Season 3, Episode 7: Annie
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Like "Voodoo," I thought this was a season 3 episode that I could put a fresh spin on and pay homage to. This goes out to everyone who disliked Annie.
The power of attraction is a strange thing. Call it what you will; electricity, magnetism, but I think people have it too. Some people attract luck, others attract friends, and as for me…well, I attract paranormal stuff. Yeah, I look hard to find weird things, but could it be that there's something in me that attracts the supernatural? And if that's the case, are there other people like me?
A sizzle and smoke filled the air as Molly and Irene cooked, drawing Jack, Carey, and Clu like moths to a flame.
"The one thing I missed about being away at college was the home cooked meals." Clu eyed the pan of cooking ground beef hungrily.
"I am not going back to UC Santa Cruz with you just so you can have home cooked meals. You'll have to make do with the dining hall." Irene gave him a look before going back to chopping onions.
"Aww, come on, Mom! What could be better than staying with me in my dorm and cooking?" Clu put on his "pouty face."
Carey shot Irene a knowing glance. "I've got this." He turned to his brother. "What's the sound of one hand clapping?" Clu's eyes gazed over as he muttered to himself, obviously stumped by the logical paradox, making Carey and Jack laugh.
When the doorbell rang, Molly's eyes went wide. "That must be Lisa! Jack, could you help Irene for a second?"
"Sure, Mom." Jack stepped up to the stove and his mother hurried out of the room to the front door. When she opened it, a blond woman's face lit up.
"Lisa!" Both women embraced. "It's been so long since I last saw you!"
"Oh, Molly, I've missed you too, and you look great! How's the musical career going? Wait, what am I doing? Where are my manners? You remember my daughter, Annie?" She put her hands on the shoulder of a blond young girl who had to be around Fi's age.
"Annie! I haven't seen you since you were six!" Molly embraced her.
"We've been in going to a lot of different places. We just got back from Pakistan." Annie grinned.
"Oh, and I'm sorry Kevin couldn't come." Molly got a sad look on her face.
"He sends his apologies. He got called in for an emergency meeting with the head of our department at the university." Lisa smiled in an effort to alleviate her friend's sadness.
"Well, come inside, both of you. I've got to introduce you to everyone." Molly ushered them in the door and closed it behind them, leading them straight to the kitchen.
When dinner had been served, everyone gathered around the living room in front of a fire.
"Pakistan sounds amazing, Annie. It must be so cool going around to all the digs with your parents." Fi wiped her mouth with a napkin.
"Yeah, it's pretty cool. I've seen some pretty interesting stuff." Annie smiled over her tacos.
"So out of all the places you've been, where's your favorite?"
"I think it'd have to be…Peru. I was really young when I went, but it's always felt the most like home out of anywhere else I've been—"
Lisa cut her off. "Now, Annie, you don't have to bore them, telling them about everywhere we've been." Her lips pursed and she went back to eating.
Molly chimed in. "Oh, come on, Lisa, don't be modest! You guys have been everywhere! I mean, we only go around the United States, but you've been all over the world!"
While talk of the Thelens' exploits continued, Fi got up and excused herself to go get seconds. As she piled more food on her plate, Annie walked in.
"Your family makes the best tacos! I mean, the ones in Mexico were pretty good, but I think these are better because they were made at home." The blond girl smiled at Fi.
"I just wish I had the chance to go to Mexico. The farthest I've been outside the country is Vancouver." Fi chuckled, and Annie looked past her and out the window.
"Oh my gosh! That's the biggest firefly I've ever seen! Mom! Come here! Look at this!"
When Annie said something, Fi looked up and her jaw hit the floor when she saw a floating orb of light hovering around outside the kitchen window. Annie ran out of the room and Fi approached the glass.
"What do you want?" Her words were cold, and she got chills when it flew around, leaving a spectral trail that spelled out YOU before it and the light vanished, just in time for Annie and Lisa to enter the room.
"I swear, it was…huh. I guess it's gone." Lisa gave her daughter a look before they both exited the kitchen.
