It was with trembling hands that Dipper undid the final knot to his binds. After a series of failed attempts to guess the type of knot without visual aid, Mabel had correctly identified which one was holding him back and guided him through untying it.
"I'm F-free," Dipper whispered to his doll as he stood unsteadily, "N-now what?"
He was quiet for a moment as he listened to the inaudible voice of the toy, gently touching its stitched-up belly with his thumb. At the silent command, Dipper approached the stairs and slowly began to climb, placing each step carefully and skipping over the 6th step entirely. When he reached the top of the stairs, he gently turned the knob to the door parallel to the ceiling and pushed it open. It creaked quietly at the hinges, and as soon as it was open wide enough, Dipper slipped through and closed the door back carefully.
He found himself in a hallway that was lit by the moonlight that shone through the open windows to his right. The wind blew tauntingly free through the curtains, but the windows were too small and too high up for a 12 year old to climb through. Instead, Dipper proceeded down the hall, his feet making barely a sound on the carpet. It wasn't long before he reached the living room, and then the door. The breeze blew through the screen door as Dipper grasped the handle. This was it, the last and the hardest part. Dipper took a deep breath, then he shoved the door open. It squeaked horribly and slammed hard behind him, but Dipper didn't look back, he just ran.
"Uncle Stan, wake up! I got Dipper out!" Stan awoke to his arm being shaken and loud yelling in his ear.
"Ugh, what?" Stan fumbled for his glasses on the giant skull next to his armchair.
"Dipper! He's coming home right now! We need to finish the portal!" Mabel pulled harder and Stan stumbled into a standing position, putting his glasses on his face. "Alright, alright, lead the way," he said with a yawn. They entered the attic, Mabel half-dragging her great uncle the whole way, and flipped on the light.
"What's wrong?" Soos shouted, scrambling up from where he was sleeping on the floor, holding a screwdriver like a weapon.
Mabel immediately rushed past him and to the portal, which was covered by a sheet.
"She rescued her brother or somthin' and we've gotta finish the doohicky," Stan explained wearily.
"Oh, well, we finished the frame," Soos pointed out as Mabel tossed the sheet from the device. It stood about 3 feet tall and was wrapped in paper mache in an almost perfect vertical oval and was supported by handmade legs at the bottom.
"We've just got to do the thing with Mabel's sheep," Soos finished.
"Are you ready?" Mabel asked the sheep. Soos and Stan watched in silence as she listened to the toy. Mabel looked up at them and said, "Let's do this."
The wool on the toy was surprisingly easy to undo. Each curl unraveled as if it were designed to fall apart. Mabel, Stan, and Soos took turns gently pulling out the threads and wrapping them tightly around the portal.
"Dipper, can you hear me?" Mabel asked when her turn came around once more. Stan watched her out of the corner of his eye as he taped a new thread to the construction. Mabel pulled out another thread with a sigh. "I can't hear him anymore," she whispered.
"Soon you won't need to hear him through that anyway," Soos reminded her as she passed him the sheep.
"You're right, I just hope this works," Mabel said with hope in her voice.
"Hm," Stan continued to wind the thread, and Mabel began wrapping up the other side.
Mabel glanced up at him sadly, then she dropped her eyes back to her work. "Thanks for your help," she whispered.
"Hm?" Stan raised his eyebrows, but remained focused on his work.
"Thanks for helping build this," Mabel repeated, a little louder, "I know you don't believe all the stuff about Dipper, but I'm glad you're helping anyway."
"That's the last of the thread," Soos announced, unaware of his interruption.
"And that's the last of the portal," Stan observed. He took the thread from Soos and the ends of the thread matched at the top of the portal, covering roughly the entire portal in wool.
"So, it's done?" Soos put a strip of tape on the top of the portal, holding the threads in place.
"I guess so," Mabel said, "That's as far as the instructions go in the book." She pointed at the "3" journal, which lay open beside her.
"So, now what?" Stan asked
"I guess I go through it."
Everyone was quiet as Mabel slowly reached her arm forward and through the construction, then her head, then her legs. Eventually she had completely passed through the device, but to no result.
