Here we are! The final chapter of Tales of Turmoil! It's been a fun ride, but it all ends now...
I've heard some say the feeling before dying is one of bliss and serenity, and that worldly things no longer matter as they begin to lose consciousness.
The feeling right now is quite different, however. I haven't come to terms with death, and it just doesn't feel right. I feel like I am meant for so much more in life than another grave in the dirt; or in this case, just another corpse.
"Well! Get on with it!" Nick yells to him, quivering in pain, his leg looking quite deformed.
Bogo simply laughs, his eyes glowing a deeper red with each inhale and exhale, and I stare in confusion.
"Wouldn't you like me to explain first?" he asks us.
Oh, so there is something to explain.
"Um...yes" I mutter, realizing life isn't quite over.
Bogo stands right in front of us with a stern expression.
"Well, I bet you're wondering why everyone suddenly went off the edge, huh?" he asks, to which we nod impatiently.
He takes a deep breath.
"Evolution. That's what's happening here" he informs us, and my mind begins racing.
What? What does that mean? Is he in the right mind?
"Wait, what?" Nick asks him weakly.
"Well, it started with a lab experiment in Zootopia. The "Super Animal" project, as they called it. Well, it didn't work as expected on their first subject, and, well...all of the doctors were killed that day. The beginning stages of the serum cause extreme aggression for reasons unknown. Eventually we neutralized the animal, but after a while, we realized that the serum spreads through the air, and by that point we were much too late" he begins.
I glance over at Nick, and his mouth is open wide, not knowing what to think. Our eyes meet briefly in a blink of confusion, but then we shift back to Bogo as he speaks.
"But little did we know that the serum caused an evolution of sorts. After you get past the first stage, life is infinitely better. It allows us to invent things like this now!" he speaks, pressing a button on his watch-device.
Clovis appears beside him suddenly, and I can't comprehend the sudden unearthly situation.
"Yes, master?" he asks, and I realize that he is simply a projection of sorts.
"Nothing; just wanted to demonstrate our new technology" he tells him, and then presses the button once more, and Clovis disappears into the air.
"So that's how you found us" Nick states.
"Of course" he begins, "And this is just the beginning! This is evolution in its truest form!" he declares.
A question crosses my mind.
"But why us?" I ask, finally ready to receive an answer.
He stares us dead in the eyes.
"Because you two are immune to it all, obviously!" he exclaims.
Then why won't he just kill us and be done with this?
"Then just kill us! Don't make us wait!" Nick tells him, still in some amount of pain.
"What, do you think I'm actually that evil? I have a solution to all of this, and your friend...Avery? Him dying was a good thing, not a bad thing".
I want to tell him to stop talking, still unable to take the fact that Avery is gone, but I manage to keep my mouth shut.
"How?" Nick asks him, completely lost.
Bogo rolls his eyes, irritated that he has to explain every detail. I don't know why though. I mean, was he just expecting us to know everything?
"If he's dead, I can revive him as..."
I know what he's about to speak a moment before the words slip from his mouth.
"I can revive him as one of us. He may have been immune while he was alive, but he's dead now".
I look at him in a disgusted manner.
"No!" I protest instinctively, without thinking it through.
Wouldn't you like to have Avery back?
"Judy" Nick whispers, looking deep into my eyes, the pain of the past lurking in his pupils, "Trust me".
I don't know what he's talking about, to be blunt. However, I've never experienced any wrong from trusting in him, and we're out of options at this point anyway.
"Okay" he tells Bogo, and I nearly cringe.
I can't see Avery as one of those creatures; I just can't.
"So that's what this is about? You just want to kill us so you can make us one of you?" I ask him, exasperated.
"Hopps, you have no idea what all of animal-kind is capable of when united as one now. No idea" he repeats, attempting to get the point across to me.
I slowly nod, glancing up at the sky in apprehension.
I'm going to become one of them.
Bogo begins digging up Avery's corpse aggressively, sending sand whirling into the air in an angry flurry.
This could turn out well, or it could turn out like most has the past week. There's no telling at this point...
The buffalo hoists Avery's corpse back onto the sand, and I gasp at the sight. Although I laid eyes and hands on it just minutes ago, I still can't accept the sight before me.
