Ole Ryebread just has a thing for sequels based on others' fic's-especially those of one of my favorite fan-authors, CaptainKodak. I've already got one based on this particular story-but I just couldn't leave well enough alone.
Some details: I include excerpts from the two stories with the both the authors' permission. The quote by Buddha is from-are you ready-Punjab, Daddy Warbuck's Hindi butler in the movie Little Orphan Annie. Hachiman is the Shinto god of war and of the samurai. and is mentioned in Wikipedia
Ron Possible's two prayers at his grandmother Tara's graveside: "Hear o Israel..." This of course is the Jewish Shema, the prelude to the Ten Commandments. And the other: "Our Father Who are in Heaven..." This of course is the Christian Lord's Prayer, that Jesus Christ taught to His Disciples.
The characters are from the Disney's Kim Possible, created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley.
Yoriko as Sensei of Yamanuchi is found in Family Legacy by daccu65
Yoriko's last name-Kansumi-is by CaptainKodak, from his fic, Lotus Bloom, and is used with permission.
In A Box Of Cuddlebuddies by CaptainKodak, we saw Kim Possible entombed alive by Tara, who then married Ron.
In Family Legacy by daccu65, we saw Kim come forth a murderous Undead, swearing eternal vengeance on the children of her two former friends.
But what if she had a chance at redemption?
From A BOX OF CUDDLEBUDDIES by CaptainKodak:
Kim yelped then struggled against her bonds. She rolled back and forth then pulled herself up to pull the tape from her mouth. "Tara? What are you doing? Is this some type of sick joke?"
Tara simply turned and started to climb up the ladder. "No K, no sick joke. Just justice."
Kim shook her head. "Justice?"
Tara nodded. "You don't deserve Ron. He deserves someone who will love him and never leave him. You Kim. I know you. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but I know in the future, some hottie or smottie will come along and Ron, your hero will turn into plain old Ron again. And then Kim, you would break his heart and probably not even know or care that you are doing so. So, I am making sure you never hurt him." Tara continued to climb up the ladder. She pulled the ladder out of the hole and laid it to the side.
Kim began to scream. "Tara, I LOVE RON. I would NEVER do that. Please Tara, let me go!"
Tara picked up the crowbar and began to lever the concrete lid back onto the top of the hole. Kim screamed.
"Please Tara NO! For the love of GOD NO!"
Tara stopped for a moment then spoke as she finished levering the lid over the hole. Just as she pushed it shut she called down. "NO Kim, not for the love of God, but the love of Ron."
With a final shove Tara pushed the lid over the hole. A wailing scream came from the hole. "NOOOoooooo…."
Tara stood as the lid settled on top of the cistern. Picking up the ladder she put it back in its place under the porch. Then she put up the crowbar. She cleaned up the area and raked the dirt back around the cap. The men would fill the hole over the cistern cap with 3 inches of concrete on Monday morning. She doubted that they would hear anything. Tara smiled as she skipped into her home. She had a little more work to do.
from FAMILY LEGACY by daccu65
Well, coach," Lon mused. "I've noticed that dad's really close to the Possible Family, all four of them. I don't think that a week goes by without a visit from Jim, Tim, or their parents. Not only that but dad and Mr. Mankey dress up as a unicorn every Halloween and help out at the medical center's fund raiser."
"You realize, of course, that Jim and Tim Possible had an older sister?" Barkin prompted.
"Yes, coach. I think her name was Kim and she was the same age as my parents. She was a teenage hero and vanished after graduating from Middleton High. We celebrate Hero's Day in her honor."
"Almost correct," the coach smiled at the boy. "Son, your father won't mention this, but Hero's day isn't celebrated in Kim Possible's honor, it's celebrated in Team Possible's honor. Team Possible consisted of Kim Possible and your father."
"Dad was a teenage hero?" Lon gasped.
"Not for very long," Coach Barkin explained. "When Team Possible started going up against the big villains, your father followed Kim. He was more a sidekick than anything else but he refused to let her go alone. Your father kept getting more and more capable as time went by, becoming her invaluable assistant by the time they graduated. Hero's Day is celebrated on the anniversary that the two of them derailed Dr. Drakken's most violent attempt to take over the world; the night of their junior prom."
"Dad was involved with that?" Lon asked.
