Arrival of the Not-So-Evil Scientist
When Perry awoke the next morning it was to see that Candace was already gone. The platypus yawned and sat up, rubbing at his eyes. 'Guess she's feeling better,' he thought. Maybe she'll finally get to have some fun on this crazy vacation.
His watch started beeping insistently, causing Perry to stiffen. Ever since Monogram had sent over One, there hadn't been much contact between the two. He would give the occasional update to Carl but Monogram had enough O.W.C.A business on his hands. He would deal with the issue in Gravity Falls if it turned urgent. So when Francis Monogram flashed across the face of his watch, he had the feeling that the news he was going to receive wasn't good.
"Agent P!" exclaimed Monogram when Perry accepted the call. "I've been trying to contact you all night!"
Perry furrowed his brow, having no recollection of his watch going off through the night. Geez. Must have been sleeping pretty heavily.
But that wasn't too surprising. He had been going at this case pretty hard with little peaceful rest. He gave an apologetic chatter.
"Don't worry about it, Agent P. You've been under a lot of stress lately. You deserve a good sleep. I'm calling to inform you that Doofenshmirtz is on his way back to Gravity Falls."
'You can't be serious.'
Monogram caught the exasperated expression on his agent's face. "We tried to intercept him at his building but he was already gone. He should be arriving at the town limits in less than an hour. But I think he's coming to help, not to cause more trouble."
'With Heinz, it can end up being the same thing,' thought Perry dryly. But he heaved a sigh and gave his boss a salute. He would deal with his nemesis and make sure he didn't get near his kids.
"Thank you, Agent P. I am sorry for putting all this on you. But if anyone can fix Heinz's blunder, it's you. Good luck."
Monogram signed off and Perry slipped on his fedora. He left the cabin and made his way to where Heinz would be entering Gravity Falls. He wasn't sure how he felt about the arrival of his nemesis/friend. On one hand, it would be nice to have someone to navigate this bizarre mystery with. On the other hand, it would grow even more difficult to keep his secret intact. Gravity Falls was a small town and he was the only platypus in the area. He couldn't be seen out in public with Heinz, especially not if his kids were within range.
'I've gotten out of worse situations,' he thought with a wary smile.
He reached a long, winding road and stood behind the Welcome to Gravity Falls sign. The water tower, displaying the same greeting, loomed off in the distance. Perry patiently peered around the pole, closely eyeing the vehicles that drove past.
"Bow chika bow wow, That's what my baby says!"
The loud, screeching voice came from the approaching purple truck. Shaking his head, Perry checked to make sure there were no other oncoming vehicles before jumping from his hiding place and landing on the hood of Heinz's car.
Heinz screamed in surprise, slamming on the breaks. Perry kept his stance on the hood and gave the man an irritated glare through the windshield.
"Don't look at me like that, Perry the Platypus. I'm here to help!" exclaimed Heinz.
Perry entered the car through the open passenger's window. He buckled up his seatbelt and gazed questioningly at the evil scientist.
"I had a thought," explained Heinz, putting the gear into 'drive' and stepping on the gas. "Demons are like evil spirits, right? Like ghosts or whatever."
Perry gave a slow nod.
"Okay, so just hear me out. People think ghosts-or spirits-exist because they have unfinished business here on Earth. Some unresolved issues or something. I'm not an expert on demons or anything, but what if the same thing applies to them? What if they have a reason for existing? Think about it-things just don't exist. There's a reason for it, an explanation for why we're here. So where did this demon come from?"
Perry mulled this over, rather surprised and impressed by Heinz's idea. It was certainly something he hadn't considered, and he decided then and there he was relieved to have Heinz help him figure out who the fire demon was and where it was.
It was nice to have a fresh view on the crazy situation the pair had landed themselves into.
Feet dragging across the leave-strewn floor of the forest, Dipper wearily knocked on yet another tree. With no luck, he made a mark on the bark with some chalk. It was how they would distinguish the trees they already tried from the ones they hadn't.
"This is dumb," he grumbled, repeating the process with each tree he approached. "This will take us a million years."
There was no joking remark from his sister. She was currently a distance away, covering a different section of the forest. They had come to the decision that the work might be faster if they split up.
He was just about to rap his knuckles against yet another tree when Mabel's startled scream rocked his senses. He was flying across the forest in an instant, heart pumping with adrenalin and fear. He found his sister standing against the lip of a short, steep slope. Her face was uncharacteristically pale and her jaw was slack.
"What's wrong?" he asked anxiously, stepping beside her. "Are you okay?"
Unable to speak, Mabel pointed downwards. Dipper followed her shaking finger and found the source of her fear. His face drained of colour.
Gideon Gleeful sat at the bottom of the slope. He was stiff and unmoving. Mabel licked her lips and managed to rasp, "Is he dead?"
"If he fell from this height, it wouldn't have killed him. It's all mud and grass, no rocks," Dipper answered, managing to regain his senses. He picked his way down the slope, Mabel following after him. "Uh…Gideon?" he tried, approaching the boy. "You…you alive?"
There was no response. Nervous, Dipper extended his leg and nudged Gideon with his foot. The body rolled over, revealing a blank, colourless face. But what made both preteens gasp in horror was the white, lifeless gaze staring back at them.
"What the heck happened to him?" squeaked Mabel, feeling sick to her stomach.
Dipper rubbed the back of his neck, fingernails digging into his skin. "It can't be a coincidence. That weird earthquake and now this?"
