Soon, Edna, Tina and Bianca arrived at the latter’s house with Anika and her sister arriving shortly afterwards. Edna’s first thought of her friend’s sister was that she looked beautiful. Like Anika, she was tall and dark skinned; her long black hair went straight down her back, reaching her waist. The woman’s dark eyes had warmth in them that reminded Edna of a fireplace on a freezing winter’s night. Anika’s sister came forward and offered her hand.
“Hello, my name is Amy. As you know, I’m Anika’s older sister”, she introduced herself. Edna, Tina and Bianca shook hands with her while each one revealed their respective name.
“Well, let’s get inside the house. No one’s there, so we can be as loud as we want to be”, the half-Italian grinned. A huge grin was plastered on Edna’s face when she heard this; she loved making noises but was unfortunately unable to frequently be as loud as she wanted to be. The curses of living in an apartment... The group of girls entered the house and they went straight to the Bianca’s room.
“Whoa, nice house”, Amy remarked as she looked around. Bianca chuckled as she closed the door to her room.
“Thanks”, she replied. She plopped down on her bed and indicated to the other four to take a seat too. “So, what do you all wanna do first? Play video games? Listen to music and talk? Or should we go straight to watching movies?”
“You forgot to mention karaoke”, Tina pointed out. “But I’m for the second option. Amy is new among us, so that would be a great way for us to get to know her and for her to get to know us.”
“Tina’s right”, Edna agreed. “I would certainly like to get to know Amy.”
“And I would like to get to know you all. From what Anika told me, you are all the nicest people and best friends one could ask for”, Amy piped up.
“Are you sure she was talking about us?“, Edna joked, receiving an amused “hey!” from Anika and a teddy bear chucked at her head in response. Bianca chuckled again before turning on her stereo and filling the room with Calypso music.
“So Amy, how about you tell us about yourself?“, Edna suggested.
“Well, my life is not very exciting. I’m a psychologist and I hold therapy session in various asylums whenever I can”, the oldest woman in the room started. “Unfortunately, the owner and head of the nearest asylum rarely has any therapists over and when he has, there’s no guarantee I would be among them. So, I have to travel long distances just so I could do my work. Me and my boyfriend, who works as a guard in the nearest asylum by the way, are considering moving away where I could have more possibilities to practice my profession.”
Edna’s heart sank when she heard that Amy held therapy session in asylums. Mental institutions were the last places she ever wanted to have any more connections to than she already had. In fact, she wished she had no connection to them at all. But now, she sat across a woman, a psychologist, who worked in those places. Edna glanced worriedly at Harvey, who looked back at her with the same expression on his face. When she looked up to Amy again, she noticed her giving the blue lagomorph a puzzled look. Worried about what the answer might be, Edna asked her question:
“Which... which asylum the closest one you live at?”
“The one owned by a stupid, curmudgeon, old man known as Doctor Horatio Marcel”, Amy revealed. So, Edna’s fear came true; someone who worked close to her enemy was in the same room as her. Although, considering the adjectives Amy used, she did not seem to be fond of Doctor Marcel, as Edna noted with amusement.
“Doctor Marcel?“, Tina repeated and turned to her housemate: “Wasn’t that the name of that idiot who had you locked in a padded cell for ten years?”
“Yes, that’s the one”, Edna confirmed. She noticed how Amy’s eyes widened in realization.
“Oh! Then you must be the famous and notorious Edna Konrad!“, she exclaimed. When everyone else stared at her as though she had gone crazy, she proceeded: “Well, you’re notorious among most of the employees, especially Babbitt, Hulgor and Bladder, for having escaped the institution and you’re also famous among the patients and a couple of the employees, my boyfriend included, for the same reason. I tend to have small talks with the patients before or after a therapy session and on my first day, they could not stop praising you for your achievement.”
“Sounds like Edna’s quite the celebrity”, Anika remarked, sounding and looking impressed.
“And what about me? My part in the escape was not microscopically tiny either”, Harvey mumbled sullenly. Edna smiled comfortingly at her oldest friend before addressing Amy:
“What about Harvey?”
“Well, his contribution haven’t been mentioned yet but it must be important and impressive enough for Doctor Marcel to force some patients to make eyeless copies of him”, the psychologist replied. Edna and Harvey frowned at each other. Why would Doctor Marcel let others create multiple Harveys, all of them without eyes? And why were they lacking them? Edna recalled Lilli mentioning how she, in her attempt to find her, found a girl she met at the cemetery in a cell, being forced to sew several Harveys with those creepy red eyes – just like Mother Superior in Edna’s former cell. Was Doctor Marcel lacking these eyes? Edna could not explain why else these stuffed rabbits had no eyes...
“Did they mention why they have to sew Harvey copies?“, Edna questioned only for Amy to shake her head:
“No, one shrieked whenever I said something, even if it was just a hello. Another one told me she was prohibited to talk to people – at least while they still were alive – but she eventually told me she didn’t know and none of the other patients knew the reason either.”
