Friends In Need
“What happened? Why did you want to see us?”
Those questions, posed by Sebastian, were something every person who was present wondered for themselves too. He, Bianca, Gregor and Anika had all met up in a café with Amy after she wrote them all, except her sister, a message. The table groaned under the weight of all the rolls, croissants, butter, jam, chocolate cream, sausages, cakes and hot beverages.
“And how come you didn’t want to see your own sister?“, Anika questioned, raising an eyebrow and stirring her coffee.
“We were supposed to travel to the US and I know how much you were looking forward to this. I didn’t want you to miss the chance of seeing the states”, Amy explained.
“You said in your message for Gregor that a common friend is in need. I think that’s more important than a vacation. A country won’t run away but a friend could be lost”, Anika reasoned. Amy narrowed her eyes at her sister’s boyfriend, who grinned sheepishly, for telling her about the message but she knew she could not change it now. What had happened had happened and it was unlikely that Anika would change her mind.
“Hang on a minute, Edna and Tina are missing”, Bianca realized. “Are both of them in trouble or one of them?”
“You’ve got it!“, the young therapist confirmed with a nod. “It’s Tina who is in trouble.”
“But if it’s only her who is in trouble, why isn’t Edna sitting here with us?“, Gregor questioned. The others spoke out their desire to know the answer about this too, their voices becoming one discombobulated mess. Amy found it difficult to listen to them all individually, so she raised her hand to silence them.
“Everyone, quiet down and listen to me”, she said in a calming voice. The friends’ reaction was kind of comical; they all simultaneously leaned forward with attentive eyes and ears. They hung on Amy’s lips like a climber to a rope. Glad to have their attention now, she began to explain:
“You all know how Edna broke out of a mental institution a couple of years ago, right?”
Her companions nodded in confirmation.
“Well, my boyfriend works in this asylum and I held a few therapy sessions there, as you know. Sometimes, I enjoy spending my time with the patients to get them to know better and I also talked with some of the employees, so I would say I am quite knowledgeable of the on-goings in the asylum. It was the head of this establishment, Doctor Marcel, who had Tina and another girl kidnapped. He has a personal vendetta against Edna, so we assume he kidnapped them to lure Edna back to the asylum. That’s why I didn’t call her; I don’t want her to walk straight into his trap.”
Her explanation was met with concerned faces and furrowed eyebrows. A slice of bread that Sebastian was about to take a bite of was suspended in the air, supported only by his hand. Gregor still held the handle of his cup of cappuccino, which he drank a sip from mere moments ago. Anika and Bianca took each others’ hands, the latter frowning at Amy as though she hoped it was all some kind of sick joke.
“But what do you reckon we should do?“, Anika asked. “Sneak in and smuggle them out?”
“Actually yes”, her older sister confirmed, to general astonishment. “However, we would still need to think of a plan. Most of the guards working there are on the side of Doctor Marcel; though I’m sure I convinced some think that what he’s doing is wrong... Anyway, we would need to be careful, especially in the areas with security cameras and that’s the majority of the rooms. Our best odds are when it’s Ben and Bladder having their shift in the surveillance room. Ben is on our side, naturally, and it’s easy to distract Bladder.”
She spoke in an amazing speed and with such a certainty that one would think she had already done this several times. The four friends exchanged unsure glances.
“There’s really some dude working there whose name is ‘Bladder’?“, Sebastian asked in a disbelieving voice. Bianca threw him a reproachful look, telling him there were more important matters at hand than the odd name of some guy. He ignored this since Amy answered his question with an affirmative nod at the same time.
“And what exactly is your plan?“, the half-Italian asked. “I mean, you must have thought up one, right?”
“Right”, Amy replied, beckoning them all to come closer. They all did so, whereupon she whispered her plan to them.
Not once did Edna wake up after the Key Master had joined her in her bed following her nightmarish flashback of her mother’s murder. At the moment, she lay awake in his arms with her eyes still closed. She liked the way they with him holding her close and she embracing him; she could get used to it. Edna felt how the Key Master stroked the back of her head before resting his hand on the small of her back. Slowly but surely, she opened her ocular organs to find him gazing at her.
“Mornin’“, she greeted him a little sleepily.
“Good morning”, he replied, withdrawing his hand from the small of her back. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, thanks to you”, the corners of Edna’s mouth moved upwards after she gave her response. “Thank you for staying with me last night.”
“Don’t mention it, that’s what friends are for after all”, the Key Master replied giving a dismissive wave with his hand. Nonetheless, Edna gazed fondly at him just because he was there when she needed a friend.
“How about breakfast?“, she suggested while sitting up. “And afterwards we could go to town?”
“Sure”, he replied, also sitting up. They got up and left the room for kitchen, intending to find something edible.
Meanwhile, things could not be better for Doctor Marcel. Or rather, they could hardly be any better for him. It was just a matter of time until that insubordinate girl was back in his institution, where she belonged, and this time, his hypnosis and correction of character would work on her. He worked and reworked his methods for years and now he was confident he had perfected it. Of course, he could only say it for sure after he used his method on her. He once thought he had perfected it when he used it on Lilli only to realize it was not the case. Of course, he could try another attempt on this girl but he found it better to use Edna as his guinea pig. She should feel honored; it would be much more than she was worth.
Doctor Marcel was on his way back to his office after his daily visit to his Alfred memorial room. He heard the patients’ antics as he rolled past the recreation room. Sounded like someone was angry because somebody else cheated in a board game. Doctor Marcel shook his head and rolled his only eye; it never ceased to amaze him how ludicrous these loonies behaved. But why should he care? It was much easier to just keep them here and pretend to have therapy sessions, which was why he usually had this rather inexperienced Amy over to hold sessions – at least since the other one moved away. If his asylum would not be inspected on a regular basis by those of a higher hierarchy, meaning the mayor who visited once every two months, he would not even bother with the therapy sessions. The mayor would always ask questions and it immensely annoyed Doctor Marcel.
“Ah Anes, I trust you brought the DVD with the blackmail to Edna”, Doctor Marcel remarked as he came across his most trusted minion.
“Of course, doctor, of course I did. You know you can always rely on me”, Anes replied in his oiliest voice. Babbitt, who walked past them, pretended to throw up once he was out of sight. None of the other two noticed it, being too busy to discuss what they were going to do when they captured Edna. Doctor Marcel knew he had to lock her up but so that she could not escape so easily. Perhaps tying her up, like he did a few years ago, would be a good idea. After all, it would be quite impossible for her to get into the air vent when she was all tied up. Then after he finally corrected her personality, like he wanted to since she was a small child, he would do the same with every single child in the world. What good were they anyway, apart from keeping the humanoid species alive? Nothing, except for headaches and a much lighter wallet because of how expensive raising a child could be. Even Alfred was not immune to this, despite his father’s methods for raising him. Nonetheless, he was far superior from any other child; he had no need to play with them for very long. However, even Doctor Marcel had to waste money for toys, clothes and school books. Well, he could live with the third one and accept the second object on the list but toys were things no child needed.