"Here we go!" Bogo yells, and I stare at Nick in fear. I can tell this is all part of his plan, however, and my eyes fill up with tears. The fox beside me gently strokes the fur on my face with a dreamy expression as Bogo bites down on Avery's neck, and immediately the sound of shrieking fills the air.
The screams of Avery.
Surprisingly, he doesn't writhe in pain, but simply gasps for air, his eyes transforming to a blood red.
"Why's he not..." I begin, but then I notice the confused look on Bogo's face as well.
"What happened?" the child asks, his eyes opening gingerly. He leaps to his feet, looking completely unharmed, much to our disbelief.
I can't speak at the sight of my revived preciousness, and my face feels quite numb. My throat dries up, and I hold my mouth with my hand at the sight.
The blood still stains Avery's shirt, but seems to have come to a halt. His wound appears to have completely closed up, his body no longer pierced, null, or dead.
"Avery?" Nick asks.
"Yeah? Something up?" he asks nonchalantly.
"You kinda died, kid" Nick reminds him as the child walks closer.
Avery stops in his tracks for a moments, and his once blue eyes widen in utter shock as he observes his hands in awe.
"You're right! I'm back! How?" he asks, turning to Bogo.
"I've never seen this! You skipped straight to the last phase!" Bogo exclaims with his mouth slightly agape.
"I feel so...floaty!" Avery exclaims, glancing around the island in disbelief.
Bogo laughs at the newborn, and eyes Nick and I.
"Now, it's time to evolve, you two!"
I don't know how to feel about the situation, seeing Avery alive and well, but I do know one thing. As I watch Nick rip the device from my pocket and aim it at the animal in front of us, I feel a surge of pain; a dose of the unknown. I know there's a reason Nick chooses a hopeless getaway, knowing fully well the path of misery leads nowhere.
But perhaps it is the memories formed on the paths that define us, and sometimes power can corrupt who we are.
Nick, as I would expect, is thinking this as well.
We will fight to stay as who we are, and not power-hungry zombies.
The taser spits out rings of electricity it appears, at least through my observations, and lands on the face of Bogo.
The buffalo emits screams of pain as I realize that although nearly immune to outside wounds, electricity appears to be just as effective on Bogo as it was in his former life.
We seize the opportunity as Bogo reels in pain, dropping to the sand, twitching, the taser still injecting him with large amounts of electricity.
"Why'd you do that? He saved me!" Avery asks, but I simply grab his hand as we begin
sprinting for the boat.
I try to help Nick with getting to his feet, but he simply jumps on one foot, avoiding any contact with the sand with his broken leg.
I don't take a second to look back, knowing there is no time to waste.
Knowing that if Bogo catches us again, it won't just be the transformation of Nick and I that he wants, but something perhaps more sinister.
There's no way I will ever become one of them.
I run as quickly as I can on one leg, looking more like a rabbit than a fox. Luckily, I seem to be decently productive with my movement speed; my balance fairly stable.
I'm still struggling to explain how I feel about Avery; he is back, but is he the same hedgehog that we used to know? My emotions are crossed, as is my brain as we leap into the boat, I collapsing on the deck, clutching my leg which in now throbbing violently.
Judy rips the rope off of our anchor; a simple rock.
There's no way this is going to work.
I can hear Bogo screeching something, but I ignore him, biting my nails as our boat slowly floats backwards into the gentle waves.
I regain my composure, standing on my one unharmed leg, taking the wheel and then backing the boat up as quickly as possible.
Where are you going to run?
It's worked for us so far.
The engine kicks into higher gear as we watch Bogo attempt to stand, his red eyes gleaming with fury.
Something deep down in me forces me to wonder if this is the right thing after all. We have Avery back, or what's left of him. I have Judy, we have the food...
In a world like this, why should we stop running?
I still don't understand how Avery was able to retain his image, but he seems to be the same person as before as he watches me steer the wheel.
His eyes are red, but he lacks the skin growths that the others do. And the rage, it appears to be nonexistent.
Avery, at least I think, is still Avery.
"Nick, why do I feel different?" he asks me calmly as we sail across the sea, further and further away from our previous predicament.
I sigh, and look over at him with seriousness, Judy staring out at the graceful ocean.
"Avery, you'll...you'll always be different. You always have been" I try to convince him, avoiding the obvious subject at hand.
