\ Realm of Reality /
“Mmph- wha?” Scarlett plaints, sinking into the seat of a hospital waiting room with her arms crossed, struggling to keep her eyes open as Vic slaps her arm. “You need to stay awake” Vic remarks, extending a foam cup of black coffee toward her friend. “They didn’t have any sugar?” Scarlett wonders aloud, pushing herself up by the armrests as Vic claims the seat beside her.
Her eyes rolling, Vic takes a brief swig from the flimsy container, pressing her teeth as the bitterness hits her tongue. “This isn’t supposed to be dessert” Vic sarcastically replies, a comforted sigh leaving her throat as she sinks into the soft seat cushion. “Still, we can’t at least enjoy it?” Scarlett responds, watching Vic tilt her head back with her eyes closed, trying to make whatever comfort she can manage.
Returning the favour, Scarlett slaps Vic’s arm with the back of her hand, earning a much similar response to the one she’d given Vic. “Payback” Scarlett jokes, resting further into her seat to a chorus of Vic’s laughter. “I wasn’t falling asleep unlike you!” Vic jokes, jutting into Scarlett’s arm with her elbow in a playful manner. Mid-sip, Scarlett’s arm tilts higher up, the foam cup spilling a sizeable amount of piping hot coffee down Scarlett’s chin and neck.
“Fuck, I’m so sorry!” Vic apologises, her earlier laughter now made stronger, unable to be held back. Mouth open, Scarlett’s arms extend outward, the cup held before her as the steaming beverage runs down her chest, dark stains running from the collar of her light blue t-shirt. “It’s a really good look on you, though!” Vic merrily mocks, the look of humoured astonishment on Scarlett’s face accompanying her breathy laughter, amused by her own misfortunes.
“Don’t be, I’m just as sorry!” Scarlett soon replies, the brim of her cup lowered as the remainder of the beverage leaves it, thrown into Vic’s face in a moment of comical retaliation. “Oh, you fucker!” Vic exclaims, wiping her eyes as her head shakes, trying to soothe the initial pain of a scorching brew running down her face.
“Oh, is that what I am?” Scarlett replies, offered a sudden reprieve from her exhaustion as she leaps from her seat, retreating from Vic in preparation for return fire. “You’re damn right!” Vic shouts mid-giggle, following Scarlett’s lead as she, too, emerges from her seat. Her knees bent, Vic wields her foam cup like a weapon, the two young women smiling as she nears, able to savour the joy of youth if even for just the moment.
Lowering herself close to the ground, Scarlett mimics Vic’s stance, one step in reverse taken for each step Vic takes forward, the room available to manoeuvre decreasing rapidly. Bobbing her head forward, Vic feigns pushing her arm forward, watching Scarlett flinch with each display, the blonde expectating every bluff to be the true assault.
Her advancement stopped, Vic looks Scarlett in the eyes, no longer pretending that any faked extension of the cup could be the real deal. No room left to retreat, Scarlett presses her palms and lower back against the drywall, prepared to evade the oncoming attempt with a smile on her face, the ends of her hair wetted.
The moment built into, Vic empties the cup forward, leaving Scarlett no warning to work off, only her anticipation to provide an answer. In the same breath as the cup emptying, Scarlett removes her hand from the wall and throws her fist to the ground, Vic’s attempts thwarted as time itself ceases, leaving the hot beverage to suspend in the air halfway between them.
Throwing herself to an unoccupied side of the room, Scarlett grants the world permission to resume, rolling to a stop as the coffee collides with the wall, slowly running to the ground. “You can’t-!” Vic remarks, eyes and mouth widened, impressed with the woman’s display, though not wanting to admit it, “you’re such a fucking cheater!”
“I’d prefer the term ‘scrappy’” Scarlett replies, tongue pressed against the inside of her molar tooth whilst Vic stands across the room from her, head shaking as her hands sit upon her hips. Disappointed, Vic’s eyes wander to their seats, able to offer as little as Scarlett can, the conversation dying as quickly as the childish banter that had paired with it.
