Unlike the others, her entry into the room was not quiet. Before her foot even touched the floor, just as the lines were sharpening, and a split-second before Jacob would have otherwise known she was there–she screamed.
The two that were not there were brought back at the sound. They and Jacob were staring at her now, as she screamed, and screamed. She fell to her knees, clutching her chest and began hacking loudly.
With Cal and with Luna, it had been a slow process of aging. This had been sudden, so sudden that none of them realized what had happened until now. The event in the woods, and her death. It was sudden and violent, as sudden and violent as her entrance.
“Henri!” Serenity choked out, still clutching her chest. “Henri! Warn them–warn them–you have to warn them!” She could not see around her, she was disoriented, thinking she was back in the lab about to be cut open.
Luna finally reacted. She crossed the room, watching her granddaughter with horror and pity. “Serenity,” she said, kneeling down. She touched Serenity’s arm and Serenity fell back, eyes large as she stared at Luna.
“Henri?” Serenity panted. “Where’s Henri? Henri? Where am I–who–who–Oh Watcher, oh Watcher!” She dragged her fingers on her chest, coughing and gasping. “–have to warn–have to warn–Mom–Duncan–have to warn!”
“Serenity, darling…” Luna was rubbing her back and trying to keep her as calm as she could. Luna glanced back but Jacob and Calcifer had not moved as neither of them knew what to do.
Jacob wanted to comfort Serenity, to help her. But the only one in the room she knew was Luna. When Cal had come in, he had his father. For Luna, her father. But Serenity only had her grandmother and her grandmother looked very different from how Serenity remembered her. So he stayed put.
“Who are you?” Serenity finally asked after a few years. She looked up into Luna’s face, knowing she knew this face. “Where am I? Where’s Henri? Where’s–why–why–” She pulled back and touched her chest, looking confused. “He–he tried to… tried to kill me…”
She tried to remember what had happened. The trees, the truck, the monster. Serenity stared at the vaguely familiar face before her. She had been hurt, and then she was in a lab, the Reddings had tried but then they couldn’t… and she had… the Grim Reaper…
“I’m dead,” she said flatly. “I’m dead. I died. I’m dead. Henri–but Henri–and I can’t–Miracle–Chance–Henri! Henri!” She began screaming again, clutching at Luna’s vest. “Henri, Henri, Henri,” she chanted in hiccuping sobs.
Jacob looked at the two females with worry. What could be done to help her? There was nothing. Her exit from the land of the living had been horrible and being here she did not even have many people to comfort her, only Luna whom she did not recognize, and Kellen, if she ever even entered the other place.
“Dad,” Cal said under his breath with the anger clearly there, “it was that experiment from the Reddings that did it. The same one that put my grandson through so much.”
Jacob nodded. He remembered trying to help Cal through that. Cal had been in the worse temper Jacob ever remembered seeing him in, knowing what was happening to Sebastian but being unable to do anything about it. Jacob had hated it as well, hating the helpless feeling they had both felt and then the joy when Sebastian was free, the anger and helplessness when he was kidnapped, and then the joy once more.
Now their family was being pulled apart by that horrible person again. Jacob knew he was still free, wandering around with intentions only he knew. Would he make good his threat to harm Duncan, or any of his children, or Serenity’s children? Jacob began to feel helpless once more… and he disliked it.
“I can’t be dead,” Serenity whimpered. “I can’t. My kids need me! My husband needs me! I need them! I cannot be dead! This is a bad dream, a bad dream, that’s all. That’s it, I will wake up soon.”
“Serenity, my little Serenity,” Luna said gently, stroking her granddaughter’s hair. She looked at her father and grandfather, not knowing what to do exactly.
“Who are you?” Serenity finally sniffled. “Where am I? I’m not dead, am I? I–I’m dreaming, aren’t I?”
“I’m so sorry, baby,” Luna said.
Serenity pulled away and rubbed her eyes. She knew, deep down like the others when they accepted their death, but she could not accept it. Henri and her babies were on the other side and that was where she needed to be. “Henri…” It was a gaping hole inside of her, bigger and more painful than the injuries that had caused her death. “I’m dead, I cannot feel pain… I can’t…. but… Henri…”
“Sweetheart, it will be all right. I’m here for you, and your grandpa is here too.”
