\ Realm of Reality /
Business elsewhere in the home settled for the moment, Scarlett departs the villa’s dark, intimate back rooms in favour of the spacious, increasingly-decorated parlour. Her teeth pressing into the skin of a fresh apple, Scarlett steps into the open living room, her ears first capturing the calm sounds of warm, Arabian waters rushing past the supports of the home.
“Hey” a friendly voice calls out from the kitchen, its presence drawing Scarlett’s startled eyes toward it. With a steel wool pad, Vic runs a sleek, white plate under scalding water, scrubbing its stains and crusted remnants with a steady hand. “H- hey” Scarlett murmurs, neither young woman keen on saying much more than what they’ve offered, the silence that follows their brief interaction just as awkward as the aimless stare they hold upon each other.
“I’ll- I’ll leave you to-” Scarlett soon remarks, beginning to turn back toward the way she’d arrived before Vic cuts her off. “No, it’s fine!” Vic exclaims, setting the plate and pad into the near-empty sink before stopping the water, her hands reaching for the towel nearest to her, “I think we should probably talk.”
Her eyes squinting, Scarlett begins to shrug her head from one side to the other, continuing to slowly retreat toward the home’s cosy depths. “Don’t you think it’d be better if we didn’t?” Scarlett responds, her inquiry prompting Vic to lower her chin, leaving the damp towel atop the marble countertop. “I don’t think going radio-silent on each other is gonna help anyone” Vic replies, the wedge driven between them visible in the separation of their persons.
“Maybe not, but what if the alternative is the thing that sets us on- that?” Scarlett queries, pausing her retreat as Vic leans against the half-wall between the kitchen and adjacent parlour, “the crash course Lincoln told you about?” Lowering her chin for a second time, Vic subtly shakes her head, quietly making sure her response is given sound reasoning.
“I could ask the same thing about shutting each other out” Vic replies, her head tilting to one side as her shoulder shrugs, “besides, weren’t you the one that said we were wasting time trying to outsmart the realm?” With a brief frown, Scarlett rolls her eyes, her hands coupling together behind her lower back as she leans against the wall, still the room’s length away from Vic.
“Yeah, but that was before I knew the realm was pitting us against each other” Scarlett clarifies, her answer not doing much to change Vic’s approach. “The destination doesn’t make the truth of what leads to it any less true” Vic quickly rebukes, her reply bringing a frown over Scarlett’s face, “we’re not going to stop the realm from accomplishing it’s- whatever it wants.”
“That doesn’t mean we need to speed up the process” Scarlett retorts, the frowning expression now worn by Vic, “and we can’t risk turning on each other with Suzie still in the picture!” Her arms crossing, Vic stares at Scarlett with a disgruntled look, a question already prepared to leave her lips. “How do you expect us to take care of that problem if we’re not even on speaking terms?” Vic wonders aloud, a question Scarlett admittedly has little answer to.
“I don’t know!” Scarlett snaps back just as quickly as Vic had asked the question, “but I nearly took her out myself, didn’t I? If Lincoln’s the only reason I couldn’t finish the job- there’s nothing stopping me now!” Annoyed, Vic shakes her head and rounds the corner she’d turned minutes prior, her sights returning to the stack of unwashed dishes that remain.
“Why the hell do you have to be so damn fucking tempermental!?” Vic exclaims, the question raised more as a declaration of her frustration than with the intent of obtaining an answer to. “Oh, look at it already starting!” Scarlett shouts, her arms thrown out by her sides as she approaches, matching Vic’s raised tone, “go ahead- repeat the other horseshit Lincoln spewed off! Call me quick-tempered, and impulsive- Call me everything short of corrupted, why don’t you!?”
“Well, apparently- up until about a week ago- you were!” Vic shouts, scrubbing her dish with such force as she responds that her hand pushes through its centre, splitting its ceramic figure in half. “Fuck!” Vic shouts, chucking the wool pad into the sink’s cast iron basin as she shakes her right hand, three of her four knuckles bloodied by the shards that now sit in the sinks drain.
