Echoes in the Dark
By: Mark J. Hadley
The city of Townsville...and it's a beautiful, sunny day. Bubbles flew over a bright field of flowers, filled with every color of nature, all in bloom. She finally spotted a single tree in the middle of the field, and landed underneath it, in the shade. Laying down against the trunk of the tree, she sighed happily...this was one of her most favorite places in the world to come and relax. Everything was so beautiful here.
A small, white rabbit hopped up to her from the flowers. Bubbles smiled, and petted it on the head while she gazed up at the clouds high above in the sky. So calm and peaceful...life was perfect here, in this little place.
She suddenly became aware of someone else in the field. It was a young girl, perhaps about a year or two older than herself. She had long, light brown hair, blowing in the wind behind her. Her eyes were almost a sky blue, and she wore a white dress. Despite her pleasant appearance, however, her face seemed to have a hint of sadness in it. Bubbles could see it in her eyes. The girl stood at the edge of the flowers, not moving any closer, but just standing there, looking at Bubbles.
"Hello!" Bubbles called over to her. "Do I know you?"
The girl didn't respond...but after a few seconds, she slowly raised her hand, like she was reaching out for Bubbles, and said, "Help me..."
"What's wrong?" Bubbles asked, sitting up.
Tears seemed to fill the girls' eyes, and she said, "I'm...I'm so cold..."
Bubbles glanced up at the sunlight...it was really warm today, what did she mean? "Cold? Are you all right?"
"Please! Help me..." the girl implored, and she took a few steps back into the flowers, still reaching out with her arm. As she did, she slowly seemed to vanish. Bubbles hopped to her feet, and called out, "Wait! Who are you?"...
* * *
Bubbles awoke with a start. She found herself sitting up in bed...a quick glance told her that it was nighttime, and she had been asleep. I must have been dreaming, she thought. Looking over at the other girls, she saw that they were still asleep. At least she didn't wake them up by accident. She slowly released the breath she was holding, and rested her head back down on the pillow. For a few minutes, she stared silently up at the ceiling, thinking about the dream she just had.
Who was that girl?she thought. I don't know her...I've never even seen anyone like her before. She looked so sad...I wonder what was wrong? Maybe I'll see her again if I go back to sleep... She slowly closed her eyes...
Her eyes flew open again. She could have sworn she heard a sound, like someone whispering her name. Her eyes darted back to her sisters, but they were still sound asleep. Maybe she was hearing things...it was probably the air conditioning, or...
She sat up immediately....that time she knew she had heard it. Her ultrasonic hearing hadn't picked it up...it sounded like it was right there in the room. Whispering softly, so as not to wake the others, she said, "Wh-who's there?" There was a momentary pause...everything was eerily quiet. Then she heard it again, speaking softly, right next to her ear... [...Help me...]
With a short yelp, Bubbles ducked under the covers, shivering. This sudden sound and motion woke up Buttercup, who rolled over a little and groaned, "Ughh...Bubbles, knock it off, will ya? It's the middle of the night..."
Peeking back from under the covers, Bubbles whispered, "Buttercup...did...did you do that?"
Blinking her eyes a few times to clear them, Buttercup asked, "Do what?"
"Somebody whispered my name," she replied.
"What are you talking about?" Buttercup said. "I was sound asleep 'till you woke me up. Go back to sleep, all right?"
"But, but I..." Bubbles began, but she was interrupted by the voice again, which whispered, [...Bubbles, help...] She quickly said, "See? That! What was that?"
Buttercup looked confused...of course, she also looked too tired to really care at the moment also. "Hear what? I didn't hear anything...Bubbles, are you oka--..."
"You're lying!" Bubbles shouted, flying up out of the bed. This startled Buttercup a little, and also woke up Blossom, who rolled over, looking up at Bubbles and blinking in confusion. Bubbles had already flown from the room, though, and into the bathroom. Blossom glanced at Buttercup questioningly, who just shrugged.
In the bathroom, Bubbles stared at herself in the mirror. She was upset that Buttercup would mess with her like that. It wasn't funny at all...in fact, it was going a little too far. Couldn't she even let her sleep at night without trying to pull some kind of joke on her? Why did she insist on teasing her all the time?