"You know what I mean" he convicts me, "Why am I so strong? And why do I feel...why do I feel so light?"
You have to tell him.
"Avery, it's how we brought you back to life" I explain, "You've...you've..."
"You're infected, Avery" Judy interrupts me, "But not completely. You don't seem violent...or psychotic...do you feel any different on the inside?"
He shakes his head, looking truly dazed at the words spoken by Judy.
It hurts to see such confusion and turmoil in the core of a child's heart, but perhaps facing facts is all he has left to do.
"Is it a bad thing?" he asks me calmly, and I smile, pulling the child into my arms.
He is still my kid.
"Not at all, kid" I whisper into his ear, neglecting the monster most would say he has become.
Judy joins in, wrapping her arms around the child we once lost, deep in the depths of death; in the abyss of darkness.
The moment is all too surreal, and the leg in my pain, although incredible in intensity, ceases to cross my mind during a powerful moment like this.
All of the things we've been through; all the pain, all the dreaminess, all the carnage, all the bloodshed, all the emotions and all the feelings have led to this moment.
And the sad thing? We've accomplished nothing.
Or have we?
I gaze down at my hand, still wrapped, and my leg, still crippled. I look deep into my mind; solidified, yet broken. The sunlight from the risen sun radiates noticeably, symbolizing an unlikely future.
There are no roses, flowers and rainbows ahead of us, obviously.
The world will not turn the same as it used to, and relationships will be lost in the unforgiving dust. There is still a bright spot, however, that outshines all of the darkness around it.
I have Judy, and I have Avery.
Like a wanderer stumbling through the night, his flashlight in hand, only a bit can be lit ahead of us. The rest of the world is unknown, besides the fact that it will probably cause the end of us.
All there's left to do now if follow the small bit of light we currently hold; the rest will always be unknown.
A few more minutes pass as we stare up at the sky together, the distant screams of Bogo filling the air around us. Not a word is spoken between us as we approach the shore of Califurnia.
I can hear the waves around us gently tapping the sides of the boat, and I release Avery.
I hobble over to the steering wheel as Judy examines the absence of a wound on Avery, knowing I must slow down the boat.
"Nick, there's not even a scar!" Judy informs me loudly in astonishment.
"That's...crazy!" I say back as the boat begins to slow, the image of Avery's corpse still flashing in my mind.
I glance over at Avery once again, noticing the absence of his former scar. The boat continues to slow, and I study the red in his eyes. Quite simple, the shade mimics the color of blood. A darker red, but not too dark. Perhaps crimson would be the best way to describe it.
Deep in his eyes, I do not see the monster I've seen in so many others, but simply a confused, innocent child, gazing at Judy with a love that a child has for a parent.
The entire situation could be described as something beautiful, although the atmosphere around us masks it behind one of uncertainty.
The front of the boat scrapes onto the beach sand, and Judy walks over to me.
"Need some help?" she asks me nicely, offering her hand to help me walk.
I smile at the rabbit that has helped me through much; the one who will always be there for me, and nod.
"Guess I do, Carrots".
She assists me as we walk to the back of the boat, and I wince with each step. I try my best to forget Bogo and his little speech, trying my best to think as simply and as animal-like as possible.
We're the only ones left.
Evolution? Sounds like a trick if I've ever heard one.
But he had advanced technology.
I don't have time to think about this...
Judy helps me onto a nearby bench, and I clench my jaw, causing Judy to look concerned.
"You don't think you sliced an artery or something?" she asks me, to which I shake my head.
"I'm all good...it's not a horrible break. It'll heal" I mutter as Avery approaches me.
I don't know what to think of the child's intentions as he eyes me, but he simply comes to a stop beside me, staring at me with his crimson eyes, still full of youth.
"You're hurt" he whispers, only now noticing.
"Yeah, but I'll be fine" I persuade him in a friendly tone as Judy wanders back over to the boat, beginning to fill the grocery cart back up with the food that fell onto the deck.
"I didn't do that, right?" he asks me, his memory plainly fuzzy.
"No, no, of course not. It was some crazy crab who got ahold of me" I explain, to which he giggles, causing me to question whether he actually believes me or not.
I place my arms on his shoulders, beginning to accept that perhaps the child I love actually is back from the dead.