“A guy who only talked in shrieks? I know that guy! He used to sit in a corner of the laundry room near the recreation room, opposite the arts and craft room”, Edna said, her eyes widening in realization. Then they went back to normal size; she furrowed her eyebrows and she made a puzzled face: “But what do you mean when one said she was not allowed to talk to living people?”
“Dunno... Maybe she can talk to the dead?“, Amy shrugged. That got Edna’s interest; her desire to speak with deceased people had been mentioned in this story repeatedly and now an eventual chance was presented to her. Could this girl, who was probably in the middle of sewing another copy of her blue lagomorph, help her out and give her a chance to apologize to Mattis and to Alfred? If she could, would she? Even if the answers to her questions were positive, one problem remained: she was at the last place Edna would want to go to. Edna glanced at Amy, Tina, Anika and Bianca and contemplated asking them for their help for breaking that girl out.
“Hate to interrupt but we would like to join the conversation and get to know Amy too”, Bianca spoke up.
“Oh yes, uh, go ahead”, Edna replied, feeling a little embarrassed. She completely forgot that Bianca and Tina had not met Amy before either. So, she leaned back and let her friends ask the questions. She learned that she met her boyfriend in eleventh grade but they had not started dating until seven years ago when they met again after a couple of years of separation. Amy revealed her boyfriend’s name to be Benjamin, or Ben for short, and that he got his job after answering to an ad in an issue of the newspapers. When Doctor Marcel learned she was a psychologist, he only responded with a mention of how convenient this was, nothing else. But Amy also told them that she enjoyed joining the patients with their board games, though they did tend to take these a little too seriously. Of course, she asked questions too and Edna, Tina and Bianca answered them, depending on who was asked. Edna was asked how she managed to escape but the only thing she said about her escape as that she used a chewed off toenail – much to the other girls’ disgust. Edna figured out that Amy was on the patients’ side and not on Doctor Marcel’s, but she was still unsure whether or not she could tell her everything yet. That old man was evil, so he could torture Amy so much that she would reveal everything she learned about Edna to him. Also, she hardly knew the psychologist yet and it would be naïve to tell her everything about herself.
Tina told Amy that her parents fled the GDR in the early Eighties, a couple of years before her older brother was born. From what she was told about her parents’ childhood in East Germany, she was glad they managed to get to West Germany. Her mother even compared the Free German Youth from the GDR with the Hitler Jugend and such, the former being hardly any different from the latter – only there was no World War and the name was quite different. Also, there was the issue with the Stasi and being careful what one said about the state. After hearing all this, Edna was immensely glad that her family came from West Germany and that she was born around the time East and West Germany were reunited. When Tina was done talking about her roots, it was Bianca’s turn to talk about her Italian heritage.
After they realized they had no idea what else they could talk about, they opted to let Bianca play a video game, while Edna, Tina, Anika and Amy watched her play. Edna noticed after some time it was the same game where Tina tried to dodge a high number of consecutive lightning bolts just recently.
“How far in the game are you?“, the chubby blond asked.
“Almost at the end, I have access to the airship but I want to do the side quests before beating the final boss”, Bianca replied while simultaneously sending the player character up to the airship. “I thought I could try to get the only Aeon I’m missing in my team.”
“And that would be?”
“The Magus Trio.”
Edna noticed how a smirk spread across Tina’s face as she looked at everyone else and then at herself. What was going on in her head?
“You know, it would awesome if three of us could dress up as the Magus Trio next Halloween”, the blond remarked happily.
“And who do you have in mind?“, Edna asked curiously and also warily.
“Me, Anika and Bianca could dress up as the Magus Trio. Edna, Amy, one of you could be our Summoner and the other could be her guardian”, Tina responded, for some reason looking as if she was just announcing that she was going to Disneyland. She really seemed to be getting into the idea. Edna glanced at her friends, noticing that Anika was doing the same. Then the latter gave her own reply:
“I could see that work, though it would work better if Bianca were smaller.”
“Sorry, my body wouldn’t listen to me when I told it to stop growing and it’s not my fault that XY chromosomes got together during my mom’s second pregnancy instead of XX”, Bianca dryly replied.
“You’re still the smallest among us, though”, Edna pointed out. “And at least we have an option what we could dress as on Halloween and we won’t have to worry at the last minute. Our only concern would be getting the costumes.”
“I could ask my Nonna to sew the costumes”, Bianca spoke up. “She’ll need your sizes, though. Oh, and whether you, Edna, or you, Amy, is going to be the Summoner.”
“Let Edna be the Summoner”, Amy said with a wave of her hand and a lazy grin on her face. “I can’t see myself summoning powerful beings.”
