's alright, Judy, it's alright.

To Jimmy surprise Mrs. Neutron snags her arm away and jumps to her feet.

Mrs. Neutron: Oh what? Alright is suppose to fix everything? Can Alright can bring my pride and joy back and if it can't WHAT GOOD IS IT?!

Mrs. Neutron's face was frustrated, but within seconds her anger dissolved into sorrow. Mrs. Vortex puts on a sympathetic face and rises. She puts her arm around her in a comforting way as she holds Mrs. Netron holds her head in despair. Jimmy walks forward a little.

Jimmy: Mom? Mom, can you hear me?

Mrs. Neutron looks up to Mrs. Vortex without responding to Jimmy, since she heard nothing.

Mrs. Neutron: I'm sorry.

Mrs. Vortex: Don't be sorry, we've got enough worries as it is. Come on, it's the last day.

Mrs. Neutron seems to cringe at this statement, but only slightly and calms down soon. She looks to Mrs. Vortex with a forced smile.

Mrs. Neutron: You're right, like always.

Mrs. Vortex wasn't sure if it would be right to say something like "Not always!" in a joking manner, since this matter was nothing to joke about and her friend was obviously very upset, so she simply smiled and tightened her grip in a hearty way on Mrs. Neutron's shoulder. She smiles and Mrs. Neutron smiles back. Cindy's eyes get wide as she sees she's coming towards her.

Cindy: Mom...

She sounded like she was sobbing, but Jimmy saw no tears as he watched Mrs. Vortex go into the VORTEX pallor. Mrs. Neutron looks sorrowfully at the ground for a moment, getting herself together, and then walks for the VORTEX pallor also. Jimmy rushes over in front of her, putting up his hands in defense and having to walks backwards as she nears him with every step.

Jimmy: Mom! Mom please, tell me you see me! Mom!-

But he stops as Mrs. Neutron holds up her hand and pushes the door open, doing what Jimmy had tried to avoid this whole time. Her hand, followed by the rest of her body, went right through him with a small sound like lightly blowing wind. Jimmy stares strait a head, and then looks to the ground. Cindy watches with an open mouth, by soon shuts it and closely her eyes tightly, her lip quivering. Jimmy stares at her with a confused face.

Jimmy: Ghosts don't cry...

Cindy: But we can't be ghosts because ghosts haunt people and houses, so we have to be-

Jimmy: Spirits!

Cindy jumps a little as Jimmy raises is voice and turns to her with a wide grin.

Jimmy: Cindy, that's it! We're not fully dead ,we haven't passed into the next "world" yet, if you get my drift. So we're not dead ghosts, we're living spirits! And if my thoughts are correct, we should be able to re-enter our bodies once the Ghost Goggles are fixed!

Cindy's eyes get wide.

Cindy: So we're not dead yet?

Jimmy: Not as long as we stay translucent!

They smile, but suddenly Jimmy frowns.

Jimmy: Uh oh...

Cindy: "Uh oh" what?

Jimmy: We can only go back if we're able to get to ourselves...

Cindy: Yeah...?

Jimmy: If they burry us, we're trapped between worlds.

Cindy didn't want to ask, but the question burned at her throat.

Cindy: Forever?

Jimmy: Forever.

Cindy thought of wondering around, watching all her friends grow up and being successful and not being able to talk to them or age. She shivers. They look to the ground for a moment in thought, but suddenly look up in a surprised way. They look to each other.

Cindy: You don't think she meant...

Jimmy: The last day before the funeral.

Cindy stares, invisible tears streaming soundlessly down her face. Jimmy takes a deep breath.

Jimmy: Better get to work.

Part 5- Proven Facts

Cindy stares at her feet in complete silence as Jimmy inspects goggles out in back of the funeral pallor where they throw out the trash. Cindy sits on an over-turned recycling bin and stares sadly at the ground. Jimmy's set up a little table and chair for himself out of a wooden board, two cardboard boxes and an old overturned cooler. He's turning over the goggles and mumbling.

Jimmy[softly]: Hmmm...that's right...this is correct...

He pops open the side box and looks over the microchip from it's position, not able to see the loose wire since their underneath the chip. He shakes his head.

Jimmy: I can't see anything wrong with it.

Cindy: Maybe nothing is...maybe the goggles accidentally killed us.

Jimmy: No, that impossible, no glitch in this microchip has the power to do something that dramatic. There has to be a reason...

His voice trails as he pokes his finger at the chip...

Jimmy: AH!

Cindy gasps and looks up quickly Jimmy drops the goggles onto the table as a large spark shocks his finger and causes a bright light for a split-second.

Jimmy and Cindy stare at the Ghost Goggles. Cautiously, Cindy walks over and takes out the chip to reveal the sparking black wire.

Cindy: Found your problem.

Jimmy bends over to look.

Jimmy: No wonder we're torn between worlds! That's what the black wire prevents, but because it wasn't connected it left us trapped.

Cindy: But why am I here if you used them?

Jimmy places a thoughtful hand on his chin, looking puzzled.

Jimmy: Maybe...

He suddenly smiles.

Jimmy: That's it!

Cindy: What now-

She bends two finger on each hand.

Cindy:-"smarty"?

Jimmy: I met you in the bathroom, but you had seen me dead and I had seen you dead already!

Cindy's face lightens up.

Cindy: So the minute you stepped in the room where I was dead...

Jimmy: You came because your soul was caught in the wire's malfunction!

Cindy: So all you gotta do is fix the wire?

Jimmy: Well...it's not that simple.

Cindy: Ohhhhhhhhhh boy.

Jimmy: You see, each wire is essential for the Ghost Goggles' proper function.

He points to the red wire.

Jimmy: The red wire for visibility-

He moves down to the blue wire.

Jimmy: -the blue one for communication-

He points to the upper right corner.

Jimmy: -and the yellow one for protection. So if all these wires are working properly, complete communication with a ghost is possible.

Cindy: And if they're not...?

Jimmy: I only know one thing worse.

Cindy knew what he meant and shuts her eyes tight, trying not to think about being a ghost trapped in the wrong world. But she smiles anyway to try and brighten Jimmy's spirits.

Cindy: Ok, that's not that bad. How do you test out the wires to make sure they work?

Jimmy: Just what you said...

He waits to see if Cindy catches on, but she simply waits for him to finish.

Jimmy: ...test them out.

Cindy was yet again dead silent as Jimmy thought about their dilemma, mumbling to himself as they walked down unfamiliar streets. Cindy observes their surroundings, making mental notes of street names, houses, trees, signs and any other landmark that could help them get back to the funeral home. Also it was the fact that Jimmy seemed to be concentrating, and Cindy wanted to get home as soon as possible, so she left him to his work. The street was white with snow and felt soft under her feet, though it wasn't the warm feeling she usually gets when the snow falls. It was hard to be comforted when you have to come to grip the fact that you're half dead and half alive. Cindy rubs her arms as a cold wind rushes up the street-she was still in her pink t-shirt. Jimmy was so pre-occupied he didn't notice the cold nipping at his nose. The darkness didn't help-though there were street lights they weren't on. Only the faint glow of the white snow and the piled snow on the curve of the street gave them a small sense of where they were and what was ahead. Cindy looks up to the pale purple sky to see that the stars were obscured by clouds, and there was no moon; two major things in the sky that give off valuable light at night, unable to assist them. Cindy felt lost, and she looked to her shuffling feet sadly.

Jimmy sighed frustratingly and let his arms fall to his sides. He looks at Cindy uncertainly.

Jimmy: Where are we going again?

Cindy: The library. We need to find out about that cop.

Jimmy: Oh, c'mon, Cindy! Nick was lying! There's no haunted house.

Cindy: You rather we check under your bed?

Jimmy stares hard at her, but she simply smiles evilly. Jimmy blushes, puts his hands in his pockets and looks to the ground.

Jimmy:...no-

Cindy: Then shut it!

They don't have time to fight as Cindy stops across the street from a large building with a formal sign saying "Retroville Library".

Cindy: C'mon.

Jimmy: Cindy, it has to be at least nine thirty, it closed a half an hour ago!

Cindy: We don't need doors, remember?

Jimmy: Oh yeah.

***Inside the library...***

Cindy skims frantically through book titles, holding a flashlight in order to read the titles. Jimmy's holding the latter below her.

Cindy: Panama, Patrick Swasee's Life, The World of Pigs-

Jimmy: This is useless, Vortex, they wouldn't have a book on a movie like Psycho Cop.

Cindy: Pottery Over The Ages, How to Jar Pickles-

Jimmy: Vortex?-

Cindy: A ha! Psycho Cop-The True Story.

She slides the book out from it's location and slides down the ladder. She walks quickly to the nearest table and props the book in front of her. The sound echoes off the dark and empty room. Jimmy looks over Cindy's shoulder as she pulls up a chair and flips through it.

Cindy: Houses, houses, houses-

Jimmy: Ah...Cindy?

Cindy: What, Neutron, what now?!

She jumps up, screws up her face and changes her voice.

Cindy: Vortex, this is stupid! There's no such thing as ghosts! They won't have a book on that movie! Oh!

She looks falsely surprised and clasps her hand to her face.

Cindy: Wait a second, how uncharacteristically stupid of me. Why don't we just sit here, watch our funeral and be half dead and half alive for the REST OF OUR HALF LIVES!

Jimmy leans back as Cindy stands with her face in his. Her voice repeated six times around the room until it finally faded. Jimmy stares, and as Cindy rears back, breathing heavily, Jimmy takes a large number of pages in his hand and flips them back to the third page of the whole book.

Jimmy: There's an index.

Cindy stares at the pages surprisingly, but covers up her embarrassment by slapping Jimmy's hand away. He shakes his hand with a sour face and pulls up a chair opposite to her as she starts to read.

Cindy: "The Renzen House has been condemned since 1967, when psycho Mark Renzen killed a number of people including himself, and attempted to murder his daughter, 23 year old cop Taylor Renzen. Since the house's confinement, neighbors had started to report unusual happenings late at night, and thusly a rumor was formed that the house was haunted."

Jimmy: The key word there is "rumor", as in-

Cindy: I know what a rumor is, Jimmy. Listen to this; "Accounts of strange noises, unidentified lights and moving figures have been reported inside the house, and it soon became a known legend. The spot was declared a hangout for teenagers once the rumors faded, but some people that went in..."

She faded off and her eyes get big as she reads the next sentence.

Cindy: ..."never came out."

She looks up to Jimmy, who looks surprisingly a little worried, but shrugs it off anyway.

Jimmy: Yeah, right, it was probably a joke or something-

Cindy: Jimmy, do you remember the ending of Psycho Cop? Those teenagers went in, and then they were reported missing, just like the book says!

Jimmy: And then a huge guys comes down on the police with an axe, right? Come on, Cindy! They're not proven facts!

Cindy: Oh, Jimmy, wake up!

She gets up, snags him by the arm and drags him over to a case where there used to be prizes for a raffle but was now empty. She stops in front of it and Jimmy stares at his reflection, right into his hollow and colorless eyes, looking stunned. Cindy looks to him and says softly...

Cindy: Tell me that's not real.

Jimmy stares at his white skin and limp hair.

Jimmy: It's real...just-

Cindy: Not possible? Jimmy, you once told me if you can see it and you can touch it, it's real. Can you not see you're white skin, or those big black bags under your eyes? Or the way your eyes look, black with a white pupil instead of colored with a black pupil? Don't you see your clothes-you're dressed for the snow, just like when you died.

Jimmy: But if I'm wearing warm clothes, why am I cold?

Cindy looks to the floor for a moment, and then looks back up slowly and stares straight into his eyes.

Cindy: Because we're not dead yet, and we still have a chance. If you can just swallow proven facts for once in your half existence, we might be able to save our lives...literally.

Jimmy stares back at her, and sees pure determination in her eyes. He takes one final look at his horrifying reflection and takes a deep breath.

Jimmy: What's the plan?

Part 6- Pinewood and Glisten

Cindy goes behind the librarian's desk and grabs a notepad of paper and a pencil. She climbs back up the ladder and picks out two more books that are extremely fat. She staggers a little under their weight, and looks down to Jimmy.

Cindy: Book one...FIRE!

She allows her finger to let go of the second book and Jimmy holds out his hands to catch it-though when the book hits his hands he goes strait through the floor.

Jimmy*distantly*: I definitely snapped something.

You see that little atom thing go by and now it shows Cindy with her nose in a book, pencil ready to write and looking alert. Jimmy's across from her looking tired and suddenly yawns.

Jimmy: I don't see anything, Cindy.

Cindy keeps on scanning the pages and turns one determinedly.

Cindy: There's got to be something in here that can help us...

Jimmy: Wouldn't a more...oh, I dunno, scientific book help? Like something with theories in it from actual scientists that are based on-

Jimmy was about to say facts, but stops himself and looks up to see Cindy giving him "the look". He sighs and flips a page, resting his hand on his cheek.

Jimmy: Never mind.

Cindy suddenly leans forward with a look of hope, and scribbles something down quickly. The screen slits up from their table to the clock above them, and we see it go slowly from 10:00...to 12:30...to 2:30. Cindy looks dead tired, her face slumping on her cheek. Her eyes are half closed and she looks like she's ready to fall asleep right on the book. She closes her eyes all the way, and starts to slump when her elbow hits a book that falls to the ground with a loud "THUD!" Cindy jumps up with wide eyes and rolls her eyes at the falling booking. When she bends back up from getting it she saw Jimmy sleeping on his arms over an open book. Cindy stares for a moment, but then shakes her head with a distasteful look and turns her attention back to her book. She tries to read, but her eyes stray back up the peacefully sleeping Jimmy, who she saw was shivering from the cold of the room. She looks up annoyingly.

Cindy: Alright, alright, I'm going.

She walks over to a large cardboard box labeled "Lost and Found" and takes out a large blue winter coat. She looks at the tag-XL.

Cindy: Perfect.

She walks back over quietly so she won't wake him and places the winter coat over Jimmy like a blanket. She lets go immediately as Jimmy squirms in the new warmth and pulls the coat over him and buries his nose in his arms. Cindy smiles. He looks so innocent when he's sleeping, she thinks. She goes back to her seat and mumbles on the way.

Cindy: Too bad he's a little smarty-pants when he's awake.

She gets back to work and leaves Jimmy to his dreams.

We see the outside of the library, the night swarming with thick purple clouds across the starless sky. We see another picture of the library and this time the sun is just coming up above the roof. Jimmy's curled up in his chair with the blanket pulled up right below his nose, sleeping soundlessly. Cindy's hand comes into view on Jimmy's shoulder.

Cindy: Jimmy! Jim, wake up!

Jimmy: Wah?

Jimmy opens his eyes wearily and looks up to Cindy.

Jimmy: I fell asleep?

Cindy: No, you're fulla caffeine.

Jimmy yawns and stretches.

Jimmy: Did you find anything?

He looks over to see Cindy rummaging through the lost and found bin. She pulls out a warm-looking black coat and talks to him while she dresses.

Cindy: I found out about that cop, Taylor Renzen. She doesn't live too far from here if we take a bus.

Jimmy puts on a look of disbelief and walks over beside her.

Jimmy: Are you saying we go to her house?

Cindy: Exactly.

Jimmy: But Cindy, if we really are "dead"-

He bends two fingers on each hand.

Jimmy:-she won't be able to see us, right?

Cindy: Maybe...and maybe not.

Jimmy: Whaddo you mean?

Cindy starts to walk quickly back over to the table that still held a large amount of fat books. As she pulls gloves on, Jimmy jogs a little behind her to keep up.

Jimmy: Vortex, tell me!

Cindy stops at the table and closes her eyes for a moment. She then turns to Jimmy with a serious look.

Cindy: If you won't believe in anything but scientific fact, you'll know this one.

Jimmy: Go ahead-try me.

Cindy: What's a ?

Jimmy starts for a moment, and Cindy sees fright in his eyes.

Jimmy: W-why would you wanna know that?

Cindy: This girl, Taylor, went into a stage of depression after her father committed suicide and started to claim she could see ghosts. They called her a "skitsifrenic".

Jimmy: It's a mental illness...it's when you see things that aren't there.

Cindy: Illusions?

Jimmy: I suppose...but that can't be if she can see us because I know I'm real.

Cindy holds up a small folded piece of lined paper.

Cindy: I got directions right here.

Jimmy: But the funeral's today! We'll never make it!

Cindy: Not so fast, Freak-Brain. I found some documents behind the desk about the funeral home. Their policy is funerals held from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM and no later or earlier. It's 7:45 in the morning-we got about 11 hours. That should be enough time to find out al we need to know about this psycho killer and how to find him.

Jimmy: And if we find him, we'll able to test out the Ghost Goggles and see if they work properly!

He suddenly looks hopeful.

Jimmy: You know what, Vortex...that just might work-

Cindy: Then grab some gloves and let's go.

You see another atom thingy, and the scene shows a bus stop. There's other people there with Jimmy and Cindy. Cindy's standing right with the crowd, but Jimmy's off to one side a little a ways from Cindy. Cindy looks over to him and rolls her eyes.

Cindy: Neutron, get over here!

Jimmy: Nooooooooo way, I'm not gonna be walked through again and get that chill down my spine like last time!

He crosses his arms with satisfaction just as a guy in a buttoned coat and hat walks right through him. Jimmy stares strait for a moment as Cindy throws him a look that says "I told you so". Jimmy sulks over and stands with her and everybody else just as the bus rolls up. Cindy crunches up close behind an important looking woman in a gray suit with a suitcase as she got onto the bus. Jimmy looks confused but follows her anyway, recognizing the fact that she had this "dead" idea down a lot better than he did. When they finally reached the bus, Cindy sat down beside a portly man in a buttoned coat and Jimmy sat across the narrow walkway from her in the opposite seat.

Jimmy: What was that all about?

Cindy: You don't want people to get suspicious of cold chills, do you?

Jimmy looks up at the other passengers. Some of them were rubbing their hands together and others had crossed arms, rubbing them with their opposite hands and looking chilly. He looks back to Cindy, who had followed his gaze but now looks back to him as his gaze turns to her.

Jimmy: How did you figure that out?

Cindy: Have you ever seen "The Sixth Sense"?

Jimmy looks annoyed.

Jimmy: A movie?

Cindy: Just hear me out, ok? In the movie, whenever a ghost entered the room it would get really cold.

Jimmy looks thoughtful for a moment and suddenly smiles, something he hadn't done for a while now.

Jimmy: That gives us an advantage! No one should give cold chills a real thought in this weather!

He gestures outside. Cindy looks a little worried.

Cindy: We'll still need to be careful, Jimmy. Who knows what would happen if someone found out about us.

Jimmy: Cindy, we're invisible. How can someone find pout about something they can't see?

Cindy still looks worried, but Jimmy doesn't say anymore. How could someone find out they weren't dead? They already tried it with their family at the pallor; they didn't answer them when they talked and they went right through them. No one could possibly find out that they were ghosts. Cindy sighs a little and turns her gaze out the window at the white landscape that's downtown Retroville. Jimmy looks out too.

Jimmy: I've never been here before. How far does she live?

Cindy: I never said she was next door, did I? This is downtown.

Jimmy: Waaaaaaaaaayyyyy down town.

Cindy: I checked some files from a site on how to locate lost people. It said she was living in downtown Retroville at the corner of Pinewood and Glisten.

Jimmy: Pinewood and Glisten...that sounds familiar-

He suddenly looks surprised.

Jimmy: That was the street she lived on in the movie!

Cindy: See? I told you that movie was based on a true story.

Jimmy: What if she can't see us? What if she really does have a mental illness?

Cindy didn't answer him, or look at him. She simply continued to look out the window at the street signs[even though some were covered in thick snow] and look for the corner of Pinewood and Glisten. Jimmy understood that perfectly.

Taylor Renzen was their only hope.

Part 7-A Sixth Sense

We see a piece of paper that says "Pinewood and Glisten" on it, and then the paper is lowered so that now we see two street signs incased in snow expect for the actual name. Pinewood to the left-Glisten to the right.

Cindy: This is it.

Jimmy: Which house is it?

Cindy looks around at the surrounding houses uncertainly. It wasn't like a normal corner, with only two houses to choose from. The corner was two roads, but seemed to really be one thick road, and there were a number of houses that could be described as sitting at the corner of Pinewood and Glisten Road. Nothing she researched had been so specific as to put down a house number or a description.

Jimmy: We could try going to each one at the corner. If she can see us, she'll say something but everyone else won't respond because they can't hear or see us! How 'bout that, Vortex?

No answer.

Jimmy: Vortex?

He looks over at her and stares. She seems like she's concentrating on something, and Jimmy see she's staring at a particular house. Jimmy stares, too. The house looked old and beat-up, and not very well taken care of. The gray shingles looked like the slightest gust of a winter breeze would blow them clear off the house. There were two trees in the front yard, old and crooked, snow weighing down on their old and fragile branches. In front of the door stood a broad porch and on top a roof that looked dangerously unsteady. The windows were boarded so that only clips of the outside could be seen. Despite all the negative details on the outside, Jimmy had a feeling the inside was different-the house was very big, and he figured if it was old it must have cost a lot of money when it was bought probably long ago. Suddenly, Jimmy shivers as a small chill runs up his spine. He looks back to Cindy, who was still staring, wide-eyed, at the old house. She slowly lifts a finger.

Cindy: That one.

Jimmy doesn't know what to say, and all of a sudden Cindy's look seems to ease, and she sounds more like herself than before.

Cindy: I felt like...someone's telling me something. Like they need out help. And it's coming from that direction.

Jimmy looks up at the unsteady-looking house once more and sighs.

Jimmy: If you say so.

Their shoes are wet and their feet are frozen solid, but neither seems to notice as they go foot-by-foot up the creaky steps to the door. Jimmy knocks.

Faint footsteps are heard, and the door opens until the dead bolt's chain stops it from going any further. A pair of pretty brown eyes look out at them.

Eyes: Yes?

Jimmy stares...he knew those eyes. So did Cindy.

Cindy: Ms. Renzen?

