After a very astute comment from Vigatus, I have decided to . . . SWITCH CHAPTER AROUND. No one can stop me! Ha ha ha! And hopefully things will be easier to follow now.

This story takes place a few months after Curtain Call. It is not a sequel. Instead it will deal, mainly, with the Thing.

However, I promise to tell you exactly what happened to Doctor Doom at the end of Curtain Call…

just not yet.

Time: approximately 2:13 am. Tape dates from approximately twenty-three years ago.

"Unca Ben?"

Voice recognition software activated. Voice match: Franklin Benjamin Richards.

"Unca Ben?"

"Mmmghhrr. What?"

Voice match: Benjamin Jacob Grimm.

"Unca Ben, I had a bad dream."

"'Kay."

"Unca Ben! Wake up!"

"Kid?"

"It's me, Franklin."

"What time is . . . two in the morning?"

"I had a bad dream."

"Look, Frankie, if you want your mom, you're in the wrong room. Just Uncle Ben and Aunt Alicia in here. You want me to get you somethin'? Glass of milk, maybe?"

"I had a bad dream."

"What . . . you want to tell me about it? Okay—here—I'll get up. What happened in the dream?"

"Um, um, there were puppets, and we hadda fight one of your kids."

"Which one? Alyce or Jacob?"

"No—a new one. One you lost."

"A new one?"

"A little one."

"And then what happened?"

"I touldn't tell."

"Okay, is that it? You ready to go back to bed now, Frank?"

"Uh-huh."

"That's it? That was the dream?"

"Uh-huh."

"How'd I lose a kid?"

"I dunno. You fordot about them?"

"How in blue blazes do I forget about—"

"Mmph. Ben?"

Voice match: Alicia Masters Grimm.

"Uh, go back to sleep, hon."

"Okay . . . are you all right?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Just taking Franklin back to bed."

Break transcript.

"Reed?"

"What's wrong?"

"Um . . . that test you ran? The one that said Franklin was gettin' superpowers?"

"Yes, what about it?"

"Uh . . . nothin'. Forget it."

File:

Richards, Franklin:

Age twenty-seven. Telepathic. Precognitive.

File:

Grimm, Alyce:

Age twenty-five. Plasma generation.

File:

Grimm, Jacob:

Age twenty-five. Super-strength.

File:

Grimm, Daniel:

Age nineteen. Plasma generation.

File:

Grimm, Jeremiah:

Age nineteen. Super-strength.

File:

Grimm, Yancy:

Age thirteen. Super-strength.

Notes: youngest child of Ben Grimm.

File:

Masters, Philip. A.k.a. "Puppet Master."

Age seventy-two. Limited mind control.

Notes: powers derived from use of puppets.

Time: 5:31 a.m., today.

"Ben?"

"Whuh? Oh—somethin' wrong, Alicia?"

"What are you doing?"

"Uh, just goin' through some of Reed's old files."

"I thought I heard voices."

"Um, just a tape."

"Which tape?"

"Uh, something of Franklin. Building surveillance tapes, that's all. Just . . . a dream he had when he was little, that's all."

"Was it important?"

"Dunno yet."

"I was going to ask you—could you run an errand for me today?"

"Sure. What errand?"

"I need to get my new statue to the gallery."

"Sure. I can take Yancy. Bonding time."

"Thanks, sweetie."

"Anytime."

I hope everyone was able to follow that, because that was fairly important.