"Not only involved," Steve Barkin assured him. "He was instrumental. He stepped up in another way that night, as well. Kim Possible and your father had been inseparable friends since they had been four years old. On that night, Ron Stoppable became her boyfriend."
"You're saying that my father dated Kim Possible?" Lon gawked. "I can't believe it."
"Believe it, son," the coach smiled. "I've seen plenty of teen couples get together. Those two were clearly on their way to the altar. That's why your father doesn't talk much about her at home. He's not about to make his wife feel that he's comparing the two of them."
"So dad and the Possibles?" Lon asked.
"The Possible family was ready to welcome your father into their family. Jim and Tim looked at him as a big brother and James and Anne considered him a son." The big man chuckled. "There was an impressive betting pool for when he was going to propose. My bet was June 28th, between their sophomore and junior years of college."
"But she vanished after graduation." Lon's words were more a statement than a question.
"From appearances, it looks like she went swimming up at Lake Middleton one day that summer, drowned and vanished." Steve Barkin told his listener. "Personally, I don't believe it. She was too strong of a swimmer and the lake isn't that big. If she had drowned, the authorities wold have found her body when they dragged the lake. No, I think that one of her enemies caught up to her, but that's just my opinion."
"So how did mom and dad get together?" Lon asked.
"Your mother had been fond of your father since they were sophomores. She hid it well, but not well enough that a vice-principal, who had over ten years dealing with teenagers, couldn't spot it. Back then, your father really wasn't into the dating thing and almost everybody assumed that he and Possible were an item, so your mother didn't really make her feelings known. After Possible vanished, she was there for your father."
"She was there as a friend," Barkin added, upon seeing the boy's odd expression. "It wasn't like she moved on him the moment Possible was out of the picture. That friendship turned into something more, just like it had between Possible and your father. The fact that you're sitting here is a testament to how far that friendship evolved."
"Dad's consultant missions?" The boy prompted.
"Are missions similar to those he took on with Possible," Coach Barkin confirmed. "Most of them involve retrieving stolen items or rescuing people. Occasionally, they turn violent. Son, your father doesn't talk much about it but there aren't too many people who can stand up against him in a fight. This is another legacy of his time with Possible."
"Dad's a hero?" Lon Stoppable had a hard time coming to grips with the concept.
"He's been a hero for a long time, young man. Time has taught him to keep a low profile about it but never forget the lesson you've learned today. Looks can be deceiving."
Lon arrived home earlier than his siblings did that night. His sister was visiting a couple of friends, an activity that seemed to consist of sitting with their heads together, pointing, and giggling. His brother was at basketball practice. Since his father was still at work, this gave him a few minutes to talk, alone, with his mother. He was determined to obtain some confirmation to what Coach Barkin had told him, so after the usual pleasantries, with his mother asking how his day went and if he spoke to Lorrie, he asked her about Kim Possible.
"Mom," he said. "I was talking to Coach Barkin today. He said that you were friends with Kim Possible, back when you were in high school. Is this true?"
"Yes, we were friends," Tara Stoppable replied, looking up from the kitchen sink and out the window, into the back yard. "She was the captain of the cheerleading squad and Liz Mankey and I were on the squad; GO! MADDOGS…GO, GO MADDAWGS!" The middle aged woman ended her sentence with a cheer still heard around Middleton High.
"Coach B says that she knew dad pretty well, too." Lon smiled at his mother's antics.
The question wiped the smile off of Tara's face. "Yeah," she said. "Your father was the squad mascot until our senior year. I was probably closer to Kim than most of the girls on the squad, most of the girls in the school. Her running off to fight supervillains and rescue people meant that she didn't have time for many friends. One of her best friends was Monique Jenkins."
"Monique Jenkins…" Lon mused. "That name sounds famil…WAIT! Is she the famous fashion designer?"
"None other," Tara confirmed. "Why do you think Middleton High's cheerleaders always have the badical uniforms? Anyway, she and Kim were close, but Kim's closest friend was Ron Stoppable."
"Yes, the two of them had been friends since before kindergarten. When she opened her babysitting website, and a mistake started her heroine career, Ron was right there with her. He really didn't have any business going; he was a late bloomer and afraid of just about everything, but he forced himself to go along." She took a deep breath and favored her oldest son with a wistful smile. "I think that that's what initially attracted me to him; the fact that he would swallow his fears and go someplace that he really shouldn't, just for a friend."