She cupped her hands under the running water in the sink and splashed some on her face. The chilly water cooled her down, and made her feel a little better. I'd better get back to bed, she thought. If she does it again, though, I'm going straight to the profes---...
She gasped, and looked around. The voice again...she heard it so clearly. "Buttercup?" she whispered.
Carefully, Bubbles peered out from the bathroom...she could see the bed from there, and Buttercup was sound asleep. So was Blossom. It can't be them, she thought. Wh-what's going on? She looked up and whispered again, "Who...are you?"
[...I-I don't remember...]
Bubbles threw her hands to her mouth, stifling a cry of alarm. It answered her! She sat down on the ground, and whispered, "Where are you? What do you want?"
[...please...help me...I'm so cold...]
I'm imagining it, she thought. No one's really there...just ignore it. She coiled up in a little ball on the ground, clenching her eyes shut. "It's not real," she whispered. "I'm imagining it, that's all...it's not real..." She stayed in that spot until the morning, shivering on the cold bathroom floor during the whole night, trying to get to sleep. Every so often, the voice softly returned to her ears once again... [...why won't you help me...]
* * *
The next morning, the girls had gathered down in the kitchen for breakfast. Bubbles was in awful condition. Her hair was messed up, her eyes droopy, and she could barely stay awake. Thank goodness it was the weekend, so she didn't have to go into school like this. She was relieved that she had actually gotten some sleep, though...the strange voice she heard must have stopped, because she didn't hear it anymore in the morning. She was certain now that it was her imagination, nothing more. Blossom had been concerned when she found her asleep on the bathroom floor that morning, but she saw that Bubbles wasn't really in the mood to discuss whatever had happened to her.
Buttercup, though, didn't have any problems discussing it. Between spoonfuls of her cereal, she said, "So Bubbles, you didn't have any more bad dreams last night, did you?"
"Mm," Bubbles said absently, her head resting on one hand and stirring her cereal slowly with the other.
"C'mon, I'm tellin' you, I didn't do anything last night..."
Bubbles looked up with just her eyes, and said, "I know." She focused back on the cereal again, lifting a spoonful of it up and letting it dribble off the spoon, back into the bowl.
"Listen, Bubbles..." Blossom said, pausing for a moment and sighing. "Is there something we should know?"
Bubbles hesitated, then set her spoon down and said, "No...nothing..." She glanced up as Professor Utonium walked over to the table, coffee cup in hand. "'Morning, Professor."
"Good morning, sunshine," he said cheerfully. He sat down and opened up a newspaper, taking a sip of coffee. Bubbles looked at him again, and then something caught her eye. On the back of the newspaper the professor was reading, she saw an article with a photograph. It was a young girl, with light brown hair, and light blue eyes. Her expression was pleasant, but besides that one detail...
Bubbles blinked a few times to make sure she was seeing correctly, and thought, That's...that's the girl from my dream last night! She jumped out of her seat, flying across the table and grabbing the newspaper from the professor, "Lemme see this for a second!" The professor was startled, but didn't say anything, as she lifted the article up to read it.
Buttercup asked, "Are you okay, Bubbles?"
Ignoring her, Bubbles went pale as she read the headline: 'GIRL, 7, DIES IN COLORADO AVALANCHE'. It didn't make any sense to her...the girl from her dreams was real...but she had died? Was that why she was calling for help? she thought. She wanted to be rescued? How was she calling me, though?
The professor looked concerned, "Bubbles, is something wrong? What's going on?"
Bubbles slowly lowered the newspaper, and said softly, "Last night...last night, I saw this girl in my dreams...and, I heard her talking to me. Even after a I woke up, she was still talking to me...I could hear her...saying she was cold...and calling for help..."
Blossom said, "Whoa...really?"
Taking the newspaper from her, the professor looked it over and said, "Are you sure it was the same girl, sweetie?"
"Yes," Bubbles replied. "Maybe she was...maybe she was trying to call for help somehow...maybe if I knew where she was, I could've saved her..."