The eyes stare at them for a moment and suddenly the door opens fully to a pretty woman in a black turtle-neck and heavy black pants. Her blonde hair is cut to her shoulders and her lips are a deep red. She looks a little uncertain.

Woman: What do you want?

Cindy: We need to talk to you...if you don't mind.

Ms. Renzen stands for a moment. The kids did look a little familiar to her, but she shrugged that off in her mind. She steps to the side.

Ms. Renzen: Come on in.

Cindy: Thanks.

Cindy and Jimmy walk in as Ms. Renzen shuts the door behind them. Cindy looks around at the house they had just entered. It was very spacey, with little furniture and a sort of open atmosphere. Jimmy nudges Cindy slightly, and Cindy looks over to see him looking up. She follows his gaze and looks strait up the center of an enormous spiral staircase, covered with a red carpet and outlined with a wooden banister that's covered in inches of dust. Ms. Renzen is behind them, waiting for one of them to speak, but when they don't she decided to start a conversation.

Ms. Renzen: What is it you need me for?

Jimmy snaps back to life and turns to her.

Jimmy: We just had some questions...

He stops himself and thinks-If the loss of her father caused her to go into depression, Jimmy thought, it wouldn't be a good idea to start with "you dad". But Cindy was a step ahead of him.

Cindy:...about your dad, Mark Renzen.

Ms. Renzen's face turns horrified and her jaw opens slightly. She tries to keep her voice steady, but there's certain uneasiness.

Ms. Renzen: That was a long time ago, and I intend to keep it there.

Cindy: But-

Ms. Renzen: BUT NOTHING!

She points to the door.

Ms. Renzen: I believe this conversation is over.

Cindy and Jimmy just stare, surprised.

Ms. Renzen: OUT!

Jimmy notices she's on the brim of tears. Her bottom lip quivers and her eyes are full of sadness. She lowers her finger, breathing heavily, and turns around to walk into the next room. She stops dead in her tracks.

In the next room on the wall was a large mirror. And behind her own reflection, Jimmy and Cindy's reflections show also.

Ms. Renzen: WHOW!

She jumps and clamps twp hands to her mouth. She whips around and stares. Suddenly her eyes get wide and her face turns panicky. She points a quivering finger at them while keeping her other hand up beside her mouth.

Ms. Renzen: It's you...

Jimmy and Cindy look confused, but Ms. Renzen seems to know exactly what she's talking about.

Ms. Renzen: Those kids...you were killed...

Mrs. Neutron's words rang in Jimmy's head; jet pack...snowboard-he didn't want to think about how Cindy got caught up in the accident. Jimmy steps one foot forward and stretches out a hand to try and calm her down.

Jimmy: Ms. Renzen-

Ms. Renzen: DON'T COME NEAR ME!

She throws her hands up in defense. Jimmy stops where he is.

Cindy: We need your help-

Ms. Renzen: They ALL need my help! Why can't you just LEAVE ME ALONE?!

Suddenly she jumps over to the stairs and start up them two at a time. Cindy leaps after her with Jimmy at her heels.

Cindy: Wait!

Ms. Renzen: GO AWAY!

Turn after turn, stair after stair, Jimmy and Cindy climb higher and higher up the spiral staircase after Ms. Renzen. Being a retired cop Ms. Renzen was fast and didn't miss a step as she flies up a long hallway at the top. Cindy makes it just in time to see her go into the nearest room to the right, and judging by the size it seems to be a bathroom. Jimmy comes up behind Cindy and walks over to the door.

Jimmy: We just wanna talk-

Ms. Renzen: You all "just wanna talk"!

We see her sitting against the door in a feeble position, holding her knees and yelling over her shoulder.

Cindy: But it's just us, Ms.-

Ms. Renzen: DON'T CALL ME THAT!

Cindy stops abruptly and thinks a moment.

Cindy: Taylor, there's no "all", it's just us-

Taylor: "Us", who ARE you?! Wait...

She stares at the bathroom's shiny floor and speaks softly.

Taylor: Cindy Vortex...and Joe-no...James Neutron...

her voice trails off breathlessly.

Jimmy: They called me James?

Cindy shakes her head slightly with annoyance.

Cindy: Forget it! Taylor, we're not here to hurt you.

She throws Jimmy a look.

Cindy: Mr. Genius over here decided to create goggles that are able to see ghosts and they backfired-

Taylor: And your stuck...

She opens the door and look down at them.

Taylor: ...between worlds.

Cindy: Well...yeah. How did you know that?

Taylor closes her eyes for a moment, as though remembering something horrible, and sighs. She shuts the door and turns to them.

Taylor: I apologize, I...I have to be careful.

Jimmy: We understand-

Taylor: No you don't.

Jimmy looks confused at Taylor' s sudden grim look like he had offended her.

Taylor: No one understands...

Jimmy and Cindy stare, and Taylor sees slight fright in their eyes. She gives them a kind smile.

Taylor: I'm not crazy, you guys, and I'm certainly not any skitsi-whatever-it-is. I'm not mentally ill, so don't think I'm gonna snap, alright?

Cindy and Jimmy nod silently.

Taylor's living room was comfy, and surprisingly bright. Though the small windows were boarded, there was also a huge open window to the side of the house neither Jimmy nor Cindy noticed before, which let plenty of the snow's white glow into the room. There was a couch on one side of a brown coffee table and on the other, a comfortable-looking reclining chair. Taylor watches them from the chair as Jimmy and Cindy both stare into their hot chocolate. Taylor places her mug on a coaster and looks at her folding hands as she speaks.

Taylor: I'm 58 years old, you guys. I retired from the force in 1968. I was 23...oh, to be a cop again would be nice.

She smiles and laughs a little.

Taylor: To be 23 again would be wonderful.

Cindy: 58? But you look so...so...so young.

Taylor's smile fades.

Taylor: It was him.

Cindy:...Your father?

Taylor: Who else? He made me this way...wasn't gonna go down without taking me with 'em...

Cindy: Whadda ya mean?

Taylor: When his soul left, he took a piece of mine, and because of that...

She closes her eyes.

Taylor: ...I can't age. My body stays the same as my soul's is, which is 23. Every since that day...

Cindy's eyebrows rise a little. Taylor looks on the brim of tears again, but keeps on talking.

Taylor: I saw you on the news...they said two kids near the center of Retroville had crashed sledding and had died from the impact. They said you were a genius Jimmy and I knew...

She pauses-now Jimmy's looking at her also.

Taylor: ...I knew you'd be here...I knew you'd come to me for help, to ask me to save you before they bury you and your bodies are lost forever, but the answer is always the same...

She looks up at them and shakes her head with a sad face. Her voice is faint, but Cindy and Jimmy heard every word.

Taylor:...I can't.

Jimmy's insides had been tight, though he wasn't sure if they were there of if they had been replaced by a sixty pound block of solid cement. Cindy felt like screaming and punching that tempting glass of the large window, but shock stopped her from being able to talk at all.

Taylor: They all ask me to be saved...what makes you think I can help you? You should consider yourself lucky...

She closes her eyes and lowers her head.

Taylor: I pray every day...for me to die.

CLING! Cindy slams her mug down on the table and makes them all jump.

Cindy: Don't EVER say that about yourself EVER again! That's horrible!

Taylor: IT'S BETTER THAN MY LIFE!

Taylor jumps from her chair and now tears are streaking down her cheeks.

Taylor: Spending every waking moment, knowing you drove your own father insane...

She closes her eyes tightly and her bottom lip quivers with tears.

Taylor: ...knowing you drove him to his grave...

She looks at them.

Taylor: Oh, I prey...but no one ever answers, just like people!

Cindy: People?

Taylor seems to calm a little. She walks over to the window and looks out sadly.

Taylor: People call me crazy...wouldn't you be uneasy if you were the reason your own dad committed suicide?

Jimmy: But it wasn't you-

Taylor: I know it was! I have to be! That's why I see you guys even though you're...well, dead or half-dead, I can see you! It's my curse...my father's punishment.

Cindy: I thought he was dead?

Taylor: What difference does that make to me?

Jimmy: Look, Taylor-

He reaches into his pant's pocket and pulls out the Ghost Goggles.

Jimmy:-we need to make sure these are working correctly, and the only way to find out is to test it out on a...a "ghost", I guess.

Taylor raised an eyebrow.

Taylor: You don't believe in ghosts?

Jimmy: No...no, I don't-

He looks at Cindy.

Jimmy:-and you can't change my mind, so don't even try!

Cindy looks at Taylor.

Cindy: There's no convincing a genius ghosts exist.

Taylor: Well wether you believe or not, you're half-dead and half-alive, and until you figure something out before your burial you're stuck for good.

Cindy: That's why we need you.

Taylor stares at her for a moment, and then looks to jimmy. She then looks down and sighs.

Taylor: Get your coats.

Part 8-Haunted

The car ride was deadly silent. Jimmy stares at the floor, then looks up to Cindy, who's gazing out the window at the white-covered landscape. He returns his gaze to the floor as Taylor looks at them through her rear-view mirror. Cindy watches as the landscape suddenly changes to a narrow road she's never seen before. Though trees surrounded them ,they were dead and bear, the winter weather making them bend with the wind and weight of snow. The leafless trees gave the scene a very eerie look. Cindy looks up to Taylor in the rear-view mirror.

Cindy: How far out do you live?

Taylor hesitated a little.

Taylor:...Not too far.

Jimmy piped up.

Jimmy: But we've gone at least six miles from Retroville.

Taylor: No, we're still in the town limits.

Cindy: Why did you live so far out?

It takes a small moment for Taylor to answer.

Taylor: My dad liked the simple life. It's like country out here. He wasn't a very sociable man.

Jimmy: Did he ever go into town?

Taylor: Almost never. I did the shopping for him anf he let me get on with my life. We didn't talk much.

Cindy: How did he go nuts?-

Taylor: I don't remember!

Cindy stares. Taylor looks nervous.

Taylor: I mean...it was long ago, I was just a girl.

Jimmy didn't like the way Taylor reacted; what was she hiding?...

Taylor: That's it.

Cindy and Jimmy look up as the car comes to a stop. They both unbuckle their seat belts and open the doors beside them and look ahead. There stood an enormous house, a black stand-out on a snow-white back round. It had two doors side-by-side out front after the steps of the porch. The whole left side of the house was covered with dead vines, rotting from the cold. The wood looks old and moldy, bur as they walked closer Jimmy saw it wasn't made of wood, but of stone-block upon block of solid stone blocks. Sploched, and dreary windows sat imbedded in the stone, the dusty curtains' brightness showing through the dirty windows. Though the store was certainly sturdy, there were still shingles on the roof. Taylor stops at the stairs and looks up at the haunting house that has often appeared in her nightmares. The door was just as she remembered-it was cleaner years ago but that didn't matter. The house was the same...the same stones...the same porch...

The same evil.

Taylor: I can't do this.

Jimmy: Sure you can! You can't let a dead guy take over your life, can you?

Taylor: He already has.

Cindy walks upon the first step with a creak and looks Taylor determindly in the eye.

Cindy: Taylor, this isn't only gonna help us, it's gonna help you. Don't you want to go on with your life?

BAM!

Jimmy: AHHH!

Cindy looks up with a gasp and Taylor and Jimmy whip around. A large limb from a tree over to the right of the, had fallen with a loud CRACK! They stare surprisingly at the scattered snow the sudden blow has caused, and then to the tree. Cindy burrows her eyebrows in confusion-That tree was fine when we first got here. Jimmy notices he's breathing heavy and stops with a blush-he didn't want to look like a chicken. He looks up to Taylor and stares. Her eyes were narrowed in a look of such powerful hatred Jimmy felt guilty.

Jimmy: Taylor?

Taylor's eyes snap back to regular size and she looks to him nervously. Jimmy and Cindy watch her, confused.

Taylor: The wind seems to be g-getting worse...uh, let's go inside, shall we?

Jimmy blinks again at her suspicious nervousness, but ignores it for now and follows Taylor silently up to the large oak door and takes a deep breath. She stares determinedly forward and open the door with a booming cccccccccccrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKK !

They enter just as two small eyes poke out from behind the fallen limb and watch.

She looks around. The house is dark and eerily quite. Taylor looks carefully to make sure no one's there, then walks deeper into the house. She seems to lighten up and turns to Jimmy.

Taylor: You need to figure out how to fix those...those "goggles" things, right?

Jimmy: Oh yeah!

In all the excitement, jimmy had forgotten all about the goggles in his pocket.

Jimmy: I need to fix at least one wire before it's useable again.

Taylor smiles for the first time in a while.

Taylor: I can do that.

Cindy: How about you guys go and get what you need, and I'll take a look around, you know, to see if there are any places to sleep? You had a living room, right?

Taylor: Oh yeah! I remember now, there is a living room down the hall on the left.

Her smile drops to concern.

Taylor: But are you sure you'll be alright by yourself?

Jimmy: Yeah, Vortex, this house is pretty creepy. We wouldn't want you to get nightmares.

He smiles tauntingly and Cindy scowls at him.

Cindy: I'll be fine, thank you.

Taylor: Alright.

She looks to Jimmy and smiles.

Taylor: Follow me.

They go through the dreary house hall after hall-Taylor seems to know where she's going. She opens two large doors to what was unmistakably a kitchen. She walks over to a drawer and takes out a small stake knife.

Taylor: Would this help?

Jimmy: Yeah, that's good. And a fork would be nice, too.

Taylor followed Jimmy's directions and fished her hand back in the drawer, pulling it out with a fork. Jimmy takes both and smiles; even if he was hakf-dead, he could still invent, and that was better than nothing.

Cindy takes off her coat and rubs her arms with the winter cold. She looks down to the dusty couch and slams her fist onto it.

Cindy: AaCHEW!

About 1 inch of dust rises from the old ouch and hangs in the air like a sudden mist. Cindy coughed a little and waved the lingering dust away from around her. She looks around and stops her gaze on a sturdy brick fireplace, the inside scorned with soot. She walks over and surprisingly there's a dry pile of wood besides the fir. Cindy blinks with confusion-that wood should be eroded by now. But here was a stack of wood, right beside the fireplace, freshly cut and with no mold in sight. Rather than questioning the suspicious arrangement, Cindy threw three logs into the fire pit and reached up on top of the mantle for matches. Her hands reach nothing at first, but soon the slim figure of a wooden match slips into her hand. She takes it down and frowns-one match would never light three logos ablaze, not even keep them remotely warm. But that was all she had for the moment, so she bent down and stroked the match against the side if the fireplace off the brick. It light well and she gently lowered it into the middle of her wood pile and watched for it to kindle. To her pleasure it caught on the wood, and she bents down by it and gently blew. It got bigger. She blew again-

POOF!

Cindy: WHOW!

Jimmy whips around and stares with panic. He looks back to Taylor with scared eyes.

Jimmy: Cindy!

Taylor kicked off the floor and dashed after Jimmy down twisted hallways and through doors until finally coming to the large stairs. With no second thought he jumps onto the railing and slides down. He hits the bottom...

SMACK!

Right into the door. He stick a finger out from around the corner of the next room.

Jimmy: I meant to do that.

Taylor rushes past him and Jimmy follows her into the living room. Cindy's in a crouched position, back on her hands and staring wide-eyed at the both of them.

Cindy: The fire!

Taylor looks in the fireplace and her eyes widen. Jimmy looks confused.

Jimmy: How did ya do that?

Cindy: I didn't do anything! I just blew a little and it exploded in my face! I almost got my face burned!

Jimmy gives her a look.

Jimmy: Come on, Cindy. That's impossible.

Cindy: It's the truth, Neutron! This place is freaky!

Taylor: She's right...

They both look up to her. Her brown eyes seem to sparkle in the fire's ligh as she stares in the blaze with wide eyes.

Taylor: The wood shouldn't have kindled...it should be dead by now, it's been there for years.

Jimmy: So you're saying...?

Taylor closes her eyes and stands for a moment. Her voice was barely a whisper, but they heard her loud and clear.

Taylor: He's here.

SHATTER!

Cindy gasps.

Cindy: W-what was that?

Jimmy: The wind-

Taylor: The kitchen!

She flies towards the stairs as Cindy and Jimmy follow in hot pursuit. But this time, instead of turning left like before, Jimmy notices she turns right onto a dark hallway and pushes open two large doors. She stops dead in her tracks and stares at the room. Cindy and jimmy come galloping after her, but stop as they see she's stopped. They walk up behind her slowly and stare with horror at what lay inside.

It was a dining room, in the middle holding a long wooden table with an expensive red table cloth draped over it. Jimmy didn't see anything wrong with the picture, but Cindy was staring with pure terror in her eyes. jimmy looks annoyed.

Jimmy: Oh, what now, Vortex?

Cindy: The table...it's all set.

Jimmy's eyes get wide and he slaps his hands to his face sarcastically.

Jimmy: Oh no!

Taylor/Cindy: What?!

Jimmy rushes in and points to a set spot and leans back like it's poisonous.

Jimmy: EVIL DINNER UTENSILS!

Taylor and Cindy give him a look.

Cindy: Neutron, don't you get it? Look at this place! The table's set, the candles are lit, the flowers are fresh and no one's been up here in years!

Jimmy look around-she had a point. But what did it matter that the table was suddenly set and the candles were suddenly burning bright?

Jimmy: So that means ghosts, right?

Cindy opens her mouth to say something, but Jimmy cuts her off.

Jimmy: Look, you guys wanna sit around and play Ghostbusters, that's fine with me, but I'm not gonna be half-dead for the rest of my life! I have Ghost Goggles to fix, and we're wasting time by playing games! I cannot believe that you actually think this house is-

He stops dead in mid-sentence, his finger still raised. Cindy's eyes get wider and Taylor breaths in deep.

Every single candle in the room extinguishes with a small curve of smoke. Jimmy lowers his finger slowly and looks them, frightened, in the eyes.

Jimmy:-haunted.

Part 9-The Red Rose

Taylor looks around the room with brewing tears.

Taylor: This is just how I remember it to be...

Her voice is low and velvety. She slowly walks up to the table and places her hand on the polished pine. She closes her eyes.

Taylor: It's still smooth...just like last time.

She looks up into the flowers. There were so many varieties of colors; blues, greens, pinks, whites, purples and...

Red.

Taylor's eyes get wide. Jimmy raises his eyebrows. There she goes again, he thinks silently. Looking scared about something none of us but her find threatening. What is she scared of this time?

Jimmy walks over a little in front of Cindy to the side and looks with Taylor. In the middle of the bouquet of flowers on the table was a single red rose, the healthiest looking rose any of them had ever seen. It was the only red flower or rose in the bunch, so it jumped out apart from all the rest. Jimmy looks up to Taylor's face. She looks very nervous, like she was trying to hide from someone close by. Cindy sees from the back of her that she's shaking slightly.

Cindy: Taylor?-

Taylor: What?

Cindy blinks at her quick reaction as Taylor quickly looks to her over her shoulder. Cindy stammers a little.

Cindy: Well...this seems to be bothering you a little, why don't we just go downstairs and let Neutron finish his work? The quicker the goggles are fixed, the quicker we can go home and you can get on with your life.

Taylor stares for a moment, and then looks to Jimmy. Jimmy instantly lets his face drain of all it's suspicion. Taylor looks back to Cindy and nods with a few snuffles of brewing tears.

Taylor: O-ok.

Cindy smiles kindly with curved up eyebrows to try and make her feel better. Taylor slowly walks back to the door with tears and Cindy pats what she can of her tall back as she sobs downstairs and tries to soothe her.

Cindy: C'mon, just relax and forget about that. It's no big deal.

Jimmy follows them, but stops at the closing of the door and peeks inside one more time at the vase of flowers. He stops and turns around fully.

The rose was gone.

Jimmy scans all over the vase, but the rose had disappeared. He darted his eyes all over the room, until finally setting them on a small glass vase set on a table beside him. There, in all it's red color, sat the rose. But something was different this time.

It was covered in snow.

Jimmy stares a moment. Slowly, he reaches out his hand...

Cindy: Neutron!

Jimmy jumps at the sound of Cindy's voice. He gasps and pulls his hand away quickly, talking a step back. It had been so silent, and Cindy's sudden call seemed to shatter all the silence and stillness to pieces. Jimmy felt his heart racing.

Cindy: What did ya do, die up there?

Jimmy hears her leave and takes one more look at the suspicious snow-covered rose. Still puzzled, he shuts the door with a low "snap".

Taylor sat in front of the still blazing fire as Jimmy sat on the floor in front of a low coffee table. Wires and other inventing-tools are scattered in front of him as he attaches the blue wire to it's proper place in the microchip of the Ghost Goggles. Taylor looks to the left-over wood still piled against the fireplace.

Taylor: I knew he was here...he set the house up just like it was when I was a little girl. The wood was always stacked...the table was always set and polished...this table-

She places her hand on the coffee table's edge and smoothes the side of it. She draws her hand back and lowers her head in remembering.

Taylor: -it was always clean and shiny...the fire light always reflecting off the polished sides.

She brings her hand to her head.

Taylor: How many more adjustments, Jimmy, before your Ghost Goggles work again?

Jimmy: Not long, you guys! I just gotta test each one out on a supposed "ghost", and as soon as I'm sure of their function we'll be outta here in no time!

Taylor looks to an old clock above the fireplace.

Taylor: It's getting late.

Cindy and Jimmy look up in shock.

Cindy: Late?!

Jimmy: The funeral! We forgot all about it!

Cindy: They've probably buried us by now! Now we'll NEVER get home!

She points to Jimmy so violently Taylor leans back.

Cindy: This is all YOUR FAULT!

Jimmy: MY fault?! At least I'm TRYING to get us back home instead of running around trying to catch ghosts that DON'T EVEN EXIST!

Cindy: DON'T EXIST?! Are you BLIND?! Didn't you see the table up there! And the fireplace start with moldy wood and old matches! And the clock!-

She stops in her yelling. They both look up to the clock above the fireplace. Taylor gets up, and the sudden movement makes them turn to her. She stammers...

Taylor: Dad a-always liked that clock...he put it away one day, but I guess he decided to make the house more homey for us.