"He'll be back." Fi's words flew under her breath as she too left the kitchen, still feeling chilled. She went back into the living room to finish her dinner.
As Molly, Lisa, and Irene brought dishes into the kitchen, Molly jumped out of the way when Annie and Fi came charging toward the staircase.
"Whoa, whoa, hey! Where are you guys going?" Molly took a deep breath to steady herself.
Annie smiled mischievously. "If we move fast enough, the guys'll be stuck with the dishes."
"Her idea. I like this girl!" Fi laughed and they both ran up the stairs, leaving the adults to chuckle at their antics.
Molly shook her head as she piled plates on top of each other. "Annie seems like she's quite the handful. I think I know the feeling."
Lisa looked down into the meat she was placing into Tupperware. "Well, she's just happy to see you again. Sometimes, I don't think that traveling is the best thing for her." She looked back up at Molly.
"Lisa, what happened in Peru?"
Lisa's eyes went wide. "What do you mean?"
"When Annie started talking about it, you looked like you'd just drank a gallon of hot sauce." Irene laughed.
"Oh…well, it was nothing, really. We just got scared. The jungle's a big place for a little girl."
"Hey, our family usually has four wheels under it. We've seen some pretty scary stuff on the road." Molly began washing dishes.
"It's just…I sometimes think that she should really have a stable place to stay. She's been having…"
"I don't even know how to explain it. Hallucinations? We're not entirely sure. She says she's seen…oh, I've forgotten what she said it was."
Molly froze as she gripped a plate, and then turned to face her friend. "Have you talked to her about it? I mean, really talked to her?"
Lisa paused. "Not really. We just thought she was tired of being on the road."
"Maybe Fi can find out what's going on. She's…imaginative, to say the least."
Annie looked around as soon as they got to Fi's room. "Wow! This room is great!"
Fi smiled. "Thanks. I've had it for as long as I can remember."
"What's that?" Annie gestured toward the instrument leaning against the wall.
"Oh, that's my dad's guitar. I haven't played it in a while."
"Would you mind if I did?"
Fi raised an eyebrow. "Sure. I didn't know you played."
"I just know one song. My parents did a dig in Italy and an old man taught me how to play it." The blond girl picked the guitar up and strapped it around herself as she sat on the bed. Her fingers flew over the strings, plucking out a series of notes.
"That was great!"
"Thanks." Annie beamed. "I'm not really musically inclined, so I'm surprised I can play it so well. I'm more of an artist."
"Yeah! I really like to paint. I think my mom even brought one of my paintings." Annie looked down and blushed.
"What's it of?"
The other girl looked up with wide eyes. "Oh, my painting? A panther."
"It sounds cool, actually."
"Not really. That panther…it follows me."
Fi blanched. "What?"
"Ever since we left Peru, I've seen it everywhere I go. I don't know why."
"Are you sure you're not just seeing things?"
"Well, I'm not really sure. There was this one time…
"What kind of donut are you getting, Annie?" Lisa looked back at her daughter and smiled.
"I don't know! I haven't had a doughnut in forever!" Annie smiled back, a thousand times more excited.
"I, for one, am surprised that we couldn't find a donut shop in the middle of the Gobi Desert." Kevin chuckled.
"We've been gone for a really long time." Annie looked out the window at the passing city, but her eyes narrowed when she looked out the front. Something was walking onto the road, and the car was getting closer…
Kevin slammed on the brakes at his daughter's scream, and both parents looked on as a car zoomed through the intersection just in front of them.
"We almost hit that car!" Lisa's entire body was trembling as she turned around to look in the back seat at her daughter, wide eyed.
Fi's jaw was almost to the floor as Annie finished her story. From the sound of things…
"So you think the panther saved you?"
The blond girl shrugged. "I don't know. I've seen it at night in my room…it kinda freaks me out, but nobody believes me when I tell them."
"Oh, believe me, you'd have to be a lot weirder than that for me to not believe you."