“G… Grandma?” Serenity finally realized and she went pale. “But you–and–I am dead. I’m dead. I’m dead? But Henri! Henri–Henri–and my babies–my children!”
“I know, sweetheart. I’m so sorry.”
Luna pulled Serenity into her lap and rocked her back and forth, and Serenity began crying again at the thought of not being with Henri. None of them could even tell her one day she would see him again, as none of them knew what would happen to a ghost that died. Would it be the same as any other ghost going into the nether?
After a long time, Serenity stopped crying. She sat on the floor, hugging her knees and staring at her grandmother. She wasn’t even aware of what was going on in the world of the living, although Jacob was taking quite an interest.
He watched as the Reddings and Henri put Serenity’s earthly remains in the machine, and watched it fail. He turned away from the grief Henri was feeling and thought about the machine. He had seen them use it before. He knew what it was. It was how they were able to put the souls of the living into the toy dolls, such as Cal’s wife.
Of course he took an interest in the Reddings. He watched them through the years as he did with his own family. He knew the connection he had with Kay Redding and perhaps that was why Jacob often watched him. In any case, he had seen the machine at work.
It had never failed before. Ever. Not once. Doctor Jay Redding was correct. It should not have failed. Which brought up the question, to him, of why it failed? Doctor Redding nearly said her opinion, but Kay had stopped her. Rightly so, as Henri was grieving, but it was rather annoying.
Jacob paced, glancing sideways at the wall with lines on them. They had changed a bit though not much. Why had the machine failed? Why, with Serenity? She had been put in there in time but it simply did not work.
Because, Jacob realized, she is here.
Suddenly all sorts of ideas poured into his head. Of course. Serenity was here so her spirit could not be extracted into that chamber. But it worked for others who have crossed over. Which meant there was something particularly strange about this room. He knew that already, of course, but now it was different since now he knew that once someone was in here… there was no going back.
“It will be Sebastian then, won’t it?”
Jacob turned to look at Calcifer’s sad face. “Yes,” he answered. “And one day maybe… Miracle…”
“How do you know?” Calcifer asked with a tilt of his head.
“Chance is already a ghost. I don’t imagine it is likely going to be him.” Jacob rubbed his chin, thinking. Perhaps it could be Chance. That did not sound right, though. Chance was already a ghost… right? So it would be Miracle. Right?
He looked over at Serenity who had her head against Luna’s bosom. Luna was still stroking her hair and murmuring words of comfort. Calcifer was pacing around, resisting the urge to help. Serenity did not know him, and he did not want to intrude. A sigh escaped from Jacob’s lips and he turned to look at the wall again.
He had more suspicions now than before. The lines on the wall were not the only key to this. There was more, so much more. Something beyond the lines and this room. Something that prevented him, and Calcifer, and Luna, and Serenity from going elsewhere. They could be in those other places but the lines were there as well. And they–whatever made them them–always stayed here.
Serenity began gulping in air and trying to talk as she started losing it once more. She was trying to say Henri’s name, She tugged at Luna’s vest and begged to see Henri, losing sense of everything. Luna tried to explain to her where they were but Serenity just continued begging for Henri.
The ten years they had been apart stretched inside of her like a canyon. Ripping apart her heart and her body, or rather her soul. Whatever she was now. “Grandma–Grandma–” Serenity curled up with her head in Luna’s lap now.
The two redheaded men were still standing a little bit aways. She did not know them. She did not care who they were. All she cared about was Henri. The Grim Reaper had taken him from her, and now had taken her from him. Death was once again their barrier.
“There’s a pattern,” Calcifer said in a very low voice to Jacob. “Not just the child of a child of a child of you, or whatever. It’s something else then, something–what? What is it, Dad?”
“Something else,” Jacob said, pushing his hair back. “You’re right, it is something else. Something that is keeping us here. Something that… wants us here. And only some of us. You, Luna, Serenity and one day Sebastian. What makes us so different though?”
He looked at his sobbing descendent, and his heart broke as he repeated the last few words. “What makes us so different?”