She smiles though her eyes are sad.

Taylor: Good night.

She goes over to the stairs and walks up. Cindy and Jimmy stare. Cindy eyebrows suddenly go up in a worried look and she looks to her hands like they're stained.

Cindy: What are we, animals? We can't do this to her, she's been through too much already!

Jimmy: But without her-

Cindy: Jimmy, they already buried us anyways, what's the difference?-

Taylor: Actually-

They both look to the stairs with Taylor's sudden echoing voice.

Taylor: They postponed it-they don't burry people in the snow.

Jimmy blinks and smiles for the first time in a while.

Jimmy: That rhymes, too! Like in Part 4!

Cindy gives him a look.

Jimmy; Oh yeah, right-I just figured something out!

Cindy: Go on.

Jimmy: That's what she meant by the last day! It's the last day the funeral home is open-

Cindy:-because of the snow!

They look to each other with smiles.

Cindy: So we're not fully dead yet! There's still hope! But still...

Her smile fades a little. Jimmy's does, too, at the sight of hers fading.

Cindy: ...Please, Jimmy-get them fixed quickly. Then we can leave and Taylor can get on with her life.

Jimmy looks to the ground, saddened. She was right; none of this was fair to Taylor, she'd gone through so much.

Jimmy: I'll do my best.

Cindy: I know.

Jimmy looks up surprised as Cindy punches him lightly in the shoulder with a smile.

Cindy: Good luck!

She walks over to the stairs and climbs up to bed. Jimmy turns back to the table and picks up the Ghost Goggles, leaving all the wires and tools behind.

A light down the hall from an open room told Jimmy where Cindy was. He walks down and looks in to a fairly large room with two candles and...

Jimmy: One bed?

Cindy crosses her arms.

Cindy: Don't get cute, Nerd-tron! It's only for one night and if I had a choice, which I don't because it's a half-life half-death situation here, I'd sleep on the floor with the dust rather than share a bed with you!

She waits for a com-back, but Jimmy just stares. He smiles weakly and laughs nervously.

Jimmy: So...which side is mine?

Cindy looks up to the ceiling.

Cindy: Just take me now.

Jimmy puts the goggles on and climbs into the side nearest to him; Cindy does the same. They both lean over and blow out their candles. Jimmy tries really hard not to laugh at their situation, but he can't help but remark cheerfully...

Jimmy: Good night, Vortex!

Cindy scowls into her pillow. Jimmy tries hard not to laugh. Silence goes by-neither one of them says a word...

Cindy: Neutron?

Jimmy: Yeah?

Cindy: If you hit me, I'll fully kill you.

Jimmy frowns, and from outside the covers he drops his snow boot that now has the bottoms of forks sticking out of them. How does she do that? Jimmy wonders as he starts to drift to sleep.

Jimmy doesn't know how long he slept, but he knows exactly what happened.

It couldn't have been later than 1:00 in the morning when Jimmy fidgeted-the mattress below him was awfully lumpy all of a sudden. Jimmy opens an eye wearily and looks to Cindy below his back.

Jimmy: Vortex, can you move to the edge a little?

Cindy looks sleepily up at him and moves over a little.

Cindy: Better?

Jimmy: Yeah...thank you...

He slowly drifts off to sleep as we hear music like a baby's lullaby spinney thing above their crib. All of a sudden, Jimmy and Cindy's eyes both snap open with a record scratch. Jimmy looks below him, Cindy looks above her...

Jimmy/Cindy: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Jimmy's back was flat against Cindy's back. Jimmy jumps off as Cindy grabs the edge of her pillow. Jimmy puts up his hands.

Jimmy: Wait!-

WACK!

Cindy: YOU SICKO!

WACK!

Cindy: YOU JERK!

WACK!

Cindy: YOU BIG HEADED-APE!-

Feathers start to fly all over the room. Jimmy cowers under the pillow's might.

Jimmy: HAVE MERCY!

Cindy: MERCY?! HA! I DON'T KNOW THE MEANING OF THE WORD!

WACK WACK WACK!

Taylor: What's going on?!

Taylor appears at the door and Cindy jumps five feet.

Cindy: WAAA!

SMACK!

Cindy chucks the pillow right at Taylor's face and knocks her down flat. Cindy so shocked she doesn't even realize who it is until Taylor bends up and rubs her head. Cindy goes to help, and Jimmy looks down-

She's about to step on the goggles!

Jimmy: NO!

He dives for them and in doing so trips Cindy on top of him. Cindy narrows her eyes.

Cindy: You loser! Why don't you go do your STUPID experiments somewhere else?!

Jimmy: I'M the loser?! You're the one throwing pillows of death and screaming like a maniac!

Taylor: You guys!

Cindy and Jimmy look up, surprised. Taylor stands up, brushes herself off and looks to Jimmy.

Taylor: There's a huge room down the hall that you can test out your goggles in. Come on.

Jimmy gets up and doesn't even look back to Cindy as he and Taylor leave.

Taylor leads Jimmy down a long hallway to a room with big oak doors in front of it. Taylor opens them with a slow Creeeeeek! Jimmy's jaw drops in awe.

The room was huge. The ceiling had to be ten feet high, curving inward at the top like a circle. The walls were darkened marble, and the floor, though covered in dust, reflected all the room's magnificent structures in it's glossy finish. A large bed was in the center, with comfy-looking blankets. There was only one window, speaks of the snow's white glow showing through the vines that covered it. Taylor speaks softly.

Taylor: If you want answers, you'll surely find them here.

Jimmy: Why ya say that?

Taylor looks to him grimly.

Taylor: This was my father's room.

Jimmy's eyes get wide, but Taylor ignores his fear and smiles. She pats him on the back.

Taylor: Good night.

She turns and walks back to bed. Jimmy looks into the room uncertainly, but soon walks inside. His footsteps echo off the dark ceiling and the polished walls. He puts the goggles on, and climbs into bed. Before he gave fear of the darkness a chance, he was fast asleep.

...deceiver...

Jimmy opens his eyes but doesn't move. He looks around-nothing was there. He listens-no one. He shuts his eyes and lets sleep take over.

...deceiver...deceiver-

Jimmy feels his heart start to race. He whispers frantically.

Jimmy: It's not real, it's not real, it's an illusion-

Liar!

Jimmy: AHHHHHHH!

Jimmy jumps outta bed and looks around the room like a scared mouse, but nothing stirred. His first thought was to go to Taylor, but then he'd look like a wuss, and Cindy would never let him live it down. Jimmy looks determinedly at the bed.

Jimmy: I will not run away from something that isn't even real!

He laughs a little as he gets back in bed.

Jimmy: Being scared of a figment of my imagination, what am I thinking?

But he stops smiling as he lays down on his pillow and feels something on his head...

The Ghost Goggles.

Jimmy takes them off and looks at them for a moment. He was testing out the communication part...and hearing is a form of communication...could it be...?

Jimmy: Naw, it can't be!

But he still looks a little worried as he places them back on his head and goes back to sleep.

Sleep was peaceful this time, and Jimmy started to dream. He was in a room, like the one he was in now, only it wasn't old and dusty, but new and clean. Sunshine poured in through the room's once darkened windows, and the smell of sweet flowers filled the air. It was a pleasant scene indeed. Jimmy smiles as he looks around, and a sudden small laugh makes him look behind him. A little girl, scarcely six, was running around with a small puppy, laughing in delight. Jimmy smiles-she was so cute with her little puppy dog. But suddenly her features start to make a connection with Jimmy, and soon his draw drops as it clicks in his brain.

The little girl was none other than Taylor Renzen fifty-three years ago. And this was what the bedroom looked like back then...

A man suddenly comes into the room with a warm smile. He's holding a big teddy bear with a red ribbon tied around its neck. The little girl laughs, but the laughs are faint, like a memory. She runs up to the man, jumps and hugs him tight. The man hugs her back in return with a warm smile. Jimmy smiles at the happy scene; after all that's happened, he needed a little happiness.

...squeeeeak...squeeeek...

The dream breaks off into darkness. Jimmy opens one eyes wearily-what could that be? He shrugs it off-it was probably from his dream-

squeeeeeeeeak...

Jimmy's eyes snap open as the squeaking continues. He feels his heartbeat start to race and sweat start to from down his neck alone with a cold chill up his spine. He pinches his arm and could care less about the pain, only what it meant.

This was no dream.

Jimmy didn't get up at first, but the courage soon built up inside him. He couldn't walk away from this-not with so much at stake. He couldn't ignore the gho-*he shakes his head slightly* - whatever it is that's out there. Jimmy takes a deep breath and rises up quickly from the bed.

The squeaking had come from the window, Jimmy saw, because someone had written words in the frost.

HELP ME

And above those words, growing out of the twisted green vines, sat the snowy red rose.

Part 10-Words from the Heart

Jimmy woke with not only a blanket covering him but also a thick layer of sweat dripping down his face and making his clothes stick to him like glue. Jimmy sits up in bed and puts a hand to his head. He whips across his forehead and looks at the ocean of sweat on his hand. How he ever slept last night, he didn't know. The only reason he thought logical didn't help much.

Fear had sung him to sleep, though the voice of the lullaby was low and evil. The frost still sat incased in the window's frames had survived the cruel winds of the nightly snow, and now was clear of any ghostly messages. This didn't calm Jimmy either, and led him to yet another disturbing conclusion.

Jimmy: I'm losing my mind.

He rolls his eyes with a smile as he gets out of bed and starts to straighten it out; it had all been a dream. He was so concerned with getting home his mind had started to play tricks on him. But there was something that Jim couldn't fight down in his thoughts, and that was the reality of it all. It was so real- the squeaking sound from the window in the night still rang clearly in his ears, and though now he had warm pants on small parts of him still stung with pain where the cold had nipped at him through openings in his blanket during the long night. Jimmy tucks the covers back under his pillows and looks up to the window, relived that the writing was gone.

He ignored the rose outside it.

They ate their breakfast in silence. Talor had went out early in the morning and gotten them eggs and bacon with toast. It didn't matter if Jimmy or Cindy ate anyway-they no longer needed to. But the taste if it all was still known to their tongues since they were still partially alive, and the sweet smell and taste of a morning breakfast calmed their nerves for the time being. Jimmy starts blankly into his orange juice as Cindy starts to explain to Taylor that Eminem isn't a total raving lunatic.

He had decided not to tell them about his dream, and he smiles. It felt reassuring to call the whole experience a dream, though deep in the pit of his heart he knew the message was real, and sooner or later he would have to face his fear and crack the message. But for right now, him and Cindy were completely alive, their funeral were years away, and they weren't close to loosing everything they loved to a ghost which Jimmy believed didn't even exist in the first place.

Cindy: But Taylor, Eminem had a horrible childhood! His mother was a jerk and tried to kill him!

Taylor: Well how was I suppose to know that?

Cindy: Don't you watch MTV?

Taylor: I dunno-what are their store hours?

Jimmy looks up from his orange juice in shock. Cindy's jaw drops. Jimmy braces himself-

Cindy: WHAT?!

Taylor stares. Cindy's baffled.

Cindy: WHAT?! M-T-V! Music TV! Cribs! I Bet You Will! Diaries of Rock Stars! Jack...Butt!

Jimmy snorts in his cup and starts to laugh. Cindy ignores him, but soon joins in as Taylor's cheeks burst with laughter. It felt good to laugh after all that had happened. Cindy shakes her head slowly and looks to Jimmy, and eventually they laugh at each other, not noticing that Taylor had stopped. Taylor's eyes were wide with alertness, and they darted here and there at every sudden sound and movement. She turns back to her breakfast and is about to take a drink when-

THUMP!

Jimmy and Cindy hadn't heard anything in their uncontrollably laughter, but Taylor sure did. She shoots up like a bullet and turns half way to the doors. Cindy and Jimmy stop laughing almost immediately and look at her nervously.

Jimmy: What?-

Taylor: Did you hear it?

Her voice was a frantic whisper, and Jimmy felt fright twist in his stomach like it had the night before. Cindy seemed to be the only one keeping her cool.

Cindy: I don't hear anything, Tay-

Taylor: It's him...

Cindy stops and listens carefully as Taylor's breathing starts to quicken and becomes loud. The room suddenly seems deadly silent, like the whole world had stopped spinning for a brief moment. But soon...

Dung....dung....dung....

Their eyes get wide. Something was making a sound upstairs. A steady beat, like a drum...

Dung....dung....dung....

Cindy's voice is a panicky whisper.

Cindy: What's that, Taylor?

Taylor's eyes are like two large brown stones, darting from area to area on the ceiling like she was looking for a scurrying poisonous bug. Just as soon as the drumming starts, it stops. Taylor breathes words that give Cindy and Jimmy chills.

Taylor: He's here.

DUM!

Taylor: AH!

Taylor jumps back and clasps her hands to her mouth as the beat gets louder.

DUM! dum dum dum DUM! dum dum dum DUM!...

All their eyes gets ten times bigger. With a long creaking sound, the door opens slowly...

By themselves.

The door opens to an empty hallway. The drumming echoes in the empty mansion, off the walls and pulsing inside all their heads. Jimmy walks out and reaches the stairs. He stops and places a hand on the banister to look up it. Cindy and Taylor do the same.

Jimmy: It's coming from upstairs...

Cindy: You mean we slept upstairs with dead psycho all night!

DUM!

Cindy: YEP!

Jimmy: I think that's a yes.

DUM! dum dum dum DUM! dum dum dum...

Taylor: You mean it's him?

Jimmy turns a little to look to Taylor's face. It had already started to sweat, and her breathing probably would have been loud and panicky had her hear allowed her to focus on anything else put the steady beat of the tapping.

DUM! dum dum dum DUM! dum dum dum...

Cindy: I'm going up.

Jimmy: What?! No way! I'm coming with you!

But Cindy's mind was made up. She stares seriously at Jimmy and holds out her hand.

Cindy: Give me the goggles, Jimmy.

Jimmy: But Cindy-

Cindy: Listen!

Jimmy stops at Cindy's shouting.

Cindy: No one will care if I die. You're a genius! We can't afford to loose you.

Jimmy stares-what was she saying? That she was wiling to give up her life for his? Jimmy tries to reason with her.

Jimmy: Vortex-

Cindy: Jimmy.

She puts both her hands on his shoulders and holds him in his spot. She look him strait in the eye. Jimmy sees pure determination in her lime-green eyes.

Cindy: Some day, Neutron-some day you're inventions are gonna be famous. If something ever happened to you that I could have prevented, I'd never forgive myself.

Jimmy didn't know what to say. Here was his rival, offering to possibly kill herself of get taken away by a psycho spirit just so he could live and save himself. Cindy lets go of him and holds out her hand.

Cindy: Give me the goggles, Jimmy.

Jimmy opens his mouth to say something, but just lets it out an exasperated breath instead. Once Cindy Vortex had made up her mind, it was over. Jimmy reaches into his pocket and holds the goggles for a minute, thinking about what he was about to do. He looks to Cindy's outstretched hand sadly. He knows he has no choice.

He pulls out from his pocket the red wire, a fork, and pops open the circuit breaker. He attaches the red wire to it's correct spot and is about to screw it in when he suddenly stops and looks to Cindy with a worried face.

Jimmy: But Vor-

Cindy: Do it, Neutron!

Jimmy stifles down his protest and attaches the wire.

Cindy: Now tell me-what am I looking at here?

She points to the red and blue wires. Jimmy talks reluctantly.

Jimmy: This one is for communication, and this one...is for visibility.

He gives her the goggles, regret in his face. As he feels Cindy take them from his hand, he shuts his eyes tightly for a second and then opens them to the ground, looking sad. Jimmy thought silently...What did I just do? Cindy clutches the goggles tightly and looks to Jimmy and Taylor.

Cindy: If I scream, get out as fast as you can. Got it?

Taylor: Cin-

Cindy: Got it?

Taylor stares a moment, but then just nods sadly. Cindy turns and looks up the stairs with a worried look. But soon she takes a deep breath and opens her eyes with determination.

Walking up that staircase was like walking a never ending road. The top seemed to get farther away to Cindy as she elevated to the next floor step-by-step. But Cindy's mind comforted her-It's just the fear playing games with me. There's probably nothing up there but the wind or mice, and then we'll look like idiots. But as the drumming sound gets closer, Cindy's comfort seems to disappear with every step. The beat was too precise to be mice, and even the wind couldn't cause the echoing sound that rings out through the hallway. Cindy reaches the top and instantly turns to the right. At the end of the hallway, one small wooden door stood concealed in darkness.

It was coming from that room.

Cindy could calm her breathing, but not her petrified eyes. the sound was hollow, like a huge empty drum being beaten. Cindy stops at the door and notices the bottom is lighted from the room. Cindy stares at it for a moment...

DUM!

Cindy jumps back and gasps-someone had moved in front of the light of the door. Cindy looks to the door knob nervously, but soon she sucks it up and looks determined again. She had to stop this once and for all.

She opens the door slowly and peers inside. Nothing is seen inside, from Cindy's perspective and from ours, but we never look into the room. However, there is a tall, skinny mirror besides the door, and that reflects darkness, like Cindy sees. In a moment, you will know why we don't see what Cindy sees.

Or would never want to.

The drumming pulsed through Cindy's ears like a screeching bird. The room was hollow like the sound, the constant beat of misery...

DUM! dum dum dum DUM! dum dum dum DUM!...

Though Cindy managed to stop her trembling her hand shakes slightly as it brings the Ghost Goggles to Cindy's eyes. Now something is seen in the mirror-a faint trace of a hunched figure, back turned, leaning over something. Cindy saw he was beating hard on something-was it really a drum? She didn't know how it happened, but her voice managed to squeeze past her mounting fear.

Cindy: ...He...hello?

The drumming suddenly stops. The figure is silent. Cindy's breathing is the only thing heard.

Cindy: Is there...something you want?

Silence.

Cindy: Something you need...t-to s...to say?

Figure:...................

Cindy: Do you need-

Figure: h....i...

Cindy stops and her eyes widen-someone was talking to her. Though it sounded as though the figure said "Hi", Cindy could tell it was more of a slurred word. The voice was creaky and faint, and barely hearable. Had the room not been so silent and still, Cindy wouldn't have been able to hear him.

Figure: I....nee

Cindy: You...need something?

Figure: I need.....I ne...need-

Cindy: You need what? What do you need?

This is one reason why no living thing would want to see what Cindy Vortex is about to see. That's why we see Cindy's face only, and spear you a brand on your life of what Cindy saw-a face full of so scary, so horrifying-and yet, so...

Sad?

The figure looks up, and this, I think-this much I you can see. His eyes glimmered in the darkness like white jewels, deep blue in color to the point where they were almost black. Though they had color, they were life-less, loosing the spark of a soul that usually sits in the core of someone's look. His eyes are cold and strait, and in a low, heartless voice, spoke.

Figure: A soul.

Jimmy bits his finger nail nervously. It was a habit mostly girl did when they were nervous, but Jimmy knew he wasn't exactly the toughest guy around. Taylor paces the hall quickly, causing small winds of cold air that made Jimmy even colder, but the only reason he failed to point this out to her was that his uneasiness seemed to shut down all other senses and forced him to concentrate on the cement block that weighed in his stomach. But what he did manage to do was to eye Taylor as she walks back and forth. She looked so nervous, but it almost looked like she was trying to cover it up. Jimmy eyes her suspiciously...

Taylor: Why is she taking so long?!

The sudden yell woke Jimmy to conscience. He shakes himself slightly.

Jimmy: Huh?

Taylor: The drumming was loud, probably on the second floor, it couldn't have gone any higher do you think?

Taylor's sentences were all slurred together, her being too shaky to bother to separate her words.

Taylor: I mean my dad was a man of few words he wouldn't talk to her this long, at least I don't think he would but he hates me anyway so I suppose that's a possibility but then why is she not calling to us or yelling or screaming or doing something?!

Taylor suddenly stops as she looks up to Jimmy whose no longer biting his nails. He's leaning on the banister up the stairs and staring with wide eyes. Taylor dart nervously up there as well, but soften a little as she sees no one's there.

Taylor: What is it, Jimmy?

Jimmy: The drumming...

And for the first time both noticed the absence of the steady rhythm, noticed the emptiness of the large dark room and the stillness of the dark. Jimmy looks to Taylor, and Taylor stares back. Jimmy breaths the word, but it was so quite in the room Taylor hears clearly...

Jimmy: Cindy...

With no second thoughts Jimmy races up the stairs with Taylor hot behind him.

Jimmy: CINDY! CINDY, WHERE ARE YOU?!

No answer. Jimmy looks frantically from left to right down the dark and dreary hall, but not even a hint of Cindy's presence reaches him.

Jimmy: Where is she?!

Taylor: He's close...

Jimmy looks to her panic-stricken eyes. She was staring at the small door at the end of the hallway.

Taylor: His presence...I can feel it...

Jimmy didn't need a second opinion. He races down the hall to the room at the end and burst through it. The room was small, and dark, and this time we see all Jimmy sees-blackness. It was as though the room never ended; the wall wasn't visible, nor the ceiling or any means of movement in the darkness.

Taylor came up slowly behind Jimmy as they both look around, dumbstruck. What were they gonna do? Where was Cindy? And where was the drumming?

Jimmy's voice was shaky and uneven, even though he made an effort of keep it steady.

Jimmy: ...Cindy?

BUMB!

Taylor: WAH!

Taylor jumps back with a hand to her mouth as the door shuts hard behind them. Jimmy felt his face go white-the fear was rising so quickly inside him that he couldn't even bring himself to scream. His jaw dangled in a frightful face, but no scream was manageable. Jimmy closed it quickly and gulps a little loudly. A small sound from behind them makes both of them turn into the dark room.

A mirror, tall and skinny, was the only thing visible in the pitch-black room. It seemed as though an eerie white glow appeared around it, and soon something else came into view...something other than the mirror...

Cindy Vortex.

Suddenly something small comes skidding across the floor to Jimmy feet. Jimmy looks at it, frightened and jumpy, but he calms as he sees the green frame of the Ghost Goggles.

