Weekend with Villains
Chapter I: The Nightmare before Midnight
This place is very strange; it's very big, like a mansion, yet he felt so cramped inside with the very dull lighting and tall, dark, metal walls. There was only one window in the room, seated at the very top of the long, rectangular wall behind them. The light from the window shone in to illuminate a peculiar object that stood alone in the center, covered with a cream-colored, dusty sheet. A few feet away from the peculiar object, a round red couch sat facing a large television screen. The arrangement of furniture seemed ridiculous to the young boy, noticing a small table off to the side, sitting all alone with no chairs around it, and a small corner for a kitchen that looked unused. He turned to his parents, who were making small talk with the owners of this home. They glanced his way to give him an assuring smile before turning back to the couple.
"Well, we better get going," he heard his mother say, hugging the older man she was talking to (the blue man, he just realized). "It was… great to see you again," said his father to the woman, leaning in to hug her, but seeing her tense up, went in for a handshake instead. His mother gave the woman a hesitant hug as his dad tried to shake the man's hand, only to receive a glare in return. They all then turned to the boy, hovering above him, looking down at him; it seemed as if the two strangers were studying him.
"Elmer, these people are… Well, they're my parents. Your grandparents," his mother said awkwardly, gesturing to the odd couple—the blue man with the balding head and the green toned woman with the short, gray hair. Grandparents? They did look old enough to be grandparents, older than Grampy and Nana, anyway. The man looked almost a hundred, he had so many wrinkles on his face, and the woman, though noticeably younger than the man, still had a few more wrinkles than Nana. The man—his grandfather—gave an awkward wave while the woman—his grandmother—only nodded and gave him a soft smile. Elmer thought he should return their greetings with a nod or a smile, but all he could do was gaze up at them, speechless.
It was silent for a while, until his father broke it: "Well, we really should get going, shouldn't we, Luce?" he said, leaning down to hug Elmer goodbye. "We have a long trip ahead of us."
"Yes, we do," agreed his mother, leaning down to give a hug and kiss of her own to her son. She and his father made their way toward the door. "Thank you, thank you for doing this… Sheila and Drew," she said. "We'll be back to pick him up by Sunday. Thank you, thank you."
As quickly as they entered this house and began to initiate small talk, his parents sure seemed to have made their exit quicker. Would they come back for him, like they promised, Elmer began to wonder as he heard the door shut behind him, or will they leave him here, with his so called grandparents, for the rest of his days, however long that should be? Honestly, he was really unsure.
Silence came and he was left looking up at the couple, who stared right back, with his raggedy, old overnight bag in one hand and clutching his worn out teddy bear, with the missing button for an eye, in the other. The silence made him realize how cold and lonely their home made him feel. Was this the place his mother grew up? No wonder she left, he thought. He began to worry about the sleeping arrangements. They'd probably put him in their dungeon or lock him in their basement with the ghosts and witches and evil spells, the way things are looking here. He clutched his belonging tighter as the woman—his grandmother—leaned down to touch his shoulder.
"Well, Elmer… do you wanna know where you'll be sleeping," she asked; her voice was shaky, though she tried to hide it, like she was keeping something from him. Maybe they were sending him down to their dungeon!
Again, words failed Elmer and he only nodded. They led Elmer into a dark hallway, a blinking, dull light hung in the center, slowly circling around, like it had a mind of its own or something, and at the very end of the hall was a large metal door with the image of a faded daffodil on it—he knew it was a daffodil because those were his mother's favorite type of flower; his father always buys them for her on special occasions, like on Christmas or her birthday. His grandfather opened the door and let Elmer in inside. The walls, colored a dark shade of purple, filled with posters of people he didn't recognize, all in weird outfits and odd posing positions. The bed's comforter had the same coloring as the walls and hanging above it spelled the name LUCILLE—his mother's name—in a dull yellow. Beside the bed was a night stand that had a clock reading four fourty-five and a photo with his mother, though he could hardly recognize her without her glasses and her hair was so much longer back then—he recalls a comment his Nana had made on Thanksgiving, stating his mother looked so much like her own mother when she was younger—and what looked like his aunt Nila, her bushy hair puffed out each direction, like always, as they smudged together, cheek to cheek, smiling for the camera. His mother looked to be about sixteen or seventeen, no older than eighteen, though, and Nila looked to be around nine or ten.
He turned to his grandparents, who were standing in the doorway. "This was my mom's room," Elmer said in a questioning voice, though he already knew the answer.
"Yes," the woman confirmed. "If the comforter is too girly for you," she gestured to the purple colored comforter, "we can change it out for a Joker comforter from when Nila was little. I think we still—"
"I don't really like The Joker," he said, and it was silent once more. He was beginning to think he and silence would become best friends during his stay with the Adams Family, as many times as it occurs with these two strangers, and he's only been here for a few minutes!