“Wow, we already have plans for Halloween and the first week of summer vacation is not even over yet”, Edna remarked, finding it kind of amusing. “Let me guess, we’re gonna plan a Christmas party on Halloween then, right?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the case”, her housemate grinned. Edna chortled, imagining how they all would be dressed up as otherworldly creatures and plan a Christmas party. There was something funny about skeletons, ghosts, Frankenstein’s monster, werewolves and such to be discussing plans about a cheerful holiday. Also, it reminded her of a movie about a skeleton taking over Christmas. When no one else said anything else, they all went back to quietly watch Bianca play. She was currently in a mountain area with lots of snow, where she was busy capturing monsters. Next to Bianca lay a strategy guide with the list of fiends open; once in a while, she would consult it for one reason or another. Also, she sometimes opened the menu and a grid to increase the characters’ stats and let them learn new abilities with the help of something that looked like colorful, glowing, spherical stones. Edna had often watched Tina play the same game but not enough to understand everything about it. Her housemate had recommended her to play this game too, as well as the other games from the franchise as well as the crossover franchise. Admittedly, Edna would not mind playing them but there were so many that she was overwhelmed. Perhaps one day she would bring herself to start playing – after having consulted Tina of which one she would recommend playing first.
“Yay! Now all that’s left is the Flower Scepter and I can call the Magus Trio my own”, Bianca happily exclaimed after she let her player character speak to some guy who blocked the entrance of some location. Afterwards, she used the save point and to another place, to some kind of temple, where she battled a woman – the woman summoned her Aeons and Bianca let one of the characters do the same. The first opponent was a winged creature with something that reminded Edna of a beak for a face. It had red fur – or were those feathers? – on the back of its head and around the waist. Bianca called forth something that also had wings, but was much larger and darker in color. Also, it had a golden circle hovering between its wings. Bianca won that fight and did a couple of more battles until the woman clad in green summoned the same Aeon Bianca called in the first battle. The adolescent girl managed to defeat it with a creature that looked like it came straight out of Edna’s nightmares, but it still looked better than several other people she knew. After this battle, Bianca received the aforementioned Flower Scepter, which she used, alongside a Blossom Crown to open a door somewhere in this location. A cutscene followed where one of the characters received the Magus Trio as a Summon. Bianca then saved the game and turned the console off.
“I don’t know about you all but I’m hungry. How about I order a pizza?“, she suggested. Edna and the other three all gave a murmur of an agreement. Telling them she would be right back, Bianca left her room and returned a minute later with a flyer in her hand. The girls all sat in a circle on the floor and skimmed through the flyer, eventually deciding in pizza Hawaii and on a pizza with lots of meat and spicy toppings.
“How about we start with our movie night now?“, Tina suggested after Bianca ordered the pizzas.
“Sure, I wouldn’t mind it”, Edna replied.
“Me neither”, Anika said.
“Ditto”, Amy agreed. Since the biggest television set was in the living room, as were the movies, they left Bianca’s bedroom and went to the other room. The half-Italian let her friends choose the first movie, which turned out to be Corpse Bride, on a mutual agreement of Anika, Amy and Tina. Edna did not particularly care as long as she liked it. Also, she was aware her housemate owned this movie too but she was never present when Tina watched it at home. So, the DVD was put in the player and Bianca started the movie after everyone got comfortable on either the couch or the floor. The first thing Edna noticed was the lack of color. If it were not for the butterfly, she would think it was a black-and-white film. Another thing she noticed almost immediately was that the characters were ridiculously meticulous; the line “And that’s why everything, every last little thing, every tiny microscopic little thing must go according to plan” in the current song pretty much spoke for itself. Edna would probably be their worst enemy since she did not mind it if things were not going according to plan and she did enjoy surprises and the unexpected. Otherwise, life would be frightfully dull. Still, even if most characters she had seen so far did not seem to like surprises, there were nevertheless comedic situations – Lord Everglot’s inability to smile, for instance, or Victor van Dort’s messing up the wedding rehearsal. Soon, the latter found himself in the Land of the Dead, which was the complete opposite of the Land of the Living in every aspect; more colorful, cheerful and spontaneous. If being dead meant to live in such a world, then Edna hoped her parents and Alfred would have the time of their afterlives there.
“Boah, if one gets to that kind of place after dying, I can’t wait for my death!“, Harvey exclaimed excitingly.
“Harvey, you’re a rag doll rabbit, you can’t die”, Edna pointed out, only to be hushed by the other girls. The doorbell rang and Bianca left the room to answer it, returning with their pizzas shortly afterwards. She put the boxes on the coffee table and took a slice of the Hawaii pizza before she sat down again. Edna took a slice of the other pizza, her eyes never leaving the screen. She found that she liked Corpse Bride and pondered why she did not go around watching it sooner. But she rarely watched any movie Tina owned on her own; she preferred going outside or doing creative things. There was also the fact that she was not much of a movie-goer, though she would never say no to a good motion picture.