The professor finished reading the article. He said, "No, there wasn't anything you could have done..."
"But I..." she began.
"Bubbles," he interrupted, "the article says she was found in the afternoon...she was already gone when you dreamed about her last night."
Bubbles fell silent for a few moments, then managed to say, "Wh-what...? What did I hear then?"
Before anyone could speak up, the PowerPuff Hotline rang. Blossom quickly dashed over and picked it up, "Hello, Mayor?" After a pause, she said, "Of course, we're on it!" She hung up the phone and said, "A giant monster's attacking the docks...let's go!"
Blossom headed out the front door, and Buttercup was about to follow, when she stopped, and turned to look at Bubbles. She was still staring at the newspaper article. "Bubbles, c'mon!" she said. Bubbles shook herself out of her trance, and flew out of the house, right behind Buttercup...she still couldn't shake the thoughts in her head...What was that voice? Why did I hear it? What's happening?
* * *
A giant lobster had waded up out of the ocean, onto the shore by Townsville's docks. It's huge claws snapped at the piers, pulling them up like they were made of paper, and crushing them to pieces. The girls arrived on the scene, luckily, before the thing had a chance to move deeper into the city.
"Attack pattern beta-alpha-one! Go!" Blossom ordered. The girls moved in a spiral pattern, circling around the lobster. It was confused, so fast were their movements, and in no time, all three of them positioned themselves behind it, grabbing onto its tail. Unfortunately, despite their combined strength, they couldn't budge it. Instead, the lobster swung its tail around, flinging the girls off and into the water.
Buttercup flew up out of the water first, and shouted, "You're goin' down, lobster boy!" She dashed forward and started sending a flurry of punches at kicks to the creature's head. When she was finished, she saw that it hadn't even flinched. It reached up and grabbed her tightly in one of its claws. She struggled, but couldn't break free.
In the meantime, Blossom and Bubbles both came out of the water, and started firing at the creature with their eyebeams. They couldn't even make so much as a scratch it its tough hide. Blossom said, "This doesn't look good..." She circled around to the other side, trying to find a weak spot with more eyebeam blasts.
Bubbles kept firing at a single place, hoping that the beams would eventually cut through, but it still didn't do anything. She thought to herself, Nothing's working! We gotta do something!
She stopped firing her eyebeams in shock...she had heard the voice again! "Where are you?" she asked, glancing around.
[...Bubbles...look at the back of the monster's neck...]
Not quite understanding, she looked where the voice had told her...to her astonishment, she spotted a place where a few scales on the exoskeleton overlapped. It was very small...she had missed it before, and probably so did the other girls, but it was indeed an opening, maybe a weak spot. She quickly fired her eyebeams at that point.
As the beams struck it, the creature jerked once, and suddenly, large cracks moved along its exoskeleton, and the entire thing shattered off of it. Buttercup was freed, as the creature opened its claws in alarm, and both she and Blossom quickly started attacking it with punches and kicks again. They were a lot more effective this time, and the creature was easily beaten down...with a final blow, Buttercup sent it flying back into the ocean, way off in the distance.
Bubbles didn't know what to think...with a lack of anything better to do, she said, aloud, "Thanks!"
The voice came again: [...You're welcome...]
Buttercup flew over to Bubbles and said, "Hey, good thing you found a weak spot! That was awesome!" She hesitated, as she noticed that Bubbles was sort of staring off into the sky, not listening to her. "Bubbles?"
Speaking aloud again, Bubbles said, "How did you know where to hit it?"
[...I was following you...and I saw you were having trouble, so I looked around for a weak spot for you...]
"Why are you following me? Where are you?" Bubbles asked.
Buttercup, by this time, was staring at her, baffled. "Who are you talking to?"
[...I'm sorry about last night...until I saw the paper you were reading before, I didn't realize what had happened to me...I thought I was still buried under all that snow...]
"You're..." Bubbles said, suddenly a little afraid, "You're a...ghost?"
[...I think so...I'm going to go now, I don't want to bother you anymore...]
Bubbles reached out into the air, "Wait!"