Jimmy: I think...they want us to use these, Taylor.

Jimmy picks them up and starts to put them on when he stops and looks at Taylor Renzen hard in the face. The sense stared to fill him like a poisonous fume-something wasn't right here...

Taylor was as white as the snow outside and as shaky as a leaf. Jimmy saw she was staring, transfixed on the mirror behind Cindy. Cindy looked lifeless, but Jimmy convinced himself to use the word "limb" instead. Lifeless...Jimmy shivered. She wasn't dead-he knew she wasn't. He could feel it. And for the first time, Jimmy noticed something different about the room's feeling. It was like he was connected to everything, could feel everything that went on around him, could hear every scurry of a mouse or slicing sound of the mounding snow outside. He looks up to Cindy uncertainly. She's standing, but her head is lowered to the point were no one can see her face. Her hands are hanging limply beside her, like a doll that needs to be posed.

Taylor takes a breath rather loudly, and Jimmy looks up to her chalk-like face. She stares at the mirror, and then in a low, shaky voice, speaks...

Taylor: ...D...Dad?

Jimmy's eyes widen and his eyes brows rise. He looks back to the mirror and swallows hard-now or never. With a deep breath, Jimmy places the Ghost Goggles on his eyes.

Had it not been for shock, he would have screamed.

The mirror was no longer empty, but occupied by a tall figure with dark hair and closed eyes. His skin wasn't exactly white like Jimmy expected, but dark and filled with shadows, making him look even more sinister. His eyes were closed peacefully, like he was concentrating on something. However, not both hands were at his side. One hand was outstretched, and this was the source of Jimmy's fear. The ghost was holding Cindy from inside the mirror, but not from her arm or her neck, or even any part outside her body. He had reached inside her, and with a jump Jimmy realized what he was holding.

Her heart.

Cindy:...You came...

Jimmy felt a shiver up his spine; the voice was icy and un-human, creaky and weak like an old man. But in it lingered a sharpness like a hissing cat.

Cindy:...I knew you would follow my beat.

Somehow Jimmy found his voice.

Jimmy: W-what do you want from us?

Cindy: Nothing special...

Cindy looks up into Jimmy's eyes, and Jimmy's mouth drops open. Her eyes were dark and empty, corrupted by the evil that overpowered them. She smiles a heartless smile.

Cindy: ...just you.

Taylor: NO!

Jimmy jumps at Taylor's voice. Taylor suddenly looks defiant, most of her fear suddenly pushed aside.

Taylor: You already ruined my life, Dad! But I'm not gonna let you ruin theirs, too! This is personal!

Cindy: Did I, Taylor?...

Taylor's eyes look a little surprised at this. Cindy suddenly softens, and Jimmy sees, past all the hatred and emptiness, a silent plea for help.

...Help...

Cindy: Was it me?

Jimmy hears a slight tear in his voice, and suddenly Cindy closes her eyes as tears form at their rims.

Cindy: ...I tried...I tried, Taylor, I tried...

A tear falls down Cindy's cheek and her bottom lip quivers. Taylor looks speechless, Jimmy looks from one to the other-what was happening here?

Jimmy eyes suddenly get wide as Taylor lowers her head a little and shows her teeth like a snarling dog. Why would she do that?, Jimmy thinks silently. Her father is apologizing...isn't that what she wants? Cindy falls to the floor and holds her hands in her head as Mark Renzen cries through her heart.

Cindy: I'm sorry...I'm SO sorry!

Taylor: Dad!

Jimmy: Sorry for...what?

Taylor gasps. Cindy lets her hands fall to her lap and sniffles a little.

Cindy: I...I...I wasn't quick enough...

Taylor: Dad-

Cindy: I was never quick enough...nothing ever enough...nothing was ever...enough...

Cindy continued to mumble random things such as that as Taylor and Jimmy watch with horror. Jimmy darts his eyes towards Taylor, knowing that turning his head would cause her to try to cover up her emotions like has been lately-why, Jimmy didn't know.

Yet.

Taylor: Dad...Dad, it's alright...

But Cindy doesn't move. Taylor steps forward a little with a shaky jaw.

Taylor: I...I love you-

Cindy's eyes suddenly snap open, and from behind her in the mirror, the ghost's eyes snap open to reveal white, lifeless eyes with small, blackish blue centers that seemed to fill anyone who looked upon them with fear. And as they open, they scream horror...

Cindy: LIAR!

Cindy thrusts out her hand, and with a wincing twitch Taylor cringes to the left like someone was twisting her around.

Taylor: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

She screams so agonizingly Jimmy winces himself. Jimmy's breathing quickens and he feels his hands get clammy as Taylor cries her eyes out as Cindy's head stays in front of her and fraps her bones until they creaked and cracked with pain. Jimmy looks to Cindy, but her face is no longer blackened by evil. She suddenly looks tired, like she's trying to withstand something but doesn't have the energy to do it. Jimmy's eyes shift upwards to the mirror behind her, but the ghost's face was strong and powerful...in fact, it seemed like he was move powerful than before...

It him like a ton of bricks-he knew exactely what was happening here. Mark Renzen was draining the life out of Cindy's heart! And he was almost done!

Jimmy: NOOOO!

Jimmy starts to run over to save her, but stops as he watches the figure in the mirror. His eyes are closed now, but just as Jimmy stops they open, the same dark-blue and white as before. Suddenly, he pulls his hand out of Cindy and Jimmy thought his stomach had dropped out of him until he realized the ghost didn't have Cindy's heart in his hand. With that final motion, he began to disappear.

But not before he spoke his last words...

Cindy: Be...careful...

Her voice was low and weak, and grows fainter as the ghost disappears.

Cindy: ...save...yourself-

Taylor: ...Dad!...

Taylor squeaked the word out from pain. Jimmy didn't look to her-his eyes and ears were fixed on the ghost's last words.

Cindy: ...the backyard...in the backyard-

Taylor: DAD!-

Cindy: ...melt...sludge...

All of a sudden the disappearing stopped, and the ghost's eyes flew open as Cindy's got big and seemed to suddenly lighten up.

Cindy: The key...find...key...

Cindy's eyes went sleepy again, and Jimmy felt worry inside him. He reached a hand out a little as though to pull her away, but just stood there with a jabbering jaw, not knowing what to say. And just like that, the ghost disappeared.

Suddenly the room fell dark, but not so dark that Jimmy couldn't see Taylor's outline. He removes his glasses to see Taylor fall to her knees and cry softly as the wincing pain of her fractured body left her. Cindy still stood, with her hand raised out in front of her as though she was stopping an invisible force field. Suddenly, her hand drops and she wavers a little on the spot. Jimmy gasps and rushes over just in time as she falls to the ground. Jimmy catches her and felt like crying at the sight of her pale, petrified face. But his real fears are recognized only when he looks to Cindy's limp hand lying above her head.

A red rose.

So many thoughts were rushing through his head he couldn't even breathe, and his breath came out in little puffs. Something had happened here, just now, to all of them. And Jimmy knew as he looked upon Cindy's lifeless face that they had to destroy this monster.

They were next on it's menu.

Part 11-Snow to Sludge

Time was running out.

Cindy had started to sweat after she collapsed, and Taylor had told Jimmy through breaths of pain to get Cindy in bed as fast as he could. Cindy wasn't fat, but she was strong, and Jimmy was grateful she was unconscious so she wouldn't witness him struggling to take her to the big bedroom at the end of the hall. Cindy's temperature had risen-Jimmy could tell by her face and the stickiness of her clothes. Her eyes were slanted up in a worried position, like she was being kidnapped, and her breathing was coming out in little gasps quickly, like it was an effort for her to stay alive. Jimmy felt his hands get clammy with worry as he fiddled with them after Cindy was in the bed under warm blankets. Cindy tossed and turned in bed, and the look on her face was bugging Jimmy so bad he almost left the room. But he knew he had to stay. She had done this for him. He couldn't bring himself to leave her side.

Now, at the foot of a long, dirt path, inside a dusty, creepy mansion, Jimmy Neutron sits on a small bundle of old blankets beside Cindy in bed, who's now sleeping soundly[to both of their relieves] under a thick winter blanket. The room was cozy with lights burning bright. Taylor had managed somehow to make it downstairs in the cellar and show Jimmy the circuit breaker. While the basement didn't sit very well with him after just seeing Cindy possessed, he fixed the circuits to the large bedroom so that the lights worked. He also managed to fix the heater, and that calmed everybody down.

However, Jimmy's thoughts weren't on Cindy and Taylor's condition like they had been for the past three hours or so. They were now focused on Mark Renzen's last words: The key...find...key. To a fully-functional person these words meant nothing, but to a half-passed person like Jimmy Neutron, they were a puzzle that needed to be solved. Fast.

Cindy's eyes move slightly in her sleep, and then suddenly open slowly to the huge cozy room before her. She looks over to the left to see a tall brown blur sitting besides her bed. But as her eyes' focus comes in clearer...

Cindy: Jimmy?

Jimmy looks up quickly from the floor as Cindy's soft voice penetrates the silence that had filled the room since they entered.

Jimmy: Cindy?

He smiles and comes up to the edge of the bed, putting his hands on the side and sitting on his knees.

Jimmy: You're awake! I thought...I figured...you'd be out of it longer.

Jimmy couldn't help the confusion in his voice, but he was happy all the same. Cindy looks fragile in bed with her eyes half shut, looking dazedly at Jimmy. But Jimmy knew Cindy wasn't half asleep-she was just weak from before.

Cindy: I feel alright...what happened?

Her voice was like velvet, and seemed to float across the room. Jimmy couldn't help but smile; her voice was a lot nicer when she was calm and sleepy, instead of her usual nagging voice her dreaded to hear every day of his...well now his past existence. Jimmy was so excited she was ok that his sentences were fast and slurry.

Jimmy: You came up to talk to a ghost-the ghost of Mark Renzen! and then somehow he possessed you or something and he was draining you of your life or something like that so I tried to help you but he disappeared-

His voice gets dramatic.

Jimmy: -and then you collapsed and started sweating and twitching and...

Jimmy was so exasperated he didn't know what to say. He seems to calm a little and looks to Cindy sincerely.

Jimmy: You really scared me, Cindy. I thought...I thought you were gone for a second there...and I knew I shoulda went up there and confronted that ghost myself! I knew I shouldn'ta' let you go up by yourself!

He looks down shamefully.

Jimmy: I'm so sorry, Vortex. I'm so sorry...

Cindy pats a comforting hand on his arm. Jimmy looks at it surprisingly. Cindy smiles a dreamy smile.

Cindy: It's alright, Neutron, I'm fine. A little beat, but I'm alright.

She lifts her hand and nudges him with a fist good-heartedly in the shoulder.

Cindy: You should know me enough by my threats to know a ghost can't finish me off.

Jimmy smiles.

Jimmy: I guess you're right.

Cindy smiles back, but suddenly her face goes concerned and she looks to her blankets troublingly. Jimmy notices her expression, but doesn't say anything. Cindy spoke for herself.

Cindy: ...Jimmy...

She was silent a moment, but Jimmy fought off his curiosity, putting his patience to the test. Cindy was still looking at her blanket sadly with tired eyes as she says...

Cindy: I think I know why he went after me and Taylor...and not you.

She looks up to Jimmy's reaction, who to her surprise was a little puzzled.

Jimmy: Whatda ya mean?

Cindy: They've hurt Taylor and I, but not you...and I think it was done for a reason.

She looks up to Jimmy.

Cindy: I take it you won't let me help you find it?

Jimmy: Find...what?

Cindy takes a deep breath, but a soft one. Her green, green eyes look right into Jimmy's.

Cindy: The key?

Jimmy blinks.

Jimmy: How did you...?

Cindy: I can't remember anything, Jimmy-except that. It sticks out in my mind, like the main idea of his whole appearance was to tell you that one thing. He said to get the key...

She looks thoughtful for a moment, and then looks dreamily to the marble ceiling.

Cindy: ...that's all I can remember.

The squeaking rang in Jimmy's ears. HELP ME.

Jimmy: What are you trying to say, Vortex?

Cindy: I'm saying that there's a reason-a reason for everything that happens in life. But some things, unlike others, cannot be explained...or are making you explain for them.

Jimmy listens intently as Cindy lays her eyes on him, focusing on his reaction.

Cindy: Jimmy, Mark Renzen could have killed me; he told me himself. The whole time he was telling me "Don't move or I'll rip you to shreds" . But he didn't...for a reason.

Jimmy felt his face go white and his hands grip the bed side hard.

Jimmy: He talked to you?

Cindy: Yeah...through my heart, too. Clever, actually-you're heart is where you're most vulnerable.

She shakes her head slightly and turns back to Jimmy seriously.

Cindy: Neutron, please-believe me when I tell you this. You need to find out what the "key" is...and only you.

Jimmy felt a lump in his throat. He swallows hard.

Jimmy: Me?

Cindy: That's why he made me and Taylor weak-because you're the one figure this out and get us home.

Jimmy thinks this over. It made perfect sense, really...and suddenly Jimmy realized he had thought about the matter all wrong. In all that had happened he had never really put much thought into what the "key" was exactly.

The key...find...key.

Cindy: How long have you been there?

Jimmy: Since I put you here-

Cindy's eyes drop instantly out of her softness.

Cindy: Neutron! What about Taylor?! I'm fine! Go help Taylor!

That gave Jimmy a start. Her voice was back to normal suddenly-or for now.

Jimmy: But Cindy-

Cindy: I suppose I can just pull out that o-so embarrassing picture of you...

Jimmy narrows his eyes.

Cindy: ...in a ducky suit...

Jimmy's eyes get large.

Cindy:...singing "Someone Left The Cake Out In The Rain" while wearing lipstick and fake nails at Carl's Halloween party.

Jimmy: You wouldn't dare...

Cindy: Oh, I dare, Neutron, I double dog dare. Go!

Jimmy rolls his eyes and leaves. That's the thanks he gets-better yet, that's all the thanks he's ever gotten from Cindy Vortex. Jimmy's thoughts were trying to remember why he ever put Cindy's personality back together in the first place when he reaches Taylor's room.

Taylor's room was small but homey-the same room she had when she was a little girl. You'd think the bed was too small, but surprisingly the tall woman fight inside it perfectly. Jimmy knocks softly as the drowsy voice of Taylor answers.

Taylor: Come on in, Jimmy.

Jimmy opens the door quietly and peeks inside. Taylor was sitting up in bed, looking out the window longingly at the whipping wind outside.

Jimmy: Sorry, I didn't mean to bug you, I was just checking on you.

Taylor: Jimmy...come here.

Jimmy seems confused but walks over anyways, shutting the door silently behind him. He walks over and kneels besides Taylor like he had done with Cindy.

Jimmy: Yeah?

Taylor: Jimmy, what my dad said...don't take it to heart, ok?

Jimmy tries to keep a strait face, but suddenly his face bursts with laughter.

Taylor: What?

Jimmy: To heart?! Don't take it to heart?! Hahahahahaha!

Taylor rolls her eyes. Jimmy gets himself together.

Jimmy: I'm sorry, I'm sorry...what?

Taylor: Jimmy, my dad was mentally insane. He believed he could see thousands of bugs scaling the walls that were coming to get him. He'd lock himself in a room and scream bloody murder for four hours strait. He can't say a strait sentence that makes actual sense.

Jimmy stares. Not say an actual sentence? That didn't sound like the Taylor he knew from before-the Taylor who loved her dad dearly and would give a limb to hear him talk; how could she say that? Jimmy tries hard to keep the puzzle ness out of his face, but he can't help but look confused at the blonde girl in front of him.

Jimmy: What?

Taylor: Jimmy, trust me, ok? I know what I'm talking about-I lived with him all of my childhood, and I know what he's capable of and what he's not capable of, and having a strait conversation is one. Sure...once in a blue moon, he would have a good day, and we'd talk about school, or the weather, how the yard's looking-my father never went outside, he was too frightened.

She looks peacefully up at the ceiling like Cindy had, and then looks to Jimmy sympathetically.

Taylor: Don't pay heed to what he said, Jimmy, it's nothing.

Jimmy: But Taylor...what about the key?

With those words Taylor's face changes. Though she tries to hide it, Jimmy was too used to her hiding by now, and could tell by the sparkle in her eyes that she would have yelled had she not had so much self control. Her face went from soft and dreamy to hard and cold; her lips perused together slightly as she stares him down. Finally she talks-in a small, cutting tone that sounded like she was immensely annoyed but refused to say so.

Taylor: There is no key.

Jimmy stares at her as he processes her cold words. Her face was so full of hatred-why was she reacting as she was? Not knowing of any unsuspicious things to reply with, Jimmy simply smiles with a small nod, and leaves the room with it's in closed utter silence.

The fire was burning brightly as Jimmy tinkers on his ghost detecting device. The black wire was very fragile, and hade to be carefully attached. And for some odd reason, for once in his life so far, he couldn't concentrate on his invention. Taylor's words were buzzing in his head like a swarm of angry bees; There is no key. She had said it with so much remorse, so much loathing and hatred- but she claims to love her dad, though, as she tell him, he can't reply her properly or tell her things correctly, which Jimmy found above the level of normal suspicion. Jimmy puts down his bent fork and places both fists on his chin, staring into the orange embers and thinking silently.

This so much he had figured out; Taylor was suspicious, Cindy's thoughts about he being the only one able to find the key seemed accurate, and Mark Renzen's last words seemed to mean only one thing.

Time was running out.

Jimmy had thought this statement before carrying Cindy to her room, and once she had settled into a silent slumber Jimmy had time to think. Mark Rezen had mentioned things...mud...sludge-these things didn't just appear, Jimmy thought. They need time to happen. But why wouldn't he just say that? Jimmy was rolling this theory over in his head when he suddenly jumped up from the table.

Silence.

The room has been dead silent for the past ten minutes. The rooms were never completely silent-they always had the sound of the wind at their windows, or the sleet coating the sides of the old stone house. But this time, no sound was heard.

Jimmy slowly looks over at the window. No blinding snow whipped at it's glass, nor ice incased it's glasses' outlining. No wind was whipping outside, because the snow was peacefully and couldn't be seen from the window.

Jimmy felt his stomach lurch. What if...No. He couldn't make a conclusion like that. He had to be absolutely sure.

He laces up his snow boots and throws on the snow jacket Cindy had gotten him from the library. He grabs his gloves quickly as he bullets out the door.

He stops at the landing-there was no need to go any further. He was right-the wind had stopped completely. The snow still piled high all around him, but one could tell it wouldn't be there in the morning. Small puddles of water splattered here and there in the house's path told you one thing; the snow was melting. Melting...

And soon it would turn to sludge.

Jimmy races through the house and dashes up the stairs. He didn't go to Taylor's room at the top, however-he went strait down the hall to Cindy's.

Cindy was still in bed when he got there, and she was almost asleep when Jimmy burst through the large oak doors and dashed to her bedside.

Jimmy: Cindy! Cindy, wake up!

Cindy: Hmmm?

She looks to him wearily, but upon seeing the panic on his face she straightens almost immediately and looks wide awake.

Cindy: What's wrong?

Jimmy: Cindy, do you remember anything else Mr. Renzen said when he had control over you?

Cindy thinks a moment, then shakes her head and looks to him, confused.

Cindy: No, why?

Jimmy: Ok...

He takes a few deep breaths from running so fast, but starts off panicky anyway.

Jimmy: Ok look-when he started to fade he said some stuff-stuff Taylor says doesn't matter and doesn't make sense, but I know it does, I just saw for myself!

Cindy: Wait a minute-he said something else other than about the key?

Jimmy: Yeah yeah! He said " Melting" and "sludge"!

Cindy stares and nods slowly.

Cindy: O...kkkkkk...

Jimmy: Don't you GET IT?! Time's running out!

Cindy: For what-

Jimmy: The FUNERAL, Cindy! The FUNERAL!

Cindy looks casual and waves a careless hand.

Cindy: The weather's horrible, Jimmy-

Jimmy: NO! Melting! Sludge! When snow MELTS-

He point dramatically left and leans in to prove his point.

Jimmy: -it turns-

He rolls his fingers frantically. Cindy watches him with wide eyes.

Jimmy: -into SLUDGE!

He points the other way. Cindy nods slowly.

Cindy: You're sick, aren't you?

Jimmy: CINDY! Don't ja get it?! The snow'll be GONE in the morning-maybe even TONIGHT!

Suddenly Cindy sits bolt upright in bed, eye wide with fear.

Cindy: Tonight?!

Jimmy: We could get buried TONIGHT!

Suddenly Cindy jumps up outta bed and races out the room. Jimmy follows in hot pursuit.

Jimmy: Cindy!-

Cindy: THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING!

She races out the door with only socks on and her pink button-up t-shirt, but she was in such a panic she didn't notice her hands turning raw. She races off the porch and down the stairs. She kicks up fluffy snow in Jimmy's face, and as he sputters to spit it out Cindy hollers.

Cindy: HEEEEEEEELP! SOMEBODY HELP US!

Jimmy: Cindy!

Cindy: PLEASE PLEASE!...please...

There's a decline of tears in her voice, but she sucks it up by taking a deep breath. But it was that deep breath people took when they were in a panic and crying unstoppable, and Jimmy could tell Cindy was in a frantic mood.

Cindy: *gasp* HELP US! SOMEBODY COME HELP US!

She turns and looks all around like someone was hiding in the snowy pines close by that could answer her cries, but only silence acknowledged her. Jimmy was still trying to get the snow out of his eyes when Cindy stared to feel dizzy. She was too drained to be out in the snowy weather in a t-shirt, and the screaming didn't help. Cindy felt like her heart was gonna pop, it was beating like a jack-rabbit.

Cindy: HELP! Help! ...help...

She starts to breath heavy and holds her head. Jimmy stops running towards her and skits to a stop a few feet away as he sees her do this.

Jimmy: ...Vortex?

Cindy feels his eye lids getting heavy-her eyes suddenly looked tired and were stuck between opening and closing. Just when she was sure she was gonna pass out and Jimmy was ready to catch her-

Cindy: AHH!