"But what's doing it?"
Dipper did not answer. His eyes locked onto Gideon's blue suit. He leaned over the boy and reached inside the suit jacket, grabbing hold of a familiar leather-bound book. He pulled Two from Gideon's possession and flipped through it.
"Anything?" asked Mabel hopefully.
After a minute, Dipper shook his head. "There are mostly spells in here. No secret notes, either." He shut Two and slipped it under his own vest. "He's not going to be needing this any time soon."
Mabel slapped his shoulder. "It's not funny! I know he's a jerk and all, but this serious!"
"I know it is!"
"So what do we do?"
"Well…I guess we can't leave him out here," he reluctantly admitted. "I don't think he's dead. He's just…not home."
"So do we bring him back to his parents?"
Dipper let out a huff of breath. "Well, there's nowhere else to put him. Besides, they'll wonder where he is. We're just going to have to tell them something happened and that it'll pass eventually."
Mabel nodded. "Can we call it quits for today? I'm pretty spooked."
Together, the two lifted up Gideon's still body and made their way out of the forest. They took the long way to the Gleeful household to make sure they wouldn't be spotted by any of the townspeople. It was not something they wanted to explain-it was going to be difficult enough to discuss this with Mr. and Mrs. Gleeful.
"Wait here," said Dipper once they reached the house. "I'm going to prep them first."
Dipper walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. After a minute, Bud Gleeful answered. "Hello there, Dipper Pines."
"Hi," he returned, feeling nerves bubble in his stomach. How the heck am I going to explain this? "Uh-"
"I'm afraid Gideon is not here right now, if you're here to see him. He spent the night out, actually."
"Really?" asked Dipper, deciding to go with it. "How come?"
"Oh, for some reason or other," dismissed Bud. "He does this sometimes. Just goes off for a bit. He'll be back."
"So…you're not worried?" Dipper asked slowly, seeing a way out.
"Nah! He always comes back. He likes to take some alone time. When he comes back, I'll let him know you came lookin' for him."
"No!" Dipper said quickly. "It's fine. It's nothing. Uh, have a nice day."
"You too," said Bud cheerfully, and he shut the door.
Letting out a long breath, Dipper hurried around to the side of the house, where Mabel crouched with Gideon. "Well?" she whispered.
"Apparently, Gideon pulls a disappearing act often," informed Dipper. "So I didn't say anything."
"They're not worried!" he defended. "We'll keep this quiet until they start to ask questions."
"Where are we supposed to put him?" demanded Mabel.
"In our closet."
Mabel stared. "That's creepy."
"This whole thing is creepy. Look, I know we don't like the guy, but I'm pretty sure he's not dead. We have a responsibility to keep him in this state until we figure out what the cause is."
"And we aren't going to tell anyone? What about Phineas, Ferb and their friends?"
"How about we wait and see if this happens again?" persuaded Dipper. "I don't want to worry them unless I know for sure there's a connection between this and that weird earthquake."
Mabel set her hands on her hips. "Uh…I'm gonna say there's a very good chance. You even said so yourself."
"Hey, lots of crazy things happen in this town. For all we know, this could be an isolated incident." Dipper made a fist with his left hand and smacked it into the palm of his right. "We need to find that missing page. I'm certain that'll shine light on everything."
"Guess we're going to have to work double-time." Mabel lifted up Gideon's arms while her brother took the boy's legs. "What do we do about our afternoon shift?"
"We're gonna have to skip it," replied Dipper, though he felt a heavy weight grow in his stomach at the thought. Stan would not be happy with them, but it was necessary.
"If you say so."
As the twins started the trek back to the Mystery Shack, lugging a still Gideon between them, Phineas, Ferb and their friends were growing concerned about Candace's whereabouts.
"She's been gone all morning," said Phineas, peering into his sister's empty cabin. "What if she's still sick?"
"I don't think she would have left if she was sick," reasoned Isabella. "Maybe she went to town or something."
"But why isn't she answering my calls?" vexed Phineas.
None of them really had an answer for that. They all knew Candace well, and the girl would never turn off her cellphone. Even with the lack of electricity, she was a master of conserving her cell battery.
A sudden idea struck Phineas and he dug out his cellphone. "I can track her!"
"Oh, you guys have the app?" asked Isabella with interest.
"Don't get creepy," said Buford lowly, so that only the girl could hear. She shot him a glare and elbowed him in the ribs.
"Uh-huh." Eyes locked on the screen, Phineas used the app to link up with his sister's phone. After a few seconds, the system located Candace and showed the redhead the coordinates.
"She's in the forest," spoke Ferb, eyes narrowed slightly.
"That does not make sense," voiced Baljeet. "Candace cannot stand nature."
"Come on," said Phineas in determination. "Let's go."
The group of five made tracks for the dense forest. The afternoon sunlight managed to penetrate through the tight clusters of leaves, lighting their way. Stumbling over roots, stumps and rocks, they followed the flashing dot on Phineas' cellphone screen.
"She should be right-" Phineas then froze, staring ahead with shocked, terrified eyes. His brother and friends were in a similar state, unable to move as they stared at Candace, lying face down in the dirt, splayed out and not moving. She was still in her clothes from yesterday.
As if sharing the same mind, Phineas and Ferb burst forwards in unison, arms stretched out towards their sister. A scream rose from both of their throats, filled with fear and terror that echoed throughout the trees.