“So, what’s next?“, Amy asked after Corpse Bride was over.
“How about the Pirates of The Caribbean series?“, Tina suggested. This got her a look from Bianca, Anika and Amy that pretty much suggested that they were wondering if she was being serious. Edna could not say for sure why they reacted like that, having only heard but not watched those movies.
“I have The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We could watch that one”, Bianca proposed. There was a murmur of agreement among the other girls. Five minutes later, singing red lips on a black background were seen on the television screen.
Following The Rocky Horror Picture Show, they went on to watch Cabaret and the first film of the Men In Black franchise. Afterwards, they decided to go to bed – or rather sleeping in the sleeping bags in the living room. However, despite getting comfortable in those, they did not fall asleep yet. Instead, Tina, Bianca and Anika decided to pester Edna some more about her crush with an interested Amy listening.
“How come you never told us about this? We could have helped you and given you advice – well, Anika could have, as could her sister, since they’re only ones with boyfriends but you know what I mean”, Tina said, staring at Edna with penetrating eyes.
“I could have tried to help you too, seeing that I’m working on getting a boyfriend”, Bianca piped up just as Edna was about to answer Tina’s question:
“I only realized it a few weeks ago. Besides...“, she turned on her back and stared at the ceiling, “... he couldn’t possibly feel the same for me. Our age disparity is not quite small.”
“How big is the difference?“, her housemate inquired.
“Eight years”, the former inmate of an asylum responded. She did not know what she expected her friends to say about this. Maybe that he was too old and that she should choose someone closer her age. For some reason, however, she never imagined they would react supportively, like Anika did:
“Eight years are not that bad. I would be more worried if he were old enough to be your father or grandfather.”
“That age difference would have been bad ten years ago but you’re a woman in your twenties and he would be in his early thirties, so it is not that big”, Amy contributed to the conversation. “And are you sure he wouldn’t like you the same way you do?”
“I just can’t imagine he would... We met a few years ago and when we parted ways, we were on less than good terms. We only happened upon each other in late May, early June, and we only got to really know each other since then”, Edna explained.
“Hey, that’s approximately the time you disappeared for a couple of hours. Normally, you’re home for a while after school and do your homework and then, you’re usually in the park. But it stopped around that time”, Tina’s eyes widened in realization. “You’ve been seeing him all this time, weren’t you?”
There was no accusation in her voice, there was simply curiosity. Edna knew she had to tell her sooner or later, though she hoped they would not ask for his name; she still did not know it herself.
“Yes, I was”, Edna confirmed. Then she got into a more comfortable position and held Harvey close to her chest. “I’ll catch some Z’s now. Good night.”
As she closed her eyes, she heard the other present females bidding her good night as well.
Morning broke, though the females who enjoyed a sleepover were still fast asleep. Only one was already awake and busy tidying the living room up and this was Bianca. At the moment, she collected the nearly empty pizza boxes; one of them had a half-eaten slice left. She arched a single eyebrow at the slice, probably asking herself why the one, who started eating, did not finish it. The pizzas had not been cut into enormously big slices. Bianca headed to the kitchen where she threw the leftover into a garbage can for leftovers and food gone bad while the boxes ended up in another trash can. Aside from pizza, they had also eaten popcorn and chips as they watched movies. The chips bowl was still half-full, therefore it was put in the snack cupboard in the living room; the other bowl that was filled with popcorn was empty, bar tiny bits. Bianca took this one to the kitchen, where she cleaned it. Another one of the females awoke in the meantime; Edna sat up, rubbing her eyes and simultaneously yawning. Her half-open eyes found Harvey, who had also woken up.
“Morning, Harv”, the young woman greeted her rag doll lagomorph. He responded with something unintelligible, perhaps he was still too tired to speak. Edna smiled benignly at her friend of a primary color, and then surveyed the living room, noting Bianca’s absence. Silently pondering where she could be, Edna quietly got up, not wanting to wake the others, and headed for the kitchen where she heard noises coming from. A moment later, she saw her half-Italian friend standing at the kitchen sink cleaning something.
“Mornin’, Bianca”, Edna said after the running of the water had stopped. Bianca jumped and wheeled around; relaxing when she saw it was only Edna.
“Oh hey, how long have you been standing there?“, she questioned while taking a dishtowel and drying the bowl.
“A minute or two, I s’pose”, Edna shrugged. She watched Bianca drying the bowl and putting it in a cupboard. “How long have you been awake?”
“Not that long, just long enough to tidy up the mess we left behind last night”, Bianca responded. “How about we start making breakfast? That way, we could start eating as soon as the others wake up. Well, unless they wake up now. But what do you say?”
“Well, why not?“, Edna responded, properly entering the kitchen. “But what are we going to make?”
“How about French toast?”
