Disclaimer: The Kids Next Door does not belong to me. I do not own any stake in the Kids Next Door franchise. I do not own any of the characters that appear in the Kids Next Door television show. I do not make any money off this story. Any other non-canon characters, however, are mine.
Additional Disclaimer: If, for any reason, I should mention anything else that does not belong to me (for instance: songs, television shows, internet webpages, other franchise/brand names, etc.) I shall have you know that I hereby disclaim any ownership of said things. I do not make any money off of those things. I also do not condone anything criminal or unlawful.
Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, I can welcome you to the Broken Light Bulb, named so because Bright Idea is a huge troll sometimes. This is a collection of unfinished and underdeveloped one-shots that may or may not get their own stories for a plethora of reasons. If you're interested in seeing a specific one-shot become its own multi-chapter story, then please tell me. I might be persuaded to write more of it. If you are interested in using some of these ideas in your own stories, then please let me know about it and give credit where it's due.
= = = The Trigger = = =
There was a scar on her left hand. Rachel gingerly traced it with the tips of two fingers. It was around an inch long and discolored and it ran down her palm towards her fingers. It was slightly raised. Rachel turned her hand over to see its matching partner. It was smaller and thinner, but it was the same exact length as the one on her palm. Both of the scars lined up and Rachel grimaced. There was no doubt; her hand had been run through.
But when? Rachel wiggled her fingers and was reassured at how well her hand moved, but it did nothing to quell the disquieting fear churning in her stomach. She was sure she would remember something as traumatic as having her hand run through, but every time she racked her brain for the event she came up blank. There were other scars; small ones across her elbows and knees. There was also a fading, light-colored one running up her shin. None of them could be explained. And there was no reason why they should be there in the first place. Rachel was a quiet girl. She read books and kept to herself. She made the rare witty comment when it was needed, but otherwise…
Rachel rubbed the matching scars. It was remarkable, really, how articulate her left hand was despite the obvious past injury. Hands were complicated things full of tiny parts all working together seamlessly. It probably would have taken months of physical therapy to get her hand healed up again. Rachel thought that if she didn't remember getting the injury, then she should at least remember the therapy, but there was nothing. Rachel could almost imagine it: the bandages on her hand, the exercises she would have done, all the back and forth driving between the home and the hospital, but imagination was a poor replacement for memory.
"Darn it," Rachel sighed and dropped her hands in her lap. "What happened to me?"
= = = Something really bad, obviously. Come on now, Rachel. = = =
Rachel dreamed. She dreamed of impossible vehicles, all of which looked to have been made in junkyards, that flew across the sky and swam in the sea. She dreamed about guns made of mustard bottles and planks of wood and other spare parts. She dreamed of sneaking through corridors and through ventilation shafts, about cramming herself into tiny spaces and dodging the gazes of other people. She dreamed of performing remarkable feats of kung fu. She dreamed of betrayal. Every time Rachel woke up, it was with a strange sense of satisfaction and triumph mixed in with something else. She couldn't quite put her finger on it. But those dreams were so silly and the weapons and vehicles were so mechanically unsound. There was no way Rachel would ever be able to pull off a high jump kick, or do any parkour stunts. It was easy for Rachel to dismiss those dreams. To cram them into some dark corner of her brain and forget them.
She had better things to do, like homework and community service. There was a boy in her class who sat three rows to her right, with a dazzling smile and an air of ease that set the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. She was trying to come up with a way to talk to him and so far the best thing she could come up with was to ask to borrow a pen.
But first, before she could ask for a pen and before she could make her way down to the library, she had to clean out her closet.
= = = Oh, how the mighty have fallen. = = =
There was a box in her closet. Rachel tugged it out into the open and then took up a pair of scissors to cut the tape. She opened it up and stopped. Rachel couldn't possibly explain the contents of the box. There were books, with dog-eared and yellowing pages, about Japanese ninja and martial arts. Rachel took the other, equally worn-out books out one by one: The Anarchist Cookbook, The Zombie Survival Guide, and The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. There were books about defensive fighting, about dirty fighting, different styles of martial arts and books on human anatomy and the chemistry of explosives and about computer hacking and other such things. Rachel paled. She picked up one of the books with a trembling hand and opened it up. There were numerous little post-it flags stuck to the pages, each with an observation or other kind of comment written in pen. Other notes were written right into the book; in the margins. There was a heavy amount of highlighting.