Lisa popped in the room. "Annie, it's time for bed. We've got a big day tomorrow. Molly and I are taking everyone into town to go to the mall. Fi, your mom said lights out."
Annie sighed. "Okay, Fi, I'll see you in the morning."
Fi eyed the girl warily. "See you."
The next day, everyone was milling about the house, anxious for the chance to go into town. Fi was looking around on the internet, trying to find something that might tell her what was following Annie around; so far, she hadn't had any luck, and it was making her want to strangle the internet. She clicked onto a page when Annie came into the room.
"Hey, are you ready to go? Our moms are practically herding everyone out the door." Annie chuckled.
"Yeah, I'll be right there. I just have to find my jacket." Annie turned to leave, but Fi's eyes darted to the bedroom window, catching a glimpse of a ball of light zooming into the room, headed straight for…
"Annie, look out!" The orb hit the girl and flew off, and Annie whipped around to look at Fi.
"What is it?"
Fi stared at her. "You're…you."
Annie looked away and bit her lip. "Okay…I'll just go tell Molly that you'll be a couple minutes." With that, she left the room to see the Will o' the Wisp hovering in front of her.
"Ach, I hate people like her. She should come with a warning label." A Scottish lilt tinged the Wisp's speech.
"What do you mean?" Fi narrowed her eyes.
"Oh, there's no time for that. You've got to hurry. You're in grave danger!" There was a small whoosh as it zoomed into the screen of her laptop. "My word, this internet thing is amazing! I can go anywhere I want in seconds!"
"Stop being cryptic. How am I in danger?"
"You've angered those on the other side by intruding into their world. Your family will be in grave danger if you don't do something! D'you have that old book of magic, by any chance?"
"The book from my aunt's theater company? Yeah, why?"
"Go and get it."
She sighed before getting up and going to her closet, where she reached up and retrieved the spell tome.
"Open to the fiftieth page, second incantation, and read."
She opened to the page, but stopped when she got to the spell. "Wait, why do you want me to read this one? Why not…this one? Or this one?" She pointed to the other spells on the page, and Bricriu hissed. "Why don't you want me to read the other ones? Is this the one that sends you away forever?"
"You stupid girl! You don't know what you're messing with!"
"I know exactly what I'm messing with. Spirits fly, break down the wall. All is lost, for changed are all!"
Briciru shimmered on her screen. "No! Noooooo!" With a fading cry, it vanished and she closed the book, a smile on her face. Satisfied that she'd read the right spell, she got up and grabbed her jacket, slipping it on as Clu walked into the room.
"Hey, Fi, let's go! I want some mall nachos!"
"How many times is everyone going to come and get me?"
Clu's eyes went wide. "Hey, is that the book from that play?"
"Oh, no! You can't say the name of that play. It's bad luck." He looked down as the book started to glow.
"Clu! Drop the book!"
"I can't!" The glow became brighter and brighter as it engulfed him, and when it faded, he was gone. She ran downstairs and stopped in the kitchen, where Carey was eyeing his food options.
"Hey, Fi, you'd better go outside. Your mom's getting impatient."
"Okay, okay." Her heart stopped when Carey vanished, and she ran outside where she saw her mom and Lisa walking to the car. "Mom! Mom!" Her cries stopped when they both vanished as well. "What have I done?" She ran over to the side of the house and turned around when she heard a voice.
She turned around to see a black dog sitting there.
"Uh…Jack? Is that you?"
Of course it's me!
"Where's everyone else?"
Ned and Irene are in the garden. Oh, look, a squirrel! Get back here! Jack ran off, leaving her more puzzled than ever. She made her way back into the house and went upstairs to wake her laptop up.
"Come on…undo!" She clicked the command on the toolbar and a light faded back into existence.
"What's going on? What have you done to me?"
"I…I cast the wrong spell."
"You stupid girl! I warned you!"
"I know, I know! How do I fix it?"
"If I tell you how to fix it, will you do what I ask and read the right spell? Without question?"
"Yes, yes, I promise! Just help me!"
"All you need to do is read the incantation after the one you read."
"But the magic book disappeared with Clu!"