His grandparents excused themselves from their daughter's room and Elmer took this as a chance to learn more about his mother's childhood. She didn't really talk about it very often, stating it was her past and she doesn't like to focus on the past, so he didn't know a lot. Although, his aunt Nila, during one of her laundry visits, told him their parents didn't approve of his mother marrying his father, so she cut off all contact from them immediately and haven't spoken to them since… Until now, anyway. It was hard to believe his parents even sent Elmer here, with him knowing so little about them, but no one else was available and they had to go to Sweden so his father could collect his award. Nana and Grampy were in England visiting the royal family, his father's sisters were busy taking care of their own kids, and Nila, the one who was scheduled to watch him, canceled at the last minute to spend the weekend in Canada with her friend Merissa.
First he decided to rummage through her old closet, but it was empty; all that was left was a single hanger, lightly swaying forward and backward from the sudden force of the sliding of the door. He decided to next look in her drawers. Empty. Everything was empty. She left nothing behind. After minutes of searching, under the bed, behind objects, rechecking drawers multiple times, he had given up and plopped himself on the bed. He turned to look at the time, five thirty-one—time was moving so slow! He looked at the picture of his mother and aunt once more; she looked so happy, Nila looked so happy. He wondered if they had a good childhood. In the past, Elmer just assumed they didn't because of his mother's disconnection with her parents, but now he's remembering all the stories Nila told him about their childhood, their Christmases spent in Maui, spending Christmas night chicken fighting in the pool—he's never been anywhere that didn't involve snow during Christmas time—and their fourth of July celebrations, with their father making his own fireworks, bigger and better than the ones bought in stores, to blast off into the sky. Even if he hadn't forgot all the stories Nila told him, he would have once they arrived at this place—his mother said it was called a lair, whatever that means. It stood high on top of a long and steep hill, with ominous clouds circling above it. His parents had to give him a gentle shove to get him to enter. Still, the stories do seem nice, and as Great Grandpop use to tell him, don't judge a book by its cover.
Studying the photo, he noticed something odd behind the picture frame. Leaning in closer, Elmer discovered it was another photo frame, a smaller one that had two very familiar faces on it. She must have forgot this, he thought, lifting the photo of his parents off the night stand. His father's red hair was longer than he could ever remember, obviously gelled back, away from his eyes, and had his arm around his mother, who wore her familiar glasses and her still long, flowing hair tied back in a ponytail. This must have been college years, Elmer thought, running a hand across the frame.
A knock on the door interrupted the young boy's thoughts. The old, balding man entered, wearing a kiss the cook apron and a chef's hat, and Elmer quickly held the photo tightly near his heart, facing it away from the blue man. "Dinner's ready," he exclaimed. Elmer gave a gentle nod and assured him he would be right there. When the old man left, he quickly slid the photograph into his overnight bag and hurried out.
Elmer, of course, sat in silence during his dinner with his estranged grandparents. They really didn't like to talk much, he concluded, or they just didn't enjoy talking to him. When he finished his meal—a strange gooey substance he forced down his throat so not to offend them—he excused himself and, though it was only a quarter to eight, headed for bed. The most excitement he'll have during this weekend, Elmer thought, will probably only occur in his dreams.
He stood at the end of the pitch black hallway; the light must have gone out. He looked down at his bare feet. They were standing on the dark, tiled floor, though he felt nothing, nothing but the cool air running through the gaps of his toes. He lowered his hand to feel the ground below him, only to discover it was missing and he was floating. It wasn't real, he tried to convince himself. This is only a dream; I'll wake in the morning; everything will be okay.
He jumped at the sound of his name and looked to see his mother standing at the other end of the hall, staring at him with her dark eyes. She looked sad, her eyes red and glassy, and nothing like his mother. Her hair was the same, her eyes and those round glasses were the same, but her spirit seemed different. Usually when his mother looks at him, he doesn't feel like being pushed down a hole filled with emptiness. Where was her smile, the sparkle in her eye, her loving laugh that lit up a room? Was this truly his mother, he began to question, or was this a trick of the mind.
He blinked and she was gone. He wanted to run, try to find his mother or escape from this place, but fear kept him from moving. He wasn't sure he could move, for that matter. He wasn't sure how he was preventing himself from falling, but he was glad he was doing it. Who knows what's at the bottom of darkness.
Another figure appeared and he was positive it wasn't his mother. It was a girl about five or six. She wore an oversized shirt with a picture of the Joker on it. Her hair… he knew that hair. It was Nila. Young Nila. She held a teddy bear—his teddy bear, he realized—in her hand. Another figure appeared and took hold of Nila's other hand; he didn't need to examine the figure to realize it was a much younger version of his mother.
"Mom! Nila!" he said, his voice echoing. They did not speak. Silence is a friend around here, he thought, and talking is our enemy. "Where… What is this? Please." Why won't they speak? Why won't anyone speak? Why am I the only one able to communicate? "Why won't you talk about your childhood? Why is it like this? Please... Answer me, please!"
His mother let go of her sister's hand and directed her finger toward Elmer. "Run," she said and it echoed around him.