Doctor Marcel and Anes reached the former’s office, entering the room. Ruben was already there, hidden in the corner between the fireplace and the grate that led into the air vent. The young man was therefore concealed from the points of view of the other two because of his position. Doctor Marcel only noticed him when he was in his usual spot behind his desk, though he made no indication that he spotted his oldest son.
“What are your further plans when this Edna comes to save her friends?“, Anes questioned.
“First, we need to subdue her so that she can’t walk around freely. Tie her up, I’d say”, the older man replied. He briefly looked to his right, spotting the closet, before doing a double take. He recalled how he used to bribe Alfred and Edna’s teacher Mister Hornbush to disadvantage the latter, even locking her up in the closet in the classroom. Doctor Marcel remembered how this girl would look warily at each closet and wardrobe she came across. He wondered if she still had this phobia...
“Sir?“, Anes spoke up, his eyes flickering alternatively between the doctor and the closet. “Is there something in there?”
“No, except for the idea that’s forming in my head”, the old man replied, looking back at his employee. Anes raised his eyebrows in interest and slightly moved his head to indicate for his boss to continue. Doctor Marcel leaned back, cleared his throat and began to tell Anes about Edna’s fear of closets. The younger man listened intently, nodding in acknowledgement at the right parts. A malicious smirk appeared on Anes’s face. He steepled his fingers and chuckled evilly, in a way that made his boss proud. Ruben clenched his fists, knowing that his father would never feel the same pride for him he felt for his employee. His father would never accept anyone who was not Alfred or even Anes while he, Ruben, would always remain the forgotten secret son. How many people knew who he really was, apart from his own father, that little girl from a few years ago and the police officer he spoke with when he got his father out of jail? No one. People in this asylum, employees and patients, only knew him as ‘The Phantom’. The only thing missing was that he was also singing but that was another guy. Still, he listened to Doctor Marcel’s plan; if anyone was going to execute it, it would not be Anes but him, Ruben. Maybe then would his father realize he could rely on his oldest son.
Edna and the Key Master had finished their breakfast and the former had already gotten dressed. He was currently in the bathroom to wash and to get dressed, so she used the time to get some stuff out of her room: namely Harvey, her phone and some money.
“Edna, why are you even taking me along? I feel like the third wheel when you’re with the Key Master”, the blue lagomorph inquired.
“Well, I thought you would like to be out and enjoy the day”, Edna replied, indicating towards the window, where a warm and gorgeous day awaited them beyond it.
“Hm, it does look inviting. Ah, why not? Just don’t start having a make out session with that guy in the bathroom”, Harvey responded after taking a look outside.
“Harvey!“, Edna admonished her oldest friend indignantly. The rag doll rabbit snickered cheekily while the young woman rolled her eyes and shook her head. Nonetheless, she took him in her arms and left her room to find the Key Master standing in the living room.
“Ready to go?“, he asked the moment she stood in front of him.
“As ready as I’ll ever be”, she confirmed with a nod.
“We’re ready to paint the town!“, Harvey exclaimed excitedly as they all left the apartment. Since it was Edna’s idea to go out, she could also decide where to go to. She thought for a while before going to the general direction of the park. However, this was not her destination, as her two male companions would soon find out. Instead she walked past it and further into the town until she reached the market place. Stands of various funfair games and for food as well as souvenirs were everywhere. Here and there were several rides, though not as many as a theme park would have, which was no surprise there. This one was just a carnival that would last for a week every year in summer.
“Just as long as you don’t waste too much money on those rigged carnival games”, the Key Master commented upon arrival.
“Don’t worry, I won’t”, Edna assured him while thinking that perhaps she should have pocketed a little more money or that they should avoid the games. But she always preferred the rides over the games, so she could live with avoiding the latter. She and the Key Master strolled past the many stands, with her pointing at things she found funny now and then. She soon saw a merry-go-round and a big smile appeared on her face. It might be hard to believe but those were among her favorite rides since she associated fond and happy memories to merry-go-rounds. One of her first memories she regained shortly after her breakout was of her and Mattis visiting a funfair when she was five years old. He did not want to go on any of the speedy rides, otherwise his lunch would come out the same way it came in, and she was not allowed to go on any of them by herself. However, he had no issues with the merry-go-round, which was why they went on it together. Normally, Edna hated slow rides but this was there first time in forever she saw her father happy and relaxed and it was their first fun day for so long that complaining was the last thing on her mind. Since that day, she had developed a fondness for merry-go-rounds. They were also on the Ferris wheel; she could still remember being amazed of how far they could see and how tiny the people on the ground were. She used to imagine she was Godzilla and she was crushing those midgets with her giant, scaly, clawed foot. Sadly, Edna and her father rarely went to a funfair together, all because Doctor Marcel and Mister Hornbush had ganged up on her and had disadvantaged her, sometimes even when she had done a task correctly. Edna always took a sneak peek at Alfred’s papers when no one was looking and there were instances when his answer was marked correct but hers not, despite being basically the same or exactly the same in case of one word answers, like the capital of a country.
“How about we ride the merry-go-round? Or the Ferris wheel?“, Edna suggested, nodding towards the respective rides.
“What!? Why not any of those?“, Harvey exclaimed, pointing towards the faster rides. However, Edna paid him no heed as she was looking at the Key Master expecting an answer.
“The Ferris wheel, even though I prefer them at night”, he replied. “But it’s better than a merry-go-round.”
“What? Why?“, Edna inquired as they made their way towards the line for the Ferris wheel.
“I don’t know, guess they’re much too slow to be enjoyable for me and I always see them as the kind of ride that was made for children only”, he replied, shrugging his shoulders. The young woman nodded in acknowledgement, giving no other answers, neither verbal nor non-verbal. Maybe it was only her fond memories that she liked such a slow ride but she had learned over the last few years that it was sometimes better to slow down, to see things from a different perspective. Edna stood on her tiptoes to see how long the line for the Ferris wheel was, determining that they would have to wait a while but not for hours since there were quite a lot of people in front of them but more and more kept appearing behind them. She looked around for the other nearby rides, finding it was the same as here with the majority. Since when did this town have so many citizens? Or were most of them tourists? If they were, she must have missed the memo of this town being a tourist attraction. She always thought only famous big cities, like New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro, coastal towns and those close to the mountains were popular tourist attractions, none of which this little town was.
While Edna and the Key Master were at the funfair, her other friends, with the exception of the kidnapped ones, were still gathered together and planning.
