Gathering Storm Clouds
The second week of the Flynn-Fletcher vacation started, and none of the kids could really say it had been completely relaxing. But since their daily lives were far from normal, it didn't bother them too much. What did bother them was Candace's odd condition. Whatever bug she had caught didn't look like it had gone away completely. But she insisted they had no reason to worry, and Phineas had to admit she was looking a bit better.
That was the case, anyway, before storm clouds started to gather around Gravity Falls. The blue sky turned a dark grey, blocking the sun's bright rays. A steady drizzle fell, soaking the landscape below and turning the air so cold that it did not feel like summer, but rather the starting days of fall. The bleak weather put a slight damper on the plans Phineas and his friends had made, but on the first day of the rainy weather they dwindled away the hours by visiting the twins at the Mystery Shack.
The twins were also hindered by the unappealing weather. Dipper was unwilling to navigate the forest while it was raining, so he and his sister had to put their search for the elusive page of Three on hold. They were relieved to have some company after their shift, and Mabel was less than successful in her attempts to win over one of Phineas' male friends.
But when the cold spell entered its second day, Stan decided there was no point in having his niece and nephew work, since the dismal weather wasn't luring in the tourists. Taking this opportunity, Dipper and Mabel bundled up in sweaters and dove straight into the misty forest to continue their search.
"Hey, the rain didn't wash away our chalk marks!" exclaimed Mabel, noticing the slightly faded lines on the trees they had already investigated.
"Small miracles," muttered Dipper, flipping up the hood of his dark blue hoodie. He squinted through the silvery mist, noting with some annoyance that it wasn't easy to see ahead of them a long distance. "Though I doubt we'll get our big miracle today."
Mabel prodded him lightly in the shoulder. "Deal time. If we come up empty again today, we get our new friends to help us."
Dipper smirked. "You just want to trap those poor guys in territory they have no knowledge of so you can trick them into falling for you."
"There's no tricks involved," said Mabel proudly. "It's all my adorable charm."
Snorting, Dipper shook his head. "Whatever you say. I'm gonna give you a piece of advice-do not try to flirt with a guy by feeding him cheese from a spray can."
"Buford ate it!"
"Because he felt super awkward and didn't know what else to do!"
Mabel huffed and lifted her chin. "I know what I'm doing. Just wait and see, bro. One of them will be mine in no time."
"We'll see," muttered Dipper under his breath.
They soon came upon the section of the forest they had yet to check and once more began the mundane search process. Sneakers sinking into the muddy forest floor, Dipper trudged from tree to tree, knuckles tapping against wet bark. Mabel was a few feet away doing the same thing, and both of them had pieces of chalk to keep track of which ones they had done.
"This is stupid," Dipper muttered, ten minutes into their search. He tried to recall the fateful day when he had encountered the first journal, but it did no good. It had occurred completely by chance, and it would take another chance for him to find the final piece to his most treasured possession.
He knew he was being foolishly stubborn in not asking Phineas and Ferb for help. But he really did not want to involve the group into what was most likely a supernatural threat. If he was being honest, there was also a small part of him that was determined to prove he could do this, without the assistance of the talented brothers.
But his stubbornness quickly waned when a torrential downpour started, sheets of rain streaming from the thick grey clouds above. He could hear Mabel's yelp of shock, though it was difficult to see her through the heavy shower. Thunder rumbled overhead and lightning flashed in the sky. Dipper flinched as the wind picked up, blowing dirt and leaves into his face.
"This is a bad idea!" hollered Mabel.
Dipper squinted in the direction of her voice. "Maybe a little bit!"
"Can we go home?"
Hesitating, he swept his eyes over the drenched landscape before coming to the conclusion that it was useless to keep going. Even if they did find the page, it was idiotic to expose it to such heavy rain. "I surrender. We'll talk to Phineas and Ferb and see if they can help."
"Victory!" whooped Mabel.
Dipper caught sight of a pink blur just in front of him, surrounded by a misty aura. He made his way to his sister and linked hands when he was close enough. "You're not always right, you know," he joked as they began to pick their way out of the forest.
Mabel smiled at him. "No. But then again, neither are you-whoa!"
She shrieked as her foot slammed into something solid. She tripped forwards, saved from a particularly muddy fall by her brother. Gripping her hand, he jerked back to a standing position. He studied her in concern. "You okay?"
"Yeah. I think I hit a rock-oh." Her face fell when she caught a clear sight of what she had run into. "That's not a rock."
Lying limp on the ground was a gnome, eyes blank and unstaring. Feeling a coldness that had nothing to do with the weather, Dipper looked at the stiff body of the mystical creature before slowly flicking his gaze upwards. He knew from personal experience that gnomes rarely travelled alone, and as he scanned the path in front of him, he could see at least a dozen gnomes in the same state.
"Just like Gideon," breathed Mabel.
"I doubt they're not the only victims," muttered Dipper.
"What do we do?"
Dipper bit down on his bottom lip. "Hoarding Gideon is enough. We don't have the room to hide these guys. We'll keep them covered in the bushes for now."
Moving as quickly as possible the twins put the group of gnomes into the dense thicket, hiding them from sight with the leaves. They then hightailed it out of the forest, a growing sense of foreboding in the both of them.
There had been no sun for almost two days. Lavernia could feel herself weakening, despite the energy she had collected from other beings. Her greatest strength came from the rays of the sun, and she was quickly realizing a downfall about being an immortal fire demon.
The cold was deadly.
Not to herself, per se. But her host was not handling the change in energy well. Candace had just barely gotten used to her demon spirit's mental and emotional influences. She wasn't completely taken over, and so while Lavernia was only drained by the chilled air and grey skies, Candace got very ill.
She was currently buried in her covers in her cabin, thin frame shaking harshly with shivers. Her head throbbed in agony and her vision blurred, making difficult to see what was directly in front of her.
'I'm afraid I can't help that,' replied Lavernia uncaringly. 'You'll stop feeling so sick when the weather clears. When I have full influence over you, you won't feel so horrible anymore.'
Whimpering, Candace held her head, which felt like it was going to fall off. Slowly, she inched out of bed and laid down on the hardwood floor. She grabbed hold of the wooden trash bucket just as her stomach gave a violent lurch, and she vomited.
This was the sight Linda came upon when she entered her daughter's cabin, Perry in her arms. Her eyes widened and she unconsciously dropped the platypus as she rushed to her daughter's side. "Candace!"
The girl moaned in response. She hacked a few more times before collapsing to the floor, eyes closed. Linda rushed out of the cabin, screaming, "Lawrence! We need to get Candace to a hospital, now!"
She returned only seconds later, Lawrence with her. He went straight over to his daughter, who was trembling fiercely. He picked her up, draped a long jacket over her, and raced into the pounding rain. Perry, stunned by the drastic turn in the teen's health, hurried after the Flynn-Fletcher parents.
He managed to jump into the backseat of the car before Lawrence shut the door. He curled up beside the ill girl, listening idly as Lawrence assured Linda he would take care of things, and that she needed to stay back to look after the kids.
They were on the road a minute later, the GPS showing the directions to the nearest hospital. Gripping the wheel with white knuckles, Lawrence said shakily, "Hang on, darling. We'll be at the hospital soon."
And as Candace slumped limply across the backseat, Perry found himself hoping desperately that the girl would have the strength to overcome whatever bizarre illness had descended upon her.