He turned and saw the blue man and green woman standing behind him. The man had a devilish smirk on his face that filled his entire face while the woman's hands glowed of green flames and her face spoke of death. He let out a terrified scream and ran, but the ground was gone and he could no longer float. Falling and screaming, he could hear the man's evil laughter and see the woman's green flames growing toward his falling body.
His eyes opened and a bright light hung below him. His pajamas stuck to him like glue and he felt sweat drip from his forehead to his pillow as he tried to stop his heart from racing. He turned, panting, to see the woman sitting on the edge of his bed. He looked down and noticed she had his hand, stroking it in soothing circles. Elmer noticed she wore a dark green night gown and her gray hair stuck out all over the place. He turned and noticed the clock said eleven fifty-three. It was only a dream, none of it was real.
"Don't worry," she told him. He looked at her and noticed the small smile formed on her face. "It was just a bad dream. Your mother use to get them all the time—it must be this room." She took a good look around the room.
He didn't know what to say, or how to say it, but he felt like he had to say something. "Did… did I wake you? With my screaming, I mean. I was screaming, right?"
"Oh yeah, nearly gave Dr. D a heart attack," she confirmed with a small laugh. "And I was already awake," she added after a pause.
She turned back to him and for a moment Elmer saw the mother from his dream, the look of sadness on this woman's face. She wasn't the monster from his dream. She was far from it. Her hands were soft and gentle whereas the other woman's desired to kill him.
"You good," she asked, removing her hand. He nodded and she got up from his bed and headed for the door. "Good night," she said, reaching for the light switch.
"What happened," he found himself asking her and she turned toward him again. He didn't know what he was asking her when he was saying it, but after it came out and he had said, he understood what he was asking. "In my dream I saw my mother, only she looked different. She was sadder than she usually is… and, well, I can't help but wonder if that's somehow connected to you and why I've never met you until now. The things I know about you guys, I've learned from Nila, not my mom. And she always gets angry when Nila brings you up in conversation. Why is that?"
The woman sighed and slowly made her way back to the bed. Elmer couldn't tell what she was thinking, her face showed no emotion. Was she angry that he brought this up? It is a sensitive subject and he's definitely sure his mother would get mad if he ever said anything about it. She didn't show any signs of anger, Elmer noticed as she sat down on the bed beside him, and she didn't look like she was about to yell at him.
"I have a very complicated relationship with your mother," she explained. "During her teenage years, she started to resent me and your grandfather, because of our… history."
"What do you mean by 'history'?"
"Well, you know how your other grandparents saved the world from all those bad people," she asked awkwardly. Elmer nodded. "We were sorta the bad people."
"You were villains."
He was silent for a moment and he could feel her heavy gaze on him, as if his next words depended on whether they continued their conversation or not. "That explains why my other grandparents know so much about you," he simply said.
In truth, he knew something was different about his other grandparents the moment Nila told him the first story about them. It was something about their father wanting to create a device that could create ice cream sundaes with just a push of a button. He doesn't really remember all the details of the story, but it resulted in ice cream splattered all over the kitchen. Plus, they're retired villains and retired villain are harmless, says nana. If they were as evil as the villains on television, they would have blew him up already.
"Yeah, well, anyway," she continued casually, "your mom went off to college, met your dad. Of course we didn't know who he was at the time—all she said was she met a boy named Donny. On the Christmas of her sophomore year, she convinced us to stay home for the holidays and that was when she introduced us to Donny. Well, a conversation later, we discovered who he was and more importantly who his family was… Dr. D tossed him out into the lawn and we got into this huge argument. Your mother packed up her things and left. She was gone before morning."
Elmer looked to see any signs of distraught in her face, but still she was emotionless. "So when my dad called the other night—"he knew it was his father who had talked to them because his mother was on her phone nagging at Nila for not being there while he was arranging Elmer's stay—"that was the first time you heard from them since that Christmas?"
"Well, your dad tried to arrange a meeting for us to sort out our issues, but Lucy and Drew are too stubborn for their own good and refused to meet up. Drew would only agree to see Lucy and wanted nothing to do with Donny, and Lucy wanted nothing to with us. Donny sent us an invite to their wedding, followed by Lucy's disinvite to their wedding. A birth announcement from Donny with a note from Lucy saying we're not allowed to meet him. And the list goes on and on."
How could she not care about being disconnected from her daughter's life? Isn't she at least a little curious about how her grandson turned out? What he's been up to in school, or which side of the family he most resembles? They say Elmer has most of his mother's looks, but he has his grandmother's eyes. There are some flaws to being a retired villain, Elmer thought; the lack of connecting to their sensitive side.
She leaned over and looked at the clock. "You should get back to bed," she said. "It's getting pretty late."
She once again stood up and headed for the door and Elmer snuggled into his pillow. "Maybe when they come back to pick me up on Sunday, you guys can finally sort out your issues."
"Life just doesn't work that way, especially not our lives," she said, turning off the light. "You have a mind of a hero, Elmer."
"Heroes always win," he reminded her as he drifted off into sleep.