“I’ve got a question”, Sebastian spoke up. “Why aren’t we saving them today instead of waiting until the day after tom – OUCH!”
He rubbed his arm and glared at Bianca, who still had her fist clenched.
“Weren’t you listening?“, she hissed. “Amy told us we have a better chance the day after tomorrow because we would have inside help.”
“That’s right”, Amy confirmed with a nod. “My boyfriend can and will help us but he can’t today. He has to keep an eye on the security cameras in the surveillance room with a colleague who takes his tasks a little too seriously. Believe me, he’s the only person who sends me away when I visit Ben.”
“But we would have no problem the day after tomorrow when Ben and this Bladder guy have a shift together?“, Gregor questioned.
“How? By talking so much about water that he has to run to the toilet?“, Sebastian asked.
“Judging by the name, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case”, Anika commented.
“Most likely, I’m not sure if Bladder is still as loyal to Doctor Marcel as he was a couple of years ago”, Amy responded calmly. She stood up and put her hands in her hips. “Anyway, does everyone understand our plan? Any questions?”
She was met with a collective murmur of none of them having any questions and understanding the plan perfectly.
“Alright, don’t forget, we will all meet at the park. Me and Anika will give you all a ride and we’re gonna park the cars at my and Ben’s house”, the oldest person in this small round reminded them.
“We know”, Bianca acknowledged. She furrowed her eyebrows to show her concern. “I just hope Edna did not know anything about Tina’s kidnapping yet...”
Sebastian put a comforting arm around her and, even though she was frowning too, Anika gave the younger girl a reassuring smile and took her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.
“Everything will be alright, you’ll see”, she said in a soothing voice. Bianca looked at her and Sebastian with a tiny smile, quietly whispering a word of thanks.
“You know, I think I know how to cheer you up”, the youngest male in the group said. He looked around at everyone else. “We all could go there and forget our worries for a few hours.”
“And where do you propose we go to?“, Bianca questioned curiously. A smug grin spread across Sebastian’s face as he let go of the half-Italian, stood up and circled around everyone else.
“Have you all forgotten what this week is?“, he questioned, putting his arms around Amy and Gregor. He was met by confused looks, especially from the therapist, but comprehension dawned on Bianca’s face a minute later.
“Of course! The annual funfair!“, she responded with big, dark eyes. Sebastian nodded in confirmation.
“Oh, it’s already this week?“, Anika replied. “I completely forgot!”
“Well? What do y’all say?“, Sebastian inquired, looking in the round with a big grin. Everyone else looked at each other, silently asking themselves the same question. Perhaps it would do them some good to relax and have fun for a few hours. However, there was a silent agreement between them that they would rather go all together with Edna and Tina. Hopefully, they would be able to after their rescue mission. It was therefore fortunate the funfair lasted for a week and they could technically all go the day after the next.
The five friends left the café after paying, leaving behind a pile of empty coffee cups and mugs as well as plates. A waitress, who they paid to, glared after them because of the amount she had to clear, mumbling to herself that they at least gave her a generous tip. But none of those, who just left the establishment, thought about this. They spoke about the funfair, what they wanted to do or what they wanted to ride and about their desire to have Edna and Tina with them. Bianca actually tried contacting the former with her cell phone but could not reach her.
“Maybe she’s not in the mood?“, Sebastian shrugged after Bianca tried to call Edna three times with no success.
“Uh, how would you know whether or not she is in the mood if Bianca could not reach her?“, Gregor pointed out. “Maybe Edna just didn’t hear it or the battery’s low.”
“Didn’t think of it”, Sebastian admitted. Bianca rolled her eyes and shook her hand but was nonetheless smiling.
“Who knows, maybe she will go to the fair on her own sooner or later”, Anika commented. “For all we know, she could even be already there. Actually, it would be cool if she were.”
They reached the funfair not long after Anika voiced her statement. Food stands, souvenir stands, game stands and rides as far as the eye could see were in every direction they looked. Well, as long as they were only in the marketplace. The fountain was in the center, so that the funfair was built in a circle around it. People on the particularly speedy rides screamed like they were doused with icy cold water. Somewhere, a father, who was trying to win a toy for his kid, taught his offspring a couple of colorful words they should not know or even use yet. Some people stood in line and others looked at the various stands. The five friends had separated, going to the stands or rides they wanted to go to. Anika and Gregor went one way while Amy accompanied Bianca and Sebastian to another direction. The couple of lovers walked past a couple of games until Anika stopped, her eyes set on a stuffed kangaroo.
“Aw, isn’t it just the cutest?“, she cooed, looking like she was about to die from cuteness. Gregor grinned affectionately and went up to the person who ran the stand to try his luck. It was the classic game of having to throw a ball to knock over empty milk bottles. However, the operator seemed to be less than enthusiastic about working here; it was young girl covered in tattoos, who read some kind of music magazine. She did not even look up when Gregor paid for the balls for throwing. The only times she pulled her eyes away from her magazine was when she noticed him throwing out of the corner of her eye. His first throw was a complete failure but he fared much better with the two subsequent ones.
“Congrats. You can choose one of those”, she stated in a monotone voice, pointing towards a bunch of plush animal, among which the kangaroo Anika had her eyes on was. A happy laugh emitted from her when Gregor chose the bouncy animal from Down Under. She hugged it the moment it was in her arms and gave her boyfriend a kiss on the lips. The young operator rolled her eyes and went back to her magazine, ignoring them as they continued on their way.
“Hey look, a Ferris wheel”, Gregor pointed at the giant structure. Anika followed his finger, eyeing it with apprehension, before examining the line.
“Well, you do know I’m not fond of heights and besides, the line’s really lo –“, she fell silent, squinting her eyes as she noticed someone familiar farther in the front. Purple hair and a blue rabbit in her hands. “Hey, isn’t this Edna over there?”
“What?“, her pale-skinned boyfriend asked in disbelief, nonetheless following her eyes. His jaw dropped when he saw the familiar purple hair too. “I think it’s really her!”
Neither Edna nor the Key Master or even Harvey was aware of two of her friends seeing her from a certain distance. They would be able to get into a gondola any minute, thus none of them observed their surroundings. There were only two pairs of people in front of them, then it was their turn. The first ones were two adolescents, who gave off the impression that they started a relationship only recently, and the second pair was a mother and her child. Soon, it was Edna and the Key Master’s turn to get on the Ferris wheel. They said no words as they got higher up and enjoyed the view of the town from so high above. The young woman kept glancing at the man next to her, once again contemplating whether or not she should tell him her feelings. Then she wondered if she would ever be able to just outright admit it to him instead of hesitating.
“It’s beautiful up here”, she said to forget about her perpetual internal struggle and to start a conversation.
