Anywhere But Home

Toxic

“Pacifica!” her father's voice rang out in the empty room. He whipped around and stalked over to her, looming above her. The sight was horribly intimidating, as if she wasn't already trembling enough. Her mother walked over to join him and they both glared down at her.

She knew that look, having been on the receiving end of it many times before. The one look spoke volumes. You're inadequate. You're a disappointment. You’re weak. You’re incompetent. You’re careless. You're foolish. You're immature. You’re flawed. You’re beastly. You’re wrong. You’re imperfect. You’re unreliable. You’re useless. You’re pathetic. You’re shameful. You’re a mistake. You've failed us. You're not worthy of being a Northwest, because a Northwest is the best.

Instantly she looked down, her hands clasped together in front of her.

“Pacifica Elise Northwest, do you have any idea what you've done? Any idea of the shame you've brought on this family?” her father scolded. “I am furious with you. You directly disobeyed me! Letting all that… rabble into the house! Look at the mess this place is in!”

“But Dad, if- if I hadn’t let them in then-”

“Be quiet!” he snapped. “I am talking to you!”

“Honestly, Pacifica,” her mother sighed. “You should know better than to talk back.”

“But, Mom, all those people, your guests, would have died if I didn't-”

“We told you not to talk back!”

She hung her head again. “I'm sorry,” she said quietly. She really did know better. If she carried on that way it wouldn't lead to anything good.

“No you're not!” he shot back, making her flinch at his tone. “If you were sorry then you never would have done this. The house is trashed, our name is ruined. No one will ever come to the party ever again. No one wants to mingle with that lot.” His nose scrunched up in disdain as he spoke about the towns people. “And just look at our good carpet!!! Mud everywhere! What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I'm really sorry, Dad,” she said, her voice still quiet. “But if I hadn't done it, that ghost was going to kill everyone. He can go through walls, he would have found us. And he was going to burn the house down. And Dipper-”

“Dipper!” he hissed. “That Pines brat is the reason we're in this mess. His job was to capture the ghost before the party, and what does he do, he lets it go. And then he has the gall to start spewing false accusations at us. He's no different from that cheat of an uncle of his.”

“He-he was just trying to help. The ghost broke free and-”

“If we ever see you near that boy again we will make sure that he is out of this town for good. Stanford Pines is not fit to take care of children. All it would take is one phone call to Child Services and it's back home to the city for them.”

Her mouth dropped open in horror. They couldn't do that! They had no right!

“You- you can't!” she cried.

Her mother laughed, sounding horrifyingly close to a villain from TV shows. “Of course we can. And why do you care. It's not like you like them. They're not your friends, Pacifica. You're better than them. Or do you want to be a piece of garbage like them? You want this family to fall to ruin and for us to live out in the slums of the street, don't you?” She said nothing and her mother scowled. “Yeah, you're just a traitorous little bitch, aren't you?”

She bit her lip, almost drawing blood. She wanted to say something. She wanted to defend herself, but she couldn't. It was her mother's favourite trap. It clearly wasn't true, and she refused to agree. But if she even opened her mouth to disagree, well... she knew what would happen.

“See,” she said. “You're not saying anything because you know I'm right.” And there it was. That was the trap. “You've ruined everything. You and those Pines brats. You've been nothing but appalling since you met them.”

“Nothing strange ever happened in this town until they came along.”

She couldn't stand it any longer. Staying silent. It only made her angrier, wishing that she could say more. Accusing her was one thing. But Dipper and Mabel had been helping this town since they got here. Helping her. Dipper had been so kind to her, even though... Dipper had showed her that she could stand up to them. And she was going to.

“No, they've always been happening!” she defended them. “But everyone in this town is just too dumb to notice! Just like they're too dumb to see how badly we treat them, and how much we lie to them!”

Before she knew it, her father's hand was swinging around towards her. She didn't have time to bock it or move away, only to tense and prepare for the pain she knew would come. His hand smacked into her hard, making her head turn with the force. She almost fell over but quickly righted her footing. It took a moment for the pain to actually set in, then suddenly her cheek was burning. Her hand flew up to press against it. Even with her glove on, her hand seemed slightly cooler, and that helped, but she used a little too much pressure and it made her wince. Tears prickled in her eyes. She wanted to cry. In pain. In anger. But she refused to do it in front of them.

“How dare you,” he growled.

“I'm sorry,” she squeaked.

“No you're not! You're a selfish, spoiled little bitch. We gave you everything. We did everything so that you could have the best start in life. And you slander and disgrace us like we are the scum of the earth. We own this town, we own you. You are supposed to do as you are told and act like a proper heiress, instead you disgrace us at every turn.”

He had slowly been walking towards her as he shouted, backing her up. And by now she was practically pressed against the wall. She didn't want to be standing close enough to him that he could hit her again. Once again, her mother stepped up beside him so that she could get in on the berating.

