LAST TIME ON 'WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT'
After heading out on a school field trip, the class was caught in the middle of a strange blizzard. When Dipper and Pacifica disappeared into the snow, things began to look grim. Then, all of sudden, Dipper and Pacifica returned to lead the class to a strange wood cabin. With Dipper and Pacifica not acting like themselves, Mabel took it upon herself to launch an investigation into what exactly was really happening.
Unfortunately, things quickly took a turn for the worst. Gideon and Candy were suddenly 'kidnapped'. And Mabel found herself all alone in a strange place. Eventually, she was reunited with Marius, and befriended the shape-shifter who had been pretending to be Dipper.
As strange events continue to occur, what will happen next to the 'Official Laser-Puppy Study Group of Glitter, Sparkles and History'?
This chapter will follow Gideon and Candy...
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
Chapter Eleven: Dunwich Inn, Part Three
Candy flinched at the sound of the bell. Sitting up, she pushed her glasses up to her forehead so she could rub her eyes. She groaned, as she lowered her glasses back into place.
She was sitting at her desk in the front row of the classroom. She blinked, as she watched the other students rushing to the exit as they talked excitedly about their plans for the weekend. Candy slowly slid back her chair, and made her way towards the window.
The town of Gravity Falls was stretched out in front of her, almost in it's entirety. From there, she could see the library, the town square, and a giant balloon advertising 'Gleeful's Trustworthy Used Cars and Lawnmowers'. If she squinted, she could even see the Northwest Manor, far off in the distance.
As she stared out the window, she suddenly froze. Her reflection stared back at her, with the same expression of wide eyed shock. In her reflection, she was a petite little girl with long black hair tied into a set of pigtails. She was wearing glasses that appeared to be several sizes too big, with bright pink frames. She was wearing a white shirt, underneath a long green dress with thin ribbon like straps.
She blinked, as she slowly reached out to touch the glass. Her reflection moved along with her, until she finally felt the windows cool surface. Her hand was... Small.
Candy flinched at the sound of the voice, and quickly turned around only to find herself face to face with Grenda. Candy let out a short gasp, and backed into the wall.
"Candy? There something wrong?" asked Grenda.
Candy stared at her for a moment. Grenda looked... Small. Barely any bigger than she was. Her hair was short, just barely hanging over her ears. And she was wearing a hairband, with a big pink bow on it. She was wearing a shirt that seemed to depict a kitten riding a unicorn through space, and a long black skirt decorated with dozens of cartoon bumblebees.
"Candy?" muttered Grenda, her face overflowing with concern.
Candy suddenly blinked, and slowly shook her head. "No..." she muttered. "There... There is nothing wrong..."
Grenda cocked her head to the side. "You sure? You look like you just got outta a coma or something." she said.
Candy rubbed her eyes. "...Yes... I do feel... Drowsy..." she muttered.
"Oh... Did you wanna just go straight home, then? I thought maybe we could go to the Mall together... Apparently, Muscles von Punchinstuff is making an appearance, and I really wanna get her autograph! Maybe even challenge her to an arm wrestling match... I've been practicing!" said Grenda, as she flexed her bicep.
Candy took a deep breath. "...No, it is okay. Let's go. Maybe we will get to see her punch some stuff."
Grenda grinned. "Yeah! Like a chair! Or traditional gender roles! Or another chair!" she exclaimed.
Candy smiled. As the two girls made their way out of the classroom, Grenda continued to list different things that she would like to see punched, taking a break every now and again to hear a suggestion from Candy.
For some reason, it all felt strangely nostalgic. But in a good way. In a way that left Candy with warm feeling in her chest. As if... For the first time in what felt like an eternity...
She was finally home.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
The Mall was brimming with activity when Candy and Grenda arrived, and it had taken what felt like an eternity to make their way through the crowds. It didn't help that Old Man McGucket was mopping the floors with his beard again. On the bright side- at least it was with water this time.
Last time it was mustard.
By the time they'd finally made it to the center of the mall, the show had already started. There was an enormous cluster of people standing in front of the stage, as the announcer struggled to speak over the mutterings of the crowd. With a nervous cough, the announcer carefully tapped the microphone.
"Uh-... Um, h-hello? Hello, everyone... My name is Toby Determined. Th-this is the first time I've ever announced anything... It's very exciting! Also- I hope I don't throw up on any of you..." he muttered.
The people standing closest to the stage began to slowly back away as Toby continued. "A-any way... Today's show is brought to you by... By..." he trailed off, as he squinted at his palm. "Gleeful's... Trabsolutely... Bus... Boos... Boosted... Is that... Is that seven? Aw, I think I sweated all my notes off..." he muttered, as he wiped his hand on his shirt- leaving a long streak of black ink on it.
"Aw... That was my last clean shirt..." he whimpered.
"HEY! GET ON WITH THE SHOW!" yelled someone from the audience.
"YEAH! The sooner everyone's done here, the sooner they can come spend their money over at the Mystery Shack! Remember! For today only, everything comes at a special price! Triple!" came another voice.
Toby Determined let out a series of odd noises, as he wiped away the river of sweat pouring down his face. "Uh- Yes, well... Okay. Ladies and Gentlemen! P-please welcome... Miss Muscles von Punchinstuff!"
The crowd erupted in cheers as Toby slunk off the stage.
Amongst the crowd, Grenda was struggling to see past the cluster of people in front of her. She tried jumping, yelling, and muttering angrily- but none of her strategies seemed to work. Finally, she let out a frustrated growl. "We'll miss the whole show like this! Come on! Down in front!" she yelled, to no avail. "I wish I was big... Then I'd show 'em..." she muttered.
Grenda let out a long sigh, as she turned to face Candy. "Hey, Candy? You don't have any stilts with you, do you? Or pogo-sticks?" she asked.
Candy shook her head, leaving Grenda to silently stroke her chin in thought. Finally, her features suddenly brightened. "I've got it! Hop up on my shoulders! That way, at least one of us can see the action. Just tell me when she stars jugglin' chainsaws and stuff."
Candy blinked. "...Are you sure you do not want to try standing on my shoulders, Grenda? You have been looking forward to this for... For a while." she said.
Grenda shook her head. "Nuh-uh. Last time we did that, I kinda wound up hurting your back... Plus, it was kinda hard to balance properly. Besides- You're at least as much a fan of von Punchinstuff as I am. We did get those matching temporary tattoo's, remember?" she asked, as she rolled up her sleeve, and flexed her bicep.
Sure enough, on her upper-arm, there was a little cartoon figure of Muscles von Punchinstuff herself.
Candy blinked. "...I do not think I have one of those..." she muttered, as she checked her own arm.
Grenda shrugged. "Yeah, well- we did get 'em a few weeks ago. I've been usin' plastic wrap an' stuff to keep mine fresh."
All of a sudden, the crowd burst into a roar, as the show finally seemed to get started.
Grenda let out a high pitched squeal of excitement. "Quick! Hop on!" she exclaimed. Candy paused for a moment, and then shrugged. After some considerable effort, Candy managed to get her feet on Grenda's shoulders and stand. Unfortunately, it was an unstable union. And before long, Candy and Grenda both found themselves tumbling to the floor.
"...Ow..." muttered Grenda, as she collected herself. Candy was quick to get to her feet, and quietly brush herself off. "I think it is time for a plan 'B'." she said. As Candy helped Grenda to her feet, a deep husky voice seemed to cut through the sounds of the crowd. "Ah, there you are. I was lookin' fer you two."
At the sound of the voice, Grenda's expression immediately brightened. "Dad!" she exclaimed.
Candy blinked, as Grenda's father seemed to tower over them. He was a tall man, with a wide build. He had a kind, gentle looking face and a short brown beard. He was wearing a red bandanna over his receding hairline, and a pair of small wire frame glasses. Although he looked like a fairly average middle-aged man, Grenda's father did have at least one thing that set him apart from most of the other adults in Gravity Falls. Namely, the sleeve of tattoo's that ran down his right arm. There were snakes, skulls, tombstones and even a couple of names on there- including Grenda's.
As the crowd continued to cheer, Grenda's father shifted his glasses down the bridge of his nose and gave Grenda a look. "Shouldn't you be headed somewhere else right about now?" he asked.
Grenda shook her head. "Nuh-uh. I made sure we'd have some time to catch the show first." she said.
Candy raised a curious eyebrow, and Grenda gave a nervous cough. Apparently doing her best to avoid Candy's curious gaze, Grenda quickly changed the subject.
"Uh- Where's Mom?" asked Grenda.
Grenda's father slid his glasses back in place, and shrugged. "I think she's still over at the food court, yellin' at the folks at Beuno Nacho. Apparently they're discontinuing their Vegan menu. She ain't happy."
The crowd around them suddenly burst into another cheer.
Grenda began to pout. "Aw, come on! We're missing out on all the best stuff!" she exclaimed.
Grenda's father sighed. "You two wanna lift?" he asked.
Grenda grinned. "Sure!" she exclaimed. Candy meanwhile, gave a polite nod. "Thank you." she muttered.
Grenda's father smiled. "It ain't any trouble." he said.
And so, Candy and Grenda perched themselves on his shoulders and spent the next twenty minutes watching Muscles von Punchinstuff do what she did best.
Which was, in case you didn't know... Punch stuff.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
Candy grinned, as she held her newest prized possession close to her chest. It was an autographed poster from Muscle von Punchinstuff's first movie 'Attack of the Killer Explosions in 3D'. A true cinematic masterpiece. Grenda's father had been nice enough to pay for it- and she would be eternally grateful. Grenda had received a poster for 'Revenge of Chainsaw-nado', an equally fine piece of cinema.
As she trailed behind Grenda and Grenda's father, Candy was already making plans to frame her new treasure and hang it up in her room.
"C'mon, Dad! I coulda beat her right there! I'd be the youngest world arm-wrestling champion in history!" groaned Grenda.
Grenda's father sighed. "I told you, Gren- We gotta get. You know I don't like to be late. Besides, today ain't supposed to be about you- Remember?"
Grenda pouted a little, and sighed. "Yeah, I know..." she muttered.
Candy sent Grenda a curious glance. Grenda didn't seem to notice, and Candy simply remained silent.
For the next few minutes, the three of them waded their way through the crowded mall in silence- until Grenda and her father suddenly came to an abrupt halt.
"O-oh, are you guys hungry!?" bellowed Grenda.
Candy raised an eyebrow, as Grenda shot her a nervous glance.
"L-Let's go in here, Candy! I hear it's really good!" said Grenda, as she pointed to a nearby store. "Right, Dad?"
Grenda's father smiled, and nodded. "Yeah, let's head on in." he said.
Candy raised an eyebrow, as Grenda and her father walked through the doorway of a store she had never seen before. It looked like some kind of restaurant. Above the door, was an enormous sign that read 'Freddy Fazbear's Pizza'. Also on the sign was the picture of a cartoon bear, a rabbit, a bird and a fox. They were all standing with some kind of musical instrument. As if they were all a part of a band.
Candy adjusted her glasses, and frowned a little. Something about it seemed... Out of place.
She stood there for a moment, but soon shook it off. Things in Gravity Falls tended to feel 'out of place' all the time. If anything- it was the norm.
With that, Candy quietly made her way through the big glass doors and into the restaurant. Inside, she was immediately greeted by darkness.
She grit her teeth, as she felt a sudden chill run through the air. It was too dark to see anything properly. But as she took a few timid steps further in, she could begin to make out a few blurry shapes in front of her.
It looked like she was standing at the front desk. Behind the front desk, she could make out what looked like a couple of rows of tables and chairs, and a big stage. She shuddered, as she slowly made her way past the front desk.
"Grenda? Grenda, are you here?"
Candy's voice seemed to echo in the darkness, but there was no reply.
She bit her bottom lip, as the air seemed to grow colder and colder.
Then, all of a sudden, one of the lights on the stage flickered to life. Illuminating what appeared to be a large animatronic bear. Candy froze, as the bear slowly whirred to life. At first, it's arms and legs merely seemed to twitch, as it's eyes began to blink. First the right, then the left. It's enormous jaws began to flap up and down, and if it were snapping at the air in front of it.
