Disclaimer: I do not own Gravity Falls.
Everything is so much quieter with Dipper and Mabel gone, although it would seem impossible to tell, at first. The town's completely back to normal, like the entire summer just never happened, and the constant buzz of noise in the air that she's grown to love hasn't faded in the slightest, but there's something different, and maybe she won't ever be able to put her finger on it, not really.
The Gravity Falls History Museum is abandoned. It's not like people went there much before, but now nobody wants to dwell in the past, not when they almost lost their loved ones just weeks before. If she's honest with herself, she doesn't know why she's here. She should be with her family, savoring the blissful relaxation of the weekend, just like she did last year, except she isn't. She's wandering the empty halls of a museum she never liked much, searching for something she could've sworn she'd be fine with never seeing again.
When she finds the room, she doesn't hesitate. She crosses it in a few long strides and jams her palm into the stone attached to the wall. When the fireplace opens, she descends like she owns the place, and maybe she does. Nobody else has been back; nobody else will be back for a long, long time.
Maybe she wants some certainty that it all really happened. She never was content to shrug her shoulders, say "Never mind all that" and forget all about it. The summer happened, she really did go on countless incredible adventures and lodge an axe into the side of a shapeshifter and play a part in defeating a dream demon of unimaginable power.
Why is everyone in this town so ready to forget? The Society no longer exists; they're no longer forced to rack their brains, searching desperately for something to fill the blank patches of their memories. They can remember, they can remember it all if they want, so why does nobody want to?
She follows the tube, almost on autopilot. She chants quietly to herself, mimicking the deep tones of the people she heard, once upon a time. "Into the Hall of the Forgotten, into the Hall of the Forgotten, into the Hall of the Forgotten." Her voice echoes around the silent corridors.
When she reaches it, it's very clear that nobody has been here in a long time. Dust attacks her senses and she coughs, eyes watering. It's all as majestic as she remembers, the massive bronze eagle that holds memories on each wing, and the careful rows of tubes encircling it. Each one was placed with amazing precision. It almost seems like the Society did care, at least a little bit.
This is perfect. She can redistribute the memories, give them back to their rightful owners. People will be able to remember. The Society assumed that the town couldn't handle their memories, but they were wrong. The town handled Weridmageddon, and now Wendy is confident that Gravity Falls is tough as nails, even if it hardly ever seems that way. It's wrong to keep people's lives from them. She's almost excited, now- this will change everything. She'll have to write the twins about it. It seems like exactly the kind of thing they'd enjoy.
Something catches her eye and she turns to face a tube, cast partially in shadow, with her own name written across it in fading ink.
Perfect. She'll start with herself. She didn't know that her memories were taken too, although after fifteen years of living just on the edge of the forest, it would be more surprising if the Society had never paid her a visit. It makes her teeth clench, though, the very thought that she had parts of her life taken.
She'll get them back, though. Everyone will.
She pulls the tube from its spot, wiping a thin layer of dust off of it. She's nearly quivering with excitement by the time she presses it into the slot next to the small television. What did she see, what did they take . . .?
An image crackles to life on screen, and Wendy's staring at a version of herself that couldn't've been much older than the twins.
The little girl has been crying, clearly. Her short hair is askew, her eyes are puffy, and her cheeks are red and raw. She strains against the bonds, hands curled into fists. She looks young, and scared out of her mind.
"What is your name?" someone says, in a low, gravelly voice. The girl thrashes wildly, eyes narrowed.
"I want my mom!" she howls. "Give me my mom!"
Wendy's stomach drops into her shoes. No, no, no . . .
"Tell us your name."
"NO!" the girl shrieks. "No, no, I won't, I won't! I gotta go, I gotta save my mom!"
"Tell us your name," the disembodied voice says, "and we can make it all better. Wouldn't you like that? All your troubles, we can make them disappear. Tell us your name."
The girl stops fighting, deflated. The energy seems to have drained from her small form, and she hangs limply in the chair. Red, angry marks are clear in places that the bonds cut into her skin.
"Wendy Corduroy," she says, almost too quietly to be heard.
Wendy searched frantically. Somewhere, there must be an off button. There must be some way to get it to stop.
"Thank you. Now, Wendy Corduroy, what have you seen?"
These words are all it takes to get the girl struggling again, fire rekindled somewhere inside. "My mom!" she screams. "My mom, I want my mom! We need to get her back!"
"Wendy Corduroy," the voice repeats, unflinching. "What have you seen?"
The girl breaks into sobs, raw and hoarse. With a shudder, she folds over on herself, scrubbing at her eyes with her fingertips as if to scratch the tears away. The sound is continuous, louder than anything in the echoing room.
Wendy screams silently, collapsing on the ground. She rocks back and forth, desperate to make it all go away.
"These- these things came out of the forest," the girl whispers, hiccupping slightly. "They came so fast and there were so many of them and-."
The voice interrupts her. "What did they look like?"
"They were big," the girl says, gripping her ankles tight. "They were these kind of- of bull things, except not bulls, and they came all at once."
The soft beeping of a keypad can be heard. The voice has heard enough, the voice knows what it needs to, but the girl keeps talking, as if unable to stop the torrent of words that come flooding out.
"Mom, she- she screamed at me to run. To go get help. My dad and brothers, they were off chopping wood, I think. I didn't know what to do and they were coming so fast and my mom pushed me up into a tree and I stayed there and she was screaming, she was- they-," the girl breaks off, unable to push words through her heaving sobs.
Wendy flings herself at the tube, pulling with all of her might. It stays fast, its grip on its slot tight. It won't come out, why won't it come out!?
A humming sound can be heard, growing steadily louder, and then there is a flash of blue light and a shell-shocked girl is left behind, tear tracks drying on her cheeks. Her eyes are wide and unsteady.
"Wendy Corduroy," the voice says. "What do you know about bull things?"
The girl's brow furrows. For a moment, it looks like she might remember, from the heartbreaking loss in her eyes, but the moment passes and there is nothing but confusion. "What?"
"It is unseen," the voice proclaims, and the video cuts to static.
The tube comes off in Wendy's hand with an ease that flings her backwards. She drops it immediately to the floor and crushes it with her shoe, slamming her foot into it over and over again until there is nothing but tiny shards of glass to remind her of the horrible, horrible truth, and she collapses, sobbing, onto the floor.
She can't ever tell her dad, that much she knows.
Some things are better to remain hidden.