“You're pathetic,” she sneered. “You think that you can run around with your new little friends and ruin everything.” She scrunched up her nose at the words 'little friends' sounding like she were talking about a cockroach. “You may as well go join them, you're no better than they are.” Pacifica hung her head, she knew how her family thought of other people. She knew what they thought of the pines. They back-talked everyone once they were out of hearing range, even their friends. The only difference with her was that they didn't care if they said it to her face.

“I-”

“Shut up!” she hissed. “I don't want to look at you anymore. Go somewhere we won't have to see you.”

Her entire body deflated. She knew that arguing further would lead to nothing good. But hearing that was like a punch to the gut. She also wanted to stand up for herself, but there was nothing she could say that her parents couldn't twist around. Nothing that wouldn't lead to more arguments, or more of a beating.

She hesitated a moment, not sure whether to stay or to run. She watched as her mother turned her back on her, her father just scowled. It wasn't the scowl he used for others. No, this scowl was especially for her. It held just as much of the disdain, as well as disappointment, and a look that gave the impression of betrayal.

Clenching her jaw and ignoring the pain it caused her, she turned on her heal and strutted off down the hall. The further she got away from them, the more her strut turned into a run, and the more the tears welled up in her eyes. By the time she reached her room, she was gasping and sobbing. Angry tears streaked down her face as she slammed the door and kicked it for good measure. She scrubbed furiously at her eyes, annoyed at the tears for falling. She shouldn't be crying. She couldn't. She was stronger than that. She paced the room a few times, too livid and upset to stay still. She shook her hands vigorously, trying to get the trembling to stop. She hadn't stopped crying yet, but she would. She was stronger than that.

Oh, who was she kidding. She wasn't strong at all. She was just a stupid little girl who was too weak to stand up to her parents, so she took it out on other people. She was no better than them.

Her pacing slowed right down, and she slumped to the ground. She curled up, holding her knees. Her back fell against the side of her bed, and she hung her head in the hollow between her knees and her chest. She didn't care about not crying anymore, she just let it come, a heaving sob wrenching its way out of her body.

It wasn't fair. Everyone else already treated her like she was the worst person in the world. Yeah, that may have been her fault. But not her parents. Her parents shouldn't be treating her like that. They always told her that she was supposed to be the best, but everything they did and said only continued to prove that she was the worst. Parents weren't supposed to treat their kids the way hers did.

She continued to weep, memory after memory passing though her head. All the things her parents had said to her for the last few years raging through her head, drowning her in their torment. Thinking about one thing made her think about more. And more and more painful memories of her parents abuse resurfaced, making her curl up tighter. She didn't deserve this. Or maybe she did. She didn't know anymore.

There was only one thing she did know. She couldn’t stand this anymore. She had to get out. She had to get away from this toxic life, and those toxic people. She had to get away. She had to.

It took a while for her to calm down enough to stop crying and collect herself. But when she did, she stood on numb, shaky legs, a new resolve in her eyes. Her face was set in determination as she headed towards her closet. She forced her way out of the horrible, uncomfortable dress her mother had made her wear, slipping into something more comfortable. Then she pulled her suitcases from the back of her wardrobe and began to browse her clothes.

She began picking enough outfits to last her a couple of weeks, as well as any other essential items. And by essential, they probably weren't, but she'd need them for something, right? She had clothes prepared for any type of weather, even freezing cold weather. Since it was summer she probably wouldn’t need them, but who could take that risk. After adding all her beauty products and bathroom accessories, she had about five suitcases... Yeah. There was no way that she was getting out of here with all those.

There was a sudden beep that distracted her, and she went over to her dresser where she'd left her phone that night. She picked it up to see a message from Tiffany.

'Howd it go?' was all it said.

'Not good,' she typed back. She went over to the wall and pressed the buzzer that would have a butler come. She made sure to type in the code so that she would get one in particular. Her phone went off again.

'O dear. Scale of 1 – 10?'

'20. I'm running away.'

She went into her closet again and went even further into the back. She found one of her old school backpacks that she used to use before she got to high school and started using either a satchel, or some swooning kid to carry it for her. She could have used a tramping bag, but that was a little big. She'd need something small and light if she was going to escape. She was partway through packing it with the most essential things when her phone went off again.

'Wait, wat? No! That a bad idea. U no wat will hapen if u do. Not gonna go well.' A small mix of anger and self doubt burst through her. On the one hand she was annoyed that her friend would try and stop her, when she knew full well what her parents were like. But on the other hand, Tiffany was right. No. She'd made up her mind. She was going.

'I can't take anymore, Tif. I'm just going away for a few weeks. They'll probably calm down by then.' There was a quiet knock at the door right as she sent the text.

“Come in,” she said. The door creaked open and Murphy stepped in.

“Ma'am.”