"Coach Barkin says that the two of them…became something more," Lon offered, tentatively.
"Yes, they did," now Tara's smile had grown a little sadder. "On the night of our junior prom, what became known as Hero's Day. I think that the two of them were the happiest that they had ever been for the next fifteen months. I really feel sorry for the way it had to end, but I think that it turned out the best for your father."
"What do you mean?" Lon asked. "Kim wouldn't have been a good wife for him?"
"No, she wouldn't have." Tara insisted. "But I'm sure that they would have married." Tara composed her thoughts, looking out the window and into the back yard again, before turning around, leaning against the counter and catching her son's eyes with hers. "You see, Kim Possible never really appreciated your father as an individual. She valued the help he always gave her and later she cherished it. She loved how he made her better, how he was always supportive but I don't think she ever really loved Ron Stoppable for being Ron Stoppable."
"I don't want to speak ill of the dead," she continued, turning around, glancing into the back yard again and returning to her work. "But I don't think that your father would have been as happy with her as he is with me. I'm sorry that she died, but I'm happy with the way his life, and mine, turned out."
"Uh…Kim, my sister," Lon started, tentatively.
"Is named after Kim Possible," Tara confirmed. "I wasn't too happy about it, at first. Here's a little advice about girls, son, girlfriends and wives don't like being reminded about former girlfriends. Still, when I saw how happy her name made the Possibles, I changed my mind. I'll never forget Dr. Anne Possible thanking me, with tears in her eyes, telling me how much she appreciated us making sure that there would be a Kim Stoppable, even if she wasn't her daughter."
"So you think she's dead?" Lon asked. "Coach Barkin says that he thinks one of her enemies finally caught up to her but without a body, how can anybody be sure?"
"I'm certain, dear," Tara answered. "If Kim Possible wasn't resting peacefully, I'm sure she would have found away to let somebody know."
Lon spent most of the rest of the afternoon putting the finishing touches on the Halloween decorations. Lon didn't know if he had inherited the trait from his father, or had learned it during his childhood, but he and his father both loved to go all out on holidays. The trees in the front yard were festooned with fake cobwebs, a scarecrow stood guard on the front porch, and three jack-o-lanterns, one carved by each Stoppable child, were lined up along the sidewalk. Of course, the windows were full of the typical paper, cut-out decorations. Ron stoppable arrived home while his oldest son was admiring his handiwork.
"Looking good this year," Ron complimented the boy.
"Yeah, dad, thanks for helping with the cobwebs on the trees."
"No big. Is your mother home?"
"Yeah, I think she's got everything ready for you in the kitchen."
Lon smiled as his father walked into the house. While his mother might assemble the ingredients, his father usually did the cooking. When it came to food, the three Stoppable children were hopelessly spoiled.
After homework and the dinner dishes were finished, the Stoppables found their way to the driveway too shoot baskets. Ron had put the hoop and flood lights in, shortly after his youngest son showed an interest in the sport, in middle school. Kim Stoppable also played the sport and the two youngest Stoppables quickly showed their elders some true skill. During the game, Lon excused himself to empty the trash. The teenager hauled the garbage to the large bins, which they kept in the shed. Knowing that his mother would be distracted by the game in the driveway, the boy stopped by the cistern.
He placed his ear on the lid but couldn't hear nor feel anything. Still curious, he thumped the lid several times. He continued to listen for a short time, not hearing anything except his own heartbeat. The boy sighed, wondering if he should give up his plan to break the seal. Yet, just before his hand left the lid, he felt a flurry of scrapping on the other side. He dropped to a knee, next to the cover, and deliberately knocked three times on the concrete. The scratching stopped, then Lon felt three, distinct knocks.
The teen fell back, shocked. Mustering his courage, he crept back to the cistern and, almost against his will, lowered his ear to the cover.
"Lon!" His mother's shout nearly drew a scream out of him. As it was, he wound up on his backside, once again. "Are you alright out there?"
Tara found a dark corner to conceal herself and waited, while the intruder reached the top of the stairs and started to descend. Tara gasped when the intruder appeared. It wasn't the skeletal limbs or the horrid reek that tore the expression of shocked horror from Tara Stoppable; it was the handcuffs on the figure's ankles and wrists.
"Y-you can't be…" Tara gasped.