With the laughter having fallen aside, the room goes quiet, the girls left to look to each other from a fair distance apart, neither one wanting to interrupt the silence for reasons they can’t explain. As a few seconds pass, Scarlett’s smile lessens, a similar reaction to that of Vic’s, their teeth hiding behind their lips as they close, held within a state of peaceful happiness.
Empty and unoccupied, the room’s doors remain closed, windows shut and locked tight, the girls holding its floors for themselves, forced to share its centre with no one. “You are my family” Vic remarks, her voice the only sound to register throughout the room, “you’re the only person I’ve had in life since they died. I don’t care if we’re not related by blood- you’re family.”
Her eyes lowering, Scarlett lifts her thumb to her face, a tear wiped from her eyes before it’s offered the opportunity to fall. Her emotions beginning to swell, Scarlett directs her eyes back toward Vic, her hand gently swaying through the air. “I didn’t expect any of this to happen how it has” Scarlett responds, her voice clearly affected by the fervent billow within her core, “everything’s happened so fucking fast, Vic.”
“I know” Vic murmurs, her own tears beginning to surface, her breaths more difficult to come by, “I don’t know how we keep managing to do it!” A happy chuckle brought upon both girls, Scarlett remains quiet, the floor left for Vic’s words to occupy. “It’s just gonna keep getting harder” Vic proclaims, letting free a frustrated sigh, accepting the journey that still lays ahead, “we may not deserve some of the absolute shit we get- but if there’s anyone that’s gonna handle it-”
“-It’ll be us” Scarlett interjects, watching Vic smile as she nods, their shared thought agreed upon. “It’ll be us” Vic repeats, her forearm running past her eyes, the tears that run down the side of her face wiped aside. Their joy returned, Scarlett and Vic meet in the space that sits between them, their arms wrapped around each other as they embrace, acknowledging what is to come as one, united force as opposed to one divided.
After a few moments, the room finally fills with life, West’s cane-aided limp pushing through a set of doors at the room’s rear, his arm pressed against its inside as he hobbles through. Pulling apart, the girls turn to face the man they still hold a shared dislike for, his troubled expression easy to notice despite his head being hung.
“He was in pretty bad shape” West grumbles, walking through the doorway as he travels to the nearest empty seat. “Shattered bones, busted ribs, punctured lungs- you name it” West remarks, groaning as he lowers himself into the nearest seat, Scarlett and Vic slowly approaching, their distance kept. “Apparently, it was a miracle he’d still been alive as long as he was” West explains, his eyes falling further as his head sinks into his hand.
“I guess it’s safe to assume Lincoln’s hand played a part in this” Scarlett replies, hands left on her hips as her own head hangs, Vic’s mind settling upon solutions. “Alright, so now we figure out what he’s keeping them for” Vic replies, stepping away from the group as he begins to pace, deliberately stepping on the same, space grey-coloured tiles.
“He could kill them like my dad and my friends, but they’re different in some way” Scarlett interposes, trying to aid the woman’s thoughts along. “Are your dad and friends connected?” Vic inquires, turning her sights toward the blonde across the room, “as in, would he kill your dad for the same reason he’d kill your friends?”
“I don’t know why he’d kill any of them” Scarlett responds, continuing to answer as Vic shakes her head, “it may be, I guess.”
“No, I know it could be, but what would his purpose be?” Vic quickly inquires, her hands rolling as he tries to draw parallels. “Scarlett was still on the run when her dad was shot down” West cuts in, both girls redirecting their sights upon him, “he only started going after your friends once you’d left town.”
“So it could be him trying to draw you in” Vic responds, the unproven assumption more to work off of than what they’ve discovered up to this point. “Is there any chance he could be trying to drag me into this, too?” West wonders aloud, quick to reiterate his question. “I’m not saying I’m as integral to this as you are, but he knew I’d be involved in these investigations” West clarifies, the girls considering the suggestion, “everything he’s done so far was something that also got me involved.”