A few more lights sparked to life on the stage, revealing a few more animatronic animals. A purple bunny, and a yellow bird. As their bodies seemed to writhe around in what looked like some kind of painful dance, a high pitched crackle began to fill the air. The bear suddenly stopped, and slowly picked up the microphone that had been sitting in front of it. It's movements continued to stop and start, as it slowly brought the microphone toward it's mouth, and seemed to let out a long crackly growl.
"Ha-ppy... Birth-day... To... You..."
All of a sudden, people began to crawl out from underneath the tables, as all of the lights in the restaurant suddenly burst to life. In front of her, she could see her parents, Grenda and her parents, and even a few kids from school. They were all smiling happily, as they joined the animatronic bear in singing along.
"Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Candy! Happy birthday to you!"
With that, a sudden rain of balloons and confetti came falling from the ceiling, as an enormous banner appeared over the stage reading 'Happy Birthday Candy!'.
Everyone cheered, as Grenda walked over to Candy. "You didn't think we forgot, did ya? Happy birthday, Candy!" she announced, before enveloping Candy in an enormous hug.
Candy blinked. "Ac-Actually... I think I might have forgotten..." she muttered.
"Alright! First we're going to have some birthday pizza, and then some birthday cake! I can't wait for you to open the present I got you, too!" announced Grenda, before leaning down to whisper something in Candy's ear. "It's a hula-girl lamp. Super classy." she whispered.
Candy grinned. "Thank you, Grenda." she said.
"Aw, it's no problem Candy. You're the best friend a girl could ask for. Seriously." said Grenda. "Now, c'mon! We gotta party!"
With that Grenda barreled her way through a group of people, making a beeline for what looked like the tallest stack of pizza's Candy had ever seen.
Before Candy could join her friend in pouncing on a pile of pizza's, she felt someone tap her shoulder. Candy turned around to find her parents standing there, smiling.
Her father was a thin man with thick glasses and a receding hairline. He looked like he had just gotten off work- although Candy couldn't be sure which job it was. Mr Chu had a somewhat interesting career. By day, he was an average looking accountant. But by night, he was the average looking host of 'Gravity Falls: Live' the towns most popular radio program. Which was why, to most of the residents of Gravity Falls, he was known as 'Mister Radio'.
Her mother on the other hand, was slightly less 'average looking'. At the moment, she was wearing a fluorescent pink pantsuit, complete with sequins and a long flowing cape. Every day, Candy's mother would change her outfit, and they were always extremely garish. Mrs Chu also happened to be a musical genius. She could play almost every instrument in the world, and she was a regular guest on 'Gravity Falls: Live'.
"Happy birthday, sweet heart!" exclaimed Mr and Mrs Chu as they enveloped their daughter in a hug.
Candy smiled. "Thank you, Mom and Dad..." she muttered.
The Chu's broke up their family hug just in time for someone new to approach them. "Ah, Mr and Mrs Radio! It's awful nice to see you two. And you must be the birthday girl!" said the man.
Mr Chu adjusted his glasses, and frowned a little. "Good afternoon, Mr Gleeful. We were just talking with my daughter." he said.
"Oh, I do apologize. I'll come on by a little later. Happy birthday, little lady." said Mr Gleeful, as he gave Candy a friendly smile. With that, he simply disappeared back into the crowd.
"He probably wanted to talk about more ad time, honey." said Mrs Chu, as she gave her daughter an extra squeeze.
Mr Chu sighed again. "Yes... But at this point, if he gets any more then we will be playing that annoying jingle of his more than the music..." he muttered.
As her parents spoke, Candy noticed something in the corner of her eye. A flash of blue. And a familiar hair-do.
"Um... Excuse me, Mom and Dad..." muttered Candy.
Mrs Chu smiled. "Of course. Go play with your little friends, sweet heart." she said.
Candy gave her parents an extra hug, before disappearing into the crowd. As she pushed past the party-goers, she felt an odd sense of urgency begin to overtake her. As she moved, there was a sudden 'pop', and dozens of balloons began to fall from the ceiling, along with streamers and confetti. The animatronic animals on the stage began to sing again, and as she caught another glimpse of the familiar hair-do, the music seemed to get louder and louder.
Everyone around her began to dance to the music. As the streamers, the confetti and the balloons served to obstruct her vision, it was beginning to feel as if the entire room had taken a turn for the utterly chaotic.
Then, everything froze. As a familiar voice rang in her ears.
She spun around, and felt her heart skip a beat.
Dipper Pines was standing there. Wearing his vest. His cap. His nervous smile.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
Candy opened her mouth, and then shut it. Her voice stuck in her throat.
Dipper stretched his hand out in front of him, and smiled. "Wanna dance?" he asked.
Candy took a step back.
"N-... No..." she muttered. "You... You're not supposed..."
As she began to sputter, the balloons that had been floating in the air slowly began to pop- one by one. As the popped, they sprayed a massive torrent of blood all over the people near by. None of them seemed to notice. Instead, they continued to dance. Soaked in blood.
As Dipper stood there in front of her, offering her his hand, a balloon burst next to his face. And now, his kind, gentle face was dripping with blood.
Candy felt her legs give out from under her, as her head began to fill with familiar voices. They were all screaming her name. She looked around at the blur of bloody faces. Grenda. Her parents. Dipper. They were all staring at her. Soon to be joined by everyone else. Candy grabbed fist fulls of her hair, as she watched them all slowly begin to melt. Their faces were all still. Quiet. But the voices in her head were so loud, that she began to tremble.
All of a sudden, one voice cut through all the rest.
The voice seemed to fluctuate between a high and a low pitch as it spoke, while maintaining the same grating rasp.
"Want a balloon?"
Candy's eyes shot open- and all of a sudden, the room was empty. Everyone else had disappeared. She looked up to find the animatronic animals standing on the stage. Each one of them slumped over, with their eyes closed.
As she stared at the animatronic animals, she felt a cold presence standing directly behind her. Her heart skipped a beat, as she slowly turned around.
There was a clown standing there, holding a bunch of balloons.
As the clown stood over her, she felt her breath hitch in her throat.
The clown was wearing puffy, colorful clothes. A bright yellow onesie with big orange buttons, a vest made up of lines of purple and blue, big red shoes and a large white frill around his neck. It looked like an old circus clown.
It's face was covered in layers of thick white makeup, save for the lines of black around it's eyes and overs it's eyebrows. It's lips were covered in a thick coating of red, to match it's round red nose. The clowns hair was bright red and frizzy- sticking out in every direction around it's bald scalp.
The clown offered Candy a smile, and she felt her blood ran cold.
"Want a balloon?" repeated the clown, as it offered her a bright red balloon.
Candy didn't move.
"Sorry- It's been so long since the last time I prepared a good meal... I think I've gotten a little rusty." said the clown, as it slowly opened it's hand. Allowing all the balloons to float freely in the air.
Candy watched, as each of the balloons began to glow. On the surface of each balloon, Candy could see the faces of people she didn't recognize. Most of them children. Each one of them with their faces frozen in horror.
The clown stared at the balloons for a moment, before shifting it's gaze back to Candy. It's dark blue eye flickered yellow for a moment as it smiled.
"You know... Trudging through your minds... You two have seen quite a lot. More than most of the children I come across... It really made me wonder about that place you come from. 'Gravity Falls'. It's really peaked my interest. I think one day... I'll make my way over there. It seems like it'll be a really good time."
As the clown spoke, the calm in it's voice began to crack.
"And then... I went a little further. And... I noticed something..." with each word, the clown's teeth began turn into fangs, and it's eyes began to glow a fiery yellow.
"Lovecraft..." it spat. "You know Lovecraft. Correct?"
Candy remained quiet.
"You go to a school founded by that wretch." the clown growled. "And now you're here. And from what the walls tell me... There are even more of you."
The clown ran its tongue over it's long triangular fangs, and chuckled to itself. "I can't wait to have you join the rest..." said the clown, as it bent down and brought its face closer to Candy's.
"So. Your name is 'Candy'. Ain't that right?" asked the clown.
Candy shuddered, as she caught the smell of rotting meat in the clowns breath.
"Well, mine is Pennywise. So- Now that we're not strangers anymore... What's say we have a little more fun?"
The clown slowly opened it's mouth. Wider, and wider. Candy froze, as she stared into an abyss of teeth and pulsing flesh. She wanted to move. She wanted to scream. But no matter how hard she tried to make her body move- she couldn't. The smell of the clowns breath was overwhelming. As was the fear. And the knowledge that at that moment- she was truly staring into the abyss of death.
"GET AWAY FROM HER!"
Candy jumped- the sound of the high pitched shriek momentarily snapping her out of her frozen state. There was a flash of blue and white, as Gideon suddenly humped in from the side and launched himself at Pennywise.
In an instant- Pennywise disappeared. Leaving Gideon to tumble into a heap on the floor.
"Surprise, surprise! Would ya look at that! Little Gideon comes in for the save! Who'd a thunk it!? Here I was thinking he'd stay hidden behind the curtain like the yellow-bellied coward he is!" Pennywise's voice shook the room.
"Well, you know what!? That's great! I wanted to watch you squirm a little more anyway! So it's a win-win for me!"
Gideon growled to himself, as he got to his feet. Ignoring the sound of Pennywise's laughter, he grabbed Candy by the wrist and pulled her to her feet. "HEY!" he bellowed. "Snap out of it!"
Without waiting for her to respond, Gideon pulled Candy along behind him as he ran to the exit door. Surprisingly- the doors swung open with ease. But instead of leading back to the mall, the doors instead lead into a long dark hallway. Gideon muttered angrily to himself as Pennywise's disembodied voice seemed to follow them from behind.
"Run and squirm and scream and die. You'll be with the others real soon, I promise. Until then- Why don't you play with some friends of mine?"
As Gideon pulled Candy down the hallway, the animatronic animals slowly whirred back to life.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
Everything passed by in a dull blur, as Gideon rushed down the hallway with Candy in tow. Eventually, he found a door that was unlocked. In a panic, he swung the door open and rushed inside. After slamming the door closed behind them, Gideon cursed to himself when he noticed that the door didn't have a lock. After finally letting go of Candy's hand, he rushed to grab a nearby chair, and jam it against the doorknob.
He huffed and wheezed as he wiped a river of sweat off his face. His heart was beating fast, and his mind was running at a million miles an hour. Doing his best to catch his breath, Gideon sat down and tried to collect his thoughts.
He remembered being ushered in to the strange pizza place by his father. He was supposed to perform a magic show for some girls birthday party. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to remember anything else. Everything before the party was... Blank.
Gideon glanced over at Candy, and frowned.
"Do... Do you know what's goin' on here?" he asked, as he wiped a river of sweat from his face.
Candy remained silent.
Gideon sighed. "I can't believe I just did that..." he muttered. "I shoulda just let ya get yerself eaten... Or... Whatever..."
Candy blinked slowly. She was still in a daze. But as she shifted her gaze over to Gideon, she could feel her senses slowly start coming back to her. She rubbed her eyes, and shook her head- as she did her best to shake off what just happened. Dwelling on all the new nightmare fuel wouldn't do her any good. Not right now.
She took a few deep breaths, and bit her lip.
After a few minutes of sitting in the room in total silence, Candy finally found her voice again.
"...Thank you." she muttered. "For saving me."
Gideon frowned. His first instinct was to puff up his chest and tell her that she now owed him her life. Which meant that he had just earned himself a brand new lackey. But for some reason, something about that idea felt... Off.
It shouldn't have. After all- cashing in on favors and such was step one in his twelve step plan to take over Gravity Falls. First, he would amass a nice little crime family of kids to take over the school- and then he'd spread out from there. He had it all written down in his diary back home.
Of course- he also had to figure out what to do with that old man in the Mystery Shack...
Gideon frowned again, and gently rubbed his forehead.
There it was again. That feeling that something was... Wrong. Something beyond the child-eating clown thing. Something in him.
While Gideon began to wrestle with something of an existential crisis, Candy began to survey the room they were in.