"How long!" The figure demanded, in a gurgling hiss. "How long have I been in there?"
Tara couldn't speak, couldn't move, as the figure closed on her.
"You KILLED me Tara," it shrieked, shambling across the living room. "I thought I had escaped, so I went home and what did I find? My room wasn't my room anymore and I saw THIS," here, the figure pointed to its face. "In the mirror. I didn't escape, did I? YOU KILLED ME, TARA! YOU TOOK MY LIFE SO I'M GOING TO TAKE YOURS!"
Tara Stoppable could only scream as a cold, muddy, skeletal hand clamped onto her throat.
Ron Stoppable and just reached his front door when he heard his wife's scream. Never, in close to thirty years of being first a sidekick, then a hero, had anybody threatened his family or his home. He charged through the door, summoning the Lotus Blade. He willed the blade into its Bo form as he ran through the den. His years of facing the bad guys meant that he didn't hesitate when confronted with the impossible sight before him.
"Get away from my wife!" He snarled, twirling his weapon in an up-strike against the hand holding his wife's throat. The weapon struck, with the sound of wood striking bone, forcing the assailant to release Tara. Ron kept the weapon moving, landing another up-strike, this time on his opponent's bony chin. The…whatever it was…staggered backwards, allowing Ron to interpose himself between it and his wife. Ron set himself and Tara started to cry, hysterically.
"Wife?" The figure demanded, in a hideous voice. "You married Tara? YOU MARRIED MY MURDERER? Ron, how could you betray me like that?"
Ron's training kicked in. Despite the fact that he was facing some sort of reeking, skeletal…thing, his mind started to analyze what his senses were picking up. The figure in front of him was mostly skeletal, with very little flesh. Yet, the rags clinging to the figure might have once been….capris and a crop top? The scalp had a few strands of hair. Most of the hair was covered with mud but a few hairs floated free. These were red. This…thing knew both him and Tara and considered his marriage to be a betrayal. The thing in front of him could only be….
"Kim?" He half gasped, half sobbed.
"Ron, how could you?" The thing's horrid voice sounded like it was sobbing, as well. "I loved you! We were supposed to be together forever! Tara killed me, Ron! Why did you marry her? Didn't I make you happy?"
"I…didn't…know…" Ron stammered, feeling like a sixteen-year old sidekick again. "Tara, what's happening?"
Tara Stoppable, however, wasn't answering. She was huddled against the wall with tears pouring from her eyes. Ron continued his stand off against…what had once been Kim. None of the three knew what to do next. Suddenly, a sixteen-year old boy, in a gorilla costume, burst into the room.
"Mom, Dad!" Lon shouted. "What's going on he…." The boy's eyes flew wide when he saw what he father was facing.
"Mom, Dad?" Kim snarled. "You had a child? While I was rotting in that pit, you married and had a child?" The…thing…glared at Lon for a heart-stopping minute. "That wasn't a boys room I was in," it hissed. "So you must have a daughter, as well. So this was the plan, Tara? You gave me a slow death and torment while you had a life and a family? NO MORE! It's time for justice! I'll take from you what you robbed from me! I'll take your life, I'll take your children!"
When the monster that had once been his girlfriend surged forward again, Ron was shocked out of his inaction. While he was still stunned by what was in front of him, while he still didn't really know what was happening, one thing was certain.
Nobody threatened Ron Stoppable's family!
As the skeletal hands reached for his oldest son, Ron struck them away.
"Don't do this, Ron!" Kim snarled at him. "She did this! I don't have anything against you! I'll take from her what she took from me and then I'll go. Don't stop my revenge!"
"I can't let this happen," Ron told her in a pained, serious voice. "I don't know what happened, I don't know why you're here, but Tara's my wife and Lon's my son. I won't let anything happen to them while I'm still alive to prevent it."
"That can be remedied, Ron," it hissed back. "If you throw in with…her…then so be it! I'll take her husband from her, as well!" With a wild shriek, the thing threw itself upon the middle-aged man. Ron willed the Lotus Blade into sword form and met her charge head on.