She stared off into the sky, waiting, but she didn't hear the voice any longer. Blossom flew over next to Buttercup and asked, "What's wrong with Bubbles?"
"I think she's hearing things again..." Buttercup answered.
Blossom was worried, and floated closer to Bubbles, asking, "Are you all right?"
Bubbles dropped her gaze, staring down at the ground far below, and whispered, "I'm okay..." The three of them started back home. Bubbles was still thinking about the voice, and the girl it belonged to. She's a ghost, she thought. I wonder why I could hear her...maybe she just really wanted to be heard...
* * *
"So that's what happened?" the professor asked.
"Yes," Bubbles said, sitting at the kitchen table with the professor and the other girls. Bubbles had already explained what had happened...about hearing the voice again, about what she said, and how she had helped them. "She really wasn't alive...she was a ghost. I heard her though...she was talking to me. She even answered me!"
The professor rubbed his chin and said, "This is very peculiar. I'm at a loss to explain it."
"Well, I think it's pretty cool," Buttercup grinned. "I mean, she helped us out in that fight, you said...it's too bad she didn't stick around, she coulda helped us out more!" Blossom nodded in agreement.
Bubbles scratched her head, "I guess so...but I just wanna know why it happ--..."
Bubbles jumped at the loud voice that rang suddenly in her ears. It wasn't the same voice, either...this one was deeper, and masculine. "Wh-what was th-that?" she stammered.
"What was what?" Blossom asked.
The voice continued: [...I know you can hear me...I need you to do something for me, little girl...]
Bubbles looked around, and shouted, "Do what? Who are you?"
"Oh my," the professor said. "Are you hearing her again?"
Shaking her head, Bubbles said, "No, no...it's not the same voice, it's..."
[...HEY! I was talking to you!...]
Bubbles flinched, and whined, "Sorry! I'm sorry! What do you want?" Everyone else stared at her, worried.
[...There's a guy that owes me some money...I can't really collect it now, mind you, but he still owes it to me...go collect it for me...]
"But...but I don't..." she started.
[...JUST DO IT!...I don't leave unfinished business behind...ever...]
Another voice suddenly chimed in, a melodic, feminine voice: [...Bubbles...oh, thank goodness someone can hear me...I thought I was going to be lost forever, with no one to talk to...]
Bubbles' head darted from side to side, trying to find the source of the sounds, even though she knew they were ghosts. She said, "What do you two want from me?"
The professor said, "Great Scott...I think I know what's going on! Bubbles, are you hearing more voices again? You said there were two of them..."
Bubbles nodded...she looked frightened, "I don't know them...I-I don't..."
"Remember how I once said you girls would develop new powers as you grew older?" the professor reminded her. "Well, I believe you may have gained some ability to communicate with the spirits of those that have passed on..."
[...PAY ATTENTION!...Now, this man that owes me the money lives at...]
[...so lonely...all I wanted was to talk with a living person once again...that's all...]
Bubbles clenched her eyes, and said, "Professor, they're still talking to me...I can't shut it off..." As she spoke, she became aware of a third voice...sort of. It was a baby's cry, nothing more. Bubbles took in a shaky breath...the realization of what she was listening to filled her with sadness. In tears, she suddenly flew out of the kitchen, heading upstairs in a flash.
Blossom watched her leave, and said, "I should go talk to her..."
"No, Blossom," the professor said. "She's going to need to adapt to her new power. She might be better off to be alone, so she can focus on controlling it without outside distraction. I only hope she can handle the power...this is far different than anything you girls have experienced before..."
* * *
The hours passed. Bubbles stayed in the bedroom the entire time, lying on the bed and leaning up against the headboard. The voices had not ceased, and in fact had grown in number. There were at least a few dozen of them now...sometimes they took turns speaking, but often they would all speak together. Some of them, much like the girl that had spoken to her first, weren't even aware that they were dead, while others approached her, begging for her help. It was becoming too confusing to sort out.
[...please, Bubbles, can you do an old woman one last favor before she passes on...]
[...so thirsty...curse this desert sun...I can't go on...]
[...listen up, little girl, that money is worth more to me than life itself...you have to get it...]