“It is indeed”, the Key Master agreed, viewing the town and the people down below, who were as tiny as colorful ants. He then turned his head to look at Edna. “But I’m surprised you like merry-go-rounds. I always expected you being more of a rollercoaster fan.”
“Who said I wasn’t one?“, the purple haired woman smirked. “It’s just that I have fond memories of merry-go-rounds.”
“Oh? And what would that be?”
The smirk on Edna’s face changed into a more serious expression, which gradually took on a fond smile as she told him about her and Mattis going to the funfair and him being happy for the first time since Vivian’s murder.
“But I think the memory has a more poignant meaning to me now that I know why it meant so much to me that Mattis was happy”, Edna concluded with a faraway look on her face. She moved her head to look at the Key Master, giving him a grateful smile. “Thank you for staying with me last night.”
“No need to thank me”, he replied, taking her Harvey-less hand into his own. The blue rag doll lagomorph pretended to throw up, though neither of them paid him any heed. Edna turned her attention back to the scenery, noting for the first time it was a pretty little town. While she could hardly imagine ever living here for the rest of her life, she could nonetheless imagine coming here for a visit if she ever needed peace and tranquility. However, she did not know where her life would lead her, so for all she knew, she could be too far away from this place. But whatever happened, she knew she would be grateful for the friends she made and their help when she was new in this town. Before them, she was usually alone or had only one friend, apart from Harvey; now she had a circle of friends, and one friend who she would not mind if there was something more between them – she shyly eyed the Key Master before gazing back at the scenery. Edna set her ocular organs to the endless horizon, imagining what adventures could await her, what friends she could make there and if she would ever be rid of Doctor Marcel and his minions. If it were not for his obsession with her, she would surely be anywhere in the world and would have never been stuck in his stinky asylum. But she might also never have met people like the Key Master or Lilli. The thought of Lilli reminded Edna for some reason of the small family with the missing daughter that was parked on the lot of the supermarket with their trailer. She could not explain why though. She tried to see if she could spot the supermarket from up here and indeed she did. However, when she observed the parking lot, she found it was lacking trailers. The only vehicles she could see were just normal cars everyone with a driver’s license had.
“Huh? That’s strange”, Edna muttered. The Key Master looked at her questioningly:
“Over there”, Edna replied, pointing at the parking lot of the supermarket. “The trailer with the small family I told you about yesterday is gone.” She turned her head to the Key Master: “Do you suppose they returned home?”
“It could be a possibility”, he answered thoughtfully. “Or they decided to look for their missing daughter on their own.”
“Perhaps you’re right”, the female humanoid in the gondola responded in a low voice, gazing at the parking lot. She felt him giving her hand a comforting squeeze, which caused her to look at the man next to her.
“They will find her”, the Key Master tried to cheer her up.
“You’re right, they will find her. No doubt about it”, Edna responded, her frown turning upside down. She chuckled. “You know, you’ve been quite optimistic lately.”
“Really? I reckon it’s from my hanging around with you so often”, he retorted with a grin. The young woman was not sure whether she should take it as a compliment or be offended by his comment, so she opted to grin back. She pondered if this was just a way for him to say he enjoyed hanging around with her. But it would make sense, otherwise he would not voluntarily be with her and he would have told her to stop coming to see him a long time ago. Still, if she thought of how he acted towards her the day they met, so condescending, she would have expected he would tolerate her at most. Never would she have thought that they would develop such a friendship and she was sure he thought the same about this.
Their trip on the Ferris wheel ended and they left the gondola to make space for the next pair. Edna and the Key Master walked past the line to another ride or perhaps to a stand, she did not know since she let him lead the way. But a weird feeling overcame her, like she was being watched. She stopped walking and observed her surrounding, finding it hard to actually single out a lone person in a sea of people. Still, she kept looking for a few more minutes while walking alongside the Key Master.
“Why are you always looking behind us, Princess? You look like you’re twitching”, he inquired after she once again glimpsed behind. She swiveled around to face him and to answer his question:
“Well, it’s just... I can’t shake off the feeling that someone’s watching me or maybe even the both of us.”
“There are countless people here, like sand on a beach. Perhaps it’s just your imagination”, he tried to calm her.
“I hope you’re right...“, Edna trailed off, once again glancing behind her. The Key Master still held her hand, not having let go since they were on the Ferris wheel. She felt his pressure on her hand once again heightening for a short moment, probably to take her mind off her feeling. Maybe he was right and it was all in her head. There was no point in getting insane over something that was probably only her imagination. She wanted to enjoy the day. Suddenly, she felt a warm hand on her shoulder, startling her to the point of gasping and whirling around. Her increased heart rate took on its normal beating rate and the frightened face changed into a relieved smile.
“Anika! Gregor!“, Edna exclaimed in a weak voice before her expression changed into one of puzzlement. “Hang on, shouldn’t you be with Amy on a plane on your way to the United States, Anika?”
“Uh no, you’re confusing the date”, the dark skinned woman replied, a little too quickly. Edna was not sure if she should believe her. But then again, why would her friend lie to her? She had no reason to as far as she knew. Edna looked at Gregor to ask for confirmation but her request never left her mouth when she noticed him looking at her and the Key Master’s intertwined fingers with interest – as did Anika. Edna let go of the Key Master’s hand, suddenly feeling quite empty.
“Nice to see you again”, Anika greeted the green-skinned man. “How’s your arm? Still any complaints?”
“It’s fine, no complaints”, the Key Master, who stood quietly next to Edna the whole time, replied.
“Amy, Sebastian and Bianca are here too”, Gregor told them. “How about you all join us?”
The Key Master looked questioningly at Edna, who smiled and nodded. Her two friends gave them toothy grins, which the pair reciprocated. But as Edna looked around to spot the others, she found no trace of them.
“Huh, where are they?“, she questioned.
“Somewhere around, we went separate ways shortly after arriving here”, Anika explained. “But I’m sure we can find them.”
“Yeah, we can easily find three people among a million”, Harvey sarcastically commented. Edna had to admit that the blue rabbit was right. It would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Or straw in a stack of needles.
“How about we go look for them now? Maybe they’re on the rides or playing games”, was what she said aloud instead. The four walked together, looking left and right for Amy, Sebastian and Bianca, although Edna had to describe their appearance to the Key Master. Unfortunately, her description was not the best, so he asked her once or twice if a person was one of her friends when they resembled her description. However, Anika and Gregor were so busy mumbling with each other that they did not seem to notice his little mistake. Edna glanced at the two, wondering what they were whispering about. Were they speculating and theorizing about her and the Key Master, seeing that they did show interest when they still held hands? Edna opted not to think too much about this, Anika knew about her feelings for the Key Master and she would not say anything out loud unless she was completely sure.