In all her drowsiness she stumbles backwards over a fallen limb onto the cold ground. Jimmy rushes over his last few feet and kneels beside her. His face is saddened as he sees silent tears streaking Cindy's face.

Jimmy: Cindy, no one can hear you-

Cindy: You think I don't know that?!

She looks mad at him, but Jimmy's face doesn't turn sour. He knows Cindy's upset-he was, too, and had that limb not caught his eye and made him think about something else, he would have cried with her.

Cindy: And if you ever tell anyone I cried you'll be FULLY DEAD for the rest of your "life"!

But she stops shouting completely when she sees the look on Jimmy's face. Cindy had known Jimmy ever since they were six, even though they hated each other, and the first time she saw that face Jimmy had on now he had gotten one of his first ideas to invent a self flushing toilet. Cindy shakes her head slightly-that wasn't a pretty site. Though she hated to admit it, Cindy knew when Jimmy had an idea, and right now she was sure all those gears in his head were turning at full speed, his eyes lit with inspiration.

It was the limb that had fallen when they first arrived at the old Renzen house-the one that had made them all jump. Jimmy looks up, and we see the broken stub of a branch where the limb had fallen from. To Cindy this meant nothing and only confused her more than she already was, but Jimmy's blue eyes were bright off the glow of the snow, and he looked like he had just found the missing link.

Jimmy: That's it...

Cindy: What? What?!

But Jimmy didn't have time to answer. He jumps up and runs toward the house.

Cindy: Neutron!

Jimmy turns his head a little.

Jimmy: Wait here!

Cindy watches confusingly as we see Jimmy race into the room with the fireplace and snatch from the table the fork he had been using to fix the goggles. He races back outside to the confused Cindy, who's now standing, her act all together, brushing the snow from her freezing arms. Jimmy rushes over and stops. Cindy looks to the fork and folds her arms.

Cindy: Just when I thought you've really lost it, you bounce riiiiiiiiiiight on back.

Jimmy: Cindy, you have a choice, and I want you to think hard about this, ok?

Cindy blinks-Jimmy actually looked serious. She loosens her arms a little.

Cindy: Yeah?

Jimmy: Alright, look. Pretty soon we're gonne be dead-really and truly dead. But we can save ourselves if we go now.

Cindy's eyes light up. Jimmy couldn't hide the disappointment in his face-he was afraid she would react like this.

Cindy: You mean...?!

Jimmy: The goggles are fixed, and the next bus leaves back to central Retroville leaves in ten minutes.

Cindy's moth opens slowly, dumbfounded. She suddenly jumps into the air.

Cindy: YES!

She moves her arm in a swinging motion along with her hips.

Cindy: I'm not de-ed, oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah! C'mon, Jim!

But she stops her party dance as she sees Jim's looking sad.

Cindy: Uh oh-I smell a catch.

Jimmy: If we leave now, this whole mystery can never be solved.

Cindy: What mystery?! Neutron! We're gonna DIE in less that TEN MINUTES!

She yells, but she's smiling in a happy way. Jimmy knew she was happy if she was smiling at him.

Cindy: Come on!

She tugs at his shirt sleeve, but Jimmy yanks free. Cindy stares a moment with a stubborn smile and crosses her arms, but her smile soon fades as Jimmy looks sadly back at her.

Cindy: Neutron?

Jimmy: Here.

He reaches inside his coat pocket and pulls out the Ghost Goggles. He hands them to Cindy, who takes them slowly and stares at them like they were priceless diamonds.

Jimmy: Save yourself. You might not think something's going on here, but I do. I know something's wrong, and if I don't fix it now it might never get fixed. I don't know about you, but I can't live my life knowing something was wrong that I didn't right.

Cindy looks up to him, her face in disbelief, voice softens and he narrows his eyes a little in sadness.

Jimmy: I'm sorry, Vortex. I'm staying.

He pauses for a moment to look upon Cindy's reaction. It was just as he expected-awed. When she doesn't say anything Jimmy goes on a little nervously.

Jimmy: I figured I'd give you the opportunity to save yourself...you know, since I dragged you into this whole situation in the first place. So-are you in, or are you out?

Jimmy knew it was a tough decision, a decision that needed a lot of time to think over. But he also knew-just as well as Cindy-that time was one thing they didn't have a lot of.

Cindy looks down to the Ghost Goggles and felt like screaming. After all this? After risking her life to try and save theirs, the key word there being "theirs"? Was he really going to do this? Cindy looks up into his face, only she didn't need to. She did it simply because she admired his solid opinion, and his face showed it. His mind was made up.

And so was hers.

She pockets the goggles in her pants, and Jimmy glances down at his muddy shoes as he flinches slightly. He had a feeling she would choose to live, but to see her actually make the decision was surprisingly troubling to him. When Cindy was sure they were secure, she looks up to Jimmy...and smiles.

Cindy: In.

Part 12-The Key to Horror

Jimmy smiles and nods.

Jimmy: Give me a leg up.

Confused but confident in Jimmy's ability to come up with plans in the darkest situations, Cindy hold down her hands to give Jimmy a boost. But to her surprise, Jimmy didn't jump up immediately once her hands were positioned. Then she saw why-he had placed the fork on the ground and mumbled...

Jimmy:...one...

Jim repeated this step until he got to the point where he couldn't go as high as he wanted to[which wasn't very high],then placed his hand on Cindy's shoulder for support and stood on her hands. This sounds like a diffulcult task in writing, but Cindy Vortex was very strong for a ten year old, and Jimmy was small and light, like a small bag of sugar with an oversized head and a curly hairdo, so you can see this wasn't very challenging. Cindy watched Jimmy observantly, trying to figure out what the heck he was doing with a bent fork when they only had a few more minutes to live. It seemed to her that Jimmy was counting something, and then as reached higher it dawned on her that he was counting how many forks it took to reach the broken branch...but why?

Jimmy streached as high as he could, but it was no use. He could reach that branch without making as accurate count. He looks to Cindy below him.

Jimmy: You got it, Vortex?

Cindy flibs her lips in careless fashion.

Cindy: You kiddn' me? I could keep this up for hours!

Jimmy: Alright, here's the plan-on the count of three, I'm gonna jump up and try to reach that broken branch. When I jump, I need you to push up on my feet, like an extra boost, so that I have a better chance of reaching it. Can you do that?

Cindy had streached the truth a little-the cold had begun to numb her open arms in her t-shirt, and they had began to tire. But she couldn't let Jimmy think she was a weak little girl.

Cindy: No prob!

Jimmy: Ok-

He crouches. Cindy's eyes shiut tightly for a second as his weight weighs down on her cold hands.

Jimmy:-ready?

Cindy: Ready!

Jimmy: One...two...three!

Cindy pushes him as hard as she can with a small yell of streanth, and Jimmy jumped as high as he could. Just when it seemes he wouldn't make it...

He stretches out his arm and feels the clash of metal on frozen bark.

Jimmy: Got it!

Suddenly he looks below him to the ground, and then to the screen with wide eyes.

Jimmy: Uh oh.

He falls to the ground with a PLOP! Cindy outs her arms up to shield herself from the snow. When it's safe, she looks to see a small mound of snow with a curl on top like Jimmy's hair. All of a sudden, Jimmy's hand comes out the top and he's pointing a finger upwards.

Jimmy[muffled voice]: Forty-six.

He bursts out and brushes himself off. Cindy looks puzzled.

Cindy: Forty-six forks-so what?

But Jimmy didn't bother to answer.

Jimmy: Give me your hand.

Cindy pulls back her right hand defensively and looks him up and down with eyes of disbelief.

Cindy: Excuse me?!

Jimmy sounds annoyed.

Jimmy: Your finger, Vortex! Let me see it!

Cindy narrow-eyes him suspiciously.

Cindy: Why don't you use yours?

Jimmy: Because your are longer!

True, Cindy thought as she thinks it over and then shrugs in an agreeing way. She hands him her finger and is pulled down to kneel on the ground as Jimmy presses her finger into the snow. Cindy yanks it back almost instantly.

Cindy: That's freezing, you dip! Whatr' you doing, anyway?

Jimmy: I'm measuring.

Cindy: Measuring? With my finger?

Jimmy gives her a look.

Jimmy: Not in so many words.

Cindy: Ok, that's it, the cold has definitely gutten to you!

But Jimmy didn't have time to listen to Cindy's mocking. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he had a burning fire of hope inside him that wasn't about to go out.

Carefully, mumbling calculations as he works, Jimmy traces small lines in the snow where Cindy had imprinted her finger. Once he was finished, he lays the fork down to the imprint, and Cindy understands what he was doing this whole time. Jimmy had made a ruler out of Cindy's finger imprint, and though it was a little rough it would work alright, considering their situation and limited supply of tools. Jimmy goes to the side of the "ruler" and begins to jot down notes. Cindy watches crouched over his shoulder.

Cindy: What are you doing now?

Jimmy: It took forty-six forks to get from the ground to the broken branch, and the fork was three inches long, so that means...

He rights down some calculations Cindy was too tired to read or understand and then continues.

Jimmy:...that limb fell 138 inches from the branch to the ground. So 138 inches...converted to kilometers in the metric system...is thirteen.

Cindy: Yeah...and...?

Jimmy: Kilometers, Cindy!

Cindy: Are you saying...?

Jimmy smiles.

Jimmy: What do ya think we'll find if we convert it to paces? Thirteen kilometers equal thirteen meter sticks. Thirteen meter sticks equal 2 1/2 steps per stick.

Jimmy drops his fork to his knee and crosses his arms in satisfactory. Cindy looks amazed. She smiles.

Cindy: You really are a ge-

Suddenly she stops and shakes her head.

Cindy: I mean please-I coulda figured that out if I wasn't whipped out from being possessed by a psycho murder's spirit!

Jimmy keeps his smile as he rises.

Jimmy: Come on.

Cindy: Where are we going?

Jimmy: To find the key.

They enter the house silently, it's stone walls glistening eerily in the darkness. Jimmy walks in until he reaches the stairs. Cindy stops beside him, and he looks to her.

He stares ahead to the house and then looks to Cindy.

Jimmy: How many stairs to you think make thirteen?

Cindy smiles in response

Jimmy: Keep in step with me, ok?

Cindy nods silently, and together they start to step, Jimmy counting softly...

Jimmy: One...two..

They take a smaller step than all the rest.

Jimmy: ...two and a half, one.

Cindy thinks, one step, two steps, a half a step-one meter stick.

So up they go, finding it easy to count paces when the stairs were separate steps in themselves. Once they were almost at the top, they stop and look in front of them. They had stopped at ten, and ahead lay four more stairs.

The top would mark thirteen.

Cindy looks to Jimmy uncertainly, and Jimmy nods silently back.

Jimmy: Eleven...eleven and a half...twelve...

Jimmy hesitates before going the final step, thinking it was a trap door or something. There was only one way to find out.

Jimmy steps up as Cindy follows suit. Jimmy looks down to the floor.

Jimmy: Thirteen.

Cindy immediately crouches down and starts to look on her hands and knees.

Cindy: It's gotta be here somewhere, then!

Jimmy: Cindy-

Cindy: Don't just stand there, Neutron! Help me-

THUD!

Cindy: OW! What the OH...

Her face suddenly changes as she looks up into the not-so-happy face of Taylor Renzen. Cindy looks to Jimmy worridly, and Jimmy looks back uneasily. They both look back to Taylor and smiles nervously.

Cindy/Jimmy: A hahahahaha...ha.

But as she looks closely, Cindy sees what Jimmy has been telling her he's seen for the past three days-Taylor looked nervous. Very nervous, like she had just stumbled upon armed burglars in her house rather than two ten year old kids. She looks to Jimmy with wide eyes.

Taylor: What'r you doing?

Cindy falls back on her hands and stares up at Taylor in a puzzled way. She could literally see the sweat forming at her brow, and the panic in her voice could make anyone skeptical.

Jimmy: ...Nothing-

Taylor: Then what are you looking for?

Her voice was so shaky and tight that Cindy blinks in surprise. She points a thumb behind her.

Cindy: We were just-

Taylor: I told you, Jimmy-there is no key.

She breaths in disbelief and crosses her arms, nodding her head in an angry way.

Taylor: You think I'm a liar?

Jimmy: No, I-

Taylor: Then what are you doing here?

Cindy suddenly jumps up in front of Jimmy.

Cindy: Jimmy was just helping me look for my elastic! You know...for my pigtails?

Taylor stares a moment, and then her brown eyes shift up to Cindy's yellow pigtails sitting on either side of her head. Cindy looks to her left and takes an end of one in her hand nervously. She looks back to Taylor and smiles weakly.

Cindy: This is my indoor set! My...um...*cough cough* outdoor *cough* set I dropped somewhere in here and ya know, ahahahaha, it's a...a pretty big house and all so Jimmy...decided to...help me.

Taylor gives Cindy a look, and then shifts her glare towards Jimmy, who smiles upon seeing her unconvinced face.

Jimmy: It's true! Ahaha, ya know, girls, they always get stuff they don't need, and then they...loose it. Aha!

Taylor looks back to Cindy, who's looking nervously to Jimmy, but then catches her eye and grins back. Taylor unfolds her arms and makes her way to the stairs. Jimmy and Cindy part ways on different sides of the staircase as Taylor walks between them. But just as reaches the edge, a certain sound made Jimmy and Cindy look down with perked ears and wide eyes.

A low, almost silent creaking sound reached their ears through the red carpet that lay draped over the stairs and in the middle of the halls. It sounded as though the floor was weaker there in the rest of the house...maybe even...

Incomplete.

Suddenly Taylor stops and whips around. Jimmy and Cindy look up quickly so as not to look suspicious, but it was a little late to look unsuspecting. Taylor looks from one to the other right in the eyes, and the darkness catches her face creepily as she hisses through gritted teeth...

Taylor: There is no key.

Slowly, she turns and walks downstairs, leaving Jimmy and Cindy staring confusingly down at her. Sudden Cindy closes her eyes and moans a little. Jimmy looks over to her as she leans on the banister with her head in her hand.

Jimmy: You ok?

Cindy: I dunno...suddenly I feel so weak and...

Jimmy: Tired?-

Cindy: No!

Jimmy jumps a little as Cindy suddenly looks like herself again.

Cindy: I wanna help you figure this out!

Jimmy: But what about everything you told me? And I thought there was no mystery?

He looks to Cindy with a satisfied grin. Cindy points a finger.

Cindy: Don't push it, mister!

But that face only lasted a short period of time. She looks tired again as she lowers her finger.

Cindy: Then again, I feel like I just got beaten up.

She wavers a little, and Jimmy looks ready to catch her but Cindy steadies herself alone. She looks to Jimmy in a surrendering way.

Cindy: Alright, I'll go. Sleep never hurt, right?

She starts to walks towards her room, but stops suddenly and turns back to Jimmy.

Cindy: And you better not figure this whole thing out without me!

Jimmy rolls his eyes with a smile and shakes his head as Cindy storms off to bed. She had no idea what Jimmy was planning, and Jimmy smiles with confidence as he makes his way down the hall to the end room, almost certain that his plan would work.

Jimmy stops before the small wooden door as presses his ear to the pine. Nothing. Not even a squeak. Slowly but quietly, Jimmy opens the door and peer inside.

The room brought forth horrible images in Jimmy's mind. This was the room Mark Renzen had been in, and it was the last place on Earth Jimmy wanted to be. But he knew what he had to do. It was the only way to save what he and Cindy had left and to figure this thing out once and for all.

There the mirror sat, just as it had before when Jimmy and Taylor had saw it for the first time. For all the chills the room possessed, the mirror seemed strikingly out of place, as though it didn't belong there. It's wooden frame glistened in the small light of the room, and suddenly Jimmy saw something in the wood that he hadn't noticed before. Carvings of some type...and upon closer inspection Jimmy saw they ran all along the wood like a long snake making a shape. Jimmy summons up his courage and walks towards it, tracing the engravings with his index finger. It was a long line of some sort...but suddenly his finger felt a glitch in the pattern. Jimmy squints, and suddenly it become clear what ran along the woodwork. A long vine carved into the oak...

A rose vine.

Jimmy felt the hair on his neck stand as he backs up slowly from the mirror and out the room. He fights off the urge to slam the door shut quickly and run away, but instead shuts it quietly and walks away downstairs.

Taylor stands at the sink in the small downstairs kitchen, washing an old dusty cup she had found in one of the cupboards above the sink. Surprisingly the pipes hadn't completely frozen, and though the water was cold she had heated it by placing it next to the working furnace[thanks to Jimmy] and had managed to make it exceptionally hot. Jimmy walks in and peer around the corner at her, and then to the table. A can of coffee sits on the table with an old spoon besides it. She probably bought that when she went for the eggs this morning, Jimmy thinks silently. He rounds the corner as Taylor turns to her coffee. Jimmy smiles at her hopefully, but doesn't get one in return. Taylor stares at him loathingly as he sits at the opposite end of the table from her.

Jimmy: I didn't mean to upset you earlier, Taylor...

Taylor ignores this statement, but it's clear that she isn't very happy with Jimmy and Cindy's snooping. She takes out a small package of sugar and dumps it violently into her coffee. Jimmy watches impatiently-he wishes she would look away...

Jimmy: ...Taylor?

BAM! Taylor slams her hand on the table besides her now shaking coffee and stands up, looming over Jimmy with gritted teeth. Jimmy stares, frightened, but Taylor closes her eyes and seems to calm as she sits back down and stirs her coffee. Jimmy's still wide eyed as he dares to ask more.

Jimmy: What's wrong, Taylor?

Taylor stops stirring abruptly and motions with her hand in a speaking manner.

Taylor: Look, Jimmy-you're messing around with something that happened a long time ago, and that's where I want it to stay.

She looks up into his eyes.

Taylor: I told you that in the beginning, remember?

Jimmy recalled when she had said that, but shakes his head and ignores it.

Jimmy: Taylor, if you want us to help you, you need to tell us all you know.

Taylor: Help me?

Jimmy stops short as he sees the disbelief in her eyes. She points to herself with narrow brown eyes.

Taylor: Help me?! Who ever said I wanted help? You wanna help me, Jimmy, keep your upturned nose outta my business! You got it?

Jimmy was ready to smack her right across the face at this statement, even though she was a grown girl and could probably pin him down in a heartbeat. But he ignores his violent urge and nods his head.

Jimmy: Fine.

Taylor gets up without her coffee and stands over the sink depressingly, her head bowed low. Jimmy looks to her coffee, then back up to Taylor. We don't see Jimmy, but we see Taylor's face as she opens her eyes and talks sadly.

Taylor: Jimmy, I'm sor-

But she stops short as she turns. Jim was gone.

She stares a moment, but then shrugs and sits down again at the table. She goes to drink her coffee, but stops as she looks into it from her hands. The coffee was shaking violently, like someone had tossed it around a little bit...but she had only been gone a minute at the sink, and it was calm when she left it there. Taylor looks back over to the sink, and then to the coffee. What was this all about? Suddenly she closes her eyes and laughs a little.

Taylor: Get it together, Taylor-you're coffee's not possessed.

And with that she takes a deep, long drink.

Jimmy walks the halls upstairs, waiting for Taylor to come upstairs. He has the Ghost Goggles on, looking around the halls for any signs of paranormal activity. The Goggles made everything appear a little bit brighter, kinda like night vision goggles. Jimmy could see the candles burning brightly on the sides of the hall in the stone walls, but no other moving shapes beyond that. He sighs and takes them off, still peering down the hall. Looking disappointed, he turns to go to bed...

Hahahahaha!

Jimmy jumps twelve feet and whips around, goggles on. But nothing showed. Jimmy looks surprised as he looks around, even above him and behind him too quickly for a ghost to move out of the way without being seen even just a little.

Nothing was there.

Jimmy stares a moment down the dark hall, and slowly takes the goggles off. Ok, maybe ghost hunting wasn't the best pastime in a haunted house. And with that thought in mind, Jimmy hurried out the dark hallway and down a set of stone stairs to the second floor, where all their rooms were. Just as he reaches the bottom, a shape moving in the coming darkness catches his eye.

Jimmy stops himself from reaching the bottom step and instead hids behind the stone supporting the stairs. He waits a moment, and then peaks out at the figure. It was Taylor, who suddenly looked tired and somewhat drowsy. Jimmy smiles-his plan worked! Taylor moans a little as she makes her way to her room slouched over, dragging her feet and closing the door slowly with a small "du dun".

Jimmy waits until the coast is clear and starts to walk downstairs...

Suddenly Taylor opens the door with a thundering

KA-BOOM!

that made Jimmy jump out of his skin. But being small has it's advantages, and Jimmy was outta there faster than a criminal being chased by the feds. With one quick motion he plunges himself behind a large statue of a gargoyle in the hall and waits tensely for Taylor to leave. Daring his chances, Jimmy peers from behind the stone's smooth edge at Taylor Renzen's face. It was unlike Jimmy had ever seen it-cold and mean, like the snow had been when the wind whipped ice at the old, creaky windows of the Renzen household. Dark shadows cast under her eyes in the candle light near her, and as she leans over and blows it out[her eyes still surveying the hall], her large brown eyes peer out through the darkness like arrows in the trees. Her lips were pursed together in a sour fashion, like she had just had a whole pack of War Heads and couldn't get over the taste.

With one final look around, Taylor closes her bedroom door slowly and eerily. Jimmy heard his panting breath and the beating of his heart through his shirt. It was this feeling that made Jimmy uneasy-why was he so scared of her? The answer scared Jimmy not in reality, but in the pit of his mind. He didn't know why he feared the certain things he did in the old house, but it was a feeling like he was falling down a bottomless pit with nothing but darkness surrounding him and his own petrified screams ringing in his ears. Jimmy closes his eyes and steadies his breathing. Get yourself together, Jim. It's all in your mind, it's all in your mind...

Something told him he was in more danger than he thought.