Stepping around the counter, Vic begins to walk the direction Scarlett had entered through, a passing glance taken at the blonde as she wraps the end of her shirt around the cut. With a scowl, Scarlett looks the woman in the eyes as she steps past her, setting off for the nearest bathroom whilst Scarlett watches, her own anger kept hidden well below her restricted demeanour.
= 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 of Reality /
Whilst Scarlett follows closely behind him, Jared tags after Rachel, a pair of suitcases carried in the hands of all three travellers. “So, you guys like it?” Scarlett queries, the last to step through the entrance of a quaint home situated in an open plot of land on the outskirts of an attractive city. “It’s so pretty!” Rachel speaks in a soft, whisper-like tone, the lounge she first peers into providing her with a welcoming aura.
“Where is this again?” Jared inquires, pausing in the archway between the living room and spacious kitchen, able to peer into a hanging garden just beyond the cookhouse’s exit. “Ciudad Del Este. Paraguay” Scarlett replies, flipping a switch from across the room to bathe the family space with light, “as far as places Suzie shouldn’t be able to find you in go- this seems preferable.”
Still somewhat shaken from the disbelief that the homely space they enter, adorned with four levels, multiple bathrooms and bedrooms, and a large, open space beyond their backdoors, Jared and Rachel gaze in wonder silently, all under Scarlett’s watchful eye. “¿Sabes ese español que estabas estudiando por diversión? ¿Cómo está?” Scarlett calls out, no longer needing to specify who her inquiries are directed toward now that Rachel wanders into the next room over.
“Está bien. Está un poco oxidado” the man replies, watching Scarlett’s head bob from one side to the next. “It’s passable. You’ll get better the longer you’re here” Scarlett replies, a response made in good faith, yet met with immediate curiosity. “Wh-? How long should we plan on being here?” Jared wonders back, the woman’s face falling slightly as she shrugs, her bottom lip pressed between her teeth as she forms an answer.
“We don’t know how long Suzie’s gonna be an issue yet. It could be days, or maybe weeks-” Scarlett responds, the open-ended conclusion to the reply leaving room for an unspoken alternative, “-maybe longer.” Though not outright opposed to the idea of settling in for a fair amount of time, Jared’s optimistic expression begins to falter, slowly becoming one of worry.
“You don’t have to- but you could stay here forever if you really wanted to” Scarlett adds, a gesture Jared continues to take bother over. “Vic paid for the land, got you work permits and permanent residency under different names. You’ve got enough money in accounts to cover yourselves for a few years!” Scarlett continues, the man’s expression not growing any more optimistic, “you’re set for however long you’re here.”
His head bowing, Jared begins to nod to himself, not as a result of the woman’s remarks, but of the thoughts he fills his head with quietly. “What’re you thinking?” Scarlett soon inquires, the pair making their way further into the parlour, occupying the comfortable sofa sat in the room’s centre. “It’s just a lot to process” Jared replies, his eyes still held on the patterned carpet beneath his dirt-covered shoes, “don’t get me wrong, I know why we have to- but it’s just- it’s just nerves.”
Able to understand the concern that fills Jared’s mind, Scarlett swipes a loose strand of hair over her ears, her hands wrapping around Jared’s own. “You guys are going to be fine” Scarlett responds, pulling one of her hands away to guide Jared’s face toward her own, their eyes meeting. “Suzie shouldn’t be able to find you here. You won’t need to live with the fear that you might get dragged into all of this again” Scarlett explains, a tone of genuine sympathy in her voice.
“You’ve got a fresh start to build a new life in. You’ve got everything you could ever need!” Scarlett continues, a sudden display of retraction offered in Jared’s posture. His shoulders stiffening, Jared pulls his hands away from Scarlett’s, his face pulling away from her own as he leaves the couch, stepping further into the living space. “What’s wrong?” Scarlett ponders, unsure of the reason behind his reaction.