“Hey, isn’t that there Amy?“, Gregor pointed at a tall, slim woman, whose hair and skin were both black. Edna followed the direction and looked at the woman. To her, she did look like Amy but she was not a hundred percent sure since she did not know her as well as her other friends. However, she soon realized that Gregor was right when the woman turned around. The family resemblance to Anika was so uncanny that even a complete stranger would know they were sisters. Amy spotted the group of four, waved and ran over to them.
“Hey guys”, she greeted them all with a smile. “Hi Edna, long time no see. How’ve you been doin’?”
“Oh not bad”, Edna shrugged. “What about you?”
“Apart from the asylum I hold therapy sessions at being run by a madman, quite well”, Amy replied before turning her attention to the Key Master. She offered him a hand: “You must be a friend of Edna’s. My name’s Amy.”
“Pleasure to meet you”, he replied and shook her hand. Edna noticed he did not introduce himself, something he also neglected to do when he first met Anika. Well, it would be kind of hard to tell a person their name if they could not remember it. She imagined how he would actually introduce himself –“Hello, I’m the Key Master. You can call me that because I can’t remember my real name.“. She could not decide whether it sounded more ridiculous in her head or when he would actually say it. Edna glanced at the sisters and the boyfriend of one of them, wondering if they would inquire his name. A part of her was curious to see how he would handle it but another thought it would be better to save him before something was going to happen. Amy did look like she was going to ask.
“Where do you suppose Bianca and Sebastian are?“, she asked Amy, who turned her attention back to Edna.
“I last saw them in line for the rollercoaster. Dunno if they’re still there”, she replied. Before anyone else could say something, Edna quickly suggested to look for them and led them to the rollercoaster, which she could see in the distance. She was aware of Amy giving her strange looks and thus, she hoped with every fiber of her being that the therapist would not say anything. But navigating through the sea of people without bumping into anyone proved to be a challenge Edna was grateful for since it seemed like it provided a big enough distraction for Amy to forget about the Key Master’s name. He picked up his pace, so that he walked next to Edna.
“What is this about?“, he questioned in a whisper.
“I prevent them from asking for your name”, she whispered back. “Or do you want an awkward moment where you admit you don’t know after they asked for it?”
“Hm, you got a point there but this can’t go on like this forever”, he responded. “We would need to think of a name for me or we hope I’ll remember my name soon.”
“I hope it’s the latter; I would like to call you by your actual name”, Edna admitted. Her crush and companion was about to give a response when a large man bumped into her, causing her to loose her balance and nearly falling on the ground if the Key Master had not caught her.
“You alright?“, he asked her, helping her standing upright again.
“Yeah, thanks”, she replied. “Just a little startled.”
“That guy should have been more careful”, there was a bit of anger in the Key Master’s voice as he glared in the direction the large man went to. Edna calmed him down by taking his hands.
“Hey, no need to get all ruffled about it. He’s not worth it”, she said in a calm voice. The Key Master inhaled and exhaled deeply and led the way, only for Edna to take the lead. But their search still proved to be fruitless. Maybe Sebastian and Bianca still waited in line for the rollercoaster and, considering how long the line was, it could take a while. No matter how much Edna would be hoping for this, there was no way Sebastian and Bianca would be done with the ride. If the line had already been long when she and the Key Master had arrived, it was most likely still the case. Nevertheless, they went there just to be sure. Well, when they arrived there, Edna could not see her two friends anywhere in the line. There were several reasons why, maybe they were still there and Edna just did not see them or they were already on the rollercoaster or they had left the line or they had been abducted by aliens. But she quickly dismissed the idea. If aliens had really abducted her friends, there would be a mass panic... unless everyone’s memories had been wiped, then they would all go their merry way.
“See your friends anywhere?“, the Key Master asked her after a few minutes of looking for the two. Edna sighed and shook her head.
“Perhaps we should just enjoy ourselves instead of spending all day long looking for them”, the Key Master suggested. “Surely we come across them sooner or later.”
“I guess you’re right”, Edna agreed. The two went on to either another line that was shorter or to the games. But most of the rides where they would not have to wait for hours were for little children. While the merry-go-round had been fun for Edna, she did not want to go on slow rides only. So, they went to play some games – or rather, she let the Key Master play some games while Edna took in their surroundings. She might have suggested that they played but she opted to just let him have all the fun. Maybe he could even win something or the game was rigged and impossible to win.
“Congratulations, you’ve won one of these”, the man operating the game gestured at the plushies of various fictional characters. The Key Master let Edna choose. She picked a Minion. The operator wordlessly handed her the yellow funny-looking character and she took it in her arms.
“Or do you want to carry it?“, Edna asked the Key Master, who shook his head and told her she could keep since he did not even know what it was. She commented they had to remedy this when they were back in the apartment. Before he could reply, they were joined by Edna’s friend, who told them they could not find Sebastian and Bianca. Edna told them the same and she was about to ask where they should go to when they heard a male voice calling:
“There you are!”
It was Sebastian in company with Bianca and they ran towards them, although their eyes were more directed to Amy than to anyone else.
“Where have you been? We couldn’t find you anywhere when we got off the rollercoaster”, Bianca explained before spotting Edna and raising a hand in greeting: “Hi Edna.”
The purple haired woman wordlessly raised her hand too while Amy told the two newcomers she was just walking around when she met up with her sister and her boyfriend as well as Edna and her friend. Meanwhile, Edna told the Key Master who these two were, even though she was quite sure he figured it out by himself, which he was quick to point out but that he was also not entirely sure of their names until she just mentioned them.
“Funny, only Tina and Amy’s boyfriend and the group would be complete – OW!“, Sebastian commented and Bianca stomped on his foot, something that was easily noticeable for everyone else present. Edna found it strange that Bianca did this when all Sebastian did was to mention her housemate of who they all knew she was visiting her parents.
“Hey, how about we go to one of the food stands and get something edible? I’m getting kinda hungry now”, Gregor suggested a minute later.
“Good idea, I’m feeling a little hungry”, Edna agreed, something Sebastian and Amy did too. Only Anika, Bianca and the Key Master mentioned they were not particularly hungry yet but nevertheless agreed to go to a food stand before the hungry ones starved to death. One was nearby, from which Gregor and Sebastian bought a hot dog each, Edna got currywurst and French fries, and Amy got bratwurst and a bun. They all also bought Cola and Sprite and, in Amy’s case, water. They gathered around one of the two round tables that were in front of the stand, with the Key Master next to them while Anika and Bianca wandered around.
“Don’t you think you should be a gentleman and go along with the girls?“, Sebastian questioned before taking a bite out of his hot dog. Edna glared at him indignantly, though the Key Master did not seem to be bothered.
“I’m certain these two can take care of themselves and besides, I’m hardly a gentleman”, he retorted, raising an eyebrow. The youngest male in the group looked like he was about to say something else but was calmed by a look from Gregor. Sebastian dropped the issue and silently ate his hot dog, drinking from his Cola now and then.