While Edna and Bianca prepared breakfast, the other three girls also woke up when the smell reached their noses. They followed their olfactory organ to the kitchen, where Edna and Bianca just finished the first two French toasts. It was Bianca who noticed Amy, Anika and Tina standing at the doorway.
“Two of you can start eating if you want to, we’re currently making more”, she told them. The three women entered the kitchen and took an empty plate each. Anika and Tina filled theirs with one piece of French toast each and started eating while Amy and Bianca consumed the next two. Edna continued making breakfast in the meantime, also eating one as soon as Bianca finished hers. This went on in this inconvenient set up until each female had eaten their fill. The used dishes all ended up in the dishwasher, though Bianca washed the frying pan and spatula in the sink while her guests took care of their personal hygiene in the bathroom, one by one, and got dressed. Afterwards, they packed their stuff and returned home but not before saying words of departure to Bianca.
It was around midday on the following Sunday. The Key Master leaned back to study the clay figure he had been working on for several days. He had been awake for several hours since he had been unable to sleep any longer and so he decided to work on it. The only thing the sculpture was missing was paint but he decided to add it later. Hard to believe, the green-skinned man reflected, he would take something like this up for a hobby. Still, it was better than nothing or going through another relapse. He had to remember to thank Edna for getting him into the creation of clay figures, though he never expected from her to have this for a hobby, seeing that she boycotted occupational therapy. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that she, and he himself for that matter, could make whatever they wanted and not those ugly ashtrays. The Key Master stood up and put his materials away in the drawer, leaving only the figure out. His stomach grumbled in hunger and he felt he was in need of fresh air. So, he took two sandwiches and a slice of cake left over from the picnic as well as a bottle of water and ate his breakfast or lunch, depending on how one would see this. After he was done, he went into the bathroom for his body hygiene and to get dressed. Clad in a pair of black pants, a purple shirt, and black boots, he left the house and walked towards town. He had the urge to take a walk in a place that was not as isolated as his hideout. No one had recognized who he really was, which kind of amazed him. After all, he was a dangerous, psychotic killer and yet, it was like he was an Average Joe, just like Edna, who was a known escapee from an asylum. Even worse, she was known under her real name around here, so it would have been easy for her to be captured. But even after a few years had passed since she first came here, she was still walking around freely. He managed to avoid authorities by keeping himself hidden until recently. One would think both he and Edna would be in back in solitary cells by now. Perhaps, the Key Master figured, they just did not care. During his musings, he had managed to walk all the way to the park without miraculously bumping into someone. Then again, most people would be home preparing lunch at this time of the day. Only relatively few members of the species Homo sapiens were out and about, particularly the miniature ones also known as children. Oh well, it was not like he wanted to socialize; he just wanted to be somewhere he would not be alone. Something small bumped into him, causing it to emit an “oof!“. He looked down to see the something was a girl with dark brown hair and clad in a yellow top and hot pants. A moment later, he realized it was the same girl he saw Edna talking with the other day.
“Sorry”, the girl apologized and rushed off. However, she stopped in her tracks and looked back at him. She had her eyebrows furrowed and the kind of look like she thought she recognized someone on her face. A moment later, she shrugged and resumed walking. The Key Master pondered what this was about. Did that girl recognize him? But she seemed so young, not like she was in an age to follow the news. At least not those from a few years ago, the time of his escape. If he thought about it, he was not sure whether or not a picture of him and the other escapees accompanied the report about the breakout. It did not matter anymore, none of them had been caught so far and most people seemed to have forgotten about it.
The Key Master strolled along the path, now and then watching cheerful children play and running around like hyperactive squirrels. Seeing them triggered memories of his own childhood; he loved playing with his friends, they usually used to pretend they were pirates of cowboys or something obscure, like undead shape shifting cowboys. It was also around the time when video games increased in popularity and he would either have his friends at his place or he would be at their place and they would play video games. As the Key Master had gotten older, his playing video games decreased and he started to get interested in other things. Now as an adult, who used to be in a mental institution, he was more concerned about staying out of the establishment, perhaps flee the country and start a new life. A few weeks ago, he was definitely sure about going abroad but something held him back as time passed. What it was, he was not sure, he did not even know it. Perhaps he would feel more certain about this if he knew what made him hesitate. Maybe it was the fact that he still could not remember everything from his past and he felt he should not leave until he had all of his memories back. However, the Key Master could sense there was more than this... But the more he tried to figure out what it was, the crazier he got. Perhaps he should just stop thinking about it... Well, he did seem to have found a distraction sitting under a tree and reading something.
The distraction happened to be a young woman with dark purple hair, who usually had a blue rag doll rabbit with her. After her sleepover at Bianca’s place and one big breakfast, she and Tina had gone home, where the latter currently was. Edna, however, decided to take advantage of the warm weather and went to the park to continue reading Vivian’s diary. Ironically, the entry she was reading at the moment was made during a cold season:
December 24th, 1986
It’s been three years since Mattis and I started dating. He seemed to be nervous but when asked, he said everything was fine. Dad, however, seemed to know what was going on, judging from the way he was grinning the whole time. I hope it was something good... Anyway, I should go back to my family and spend time with them.