For the next several minutes, pandemonium raged in the Stoppables' living room as the two combatants tore at each other. The outcome was never really in doubt. While the…thing…that Kim had become was savage and strong, it was no longer the skilled, world saving heroine. Ron Stoppable was no longer the bumbling sidekick, but a master of Tai Shen Pek Kwar, the wielder of the MMP and a man whose family was under threat. The MMP, a force that existed to fight evil, reacted to the monster facing him. Ron took his hits; he was bloodied and battered, but soon the creature that had once been Kim Possible lay dismembered in the Stoppables' living room.
"Tara," Ron tried to keep his voice gentle, despite his pain and exhaustion. "What happened here? What happened to Kim?"
"Uh, dad?" Lon interrupted, pointing at Kim's remains. Ron turned to find the broken bones and tattered flesh slithering across the floor, slowly recombining to form the monster, once again.
"You can't win, Ron," the skull hissed at him. "I'm already dead. You can't kill me. I'll finish you, then your family will be next!"
"What can I do," Ron stammered.
"Put her back in the cistern!" Tara moaned. "It held her this long…wait! She escaped! That won't work!"
"It's my fault!" Lon wailed. "I opened the cistern! I thought I heard something inside, so I opened it up to let it out. I'm the reason she escaped."
"Quiet!" Ron roared, snapping back into mission mode. "Lon, go open the cover. Tara, go get a tarp, a canvas bag, anything."
The next several minutes seemed to drag on forever. The three Stoppables gathered Kim's remains, which struggled feebly, and returned them to the cistern. Shortly before the two younger Stoppables were supposed to return home, Ron and Lon finished re-mortaring the seal. Ron placed a broom, a rag and a mop in his oldest son's hands and pointed the boy at the living room. With his son out of the way, Ron Stoppable led his wife to the den, sat her down, and looked her in the eye.
"Tara," he said, his voice and expression devoid of the love and warmth they usually conveyed. "Start explaining."
"So that's why I have to live here?" Ron Possible Jr. asked his grandmother. "There's some sort of undead creature somewhere under the back yard?"
"Yes, Ronnie," the old, blonde woman told him. She flinched, reliving, with her grandson, the moment she had lived with her husband and oldest son those many years ago; the moment that, in their eyes, she turned from a loved, cherished family member to a cold-blooded killer. "After that night, your grandfather rented some earthmoving equipment and built up a raised mound in the back yard, then built a gazebo on top of it. The gazebo conceals a shaft that leads down to the old cistern. You may wonder why the gazebo is made of steel, not wood. It's sturdy enough to act as a brace, in case you ever need to open the cistern."
"But, what happened after grandpa built the gazebo?" Ron asked. "What happened between the two of you?"
"In a way, Kim got her revenge," Tara replied, looking at the floor. "I lost my husband and my oldest son that night. Ron got the full confession out of me and promptly moved out of our room. He made me tell him how I had tricked Kim; incapacitated her with her own knockout gas and sealed her in the cistern. He didn't report me to the authorities, since he didn't want to deprive our children of a…somewhat normal…family life but he never forgave me. He only touched me three times after that night. Those three times were when we danced at each of our children's weddings. Your uncle Lon became very cold towards me. He left for college the year after that and never came back. Oh, he would visit for a day or two but he always had some sort of internship, lecture or study session. We never told your Uncle Roy or your mother."
"Grandma," Ron Possible called upon his Yamanouchi training and forced himself to confront his own grandmother. "Why did you do it? Why did you kill her?"
"I've tried to come to grips with that, for years," Tara Stoppable visibly deflated. "I'm not making any excuses, I just ask that you take a moment to look at the situation from my point of view. There was an incident, early in high school, where your grandfather saved the cheer squad from a mutant. After that, I started to pay attention to him. I saw what he went through as Kim's sidekick and I saw how little Kim seemed to appreciate his sacrifices. I could also tell that he was in love with her, even though he didn't realize it himself."
"I cheered, along with most of the rest of the school, when they got together," Tara continued, now able to meet her grandson's eyes. "But over time, I remembered how quickly a hottie would turn her away from him. Your grandfather was a good man but he wasn't golden. Sooner or later, she was going to abandon him and leave him alone and broken hearted. I owed him for saving me, so I couldn't let that happen. To be honest, I didn't care if I wound up with him. There were other girls; your Sensei Yori was interested in him, as well as a girl named Zita. Neither one would have crushed him the way that Kim would have."
"I was wrong, Ron," she admitted. "I shouldn't have done what I did but by the time I realized it, weeks had passed."
