"They say the meek shall inherit the earth…"
-The Police, "Walking In Your Footsteps"
The previous year, President Ronald Reagan had restated America's military position as a moral imperative in his "Evil Empire" speech on the Soviet Union. Previous arms limitations talks be damned, numbers of missiles were brought to their highest levels in two decades, and on both sides of the Iron Curtain, ranks of men kept their eyes on radar screens awaiting the unthinkable. With the Soviets' continuing occupation of Afghanistan and last year's shootdown of a Korean jet traveling from New York, and America's invasion of Grenada and under-the-radar support for anti-Communist guerillas in Central America, both ranks of men had reason to fear the worst.
But even with all the latest radar and satellite technology at their command, on May 27, 1984 not one of both worlds' finest could claim to see a bright pink flash, somewhat reminiscent of a meteor, making its way toward America's northeastern corner. Perhaps this was because they were awaiting approaching MiGs, missiles, or four horsemen; for this pink flash represented Hope.
"Don't worry," the pink form whispered softly. "You don't have to worry anymore…Round Flower…Dolores Chastain…Bill Baterman…Ellie Creed… You shall all be with your loved ones soon."
Although the flash went undetected by the Cold War's most advanced electronics, it did not go unseen.
In the driveway of Ludlow Middle School, 14-year-old Marie Hansen stood with her bag and chattering classmates, ready to get on the bus to Boston's Logan Airport and begin her class trip to Paris. She wished she could feel as bubbly and charged up as her friends did, but she couldn't stop thinking about her best friend, Charlotte Perkins. This trip had been Charlotte's idea, and she had organized the first fundraising efforts. Her classmates had joked that the main reason she wanted to go to France was because she couldn't get enough French cuisine, especially cheese. And while she certainly had been keenly looking forward to a fine slice of Brie or Camembert at the source, she also shared many a romantic young girl's dreams of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Jim Morrison's grave. Perhaps Mike Terravella would confess to her at Le Tour itself. No, that probably never actually happened in real life…but who knew?
Of course, no one was laughing when she was admitted to Eastern Maine Medical Center for two weeks…which stretched into a month…which stretched into two months…which just kept on going. And no one in Ms. DeBlois' French class was laughing at anything when it was announced that Charlotte's cancer was likely terminal. And to add insult to injury, the chemotherapy had rendered her unable to digest dairy products. She wouldn't even be able to have one more éclair or even some cheese.
That had been just over a month ago. Charlotte spent the next last two weeks of her life softly weeping, hardly ever speaking, and gazing at the ceiling with a vacant stare that made one wonder if her soul hadn't already left her body. Marie's class decided to go forward with the trip even after Charlotte's death; Charlotte herself had told them she didn't want all their efforts and money to be for nothing. Plus they already had all the plane tickets and hotel reservations. Still, Marie couldn't get that empty, defeated stare out of her mind. This trip just couldn't seem complete to her.
Suddenly a soft, warm female voice pulled her out of her sad reverie. It seemed to come from slightly above her head. It'll be all right. Charlotte wanted it this way, right? You'll have lots of fun on this trip, really. Marie glanced upward and—just for a second—saw Charlotte's face in the reflections in the bus windows, her dark pink hair restored to her head. Next to her was a smiling Asian-featured girl with pigtailed hair of a lighter pink shade. Charlotte smiled and winked.
And maybe it was just a warm early-summer breeze, but then Marie felt what seemed like an ethereal hug around her shoulders. She had never given a whole lot of thought to the supernatural and notions of life after death (even in the wake of her friend's passing), but either way, none of those petty, squabbling details seemed to matter much right now. Charlotte was all right, and she was going to have a great time in Paris.
"Yeah," she said, blinking back light tears. "It will be all right."
"Hey, who're you talking to?" asked her friend, Betsy Gauthier.
"Oh… n-no one," Marie replied. "I just thought I heard someone talking to me, but it was probably just the wind. It can sound funny sometimes."
Welp, I dunno how many of you liked that, but this story still meant a lot to me, and it felt good to get it out of my system. Like I said, I thought Madoka and Pet Sematary have some important themes in common (Faustian bargains, undeath, how despair can beget despair), so I thought the two stories might go well together. And Pet Sematary is also rather important to me personally since I would've been about the age of the Creed family's baby son when the story took place around top of that, around that time my parents and I also moved to New England…
Again, I'd like to dedicate this story to ncfan and Danny Barefoot for helping inspire me and lending some atmospheric and thematic elements. Also to Gen "Urobutcher" Urobochi, his and my mentor Stephen King, PMMM's traumatized seiyuu cast (you may've heard Urobochi and co. didn't tell them how grimdark things would get)…and the great State of Maine. If the zombies, vampires, killer clowns and rabid dogs don't get you, then the bears, angry moose, mosquitoes and other rabid critters surely will. Make your summer vacation plans today! Oh, and of course, to those of you who read and (ahem) reviewed.