Edna and the Key Master said good bye to her friends in the evening when she and him wanted to return to her apartment. Amy, Anika and the others also left the funfair, though Edna had no idea where they would be going, although she figured it was the home of either Anika and Gregor, Sebastian or Bianca. But she thought about this only for a moment as her mind was more occupied by her contemplating what she and the Key Master should eat for dinner. Thus, the first thing she did upon entering her apartment was to head for the kitchen and see what edible stuff was available.
“Found anything, Princess?“, the Key Master asked, leaning against the doorframe.
“Yup”, she responded while taking out burger buns, meat, ketchup, tomatoes, cucumbers, and salad, all of which she placed on the kitchen counter.
“How does burger sound?”
“I think it sounds good”, the green-skinned man replied. “And how about I put a movie in the player?”
“Sure, be my guest”, the purple haired woman said while starting to make dinner.
Less than half an hour later, Edna and the Key Master sat in the couch eating burgers and watching Despicable Me.
The sun slowly lay down for sleep; it only peeked over the horizon to wish diurnal life forms a good night by the time the movie was over. It was the time for teenagers and young adults to go out to party but this was the last thing on Edna’s mind. She usually preferred partying at Bianca’s place where she would usually not meet anyone she would rather avoid and where music they actually liked listening to was played. But it was unlikely another party would be happening any time soon since the date of Bianca accompanying Sebastian and his family to France was drawing nearer. Neither Edna nor the Key Master felt drowsy, so they opted to continue with their drawings from the previous evening.
The sun was long gone, leaving behind the darkness of the night. If Edna would go outside, she would see a moonlit starry night sky. This actually gave her an idea to relax and enjoy the pleasantly warm night. She put her pencil down as she stared off to distance and she contemplated whether or not she should really go outside. Yes, the idea had some merit; she made up her mind. Smirking to herself, Edna closed her sketch-pad and brought this and her pencil and eraser back to their place in her room. Then she returned to the living room, where the Key Master was still drawing, and took Harvey in her arms.
“I think I will take a late night stroll with Harv. Wanna come along?“, she invited her green-skinned friend. Harvey looked at her with a mix of shock and anger.
“Why are you inviting him along? Why can’t it just be the two of us?“, he inquired in a loud voice.
“Well, someone has to protect you in case a drunk idiot is making a pass on you”, the Key Master responded with a shrug. “Or even worse.”
Edna had a vague idea what he was talking about and she honestly did not want any of those kinds of encounters. It was not like she had something against alcohol, she just preferred if people were still aware of their surroundings and could speak without slurring. Those who have had a drop too much were only a danger to themselves and their environment.
“So, you’re my knight in shining armor then?“, Edna commented with a smirk. “Well, if I’m a princess, according to you, and you just tag along to protect me, that would make you my knight in shining armor”, she added at the Key Master’s quizzical face.
“Well, if you think that, though I can’t imagine myself as one”, he commented.
“Just like how I can’t see myself as a princess?“, Edna smirked. “Well, now you know how I feel.”
“You’re still a princess to me, Princess”, the Key Master commented and headed for the hallway, looking over his shoulder and adding: “Do you want to take a stroll now, or do you not?”
Knowing she would probably never completely understand him, she shrugged and followed him. He had already slipped a jacket on and right now, he was in the middle of tying his shoes. Edna put her shoes on too, but left out a jacket. It was a warm night; she doubted she would need one. However, she remembered taking her keys – the last thing they wanted was to lock themselves out – and the two humans and the rag doll rabbit left the apartment together.
The streetlights spent late night strollers, such as Edna and the Key Master, at least a little bit of illumination. The danger of running against something was therefore lessened, unless one was drunk beyond help. Fortunately, they did not come across this kind of person or any other for that matter. Nobody either wanted to go out or these two just happened to be in the wrong part of town in case of late night strollers. Edna reckoned it was the latter. But she was not really in the mood to party; she had time for it later. Her and the Key Master’s path led them out of town and through the forest, along the same path they traveled when they were on the way to and from the Key Master’s hideout. Edna wanted to enjoy nature in its nocturnal glory without fear of some creep or drunken guys suddenly appearing. She wanted something to calm her for her to sleep well later.
The large field and the hill lay still in the warm summer night with the house and the well as the only manmade construction. The grass moved gently in the summer breeze, illuminated by the full moon’s silver light. Edna took one look at the beautiful scenery in front of her before she broke into a run, much to the Key Master’s surprise. She ran across the field, past the house and up the hill, all the while laughing cheerfully. For a moment, she forgot all about her worries. For a moment, she was just a young girl enjoying life and she wanted to keep this illusion, even if it was only for a short time. She reached the top of the hill and let herself fall on her derrière. The Key Master was by her and Harvey’s side not long afterwards.
“What was that about?“, he questioned, sitting down next to her.
“Oh, I needed the exercise”, she responded with a grin. She saw him looking at her strangely before he smiled to himself and he shook his head good-naturedly. Edna turned her attention to the sky and its countless stars twinkling above. So many stars and yet, it was nothing compared to what was out there in outer space. Who knew what was out there, far beyond their own star system? Were there really intelligent life forms out there? Edna believed in it. After all, the universe is vast and endless, so why should they be the only life forms in existence? She believed in other life forms, they just had not been discovered yet. And if one thought about it, only a microscopic tiny part of outer space had been researched so far. Besides, other life forms might not want to initiate first contact with humans yet, not as long as they were probably deemed as too primitive.
“Do you think there’s something out there?“, Edna asked, still admiring the stars. The Key Master, who was doing the same, turned towards her:
“Like what? Aliens and other extraterrestrial stuff?”
“Yes”, she confirmed with a nod.
“Well, I can’t say for sure if I really believe in aliens but I think their existence is more likely than an honest politician”, he responded slowly as though he was still thinking about his answer while talking. Edna had to chuckle a little at his response. So true, so true.
“Let’s be honest, everything is more likely than a politician who actually tells the truth, even when someone tells you the Mount Everest is made of chocolate”, she commented before indicating at the stars, “or that the stars are just dead fireflies.”
“You got that one from an animated film, though I can’t remember if the fireflies were dead too”, the Key Master smirked. Edna smirked back and lightly punched his shoulder. When she put her hand back down again, she touched the Key Master’s hand. Neither moved their hands away, it did not bother them... or they did not notice. Edna, for her part, gazed back at the stars and connected them with imaginary lines to new signs. One of them even resembled a rabbit; she called it ‘Harvey’. Others looked like other animals, like an octopus or a cat with wings. It was fun to make up these imaginary star signs, so much that Edna actually chortled.