"My great grandparents Possible?" Ron asked. "Did you ever tell them?"
"No," Tara shook her head. "That's one of the reasons your grandfather didn't divorce me, he didn't want to make them suspicious and he didn't want them to find out the truth. He wanted them to be able to hold onto the hope that their daughter had died a quick, painless death." She sighed. "Ronnie, your great grandparents had as happy a life, after losing their daughter, that they could. Their son, Tim, named his oldest son after Ron and, with all the time we spent with the Possibles, I should have realized that he would fall for my daughter. Anne Possible was delighted when your parents married. She had expected a Kim and Ron wedding but hadn't expected it to be Kim Stoppable marrying Ron Possible."
Tara grew serious again, "after that night, your father went to Japan. I think that he returned to the school that he had visited in high school. I don't know what happens there but I know that your Uncle Roy spent every summer, during his high school years, at the school. Your grandfather told me that every generation, Yamanouchi would prepare someone to face Kim, if she should ever get out. Your Uncle Roy was the…guardian…for his generation and you are for yours."
"I don't know all of the details," She admitted. "But you'll find that the University of Middleton will accept your credits from the Japanese school. You'll be able to finish your education here, in Middleton. You'll be able to find a good job here, as well." The elderly woman's gaze dropped back to the floor. "This is now your prison, Ronnie. This very home where I was so happy growing up, where I was so happy raising my children, is now your prison. You have to stay here, in case she ever escapes."
"Grandma, is she still…down there?" Ron asked.
"Yes," Tara choked back a sob. "There's something about this house you need to know. Back when the cistern was built, before there was running water, someone decided they didn't want to go outside and pump water. They built a channel from the cistern, to a small tank just below the basement's floor level. There used to be a pump in a small room, in the corner of the basement. The pump is long gone; there's just an empty pipe running down to the tank. Your grandfather knew about it and started to go down to that room. He was able to talk to…her."
"I eavesdropped on several of their conversations," Tara admitted. "Your grandfather begged her to tell him what he needed to do, so that she could find her peace. He offered to jump into the cistern and join her for eternity, if she would leave the rest of us alone. He offered to drag me in there, as well, if she would just leave our children alone. She wouldn't have anything to do with his offers. She howled and screamed that she wouldn't rest until she took everything from me that I had taken from her."
"After your grandfather died, I locked up the pump room," Tara continued. "But when Yamanouchi accepted you, I had to see if she was still…active. I went to the pump room and called her name into the pipe. She answered. Since then, I've gone down there once a year to make sure that she's still…there." Tara wiped her eyes. "She hasn't forgotten and she hasn't forgiven."
The two sat for several minutes, lost in thought. Finally, Tara composed herself.
"Very well, let's finish this," She said, in a businesslike manner. "Along with my will, you will find the keys to a safe deposit box in the envelope. The safe deposit box contains, among other things, my full confession. If the public ever becomes aware of Kim's condition, this confession will explain that happened. I've updated it every year, as events warrant. Now," here, the matriarch shuddered. "I think it's time for me to have my yearly conversation with her. I want you to listen in, so that you know how serious this is."
With that, Tara led her grandson to the basement.
Fifteen minutes later, the two returned to the living room. Ron was visibly shaken. He had never heard such anger. He couldn't believe that a mere voice could convey such hatred and evil as he had just experienced. He slumped, momentarily, then squared his shoulders. This was his duty; to guard the rest of the world from what Kim Possible had become.
"I'm so sorry, Ronnie," Tara apologized, yet again. "But it has to be this way. I know that your grandfather had some special…power, or influence and that the Japanese School has something to do with it. You and your Uncle Roy are the only ones who can stand against her, should she escape. He's spent his life in Middleton, ready to face her if he needs to do so. Now, it's you turn. I really wish that I could make it easier but I can't. This is your family legacy."
A HEROINE'S LEGACY
Ron Possible, Jr. attended his grandmother Tara Stoppable as she lay dying. "Grandma, I just can't leave her there. Her blood runs in my veins as much as yours and Grandpa's blood. That's two family traditions of heroism. I can't believe that someone who was as committed to missions and serving people as Kim Possible is utterly beyond redemption. I know you think I'm being entirely impractical, but I've got to try."
A week later, he stood by her casket after the brief service at the cemetery.