On the page "How to jump from a bridge or a cliff into a river," there was the handwritten note, "kick off boots." On the page "How to jump from a moving car" there was the note, "do not do with suicide doors." What in the world were suicide doors? Rachel dropped the book and picked up another. It was treated the same way; commented on and highlighted thoroughly. Rachel put the second book down and leaned back. She stared at the books. She had never read any of them before. She had never even heard of any of those titles until now, but every single scrap of handwriting in them belonged to her.
"Impossible," Rachel muttered as she turned back to the box. She pulled out several bootleg dvd cases that were bound together by a couple rubber bands. The first dvd in the set was labeled "C.S.I: Crime Scene Investigation Season 1." There was also "Taken: Director's Cut," the James Bond books and books by someone named "Arthur Conan Doyle." There were also other cds whose labels said that they were some old Japanese films and other things. There was a collection of kung fu and martial arts tapes. There was even a sharp, fang looking kind of thing kept in a small, square, wooden box and a duffel bag filled with sparring gear. Rachel blinked at her handwriting, which graced all the labels.
"Am I keeping these for someone else," she asked herself. She pulled out several composition notebooks and flipped one of them open. Operation Log was written in bold marker across the top of the page, followed by an example entry written in smaller print. Rachel flipped through it, slack jawed. All of it was written in her handwriting. There were several fold out maps stapled to some of the pages and each map also had notes and colored arrows drawn on them. Some of the pages had pictures stapled into them and beside each one was a name and a brief physical description explaining it. Rachel closed the notebook and pushed it away.
Too much, it was all too much. Rachel had never thought of playing spy, or of committing arson. She was a good girl! She kept her head down, did her homework, and spoke when was spoken to. And yet here was a lot of evidence that testified quite the opposite. According to the contents of this accursed box, she blew things up, she knew how to break bones, how to ambush someone. And yet Rachel could not, for the life of her, remember how any of this came into her possession. She didn't remember reading any of the books, or watching any of the bootlegged dvds. She didn't remember writing up anything in these notebooks and she certainly didn't remember acquiring the lock-picking tool kit or any other questionable items left in the box. She didn't even know the box was there!
Rachel gasped and her hands went to her mouth. What if…what if these things were hers? And she just didn't remember because…because…
"Oh my gosh," she whispered. "If I have multiple personality disorder then…then…" She looked over the incriminating things again. "Oh my gosh, I'm a crazy person."
She started shoveling the things back into the box.
"It was sealed up before, so maybe I wasn't using them! I can just put it away and just…forget about it…like a bad dream. Hopefully the other me doesn't wake up and decides to shoot up the town-" She stopped when something slipped out of one of the notebooks and clattered onto the desk. Rachel slowly set the box down and looked at it. It was another dvd in a slim case. On the case was "To Rachel" written in her own tidy hand. The dvd itself was unmarked.
Rachel bit her lip and reached out to the dedicated disc, then pulled back as if it burned.
"No! Holy sh…holy…this cannot be happening. This cannot be happening," she repeated it over and over again under her breath. "Wake up, wake up, wake up…" When she did not wake up from a dream as she expected, she swore again and snatched up the dvd. "Okay fine! You win! But Tyler Durden better not jump out at me or else I'm socking someone in the face." She put the dvd in the cd tray of her computer with trembling fingers and sat back, as far away from the screen as she could sit, and watched as a new window popped up on the screen.
Rachel immediately regretted putting the dvd in the computer, but there was no stopping it now and there was no way she was getting any closer to the computer while it was reading the infernal disc anyway. Rachel winced as a flurry of dazzling colors whipped across the screen. Then her jaw dropped as a chorus of annoying voices belted out a lively, but pitchy tune.
Rainbow monkeys, rainbow monkeys/oh-so-very round and super chunky/bringing love wherever they go/everyone's made of a big rainbow!
Rachel looked over her shoulder, at her open bedroom door, and hoped that Harvey wasn't anywhere within earshot of this shrill mess. She stepped over to her door and closed it.
Oh, red and orange/and pink and blue/rainbow monkeys, rainbow monkeys/we love you!
Rachel winced at the last note, then sobered up as the opening sequence of the Rainbow Monkey's cartoon show was rudely cut off and replaced by the image of a silent, cave-like room. There was a single lamp atop a wooden table and that was the only source of light. It wasn't bright enough to illuminate any of the walls. Rachel frowned as girl came into the frame. It was herself, wearing an orange, tiger-striped sweatshirt. Her other self looked a couple years younger but had tired shadows under her red eyes. The other Rachel sat in a chair behind the table and looked at the camera.