“It could explain why he’d kill your friends, I guess-” Vic replies, able to see the loose connection, “but it doesn’t make sense why he’d keep kidnapping Jared and Rachel instead of killing them.”
As Vic and West’s back-and-forth continues, Scarlett crosses her arms and begin to pace, her hand lifting to the space just beneath her chin. For a few moments, Vic and West’s discussion erases itself from Scarlett’s mind, her eyes beginning to narrow as she forms her own conclusion. “What if it’s not connected?” Scarlett raises the question aloud, her back turned to the pair she shares the room with, their attention squared upon her.
“What if killing my dad was his way of erasing my connection to Praireville?” Scarlett inquires, her front turning back to the room’s occupants, “Mom leaves to stay with relatives, and I have nothing to come back to! There’s nothing stopping me from moving away and starting fresh!” Beginning to find Scarlett’s mindset, Vic follows the trail silently.
“And when you and Vic are out of the picture, there’s no one in Praireville to stop him” West continues, surprising the girls by finishing Scarlett’s thought, “then, he moves onto the next phase of his plan.”
“He kills my friends to create a panic, saves Jared and Rachel for last, and forces them to look for help” Scarlett continues, her hatred for West set aside for the moment as their ‘to and fro’ continues. “They come looking for me, he attacks the three of us and forces my hand to get the feds involved” West continues, his thought redirected at Scarlett’s behest.
“But Jared and Rachel escape, they come looking for you, and he goes to take them back- but your cop gives chase!” Scarlett continues, allowing West to drive the conclusion home. “He gets a few shots in, probably vanishes to the first place he has in mind, and Jared goes with him!” West exclaims, his teeth pressing together as he winces in pain.
“Alright, where’s the first place he’d go!?” Vic interjects, returning to the conversation just as it crosses the finish line. “That- I don’t know” West responds, his pain-ridden expression of joy falling as his head begins to shake, “there’s only one place under ‘Christopher Mead’ or ‘Lincoln Mead’ in the country, and we just came from it.”
Sighing, Vic and Scarlett feel a wave of despair come over them, the overwhelming sensation of enthusiasm they’d gradually built falling apart as quickly as their conclusions have. “Are we sure we’re not missing something here?” West wonders aloud, extending hope that the odds of their presumptions aren’t set in stone, “what if there’s something specifically we’re not thinking of? Maybe he picks a specific place to do these things, maybe there’s a specific way?”
“No, it’s all been sporadic!” Scarlett replies, one hand placed upon her hip whilst the other holds her weight as she leans against a wall, “he doesn’t have some preference for-”
“THE REALM!” Vic shouts, her voice bouncing off walls as it falls into Scarlett and West’s ears, Scarlett’s eyes immediately darting toward her. “Unless it’s some factory, or warehouse, or whatever that we’d never find without some clues, where else would he go!?” Vic exclaims, leaving West’s side as she approaches Scarlett, “the first place he’d think to go is back to the realm!”
“Can you even bring mortals into the realm!?” Scarlett responds, wanting to buy into Vic’s declaration, but unable to do so without scepticism. “I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot!” Vic exclaims, her eyes glancing between Scarlett and the sheriff, “if they’re snapping themselves out of it, they must be able to snap themselves into it!”
“I have no clue what either of you are saying, but if it’s remotely possible- do it- whatever it is” West remarks, quick to reclaim his metal cane and struggle out of the chair. “Are you able to get snipers around Lincoln’s house- like they do in the movies?” Vic inquires, West’s hesitation to correct her taking a moment to a moment to kick in.
“They’re called- oh, nevermind- yeah, I can get some people around the place” West replies, hobbling toward the entrance, “I’ll get on it now. Just don’t get yourselves hurt!”