"Oh, well, then, I guess you're out of luck. Find me when you get it!" Bricriu vanished, leaving her to stew. She jumped when a cat landed on her windowsill, accompanied by a call.
"Annie? Is that you?" She got up and walked over to the window, scratching the animal behind the ear.
"I didn't know you had a cat!"
Fi turned around to see Annie standing in her doorway, and she breathed a sigh of relief. "You're…you!"
"Yeah, I don't think I changed overnight…is there something on my face?"
"No, I just thought…never mind."
"Have you seen our moms? I can't find them anywhere. There's a rabbit in your fridge, though."
"Yeah, it must've gotten in through the open door. Why don't you go look in the garage, and I'll look outside?"
"That sounds good." They both walked out of the room, and Fi stopped in the kitchen as soon as Annie was out of sight.
"Hey, Carey, have you seen Clu?"
Yeah, he's in the backyard with mom and dad. They were looking at the garden.
"Thanks." She left the kitchen and walked out back to see two very tall flowers.
Hello, Fiona. Nice day, isn't it?
"It sure is." She hurried by them and rounded the corner. "Hey, that tree's never been there before…Clu? Is that you?"
Oh, hey, Fi. I was just taking a nap in the sun.
"Listen, I need the book you were holding."
Annie came out the back door just in time to see Fi get showered by leaves. "Is it fall already?"
Fi turned around. "Oh, this tree loses its leaves really easily."
"Oh, okay." Annie looked down and frowned. "Is that writing on the leaves?"
Fi stooped down and picked up a leaf printed with a Gaelic word and her eyes went wide. "Annie! Help me gather all of the leaves with writing on them!"
Both of them picked up all the leaves they could and hurried up to Fi's room, where they laid them down on the floor; before long, the puzzle formed the spell Fi needed to read.
"Okay, let's try this. Trapped inside the mirror's crack, break the glass and bring them back." A wind kicked up in the room and both of them covered their heads; when it stopped, they looked around to see no trace that the leaves were there. They both felt a shaky feeling in their stomach.
"So, the wind just blew the leaves out the window?" Annie's face was a partial grimace.
"Yeah, just go with that."
Jack came to with a ball in his mouth.
Ned and Irene looked around as they stepped out of a patch of dirt, soil covering the lower part of their pants.
Carey found himself on his knees in front of the open vegetable crisper, and he pulled a carrot out of it and stood up, eating it.
Molly shook water off of her as Lisa eyed her, perplexed.
"I remember walking to get the car, and then wanting to go swimming?"
Molly took the car keys out of her mouth. "I found the car keys."
"Well, look at you, little duck, fixing spells all on your own." Bricriu flitted around the screen as Fi sat down with the book. Annie had gone downstairs to find her mom.
"Yeah, no thanks to you."
"Hey, now, I was the one who tried to get you to read the right spell in the first place."
"I'm talking about reading the right spell in the first place. Why did you come here?"
"I told you, because the spirits on the other side are displeased. You've been sniffing around, intruding into their world, and they want you stopped."
"Just like they stopped my father?"
"It wasn't his—"
"Never mind; I've said too much. Now are you gonna read the spell like you promised?"
Fi paused before closing the book. "No. Not until you tell me what it does."
"What it does is protect you and your family from coming to any more harm."
"Let's see. You," she held up fingers as she spoke, "possessed my brother, possessed my mother and almost got us all killed, and then you come back and ask me to do something to keep my family safe?"
"Aye, I've slighted you before, but I'm serious this time, Fiona."
"Yeah right. I can't trust you!"
"If you don't trust me, trust this: worse things than what happened in New York are coming for you."
"Worse things? You know, for someone who's trying to help me, you're being very vague. It's pretty hard to trust you...actually, it's pretty hard to trust you since I never really could in the first place."
"Read the spell, Fiona!"
"No! Now, once and for all, begone, Bricriu!"
"You'll pay for this, Fiona Phillips!" With that, the Wisp faded from view, leaving Fi to breathe a sigh of relief. She looked up just in time to see Annie come in the room.