Another Christmas Eve had come to an end and it was probably the best one in my entire life! Mom and Dad got me and Mattis a trip to the USA for next March. I always wanted to see the States and now I have the chance to with the man I love. Maria got me a record of an opera, even though I’m not fond of opera. She meant it well but she can be quite scatterbrained. How do you solve a problem like Maria? But I still love her; she’s the best sister anyone could wish for. But the best present I got from Mattis. Let’s just say, in near future, I’ll be known as Mrs Vivian Konrad. Yes, that’s right! He proposed! Oh, I could have danced all night!
“And still have begged for more?“, Edna mused with a grin. She felt happy for her mother, even if this all happened long ago, before she was even born. But she could still feel Vivian’s happiness and love in these words. It was hard for her to imagine that somebody could do something dreadful to her. Edna wished she knew what it was but at the same time, she was afraid to. She contemplated finding Officer Schmitz and ask her but her fear made her hesitate. She did not even know why she was scared of knowing the answer. Was the truth even more gruesome than anything she ever remembered experiencing?
“Have begged more for what?“, a voice to her right questioned. Edna looked up from the diary to see the Key Master standing next to her.
“Oh hello”, she greeted him and patted the empty space next to her to invite him to sit down. “I didn’t notice you were here.”
“Oh, I’ve been here in the park for half an hour but I haven’t realized you were here too until a moment ago”, the Key Master admitted while sitting down. His eyes flickered from Edna’s face to the lavender blue book cover and then back again. “Reading your mom’s diary again?”
“Of course”, Edna confirmed and closed the book. While locking the diary, she added: “I was just at the part where Mattis proposed to her.”
“I see”, her male companion responded. “How was your day with your friends?”
“It was fun; we got to meet Anika’s older sister. Her boyfriend happens to work at the asylum we escaped from”, the young woman answered. She noticed he looked none too happy about this little fact. “Don’t worry; I don’t think she or her boyfriend will tell Doctor Marcel anything.”
However, the Key Master did not seem to be convinced. Edna sighed and took his hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. Despite having only spent a few hours with Amy, she felt she could trust the woman. Of course, she could not say anything abut her boyfriend but from what she learned about the couple, she had a feeling she could trust him too. But the Key Master had not met Amy and knew nothing about her and her boyfriend, so Edna guessed she could hardly blame him for being skeptical.
“Trust me; I can sense she won’t betray us. Even then, it would only be me as she doesn’t know you’re here. Although, I did talk about you...“, she mumbled the last part almost incoherently. Nonetheless, the Key Master seemed to have understood what she was saying since he narrowed his eyes at her:
“Since when am I an interesting topic for conversations?”
“Since my friends noticed my disappearance for several hours on a nearly daily basis?“, Edna grinned sheepishly. “I didn’t mention your name though. Actually, the conversation about you started when we were about to hit the hay and I told them I wanted to sleep before they could ask too many questions.”
It was not a lie, only the half-truth, with her conveniently leaving out the part of their discussing her crush on him. She felt it was not the time for him to know this... yet. When she would tell him the whole truth, she did not know. Maybe something inside her would tell her it was time for him to know.
“What did you tell them about me?“, the Key Master asked, attempting to keep his voice nonchalant and casual, though a slight hint of curiosity could still be heard if one listened closely.
“Only that we met a few years ago, parted on bad terms... What?“, she added when she saw him raising an eyebrow.
“Parted on bad terms?“, the Key Master repeated questioningly.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t think telling them I nearly killed you would be a good idea and the way we went different paths in that church was anything but with pleasant thoughts about each other”, Edna retorted before adding, as if in an afterthought: “Well, I think you hadn’t any kind thoughts about me when you regained consciousness.”
“You’re right. Please, do continue”, the green-skinned man requested.
“And met each other again about a month ago and that we started to reconnect”, Edna finished as if she had never been interrupted. She tried to think of something else they could talk about but no topic came up in her mind. So, she rested her head against the tree trunk and watched the passersby strolling along the path.
Money makes the world go round
The world go round, the world go round
Money makes the world go round
It makes the world go round
“Beg pardon?“, the Key Master looked strangely at her.
“Oh!“, Edna blushed. She had not noticed she was singing the song that had been stuck in her head since the previous night under breath. For the second time that day, a sheepish grin appeared on her face. “Sorry, I can’t get that song out of my head.”
“No problem, it can happen to anyone”, the Key Master replied. “And you’re singing voice is not half bad. Maybe not on the same level as a professional singer but I’ve heard worse.”
“Thanks”, Edna was unable to wipe the big smile off of her face when after he complimented her. She was not particularly fond of her singing voice, even if she did like to sing when she got the urge... which was not very often. Still, knowing someone close to her liked her voice made her heart swell up in joy.