“You keep talking like there’s something you’re hiding” Jared responds, his hand pressing against the sides of his head as he turns back. “Why do you say-?” Scarlett begins to inquire, incapable of finishing her question before Jared provides her with an answer, already knowing where the qualm was to lead.
“Because- the way you’re talking- it makes it seem like we’re not talking a few weeks” Jared replies, his suspicions increasingly justified as Scarlett’s face lowers. “How long do you actually think it’ll take before you come get us?” Jared inquires, Scarlett’s eyes slowly lifting toward him, too ashamed to answer his question without biting her tongue. Letting out a sigh, Scarlett drops her head once more, making peace with the answer she’s left to give.
“I’m not” Scarlett replies, waiting another few moments before returning her eyes toward Jared’s, who stares at her in surprise. “You- wha-?” Jared stammers, Scarlett’s silence allowing him a chance to resort his thoughts, “wow. Y’know, I thought you were gonna say ‘a year’, maybe? Or- or two?”
Though she’s begun the process of making sense from the reply, Scarlett recognises that Jared’s yet to begin, the realisation settling over him gradually. “It’s not like I want to abandon you guys, but I-” Scarlett explains, her clarification the only thing Jared’s mind can comprehend, his full attention given to it, “-I don’t think I have the choice.”
His head pulling back, Jared watches Scarlett’s head roll, her legs increasingly restless until she pulls away from her seat, forced to take a few laps around the living quarters. “What do you mean by that?” Jared responds, picking up on the struggle of her own that Scarlett’s mind wraps around the reality of, quick to call it into question.
“I don’t know!” Scarlett shouts, losing her composure for a moment before the palms of her hands press against her face. Her skin pulled by the grip of her fingers, Scarlett’s hands drag themselves down the length of her face, wiping the stress in her facial muscles before collecting herself. Repeating the answer in her head, Scarlett allows the words to get comfortable inside of her mind, their presence having yet to elicit anything more than a persistent mental racket.
“I think the realm is going to do something to Vic and I” Scarlett responds, her fingers sliding into the waistband of her jeans as her hands rest by her hips, “-something that’ll pit us against each other.”
His eyes narrowing, Jared remains standing in complete silence for a moment, pre-answering questions that randomly pop into his head. “I get that this place does weird shit, but it doesn’t change who you are, does it?” Jared inquires, rounding the couch and coffee table to get closer to the distressed woman.
“I don’t know, maybe?” Scarlett replies, as hard-pressed for answers as the man beside her is, “something tore Suzie and Lincoln apart, and we both know how that ended.” Guided by the optimist within him, Jared opts to seek greener pastures, directing his attention to a more hopeful outlook. “Maybe things are supposed to end differently for you two” Jared responds, his hand gently caressing the woman’s back, “I mean, you defied that corruption stuff! Clearly not everything is the same!”
Though hesitant to fall into the trap of positivity, Scarlett finds herself stricken by the suggestion, wanting to accept Jared’s proposition as true. “You could be right, but that leaves me with the same question I’ve been asking for months!” Scarlett replies, forced to laugh off the frustration that simmers within her to prevent herself from growling, “if Vic and I doing this fight to the death thing isn’t how everything ends- what is?”
His head shaking, Jared stares off into the distance, his mind reaching out for the first answer that makes enough sense to not sound ludicrous. “You live long and happy lives, die as old women, and retire to office building-world. How about that?” Jared responds, Scarlett’s eyes rolling as she looks to him, silently looking away as the man pulls her in for a hug.
“There’s still a chance all of this works out better than your head makes it seem” Jared replies, gently squeezing her shoulder as the future that lays ahead catches up with his mind. “I don’t really know if I can believe this” Jared mutters beneath his breath, Scarlett’s face looking into his, their eyes connecting, “this might be the last time I ever see you.”
With a smile, Scarlett rests her hand on Jared’s chest, her eyes trailing toward the base of his neck. “You thought that before, didn’t you?” Scarlett wonders aloud, her poor ability to say ‘goodbye’ making it impossible not to answer with humorous intent, “you’ve had practice.”