The room was cramped, and everything seemed to be covered in a thick layer of dust. There was a bare lightbulb hanging down from the center of the ceiling, basking everything around them in a dull glow. There were a few old, faded posters on the wall. A 'Hang in there!' poster that appeared to be depicting an actual hanging. An old poster with the words 'Freddy Fazbear's Fun Time Jamboree!' printed on it, and another one with a picture of a triangle with a big eye in its center. Candy's eyes lingered on the last one for a moment, before moving on.
Beside the posters was an old wooden desk. It was covered in a mess of old files and newspapers. Sitting on top of a stack of yellowing magazines was a small desk fan and a small TV monitor. Without thinking, Candy pressed the small black button on the front of the monitor, and it immediately flickered to life. The screen seemed to show night-vision footage of the hallway.
Candy blinked. She slowly pressed another button on the monitor, and the screen flickered. After a moment of static, the monitor was suddenly showing footage from the stage. Candy frowned a little.
The stage was now empty. The animatronic animal band had disappeared.
She stared blankly at the image as she felt a familiar sense of dread creep rise into her chest.
Candy bit her lip as she flicked through the channels on the monitor. Most of them were only static- but every now and again she would be greeted by footage of another room. There was an old store room that was filled with old pirate themed costumes and props. A dusty kitchen area, and footage of a dark room with a single light-bulb hanging from the ceiling. Every now and again, she would catch something in the corner of her eye.
A familiar shape or silhouette. But whenever she went back to check on it- it would be gone.
As she stared at the monitor, she could hear Gideon start mutter something behind her. At first, she ignored it. He was muttering in a volume just below a whisper- so it was barely audible anyway. But eventually, it began to grate on her nerves. Finally, she turned to face him- only to pause for a moment.
Gideon was sitting on the floor, rocking back and forth. His hands were buried into his thick white hair, and he seemed to be pulling at it as a steady stream of tears rolled down his cheeks. He was muttering to himself through grit teeth, and as Candy slowly made her way towards him, she could almost able make out what he was saying.
"Die... Gonna die..."
"Shut... Shut up..."
"Not... Not my fault... Not my fault..."
Candy bit her lip, as Gideon seemed to breakdown. He was shuddering, and growing even more pale than usual by the second.
Candy knew Gideon. Everyone in Gravity Falls knew him. He was the son of Bud Gleeful, and the face of 'Gleeful's Auto Sales'. Gideon's face was plastered on posters and billboards all over town- and it had been since he was born. It was still possible to come across old posters featuring him as a baby- still wearing the same oddly sinister grin.
But for some reason... She felt like she knew him even better than that. She frowned a little at that, but quickly shook it off.
"...Gideon?" she muttered.
Gideon flinched at the sound of her voice, and quickly sent her a tear-stained glare. "What?" he hissed.
"...Well... You look like there is something wrong..." said Candy.
Gideon made a noise that could only be described as a cross between a growl and snort, as he quickly wiped his face with his shirt sleeve. "...This is all your fault..." he growled.
Candy frowned. "What do you mean?" she asked.
Gideon huffed. "You know exactly what I mean! If I just let you get eaten, then I coulda just escaped on my own!"
Candy raised an eyebrow. "That... Makes it sound like it is your fault..."
Gideon grit his teeth. "It was not! I should've been perfectly fine watchin' you... Get eaten... But- I-... I acted like a sucker! That ain't me! I don't do nothin' for nobody! You... You must've done something! Did you use a mind control crystal or something!?"
Candy blinked. "Uh... No?"
Gideon flinched, and his face suddenly contorted with pain. Grabbing fistfulls of his puffy white hair, he began to mutter to himself again. "Shut up... Shut up... Shut up..." he hissed.
Candy's face was flooded with concern, as she watched him start to writhe in pain.
Eventually, Gideon shot her a look, as tears began to stream down his face once more. "Y-you... Do you hear it? T-th... Those voices?" he whispered.
Candy slowly shook her head.
Gideon tightened his grip on his hair, and went silent.
Time passed in perfect silence, as Gideon sat there frozen in place. Candy tried waving her hand in front of his face, but there was no response. Next, she tried calling his name- but to no avail. Candy adjusted her glasses, and tried to think.
Suddenly, she had an idea.
In one swift motion, Candy pulled a long hair clip out of her hair, and jabbed it into Gideon's side.
Gideon let out a high pitched squeal as he clutched his side and tumbled backwards. "OW! What the- Candy! What is wrong with you!?" he exclaimed, as he scrambled to his feet. "Didn't nobody ever tell you not to go around jabbin' people like that!?"
Candy blinked, as Gideon launched into a full scale rant.
"Y'know, I've literally tried to take over the world! More than once! I've driven a giant robot version of myself and tried to crush my enemies with it! But y'know what I didn't do? I didn't go around jabbing people! I mean- who does that? Who? A maniac, that's who!" Gideon trailed off for a moment to gingerly rub his side. "And if that weren't bad enough, you went and got me in the same place as last time! You sadist!" he exclaimed, as he pointed an accusatory finger at Candy.
Candy responded by pointing her hairclip at him- causing him to shrink back in terror. Candy smirked a little at that, and Gideon scowled.
"Way to go and prove my point..." muttered Gideon.
As Candy put her hairclip back in place, Gideon looked as if he were only just becoming aware of his surroundings.
"Wha-... Where are we?" he muttered.
Candy shrugged. "I do not know."
Gideon frowned. "What do you mean 'you don't know'?" he demanded.
"I mean, 'I do not know'." growled Candy. "Everything has been like a crazy blur... I-... I do not know what is real anymore... It just... It is just one big nightmare..."
Gideon rubbed his face and frowned. "A nightmare... When is it ever not a nightmare..." he muttered.
The room went silent for a moment, as Gideon rubbed his temples, and Candy stared off into space. The silence didn't last long however, as Gideon was quick to break it.
"You... You look... Younger..." he muttered.
Candy blinked as she snapped out of her blank stare, and rose an eyebrow. "What do you mean?" she asked.
"I mean... You look like you're a kid again..." he said.
Candy frowned a little. "You are a kid too." she muttered.
Gideon glanced down at himself, and let out a long defeated sigh. "...Dang it..." he muttered angrily. "Not again..."
Candy raised an eyebrow. "What... What do you mean 'not again'?" she asked.
Gideon gave her a weary look, and shook his head. "Never mind..." he muttered.
Candy frowned a little, but she appeared to let it go. Opting instead to return to the monitor and start flipping channels again. Gideon stared at her for a moment, and then quickly looked away.
The room went silent, save for the sound of Candy changing the channel every few minutes. As time passed, eventually Gideon ran a hand through his fluffy white hair, and sighed.
"Dang it... I just know that any minute now... Somethin' horrible is gonna happen." he muttered.
Candy blinked, and turned to face him. "What do you mean?" she asked.
Gideon sighed. "...Y'all seem to 've gotten yer memories... Scrambled." he said. "If you hadn't... Then I reckon you'd know exactly what this is..."
Candy raised a confused eyebrow. "...Excuse me?" she asked.
"...Somethin' is messin' with us. My guess... Is that it's that big creepy clown guy. And right now... We're bein' left to ourselves... Just for long enough for us to gain some sorta sense of 'security'. Then... Right about when we least expect it..." Gideon trailed off, and shrugged. "Well- Somethin' happens. And it ain't ever anythin' good."
Candy seemed to consider that for a moment, and shrugged. "Oh, well." she muttered.
Gideon scowled and shook his head with disgust. "'Oh, well'- Y'know, it wouldn't kill ya to try an' take this a lil' bit seriously."
Candy ignored him, and turned her attention back to the monitor. For some reason, she felt compelled to keep flipping through the channels. It was as if she were looking for something. She just didn't know what. As time slowly ticked by, she had become so absorbed in the monitor that she failed to notice Gideon approach her. As he peered over her shoulder, he let out a low sigh. Causing Candy to suddenly jump.
Gideon cocked an eyebrow. "What?" he muttered.
Candy shot him a withering glare. "Do. Not. Do. That." she hissed.
Gideon rolled his eyes. "Whatever. So, this is security camera footage or somethin'... Right?" he asked.
"What's a pizza place need security camera's for?" he muttered.
Candy gave him a look.
"Yeah, yeah- Dumb question. We're trapped in hellish nightmare realm by a demon clown. I got it." muttered Gideon.
Candy faltered a little, and frowned. "Is... Is that... Really what is going on?"
"Uh... Yeah. What- you got a better idea?"
Candy slowly shook her head.
Gideon let out an obnoxious snort, as he reveled in what he seemed to take as some kind of victory. Candy rolled her eyes and ignored him. Turning her attention back to the monitor.
Suddenly, the lights flickered off. Candy and Gideon froze, as the monitor suddenly went blank. Behind them, there was a loud 'click', as the door suddenly swung open. A soft melody began to float through the air. It was quiet at first. Only barely audible. But it was slowly growing louder and louder. It sounded like the soft tune of a music box. Without realizing it, they slowly inched closer together, as the sound of heavy footsteps rattled the air.
Gideon tightened his hands into fists, as he suddenly found himself frozen in place.
Candy began to feel around, searching desperately for anything that could possibly resemble a weapon.
"Ah- Dang it, Candy!" Gideon hissed, as Candy yanked at his hair.
"I am looking for a weapon!" she hissed back.
"Well, you ain't gonna find one in my hair!" growled Gideon.
"Shut up and help!" hissed Candy.
"Why don't ya just use of those hair-clips of yours?" hissed Gideon.
Eventually, Candy managed to get her hands on the monitor. She tried to lift it off of the desk, but it wouldn't budge. She let out a short exasperated grunt, and quickly pulled out her long hair-clip. It would have to do.
All of a sudden, the footsteps had stopped. Candy shuddered, as she and Gideon both held their breath. Gideon seemed to remain perfectly still, as Candy tried desperately to keep herself from shaking.
The air went cold. Everything was still. In truth, the moment lasted less than a second. But for Gideon and Candy, it seemed to drag on and on.
Suddenly, there was a high pitched scream as the lifeless face of the animatronic bear sprang out from the darkness. Candy screamed, and ducked just as it swiped it's hand at her. The hand caught Gideon on the side of the face, sending him screaming across the room. The bear wasted no time in making another grab for Candy. Effortlessly picking her up by her hair in one fluid motion. She screamed in equal parts pain and terror, as the animatronic bear lifted her into the air, and then slowly brought her close to it's face.
She could feel the heat emanating from the dull yellow glow in it's robotic eyes. She could hear the sound of the bears animatronics at work. The whirring, the dull clicking sound of metal against metal, and the soft hum of electricity. Candy let out a another high pitched scream, as she suddenly thrust her hairclip into it's eye. All of the bear's extremities gave a violent twitch, and it's hand loosened it's grip on her hair. Candy tumbled to the ground. And in a blur of terror and pain, she wasted no time in running.
By some miracle, she made it to the hallway. Where the light was just dim enough for her to see where she was going.
Her body was overwhelmed by the adrenaline pumping through her veins. She couldn't think anymore. All she could do was run.
Then, another scream rang throughout the hallway. And all of a sudden- she stopped.
"Gideon..." she whispered.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
Everything was swirling around in a sick blur. The smells of death permeated the air. Blood and rotting flesh. Getting stronger with every passing moment. Gideon could feel himself being dragged into it. His body was limp, and his mind was a dull haze. The smell began to smother him. Threatening to choke the life out of him.
"Do not... Be scared. We... Will protect you."
Gideon didn't recognize the voice. It was barely audible. Speaking just above a whisper.
"It will hurt... For a moment. But... You will be safe..."
The voice sounded as if it belonged to a young boy. His tone was sad. Defeated. As if he were watching the world crumble all around him.
Gideon tried to speak, but he couldn't seem to find his voice.
It was dark all around him. But as time slowly passed, his eyes began to adjust. He was being dragged down a long hallway. The walls were covered in long scratches, and splashes of blood. And the floor was covered in a layer of slick bile.
Gideon tried to look up at his assailant. His neck was stiff, but he was able to move it just enough to make out the shape of the creature. It was a tall animatronic bear. Wearing what appeared to be a tall black top-hat and a bow-tie. It's movement was stiff and robotic.
Gideon struggled to move once more, but his body seemed to refuse his brains instructions.
All of a sudden, they came to a stop.