Several hours went by. The cemetery groundskeeper respectfully approached. "Mr. Possible, it's customary us to wait for the family to leave before we inter the casket. But if we wait, I'll have to pay a considerable amount of overtime pay to my crew and the backhoe operator."
"You won't mind if I stay, will you? It's symbolic."
"Most people find it too sad to see their loved one actually covered with earth," said the groundskeeper.
"It's been going on since the first people," said Ron. "There's lots of sadness in the world."
The groundskeeper shrugged. Obviously, the young man would not be deterred. He directed his crew to commence with the completion of the burial.
Ron bowed his head. "Hear, oh Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Our Father, Who are in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name." And so he affirmed the two faith traditions of which he was a part. He would need all the spiritual strength he could muster if he was to follow through with what he hoped to accomplish. Your jealousy took an innocent girl and changed her into a hideous demonic creature, Grandma. This is my family legacy, as you said. But it's also my legacy to try and undo it. As I'm burying you, I've got to dig up your friend...my aunt...Kim Possible.
He discussed his plan much with the Sensei of Yamanouchi, Yoriko Kansumi-sama.
"The Compassionate Buddha once said that a child without courage is like a night without stars. Your courage is like a thousand constellations, Possible-san. May your God, the Lord Adonai, and His Son, the Lord Christ, strengthen you. And may Hachiman, the Protector Nihon, and of Yamanouchi, be a shield to all whom you love."
A week later, Ron went downstairs to the pump room. He closed the door behind him. He switched on the bare bulb overhead. He felt queasy-sick with dread. He uncapped the pipe.
A scratching sound was heard.
He knocked three times.
There were three knocks in response, and a harsh grating sound.
He tried to speak but his throat was as dry as sand
And a voice spoke. A voice-it made him weak at the knees. It made him want to run in horror-if he weren't so paralyzed by its sound.
"I'm putting my eye to the pipe. I see you. You're not Tara-or Ron."
He tried to think of the most gruesome words imaginable. Nightmarish. Ghastly. Horrible. Hideous. Horrific. Monstrous. Ghoulish. There was no word sufficient to describe its sound. It was Evil Incarnate.
She...It...could see him. He wanted to vomit or faint.
"You're safe from me," the voice said. "I can't get to you. I'm able to disassemble and reassemble myself. It's an ability inherent to my condition-being undead. I've tried to get through this pipe. My fingers could fit, but not any of my larger bones."
"You look like a Stoppable...and a King...and a Possible."
"I'm...Ron Possible. I'm-m...y-your great nephew."
"Let me guess. You're Ron Possible, Jr. Your parents are Ron Possible, Sr., Karen and Tim's son and Kim Stoppable, Tara and Ron's daughter"
"Y-you know the family tree."
"I don't have much else to think about while in my grave here. This is the day of your grandmother's yearly visit. Let me guess. She's dead."
Ron nodded. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth.
"I can see you nodding. Cat got your tongue, Ronald?"
He tried clearing his throat, and it caught. The Thing was calling him by name. He wanted to run screaming from the room. He had hardly slept a night since he heard the Voice years ago. No wonder Grandma was how she was. To have this Being existing under one's home.
"Are you religious, Ron?"
"M-my grandfather Ron went to temple pretty regular all his life. Grandma Tara went to church a lot...after..."
"After I got out...and tried to kill her during my few precious hours of freedom."
"And my parents..."
"I asked about you, Ron."
"Yes, I attend church."
"Do you believe in Hell, Ron?"
"I don't know. I think I do." The surreality. This living monster who was once a breathtakingly beautiful girl...who was once a rescuer, a defender...a heroine.
"You won't blame me if I think your grandmother should be in Hell, do you? For what she did to me?"
"I don't know."
There was a long moment of silence. And it made him all the more unprepared for what happened next.
Her voice erupted in a howl of hatred at a deafening volume. "Is that all you can say? 'I-don't-know-I-don'-know!' Ignorant grandson of that ignorant little bitch!"
Ron thought he could see the baleful glare of a hideous green eye at the end of the pipe. In his terror, he stumbled backwards and fell. He huddled on the floor for a moment, trying not to weep.
"Pathetic little brat! Did I frighten you! Imagine what it's like for me! Entombed alive! In the dark! I screamed my lungs out! I went insane! And I never died!"