A laugh given through an exhale, Jared nods to himself, able to smile, but not able to truly appreciate the joke. “I’m really gonna miss you” Jared responds, his true sadness over the woman’s departure forcing him to choke up before his declaration can be finished. Once filled with a wholesome joy, Scarlett’s eyes fill with a reciprocated sorrow.
Her hand gently patting the man’s chest, Scarlett’s eyes let a few tears fall, overcome with a dejection that keeps her from cleanly responding. “I’m gonna miss you too” Scarlett replies, taking in a few breaths through her nose as she looks into Jared’s eyes, her arms wrapping around his neck as she whimpers, the pair sharing a tight embrace as they strive to combat their quickly unravelling demeanours.
After a few moments, the pair reluctantly pull apart, Scarlett’s lips pecking Jared’s cheek as their bodies detach. “Are you gonna say goodbye to Rachel?” Jared asks, wiping his face of the waterworks that trickle down his chin, forced to clear his throat. “Uh- no, I don’t think- I don’t think I could handle that one” Scarlett replies, her hands more carefully clearing her face of tears, “I think my heart would just break, y’know?”
Begrudgingly accepting her wishes, Jared nods, still trying to clear his throat as Scarlett approaches, resting her hands on each side of his face. “Take care of her, okay?” Scarlett asks, unable to raise her request without more tears beginning to run, “and be good to her, will you?” Flashing a smile, Jared nods, watching Scarlett pull away and walk toward the direction she’d entered, turning around to look Jared in the eyes as her hand lifts into the air.
“Bye Jared” Scarlett whispers, her lip quivering as the man stands before her, hands hanging aimlessly by his sides. “Goodb-” Jared replies, again forced to clear his throat as the woman’s fingers press together, speaking through the flurry of sadness he knows himself incapable of putting down, “goodbye, Scarlett.”
Lips pressed together, Scarlett snaps her fingers before she can convince herself not to, vanishing into air’s thin dimensions, leaving her friends with a life she hopes they can enjoy living.
\ Realm of Reality /
Walking the streets of Malé in a flannel shirt, a pair of high-rise jeans and white running shoes, Vic traverses the city’s colourful town, her hands tucked into her pockets as she travels without a destination. Surrounded by people for the very first time, Vic dawns her sunglasses and bows her head, a grey flat cap already adorning her head.
The ends of her shirt flailing in the gentle breeze, Vic chooses a corner store at random and enters it, drawn in by the allure of a cheap bottle of cola advertised on its signage.
Immediately hit with the rush of an air conditioner set to the lowest possible temperature, Vic steps further into the store, her eyes taking to the assortment of standing refrigerators at the mart’s end. With ease, Vic retrieves a handful of glass bottles from the unit, shovelling one bottle after another into a leather bag until the shelf they’d once occupied sits empty.
Licking her lips, Vic lowers her glasses to peer around the mart’s ceiling, the lack of security cameras providing her with a strange desire to defy the rules laid out by the society she inhabits. Her hand lifting into the air, Vic presses her fingers together before second thoughts arrive, the yearning quickly giving into the might her better judgement provides.
Shaking her head as if to rid herself of something that had tried to exhort power over her, Vic returns her glasses to their seat upon the bridge of her nose and approaches the counter. Opening the flap on her bag, Vic presents the cashier with the stockpile of cola bottles she’d set within her bag. “I’ll save you the count and tell you there are twenty in here” Vic remarks, a set of folded notes slipping from her pocket and into her fingers, “and for your trust, here’s a thousand bucks.”
His eyes widened, the clerk accepts the bribe with no hesitation, silently waving the woman toward the store’s exit. Returning to the door, Vic’s departure suddenly halts, her eyes captured by a glossy photo stuffed into the metal frame of a lottery ticket dispenser. “Is this New York?” Vic calls back to the clerk, again lowering the glasses from her eyes, able to spot the Empire State Building in the photo’s background.