"Who were you talking to?" The blonde girl's brow knit.
"Oh, just chatting with someone online. I was trying out some new voice chat software my friend Tad designed." She hadn't thought about the computer programmer in a while, but thinking about their encounter in the cheesy Hawaiian hotel made her wonder if she was ever going to figure out whether she could make alien contact again.
"Wow. That's pretty advanced. Oh, I wanted to tell you that our moms don't really feel like going to the mall anymore. They wanted to walk around the lake."
"I figured." Fi chuckled. "So, what was up with your mom last night?"
Annie walked over and sat on the bed, making Fi turn her chair around to face her. "What do you mean?"
"Well, when you mentioned Peru, it seemed like she didn't want you to talk about it."
Annie frowned. "You know, I don't really remember. I mean, I remember getting lost in the jungle, but then I woke up back at camp. I don't know how I got back; I think I was just sleepwalking."
"Wait, you don't remember what happened to you after you wandered away?"
"Nope. I've tried before, but it's like my mind just skips over it. Like a record."
Fi's brow knit and she turned around to focus on her laptop. Her fingers flew over the keys as she opened a search engine, and Annie got up to stand behind her, putting her hand on the back of the chair.
"What are you looking up?" She squinted as she read the screen. "Whoa, unlocking memories?"
Fi's eyes scanned the list of results popped up. "Yeah. Sometimes, people can't remember things because they block them out. It happens with bad memories, usually." She clicked on a link, and she drank in the contents of the article that popped up.
"What did that page say?" Annie peered at the words.
"It says that hypnosis can get past the blocks that people put up and let them remember things that they made themselves forget."
"Why would I make myself forget what happened in the jungle."
Fi opened another page. "There are stories about other things that can make people forget. Lotus flowers, water from a river in Greek mythology called Lethe, but most of those are just dismissed as fiction."
"Something made me forget?"
Fi turned around. "Could be. Would you try hypnosis?"
Annie drew back. "I dunno, Fi. What if something goes wrong?"
"The article I pulled up said that it's safe as long as I don't plant any suggestions in your head. You know, like making you bark every time someone says your name."
"I still don't know..."
"Come on. It wouldn't be the weirdest thing that's happened to you since you got here."
Annie bit her lip. "You know, hypnosis doesn't seem as weird as leaves with magic writing on them. What do I need to do?"
Fi spent the next few minutes instructing her, making her sit up on the bed. When Annie was ready, Fi began.
"Okay, I want you to close your eyes." Slowly, she coached the blond girl, relaxing different parts of her body until her shoulders drooped. "Now, as I count down from ten, I want you to get more and more relaxed. Keep relaxing until you feel yourself falling backward into a big feather bed. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one." Annie slowly fell backward onto the bed, chest moving in shallow crests. "Now Annie, I want you to go back. Back through the darkness to Peru. In the jungle. Try to remember what happened that night.
The blond girl sat up in her tent, looking around. She'd heard something out in the jungle, but mom and dad didn't seem to be waking up. Holding her breath, she unzipped her tent's flap and walked outside, turning her head and hoping to pick up on any noise. She heard a rustle somewhere in front of her, and she took a few tentative steps forward before picking up the pace. The rustling was gradually getting louder as she walked, and before she knew it, she reached a clearing by the river.
She stood perfectly still as she took in what she saw: a dark skinned boy with paint on his face, frozen like she was. A snake reared up held the young man transfixed, and Annie finally broke the silence.
Almost instantaneously, the snake's head swiveled to regard her for a brief moment before it struck. Its fangs sunk into the little girl's flesh and she inhaled before a chill overtook her, causing her to collapse.
After a few moments, an old man came out of the trees; one that looked like the boy that was kneeling by the fallen girl. He was decorated in feathers and bone necklaces, and he glanced at her before picking her up. They walked through the jungle, following the scent of smoke, until they arrived at a hut nestled in the foliage. The man set the girl down and picked up a stick with a skull hanging from a string at its end, and he waved it over here, chanting in a language only a handful of people on the planet knew. As his voice lilted, a black vapor rose from her body and dissipated in the air; a gasp escaped the girl's lungs.