The animatronic bear moved it's hand forward, and opened a large rusty metal door. There was a deafening screech as the door swung open. The animatronic bear made it's way into the room without so much as a pause. Keeping it's hand wrapped tightly around Gideons arm as it dragged him inside.
There was a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling that flickered every few seconds. And directly beneath the bulb, sat another animatronic. This one was a squirrel. It had a big red tie, a large white pompadour, and an enormous grin plastered across it's face. It's body was painted a light blue, while it's stomach was white. The paint was old and peeling, and patches of it seemed to be rusting away.
As the lights flickered, other animatronic animals suddenly appeared standing next to the squirrel. First, a purple rabbit. Then, a yellow bird. Then, a fox an eye-patch and a hook for a hand. They were all standing around the squirrel in a circle. All of them were staring at Gideon, as they stood motionless.
"Did you get them?"
"Did you save the boy?"
"Did you save the girl?"
The room was suddenly filled with whispers. Each one only barely audible. They were all different, but it was impossible make out each individual voice as they talked over one another.
The animatronic bear twitched a little, as it slowly picked Gideon up and held him in front of the others.
"I saved this one... The other... Ran away..." this voice belonged to the boy from before. But it was impossible to tell if it was actually emanating from the animatronic bear.
"Why do they always run?" asked another voice.
"We only want to help them..."
"They always run... And then they get hurt..."
"Don't they understand?"
Gideon grit his teeth. The voices were beginning to grate on his nerves, and he wanted nothing more than to tell them all to shut up.
All of a sudden, the bear animatronic moved forward, and pressed a small button underneath the squirrel animatronics chin. All of a sudden, all of the plates of metal that made up it's body sprang open.
"You will be safe inside..." whispered the boy voice. "It... It will only hurt for a moment."
Gideon was unable to struggle as the bear suddenly crammed him into the blue squirrels open body.
"Where is the girl?"
"Has she disappeared?"
"Was she hurt?"
Gideon took a deep breath, as he felt the animatronic bear slowly close the metal plates over his body. Locking him into the animatronic body. 'Damn it... Damn it, move! MOVE!' he screamed inwardly, as the plates around his legs were locked in place. But no matter how hard he tried, he remained utterly helpless.
All of a sudden, an image flashed across his eyes.
A vision of a pile of animatronics. All in different shapes and colors. Blood oozed from every space in the metal. The faces were especially bloody. Lifeless human eyes stared out of the eye holes of each animatronic shell. Gideon quickly recognized the eyes of the three at the top of the pile.
Grenda. Candy. Mabel.
Each one of them dead, and stuffed into an animatronic shell. Beneath them, he could also see his own form. Twisted and mangled, staring blankly through a metal mask.
Suddenly, Gideon felt his fingers begin to twitch. He grit his teeth. The vision began to dissipate, and he was once again staring up at the animatronic bear.
"N-...no..." he wheezed. Slowly, he manged to wiggle his arm free. And without a second thought, he quickly used it to swipe at the animatronic bears face. His hand simply bounced off of the bears padded face, but that didn't stop him. This time, he used his other arm to throw a punch.
There was low 'thud' as Gideon smacked the bears face. "No... No! Stop it!" Gideon growled, as he felt his voice slowly come back to him. "Y-you... You're not going to do this! Stop it... STOP IT YOU BASTARD!" he bellowed.
The bear grabbed one of Gideon's arms, and effortlessly pushed it back into the animatronic shell. As the bear slowly closed the plates of his arm, Gideon used the other to claw at the bears face.
"LET ME GO!" Gideon bellowed.
"Don't be scared..."
As Gideon felt his other arm being pressed into place, he grit his teeth. Every part of his body was screaming for escape. But no matter how hard he struggled, it was all for naught. As he felt the metal plates being closed over his other arm, he felt his blood start to run cold.
"It will only hurt for a moment... Just a moment..." the voices repeated themselves over and over, as Gideon felt the metal plates start pressing against him. The pressure against his chest was already making it difficult to breath. As Gideon sputtered threats and angry invectives, the bear carefully closed the plates over Gideons face. The voices continued to whisper amongst themselves, but Gideon could no longer make out what they were saying.
As he struggled to see through the eye holes in the metal mask, he watched the bear slowly lower it's hand towards him. The bear carefully pressed a small button on the animatronic suits chest. Gideon let out a muffled scream, as a sudden burst of terrible pain shook his very being.
The animatronic animals stood around him, as Gideons animatronic suit began to tighten all around him. It began to twist around his body. Bending and shaping it into unnatural forms. A jolt of electricity forced him into a painful spasm, and he could feel pieces of metal within the suit begin to tear through his skin. Blood began to seep out of the spaces between the metal plates, as the electricity continued to force his entire body into painful fits.
As it continued, the other animatronic animals began to disappear. One by one.
First the purple rabbit. Then the yellow bird. Followed by the fox.
The bear stood there the longest. Watching Gideon writhe in pain with cold, apathetic eyes.
"The clown... Can't hurt you... If you are one of us..." the sound of the voice echoed throughout the room. It's tone just as sad as before.
With that, the bear disappeared.
Leaving Gideon to scream and writhe in the darkness.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
"My sweet little pumpkin..."
"Hello? Little pumpkin... Are you okay?"
Gideon's eyes fluttered open momentarily. Only long enough to catch the slightest glimpse of the woman leaning over him.
"Mommy...?" he whimpered.
"Shh... It's okay, little pumpkin. It's okay."
Gideon groaned. He felt as if he were floating... His body was limp and cold. His eyes fluttered open again, and he caught a better glimpse of the woman.
She smiled down at him. And in an instant, Gideon felt the true specter of fear wrap it's hands around his heart.
It was her.
"Mo-...Mommy..." he whimpered.
"It's okay, little pumpkin... It's okay..." she cooed.
She looked young again. Reminding him of a time long in the past. Before her long curly hair had begun to go grey. Before her eyes had been marked with dark circles and bags as result of her insomnia. Before her face had been covered in wrinkles. Each one of them a reflection of the incredible mess of stress and fear that seemed to twisting around inside of her at every moment
Before... Before he broke her.
"Little pumpkin... Listen to me... If you want to help your little friends... I can tell you how." whispered his mother.
"N-no..." muttered Gideon.
"Listen to me, little pumpkin... Please..."
"NO!" screamed Gideon, as he tried to push her away. He froze in an instant, as the sound of glass breaking filled the air. Gideon recoiled in horror, as he stared at his mother. Half of her body had shattered. As if she were merely a glass doll. A thick black smoke billowed out from the empty space inside of her. Gideon's mother carefully collected herself, and drew closer to her son. Half of her face had been reduced to shards. So the missing half was now replaced with a thick cloud of smoke, with a single glowing eye floating around on the surface.
Gideon recoiled at the tone of her voice. It was so... Caring. Full of a kind of motherly love he hadn't seen for many, many years. It felt like a knife to the heart.
"Calm down..." said his mother. "You mustn't lose yourself... You have people counting on you..."
Gideon grit his teeth. "No. I don't. Now, go away." he growled.
"Just listen. Please. The monster... The- The clown... The one responsible for this terrible nightmare... It has a secret. A weakness."
Gideon blinked. "Wha- What?" he sputtered.
"The clown... Is obsessed with despair. Despair is it's greatest source of power... It feeds on it. It has enslaved countless souls already... Trapping them in an endless cycle of torment. But the monster always craves more of it... And it has been starved of new victims for a very long time. Over time, it has weakened greatly... Do not give in to despair... Do not allow yourself to be rendered useless like so many others... The monster is weak. You can fight back..."
"H-... How do you know all this?" muttered Gideon.
His mother smiled. "Because... I told you. A long time ago... Remember the story?"
All of a sudden, Gideon felt something hit his chest. He groaned, as the vision of his mother suddenly flickered.
"My little pumpkin... The world is bursting with secrets. Nothing is ever quite as simple as it appears at first glance. Especially... Not... Me..."
Gideon felt another impact on his chest. He groaned, as his mother suddenly brought her forehead to his.
There was a flash of white. Followed quickly by the image of an old photograph. It was in black and white.
A man in a long black suit. Beside him, three children. A little boy, a little girl, and a baby girl. The baby was wrapped in the arms of the little boy.
Gideon felt another impact against his chest, and everything seemed to dissolve into a field of white.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
Candy let out a guttural scream, as she pounded her fists against Gideon's chest. His body was limp and bloody. His eyes lifeless. But she wasn't about to give up. Candy took a long, deep breath and pressed her mouth against his. Candy had only ever seen CPR being performed on television or in the movies. As struggled to reproduce what she remembered, she had to do her best not to let herself be overcome with desperation.
She had to think. She had to keep herself focus. But seeing the broken and bloody form of Gideon lying limp inside that animatronic squirrel had been like a shock to her system. It had taken her a long time to track where the animatronic bear had dragged him, and by the time she found him, she been forced to watch him scream and squirm inside the animatronic suit.
Every fiber of her being had wanted to race out there and stop it. But she knew that if she did that, she would only end up like him. Especially with all the other animatronic animals standing around him.
When the animatronic animals disappeared into the shadows, she wasted no time in racing to his side and doing everything she could to pull him out of the suit. She had been electrocuted more than once as she tried to pry apart the metal plates, but eventually she had found a tiny button on the animatronic's chest. Pressing it had opened all of the plates at once, revealing Gideon's broken body.
It hadn't taken her long to figure out that his heart had stopped. And she had been doing everything she could to bring him back for what felt like an eternity. Her desperation was growing at a rapid rate, causing her hands to tremble as she pounded against his chest once more.
"Gideon... C-Come on..." she muttered, as she did her best to bite back tears. "D-damn it... Gideon..." she growled. "Wake up! J-just... Just wake up..."
Candy shook her head. She wasn't about to let herself lose focus. She couldn't give up. If she did, a human being was going to die. And there was no single part of her that was prepared to let that happen. So she took another deep breath, and did everything she could to try and breathe life back into him.
Just as the sick feeling of dread began to settle in her chest, Gideon's entire body gave a sudden spasm. Candy drew back just in time for Gideon to launch into a short coughing fit. His eye fluttered open for a moment, as his body continued to twitch. "M-Mommy..." he whimpered. He swiped the air with his trembling hands, as if he were trying to push something away.
"Gideon!" yelled Candy.
At the sound of his name, Gideon suddenly sat up. His eyelids and his extremities were all twitching violently, when Candy suddenly wrapped her arms around him. He let out a high pitched squeak in surprise, but Candy seemed to ignore it.
"Thank you..." she muttered. "Thank you... For not dying..."
Gideon frowned and looked away. "...That hurts, y'know." he muttered.
Candy quickly broke the hug, and did her best to gather herself. "I-... I am sorry... I-if... If I had not ran away... O-or... If I had just tried to fight them of... Th-then..." she shuddered, as she replayed the sound of his screaming in her head. "I-... I am sorry..."
Gideon grimaced. He was drenched with sweat and his little blue suit had been stained with blood. His hands were still trembling, and his body seemed to have gone numb with pain. He took a deep breath, and groaned. His eyelids were heavy, and it was taking everything he had just to keep himself from losing consciousness.
"You... You should've just stayed gone..." he muttered.
It took Candy a moment to register that Gideon had even spoken. When she finally did, she frowned.
"...Excuse me?" she asked.
"You heard me..." muttered Gideon. "You... You should've ran away... And never looked back. That's what I'd have done."
Candy gave a deep sigh, as she took off her glasses to clean them with her shirt. "Well... We are different, then." she said.
"Yeah... No kiddin'..." muttered Gideon.
As Gideon and Candy sat in the dark room, the lightbulb above them continued to flicker. The smell of blood and death was still thick, but both Gideon and Candy seemed to have adapted to it fairly quickly. Suddenly, the air went cold. Candy grit her teeth and Gideon gave a tired sigh, as a familiar melody began to float through the air.
"Damn it... They really need to come up with another gimmick..." muttered Gideon.
As the music drew closer, Candy quickly scanned the room for anything she could use as a weapon. Her hair clip had proven somewhat effective, but something told her she would need something with a little more bite. Like a mini-gun. Or maybe some kind of anti-aircraft missile. Even with the dull glow provided by the flickering light-bulb, it was difficult to see. Eventually, she spotted a red locker on the wall behind her. The word 'Emergency' was written across the front of it.