“Those are my vacation photos of family” the cashier replies, slightly subconscious over his grasp on the English language, “we went to states three years ago.”
Nodding her head, Vic brings on a headache as she stares with more intensity, trying to recognise different buildings that surround the one of notability. “I remember doing a project on New York when I was younger” Vic replies, the headache only worsening the more she speaks, “my mom and I were up the entire night trying to put together a poster board. Yeah- I’d always wanted to go some day.”
“The city was very beau-” the clerk begins to reply, a sudden yelp of pain interrupting him as it leaves Vic’s lips, the ground beneath the woman beginning to shake as balance evades her. “Are you okay?” the clerk shouts, confused to Vic’s reaction as her legs grow more unstable.
The power of speech avoiding her, Vic stammers forward, her hands pressing against the display case as her eyes refuse to leave the photograph, seemingly glued to its glossy finish. “Miss!? Miss!?” The clerk continues to plead, desperately waiting for an answer Vic just can’t offer, the bright colours his store is decorated with turning to a faint shade of grey in Vic’s eyes, the vibrancy of the world she’s surrounded by rapidly deteriorating.
“Do I call doctor for you, miss!? Miss!?” the clerk continues, able to watch Vic’s eyes glaze over as the woman loses consciousness, taking the display case with her as she collapses backward. Frantically racing around his counter, the clerk races to the woman’s aid, his hand instinctively ripping a medical kit from the wall as he hurries to her side, left visibly stunned at the sight he discovers.
The glass of the lottery case shattered along the ground, only a leather bag with broken cola bottles remains of the woman’s presence, her unconscious body no longer to be found. His mouth agape, the clerk stares at the ground, the mess that waits for him to clean it left behind by the culprit.
Shielding her face, Vic’s colourless haze subsides, replaced with the clear blue skies of a busy, bustling metropolitan. Cars passing in opposite directions by each of her sides, Vic stares at the numerous buildings that thrust into the heavens, the plethora of windows reflecting the bright sunset of a day just on the verge of ending. Confused, Vic takes a spin in each direction, nearly rotating three hundred and sixty degrees perfectly before her eyes take toward the distance.
The sun behind her, Vic travels down the congested street, the sight of taxicabs alone giving her the impression that a strange phenomena has occurred. “Un-fucking-real” Vic whispers to herself, finally reaching the road’s end as it meets the East River, the distant shot of the Empire State Building capturing her attention and awe. “Smile kids!” a familiar voice remarks, immediately stealing Vic’s eyes from the tower, chummy sights yet to cease.
Just as the photo had projected, Vic watches the camera flash for the Maldives’ clerk’s family photo, aligned with the Empire State Building just as they were in the picture. Squinting, Vic takes another spin, glancing at the passersby as they move on with their day, completely disregarding her presence.
“Hello!?” Vic exclaims, drawing out the ‘o’ sound with her hands cupped around her mouth, projecting her voice forward with no one to hear it. Individually, each civilian passes by her with little contrary effort, her presence non-existent as far as they’re concerned. “Stop touching! I told you stop touching!” the clerk exclaims, swatting his son’s hand away from a small newspaper stand in a rage, his wife’s hand pressing against his arm in an effort to calm him.
“Get off!” the clerk angrily exclaims, throwing his wife’s hand away from his body before slapping his oldest son across the face, the child’s stoic reaction leaving Vic with the suspicion he’d grown a tolerance to it.
“You live in a strange world” a soft voice speaks, a whisper flowing through the air and latching onto Vic’s ear, no soul capable of creating such a sound anywhere within Vic’s vicinity. “It is a neccessary world- that is certain” the abnormal voice continues, the words it speaks now revolving around her head, almost mesmerising her in a strange way, “that necessity, however, does not make it any less strange.”