The man's language formed more words. "Little one, you have saved my son. Now, I give you a gift." Just outside the hut, a panther materialized, eyes shining with a golden light. The girl's eyes fluttered open, looking into the man's.
Annie let out a small gasp as her eyes shot open, making Fi jerk back from her.
"What? What is it?" The brunette held all of her muscles tight.
The blond girl sat up, shaking. "I...I saw what happened in Peru. I found this boy...and there was a snake. It bit me, but someone brought me back to life." She shook her head, as if to slough off the vision she'd just had. "How is that possible? And what does that have to do with the panther? I saw it, but the man said something about...a gift? This is all way too confusing."
Fi put a hand on Annie's shoulder. "Don't worry. We'll get to the bottom of this."
"I think I need to go on a walk."
"Do you want me to come with you?"
"No, I think I'll be okay. I just need to think about what happened in the jungle."
"Let me know if you need anything, okay?"
Annie gave a half-smile as she nodded and walked out of the room, leaving Fi just as puzzled. Frowning, she went to her laptop and opened the search engine. When she typed in "panther," all she found were articles about the animal, and she paused to think. The panther had saved Annie's life once, and from what she could gather, it had something to do with a gift; she bit her lip before typing in another term: spirit animals. The engine loaded thousands of results, and she clicked on the first one.
Many different people have told legends of spirits that take the form of animals. In some Native American cultures, animal spirits are revered as deities of sorts, symbolizing a connection with nature, but there are others that believe animal spirits live side by side with humans as companions or guardians. Long ago...
"Guardians." The word slipped from her mouth in a whisper, but it was a key that unlocked a mental door. The panther had saved Annie's life. The man from the jungle had said something about a gift, but why would he give the panther as a gift? What had Annie done? The boy...and the snake...and how Bricriu couldn't possess her...
Suddenly, everything clicked into place.
Fi grabbed her jacket and ran downstairs, stopping when she saw Lisa and Molly in the kitchen. "Have you seen Annie?"
Lisa looked upward. "I think she said she wanted to walk around the lake."
"Thanks." With that, she ran out of the house and toward the lake. Her feet pounded the path and eventually, she found Annie walking up the road. "Annie! I figured it out!"
"Figured what out?"
"The panther! When you found the boy in the jungle, who was the snake looking at?"
"The boy. Why?"
"You saved that boy from being bitten by the snake. The man who healed you was a shaman; that's why he brought you back to life, but the gift he mentioned was the panther. It's a guardian spirit."
"He gave it to you for saving that boy, to protect you from harm. That's why it saved you from that car accident."
Annie had stopped walking, processing this new information and staring into space. When Fi was finished, she remained silent. "The boy was his son."
Now it was Fi's turn to be confused. "Huh?"
"I remember now. When he brought be back to life, he said something and I still don't know how I understood him. He said, 'Thank you for saving my son.'"
The next day, everyone convened in the living room as Lisa and Annie stood next to their bags.
"Molly, I can't say thank you enough for your hospitality. Annie seems a lot happier now." Lisa beamed at her friend.
"Well, I can't take all the credit. Annie spent more time with Fi than anyone." Molly chuckled.
"Whatever you did, thank you." Lisa stepped over to Fi and gave her a hug.
"Here, I'll help you with your bags." Jack grabbed the suitcases, taking them outside to Lisa's car. Fi and Annie lingered in the house.
"So, are you worried about being crazy anymore?" Fi laughed.
"Not really. There's some pretty weird stuff out there, but at least I have someone watching out for me. Thanks for helping me figure it out, though."
"Hey, weird stuff is what I do." Both laughing, they walked out to the car and Molly, Fi, and Jack waved as the Thelens pulled away. As they did, Fi caught sight of something behind a tree across the road, and she squinted to see the outline of a large black cat; its eyes glowed briefly before it vanished, leaving a smile on her face.