Sleep was worse than dying that night for Jimmy Neutron. He tossed and turned in his covers restlessly, surprised he didn't wake Cindy above him. Jimmy had pulled out some old blankets from a closet and had made a small bed with one pillow besides Cindy's bed, where she slept soundless in her dreams. It calmed Jimmy somewhat that she was so silent in her slumber-it seemed as though he would loose her that morning when she stared to sweat and shake with evil thoughts racing through her mind and eventually her heart. Though her face was still flushed a little, she wasn't as sweaty as before, and it seemed like the fear was escaping her slowly through sleep. Jimmy had thought about weather or not he should stay with Cindy in her room to make sure she was ok, and even though he knew she was strong and was probably fine, he wasn't about to let her stay in Mark Renzen's old room alone, epically after the little encounter he had had with Mark Renzen the other night. But as Jimmy lay on the thin cushion of his fluffy blanket, he began to think that Mark's message was more important then he had previously thought.

HELP ME. Help you with what?, Jimmy thought silently. What could he possibly need help with? He was dead-had he not been able to do something, and now he wants Jimmy to do it for him? But then why was he showing Jimmy all these pictures of red roses?

Jimmy just couldn't bring himself to think when he had not real factual evidence. He shakes his head slightly with a look of disbelieve-him a break! Ghosts? Possession?...but do I really have a right to say that, ponders silently. After all that's happened? After all that I've seen...and felt? He may not be totally convinced, but Jimmy knew real fear when it seized him, and this was no ordinary Boggie-Man fear. This was more like Psycho-Murdering-Drunk-Chicken fear, and he has to stop it before it takes over him.

Then it would be too late.

Taking a look at the window at the red rose outside that still sat there, Jimmy rises slowly and silently to check up on Cindy. He smiles-she looked sorta nice when she was so peaceful...he suddenly shakes his head-what was he thinking?! Rolling his eyes at his ridiculous thoughts, Jimmy rises noiselessly from his mess of blankets on the floor, and we see that he has his snow jacket on with his gloves and boots on also. He tip toes backwards to the door, but then suddenly stops and looks up to the window again. He gasps.

The rose was gone.

Staring for a moment, Jimmy continues to the door, and without so much as a mouse squeak, makes his way down the dark and dreary hall.

Perhaps I should take this time to tell you briefly of our little genius's plan. You see, when Mark Renzen hit Taylor and Cindy with his magic, he made them drowsy and tired. Since he had actually been inside Cindy, she was a lot more weaker than Taylor-the last person Jimmy wanted to get caught by snooping in the middle of the night. Jimmy could stand a pounding from Cindy[he had more times than he could remember] , but being caught by Taylor meant foiling his whole plan. So he re-entered the room where Mark had left his power in the mirror. By running his finger along the woodwork, he had gained a small amount of Mark's lingering power-just enough to make Taylor pass out for the night and not be able to wake up unless a bomb was dropped. Jimmy had stuck his finger into her coffee while she had had her back turned to the sink.

The hallway was dark and cold, but more of a fall cold than a snow cold. Jimmy was right; the snow was definitely melting, and by tomorrow schools would be open, cars could drive easily,...funerals could be easily preformed. Jimmy shudders-that was the last he needed or wanted to think about. But once the thought was there, it was hard for it to escape Jimmy's mind. He began to wonder-what would it be like, being around the gang when no one knew you were there and watching them grow up while him and Cindy lingered behind? Would Carl and Sheen show up at my funeral?, Jimmy wondered. Yeah, they might-Carl would need his inhaler, but he would. Libby will probably show for Cindy, and maybe even Nick might stop by. Jimmy suddenly smiles. Wouldn't he like to see the look on Cindy's face if she saw Nick Dean show up at her funeral. Jimmy's mind was suddenly flooding with more possibilities when he reached the stairs. Here he stops and stares down at the huge oak doors awaiting him.

Jimmy[whisper]: But I don't need to worry about that...I'm getting us out.

He looks down below him at the red rug and the edge of the beginning of the stairs from the top.

Jimmy: I'm gonna live, weather Taylor Renzen likes it or not.

And with that he crouches down and crawls over to the right where an edge of the carpet is. Careful not to wake Taylor or Cindy, Jimmy lifts the rug slowly and starts to roll it carefully up from the floor, even now and then stopping to look around and to make sure he wasn't being watched. Layer after layer the carpet curled, at first being difficult but now getting into the rhythm and curling more easily. Finally, after what seems like a century, Jimmy rolls it over the top of the stairs.

It was like he'd stumbled upon a bag of priceless gold. Sure enough, right where Taylor had stepped, a huge jagged crack lay in the floor, cut like a poorly crafted knife. The wood was old and sorta moldy, but Jimmy didn't care. It was their ticket out...their ticket home. Jimmy closes his eyes, half afraid of what he'd find, and sticks his hand in the crack slowly. rummaging around in open air got him no where, but eventually he grasped something...something cold and smooth...

Jimmy eyes pop open with sudden excitement. He grabs the object firmly and pulls it out without any thought of splinters. He opens his hand slowly and peers at the small object he know possessed, and smiles.

The key.

But suddenly, so suddenly, Jimmy's expression becomes a little confused. The key...he had found the key. But the key to what? A door? A secret compartment? Were there are clues he missed?

Jimmy's eyes burst open wide. Clues he missed-why did that seem so accurate to him? What could he have missed? He figured out that "melting" and "sludge" meant "time", and he had found the key. Hadn't he done everything Mark asked him to? Jimmy looks around, as if something around him would tell him all he needed to know, but nothing seemed helpful.

But suddenly, like a faint voice floating down the hall, Jimmy heard an echo of words from the back of his mind, and it seemed like the key had unlocked a door of the hidden or just forgotten words of Mark Renzen in the back of Jim's mind. He had said something more, something that didn't make sense back then.

The backyard...in the backyard...

The backyard ?, Jimmy thinks. The backyard...what could be back there? The gears were turning so hard in Jim's head it almost hurt, but nothing came to mind. There was definitely something back there...but what? What that needed a key to open?

One way to find out.

The stairs creaked eerily as Jimmy descended down to the huge oak doors at the end of the vast staircase. Jimmy had stuck to looking at the carpet and trying to avoid the darkness, but after discovering the carpet was the same red color as blood, he decided the walls were more interesting. Before he noticed, the oak doors were within his grasp.

The air outside was cold, but lacked the harshness it had earlier. Small puddles of melted ice and snow glow off the light from the full moon, which looms creepily over Jimmy like a large white dome of craters and mysteries. The sky was mildly cloudy, but stars poked out here and there, and there was just enough light to see the entire backyard, and it was vast, streaching far into the darkness where even the moon couldn't illuminate with it's shine. Jimmy takes a deeo breath-he got them into this, he was gonna haveta get them out.

Jimmy scanned the area he walked in for anything that looked locked or suspicious, but all the while thought of Cindy. He knew she had wanted to help, but letting her come would mean explaining to her about the message and the red rose, and for some reason Jimmy felt that wasn't a good idea, and if there's one thing this whole experience has taught me, Jimmy thought, it's to trust your gut feeling in an unstable situttion, and there's was everything but safe. Taylor was acting stranger than ever, and Cindy was way too weak to walk quickly, let alone run. Something hit Jimmy's large hair, and Jimmy jumped like a scared little rabbit only to see the tip of his hair weighing down in his face, dripping wet. The drop falls on his nose, and soon it starts to pour out. Jimmy gives the camera a look as he's getting soaked. The moon no longer looked welcoming against the winter sky; now it made the scene look more freaky than before. Summoning up all his courage, Jimmy continued.

KA CLASH!

Jimmy: AHHH!

Thunder...and lighting to boot. It was getting bad. Out of nowhere, a huge storm seemed to be brewing, and Jimmy saw that in less than five minutes huge dark clouds had blanketed the sky and started throwing lightning bolts down into the ground. But he couldn't stop-once the storm blew over, they would have the funeral tomorrow for sure, and then him and Cindy would be trapped. Forever.

And it would be all his fault.

Another spark of lightning hit the ground with such a force Jimmy sheilded his face with his arm. DOW-WEOW! It hit like someone had thrown the world's biggest baseball into the Renzen backyard and it had exploded. Jimmy looks nervously back to the house-Taylor was sure to wake up during this, and Cindy was probably already tossing anf turning in the wake of the storm. But their lights weren't on-there was still time, right now the most valuable thing in Jimmy's...well, his half existence.

But just as Jimmy crouches under another thunder crack, something in the lit yard catches his eye. Something small, yet surprisingly noticable in all the commotion of wind and rain and snow. Something bold...something vivid...something...

Red.

Jimmy felt his eyes buldge. With no second thoughts he races towards the spot and falls to his knees in the slushy snow before the object. Gently but hurridly, he brushing off what little snow was left that the rain hadn't washed away, and there it was. A red rose...dead, but without a doubt a rose. The red color still lingered slightly, and beneath it's brown steam some flecks of green shown through. Jimmy looks all around in the snow like he had lost something, looking for some type of clue as what to do next, but nothing jumped out at him in the dark snow. Until, that is, the savior lightning struck again, and this time Jimmy was actually greateful for the unfortunate weather.

The lightning had lit up yet another solid object through the terror pf the storm: a shed. Jimmy rushes to his feet, and stumbling in the slush of the snow and the pull of the wind, Jimmy hurridly made his way to the small wooden shack. Next to the grand stone mansion it looked quite out of place, but to Jimmy it was like the light at the end of the tunnel. A shelter! A roof! A shed!...

...to small for him to fit in.

Jimmy: Rats!

Ka-thow!

It was getting worse, and Jimmy didn't have time to complain about being cold and wet. Quickly he scans the small shack for some tools that could help, and it wasn't until he laid his eyes on a shovel that any ideas came to mind.

The rain shrieked through the night like a giant hose being sprayed right in the center of the Earth as the wind howled like an angry pack of wolves, crying out into the night. Through all this Jimmy Neutron hacked away at the frozen earth in front of the dead red rose, trying to uncover whatever was hiding beneath it. The wind whiped at his face and tried to pull him down, but Jimmy fought it off-his determination was so great right now, nothing could stand in his way, not even the merciless snow and sleet that niped his nose and redened his ears. But Jim was so focused on his goal that even when he falls to his knees and the snow seeps thorugh his shorts and numbs his legs, the pain of frostbite went unnoticed.

Layer after layer he dug, deeper and deeper into the earth he searched, but nothing popped up. Come on!, Jimmy's mind screamed out into the night as he digs harder and harder. I know you're down there, whatever you are! Bt his fire of hope began to dim slightly as the hole got deeper and the weather got harsher.

Suddenly, just when it seemed like everything would be alright, an ear-splitting sound reached Jimmy's ears.

SPLING!

Jimmy yepls as a piece of metal comes mere inches away from slicing his face. Jimmy falls over backwards from his knees, and comes back only to find the broken end of his shovel. Jimmy grits his teeth as he rises and throws the shovel into the ground in frustration and fury. Jimmy wasn't the type to do something like this-all the more detail of how upset he was with this whole thing. Him and Cindy were gonna die, and there was nothing he could do about it.

Thud.

Jimmy stops walking away and stands a moment. Slowly, he turns his head to the hole where dirt spurred out from all sides, and where the end of the shovel now lay out of the hole.

It had hit something. Something solid.

Jimmy's eyes light up in a darkness as he rushes back and drops to his knees. Through all the mud and slush he manages to get his fingers around a small metal box, ordinary enough even in this case. But Jim was too smart-there was a catch. Always there was a catch.

Jimmy gripped the ends of it tightly, and with a small tug Jimmy pulls out a tiny bolted box-metal, like he had thought. Jimmy turned the object over and over quickly in his excitement, and smiles broadly as he turns it towards him.

A keyhole!

Feverishly, Jimmy fishes inside his coat pocket and takes out the small metal key. This was it. The moment he and Cindy had waited for. Normally guilt would have striken Jimmy about leaving Cindy out of this, but he was too excited to feel anything but happy. With a wide grin Jimmy puts the key into the hole with a shaking hand from the cold. It fit.

The biggest mistake Jimmy Neutron has ever made happens here. For with one turn, all his worst fears were reckonized.

Jimmy looks into the box hurridly, but to his slight dissappointment nothing seemingly important lay inside. Only one small piece of old paper, yellowed and torn from ages underground encased inside the small box. Jimmy takes out the neately folded paper and unfolds the three folds the long way to read the concealed document.

Jimmy felt his blood run cold. His heart had stopped beating, his brain had shut off all connection to his body and he suddenly felt like the world was spinning. Jimmy's bottom jar starts to shake as he stares at the letter with an awed expression. His brown hair hangs limply in his face, dripping wet, but Jimmy could care less. He was somewhere else, somewhere in a world of horror with no escape. Jimmy's eyes are wide, and under all the snow, pouring rain, rushing wind and muddy sludge, Jimmy Neutron whispers three small words into the terror of the night.

Jimmy: Oh my god.

Part 13- Shattered Evil

boomBOOM!

Cindy gasps and sits up strait in bed. Outside her window, she could see scarce moonlight as a rain and sleet combination hits her window and rattles the roof like a hungry lion trying to get at a rabbit in it's hole. A sudden storm-in a dreary old house with a psychopathic ghost running loose. Cindy shudders; that wasn't a very pleasant thought, considering her circumstances. Looking to her left, she saw a blur of dark blue bed sheets in a somewhat organized fashion on the floor-she couldn't stay awake, epically with her being so weak. But she suddenly feels fine when she jumps up at the sight of an empty "bed" beside her.

Cindy: Neutron?

No answer. Cindy shakes her head, determined to wake up, feeling the blood rushing through her head in all directions, and opened her eyes to a clear picture of a blanket and sheet...but no Jimmy Neutron. Cindy looks around frantically for a moment, but then narrows her eyes with anger.

Cindy: NeuTRON!

Cindy bursts through her bedroom doors and walks briskly down the hall-she had specifically asked him not to go investigating without her! He couldn't do one thing she asked him to, could he? Of course not, he's the all high and mighty Jimmy Neutron!, Cindy thought bitterly. She was surprised to see another figure, however, emerging from the room at the other end of the hall. At first Cindy felt a little foolish-what if Jimmy had just gone to check up on Taylor? But once a candle on the wall nearby was lit, Cindy saw that it was Taylor herself. Of course, light wasn't needed to know that; Jimmy could never reach that high in the first place. Taylor shakes her hands, extinguishing the match she had lit.

Taylor: It's quite a storm out there, huh?

Cindy: You got that right, woke me outta've a sound sleep! Speakin' a sound, did you hear anything during the night? Anything...moving?

Though Taylor found little point to this question she pondered it in her mind as she looks thoughtfully to the ceiling, hand on her chin. Now that she thought it over, she had slept quite soundly compared to the last few nights in her old room, haunting memories of her childhood coming back to her like quick bright lightning. But nothing came to mind as she thought, puzzled.

Taylor: No, actually-not even a mouse squeak.

Cindy: Really?

Taylor: Yeah.

She cocks her head slightly in curiosity and raises an eyebrow.

Taylor: Why?

Cindy: Oh, nothing really-I got up and the King of the Nerds wasn't there.

Taylor almost fell flat on her head as her face drains of all it's color.

Taylor: J-Jimmy's...m-missing?

Cindy looks suspiciously at Taylor and speaks kinda slow, stretching out certain words[ you know what I mean, like when someone says "Nooo" really long]

Cindy: No, I don't think it's that big a deal. I just wonder wear he could...

She stops as she stares at Taylor's eyes. It wasn't like Taylor was trying to be rude, but she wasn't even looking at Cindy. Her face was focused on the carpet that lay in front of the stairs. Her face was white and her jaw quivered slightly, and as Cindy turns slowly and follows her gaze, she could have sworn she went white, too.

The carpet's end corner was overturned.

BOOM BOOM!

Cindy gasps again, but not so much from the lightning, from the realization of the fact that Jimmy...

She looks to Taylor worriedly.

Taylor: You don't think-

Cindy: JIMMY!

She whips around and races down the steps, Taylor right behind her. Cindy feels her heart pounding through her shirt-why would Jimmy be outside? Was he hurt? Was he even conscience? So many thoughts were racing through Cindy's head than running down those steps was making her dizzy, but she ignored that feeling. Jimmy was in trouble-she could feel it.

Just as Cindy gets close to the door, Taylor grabs her shoulder and whips her around.

Taylor: Cindy! Wait!

Cindy looks up at her with feverish eyes.

Taylor: How do you know he's out there?

Cindy: Where else could he be?! He's probably hurt! Who knows what time he left and how long he's been out there with no one to help him! We have to find him!

Taylor: Cindy-

BAM!

Cindy jumps around as Taylor looks up quickly with a surprised face. There, standing in the doorway, dripping from head to foot, stood Jimmy. His clothes were soaked with melted snow and mud, and his hair was all sleek with rainwater, his dollop once at the top of his head now hanging limply to one side on the side of his face. Taylor wore a look of surprise alone until she noticed something tucked under his arm. Her eyes get big-a small metal box. In the same hand, a small iron key. And in the other, a slightly damp piece of yellow thin paper.

Cindy felt herself slip out of shock fairly quickly and snap back to her senses.

Cindy: Thanks a lot, Neutron! I only wanted to help you and you THREW it in my FACE!

Yeah, yeah, Cindy knew Taylor was there and understood her. But according to Cindy's calculations, they were as good as dead anyway-what did it matter? But as Cindy stares at Jimmy more closely, she sees there's something definitely wrong. This whole time, Jimmy had had eye contact with Taylor Renzen, and it wasn't a very happy look. Both of their faces were chalk white-Taylor looking nervous, Jimmy looking petrified. The tension in the room was so tense Cindy almost stopped her sentence, but she had to know.

Cindy: What's wrong, Jimmy?

Jimmy takes a deep breath through his nose in a sort of scared way and holds out the paper to Cindy, still watching Taylor.

Jimmy: Read this, Cindy.

Cindy: But Jim-

Jimmy: READ IT!

Cindy jumped a little as Jimmy gives her the most serious look she'd ever seen cross his face. Cindy walks up to him and grabs the paper angrily, scanning it quickly with her eyes. All of a sudden, she stops. She goes back to the beginning and reads through it slowly...carefully...

Cindy feels her eyes go wide and her jaw drop as she processes what she's reading.

Cindy: Oh my...

She was simply too shocked to finish her sentence. Jimmy narrows his eyes.

Jimmy: No key, huh?

Taylor: Jimmy-

Jimmy: LIAR!

He points a finger strait at Taylor in mid sentence.

Jimmy: Liar.

He points it again. He puts on a type of "oh yeah?" face and stares her strait in the eyes.

Jimmy: That's all you are, isn't it, Taylor? Nothing but a connivering black hearted WITCH!

He shakes his head in disbelief.

Jimmy: You're no one, Taylor! No one! No feelings, no heart...

At this his eyes get wide and look somewhat sad-either that, or he was purely petrified by what he was about to say.

Jimmy:...no soul.

Taylor stares, trying to play dumb. But Jimmy had found the key, he'd found the box...

He'd found the secret.

Cindy stares at the paper like it was a winning lottery ticket or something, but her face wasn't happy with disbelief-it was terrified. Jimmy points to the paper in her hands.

Jimmy: You wanna know what this is? Huh?

Taylor shakes her head slowly and jabber words.

Taylor: I don I don't-

Jimmy: Ya do? Alright then...your birth certificate.

Taylor's eyes pop. She feels her jaw drop slightly and the taste in her mouth goes sour. She could have sworn her heart had stopped, but was in so much shock she couldn't tell, nor could she talk as she makes gestures of begging, but no words come out. Cindy looks up slowly and points a shaky finger, her face white.

Cindy: It was you...it was you all along...

Jimmy doesn't know how he summoned up the courage, but outta no where he felt as though he needed a comeback. He walks up to Taylor and stands right in front of her, his face in hers. She stares coldly down at him as he whispers deadly words.

Jimmy: You died, Taylor, on November 15, 1944.

Jimmy pauses a moment...

Jimmy: Your birthday.

Taylor stiffens. Jimmy feels anger coursing through him faster with every heartbeat.

Jimmy: You never even lived, Taylor. And that's what drove your father insane, isn't it?

Taylor didn't answer. Jimmy continues with a certain tone like a cop would to a conflicted felon.

Jimmy: "He wasn't quick enough", remember? "Nothing was ever enough". Wasn't quick enough to save you when you were dying at birth? Right. Nothing was ever enough?

Jimmy changes his tone to sound suspicious.

Jimmy: Were you spoiled, Taylor?

Taylor's lips were so tightly pressed together Jimmy almost screamed. She was fuming so bad right now it wasn't in the least bit funny.

Jimmy: You die, then, and Mark Renzen goes home to resume his life alone and single-of course, your mom died during labor.

Taylor felt a sharp jolt of anger in her mind-she had no heart to feel pain.

Jimmy: So whacha do, Taylor? Huh? Haunted him until he went INSANE?!

Jimmy yells right in her face, so bold was his anger. Taylor closes her eyes a moment, but then opens them and stares into Jimmy's narrow ones. They were lifeless-like her.

He narrows his eyes and inches up on his tippy-toes to get right up in Taylor's face. In the shadows, his anger looks even more creepy than before. Jimmy speaks low, but Taylor heard every word.

Jimmy: If I was your dad, I'd go crazy, too.

Wam!

That made Taylor hit her breaking point. With a simply flick of her hand, Taylor throws Jimmy across the room and out onto the porch in the cold, hitting Cindy out there with him in the process. With an evil grin Taylor Renzen walks slowly towards the sprawled figures.

Taylor: Well aren't we just a little genius?

Jimmy tries to stand, but a sharp pain in his rib cage made him only able to look over at her, but it was enough.

Jimmy: You drained him of his life...

KICK! With another furious wack, Jimmy's thrown down the steps and into the path. Cindy quickly jumps up and runs over, though she still felt dizzy.

Cindy: Jimmy!

Jimmy croaks through the rain and sleet.