"Hello, Rachel," she said. Her voice was a tad bit higher-pitched than it was now, but more comanding. "It's me; the you from the past. If you are watching this then that means you were memory-wiped. Someone has been messing with my…your…our head," she gave a weak smile. "I'm making this to fix that. This is a trigger. I am going to tell you a story now, to prove that this isn't a hoax and I hope that your memory will come back, just like that." She snapped her fingers. "If it doesn't work, then you should read these," she held up a couple of the composition notebooks Rachel had found in the box. "These should tell you everything." The other Rachel paused and stared out into space for a moment, as if thinking, and her brows came together. Then she raised her left hand to the camera. Lo and behold, there was the exact same scar that Rachel had on her own hand. Rachel curled her hands into fists.
"It was a knife," the other Rachel said. "I…we…you were on a roof and it was sunny. But you wore brown, so you could blend in with the roof. You were a sniper and your codename was Numbuh 362. The Kids Next Door put you on sniper duty to watch out for enemy snipers. There was a boy with you, his codename was Numbuh 274. He should have been looking out for you while you were watching out for the other snipers, but he didn't. He…" The other Rachel went on, but Rachel had tuned her out. Her eyes glazed over as she absently rubbed her palm.
She already knew the rest of the story. Rachel was thrown back, up onto that roof, in her mind's eye. It was hot, it was sweltering, and Number 274, Chad, wasn't paying attention because he was looking through their bags for a cold soda. A teen ninja crept up behind them with a knife.
"The soda's in there," Rachel had said. "In the first pocket." And she turned around to point at it so Chad wouldn't keep on unpacking everything and messing up all her good work. That's when she saw the teen ninja. He leaped forward and Rachel put up her hands to shield herself. And then there was pain and screaming and Rachel found herself on her side on that burning hot roof, staring stupidly at how the short knife had gone through and through, up to the heel, and how the tip of the knife sprouted from the back of her hand like some demonic flower from the ground. Everything was covered in blood. And then she was in a KND medical ward, with a very upset Chad and Rachel couldn't move her hand for pain and there was a medic who promised surgeries and stitches and the physical therapy Rachel always guessed she had.
There was more. The memories streamed on and on into her head, until she thought that it would burst and they still kept on coming. Names and places and people and things dropped into her head, fresh as the day she learned of them. Skills came unbidden into her mind and the limbs of her body became tools and weapons. The things from her dreams became real. All the things in the box became familiar. She had poured over all those books, took notes from the movies and television shows, learned everything she could to help her do her job and learned everything else just in case.
Rachel swept a new eye over her room. Useless knickknacks and toy-like things became dear and essential. Other useful things were jammed in other hiding places around her room, around her house. The mysterious key that she kept on her key ring held new meaning. She remembered putting all the notebooks together. She remembered the KND. She remembered being decommissioned. She remembered everything.
She remembered having unfinished business.
The computer finished playing the dvd and the screen became black. Rachel rubbed her temples. She was developing a monster of a headache. It was strange how memories made a person. Not five minutes ago she was a tame girl, terrified of the things she was discovering in her closet. Now she was still terrified, but older, more mature somehow. The things she had done and the things she had been through couldn't guarantee anything less but a more cynical, pragmatic way of looking at the world and people in it. Some people were bad and they needed their comeuppance. Other people were good and they needed to be defended. That was why she was the way she was. That was why she knew how to twist an arm just right so that it broke, why she knew how to mix chemicals together to make explosives, why she knew how to use a gun and was trained to use a basic first aid kit.
Rachel exited the dvd player program and somberly looked at the time and date on the toolbar.
"Time to trigger Fanny's memory."
= = = Day-um, Rachel. You scary. = = =
Rachel parked her vehicle along the street and cracked open one of the old notebooks to a random page.
I remember the day I snuck into Father's mansion. It wasn't supposed to be my mission, because the mansion wasn't in my assigned region, but I was the best person for the job and so I was the one sent in. I was supposed to make a map and take pictures of the place and I was doing a good job until a Teen Ninja snuck up behind me.
Well, she tried to sneak up behind me. Her armor was loud and her breathing was loud. Everything about her was loud. I pulled my gun and turned around before she could raise her laser. She was crouched down and I put the muzzle of my gun to her forehead.
I thought she was fat at first. Her hands went straight to her stomach and it was round and large, but her face was thin. Her arms were thin. It was just her stomach that was so huge. She was scared, probably more scared than I was.
"Please don't shoot." That's what she said. I'll never forget her voice. "Please don't shoot me."
I didn't want to believe it. I mean, she was in armor for crying out loud. To be out here like that – if she was like that – then she would have to be really stupid. I had to know for sure if she was. I lowered my gun and aimed it at her stomach. She started crying.