[...do something...I can't take the pain anymore...help me...]
Bubbles had tried clasping her hands over her ears, but that didn't help at all. She could still hear the voices inside her head, speaking just as loudly and clearly as before. She clenched her eyes shut and whispered, "Why won't you leave me alone? I can't help you all..."
[...help me, then, at least...I'm the most charitable person you'll ever meet...]
[...I'll be eternally grateful if you would just listen...]
[...you will do what I tell you to do...]
"STOP!!" Bubbles shouted loudly. "No more! No more...I c-can't take it..."
As she shouted, the voices seemed to dim out for a moment as a much stronger, much deeper voice came to her: [...hello, Bubbles...there's something you must do...]
She was grateful for the decline n the other voices, but she still wanted to be alone once again. She cried, "No, I don't want to...I just want you all to stop..." The other voices still chattered on in the background, almost making it hard to focus on the newcomer, but she managed anyway.
[...the world is full of too many people, isn't it?...I sought to correct that problem myself, but then I met my fate...you must continue where I left off...]
"Wh-what do you mean?" Bubbles asked.
[...kill them, Bubbles...kill the people, they deserve to die...]
Bubbles shook her head, "No, I can't..."
[...KILL THEM...YOU MUST...]
"No!" she yelled, grabbing the sides of her head, "Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!!"
* * *
Blossom and Buttercup were watching television, when they heard the shout coming from upstairs. Buttercup looked up at the ceiling, and said, "Oh man...that's gotta be awful, what Bubbles is going through...I hope she'll be okay..."
"I'm worried...maybe you should go up and check on her," Blossom suggested.
Buttercup nodded, and said, "I guess so. I'll be right back."
She flew off the couch and headed for the staircase. As she floated over to the bedroom door, she could hear Bubbles crying hysterically on the other side. Buttercup frowned sadly...it must have been worse than they thought. She knocked on the door and said, "Bubbles?" There was no answer, just more crying. Slowly opening the door, she peeked into the room.
Bubbles was sitting on the bed. Tears were streaming down her face, and Buttercup could see something in her hand...it looked like a knife. She had her other arm out, and was frantically trying to cut into her wrist with it, but thanks to her PowerPuff skin, all she was doing was making the knife dull. Buttercup gasped, and flew into the room quickly, grabbing her arm and trying to pull the knife away, but Bubbles pulled back on it.
"No!" Bubbles wailed loudly, "Leave me alone!!".
"Bubbles, get a hold of yourself!" Buttercup shouted. She eventually managed to pry the knife away from her. Bubbles reached out with her arm weakly for a moment, then collapsed her head into her arms, crying once again. Buttercup waved her own arms and said, "What were you thinking?"
Through her tears, Bubbles sobbed, "I...I gotta...make them...s-stop..."
Buttercup threw the knife aside and grabbed Bubbles' shoulders, shaking her, "Listen to me! I don't know what you're trying to do, but I'm not gonna let you hurt yourself over something that's probably all in your head!"
Looking up, Bubbles whispered, "What do you mean?"
"I don't believe in ghosts, Bubbles," Buttercup told her. "Maybe you think you're hearing them, but you could just be imagining it. Are you gonna throw your life away for something that might not be real? You can't even see 'em, so just ignore 'em. Ghosts or not, they can't make you do anything."
"But it's too hard...they won't stop talking to me..." Bubbles protested. Her eyes kept glancing around nervously, still following the sound of the voices.
Frowning, Buttercup said, "You're stronger than that, sis! I know you can beat 'em if you try!"
That took Bubbles by surprise...she doesn't usually get a vote of confidence from Buttercup about her strength like that. "Y-you really think so?"
"Sure I do," she said. "Look, I'm goin' back downstairs. If you promise not to try anything else stupid, I promise not to tell anyone what you did try to do, okay?"
Bubbles managed a small smile, and said, "Okay..."
Buttercup smiled back and said, "Now...wanna come down and watch TV with us? Maybe it'll help get your mind off of it..."
"Sure," she agreed. As both of them started out of the room, Buttercup picked up the knife where she had tossed it aside and put it in a safer place, so that no one would find out about what happened. Maybe after a little TV, she thought, she'll be back to normal...