Jimmy: ...people thought...he was insane-

WAK! Right in the stomach. Cindy rushes up behind her and prepares to Hi-Chi her back in two, but Taylor's senses were too strong, even for her. With a glance to her left, Taylor throws her hand at her and throws her into the tree nearby. In her state, Cindy couldn't stand the pain in her head-she was too weak. She stood a moment, then suddenly collapsed in the snow.

Jimmy: Cindy! OH!

Taylor kicks him once more, spitting mud on her face and not caring. Jimmy holds his stomach and feels tears running silently down his face.

Jimmy: They knew you were dead! It was your dad...you convinced your dad you weren't. And once he was sure you were real...you stared your process-

Taylor: You better SHUT IT, kid!

Jimmy: For twenty three years you poisoned his mind with the thought that you were real, but pretty soon it was too much for him to take!

KER-POW! The thunder struck like a whip, but Jimmy was too occupied to jump.

Jimmy: So he lost it! He stared making people believe him!

Taylor's face softens a little. Jimmy's voice becomes more normal.

Jimmy: And if they didn't believe him...he killed them.

WICK! Jimmy rolled once more and stayed crumbled on the ground as Taylor walks up to him, shaky her hips in an evil way.

Taylor: So what? That small minded dog couldn't even be potty trained.

Her eyes light up eerily and she grins heartlessly.

Taylor: He was so easy to manipulate...

At this Jimmy jumps up and kicks Taylor hard in the stomach. Taylor stumbles back as Jimmy falls-he definitely broke a rib, he couldn't even walk. For a moment, Taylor stood hunched, like she was really hurt. Jimmy stared-had he really hurt her? He stood motionless with surprise as Taylor struggles to stand up. Jimmy lets go of his ribs and limps a little closer as Taylor bends in agony. Suddenly, she looks to him with a smile.

Taylor: Sucker.

BAM!

Jimmy flies across the driveway and skids on the pavement into a mud puddle. The lightning flashes, making Jimmy shut his eye tightly as he moans with pain. This was it. After all they had done, this was how it wad gonna end. Taylor would win, and the truth of Mark Renzen was never to be told. The freezing mud coursed through Jimmy's clothes and slowly caused him to shake slightly from the beginnings of hypothermia. He was too weak...too weak to do anything. So strong was the urge inside him to stand up and run, to get Cindy and run as fast as possible away from this horrible place and forget everything that had happened. But some things, like the paper in the box, cannot afford to be forgotten.

Especially twice.

This truth weighs heavy in Jimmy's heart as he feels himself sinking slightly in the mud he was drenched in. He saw the slowly moving shadow of Taylor making it's way over to finish him off, and felt even more horrible than ever. He had let everyone down-Cindy, Mark, and worst of all, himself.

Taylor swoops down and grabs him by the neck, holding him high in the air with a nasty grin. Jimmy gags and tries to pry her hands loose of his neck, kicking uncontrollably despite the unthinkable pain in his lower stomach. Taylor smiles evilly and breaths words into the rain and snow.

Taylor: I'm going to kill you nice and slow...

She opens her mouth with a cat-like hiss, and Jimmy felt like he had been shot. She had fangs! Real fangs, like a dog or a viper! Fangs that were sharpened to a tee, dripping with evil and shiny dangerously in the snow's glow. Jimmy's eyes get wide as Taylor gets closer of biting his neck, and already he felt the slow tickle of blood streaming down his neck. It was an illusion, but to Jimmy it was just too real for comfort. Jimmy squirms as hard as he can in Taylor's grasp, but it was no use. Taylor pulls his ear close to her mouth as she hisses...

Taylor: You're such an idiot boy, Jimmy Neutron. You should have killed me while you had the chance, but now it's too late, isn't it?

She tightens her grip, and Jimmy makes one last desperate gasp as the last remaining air in his throat is squeezed out of him like toothpaste from the tube.

Taylor: No one knows but you, Jimmy. And that girlfriend of yours, but as you've probably noticed, I've taken care of her.

Jimmy heard a grin in her voice and felt the anger rising inside him. He looks around for something-anything-to help him, but nothing would save him now. He was trapped. He looks up to the night one last time, trying to remember the moon and the stars, even though they were half covered by clouds. He felt the rain drip on his face and gently glide down, something he had never stopped and noticed before. And suddenly, as Jimmy felt Taylor's sharp fangs grazing his neck in a teasing fashion, he saw the world in a whole new way. He suddenly realized how much of the world he had never stopped to inspect or to marvel at, and his heart ached as he knew it wasn't his time. As he thought this, however, he let his eyes graze the yard and the old stone house one last time, and then fell his gaze upon the tree where Cindy had been thrown. Jimmy's eyes had been calm as he looked to the moon, but now they were large again with surprise. He would have gasped had he not been in the process of being suffocated.

Cindy was gone.

Voice: Hey witch!

Taylor stops her eating and whips around to the house. Just visible, through all the sleet and snow, was a rather small figure standing in front of a window. Taylor blinks-how was she standing outside a window? Jimmy stares, baffled, at the floating Cindy. What the...?

BA BOOM!

With a roll of thunder Jimmy sees that Cindy wasn't floating-she was standing on a snow bank near the window that Jimmy had failed to notice earlier. And as lightning lit the yard in a bolt of fury, Jimmy saw something large and black in the light of the strike, and suddenly, with a gleam of reflection, Jimmy saw the shaped woodwork.

The mirror.

Cindy slides down the snow bank skillfully with the mirror in both hands. As she sets down the mirror and starts walking towards Taylor and Jimmy. Taylor stares a moment, then grins evilly, showing her gleaming white fangs-Jimmy was relieved to see no blood spats on them. As easy as ever, Taylor drops Jimmy onto the ground like a sack of potatoes and starts to walk towards Cindy with a hunger look in her eyes. Taylor's smile widened as she got closer, drawing her hand slowly to her waist...

POW!

Jimmy gasps in between trying to breath as he sees Taylor pull out a loaded revolver out from her waist. Smoke cleared from the shot to reveal nothing moving. Taylor smiles devilishly and walks slowly over-

Cindy: He YA!

Cindy suddenly jumps up and bashes Taylor back with a long pole. Taylor yelps and stumbles backwards, cradling her left shin. Cindy watches and waits until Taylor looks to her. With skill, Cindy twirls the pole in between her fingers, then flips once and catches it in a fighting position.

Cindy: Come on, toots. Make my day.

Taylor stares a moment, shocked, but the surprise didn't last too long. She starts to breath heavy, baring her teeth like a rabid dog, and suddenly burst out into shots. POW POW POW! The gunfire echoed through the night like the howls of wolves. Cindy moved her stick faster than Jimmy could explain the history of eggs from memory-and believe me, that's fast. The bullets flew off of the stick as Cindy blocks every one.

Taylor: AHHHHHH!

She scream with frustration as Cindy dodges every shot with a triumphant smile across her pale face-the weakness was still present. But the way Cindy was fighting, it couldn't have been too bad.

Jimmy felt a jolt of shock as Cindy's pole flies from her hands in a sideways shot from Taylor. Taylor smiles heartlessly as Cindy suddenly looks nervous. As Taylor steps forward, Cindy steps back.

Taylor: You stupid girl. What will it take to convince you that there's no escape? You're trapped...

Cindy feels the snow bank hit her back as she stares helplessly into the barrel of the revolver aimed between her eyes. Taylor grins.

Taylor: ...like the rat you are.

Jimmy: CINDY!

They both look up as something comes spiraling towards them through the air in the dark.

Jimmy: CATCH!

Cindy understood instantly. Pushing Taylor aside hard, Cindy managed to catch the stone Jimmy had thrown. Just as she's about to chuck it, Taylor grabs her feet and Cindy lands hard onto the frozen ground.

Taylor: YOU CAN'T ESCAPE ME, YOU STUPID HUMAN! YOU CAN NEVER ESCAPE!

But Cindy had a nasty grin on her face as she turns to Taylor behind her with a sour smile.

Cindy: Watch me.

With one sideways throw, Cindy throws the stone right into the wet glass of the mirror. With a horrifying shatter, the glass smashes into a million pieces.

Taylor: NOOOOOO!

Taylor lets go of Cindy's legs and Cindy scrambles away to Jimmy, who was trying to get himself up out of the mud onto his knees. Cindy stops as she reaches him and turns to see Taylor stumbling from side to side, holding her head tightly in pain.

Just as soon as she started, she stops. Taylor stands, back to Jim and Cindy, hands to the side. Cindy stares, breathless, at the figure ahead. Jimmy watches in awe between Cindy's feet from his position on the ground.

Cindy: T...Taylor?

We see a close up of Taylor's face with Jimmy and Cindy in the back round. Taylor's eyes are closed, but upon these words they open to reveal red eyes with tiny slits in the middle, as they slant upwards with a nasty smile you feel a small chill up your spine...at least I do.

Taylor: You think you're soooooooo tough, don't you?

Cindy gasps, and then Jimmy. Taylor turns half way to face them with a sharp-toothed grin.

Taylor: You think I am that weak, that breaking a mirror can break my power? Ha!

She shakes her head pitifully, though she knew nothing of mercy.

Taylor: You two are so pathetic, with you're little ghost gadgets and your detective work, I almost feel sorry for you.

She smiles more broadly.

Taylor: Almost.

She strides over as Cindy crouches besides Jimmy and whispers frantically.

Cindy: Whatta we do, Jimmy?

Jimmy: I...I dunno-

Cindy: Yes you do! I know we can beat this thing, Jimmy!

Her eyes soften a little as she lays her hand on his shoulder.

Cindy: I believe in you.

Jimmy stares back with a swollen black eye, but no sooner had Cindy spoken that Taylor had reached them. They stare up at her like cornered mice would to a cat.

Taylor: For a genius, Jimmy, you're a little slow on the uptake, aren't you?

Jimmy narrows his left eye, not needing to narrow his already swollen left one.

Jimmy: Whadda ya mean?

Taylor: You mean you don't know, Mr. Smart Guy? Well then, maybe I should fill you in. Do you think it was coincidence what happened with your goggles?

Jimmy's eyes widen. He feels his heart skip ten beats as he processes what he's hearing. Taylor smiles at his horror.

Jimmy: It was you! You fiddled with my goggles in the lab!...but how?

Taylor laughs softly and Jimmy feels a tingle up his spine.

Taylor: I thought I was dead?

Jimmy felt his face go white.

Jimmy: You were there, weren't you?...you were there the whole time!

Taylor smiles in response.

Taylor: My, aren't we gifted?

Jimmy stares with horror at Taylor as he feels sweat start to form at his brow, not knowing weather it was coming from a brewing ammonia of pure fright. She was there while Jimmy worked-she knew how the microchip worked, so knew what wires did what...everything. Jimmy shudders as a terrible thought crosses his mind. What if, every day, ghosts surrounded you and you never knew? The thought sent the hairs on his back flying, and he thought he felt Cindy jumped slightly-she must have thought the same thing.

But there was one thing Jimmy still didn't get.

Jimmy: But why? Why would you want us dead?

Taylor smiles mercilessly.

Taylor: The dead walk all the time, Jimmy, and sometimes we tend to get a little...how should I say this?

Her eyes glow with the next words that slip through her evil lips.

Taylor: ...hungry.

Jimmy feels his jaw drop with a gasp of horror as Taylor lets her fangs hangs over her lips and licks them sickly.

Taylor: I haven't had kids in a long, long time.

She pulls out her revolver and presses a button to the side, causing two barrels to pop out of the sides and aim strait at Cindy and Jimmy's head. Jimmy watches the small green light marking the center of his forehead with scared eyes. Besides him he feels Cindy shaking, and it takes a lot to scare Cindy Vortex to the point of quivering. Jimmy wanted to take her hand to remind her she wasn't alone, but was too scared of the fact that one move might make Taylor fire.

Taylor: Don't you get it? I won, you lost.

She smiles heartlessly, the last thing Jimmy and Cindy were to see.

Taylor: Game over.

POW!

Jimmy closes his eyes tight and Cindy grips something to her side and does the same. Wow, Jimmy thinks silently. If this is dying, it's not nearly as bad as people say it is. Or maybe the bullet penetrated by central nerviest system and I died instantly with no pain. But something told Jimmy that wasn't the case. The wind still blew around him a hurried fury, and small drops of rain fell upon his nose. This was no illusion-it was real. Slowly, cautiously, Jimmy opens his eyes and looks out in front of him.

He was alive. Rain and snow whipped around them like a hurricane of disaster, and front of him Jimmy saw a rather large shape, unmoving. This was definitely real. The rain was wet. The snow was cold.

Cindy's real hand was warmly wrapped in his.

Jimmy looks down with a surprised face as he sees Cindy had grabbed his hand before the shot was fired. Cindy was still shaking with fear, but upon opening one eye and then looking to Jimmy's stunned face, so pulls her hand quickly from his and grins nervously.

Cindy: A haha!...ha.

With a nervous glance at each other, they both look forward into the darkness. Nothing appears at first, but slowly faint images immerge in the shadows of the storm. Not one, but two. As the thunder vibrates the ground and lightning lights the sky, Jimmy and Cindy gasp.

Mark: Not yet-we're going into overtime.

Mark Renzen stood, transparent in the night, glowing eerily, besides Taylor, gripping her hand holding the gun in the air tightly. Taylor stares into her father's navy eyes, stunned. Jimmy and Cindy watch in awe as Mark takes the gun from Taylor's hand and snaps it in two on his knee. Taylor was so shocked she let it slip from her hand like a knife to butter, and only after if was gone she realized what was going on. Mark stares Taylor down as he walks forward and she walks back.

Mark: You thought you could get rid of me that easy?

Taylor: Dad-

Mark: DON'T CALL ME DAD! I HAVE NO DAUGHTER!

Taylor gasps.

Mark: You were all I ever cared about, Taylor! You were me life, my light in the morning and my kiss goodnight...if it wasn't for you...I'd go crazy.

Cindy hisses in Jimmy's ear.

Cindy: It's a little late for that.

Suddenly Taylor pushes her father back with an expression like he was a mutating fungus.

Taylor: Oh SHUT UP, you stupid man! You don't know what you're saying!

Jimmy: YOU WENCH!

Taylor and Mark turn to Jimmy as he manages to stand and stares at Taylor with narrow eyes.

Jimmy: You didn't kill him in his mind, you killed him in his heart! Darn it, you killed him with his own love!

Mark: Love?

Taylor feels her face start to sweat as she hears his tone...she knew that tone-he was upset. Jimmy and Cindy picked it up too. He was not a happy guy.

Mark: What love?

Taylor: But Dad-

Mark: Your love was not love at all! You love was EVIL! Your love was MERCILESS! YOUR LOVE WAS NOTHING!

SWICK!

Jimmy and Cindy stare with open jaws as Mark Renzen pulls out a sharpened rose and sticks it right into Taylor's heart. Taylor screams a scream so horrible, so terrifying-so terrifying horrible that if I explained in detail the wretchedness of the high-pitched strikes I would be sued for mentally disturbing you. But this much I can say-it was unearthly, inhuman...the very sound of Taylor's blood spattering the ground was enough to make anyone sick. There was no pain in her screech, but instead the sound of a dying demon whose heart had beat it's last beat in the last second. Her scream pierced the sounds of the storm easily, her long white fangs gleaming in the rain as she opens her mouth to the sky with screeches. She steps backwards once, and falls.

Just like that, it was over. The sound stopped. Jimmy uncovered his ears as he sees Mark standing over something on the ground. Cindy feels a lump in her throat. Did she really want to walk over and see Taylor lying there dead on the ground? She had seen Sleepy Hollow-it's not like she was squeamish. But a real dead body on a stormy night...she shivered. Jimmy sensed she was uneasy and looks to her uncertainly. Suddenly determination sparked a light in her lime green eyes, and she looks to Jimmy and nods silently. If there was one thing this whole thing had taught her, it was not to run away. Cindy wasn't about to turn soft now, not after all that had happened.

No one said it was going to be a pretty site. Cindy feels a little queasy as she looks upon the torn body of Taylor Renzen. She had fallen right into the heart of the mirror, the glass slicing thorough her like thousands of tiny knives sticking into her all at once. Of course, Taylor had so much power she was almost human, so she bled. Not red.

Black.

In a sudden burst of white wisp, Taylor desinagrated into ashes, a skull sitting half buried at the top. Jimmy almost barfed but was in too much pain to do anything but stand there. He thought he heard Mark sob softly beside him, and he looks to see that he was now solid. He looks to Jimmy and Cindy and smiles through his tears.

It was over. Mark Renzen was free.

Part 14-One Last Rose

Jimmy looks out the window of a moving car, marveling at the snow-covered fields as they glisten like diamonds in the snow. Cindy watches out her window at curling trees and the gentle curve of the road, seeing the town come into view on the far horizon not too far away. Both of them were acting-in truth, they were thinking about what had happened the night before when Mark Renzen had killed his already dead daughter.

Mark had stammered a few words under his breath, and Jimmy and Cindy looked nervously at him. Was he really crazy like Taylor had told them? But his smile was too kind to ignore, even if he was insane like they had been told. Tears streak his face, but he didn't reach up to wipe them.

Mark: How...how can I thank you?

Jimmy and Cindy smile warmly.

Jimmy: That's ok, Mr. Renzen.

Mr. Renzen closes his eyes and takes a deep breath with a smile like the sun was shining on his face, though only rain spattered it.

Mr. Renzen: It feels so good to be called by my name.

The storm had suddenly stopped, and Jimmy almost laughed at how much of a fairytale it all seemed to be. Now that the villain was gone, the weather was clearing, like what happens in most tales about dragons and knights. However, Jimmy had no idea of knowing if this would be a happy ending.

He tugs at Mr. Renzen's shirt sleeve like a little boy, but he had no other choice; Mr. Renzen was a tall man.

Jimmy: Um...Mr. Renzen?

Mr. Renzen looks down to Jimmy.

Jimmy: Would you...mind giving us a ride home?

Cindy had given him the most startled look he'd ever seen out of her, but Jimmy kept a strait face. He knew what he was doing. Mr. Rezen looked from Cindy to Jimmy, then smiled.

Mr. Rezen: I suppose I can give you a ride-you know, since you saved me from eternal damnation and all.

Jimmy and Cindy grinned-surely this was the man Taylor had described. Kind, loving, caring-a good guy, a descent guy...

A good dad.

Cindy starts to walk away with them, but not without one last look at the small pile of ashes and the skull that was once Taylor Renzen's reincarnating body. Mr. Renzen stops and stares for a while at Cindy's sad face, and Jimmy sees a small trace of sadness in her face.

Jimmy: Cindy.

She looks up to him with sad eyes.

Jimmy: It's over.

Cindy smiled and nodded, showing that she understood. A part of her wanted to ask what would happen to the remains of the demon, but something told her that Mr. Renzen had that all under control.

Now, as the car rolls humbly over hills and melting snow, Jimmy starts to think about how to tell Mr. Renzen the truth. What would he say if he knew they were half dead? He had gone through so much already...

Jimmy blinks. Where did that come from? The memory of Cindy having pity for Taylor came back to mind. He shakes his head slowly, Cindy being too busy to notice...well, didn't notice. In other words, she didn't say anything, which made the ride even more silent than before. Jimmy takes a deep breath.

Jimmy:...Mr. Renzen?

Mr. Renzen looks to him in the rear-view mirror.

Mr. Renzen: What's up?

Jimmy: I...I think you should know...

Cindy looks to him with scared eyes.

Jimmy: ...Mr. Renzen, we're-

Mr. Renzen: Half-Dead?

Jimmy's jaw drops, along with Cindy's.

Cindy: How...how did you know?

Mr. Renzen smiles warmly and chuckles a little.

Mr. Renzen: I was dead, remember? Fully dead, at that. I have senses-how do you think I managed to see my daughter when she was little? Oh, she was there...I knew she was there...but no one believed me. They said I was nuts. Nuts! The nerve of those people! I mean sure, everyone's a little dotty now and then, and maybe I saw things at first, but she was real. I saw her, I heard her, and I took care of her. It was like...it was like she was never gone in the first place.

Jimmy listens closely to this. Cindy, on the other hand, still stares out at the white wonderland that now blankets Downtown Retroville. Something sas laying heavy in her mind, not allowing her to concentrate on anything else but that one little thing. It was such a small obscuration, but it was also, in it's one way, gigantic. Mr. Renzen's sudden small laugh made Cindy look up.

Mr. Renzen: I'm sorry, I get off track to easily.

Jimmy smiles back, but a frown soon replaces it. Mr. Renzen looks concerned.

Mr. Renzen: Something wrong, Jim?

Jimmy: Well...you see...

Cindy: Are our parents gonna believe us?

Jimmy looked up, surprised. She had basically just read his mind clear of all his thoughts. He had pondered that question this while time, and now that Cindy had said it Mr. Renzen pondered it also.

Mr. Renzen: Just because my daughter was dead and no one knew doesn't mean you guys'll become demons like her. Besides, you're only half dead, right? So you still have a chance of getting back...that is, if you're not buried.

Cindy felt an arrow pierce her heart. She looks t Jimmy out of the corner of her eye. When she saw him in that coffin, she felt like the world had stopped spinning. And when she saw herself...she shook her head and looked away. Jimmy seemed to understand her actions and didn't say anything. The car was quite once again.

Jimmy saw as they passed the street signs "Pinwood" and "Glisten", and took a left down the road towards the library. Cindy decided the car was too quite, so she decided to do something she hadn't done in a while.

Argue. What else?

Cindy: You sure are lucky I wasn't knocked out cold, Neutron, or you'd be demon meat right about now!

Jimmy: I'm lucky? You're lucky I found the key in the first place! You were fast asleep like a drunken log, I did that all myself!

Cindy: Well aren't we a "big boy now"?

Jimmy: You know what, Cindy?-

Mr. Rezen: I'd watch it, Cindy.

They both stopped, surprised, and looked to Mr. Renzen. A wide grin spread on his handsome face, and his dark blue eyes seemed to dance with delight like a child's.

Cindy: Oh yeah? Why's that? Look, he only looks smart-

Mr. Renzen: Wellllll, I got some dirt on you, too, Ms. Cindy.