“We’re not really planning on it, Sheriff” Scarlett replies, watching the man nod just as he throws the exit doors open, stepping into Praireville’s night with his own objective at hand. “It’s a good thing we didn’t drink the coffee” Vic mutters beneath her breath, taking in a deep breath as her eyes close, their fingers snapping in unison as they step through thin air, returning to their Maldives villa.
= Dream Sequence is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
\ Realm Beyond - Eternal Office /
Her eyes opening, Scarlett steps forward, awakening to the sight she’s grown accustomed to, the mid-2000’s technology that lines the room having welcomed her back. To her left, Scarlett stares at Vic’s podium waiting a few moments for her friend’s arrival, each moment turning to a second, each second prolonged into minutes.
Growing more anxious the longer it takes Vic to arrive, Scarlett peers off into the distance, no forsaken souls or friendly faces standing near, the same sight with an abnormal greeting. Her service weapon summoned, Scarlett fires a charge into the side of her head, ejecting her back into the Maldives home she’d begun her slumber in.
Wide-eyed, Scarlett expels herself from the seat, a quiet stroll across the room leading her to Vic, who sits just as she had, fast asleep. Confused, Scarlett turns away and returns to her seat, sinking into the soft, cosy cushion with her arms draped over its sides, her eyes closing once more, breaths becoming calm and body relaxing.
Returned to her podium, Scarlett looks to Vic’s vacant pad for a second time, the room she’d last seen no different than the one she knows, the pad Vic occupies no different from her own. “Vic!?” Scarlett exclaims, her eyes drifting from one side of the room to another, waiting for a response that never comes. “Vic, are you here!?” Scarlett shouts yet again, the entrance she’s surrounded with bathed in a heavenly white, not a reply to be offered.
“Vic!? Esotera!?” Scarlett howls, stepping forward to climb down from her pad, her mouth opening to yell once more, “is anyone-!?” In a sudden instant, the white room darkens, its lights flooding the entrance with an evil shade of red the moment Scarlett’s foot touches the floor. “All hail the king!” a chorus of deep howls sings from afar, their collective sounds carried throughout the foyer’s unexplored corridors.
Another glance around the room providing her with no answers, Scarlett catches the glimpse of an even brighter outlined drowned in a shade of red, its glow descending upon her. Left with little other choice, Scarlett backs away from the impending threat, retreating through the one walkway she’d traversed many times before.
“All hail the king!” the legion continue to exclaim, keeping in stride with Scarlett’s withdrawal, one step forward for every one step she takes in the opposite direction. “All hail the king!” the forsaken continue to bark, Scarlett’s instincts making it impossible to not glance back with every few steps, incapable of believing much progress has been made. “All hail the king!” the cheers continue, this time to both Scarlett’s surprise and horror, the chants now emanating ahead.
Cornered, Scarlett stops in the narrow corridor’s centre, listening to the chants as they continue, a similar red outline approaching from beyond. Her worried expression turning into one of absolute anger, Scarlett’s nostrils flare, her lip curling as she resummons her service weapon, prepared for war.
“All hail the king!” the trapped souls growl once more, their physical presence appearing from both sides, allowed to near closer as Scarlett awaits. Picking her opportunities carefully, Scarlett charges into the nearest wall, propelling herself toward the ground with the left side of her body as her hand balls into a fist. At a rapid speed, Scarlett’s fist collides with the ground, the force of her punch discharging a sonic blast along the colourless, tiled floor.
Hurled through the air, the legion are fired from the passageway as if they were cannon fodder, crashing into whatever remains at the entrance to each end. Momentarily cleared of her troubles, Scarlett rests on her knee, supported by the hand that remains pressed against the floor as she glances down each end. Convinced that her dilemma has been momentarily addressed, Scarlett resumes her plunge forward, able to see red-soaked, open walls in the near distance.