“Something amusing?“, the Key Master inquired.
“Yep, take a look at those stars”, she pointed at a couple of those, “if you use your imagination, they look a pig dancing on its hind legs wearing a Carmen Miranda hat.”
She turned her attention to the man next to her, who once again stared at her strangely. Nonetheless, he looked at the stars she was pointing at. Edna watched his face, which was currently in a frown. His eyes moved up and down, left and right as he tried to see the picture Edna imagined up there. She always considered him to be creative, so she was certain he would see the dancing pig too, sooner or later. Until then, she continued making up a couple of more signs.
The Key Master’s frown deepened the longer he looked at the specific stars Edna had pointed at. Try as he might, he simply could not see a pig. Perhaps seeing pictures in stars was not something he was good at or he tried too hard. Sometimes, it helped if one relaxed and did not make themselves go crazy over it. All that would be accomplished would be nothing or very little. Thus, he lay down and relaxed, still looking at the general direction. Lo and behold, he slowly started to see a pig dancing on its hind legs and wearing a Carmen Miranda hat! No wonder why Edna laughed at it, it was funny looking.
“Now I see it”, he said with a chuckle, sitting up again. Edna grinned at him.
“It’s funny, isn’t it? You should try seeing more images up there, it’s a fun past time”, she responded while rubbing her bare arms.
“Feeling cold, Princess?“, the Key Master raised an eyebrow.
“A little but it’s not so bad”, she admitted. “I can survive it.”
However, the Key Master did not listen to her. Instead, he took off his jacket and put it around Edna’s shoulders. She made a dumbfounded face at this before it changed into a grateful smile. He already started to feel the chilly night air of his naked skin but found he did not care. He felt that his friend’s well being was more important than his own. This was something he had only started to feel and think when he got better friends with Edna. He had not cared for anyone but himself since he ended up in a solitary cell in Doctor Marcel’s asylum. Edna moved closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder. It still astounded the Key Master that she willingly sought out to being close to him, considering that she knew what he had done and therefore was capable of. But he also realized he had changed over the last two months. While the urge to murder other people was still there, it was not as pronounced as it was once. In fact, he managed to spend a whole day with Edna and her friends without wanting to kill them. Before that, he would indiscriminately murder other people when he got the urge. And yet, he knew he was not always like that. Something in his past must have caused him to snap and become the psycho he was. But he could simply not remember what. Were the memories suppressed? Or did Doctor Marcel erase them like he had done it with Edna’s memories? After all, he could vaguely recall being escorted to the old man a couple of times during his imprisonment. He could never remember what this was about but he had a hunch that he went through the whole memory erasing procedure when that happened.
“This is nice”, Edna commented with a content sigh.
“What is?“, the Key Master questioned. “Sitting here and looking at stars millions of light years away from where we are?”
“Exactly”, Edna confirmed. “I always liked looking at the stars and wondering what could be out there. I guess this is why I liked Star Trek since I was little. It was like a window to an eventual future, where humanity made first contacts with other life forms. I still hope we will come to contact with aliens some day.”
She had a blissful smile on her face as she pressed Harvey close to her heart. The Key Master watched her for a moment and then he looked at the starry night sky, too. He thought about what she had said, about her belief that there were other life forms far outside their galaxy. Perhaps there was some truth to it; it was too arrogant and ignorant to think that there was only intelligent life on planet Earth. Time passed as they gazed at the twinkling lights above until...
“How about we go now? I’m starting to feel sleepy”, he suggested. It was true; he was up since around seven in the morning when a couple of naughty noises from the neighbors woke him. He was amazed that Edna had not heard them and that people would actually get intimate this early in the morning. Hopefully, they would be quiet when the Key Master and Edna returned to the latter’s apartment. He would like to get a good night’s sleep. Speaking of which, the Key Master glanced at Edna while he pondered whether she wanted him to sleep with her again or if she could sleep alone.
“Well alright”, she relented. “But we should do it again some time.”
From what he could see, she seemed to be tired too. She had trouble keeping her ocular organs open. He would not put it past her to fall asleep while standing on her two feet. The Key Master stood up and helped her up too, holding her close as she was about to collapse.
“How about we rest at my hideout?“, he proposed. “You can barely stand, much less walk around.”
“Ah no, let’s go back to the apartment”, she declined but did not move. The Key Master picked her up in bridal style and carried her down the hill. Upon looking at her face, he saw that her eyes were closed and he noticed her chest slowly moving up and down as she slowly breathed. She held Harvey on her stomach with the rabbit’s head dangling down from her side. The Key Master was careful not to drop either her or her toy as he walked to his hideout and opened the door with his elbow. He gently put her down on his bed. She immediately turned to her side and drew her legs up to her chest so that her rag doll rabbit was wedged between her chest and legs. He took one of the chairs and placed it right next to his bed. He watched her sleep for a moment before she suddenly opened her eyes and surveyed her surroundings.
“Uh, why are we here?“, she questioned while sitting up.
“You dozed off on the hill, so I thought it would be better to stay here for the night. I don’t think we manage to get back to the apartment without you dozing off again”, the green-skinned man explained. However, she shook her head and got up. Insisting she could walk, they made their way back to the town, though the Key Master made sure he could catch her should she fall asleep again.
By the time they reached the town, they found young people out and about, strolling along the streets. Some adolescents in baggy clothes leaned against the exterior wall of a building, smoking and already drinking beer. The Key Master shook his head in disapproval at those kids. He had drunken alcoholic beverages in his youth too, but he knew at least where his limit lied... and had perhaps stepped a toe out of line once or twice. He did not believe they would ever have a bright future for he had seen many adolescents like those over the years and most ended in unemployment or with low-paying jobs. And he also noticed that a lot of people their age, even adults too, use grammatically incorrect terms and words. Last time the Key Master checked, it was ‘only’ and not ‘onliest’.
“Is it just me or is today’s youth more disrespectful than in the Nineties?“, he asked Edna as they walked past those adolescents. Before she had the chance to reply, they catcalled and wolf whistled:
“Hey, poppet! Ditch that oldie there and get on with a real man!”
Edna groaned and rolled her eyes just as another one called her ‘cutie pie’. She and the Key Master picked up their pace to get as much space between them and those youths.
“Do I really look that young?“, Edna asked, a light note of desperation in her voice.
“Well, if I didn’t know your age, I would estimate your age anywhere between seventeen and twenty-five”, the Key Master responded in a calm voice. He saw her making a funny face.
“I don’t know whether to be offended or feel complimented”, she remarked. “But to answer your previous question, it’s because parents don’t really raise their kids anymore. Younger kids are even worse. Nowadays, most parents leave education up to television, video games and teachers. And if something’s wrong with their offspring, it’s the fault of those three but not their own. I guess I can appreciate that Mattis tried to actually raise me, even if his methods weren’t the best.”