“Murphy! I need you to do me a favour. A huge favour.”

He smiled fondly and rolled his eyes, something that only he could get away with, and only from her. “Ma'am, I am your butler. It is my job to do as you ask.”

“Yeah, but this is big. Really big. You can't tell my parents.” He nodded in understanding. She knew that he wouldn't. Murphy had been with them long before she was even born, he had known her all her life. He was the only one in this house that she could trust completely. “I'm running away.”

He looked about at all the bags on the ground. “Looks to me like you're more going for a holiday to the lodge, Miss Pacifica. There's no way you can take all this with you if you don't want your parents to notice.”

“That's why I need you,” she told him. “I have this small bag to take with me for tonight. I was thinking that when I find a place to stay for a few weeks, I could message you, and you could bring my bags to me there.”

He nodded, knowing what she was like with her things. “Alright. Do you have a place to stay tonight?”

“Um... not really.”

“Would you like me to call a hotel for you?”

“No, no, it's okay. I need to go somewhere where they can't trace me. They'll find me at Tif or Aubrey's place. I'll just find someone who'll put me up. I doubt many people would be adverse about it if I give them a few hundred.”

“As you wish, as long as you stay safe.”

She smiled at him. “I will.”

“Though, I will request that you do not leave right away. I have some things to give you that may help you.”

She nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I’ll stay a little longer. I should probably write a note to Mom and Dad. They won’t find it for a while, so…”

“A wise idea, ma’am. Would do better than having wide scale investigations. I shall take your bags and be back with some aid.”

“Thank you, Murphy,” she said greatly.

The man went over to her bags and expertly picked all of them up at once. Then he left her room. She wasn’t scared that he would be caught. Her parents would have gone to sleep already. She quickly finished packing her small bag full of night clothes and a few changes for the next day. She found her sneakers and put them on, as well as a nice warm jacket. It was pretty chilly outside tonight. It was when she went to pack her phone in the bag that she saw another text from Tiffany.

They r goin 2 kil u, Paz. Dont do this.’

It’s fine. I have everything sorted. I need you to cover for me. If they ask, you know nothing about this.’

She chucked the phone in her bag and zipped it up. Then she went over to her desk and began her letter. It started out as a simple explanation of why she was running away, but the more she went on, the more she found herself venting about how they treated her and how it made her feel. She wanted to scribble half of it out so that they wouldn't see it, and would never have to respond to it. But some defiant part of her wanted them to see it, wanted them to know how she truly felt and saw them. And yet another part of her wanted to screw it up and start again, leaving a fair amount out. By the time she was done writing the letter, she was a frustrated, sobbing mess again. She folded the paper up, scrawled 'Mom and Dad' on the outside, and placed it on her bed.

She wiped at her eyes and grabbed up her bag. She was just waiting on Murphy now. As it turns out, she didn't have to wait long. She had only been sitting on her bed for a minute when he came in, a small bag in hand.

“Ah, good. You're still here,” he said with a smile. She returned his smile and jumped off the bed to go talk to him. “Right, I have some things you will need. Good, I see you're dressed sensibly for this.”

“No, Murphy. I'm going to hike around town in the middle of the night in my ball gown.”

He just shook his head at her sarcasm. “Right, first off...” He reached into the bag and pulled out a flash-light. “You'll need this. It's very dark out there. This is high powered and solar charged, so it won't run out tonight.” Next he pulled out a cellphone and charger. It wasn't as flash as her own, but it wasn't too shabby either. “Use this phone when you are set up. Your parents don't know the number, so it can't be traced. My number is already in there if you need me.” He pulled out a bottle and a small bag of what looked to be sweets. “It's a bit of a hike into town, especially if you go the way I have planned. This will help keep your energy up. And finally...” He pulled out a piece of paper and a small grey disk attached to a key-chain. He lay the paper out on her desk, and she saw that it was a blueprint of the house. Certain things had been marked out in different colours. “This is how you are going to get off the grounds. Of course, after tonight, security is set to maximum. So you're going to use the servants passageways to leave the house. There is a door into them directly across from your room, but you'll have to wait for the camera to turn this way.” He pointed out the door and the camera and she nodded in reply. She knew the one he was talking about. “Follow the passage along here and downstairs. If you turn right here, it will lead you to the kitchens. Once again, you will have to avoid the camera here. The back door to the kitchen will take you out to the back of the house, which is where you need to be. You'll need to use this to get through the door. The code is on the schematics.” He gave her the disk and she recognised it as the sensor keys they gave to the servants so that they could get in and out of the house. Murphy was the only live in butler. “Once you're out, stick to this wall, you won't be fully out of the way of the camera, but you'll be less noticeable. Once you get to here, follow this path I've marked across the garden. It's a very thin blind spot. Over here by the wall, there is a small wooden door. It hasn't been locked in years, but is a bit stiff. It will take you right off the property and into the forest out the back. Now, the forest is not safe. But you'll have to travel through it just to the bottom of the hill. Try and head this way so that you can meet up with the road at the bottom of the driveway. From there you can walk into town. If you can't find anywhere I want you to ring me. I also want you to message me if you do find somewhere safe. Understood?”