Armed with her service weapon, Scarlett ventures through the mouth of hell, returned to a room she’d grown very familiar with, its walls caked in red lighting whilst its floor is occupied by nameless, faceless workers. Void of the persistent legion she’d expected to discover waiting for her, their intentions set on returning fire, Scarlett stands in confusion, not met with the war-torn horde she’d anticipated.
“Is this real?” an echo-enraptured voice inquires, the hauntingly familiar voice directing Scarlett’s attention backward, the faceless woman standing behind her, hands folded as if she were praying. “Surely- by now- you know” the woman replies, one step taken forward, her lipless mouth continuing to speak. “Is any of this real?” the mystical woman inquires, urging the woman to ask of herself these questions, “all of your answers have been obvious. Ask yourself if you know the answers.”
“Can you hear me?” Scarlett responds, refusing to walk away from the woman of baffling proportions, each statement drawing the phantom closer. “The realm hears all” the figment responds, again stepping forward, hands unwilling to break from the pose they’ve taken. Suspicious, Scarlett stares into the empty space where the apparition’s eyes would otherwise be, her chin tilting high as she speaks.
“What are you?” Scarlett questions, arms held at her sides, the service weapon relinquished to the realm’s depths, embracing the spirit that walks her way. “I... am mother” the spectre replies, her answer allowing the deep, red illumination that surrounds them to fade away, the walls reclaiming their initial dull, grey colour.
Looking to the floor, Scarlett notices the distance that’s held between herself and Mother to be dwindling, aware of the importance behind each question. “What do you want from me?” Scarlett qualms, her question unanswered for a brief moment, Mother’s progression delayed for a moment as the query is processed. Without a response, Mother takes another step forward, only two paces now separating the pair from each other.
Her head leaning further back, Scarlett continues to wait for the figment’s response, refusing to accept silence as an answer. “What do you want from me?” Scarlett inquires again, the same delay given prior to Mother’s step forward, answered with the same silence. Pulling in a deep breath, Scarlett looks to the ground once more, her lips parting as she composes a final query.
“W-?” Scarlett begins to inquire, her question interrupted at the sound of creaking metal from the far distance, a set of familiar double doors separating in the room’s rear. “I’ve seen those before” Scarlett remarks, looking back to Mother’s figure, her short stature prompting Scarlett to look downward, “I’ve never been able to get in there.”
Unresponsive, Mother remains where she stands, refusing to step further, her face held toward Scarlett’s own. Another look given to the parted doors, Scarlett begins to pull away, her right foot leaving the ground in an effort to answer the call given to her. In a sudden moment, the gathered workers stop their daily activities, each desk worker turning their blank faces in Scarlett’s direction, leaving her to hesitate lowering her foot.
Compelled to pause, Scarlett looks back into Mother’s empty face, the woman unmoving in all ways, her hands kept pressed together. Her lips pressed together, Scarlett returns her foot to its original rest, her back held to the opened doors at the room’s farthest end. “What do you want from me?” Scarlett repeats for a third time, yet again met with a pause, this time elongated in its duration, allowing Scarlett the moment to reflect on her choice.
“I may have misjudged” Mother replies softly, the fifth and final step taken forward as her hands part, her left hand seeking salvation on Scarlett’s shoulder. Upon Mother’s touch, Scarlett feels the ground give out beneath her, the stable foundation she’d stood upon retracting as her body descends through the floor. Silent, Scarlett braces for impact with whatever lies ahead, able to see the slightest, most-distant ball of white light below, prepared for contact with whatever fate awaits her.
\ Realm Beyond - Eternal Office /
Already familiarised with the lavish passageway she traverses, Vic passes one empty mantle after another, each covered with a thing pane of glass, the lightbulbs coating the walls in a deep, vibrant blue. Her finger squeezing the trigger, Vic fires charges of electricity at the same decrepit, tortured souls that hurry after her, their eyes glowing a bloody shade of red.
Appearing in the distance, a colourless, nondescript line shines upon the corridor’s exit, a lone, featureless door inspires a fight in her the way no other does. Her walk becoming a run, Vic charges down the passageway’s halls, passing display cases with no regard for what lays within them, each ghoul she passes allowed to permanently slumber in purgatory at the will of her service weapon.