"Avery, can you promise me one thing?" I ask him calmly, staring at his cheery expression.
"If it involves never eating pies again, it's a no" he replies, and I roll my eyes.
"Promise me" I begin, "That you don't feel anything different right now. Promise me that you still feel like the same person, and that you don't feel like tearing someone apart. Or ever will. Promise me" I tell him firmly.
He nods slowly at first, but then speeds up.
"I don't, Nick. I feel like myself except...except a little bit...like I just drank a ton of caffeine" he admits, grinning.
Yep, he's himself.
Judy walks back over to us a few moments later, exhausted from gathering the food and placing all of it into the cart.
"Judy!" I say, feeling a sudden surge of appreciation, and I pull her into a tight hug as well.
"Nick!" she says, mimicking my tone of voice.
I honestly don't care though.
We all made it out alive...well, technically, but we still have the world left to face.
But why should I care with friends like these?
I lean out a bit, just enough to readjust my face in front of hers, and I stare into the violet eyes that have seen so much; been on the same adventures as me, and jumped the same hurdles I've stumbled over myself.
I press my lips against hers and into a blend of warmth; a feeling quite unfamiliar to me in this dark world.
I feel all the care in my being fade away as our feelings intertwine completely, and my heart quickens in pace.
The familiar feeling of floating rules over my senses, enveloping my mind with a vibe of absolute love.
Love, that's what it is.
We separate, and I stare at her face, the one I've come to know so well.
The one who never judged me, the one who believed in me when no one else did, and the one who always loved me.
"Shh!" I say as she begins to speak, knowing what she is about to speak.
"I love you more, Judy" I say with a chuckle before she can even utter a word, and she simply beams even bigger.
"We'll make it through this" she tells me with certainty, "Even if it's hopeless...I guess you could say the adventures and memories...the good ones at least...it'll be worth it...".
"That would'a been nice to have for the slideshow" Avery states dully, and we all have a good laugh.
I smile as I lean on Judy in order to simply walk, and we begin walking in the opposite direction of the beach, heading wherever life takes us.
I glance at Avery pushing the grocery cart with ease, humming to the tune of one of his favorite songs.
"Hey, Avery!" I say to him as he walks with a bounce.
"Yeah?" he asks enthusiastically.
"Here ya' go kid. Go crazy" I say, grabbing an ice cream carton out of the cart and handing it to him.
Whether the ice cream is melted or not, he doesn't know, and he doesn't care.
He smiles hugely as he places the carton in the baby seat of the grocery cart, eating huge scoops as we walk, and I hold Judy a bit closer as she assists me with walking.
Sometimes, the best tales come from the worst of situations, and sometimes the strongest of love spawns from the most tumultuous of lives. Judy and I truly found love in the most hopeless of places, and found a child worth dying for in a world that most would label as hell.
I still have many questions about this life that envelops me; Why could Avery speak to infected animals? Why did he transform so gracefully? Why didn't Bogo get someone else to kill him? The lab we were taken prisoner by could have easily taken our lives.
I stare up the at the hilltops surrounding us, the sunlight reflecting off of the grass blades. I see a bird fly through the air; a definite sign that we aren't the only ones out here.
However, as the bird passes, I think that for a second, I see a flurry of birds chasing it, but shake my head and see them no longer. I stop limping as I stare at the clouds where the birds once were, and Judy helps me keep my balance, gazing at me in curiosity.
"Something wrong?" she asks me.
I take a deep breath as I neglect the not-so-distant memory.
Are we doing the right thing? Is this the right direction? Should we have just chosen to evolve?
What is it to evolve if I lose myself doing it?
I smile weakly at her, and gesture forwards into the unknown.
"No, let's go".
I take one final look at Jickery Island, and smile to myself as I resume limping.
For some reason, I feel a ping, a twitch of madness within me as I turn back around, but by this point I have learned that everything cannot be questioned.
I brush it off, and let out a blissful sigh.
Here's to our next adventure...
Sorry it took so long! Life has been awfully busy lately, and I just didn't have much time. Yes, this is a much shorter final chapter, but I think it fits the story a lot more. Let me know if there's anything you need explained, and yes, there will eventually be a sequel! I've had a lot of fun writing this story, and I hope everyone enjoyed it! Please leave your thoughts on the final chapter in the reviews. Until next time!