* * *
Night had finally arrived. The girls climbed into bed to get some sleep. Bubbles did as well...besides the fact that she had spent the previous night trying to fall asleep on a cold bathroom floor, she also felt a little more secure than before. The voices had continued to speak with her, but she had followed Buttercup's advice, and just ignored them. Sure enough, the voices were constant, and at times even demanding, but they couldn't force her to do anything she didn't want to do. That filled her with assurance that everything would be all right.
By this time, the voices had even quieted somewhat, as though they themselves realized the futility of it. Everything was so quiet, in fact, that Bubbles was able to close her eyes against what little she did hear, and drift off to sleep at last...
* * *
Bubbles was once again sitting in her perfect spot beneath the tree, next to the giant field of flowers...but she wasn't alone. Dozens of people circled around the field, staring at her. She looked curiously at them and asked, "Who are you?"
Some of them began talking, "Why won't you help us?"
"Yes, you've been ignoring us..."
"We just want you to listen..."
Sitting up from the ground, Bubbles remarked, "You're the ghosts, aren't you? I can see you when I'm dreaming?"
The nearest person, a somewhat middle-aged woman with red hair, nodded and said, "I think so. We don't mean you any harm, we just want your help, that's all..."
"But you're scaring me!" Bubbles said. "I don't want to listen to all of you..."
A man stepped forward from once side...he had short brown hair and a black leather jacket, and it looked as though he was bleeding slightly from gunshot wounds. "Listen to me, then. You need to kill them all. You should wake up right now and start with those other two, while they're asleep..."
"No, go away!" Bubbles shouted. "I just wanna be left alone! I'd probably help some of you guys out if you didn't bug me all day and night about it..."
Some of the other people began nodding, and the woman that spoke before said, "I'm sorry, if I had know you felt that way, I wouldn't have been so insistant..."
The man frowned, though, and walked straight up to Bubbles, stopping about a foot in front of her, and he growled, "They all deserve to die, every last one of them! You'll kill, or else..."
Bubbles was a little frightened by his presence, but she stood firm, and stuck out her tongue, "You can't make me."
"We'll see about that," he said. He took a step forward, walking right where Bubbles was standing, but instead of something solid hitting her, she felt him move straight through her instead, and she tensed up, screaming...
* * *
Bubbles' eyes flew open, and she took in a sharp breath. She whispered, "I'm alive...ha ha ha! It worked!" She sat up, and looked at the girls next to her, sleeping soundly. A smile crossed her face, and she thought, Look at them...so calm, and peaceful. Heh...well. This ought to be fun.
Flexing her arms a few times, she felt the power. These little superheroes were indeed strong, With powers like these, I could kill a hundred times as many people...no, a thousand times as many people!
She flew up slowly and carefully out of bed, and hovered just over Blossom. The other PowerPuff girls, he thought...they'll be tougher than normal weapons...but then, I'm a PowerPuff Girl now, too. They may be tough, but I think with my strength, I'll manage...
Bubbles positioned herself next to Blossom, and lifted her head up from the pillow. She stirred, and began to wake up. Before she could say anything, though, Bubbles wrapped one of her arms around her head from behind, and clamped her other hand across her mouth. Blossom's eyes flew open, and she struggled, but couldn't move in the hold Bubbles had on her. She tried to call out, but her shouts were muffled, "Mmph, mmmmph!"
Bubbles leaned down and whispered, "How nice, you're awake..." Blossom's eyes tried to look at her, but she was just barely in her peripheral vision. "How does it feel, knowing that I can snap your neck in an instant if I wanted to?" Bubbles taunted, and Blossom struggled some more, sweat rolling down her forehead.
Bubbles suppressed a chuckle and whispered, "Good...so, do you have any last words?" Then, in a mock sad tone, she added, "Oh wait...you won't be able to say them, too bad..." Blossom's breathing quickened as Bubbles said, "Fare thee well..." and prepared to twist her arms...