"No, please don't shoot me! Oh, God, I'm already six months."
"Go home," I said. "Go home and don't come back."
She nodded. I nodded. The both of us turned around and ran off in opposite directions.
Rachel closed the notebook and leaned back in her seat. She never saw that girl again and that was probably for the best. She had destroyed so many things as a KND spy. She had pissed off so many people. If she happened to come across just one of them while she was mind-wiped, then it would have been the end. The other person would probably come after her and the mind-wiped Rachel wouldn't understand why and wouldn't know how to defend herself. She would have been an easy target.
That was part of what terrified her even now. Rachel flipped through the composition notebook. Part of her knew everything in it. That same part of her just accepted that this was her reality now. She was a human weapon. That was it. End of story. The other part of her, the mind-wiped part, the Rachel that was allowed to live unhindered for two years, was still utterly horrified. She was scared of everything: her newly remembered past, her dangerous skills, her abject indifference at the lot of it, and now what her new goal was.
"Oh, stop freaking out," Rachel muttered to herself. "It's not that bad. It could be worse."
The inner Rachel pointed out the fact that she was now talking to herself.
"Easily remedied: you just have to shut up."
But the other Rachel would not be pacified. She demanded that some part of the overall psyche should have some decency and not be a monster.
Monster. Rachel tapped two fingers against her chin in thought. Yes, she could be that. She probably was that. It wouldn't be the first time she labeled herself as such. And it wouldn't be the first time she came to terms with it either. As easy as that she dismissed it. Acknowledging it won't make it better and she had better things to do.
The other Rachel perked up and said that there was homework to be done.
"Eh," Rachel waved it away. "That wasn't what I was talking about. And you've got room to slack off." She couldn't do it anyway if she wanted to. Her homework was back at home, on her desk. Rachel was sitting in an old ship parked across the street from Fanny's house.
The only reason why she didn't just bust in there and trigger Fanny's memory was because she had settled for observing instead and then after that Rachel didn't know if she had the heart to pull the memory trigger at all. Fanny seemed happy. She had friends. She smiled and laughed. Hell, she was dating and her boyfriend seemed pretty cool too. Rachel sighed. She couldn't take that away from Fanny. It wouldn't be fair.
Rachel knew that if she was dating and had friends and some freak showed up on her doorstep and proved her to be someone totally different than she was, then she would get livid. Rachel blinked and went over that again.
"Oh man," she muttered to herself. "No boyfriend? Okay, I can dig it. But no friends? You are so lame. Whatever." Rachel turned on the engine and made for liftoff. "Let's take care of this business first and then we can work on the 'no friends' part." She paused. "Yeah, yeah, and the homework."
Rachel gasped and cut the engine. Fanny stood out in front of the vehicle, with her hands splayed over the hood. She glared. Against her better judgment, Rachel rolled down the window.
"The hell are yeh doin' watching my house?" Fanny growled out.
"What? No. I wasn't," Rachel faltered. It was always difficult to lie to Fanny when she scowled like that. "I was…lost. I think I'll just backtrack and find my way from there."
"I've seen yeh before, haven't I?"
"Don't lie to me!" Fanny slammed her hands down on the hood again and Rachel jumped. "I have! I know it!"
"Well, maybe I just have one of those faces, don't you think?" Rachel shouted back. "Get off my car, so I can leave." The two girls glared at each other.
"What kind of car is this, anyway?" Fanny stepped back and looked at the car.
"It's a you're-on-something-illegal-that's-why-it-looks-that-way kind of car," Rachel started the engine and backed up. She turned the wheel and made her way around Fanny, then drove off down the street. Rachel looked in the rearview mirror and watched Fanny take a few steps after her, as if she was thinking about chasing after her, but stopped.
"Good girl," Rachel whispered. "Stay. Be happy."
= = = Stop talking as if Fanny's a dog, Rachel. She isn't. Well, she was for some time, but she doesn't remember anymore. And she isn't a dog now. = = =
I apologize for the darker and edgier feel, but to be fair, this is rated T. And I seem to be incapable of writing anything less than T. (The themes and language, they speak to me.)
I know that if I was in danger of losing my memory, I would create a failsafe. I would document all that I thought I would forget, then hide it away so that the people messing with my head wouldn't find it, but put it somewhere so that I would eventually find it. Memories make us who we are. Without some of them a lot of us would be totally different people.
So…you like? You don't like? Should I continue this story? Should I not? Please leave some comments on your way out. Thanks for reading.