Moving as quickly as she could, Candy made her way toward the locker. The melody was getting closer with every passing second. Candy spent a moment struggling to open the rusted metal door of the emergency locker, but with a little effort the door was quickly swung open. Inside the locker she found a large fire axe and a fire extinguisher.
It wasn't a rocket launcher- but it would have to do.
As Candy pulled the axe and the extinguisher out of the locker, she felt another chill in the air. Her heart was racing as she made her way back to Gideon. With a deep breath, Candy placed the fire extinguisher by Gideon's side, and gripped the axe as tight as she could. Gideon stared at the extinguisher for a moment, and frowned.
"...What is this?" he muttered.
"It is your weapon." said Candy.
"A fire extinguisher. My weapon... Is a fire extinguisher." said Gideon, looking incredulous.
"What- What am I supposed to do with a fire extinguisher?"
Candy shrugged. "Hit it."
"Hit the bear with it. As hard as you can."
"Uh-huh. Let's say my arms were in any condition to pick up anything in the first place... What's hitting it with a fire extinguisher supposed to do? Annoy it?"
Candy didn't respond.
"I mean- you've got an axe. At least that has a sharp edge to it." said Gideon.
Candy ignored him, and instead focused on the sound of the incoming melody.
Eventually, Gideon closed his mouth and the room was encompassed with a heavy silence. Save for the melody, and the soft sound of approaching footsteps.
'You came back for him...'
Candy stiffened, as a soft whisper echoed throughout the room.
'You are a good friend...'
Gideon huffed. "We ain't friends." he muttered.
There was a long pause, as the melody suddenly disappeared. Then, there was a high pitched screech as the animatronic bear suddenly appeared in front of them. It lunged forward, only to have Candy swing the axe into it's face as hard as she could. The bear stepped back for a moment, giving Candy an opportunity to pull the axe out of the bears face and go for another swing. She took it- this time managing to lodge the axe into the side of it's neck.
The bear let out a low pitched roar, and knocked Candy to the side with a swipe of it's hand. Candy was sent tumbling to the ground, leaving the axe stuck in the bears neck. The bear moved to lunge at her once again, only to have it's vision suddenly obstructed by a thick stream of foam. The bear let out another growl, as Gideon emptied the fire extinguisher into it's face.
The bear seemed to be struggling to see, as it tried desperately to wipe the foam from it's face. Candy took that opportunity to get to her feet and make a grab for the axe. Moving faster than she thought possible, Candy managed to grab the handle of the axe and rip it out of the bear's neck. Sparks of electricity erupted out of the bears neck as it let out another roar.
As the bear took a few clumsy steps forward, Gideon suddenly had an idea. He thought about it for a moment, and shrugged. "Worth a shot." he muttered, as he placed his fire extinguisher on it's side, and rolled it towards the bear. The bear stood on it and slid forward, landing on the floor was a tremendous thud.
The bear was struggling to get back to its feet as Candy stood over it, axe in hand. With a deep breath, she swung the axe down into the back of its head. Then, she did it again. And again. As she swung the axe, she let out a blood curdling yell.
Over and over again.
Eventually, finally, she stopped.
The bear appeared to have been rendered motionless.
Candy collapsed in a tired heap, gasping for air. As the rush of adrenaline slowly passed, it was quickly replaced with an intense fatigue. It took everything she had to force herself back to her feet, and retrieve the axe from it's place embedded in the back of the bears big head.
"We... We have to go..." muttered Candy, between gasps for air. "Find... A way out..."
Gideon felt his legs tremble, threatening to give way at any moment as he forced himself to stand. "Somethin' tell's me there ain't no 'exit' door..." he muttered.
"We-... We will find something." said Candy.
Candy froze, and Gideon sighed as a familiar whisper seemed to rise out of the bears limp body.
"We were too late... The clown... The clown is here..."
The room suddenly seemed to dissolve into ash. All of a sudden, Gideon and Candy found themselves sitting in the middle of an enormous rock cavern. Most of the rock was black, save for a variety of stalactites hanging from the ceiling, all of which had been imbued with a deep red glow. A few feet in front of her, Candy could see what looked like a vast river of blood. Bobbing along the surface were hundreds of bodies. Each one of them small, and face down.
A long, chilling cackle shook the entire cavern.
"Times up, kids! Looks like you guys fail!"
Candy and Gideon grimaced as the voice of Pennywise seemed to shake the very air. Candy held her axe in her hands, and let out a low growl. "Shut up!" she bellowed. "I beat the bear! So-... So we win!"
The cavern was rocked by another long cackle.
"Look at that! Finally raising our little voice are we? Ain't that just the sweetest thing..." boomed Pennywise's disembodied voice. "But... I wasn't talking to you."
All of a sudden, there was a flash of movement. Without thinking, Gideon and Candy close to each other, as they were suddenly surrounded by the rest of the animatronic animals. The purple rabbit, the yellow bird, and the fox.
"I failed..." whispered the voice from the bear.
"We all failed..."
"We could not save them..."
"They never listen... Why do they never listen..."
At the sound of Pennywise's voice, the whispers emanating from the animatronic animals dissipated in an instant. "It's such as shame... If only I had chosen more capable little monsters... Then maybe I would have gotten a nice little show. But you only ever managed to capture one of them! I mean, come on now- I could have gotten a better show out of that little rubber doll! At least he know's how to play the game!"
The animatronic animals remained perfectly still, as the ground began to rumble. All of a sudden, part of the ground began to rise up like an enormous bubble. Slowly, the bubble seemed to break away from the ground, and form into a perfect circle. Then, it popped. Sending a massive plume of thick black smoke into the air.
The smoke rose slowly to reveal the form of Pennywise the clown. It was still dressed in it's colorful, puffy clothes. And it's face was still covered in thick layers of old white make up. But as Candy stared up at the clown, she couldn't shake off a new, deeper sense of dread. She clenched her hands into fists when she noticed that Pennywise was carrying a pair of red balloons. Pennywise smiled. Revealing once again row after row of razor sharp, triangular teeth.
"I mean- the only one of you who even did anything was old Fazbear. And look how he wound up! This is what I get for buying used products. If I ever find that purple guy... I'll be sure to register a complaint." said Pennywise.
With a sudden flick of his wrist, the lake of blood in the distance began to boil. The blood continued to twist and churn as it slowly turned into a thicker, darker substance. All of a sudden, enormous tentacles made up of the blackened bodies of hundreds of children rose up from the lake, and launched themselves across the cavern. In an instant, they had wrapped themselves around the animatronic animals.
Drowned screaming filled the air, as the animatronic animals were lifted up and then pulled back into the lake of blood. With that, the lake seemed to slowly calm down. Eventually reverting to a semi-motionless state.
Pennywise snickered to itself, as it stood over Gideon and Candy.
"Well, well- Haven't you two proved to be a pair of little survivors. When the two of you were caught in my little snare, I gotta admit- I was kinda disappointed. I mean... You both just smell like bit-players. I was hopin' to catch somethin' with a little more... Substantial. Who'd a thought that when I went pokin' around in your little minds... That I'd find so many interesting little tidbits." said Pennywise.
"But, y'know... There's this thing that's just been really grating on me. You two have such delicious memories... An endless array of terrible nightmares. Especially you." Pennywise extended a gloved hand to point at Gideon. "But no matter how hard I tried... I couldn't seem to find any recent memories. That's an odd thing, y'know. I'm usually real good at pickin' through memories. Finding those delicious jewels that just drip with despair..." Pennywise licked it's lips as it spoke, sending waves repulsion through both Candy and Gideon.
"But no matter how hard I try to take a peek at your earlier memories... I can't. You're wearing uniforms with that name plastered across it..." spat Pennywise. "And the last memories I can find before I can go no further... Involve entering that school."
"And yet... No matter how much I try to dive into those brains of yours... I can't get through that simple little barrier. So y'know what? I thought we might play a little game. It's called 'Tell me everything about Lovecraft- or get your insides eaten'. The game's really kinda self-explanatory." said Pennywise.
Gideon took a deep breath, and scowled. "You're an idiot." he spat. "You've been messing around with our memories. We probably don't even remember anything anymore."
"Oh, yes- She probably can't. But you can. After all... You still have every last one of your memories perfectly intact... Don't you?" asked Pennywise.
Gideon said nothing. He simply crossed his arms over his chest and scowled.
"That's right... Now, why don't we play nice and tell me everything I wanna know. Unless you'd like me to start tearing out this little girl's eyeballs. Heck- I might even just do that anyway. It sounds like a good time." said Pennywise.
Gideon grit his teeth. "I don't know anything about Mister Lovecraft. He's just the principal of the school or whatever. That's it." he said.
Pennywise chuckled to itself. "Well, well- So he's still alive, huh?"
The room suddenly went silent, as Pennywise stood there with a blank look on it's face. Slowly, the pupils in it's eyes began to widen, until it's eyes had gone completely black.
"ALIVE!? LOVECRAFT IS STILL ALIVE!?" bellowed Pennywise, it's voice booming at such an incredible volume that it shook everything around them. As Pennywise yelled, it's jaw began to detach and widen. All of it's features began to grow as it's skin seemed to boil. As the flesh of it's face began to bubble up, it's arms grew longer. It's arms began to resemble a twisted mess of fur and scales, along with what appeared to be human teeth. Another set of arms began to sprout from it's side soon after. Quickly joined by yet another. These arms looked more like mangled tarantula legs.
As it's multiple arms grew outward, so did it's belly. Tearing through the dusty fabric of the clown costume, was an enormous belly with dozens of large yellow lights glowing brightly from inside. Pennywise twisted around, as it's legs grew and changed.
Before long, Pennywise began to resemble a giant spider. Only just small enough to avoid hitting the top of the cavern. It's multiple legs spread out wide, as it's enormous, protruding belly moved to the center of it's body, and then to the back. The belly began to look more like a giant abdomen. The lights inside of it continued to float amongst themselves, as tufts of hair began to pop up in random places all over Pennywise's body.
It's head grew larger as well, as it's jaw detached and widened to reveal a nearly endless row of razor sharp teeth all swirling around amidst the dark quivering flesh. It's eyes began to expel a thick black fluid as it's head continued to grow until it matched the size of the rest of it's body.
Clusters of human-looking teeth began to sprout from the surface of it's body in random places, much like the random tufts of hair. Even Pennywise's transformation seemed to slow down, one could still see a few pieces of it's clown costume spread across it's body. It's grotesque looking face was still wearing the thick white make up, and it's long frilly red hair had grown longer and dirtier. Now hanging from either sides of it's head like dead weight.
The bow-tie seemed firmly attached directly under it's misshapen head, and there were other shreds of it's old clown costume strewn all over it.
"EXCELLENT! I WILL FINALLY HAVE MY CHANCE! AND I WILL EAT HIS BRAINS FROM HIS SKULL!" boomed Pennywise, as it's head continued to grow into an enormous mass of teeth and pale white flesh. A pair of enormous red eyes opened up in the front of it's enormous face, along with a long toothy smile.
"Well then..." muttered Pennywise. "It appears that I have quite a lot of work to get too. First, I'll have to escape this little cage... So- I'm afraid our fun and games are going to have to come to an end."
Candy took a deep breath. As she forced herself back to her feet, she had to resist the urge to groan. It took a moment of looking around for her to find her axe. It was lying on the ground, splashed with a thick black substance. With a small huff, she slowly picked up her axe and held it up in front of her. "...You... You talk too much..." she muttered. "You-... You second rate demon..."
Pennywise chuckled to itself. "Oooh... Look at that. You've still got a little bit of that spark, don't you? That little flicker of false hope... It's a shame I don't have the time to properly snuff that out..."
Gideon grimaced. To say that he was exhausted would be a dramatic overstatement. He felt like he had been reduced to a puddle of sweat and pain. Still, he held his hands out in front of him. And seeing that he could do that, he did his best sit himself up. From there, he worked at bringing himself up to his feet. His entire body had gone numb- save from the occasional twinge of pain.