“How about we go drink a coffee?“, Edna suggested, still smiling.
“Only if you pay, I’ve got no money anymore”, the Key Master replied.
“Okay”, the young woman nodded. She was about to stand up when she noticed she was still holding his hand. She had not realized she never let go after taking it to reassure him earlier. He had not said anything either and he did not bother to let go when they both stood up.
“Lead the way”, he said. Edna stooped down and took her things before they went back to the path and made their way to a café.
Soon, they had taken a seat at a table in a corner of a café. A waiter had just taken their orders and while they were waiting, they quietly watched the other patrons. Edna often looked out of a nearby window to see people passing the café, wondering what stories were behind their faces and where their life would lead them. It was funny how life could take people down to different paths, regardless of their origins. Two human beings of the same or at least similar background could end up in different places; if they were both born in poverty, one of them could become a millionaire and the other could remain poor. No one knew what could happen in life, it all depended on the decisions made, which, in turn, could lead people to wonder what might have happened if they had chosen differently. This was why Edna believed that for each decision, there existed an alternate universe.
“Here you are”, the waiter said as he placed her order and the Key Master’s order on the table. Edna stirred her cappuccino before taking a sip.
“So, what have you been doing yesterday?“, she asked after she put the cup down. The Key Master took his time to drink from his coffee and then answered:
“Nothing interesting. I attempted doing art, as you suggested, and I read another Brothers Grimm fairytale. By the way, you could get me another book if this isn’t too much to ask for.”
“Not at all, just tell me what kind you like”, Edna responded. “You somehow neglected to mention it every time we spent several hours together getting to know each other.”
“I have a preference of Thriller and Horror stories”, the male humanoid replied. “Stephen King, for instance, is an author I like reading.”
“Well, he did write a lot of books I’m sure you haven’t read yet. So, it would be no problem for me to find something”, the purple haired woman said and took another sip from her cappuccino.
“I haven’t read anything except fairytales for ages, I wouldn’t mind anything old and already well-known either”, the Key Master retorted with a grin. Edna grinned back.
Gabrielle met up, reluctantly, with Heike and Daniel shortly after her run-in with the green-skinned man. She had vague memories of having seen a picture of the man somewhere years ago, or at least of someone who resembled him. But try as she might, she could not recall where and in what context she had seen the picture. This was why she took another look at the man before continuing on to her destination. Maybe it was her imagination but Gabrielle could have sworn having seen him in Edna’s company at least once. If it really was the case, the two most likely knew each other from wherever they hailed from, perhaps they were even old friends. Well, they did seem to be friendly to each other when she saw them.
“Gabrielle, what’s taking so long? I don’t have all day!“, an obnoxiously shrill voice called. Gabrielle rolled her eyes in exasperation and ran to the tree where Heike and Daniel were waiting for her.
“Really, be on time next time. You’re always too late”, Heike reprimanded her. Gabrielle refrained herself from rolling her eyes again and instead looked at her and her boyfriend expectantly.
“Well? Why did you want to meet up with me?”
“It’s about your hearing tomorrow”, Daniel explained. The brunette raised both her eyebrows.
“What about it?”
“Well, I want Edna to suffer the worst the police can do to her”, Heike replied. “So I want you to say to the officer that she pushed me into the pond for no reason at all and that she pushed my head under water until I nearly drowned.”
Behind the blond girl, Gabrielle saw Daniel’s eyes widening as though he had neglected mentioning one part of what Heike demanded. The brunette was unsure herself. Lying to the police? Was this really a good idea? She seriously had her doubts about this but she also knew her qualms would fall on dead ears. So, to avoid Heike belittling her, Gabrielle nodded in agreement while thinking to herself that she would tell the truth. After all, she was not so stupid to lie to the authorities; the truth would always come out sooner or later.
“Very good”, Heike said as though she was talking to a four year old. Gabrielle glared at her for using this tone, which she did not seem to notice. Heike strutted away from the tree, her head raised and a haughty expression on her face.
“Come on, I need new outfits to keep up with the fashion!“, she called to the other two without turning around. Daniel hurried after her; Gabrielle really did roll her eyes this time but nonetheless followed them.
The two friends, who were both once stuck in the same asylum, finished their hot beverages. Edna paid for those and she and the Key Master were about to leave when a clumsy waitress tripped over her feet, causing the Frappuccino and cake she was carrying to splatter all over the Key Master’s shirt.
“Oh! I’m sorry!“, she cried and took a cloth a colleague was about to use to clean a table from his hands. “Here, let me help you!”
“No, thank you”, the Key Master replied, somewhat testily. He did not need this person to ruin the shirt any further. “I just go home and get changed.”