"Did we do something wrong?" Soos began to look the portal over, "Is something missing?"
"Maybe it isn't done on Dipper's side yet," Mabel said quickly, "Maybe he needs to finish his before either of us can go through."
"Maybe," Stan said, and he stood, "But what I do know is that I haven't had breakfast and I'm starved. Why don't we get something to eat, and we can check up on this later?"
"I can't leave," Mabel protested, panic rising in her voice, "What if it starts working? What if I need to go through right away? What if I-"
"Alright, alright, calm down," Stan cut her off, "You stay here, I'll get some oatmeal or something, okay?"
Mabel considered it a moment. "Okay, but come back quick!" she said.
"Yeah, don't go anywhere. Soos, keep an eye on her," Stan pointed at his employee.
"Yes sir!" Soos gave him a thumbs up and Stan turned and went down the stairs.
Soos took a seat next to Mabel and together they stared at the portal in silence. There was a clamor of falling pots and an abrupt cuss from downstairs, and then it was quiet again.
"I'm worried he won't be here when it happens," Mabel said softly. She turned and looked at Soos, who looked down at her. "I know we've fought a lot and we really don't understand each other, but nobody's ever been nice to me until I met you and Uncle Stan."
Soos looked back up at the portal without replying.
"Could you...could you tell him that?" Mabel asked, following his gaze, "After I go?"
"Of course I would Dood," Soos put his hand on her shoulder, "But who's to say we'll never see you again?"
Mabel shrugged. "I dunno. I never thought about what happens after I go through. Where will it go? What's going to happen? I was so concerned with getting the portal done, I never considered what happens next."
"I brought cereal because the oatmeal was compromised," Stan announced as he entered the room, a bowl in one hand, and two bowls in the other, stacked one on top of the other. He gave Mabel the first bowl, Soos the second, which was dripping with milk, and kept the third.
"Thanks, Uncle Stan," Mabel said, but she set her bowl aside.
"Nothing yet?" Stan motioned at the portal.
"No, but it has to work soon," Mabel said as she curled up and rested her chin on her knees.
"Yeah," Stan muttered.
Mabel didn't realize she had fallen asleep until she was awoken by a loud sound like a vacuum. She shot up immediately and checked the portal. Instead of a less-than-impressive paper mache sculpture, there was a gaping dark blue hole in the room, the same color as the sky outside. Papers blew and everything in the room was gently sucked in the direction of the vortex.
"Uncle Stan!" Mabel screamed.
Stan sat up with a shout behind her, and before he could ask what was wrong, he too became entranced by the swirl of blue.
"Dood!" Soos yelled. He turned to Stan and Mabel, holding his hat on his head.
"I've gotta go!" Mabel scrambled to her feet and began to run towards the portal.
"Mabel, wait!" Stan grabbed her arm, stopping her.
"Let me go! Now's my chance!" Mabel struggled against his grip.
"I love you," Mabel froze at her great uncle's words. "I know I haven't done a great job showing it, but I care a lot about you, kid."
Mabel felt tears well in her eyes. She fell on him and held him tight in a hug. "I love you too," she shouted, "I love you so much. Thank you for everything!"
Stan squeezed her back, tears forming in his own eyes. "Now go," Stan ended the embrace, "Run, you gotta hurry!"
"Okay!" Mabel turned and began to run. "Thank you, Soos! I won't forget you!""
"Go Mabel!" Soos cheered, waving as she went.
In that moment, everything felt like it was in slow motion. As she jumped over sheets and cardboard closer to the blue unknown, Mabel's heart felt like it was beating at a million miles an hour. Tears flowed freely from her face and as she drew closer to the portal, its pull grew stronger. When she stood right before the vortex, she turned and looked over her shoulder. She smiled back at the friends she made over the summer, and after one deep breath, she took the leap.
Is this the end? Almost but not quite. I do have one little more thing planned, but I think I'll cut it for the sake of ending the story before August. Thank you all for your unending support! I hope to wrap this up very soon now that I'm done with school. (I graduated high school hooray!)
Also: Title drop haha
See you all again soon!