"That... That'd never happen, clown. Candy... And her friends... Especially... Mabel... They don't give up. They ain't like me. It don't matter what you do... Or how big an' scary you are... None of it matters. They'll stop you. They can stop anything."
Pennywise opened it's enormous mouth to let out a long, thunderous laugh. "Please. I am being far above you filthy little animals. All I'll have to do... Is give you a mere taste of despair... And you will all be reduced to nothing. Here- Allow me to prove my point."
All of a sudden, the red glow in Pennywise's eyes began to brighten. Flames began to rise up from between its lips, as it grinned.
Everything went still for a moment. Then, all of a sudden, a torrent of flames erupted from its mouth. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, as Candy watched the fire make it's way toward them. Then, she felt a push. And suddenly time seemed to go back to normal.
Candy found herself landing in the dirt, as the fire just barely missed her.
It was quiet for a moment, save for the sound of the smoldering earth.
Lying in the middle of the scorched earth, Gideon slowly raised his hands up in front of his face. He was on fire. His entire body had been engulfed in flames. But he didn't feel it. He didn't feel anything anymore. He stared at his burning hands for a moment. Then, his vision suddenly went blurry. And all of a sudden, his hands were made of wood.
"...I knew it..." he muttered.
He was still a wooden puppet. This entire time- he had still been a puppet. As he stared at his hands, they began to go black and crumble away.
'I was fooled...' he mused. 'I thought... I thought I'd been turned into a kid again... That I... Was human... Again... But... It was just a trick. All the pain... The... The ability to feel... Just another trick... By another dumb monster.'
Gideon sighed. He could hear what sounded like someone screaming, but it was quickly fading away. And before too long, everything else seemed to do the same. All of his thoughts... His emotions... His dreams and his nightmares... They all seemed to crumble away.
As his arms collapsed to his sides, his glass eyes began to melt.
'So... This... Is the end...' he thought.
Candy approached his body, just as it began to crumble away into nothing. The earth around him was charred and hot, but she ignored it. She stared at his burning wooden body for what felt like an eternity. Then, he vision suddenly blurred. It took her a moment to realize that she was crying. As she watched the fire, all of her memories came flooding back.
All of a sudden, she was no longer standing there in the body of a child.
She was herself again.
The cavern was filled with a long, dark chuckle as Candy stood there in silence.
"It looks like my little trick isn't working anymore... Oh, well. The fun and games are over now... So I suppose I don't need you to appear that way anymore."
Candy remained silent. Behind her, the lake of black liquid began to bubble. Tentacles began to rise from the liquid. Each one made of the blackened bodies of thousands of children, along with the still forms of the animatronic animals. The tentacles moved quickly- snatching Candy up and lifting her into the air.
"Don't worry... Once I'm done with all of your other little friends, I'll be sure to have them join you... I do hate to waste a good meal..."
As Candy was pulled into the lake, Pennywise shook the cavern with laughter.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
Sinking into an endless abyss...
Plunging down... Further and further...
The concept of time has slipped away... And she feels as if she has been sinking into the darkness for an eternity...
She is surrounded by soft noises...
As she continues to sink, she is engulfed in an all encompassing cold...
It seems to smother her as she falls...
She frowned. As she sank into the deepest depths of the abyss, she could hear a familiar voice struggling to cut through all of the noise.
Candy opened her eyes. All that she could see all around her were the remains of children. Most of them were floating above her. Closer to the surface. Others had formed into long, giant tentacles that rose up from far below. Most of the tentacles were waving around aimlessly. But as she sank deeper, she began to notice that many of them had gone still. They had hardened, and turned white.
Most of them looked like enormous pillars of stone. But as she sank deeper, she began to notice others that had clustered into balls, all connected to each other with a series of thin white threads.
Candy blinked, as the form of the animatronic bear suddenly appeared in front of her. It was sinking as well, only a few feet above her.
The bear was quickly joined by the others. The bird. The rabbit. And the fox.
"We wanted... To turn you into one of us..."
"To keep you from becoming... Like them..."
"The empty husks... The ones forced to become a part of the clown..."
"Left alive... Boiling in an eternal misery until your life force finally extinguished..."
"And you are reduced to white ash..."
Candy stared blankly at them. It was impossible to tell which one was speaking, as each of their faces remained perfectly still. Their voices seemed to emanate from somewhere inside of them.
"We knew... That we were giving the clown the show that it wanted..."
"By hurting you..."
"But we had no choice..."
"It is our master..."
"We musn't disobey..."
"But... If we had succeeded..."
"Given you... A curse... Like ours..."
"Then perhaps... You could live with us... As a puppet..."
"We tried... And failed..."
"We... Are sorry... That you couldn't join us..."
Candy grimaced. Dozens of thin black strings began to wrap themselves around her. As the strings tightened, she felt her eyes begin to well with tears. Her life was being drained away... Her mind overcome by a deep, personal sadness.
A cloud of darkness rose from the depths of the abyss, and quickly engulfed her. The animatronic animals stared blankly as Candy completely disappeared under a veil of darkness.
"HEY! Didn't you hear me!? I am tryin' to talk to you!"
The animatronic animals jolted with surprise, as the cloud of darkness suddenly exploded like a puff of smoke. The dark cloud dissipated quickly, and the animatronic animals suddenly found themselves staring at Candy, and the transparent form of Gideon.
"Will you snap out of it already!? I do not have the patience for this." grumbled Gideon.
Candy's eyes quickly fluttered open. "...Gideon? Is... Is that you?" she asked, as she slowly adjusted her glasses.
Gideon gave an exasperated sigh. "Yes. It's me. The one and only." he said. "I've been callin' out to you for forever. What'd you go deaf or somethin'?"
Candy rubbed her temples and slowly shook her head. "...No... Sorry..." she muttered.
For some reason, that seemed to deflate Gideon completely. All of his haughtiness was suddenly replaced with a quiet discomfort. "Yeah... Well... Whatever." he muttered. "Look- I managed to drag myself down here to give you a message."
Suddenly, the animatronic bear rose its voice.
"Are... Are you a ghost?" it asked.
Gideon sighed. "Uh, yeah- Listen, bear-robot... This is a private conversation. Go ruin a kids birthday party or somethin'."
Turning his back to the animatronic animals, Gideon took a deep breath. "Listen... I don't know how much time I've got... So I need you to listen up." said Gideon. "Look- I know you're tired. But your can't afford to give up now... That clown-demon... Pennywise... It won't stop at you or me. It's gonna after Mabel. Along with everyone else..."
Candy frowned a little. "...What-... What am I supposed to do? I-... All that I've managed to do is run and hide... I watched you get tortured... And-... And I let you die..."
Gideon gave a loud snort. "You also managed to beat up that bear-robot real good... Right, bear-robot?" asked Gideon, as he gestured toward the animatronic bear.
The animatronic bear twitched a little. "...My name is-"
"Shut up, bear-robot. No-one said you could talk." said Gideon. Ignoring the now despondent looking animatronic bear, and the disapproving glares of it's friends, Gideon continued. "Look- what I did was my decision. Okay? Don't worry about it."
"No." said Candy.
Gideon blinked. "'No' what?"
"I will not not worry about it." said Candy.
"...What?" sputtered Gideon.
Candy let out a low growl. "...I will worry about what happened... You... You are dead now..."
Gideon sighed. Looking down, he could see through his own chest. He still looked like a puppet stuffed into a school uniform- even as a 'ghost'. Or whatever he was now... He wasn't sure. What he was sure of, was that he was dead. He didn't know why exactly he was so sure... He just was. Looking over at Candy, he briefly considered lying to her. Telling her that he was just a figment of her imagination- or maybe some kind of astral projection. But, he thought better of it.
Instead, he just took a deep breath and shrugged. "Yeah, so? Look- it don't matter. What's done is done. No good's gonna come outta gettin' all mopey about it. Now- Are ya'll gonna let me say what I came here to say, or are ya just gonna keep talkin'?" he asked.
Candy frowned. "...I might." she muttered.
Gideon sighed. "Look-... I'm as good as gone now. That can't change. Just... Just let me say what I gotta say."
Candy's expression softened a little, and Gideon took that as a sign to move on.
"So, listen... I know that Pennywise seems unstoppable... But he ain't. He's actually really weak right now... He's probably been trapped here for a long time... Along with all the others... Anyway- You'll be able to fight him, as long as you do it before he lands himself a new meal. If he finds someone else... Or if you let yourself become one... Then it'll be too late. You'll have to be as fast as possible. Aim for the, uh... The yellow sack... Thing. It's belly... Or-... Or it's abdomen. Or, whatever... It's kinda hard to point it out when it starts transformin' and stuff. But- That giant sack with all the lights floatin' around inside... Those things make up it's core. Destory them, and you'll destroy the monster."
Candy adjusted her glasses. "...How... How do you know all of this?" she asked.
Gideon went quiet for a moment. The strange dark space was filled once more with the sounds of whispers and screams, as Gideon stared off into the distance. Candy was just about to open her mouth to repeat her question, when Gideon suddenly spoke up again. "...My mom told me in a bedtime story... A long time ago." he muttered. His voice sounded oddly detached, as he continued to stare off into space. "I-... I thought I'd forgotten... But... I had a reminder..."
"I see..." muttered Candy. "Is that all?"
"...Yeah. Just... Don't give up. If you give in to the despair, you'll wind up like one of these husks... Floating around in this big creepy lake. If you do-... Well, you probably get what's at stake." muttered Gideon.
Candy nodded, slowly. "I do."
"...Good. Well, I think that's everything, so-... I guess I'll be... Fading away." muttered Gideon. As he spoke, his body slowly began to rise. His features were illuminated with a dull blue glow, as he began to dissolve into tiny blue particles.
"Wait!" exclaimed Candy, as she grabbed him by the hand.
Gideon sighed, as the rest of his body continued to dissolve. "...What?" he muttered.
"You- You can not just disappear like that! Wha-... What about your parents? What about... What about Mabel? You will never get to see them again..." said Candy.
Gideon struggled to retrieve his hand from Candy's vice-like grip, only to eventually give up with an exhausted sigh. "How're you even doin' that? Shouldn't your hand just pass through me or something?" he muttered.
"Gideon." growled Candy, in a tone that demanded to be taken seriously.
Gideon went quiet.
Candy paused for a moment, seemingly lost in thought. Eventually, she manged to find her voice again. "...Thank you. You... You saved my life." said Candy.
Gideon huffed. "Yeah, well- I've also almost killed you twice... Or thrice... So, you know..." he muttered.
"I mean it. I-... I wish you had not... I mean, I wish that it had not turned out this way... But... Thank you, Gideon." said Candy.
Gideon's eye turned downcast for a moment, before moving upward to meet her gaze.
"...You're welcome, Candy."
All of a sudden, his hand dissolved, leaving what was left of him free to float upwards. Gideon slowly closed his eyes, as his body dissolved into a mist of blue particles. Very quickly, the particles dissolved into nothing- leaving not a trace left.
As Candy stared up at the spot where Gideon used to be, she could feel the black threads start tightening themselves around her once again. Candy took a deep breath, and did her best to rip them all away. As she pulled the black threads off of her arms, she turned to face the animatronic animals. "How do I get back to the surface?" she asked.
"There is no way..."
"The moment you were dragged into this lake..."
"You were doomed..."
Candy ignored the voices of the animatronic animals as she continued to climb. As she moved, Candy could the slimy flesh of the tentacle trying to pull her into it. She grimaced as it slowly got more and more difficult to make her way up. Still, she continued. As she climbed, she could feel more and more black threads begin to wrap themselves around her. Every now and again, she was forced to pause for a moment to pull them off of herself.
As the black threads began to pile up, the voices all around her got progressively louder. Before too long, she was beginning to see flashes of images. People she loved, all dying. Their bodies being paraded around in an endless carnival, and then burned.
Candy grit her teeth.
She had been through all of this before. A few weeks ago, back in the school green house. She had been attacked by an army of green monsters, and captured by an enormous tree that was covered with eyes. It had captured her, and tried to destroy her mind. The area around her was trying to do the very same thing.
But she wasn't going to let it. She hadn't then, and she wouldn't now.
The animatronic animals continued to drone on about how hopeless it was to struggle. But she ignored them.