Ron felt the horror wash over him. He had heard his grandmother's story. Kim's screams for mercy as Tara closed the cement lid to the cistern. But now he could feel what it was for Kim.
"I haven't slept for sixty years! Or eaten! Or drunk! Sixty years of exhaustion! Hunger! Thirst! I can't rest! I haven't seen the sun since Tara put me here! There's no release! No end! I'll be like this forever!"
He could only grovel on the floor and pant in terror. "I...know..."
"You know? How could you possibly know? I was out of my prison for all of one hour forty years ago. I see the glimmer of a light bulb for fifteen minutes once a year! Never to hear a loving voice-feel a loving touch-see a tender gaze! You think I'm horrible! What do you think it's like me to have seen my own rotting face after twenty years? The look in the eyes of the man I love? He loathed me! Can you imagine?
Ron summoned all his courage. "Yes...I can imagine...Aunt Kim!"
The silence was so complete, he began to wonder if he was suddenly deaf.
Slowly Ron stood up. He dared to look down the pipe. There was no mistaking. He saw the reflection of her eye. He shuddered. He swallowed. He tried not to let his voice break. "I called you...Aunt Kim."
The eye blinked. A gurgling sob issued from the pipe. It was still a horrid sound. But he heard the sound of...sorrow. "Ron-I haven't a tender word from another human besides your grandfather in over half a century."
"Aunt Kim...I love you."
The pipe rang as though struck violently. "You love me? Liar! God damn you!"
The blast of foul air from the pipe smelled like decaying flesh. Ron swore he could see the glimmer of ghastly teeth down its dark length.
"Before I dig my way out of this prison with my bare bony fingers...even if it takes a thousand years...even if your hellspawn family reinforces it with steel, or whatever synthetic material is invented-tell me convincingly how you could possibly say you love me."
"I love what you were-you could save the world in your spare time. I love you because I think it's still alive in you-the girl who loved the children she babysat-the girl who loved her Panda-roo. The girl who loved to shop at Club Banana. The girl who loved her friends. Felix Renton. Monique Watson. Wade Load. Rufus. The girl who loved her family-her brothers the Tweebs. Whose father loved his Kimmie-cub. The girl who was my great-aunt...as Miriam Possible was her great-aunt. The girl who lost Ron Stoppable-as Miriam lost Jon Stoppable. The girl who was Ron Stoppable's beloved-the girl who could do anything...his K.P. No one believed that Mim wasn't guilty of the theft of Dr. Demense's invention...except my great-great-great grandfather Jon Stoppable. And no one who knows what you've become believes you can ever be the heroine again-except me. Like your father...my maternal great-grandfather...I think anything is possible for a Possible."
Kim's voice came through the pipe in a ghoulish whisper barely audible. "You family-fuking damned grandson-of-a-whore. Trying to manipulate me. That's a fine speech you devised. If I had the chance, I would chew your arms and legs off-one bite at a time-so you wouldn't lose consciousness. And then I would pull your head off. I would puree your brains and drink them. Your grandfather had a knack for cooking. I'd love to show you what I remember of what he taught me."
Find your backbone, he told himself. Remember how courage is like a night full of stars. "I'm going to prove my sincerity, Aunt Kim-I'll tell you how much I love you."
Her voice was like a serpent's hiss. "I'm waiting...dear nephew."
"I'll be back tomorrow. Not next year. Tomorrow."
"And what makes you think I look forward to that anymore than I looked forward to your grandmother's annual visits?"
"Because I have an offer."
"What kind of offer?"
Ron steeled himself. "It'll have to wait, Aunt Kim."
"And what if I promise to cannibalize every one of your descendants when...not if...the next time of them is stupid enough to release me?
"You've already promised that, Aunt Kim. Every time Grandma made her annual visit."
He heard a low blood-curdling growl. "You think you can visualize what horrible things I'm capable of. You have no idea, dear nephew. I've had sixty years of unending darkness to think-and plan."
"Then think about this. What would you give to sleep? To eat? To drink? What would you give to see the sun again?"
He heard another gurgle and sob. He heard-could it be? Yes. He was not mistaken. He heard weeping.
"Aunt Kim? Would you mind the light left on?"
"N-no, Ron. I wouldn't mind."
"Then I'll leave it on. I be back tomorrow. Good night, Aunt Kim." So far, so good. Thank You, Lord.
to be continued