Cindy eyes him suspiciously.

Cindy: What've you got?

Mr. Renzen: When I held your heart, all your most private and inner thoughts were transferred through me.

Cindy feels sweat start to form at her brow.

Cindy: ...So?

Mr. Renzen: So, maaaaaaaybe you don't hate Jimmy as much as you say you do.

He chuckles.

Mr. Renzen: Sorry-couldn't resist. Plus, you deserve it-that ducky suit blackmail was pretty harsh.

Jimmy's eyes get wide as he looks to Cindy, but she had looked away out the window to avoid eye contact with him, and also to cover her reddening face. Part of her was a little angry-she didn't like Jimmy Neutron! And yet...there was that one thing...

Cindy suddenly speaks.

Cindy: Jimmy?

Jimmy looks to her a bit shyly-he still was trying to get over what Mr. Renzen had said. But to his surprise Cindy's eyes are narrow with suspicion.

Cindy: How did you know where to dig?

Jimmy's eyes snap open as he starts to sweat. He stammers nervously and smiles weakly.

Jimmy: Oh yeah, that! Um...well, you see...uh-

Cindy: You knew, didn't you?

Mr. Renzen: Not exactly, Cindy. I tried to tell Jimmy where the box was without actually telling him, and he understood perfectly. But I couldn't risk telling you because...well, the truth is because I needed someone to come through with. I picked Jim 'cause I figured if you were smart enough to make those ghost thingies you could figure out what was really going on.

Jimmy smirks as Cindy's jaw drops.

Cindy: I'm perfectly capable of making Ghost Goggles thingies if I wanted to!

Jimmy laughs. Mr. Renzen looks surprised.

Mr. Renzen: Oh. By the way you two fight, I couldn't really tell.

Cindy almost fell out of her seat as Jimmy laughs. She turns a little and looks out at him from the corner of her eye with gritted teeth and mad eyes.

Mr. Renzen: I thought you guys could do it yourself at first.

Jimmy suddenly stops his laughing and Cindy looks up thoughtfully.

Cindy: Huh? What do you mean?

Mr. Renzen: I thought you two would recognize the difference, but then I realized you two weren't fully dead and didn't know what was going on, so I knew I had to help you.

Jimmy: The difference between what?

Mr. Renzen laughs again as the car goes by library Jimmy and Cindy had stayed in for the a night.

Mr. Renzen: Between being dead and alive, kid! Man, you really haven't figured it out yet, have you?

Cindy felt a small jolt of anger and snaps...

Cindy: Well we were almost killed by an evil man-heating demon, but I suppose we should have thought about the difference of life and death before we died rather than memories of our former lives, right?

Jimmy and Mr. Renzen stare.

Mr. Renzen: Sorry, kid-I didn't mean for it to sound that way.

Jimmy: But she's right, Mr. Renzen. We were too scared to think of anything but going home.

Cindy blinks and looks to him, surprised. Had he just said she was right? Cindy suddenly thought of how close they came to death and felt a cold chill up her spine. They had just made it....if Mr. Renzen hadn't been there...oh, she couldn't even think about it.

Mr. Renzen: Well, you know how you're parents went through you at the funeral palor?

Jimmy stares, astonished.

Jimmy: How did you...?

Mr. Renzen: I was there, kid, I saw the whole thing. But you didn't put your glass-ghost things on, so you couldn't see me. I felt bad when you guys wanted to cry but couldn't. I tried to tell you that it wasn't that bad, but you couldn't see me there.

Mr. Renzen suddenly smiles.

Mr. Renzen: It felt so good to cry after all these wasted years...

Jimmy was silent for a moment, but curiosity overpowered him. Also, he was deep in thought and was sure he just figured out what Mr. Renzen was trying to explain.

Jimmy: So...if our parents went through us...

Cindy looks up with wide eyes.

Cindy: Taylor should have too!

They stare at each other-how stupid were they?

Jimmy: But I thought she had a gift?

Mr. Renzen: A gift? Ha! More like a deal-a deal with the devil! She saw me and felt my presence because-

Jimmy/Cindy: -she was dead!

Mr. Renzen: Just when you get the hang of it, you're going home. Screwy, idn't' it?

Jim and Cindy smile just as Mr. Renzen pulls up in front of the Retroville Funeral Home. It was just like they remembered, with the sign pronouncing it's name in classy Times New Roman and the lights trying to light up the sign through the snow. The lights were on, but not cars were in the parking lot.

Jimmy: No one's there!

Mr. Renzen: But the lights are on. Believe me, I know how the process works. Your families'll be here soon. Better get moving.

Cindy and Jimmy get out and shut the doors tightly. Mr. Renzen leans on the window edge as they say their last good-byes.

Jimmy: Thanks for helping us, Mr. Renzen.

Mr. Renzen: Thanks? I should being saying thanks to you. Without your smart detective work , I'd still be bottled up inside that old, stingy house, stuck under the thumb of my own dead daughter.

He laughs a little.

Mr. Renzen: Sad, isn't it?

Cindy: Very.

They smiles warmly.

Mr. Renzen: Good luck with your ghost thingamajig.

Cindy: Thanks, Mr. R.

Mr. Renzen suddenly looks sincere as he leans in to Jimmy and Cindy.

Mr. Renzen: When you go back, just remember how lucky you are. You only get one life, guys...don't waste it.

Jimmy thought about this an nods in response. Cindy does the same.

Mr. Renzen: You watch it too, Jim. Don't think I don't know you're little secrets.

Jimmy stares in confusion. Mr. Renzen's smile widens.

Mr. Renzen: You didn't think part of me was in that key?

Jimmy blushes slightly.

Mr. Renzen: Thank you, Jimmy and Cindy. Thanks to you, I'm finally and truly free.

And with a smile and a wink, he drove off into the night, whipping snow through his tires. They watch him until he disappears from sight, and without one word to each other, make their way back to the pallor.

The names were still plastered to the door- NEUTRON and VORTEX. Jimmy looks to Cindy a bit uncertainly, but she looks determinedly back and nods in response. With that, they entered their own rooms.

Jimmy blinks in surprise as he looks ahead.

Two coffins?

He looks to his left to see Cindy, and for the first time noticed the room. Cindy, too, looks around in astonishment. The room had been separated before by a retractable wall, and now the wall was raised to reveal one large room, connecting the two family's pallor's together. Cindy was on the right-Jimmy, on the left. Slowly, they both walk forward to their dead selves.

They had both seen so much that the sight of their dead bodies only bothered them slightly-but nevertheless, it bothered them. And had they not seen all they had, they would have both screamed. It was more than a little freaky to see yourself dead in a coffin; they just so happened to find out the hard way. Cindy looks to her white face and cringes slightly. Jimmy sees this but says nothing-he was cringing, too. His face was so lifeless., so cold...

Stone dead.

Cindy stares into her coffin with wide eyes, but she knows what she has to do. She reaches out her hand and puts it on her dead self's arm. Her skin felt cold and clammy, but the shook wore off after a moment. Jimmy stares at her hand, and with a small amount of hesitation places his on his arm, too. Her closes his eyes tightly, as though someone was punching him and he couldn't yell, but soon he opened them and tried to look like he wasn't scared.

Deep down, he was petrified.

From his jean pocket[Jimmy left his coat with Mr. Renzen to be returned along with Cindy's], Jimmy pulls out the green Ghost Goggles and holds them tightly in his hand. Cindy sees this and, in a shaky voice, speaks.

Cindy: Jimmy?

Jimmy doesn't look towards her scared face because he didn't need to-her voice gave it all away.

Jimmy: Yes, Cindy?

Cindy hesitates.

Cindy: We only have one chance...

She looks down sadly.

Cindy: ...this probably won't work.

Jimmy looks down to the left of him and says in a low, sad voice...

Jimmy: I know.

Cindy closes her eyes tightly and feels invisible tears running down her face.

Cindy: Jimmy, if we don't make it through this, I just wanted you to know...

Cindy closes her eyes gently.

Cindy: I cried.

Jimmy stares at his dead self inside the coffin and felt a warm tear run down his cheek, even thought it wasn't there. Silence fills the air like a poisonous gas, until Jimmy break it with a whisper-like voice.

Jimmy: Me too.

Cindy looks to him with sad eyes, and Jimmy looks back. Right then and there, reality set in with a full force. This was it-life or death. And right now, it seemed as though death would come over them perminately, and they'd never see their familes or each other again. What did it matter of they knew one another cared? Now that it was all over, it was truly all over. There would be no more times to argue over who said what because no words would be said, could be said. They were going to die. They had to face it now, or they'd just keep running away for ever.

But suddenly, everything changed. Jimmy felt like he was floating on a invisible cloud somewhere, and suddenly nothing mattered. Cindy looks around and sees a swarm of black come over them, and right after she felt her eyes close all by themselves. Jimmy felt his close, too, and suddenly he felt something move right below his hand.

Jimmy and Cindy's dead selves go right through them in a swirling circle of black, and just as it starts it stops. Jimmy opens his eyes nervously to see black all around-until he looks ahead. His white dead face looks right at him. He jumps a little as Cindy draws a small gasp as she looks into her dead self's deep black eyes. For a moment, they both stare, but suddenly, and kinda eerily, when you think about it, Jimmy's dead self smiles at Cindy.

Dead Jimmy: I knew you cared.

Cindy's dead self looks to Jimmy.

Dead Cindy: Me too.

Jimmy stares with wide eyes, blushing slightly. He raises his hand and looks at the Ghost Goggles. Without any real thought, he places them on his head and looks ahead Cindy watches with a nervous look as her dead self hold out both her hand upright in front of her. Jimmy's dead self does the same.

With one last look at each other, Cindy and Jimmy hold out their hands and touch their dead hands. In a sudden jolt, Jimmy felt like he was being whipped around, faster and faster with every heartbeat, but he dared not open his eyes, too scared to see if they were dying or living. He didn't feel Cindy beside him, and that got him worried, but suddenly it seemed as though he didn't need to think anymore. His knees staggered under sudden new pressure as something goes through him and sits.

Just like that, it was all over.

Jimmy squirms slightly. What happened? he think to himself. He realizes suddenly that he's lying down, and it certainly didn't feel like home. Jimmy decides there's only one way to see if the plan worked. Hesitating a little, Jimmy drew in a long, deep breath.

He felt his eyes open to a bright white room. He had never felt so new before, like when you get up in the morning and take a hot shower. But this was better than any steaming shower.

This was life.

Jimmy stares at the room around him. The curtains were drawn on two large windows across the room to his right. The lovely yellow light of morning shown through like the dawn of a new day, and that was when Jimmy saw the bed next to him.

Cindy blinks back at him in disbelief. Where were they? Was this where you went when you were stuck between life and death? Were they trapped here...forever?

Cindy stares a moment, and suddenly hold out her hand. Jimmy looks at it for a moment, then gets the idea. He holds out his in response and touches Cindy's hand. The warmth from both sides was abnormal-it was like smelling a flower on a warm summer day while falling asleep in a vast field of gold in the fading sunlight.

If you can touch it, it's real.

Jimmy and Cindy stare, breathless. They were alive!

Jimmy smiles and jumps up out of his bed with Cindy at his heels. Without a second thought, they burst through the door and into the long white hallway, spotlessly clean and bustling with people in long white coats. In between turning corners, Jimmy realized it was the Retroville Medical Care Hospital, and having been in there for numerous rocket accidents he knew exactly where to go.

Mrs. Neutron: Jimmy!

Jimmy smiles and races into his mother's arms. Nothing was more welcoming to either of them as they race into their parent's arms with a warm feeling of love inside them. They were solid again! Jimmy hears Mr. Vortex crying as she hugs Cindy tight, and suddenly looks up to see tears streaking his own mother's face, even though she was smiling. Jimmy smiles.

Jimmy: Don't cry, mom, I'm fine.

Mrs. Neutron: Oh Jimmy, you scared me and your father half to death! What were you doing in that clubhouse of yours, anyway?

Jimmy: Huh?

Mrs. Neutron looks worried.

Mrs. Neutron: Don't you remember, sweetie? You were testing out something out front in the yard and it backfired.

Mrs. Vortex looks to Cindy.

Mrs. Vortex: That's why you're here, too-the impact of the malfunction hit both of you head-on.

Jimmy and Cindy blink at one another, confused. Had it all been a dream?

Mrs. Neutron: What are you doing outside your bed anyway, James?

Jimmy and Cindy stare for a moment nervously.

Jimmy: Uh...

Mrs. Neutron and Mrs. Vortex cross their arms, looking cross. Cindy looks to her mom desperately.

Cindy: I love you, dearest mother-

Mrs. Vortex: Get back there!

Jimmy: But we feel fine-

Mrs. Neutron: I don't care if you feel reborn to life, young man, you're still not completely well. Now get back to your rooms before they think you've broken loose.

Mrs. Vortex: You too, Cindy.

Cindy and Jimmy stifle smiles and turn to go back to their rooms, trying to look disappointed. As soon as their through the double doors, Mrs. Neutron looks to Mrs. Vortex.

Mrs. Neutron: Boys.

Mrs. Vortex gives her the same sorry expression.

Mrs. Vortex: Girls.

They chuckle to each other, when suddenly great sobs are heard behind them. They turn to see Mr. Neutron and Mr. Vortex hugging each other tight, crying their eyes out.

Mr. Neutron: That was so beautiful!

Mr. Vortex: Kinda brings a tear to your eye!

Mrs. Neutron and Mrs. Vortex look to each other, annoyed, and take a deep breath.

Mrs. Neutron/Mrs. Vortex: Marriage.

Jimmy rushes into their room and shuts the door tight, Cindy right behind him with a smile.

Jimmy: Reborn to life!

They both laugh warmly and walk over to sit on their bed sheets. The room was spotlessly clean, and the beds were nice and comfy with big pillows. But they were too excited to lie down.

Cindy: Can you believe it?!

Jimmy looks to the yellow morning glow and shakes his head slightly in disbelief.

Jimmy: Not really...

Cindy: And I thought fighting evil egg aliens was an adventure! That was awesome!

Jimmy looks to her with wide eyes.

Jimmy: Awesome?! We nearly got killed!

Cindy: I know! Wasn't it great?

Jimmy looks to her with an odd expression as she smiles back. Cindy loved the thrill of a good near-death adventure, while Jimmy...well, let's just say Jimmy didn't like to cut it as close to death as they did. Cindy looks to her hands as she fiddles with her covers.

Cindy:...Hey Neutron?

Jimmy: Yeah?

Cindy: Did you really...well...I know it's stupid, but-

Jimmy: I CRIED, OK?

Cindy stares at him with surprise as Jimmy crosses his arms and turns a deep red. Cindy stares a moment, and slowly a smile forms on her face.

Cindy: Me too.

Jimmy turns his eyes to her with a cocked eyebrow. Cindy closes her eyes with a wide smile and a warm, sweet chuckle.

The doctor was astonished at how well Jimmy and Cindy were doing. Even though he sought out three other doctors to help him examine their conditions to make sure he wasn't losing it, they all agreed that the two kids were fine enough and then some to go home that very night. The ride was smooth and quite on the way home, and Jimmy quickly felt himself drift off into sleep.

BRRRRRRRRRIIIIIING!

Jimmy jumps up out of his dreams and looks to Goddard beside him as the phone rings on.

BRRRRRRRRRIIIIIING-

Jimmy spoke sleepily into the mouthpiece.

Jimmy: Hello?

Carl: Jimmy! You're ok!

Sheen: They weren't lyingn'-you're back!

Jimmy felt a rush of joy at hearing his best friends' voices.

Jimmy: Yeah, I'm alright.

Carl: Gosh, Jim, you really freaked us out.

Sheen: They said you and Cindy might not make it! What happened?

Jimmy: Oh, you know-just a few minor problems with a new invention.

Carl: Good thing I didn't test that one out!

Jimmy smiles.

Sheen: They said they found these glasses...goggles...thingys at the scene where you guys blacked out. Was that what you were thinking about when we came home from the movies?

Jimmy: Yeah, they were nothing, just a little test to see if ghosts really existed.

Carl: Ghosts? That movie ending really got to you, huh?

Jimmy stops smiling. His face turns downwards into a confused frown.

Jimmy: ...What movie ending?

Sheen: What movie? Did you hit your head or what? Psycho Cop? The freaky, unexplained ending, remember?

Jimmy searches his mind, but all he could remember was the psycho jumping off a banister with a knife onto a group of cops. How was that unexplained?

Jimmy:...Not really...

Carl: It was so scary, Jimmy!

Sheen: It was AWESOME! Taylor Renzen was his daughter, who he envisioned to be real, but she was never really there! So the whole thing was all in the psycho's imagination!

Jimmy smiles. They had done it! What had been wronged all of these years, they had righted. Jimmy felt a sense of honor coursing through him-they had defied the laws of living beings on Earth! Crossed into a parallel universe where they were the targets of it's evil and had escaped, unharmed!

Most importantly, alive.

But something still lingered in his mind as he retraces his memories...

Jimmy: Then...what was the surprise?

Sheen: Well, it was based on a true story, right?

Jimmy: I guess...

Sheen: In the true story, Mark Renzen was sent to a mental institution, but some weeks after in Mid-December he stopped seeing her and could control himself. It was like magic...

Carl: He was normal again. Ooooo!

Jimmy could see Carl shaking on the other line.

Carl: That wasn't the REAL freaky part!

Sheen: Yeah, Jimmy! It gets worse!

Jimmy: What? What happened?

Sheen: Afterwards, they went to the old house where Mark Renzen used to live, and out front they found a pile of bloody bones!

Jimmy felt his heart leap.

Sheen: They examined it in a lab!

Jimmy: And...?

Sheen: It matched the same type as Taylor Renzen had when she was born!

Even though he had experienced so much, Jimmy still felt a small chill up his spine as he heard his friend talk about something unexplained that he could explain.

Jimmy: Wow...freaky.

Carl: Yeah. I haven't slept in days.

Sheen: Cool!

Carl: Well, Lifestyles of the Llamas is on. See you guys at school tomorrow.

Sheen: Yeah, I gotta go, too. Ultralord starts in two hours! I don't wanna miss a thing!

Jimmy: Bye guys.

Sheen/Carl: C-ya.

Jimmy hangs up the phone and looks out the window to the bright full moon.

Libby: You really didn't remember the thrilling conclusion to the scariest movie of the YEAR?! Man, girl, you got whipped good.

Cindy sits on her bed, talking with Libby on the phone.

Cindy: Sounds pretty cool, Lib.

Libby: It kicked, girlfriend, it kicked just fine!

Cindy smiles.

Libby: Well, Carson Daly's Most Requested is on. C-ya!

Cindy: C-ya, Libby.

She hangs up the phone and goes over to her window to stare out at the moon. It was so bright and beautiful, lighting up the streets like a large luminous night light. But something was different tonight...it seemed so much more fascinating now that she could gaze at it in peace and not worry about weather or not she was gonna live. Jimmy notices, too, as he stares into it's deep craters and feels the radiance of it's light. Everything seemed so much more...more everything than it had been before, like the light of the moon or the sweet smell of a morning breeze. Jimmy suddenly got a feeling like he was being watched, and at the same time Cindy began to feel a little nervous. At the same time, they look across the street.

They stood, gazing at each other, each surprised that the other had had the same idea to gaze upon the full moon. They never said a thing, but looks said everything they had to say. Cindy smiles. Jimmy smiles back.

Life is good. Epically when it's shared.

Snow no longer blanketed the outside, and like before the steady breeze of fall blew through the streets of Retroville and ran right out into the outskirts of town...all the way to a large, yet unnoticeable stone manor a few miles outside of the Retroville town itself. Looking a little grim in the night, the stones glistened with a slight dampness as old stones often do, glistening in the bright moonlight. And if one so happened to travel out back, they would come upon a small red rose, dead from years of exposure to harsh winters and cold fall nights, just like this. And just below that rose, visible only in the full moon's light, there sat a plaque imbedded in the ground, glowing in the blue light of the night sky. In the moonlight it read:

TAYLOR ANN RENZEN

Died at birth on

November 14, 1944

Gone, but not forgotten

Mrs. Neutron drives steadily down an empty street near the center of town. In her backside lay two bags full of twelve boxes of Extra-Strengh Tylenol, an Emergecy Pack for serious injuries and two thermometers-just in case Jimmy wasn't fully well yet. The street lights were hardly needed with the brightness of the moon, but nervertheless shown white light onto the sidewalks and streets. And it was under one such nearby street light that Mrs. Neutron spotted a little girl, sitting on the curb under the light with her hand tucked inward and her arms wrapped around her legs. Mrs. Neutron stops and gets out, looking concerned. She walks over and hears the girl's sobs. She bends down and places a hand on her shoulder.

Mrs. Neutron: Are you alright, sweetie?

The little girl stops crying a moment and looks up to Mrs. Neutron with large brown eyes. Her short blonde hair is untidy and she looks damp and cold. Her cheeks are streaked with tears.

Little Girl: Daddy?

Mrs. Neutron didn't know how to respond.

Mrs. Neutron: No-are you lost, honey?

The little girl looks into Mrs. Neutron's eyes with a sad expression.

Little Girl: I'm scared, I can't find my daddy.

Mrs. Neutron: Ohhh, you poor thing. Look at you, you're shaking like a leaf!

She helps her to her feet and guides her to the car by the hand.

Mrs. Neutron: Come on now, we'll get you cleaned up and find your daddy, ok?

The little girl smiles at this.

Little Girl: Ok then!

She hops into Mrs. Neutron's car and buckles her seatbelt. However, this scene is not all that it seems to be. For you see, this little is girl is no ordinary little girl. And if you were to go back to that big yet unnoticable stone house and look upon the plaque imbedded in the damp grass, you wouldn't see a dead brown weed, but a healthy red rose.

Dripping in blood.

Mrs. Neutron: You must be so cold. Are you hungry, dear?

The little girl looks up to Mrs. Neutron with glistening eyes and smiles a wide smile as she answers in a low, withered voice.

Little Girl: Starving.

THE END?