After all, she had just watched someone die. Someone she knew. Someone that she couldn't exactly count as a friend... But with time, she might have. He was just starting to change. She could feel it. Mabel probably had too. That was why she let him hang out with them. But now... It was over.
It had killed him.
As she climbed, Candy forced herself to ignore everything around her and focus on one thing.
The rage bubbling in her chest.
Pennywise had caused more suffering than she could ever comprehend.
And she was going to put a stop to it. No matter what.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
Eons ago, the Monster was born. Among its brothers and sisters, it did not stand out very much. It was just another in a long line of beings burst forth from the womb of the Great Old One. Like many of it's brethren, the Monster was born as a formless entity. Drifting across the lines between universes, searching for prey.
For the greater part of its existence, the Monster remained essentially mindless. In it's infancy, it would consume almost anything it came across. As it began to mature, however, so did its tastes.
Ordinary matter began to feel dry and tasteless. Before long, it had developed a taste for living beings. Not just any ordinary creature would do, either. It had to be something with a high cognitive ability. Something with a capacity for grand ambitions, dreams and nightmares.
Eventually, the Monster came across a creature that suited it's tastes perfectly.
The Monster had found an entire planet crawling with these delectable beings. In it's excitement, the Monster quickly rendered them extinct. Such is the folly of youth. However, as the Monster continued to explore the infinite multiverse, it wasn't long before the Monster found another planet of humans. Essentially the same as the other one. This was a phenomenon that the monster had observed before. Many universes were surrounded extraordinarily similar universes. 'Parallel' universes. Each one essentially the same, save for a few minor details.
There was a countless array of parallel universes that were home to human beings. All the Monster need do was be patient in choosing it's targets.
During its second hunt, the monster chose to bide its time. It would eat only a few choice specimens every few years, and then retreat to a cold place underground to hibernate. As it repeated this cycle, it continued refining its tastes. Eventually, it found itself preying almost exclusively on the young.
There was something about the fear of a child that deeply attracted the Monster. As time passed, it grew obsessed. The Monster began taking the form of a childs entertainer, so as to lull its prey into a perfect sense of false security. Then, the monster would relish in turning that sense of security into pure, unadulterated fear.
If the Monster could have been said to have anything resembling human characteristics, this was when the monster began to develop it's more sadistic tendencies. Unfortunately for the monster, this was quickly followed by the development of a far more prominent human characteristic. Arrogance.
Just as the Monster had begun to forge its own sense of identity, it was suddenly confronted by a rival. One of its sisters. A being of an awesome character, far beyond that of the Monster. Drunk with arrogance after having spent a long time dealing exclusively with human prey, the Monster attempted to protect its territory. For its effort, the Monster was simply batted away. Like nothing.
As it watched all of it's territory fade into oblivion, the Monster was forced to limp away to another Earth. Warped by feelings of anger at its own impotence, the Monster's sadistic streak began to take over entirely.
Decades would pass in this next Earth without an attack by the Monster. But when it did make an appearance, it would leave such deep seated fear in its wake that for the first time, the humans gave it a name. 'Pennywise the Clown'. The Monster was unaware of the origins of this name, but it was quick to take it as it's own. It enjoyed the hushed whispers that it's new name had brought. Before long, it became a part of human folklore.
This did much to soothe its still-bruised ego.
This would not last long, however- as the monster was soon confronted once more. This time, by a group of escaped victims who had grown into adults. The monster toyed with them, only to find itself defeated at the hands of mere humans.
As the Monster was forced to slink away to yet another parallel Earth, its mind began to fray. It developed an obsession with torture. With destroying minds, and feasting on the husks left over. Adding to his seemingly endless collection of victims.
The cycle continued a few more times. The Monster would consume it's victims one by one, until it eventually grew arrogant and careless. And it's carelessness would inevitably lead to another defeat.
Eventually, the Monster found an Earth that was teeming with all manner of magical creatures. All of them hidden in different corners of the planet, although just barely. Here, it was easier than ever to keep something of a low profile. The Monster enjoyed a few hundred years of travelling the globe, and sampling the tastiest of morsels. As it traveled, however, it began to find things it had never seen before. Barriers. Magical barriers that were actually capable of keeping the monster at bay.
It was maddening, but the Monster chose to ignore it.
As time passed, once again the Monster began to grow careless. And one day, it found itself confronted by a man named 'Lovecraft'. Over the course of a few days, the Monster tried desperately to destroy him. Even going so far as to kidnap his children.
This proved to be a mistake. And the Monster quickly found itself staring into the specter of death. However, the Monster refused to accept that it could be defeated by another human. So, it tried to fight back- and failed.
The Monster was left teetering on the edge of oblivion, and thrown into a new dimension. A cage. From which there was no escape. The Monster was left there to starve. With only a few toys it had picked up along its travels to entertain itself with.
The Monster did its best to spread its feelers out through tiny cracks in the cage to gather information. Unfortunately, all that it could gather was that its cage dimension was not the only one around. This space underground was almost like a jail. With dozens of other cages all around it. Some of them containing creatures far more powerful than itself.
As yet more time passed, the Monster yearned for new prey. It yearned for the sounds of fresh screams. It was not satisfied with relishing in it's own sadistic memories. No- it needed fresh prey. Desperately. The Monster had never felt as weak as it did right now... It needed strength. If it had enough of it, it could break out of its cage and descend on the world once again.
The Monster had separated itself into two pieces. One part was it's mind, and its body- while the other was essentially its stomach. This was the black lake. The Monster hoped that by separating itself like this, it could sneak through the cracks in the cage. Then, all it would have to do was bring the prey back to its cage, and drop them into its stomach. Once it had collected enough prey to feel like its old self again, the Monster would become one and destroy the cage.
It had already captured two new pieces of prey. One of them, however, turned out to be a mere puppet. The other, however... That one was going to be a treat.
The Monster could feel the girl still squirming in its stomach. Still brimming with life. The Monster chuckled. All of that lively energy... Was going to belong to it. It was only a matter of time.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
Candy breached the surface of the lake gasping for air. She coughed and sputtered as she heaved herself out of the lake. She took a moment to catch her breath, as she struggled to find her footing on rocky floor of the cavern. Her body was numb and tired. As she took her first few steps forward, she did her best to shake off the feeling of fatigue that was weighing down on her.
As she looked around, she found that she was back in the same enormous rock cavern she had been in before. The place looked virtually the same. A wide expanse of black rock, illuminated by the dull red glow of the stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Candy felt her breath hitch in her throat when she noticed a familiar patch of charred rock. All of the fire had died down by now, leaving only the charcoal remains of Gideon lying in the middle.
Candy grit her teeth as she continued to scan the rest of the cavern. She couldn't see any trace of Pennywise anywhere- but she knew better than to drop her guard.
As she walked across the rocky floor, she grimaced. Her hands and her clothes were covered in a thick layer of black slime. A byproduct of having climbed one of the black tentacles all the way back to the surface. The slime gave off a smell that could only be described as 'rancid death'. Candy sighed, as she did her best wipe her hands off on her skirt. The air around her was thick with a very similar kind of smell, so there seemed to be no escaping it.
"Well, well... A familiar face... What is it that you think you're doing?" Pennywises voice seemed to come from every direction, as it echoed across the cavern.
Candy tightened her hands into fists. She still couldn't see it- but it had to be close.
"Stopping you." she said.
The cavern trembled, as Pennywise gave a long chuckle.
"I see. And what is it you intend to do? Throw your eyeglasses at me?"
"If I have too."
Pennywise chuckled once more. "You know... Over time, I have grown pretty sick of you humans. All of you. You are all just so... Arrogant. And the worst part of it, is that you are all so very weak. How can creatures so deep pathetic come to think that you even have the right to oppose a creature at my level? Where does your species find all of this hubris?"
Candy rolled her eyes, and pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. "...Do not pretend that you are any different. Every monster... Or creature... All of them share a variety of qualities. All of them are afraid of death. Whether consciously or sub-consciously. You... Are no different. I can feel it in your voice. In everything that you do. You are scared. And all that you want to do, is make everyone else feel the same. And that... That is so very human."
Pennywise roared, shaking the entire cavern. In an instant, it leapt out of the darkness ahead of her. It was still in the enormous, spider-like form that is had taken before. Pieces of it's body seemed to twist and shape into nothing, decorated with patches of puffy red hair and teeth. Pieces of it's old clown costume were still stretched across its enormous body, although most of it had been reduced to tatters. In flash of movement, Pennywise lashed out with one of it's spider legs. As it moved through the air, the leg suddenly took the form of a long bony hand and grabbed Candy. The hand was big enough to wrap itself around her entire body, rendering her almost completely motionless.
Candy struggled against the hand, as Pennywise slowly drew her up to it's face.
"You are not the first human brat to try and fight against me... You know what happens to them? The strugglers? They have their lives consumed... And they become a part of me. Just like all the others. You think that just because you're from one of those freak towns, you can face off against the likes of me? Please."
As Pennywise spoke, black tentacles began to rise up from the river behind Candy.
"I will not let you have your way. I will keep crawling back out... No matter how many times you throw me back. You-... You killed someone. Someone I knew. And... You've killed countless more. You... You will not stop me from stopping you."
Pennywise let out a deafening rumble that sounded something like a cross between a growl and a roar. Pennywise turned Candy around to face the tentacles. "Look at them! Try to geuss how much they suffered? It's impossible! I made sure to give them an experience beyond anything imaginable. Every one them tried to struggle. They all fought back... Their spirits engulfed in desperation. And to what end?"
The tentacles began to writhe, as the blackened bodies and faces that made the tentacles seemed to squirm and struggle. Amonst the bodies, were the animatronic animals. All of them grouped together in the surface of one of the tentacles. Like before, they were all completely motionless. Even as the bodies around them continued to squirm.
"There is no 'stopping' me. I am far beyond anything like that. You, on the other hand... You are weak."
Candy glanced over at the animatronic animals. Their cold eyes were all glued to her. Watching her, carefully.
Pennywise turned Candy back toward it's face, and snickered. "I don't really care how much you struggle... All that it does is provide more entertainment for me. And I do hate to be bored."
Pennywise watched with an amused grin, as Candy wrestled one of her arms free. She struggled to breath, as she felt Pennywise begin to squeeze her. Candy grimaced as she looked up at Pennywise's warped face. It had about a dozen eyes now, all of them warped and misshapen. Along with a long, wide smile. It's face was still caked with clown makeup. It's enormous lips were drenched with a thick layer of red, while the rest of its face was covered with layers of white.
Candy grit her teeth, as she felt anger searing in her chest. In an instant, she saw a flash of everyone who had ever made fun of her. Everyone who had pushed her around, and treated her like nothing. Or worse. She had spent her entire life letting those moments go by quietly. It was just easier that way. But it never made her feel any better.
Not this time. She wasn't going to give up, or go silent.
Candy bared her teeth, as she glared up at Pennywise. The rage boiling in her veins, as Pennywise smiled down at her.
"FUCK YOU!" she screamed, as she thrust her fist into Pennywise's face. There was a deafening boom, as Pennywise's face suddenly cracked like glass- sending a bright burst light flooding out. Pennywise let out a high pitched screech, as a good chunk of it's face suddenly crumbled away. As it reeled backward, it loosened its grip on Candy, sending her tumbling to the ground.
She bounced off of a part of Pennywises body, and landed on her shoulder. Ignoring the sudden explosion of pain, she scrambled to her feet. As Pennywise fell backward, she noticed the enormous sack protruding from underneath its abdomen. It looked like an enormous see-through belly, with a variety of bright yellow lights floating around inside.
Doing her best to ignore the screaming pain in her shoulder, Candy ran toward it. Pennywise roared, as Candy suddenly grabbed the sack and began to pull at it. It took a lot of effort- but soon enough, she managed to tear a hole in it. Reaching inside, Candy pulled out one of the lights. The light looked like a large glowing light-bulb, about the size of her fist. It was attached to a black string that lead back into the belly. Thinking quickly, she pulled it as hard as she could. There was a loud snap, as the thread connected to the bulb snapped. The bulb suddenly went dim, and Candy quickly tossed it aside.