Before she could, though, she froze, and took a deep, shaky breath. Her body jolted a few times, like she was being electrocuted. She released her hold on Blossom, who immediately broke free and flew away from the bed, turning to watch. Bubbles began to shake violently, collapsing onto the spot of the bed where Blossom had just been lying...
* * *
"LET ME GO!" the man said. A few of the other people had rushed up to Bubbles and grabbed hold of the man's arms...they were pulling as hard as they could.
After a struggle, they pulled the man free, and Bubbles shook her head, saying, "What happened...?"
The man kicked and screamed, but was powerless to do anything, since the people held him securely. They carried him off towards the flowers at the edge of the field. The woman that had spoken to her before said, "Don't worry, he won't hurt you again. I'll see to it."
"Me too," came another voice. Bubbles turned, and was surprised to see a girl...it was the same one that had visited her before.
"You!" Bubbles exclaimed, smiling.
"That's right," the girl said. "I realize now that this power of yours shouldn't be abused by us, like we'd been doing. All of us just wanted someone real to talk to..."
"Someone to help us," the woman said, "with things we needed to do..."
The girl continued, "But we can't ruin your life at the same time. I have an idea."
"What kind of idea?" Bubbles asked, curiously.
"Some of us are going to stay, and make sure no one tries to do what that guy did again," she answered. "Also, we're going to keep anyone from talking to you. Whenever you feel ready to speak to us, just let us know, and we'll be here. You can help us if you'd like, one at a time, at your own pace."
Bubbles smiled, and said, "I will...I promise. Thank you! Thank you for everything..."
* * *
Bubbles woke up, to find Blossom and Buttercup hovering over her, staring at her. "Bubbles?" Blossom asked cautiously.
Sitting up, Bubbles said, "I'm so sorry, Blossom...one of them...the ghosts...took control of me. I couldn't help it..."
Buttercup narrowed her eyes skeptically and said, "Sure...but are you all right now?"
"Yes!" she said, brightening up as she recalled the final details of her dream. "They're going to leave me alone...I'll be okay now. It will never happen again..."
"Are you sure?" Blossom said. "You really scared me there..."
"I promise I'm okay," she answered, smiling. "In fact, I'm better than ever..." She laid back on the bed, sighing with relief. The other girls saw the sincerity in her eyes, and knew she was telling the truth. They also saw something they hadn't seen during the whole previous day...peace, and happiness...
* * *
Colorado...a woman heard a knock at the door, and answered it. She was surprised to see a small girl, who looked no more than five or six years old. "Yes, can I help you?" she asked.
"Hi," she greeted her, "My name's Bubbles...umm, this is going to sound kind of strange, but...can I come in for a minute?"
"I...guess so," the woman said. "No harm in that...what did you want? Are you lost?" She opened the door wider, letting her walk in.
Bubbles shook her head as she entered and said, "No, I just have to do something..." She immediately crossed the room, heading into a hallway. The woman followed her curiously. Bubbles whispered to herself, "Second door on the right? Okay..." She reached up and opened the door.
The woman said, "What are you doing? You can't go in there..."
Bubbles entered the room. It was a young girl's room, decorated with flowers, and with stuffed animals on the shelves. She carefully approached one section of the wall, which was paneled with wood, and whispered, "Here?" Then she nodded, and started sliding one of the wood panels aside.
"Young lady, what do you think you're doing?" the woman demanded.
Bubbles reached into the opening she had made, and pulled out a book, bound with a dark blue cover. She turned around and walked back over to the woman, holding it up to her. The woman was surprised, and took it from her, slowly. She looked at the cover, then back at Bubbles questioningly, "What...how did you know...this was there?"
Bubbles said, "Your daughter told me it was there."
"M-my daughter?" the woman said. She looked down at the book, and opened it. As she started reading it, her eyes filled with tears, and she said, "This...is her diary...how did you ever..."
"She really wants you to have it," Bubbles told her, smiling. "She also wants me to tell you that she loves you very much..."
After a few moments, the woman knelt down and hugged her, overcome by her words. Bubbles hugged her back, and thought, I'm so happy to have the power to help people this way...reuniting them with their loved ones, and letting them know that they still care...their joy is a gift I'll always cherish...