He stormed out of the café before the waitress could do any more damage. He heard fast footsteps behind him and he somehow knew it was Edna trying to keep with him. The Key Master slowed down his pace to let her catch up. Once she was next to him, he picked up the pace, though a little slower than before. He wanted to get out of this stained shirt as soon as possible.
“I’ll wash that when I get home”, Edna offered, nodding towards the shirt at the word ‘that’.
“I would certainly appreciate it”, the Key Master replied, feeling glad he had someone with a washing machine for a friend, otherwise he would not know what to do. Of course, he appreciated his friendship with her for other reasons than for a device to clean garments but at the moment, he was glad for the washing machine. He had not so many clothes, so every article of clothing counted. After all, he had no desire to walk around naked one day; he was no nudist.
The moment he arrived in the house he currently lived in, he went straight to his closet. Edna, he noticed, went to the table where the clay figure still stood. The Key Master watched her admire it, though he saw she had a frown on her face. Did she not like it or was it another reason?
“Was that one your first attempt?“, Edna inquired just as he took off his shirt and gave it to her. She put it in her bag and he opened his closet. He noticed the red and green tie he had used to murder a dirty old man lying atop some shirts. His plan was to burn it with fire but he had neglected to do so despite having had plenty of time. Hopefully, Edna would not notice the tie, at least not until he told her the truth.
“Yes, it was”, the Key Master confirmed as he picked a black shirt and put it on. During the brief moment when all he could see was black, he heard Edna saying something:
“Looks good but who – You dropped something. I get it for you.”
By the time the Key Master had his shirt on stood Edna already in front of him, examining with a frown and an open mouth the dropped object – the green and red tie. She slowly raised her head to stare at him.
“A red and green tie...“, she breathed. “Same as the weapon used to murder this Helmut Diener... You don’t wear ties, so why do you have it?”
“Edna –“, he began. He wanted to explain everything, to make her understand.
“You were the culprit”, she interrupted, comprehension dawning on her face. The Key Master inwardly cringed at the accusing sound of her voice. He tried again to explain it to her:
“Edna, listen –”
“No!“, she took a step backwards, vehemently shaking her head. She kept talking, almost shrieking, with tears in her purple eyes: “I thought I could trust you! That you have changed! But now I realize I was wrong! I should have listened to Harvey!”
The Key Master watched her throwing the tie to the floor, marching over to her items and taking them, all the while he was too stunned to move. It was only when she opened the door and left through it; he found the feelings in his legs again.
“Edna, wait!“, he called after her as he pursed her. But she kept on walking; he ran faster, calling her name again. She picked up her pace and so did he until they reached the edge of the forest. That was when he caught up with her and grabbed her wrist.
“Leave me alone!“, Edna shrieked. “Or I will send an anonymous message to the asylum and tell them of your location!”
He let go of her wrist and of his only friend. She shot him one last furious look and disappeared into the woods... The Key Master hung his head, for the first time realizing how painful it was to lose a friend. He stood in the same spot for a long time what felt like an eternity to him. Slowly, he returned to the house, cursing himself for letting the tie drop, for letting himself lose control, letting himself kill a man, letting himself lose her...
Edna broke into a run once she was in the forest. She hopped over or body-swerved obstacles and did not stop running even after she was out of the forest and back in town. The tears in her eyes made everything in front of her blurry; she felt how she bumped into other people but did not bother to stop and apologize. All she wanted to do was to run home. So, she kept on running, never stopping. Not even to use the elevator when she entered the apartment building, opting to take the stairs instead. The only time she stopped was to unlock the door to her and Tina’s apartment. After she walked through the open door, she slammed it shut, ran from the hallway through the living room to her room, barely registering Tina calling her name in a confusing voice. Exhaustion caught up with Edna and she let herself fall on her bed. Disappointment, anger, sadness filled her every being as she curled up into a ball. How could she have ever thought that a psychotic murderer like the Key Master could ever change? Why had she been so willing to give him a second change? He was still the same man who killed an innocent reverend all those years ago. Edna felt like a fool for trusting him again. Harvey was right to mistrust him...
“Edna?“, she heard Tina say worriedly. The purple haired woman turned her head to see her housemate standing in the doorway of her bedroom. Edna looked away again, feeling the mattress going down a little thanks to the added weight of Tina, who sat down next to her.
“Do you want to talk about it?“, she asked.
“No”, Edna answered emotionlessly. She heard Tina sigh and felt her standing up. Edna heard her steps as she left her room but she herself did not move, she was lacking the will and energy to. From the living room, she heard Tina’s voice but what she was saying, she could not make out. However, she heard her housemate reentering her room a few minutes later and felt her weight on the mattress again. Next thing she knew, she felt a hand on her shoulder.
“I just called my uncle and asked him to give you a few days off, thought you could need it”, Tina said in a comforting voice. “He was willing to.”
A tiny amount of the anger, sadness and disappointment disappeared when Edna thought she was lucky to have a friend and housemate like Tina.