Pennywise's entire body began to spasm, as Candy reached inside and grabbed another one. She had only barely managed to rip it out, before the hole she had made in the belly suddenly closed up. The entire sack began to withdraw into Pennywise's body, and Candy cursed as Pennywise's entire body began to change form once again.
The sack moved up to it's torso, as it's body began to stretch upward. A series of long white arms began to sprout up across the sides of it's torso and wrap themselves over the sack as protection. It looked like a series of hairy ribs wrapping around a deflating balloon. It's head seemed to open up like a book, revealing a sick mess of grey skin and teeth. It's enormous abdomen began to take the form of a long tail, with more white arms sprouting out in random places. Each one of them writhing about like a tentacle.
Candy scurried out of the way as Pennywise shook the cavern with a bellowing roar.
It's legs seemed to fold into its body, making Pennywise look something like a nightmarish version of a snake. Billows of puffy red hair began to sprout around its neck, as Pennywise wound it's head back. Candy quickly dived behind a series of rocks just as the cavern was suddenly filled by a torrent of flames.
By the time it was finished, some of the rock in the cavern had begun to melt. Candy grit her teeth. Her shoulder was still in a tremendous amount of pain, and she was pretty sure Pennywise had managed to set fire to part of her hair. Still- she was alive.
Patting down the flames in her hair, the cavern suddenly shook with the sound of Pennywise's voice.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?"
Candy froze. With a few shallow breaths, Candy carefully peaked out from behind a large rock.
Pennwise was snarling and writhing in it's new form. And standing directly in front of it, were the animatronic animals. The bear, the rabbit, the bird and the fox. They were all standing in the middle of the charred cavern, remaining perfectly still.
"GET BACK! BACK TO THE LAKE! NOW!" bellowed Pennywise.
The animatronic animals took turns slowly shaking their heads.
"We will not..."
"You are... Weak."
The voices of the animatronic animals came out as whispers, but they still managed to echo throughout the cavern.
"YOU! YOU DARE BREAK THE CONTRACT!?" bellowed Pennywise.
All of the animatronic animals gave a small nod, one by one.
"We... Do not have to follow..."
The cavern shook like never before, as Pennywise roared. "YOU HAVE BEEN CONNECTED TO ME! IF I AM DESTROYED- YOU WILL ALL FOLLOW SUIT!"
Once again, all of the animatronic animals gave a single nod each.
Pennywise gave a long, high-pitched growl. "...Very well. I have no use for toys such as yourselves anyway... I'm sure I'll find better things to replace you..."
The animatronic animals launched themselves at Pennywise in an instant. Pennywise once again launched a torrent of fire from a small hole in it's face- but it wasn't fast enough. The bear landed directly on Pennywise's 'ribs', and immediately grabbed one of them and began to pull. Pennywise let out another roar, as it twisted its body around in a vain attempt to shake the bear off.
Eventually, the bear managed to rip out one of the long ribs, and quickly stabbed it into Pennywise's belly. Pennywise howled, as the bird ripped away tufts of it puffy red hair and climbed over its face. The bunny and the fox were climbing up Pennywise's body, ripping away anything they could as they made their way toward the ribs.
Pennywise shuddered as it began to sprout another set of long white arms from its back. The arms reached forward with long bony fingers, and managed to bat away the bear. The rabbit managed to rip away another one of Pennywise's ribs, before being picked up by the hands and flung into the ceiling. The fox slashed away at Pennywise's belly with it's hook-hand, before it was suddenly pulled off by Pennywises enormous white hands. Pennywise wrapped one hand around its legs, and the other around it torso- and pulled until it ripped the fox in half.
Tossing the two halves to the side, Pennywise let out another torrent of flames just as the bird managed to position itself directly over its face. The hard rubber casing covering it's animatronic skeleton was quickly melted away- but it still persisted in clawing at Pennywise's face.
Candy gasped, as something suddenly smacked against the rock she was hiding behind. Glancing over, she saw that it was the top half of the fox. The fox's body continued to twitch and whir, as it slowly turned its head to face Candy. The fox blinked it's eye slowly, as Candy stared down at it.
Eventually, Candy found her voice. "Can I... Can I borrow your hook?" she asked.
The fox twitched and sparked, and then it nodded. "...O-Okay... W-would you like my eye-patch, too? It's really cool..." whispered the fox.
"Uh... No thank you." muttered Candy.
The fox used its left hand to detach the hook from its right arm, and then slowly offered it to Candy. Candy picked it up, slowly. "...Thank you very much." said Candy. With that, she turned around and raced toward the enormous figure of Pennywise. As she stood in front of it, hook in hand, she grimaced. The belly of lights was higher up than she thought. Candy grimaced.
"Great... More climbing..." she muttered.
Before Candy could get started climbing the tall, writhing figure of Pennywise, however, she was suddenly stopped by another one of the animatronic animals. This time, is was the rabbit. It was missing an ear, an eye, and it's entire bottom jaw.
"Let... Me... Help..." whispered the rabbit.
Candy blinked, and before she could register what was happening, she found herself being picked up, spun around, and then flung at Pennywise. She let out an involuntary scream as she flew through the air. She landed with a 'smack' on Pennywises belly, and was quick to use the hook to keep herself from sliding down. Pennywise roared, as Candy did her best to get some footing on one of the ribs, before she began to cut into the belly and grab at the glowing bulbs inside.
Pennywise roared as it made a grab for Candy with one its enormous white hands. However, it's reach was suddenly stopped short. On it's back, the rabbit had grabbed the arm from where it had sprouted from. As the rabbit pulled at the left arm, Pennywise was using the other to try and pull the animatronic skeleton of the bird off of it's face.
The cavern was filled with all manner of noises emanating from Pennywise, as Candy continued to pull out the glowing bulb, a few at a time. There was a loud ripping sound, as the rabbit suddenly managed to rip out one of the big white arms. Pennywise squirmed, almost managing to cause Candy to slip off. As Pennywise roared, the fox's torso began to climb up it's body by grabbing with one hand, and simply stabbing into the surface with the metal stump where its hook used to be.
Eventually, Pennywise managed to grab the bird with its right hand, and crush it. After flinging the birds remains away, it began to grab for Candy. As the giant white hand launched itself at her, the bear suddenly appeared on Pennywises side, and ripped away another one of the ribs to stab the hand. Pennywise screeched, as the rabbit tried to rip off the other arm, and the bear joined Candy in ripping out the glowing bulbs.
Pennywise began to shake wildly in desperation, as the fox's torso found its way on to one of the ribs, and joined Candy and the bear in ripping out more and more of the bulbs.
Eventually, Pennywise had enough. It flung its body around, sending Candy flying off of it. Then, Pennywise began to roll around in the ground, desperate to some how remove the bear, the fox and the rabbit. Candy landed next to the mangled remains of the bird, as Pennywise's entire body began to glow in a bright white light. There was a massive bang- and the bear, the fox and the rabbit were suddenly launched off of Pennywise's body.
With a high pitched hiss, Pennywise slithered away from them, and crawled into the lake.
Candy got to her feet.
It wasn't over yet. She could feel it.
Without thinking about it, she ran towards the lake. Behind her, the animatronic animals slowly gathered together. Standing at shore of the black lake, she quickly spun around. "Thanks for the hook, fox!" she yelled, as she threw the hook towards the animatronic animals. The hook landed beside the fox's limp torso.
"You are welcome..." whispered the fox.
"And... Thank you..."
"From all of us..."
Candy stared at the animatronic animals for a moment. The bear was the only one on it's feet- but like all the others, it had been severely burned and mangled. The only real identifying feature left on the bear was its top hat. Some how, that seemed to have remained almost completely unscathed.
Candy gave them a short, awkward wave.
"...Goodbye." she said, before turned around and diving into the lake.
The animatronic animals moved closer together, and waited.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
Everything was murky...
There were tentacles everywhere...
Some of them launched themselves at her, but she easily avoided them. Moving her legs did little to propel her further down, but she did anyway.
Eventually, she saw it.
Pennywise, sinking downward. It's face torn apart, its ribs ripped away, and the surface of its skin covered in cracks and long scars. It's belly had exploded, and from inside, she could see two bulbs peeking out. They were glowing brightly. All of the others had been ripped away. Those were the last of them.
Candy moved further, and further down. Once again, her body was quickly weighed down by a mess of thin black threads. This time, she didn't even bother removing them.
As she avoided yet another tentacle lazily swiping at her, she pressed her feet against it- using it to launch herself further down. It didn't take long for her to reach the final two bulbs. They were floating outward from a mass of black strings inside Pennywise's stomach. She grabbed them, one in each hand.
"N-no... No... W-... Wait..." whispered Pennywise.
Candy simply shook her head.
In an instant, she ripped them away. All of the still moving black tentacles suddenly turned white, and Pennywise's body did the same. Everything around her began to rumble, and Candy braced herself. For a moment, Pennywise appeared to have turned into a marble statue of itself. Then- it began to crack. Bursts of blinding light shot from every crack.
Candy closed her eyes.
Everything around her, including Pennywise, seemed to explode all at once.
And for one beautiful moment... There was silence.
No more screaming...
No more weeping...
It was finally over.
* ~ * GravityFalls * ~ *
When Candy felt her eyes flutter open, she found herself lying in the middle of a familiar hallway.
Her hair was singed. She was bruised all over. But above all, she was deeply and utterly exhausted. Still, she leaned against a wall and forced herself to her feet.
"I-... I have to find Grenda and Mabel... A-and... Marius..." she muttered, as she shifted herself forward.
Her determination was stronger than ever. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. Before long, her legs gave way under her own weight and she found herself lying on the floor once again. Her eyelids slowly drooped downward.
"...Maybe... Maybe just... A moment... Of... Rest.." she whispered, as she felt her consciousness slowly fade away.
From somewhere in the deepest recesses of her mind, a familiar voice tentatively cleared its throat.
"...Well... That was interestin'..."
To be continued...
(AN: Okay. So. ... This took a long time. A very long time. For all manner of reasons... This was a difficult chapter, I've been dealing with a crippling amount of writers block, and I've been inundated by every day distractions. However, through it all- I've always been thinking about this story. I want to finish it. And I want to write what I want to write.
I wanted to write a 'Pennywise vs Gideon & Candy' story, and I think I've done that. I'm sorry that it's so long... And I really, really hope you liked it. This was a lot of work.
I'm also sorry that it's taking so long to get back to Dipper and Pacifica. Unfortunately, this 'Dunwich Arc' is kinda important to the overall story. But, look... I can promise this. The next chapter will almost definitely be the last chapter of this 'Dunwich Arc'. I've got some stuff planned for Mabel, Marius, Grenda and Lillith... And I'm going to do my best to weave it all together in the next chapter.
Trust me- no one is looking forward to Dipper and Pacifica more than I am. I just can't really think of any other way to do this. Dipper and Pacifica have their own story going on while the 'Dunwich Inn' stuff is going on, and it's kinda... Separate. There is, of course, always a chance that I'll think of some awesome way to throw them back into the story... But I really wanted to give the others their own adventure...
Now, I would love to spend some time going over reviews and stuff, but this thing is far too long already. So- I'll just give a few shout outs.
First of all- A special thank you to Samurai Prince, who has been an incredible help to me ever since I forced him to beta this chapter piece by piece. A truly sincere thank you, for all of your help and support. It means a great deal.
Thank you as well to Smoothi3, mdizzle, Imnotaguestanymore, LainaFantasyGirl, Diana Huntress Pines, and everyone else who has been kind enough to review this story so far. I'm sorry that I didn't have room to thank each one of you individually- but make no mistake... I really, deeply, appreciate it.
And a very special thank you to coldblue. Thank you so much for going through the trouble to go so in depth with your reviews. You really go the extra mile, and I can't thank you enough for that.
Now, I haven't even gotten started on chapter twelve yet... But I'm going to have to tackle a *lot* of stuff. I don't know how it's gonna go... But rest assured. I will not be stopping this story until I finish it. I mean it.
Until next time... Thanks again for reading, an extra special thank you if you take the time to review- and have a good day.
(( Oh- and please note that I *did* wind up deleting a few reviews that I thought went a little far in demanding that I update as soon as possible. Reviews that only contain the word 'Update!' or 'Update or else!' will probably be removed.))