Her path cleared, Vic’s service weapon fades into oblivion, the only thing offering her respite from the paradox she’d entered set firmly within her sights. Crashing through the doorway, Vic fails to stop her momentum and throws herself to the ground, gradually rolling to a stop in a room she’d recalled seeing before.
“Is this real?” an echo-enraptured voice inquires, the hauntingly familiar voice directing Vic’s attention backward, the faceless woman standing behind her, hands folded as if she were praying. “Surely- by now- you know” the woman replies, one step taken forward, her lipless mouth continuing to speak. “Is any of this real?” the mystical woman inquires, urging the woman to ask of herself these questions, “all of your answers have been obvious. Ask yourself if you know the answers.”
The unassuming door she’d collided with now replaced by a familiar set of double doors, Vic ascends to her feet, staring at a woman she’s seen before, though unable to discern from where. “I’ve- I’ve seen you before” Vic remarks, her finger raised toward the woman’s figure, squinting as she looks at her, trying to remember why the face appears so familiar.
“The town house!” Vic suddenly exclaims, her eyes widening as she looks into the empty face, “you were the person at the end of the road!” Unresponsive, the woman remains where Vic discovered her to be, allowing the young woman to form whatever assumptions she may. “And- and- you were the one on that chair” Vic continues, her voice lowering a few octaves, “you were the one that came at me in that hallway before.”
Still unresponsive, the figment’s face looks into Vic’s, waiting for her opportunity to speak. “Who are you?” Vic finally inquires, the phantom’s lips separating as she takes one, full step forward. “I... am Mother” the apparition replies, her hands remaining pressed together, body stood at a perfect, ninety degree angle.
“You’re mother” Vic repeats aloud, her head tilting to the left as she stares into the woman’s face, unable to decipher what that means. Considering Mother’s response for a moment, Vic crafts another question off a baseless assumption, one she keeps private, stored far within the inner reaches of her mind. “When does all of this end?” Vic inquires, watching Mother’s figure step forward once more, the black clothes she wears made to look darker in the offer lobby’s blue lighting.
“When someone claims the throne” Mother replies, her voice carried toward the heavens, the walls rising past Vic’s line of sight, travelling beyond what she’s physically able to see. Puzzled, Vic repeats the answer in her head, eyes drifting to empty spaces in the room as she ponders what to ask next. “W-?” Vic begins to inquire, her words falling short of their escape past her tongue, a sudden qualm settling upon her mind at the last moment.
“What do you want from me?” Vic wonders aloud, awaiting the pause that Mother meets her with, watching the phantom step forward without an answer. Her head turned toward the side, Vic remains silent, continuing to wait for the response until it becomes clear that one is not imminent.
“Wha- What do you want from me?” Vic asks for a second time, the silence persisting as Mother steps forward, her posture unchanged from what she’d arrived with. With a deep sigh, Vic glances around the room, unsure of what to make of the display. “W-?” Vic attempts to ask once more, interrupted before her question can be raised as a set of doors pull apart near the back of the room, her sights set upon them as her eyebrow raises.
No less bewildered than when she’d entered the room being, Vic turns away from the doors, again laying her focus upon Mother. “What do you want from me?” Vic asks for a third time, unanswered for the third consecutive attempt as Mother steps forward, her left hand pulling away from her right, seeking refuge upon Vic’s arm.
“I judged adequately” Mother whispers, her lips pulling together in the form of a smile, her face directed toward Vic’s own as the floor gives out. Taken with gravity, Vic descends through a space of total darkness, a small ball of light that awaits her below only enlarging the further she plummets. Her arms crossed over her chest, Vic braces for what lies ahead, not a shout, nor a declaration uttered as she hurtles toward uncertainty, making peace with whatever is to come.
== Dream Sequence ==