“Are you speaking to me?” Vic wonders aloud, still looking in each direction for the voice’s source, as of yet unable to uncover it. “Who else would I be speaking to?” the voice inquires, the faint tone never once lifting higher than a whisper, “these people live in a time that has passed. They cannot respond to forces that have yet to exist.”
“Is that what you are?” Vic quickly wonders aloud, patiently spinning in circles at a slow pace, waiting for the force that speaks to reveal itself. “I’m not sure” the voice replies, finally giving itself a physical form, Mother presenting herself to Vic just as she had before, her face empty apart from a mouth, her hands folded together, the tip of her head barely reaching the bottom of Vic’s chin.
“Well, you seem to be sure about a lot of other things” Vic replies, Mother’s patience prevailing as she waits for her turn to speak, “what’re you coming down to tell me?” Bowing her head, Mother remains stood in absolute silence, only breaking her rigid posture upon stepping away from her post, slowly approaching the woman’s side. “The roles have never reversed, Victoria” Mother replies, parting her hands to lay one upon Vic’s shoulder, “all they have ever done is reconfigure themselves.”
“Am I supposed to ask you what that means?” Vic quickly replies, gently pulling her shoulder away from Mother’s grasp, her confrontational demeanour not difficult to notice. “What the fuck are you? Are you a ghost? Are you supposed to be some really fucked up delusion, huh?” Vic continues to ask, Mother’s patience again proving too strong for Vic to dismantle, “what purpose are you supposed to be serving? What the fuck am I supposed to take from this?”
With a pause, Mother lets Vic expend her breath before replying, her voice frail like an old woman’s would be. “Which of the questions would you like me to answer?” Mother queries, the skin where her eyes and nose would be appearing smooth, no different from that of a young adults, though the flesh around her mouth appears wrinkled, providing the same display as her voice.
“I want you to tell me how to stop this” Vic replies, staring at where the woman’s eyes would otherwise be as she speaks with confidence, “I want you to tell me how this is supposed to end.” Her lips pressing together, Mother’s head hangs, her hands parting for a second time before hovering over Vic’s, voluntarily restoring the woman’s powers before lifting her face, only answering Vic’s question when the woman’s hands glow a vibrant blue.
“Whether you care to admit it or not is a journey for which you, and you alone, must take” Mother replies, lifting her hand into the air before pressing her fingers together, snapping with a single set of departing words, “-deep down, you already know that answer.” Leaving Vic no room to respond, Mother frees the woman from her paradox, the sky around New York turning grey just as its photographic counterpart had.
Coming to, Vic finds herself stood near the standing refrigerators at the market’s rear, a man’s frantic babbling easy to hear from the store’s front. Taking a moment to run her hand over the smooth, hairless skin on her arms, Vic takes full attention of the remarks exclaimed across the mart from herself, eyes narrowing as her sights are set forward.
Hair bouncing off her shoulders, Vic steps through aisles stacked with random items, most of whom don’t belong together, let alone within the same few metres as each other. Heart set on winning different battles, Vic steps over the wreckage she’d left behind and approaches the unassuming clerk, his back turned to the rest of his store as he phones emergency services.
Snatching the phone from his hand, Vic wraps her hand around the store owner’s neck and lifts him off the ground, his back pressed against the wall as she hangs the phone back upon its receiver. “If I ever hear about you beating your family again, I’ll come back and make an example out of you” Vic warns, the man’s eyes staring into her own with a horrifying fear, “do you understand me?”
Quickly losing oxygen, the man wraps his hands around Vic’s wrist and nods, his feet returned to the ground upon his agreement as Vic relinquishes him from her grasp. Peering into her bag, Vic discovers most of the bottles to be intact as the leather satchel is hoisted over her shoulders. “I’m taking these too” Vic remarks, snatching a handful of small chip bags before stuffing them, too, into her rucksack, “enjoy the cash, creep.”
Snapping her fingers, Vic vanishes before the clerk’s eyes with little concern, his palms pressing against the floor as he pushes himself backward, gasping for air in utter shock.
== Dream Sequence ==