She nodded again, looking in awe over the information and items he had given her. “Bloody hell, Murphy. You could rob this place if you wanted to!”

Murphy just winked at her. “Alright, now take these things and go. I'll cover for you for as long as I can.”

Tears began to well up in her eyes, but this time for an entirely different reason. Without warning, she threw her arms around the butlers waist. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Murphy smiled fondly, patting her on the head. “It's alright, my dear. Now, you best get going. It's getting very late.”

She drew apart from him and nodded. With one last reassuring smile, he left the room. She unzipped her bag again and put in the cellphone and its charger. She popped one of the sweets in her mouth before she put that and the drink in her bag too. She zipped it back up, swung it over her shoulder, and headed out of the room.

She flicked off the light and watched the camera just down the hall, waiting till it was facing away from her. When she was sure she wouldn't be seen by it, she dashed across the hall to a door that was slightly hidden by the wallpaper that covered it. It opened easily and she slipped in and closed the door. She was instantly plunged into darkness and she let out a small yelp of surprise, fumbling for the torch. When she managed to turn it on, she the thin beam illuminated a thin, dark corridor. It was shabby, and looked like it hadn't been looked after like the rest of the house since it had been built. There were many small spider webs about, and she shuddered thinking about the creepy crawlies that would be lurking around.

Taking a deep breath, she began down the passageway, looking at the blueprints for guidance. It was strange, but even though she was in such a confined space, she felt as if she were only getting lost. It was like being in a maze. It seemed to take a long time till she reached another door, and she was scared that she'd made a wrong turn somewhere. But when she opened the door, she found herself in the kitchens.

Following Murphy's instructions, she went to the door and scanned the disk. When it asked for a number, she entered in the four digit code that was written at the top of the paper. The machine beeped green and the automatic lock snicked open. Quickly, she snuck out the door and crept along as close to the wall as she could, until she came to the spot that had been marked out. From there, she crossed their massive lawn, making sure to keep close to all the landmarks she could see that were inside the highlighted blind spot. Finally she came to the big wall that marked the edge of their property. Well, they owned the entire hill, but their building officially stopped at the wall. She knew that the top was rigged with barb-wire that set off an alarm if enough pressure was put on it. So the door was the perfect option.

It took her a minute or two to find it. It wasn't as clear as she thought it would be, and it was hiding behind a bush. It was also very small. She would have to push her backpack though first, then crawl out after it. It looked just wide enough, though. The hatch to open it was rusty and it took more than a few good pushes to wrench it open. The screech it made as it did was so loud in the silent night, she was scared for a moment that someone would have heard it. But when no lights turned on in the house, she carried on. She took her bag off and pushed it through the gap and off to the side. Then she wriggled past the rest of the bush and got down on her hands and knees, almost commando crawling through. By the time she was on the other side, her hands, elbows, and knees were covered in dirt. With a sigh of annoyance and disgust, she brushed away as much as she could. Then she knelt again and pushed the little door closed.

Starting to feel tired, Pacifica leant against the wall. Thank god that was over and done with. It had turned out to be a bit easier than she had originally thought, but it was still a relief. She was out of there. She was free. All she had to do now was make her way into town and bribe someone to let her stay the night. Should be easy enough. Most people around town would do anything for a decent sum of money. She just hoped that that trait of theirs wouldn't back fire and lead to them selling her out.

She stopped a moment to open her bag. She put the disk and the blueprints in there now that she was done with them. Then she took a long swig of the drink, and popped another sweet in her mouth. She grabbed a small handful and put them in her pocket so she wouldn't have to keep stopping to get them out.

After one last look at the map, she did the bag back up and hoisted it onto her back. With a faint smile, she strode off in the general direction that would end up getting her to the road. The walking was a little tricky. There was no clear or defined path, just random little ridges that must have been created by animals at some point. And not only was it hard to see, even with the torch light, but the ground was slippery due to the layer of pine-needles that littered the ground.

She wandered down the hill for what seemed like a while. She was sure that she should be coming to the road soon, but she couldn't see any sign of the trees thinning out. Maybe she really had taken a wrong turn this time? It was hard trying to navigate a forest when you had nothing to go off and no sense of direction. There would have been a high chance of her having walked in circles a few times, if it weren't for the fact that she was still on the hill. The only logical way to go was down. As she kept going, the more she felt as if she were becoming hopelessly lost.

She stopped again, hoping to try and gain some idea of where about she could be. That was when she heard it. A clear familiar voice ringing through the forest.

“Pacifica!”


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