“At least he tried and I don’t think you turned out bad. You may not be a model citizen but you’re not as annoying as those teens back there”, the Key Master commented.
“I take that as a compliment”, Edna retorted, beaming at him. He reciprocated her radiant smile with a small one of his own. In a way, he meant it as a compliment but he did not say it aloud. They kept strolling up the street until they reached the apartment complex Edna lived in. She took out her keys and unlocked the door, stepping aside to let him enter the building first. They took the elevator upstairs and five minutes later, Harvey lay on the bed in Edna’s room and she was in the bathroom, brushing her teeth and changing into her pajamas. After she left the bathroom, the Key Master entered it and she went to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
“Do you want me to stay with you again tonight?“, the Key Master asked after both he and Edna were ready for bed and she drank her beverage. However, she shook her head.
“No, I think I’ll be able to sleep alone tonight”, she declined. “But thanks for the offer.”
The friends bade each other food night while the female went to her room where she read a couple of diary entries written by Mattis before going to sleep.
She was once again back in her childhood home and the date was once again summer of 1995 – the fateful night to be more precise. However when she witnessed the murder and everything else that happened that night, she had seen this from first person view as her still four year old self last night. But this time, she watched it all as a spectator from third person view. Apart from this, her dream was exactly the same it was the previous night until the part her miniature self ran away to hide. Adult Edna stayed in the kitchen, watching Edmund The Slasher hacking and slashing at Vivian. She winced at every hit asking herself over and over again what her mother did to suffer like this.
By the time Edmund The Slasher was done, there seemed no millimeter of Vivian’s skin devoid of wounds and blood. The sight alone was bad enough but what really made it worse was how her murderer traced his dirty fingers through her blood and licked them off, satisfyingly smacking his lips. Edna, who felt sickened by this sight, just thought he was the kind of person who deserved death penalty when he suddenly turned towards her, his mad eyes gleaming down at her and he had the most terrifying smile on his face she had ever seen. She wanted to run away but found herself unable to while he scuffed towards her. He raised his bloody knife and pierced her heart. Her screams of pain went on even as she woke up.
Edna breathed heavily and unevenly as she surveyed her dark room for any signs of Edmund The Slasher. She placed a hand above her thumping heart under her top, both to calm it and to feel for any kind of wound. Feeling not wound there, eased up only to jump when her door burst open. A second later, the Key Master was by her side.
“What happened? Why did you scream?“, he inquired frantically and worriedly. Edna stared at him through the darkness before suddenly gripping the front of his shirt firmly and burying her head in his chest. He put his arms around her, not asking any more questions but staying with her for the rest of the night.
A loud ringing woke Edna up. Not bothering to open her eyes, she stretched her arm out towards the bedside table and tried to find her alarm clock. She found it weird that it kept ringing since she could not remember setting it the previous night. Besides, it sounded a bit different... And was there not someone missing in her bed?
“Princess, telephone’s ringing!“, she heard the missing person call from somewhere outside her room. Edna opened her eyes at last, thinking to herself that the Key Master’s call would explain some things. Yawning loudly, she sat and got up and left her room to answer the telephone in the living room.
“’lo?“, she said in a sleepy voice, the first half of her word of greeting being lost in her tiredness.
“Good morning Edna”, a voice on the other end of the line, which she recognized as Tina’s mother, replied. “Is Tina there with you?”
This question woke Edna completely up. She found it strange that Tina’s mother would ask her that when her daughter was supposed to be with her family. Unless something happened...
“Uh no, Missus Kemmer. But shouldn’t she be there with you?“, Edna responded, frowning in worry.
“Well, she was supposed to but she still isn’t here, and we can’t reach her on the phone”, Missus Kemmer explained worriedly. Edna could not blame her, she felt fear and worry regarding her friend’s fate too. Just where could she be? And what happened to her? The young purple haired woman hoped nothing indescribably horrible happened to Tina. Therefore she made a promise to her mother:
“I’ll try to find out what happened to Tina and I’ll let you know.”
“Oh thank you, Edna. Well, I don’t want to disturb you any longer. Good bye”, Tina’s mother said and hung up, giving Edna barely time to mumble words of departure. The moment the receiver was back in its place, she went to the door that led to her housemate’s room. In hopes of finding something that would give her a clue about Tina’s whereabouts, she entered the room. Edna was not quite sure what she expected – mayhap hints of a struggle or a handwritten note – but she hardly expected seeing Tina’s luggage sitting wide open on her bed with her bag for hygienic products lying next to it. The cell phone lay on the drawers. It looked like Tina was in the middle of packing the rest of her stuff when she was forced to leave. The question was what exactly happened. As far as Edna could tell, it must have occurred while she was out because her housemate was still there before she left but absent when she was back. At that time, Edna had thought that Tina had already left to visit her parents but now she knew it could not be. She suspected that it was a kidnapping, though she could not explain why anyone would kidnap Tina. She had no important information, valuable goods and she was not rich. If anything, Tina was a kind and likeable middle class woman who had never done anything to become a target of kidnapping.
“Wherever you are, I hope you’re safe”, Edna mumbled under her breath, looking around the room she promised never to enter unless she had her housemate’s permission.
Edna turned around and saw the Key Master standing in the doorway. His face showed concern for her.
“Is something wrong?“, he asked as he stepped closer.
“I just got a call from Tina’s mother; she never arrived in her childhood home. I have a feeling that somebody kidnapped her...“, Edna explained, trailing off when she tried to think of anyone who would profit from holding Tina hostage. She had no enemies, as far as Edna knew there was no ancient prophecy that described a girl like Tina and she was not the reincarnation of a religious icon – Edna was pretty sure those would only be reborn as religious people.
“But if she was, then there should be a ransom note somewhere. I can’t see one anywhere, however”, she continued speaking. Her eyes widened in realization a moment later. “Unless it’s in the mailbox... I haven’t check for any mails since Tina was supposed to leave for her visit to her parents.”
She sprinted past the Key Master, who grabbed her wrist.
“What now? Can’t you see I wanna check the mail? Tina’s fate could hang on it”, she complained to him, clearly annoyed.
“Well, I don’t wanna stop you from doing this. But don’t you think you should wear something more suitable?“, the Key Master suggested.
“Since when do people have to wear a specific outf–“, she stopped talking and looked down at herself when he pointed at what she was wearing. Edna gave a sheepish chuckle when she realized she was still clad in a sleeping shirt and boxers. “I go get changed, and then I will check the mail.”
Edna left her housemate’s room and went to her own room, where she rummaged her closet in search for something that belonged to her mother. She wanted to feel close to her and she thought wearing something that was hers would be the best way to go about this. Soon, she found a lavender dress, not at all like the red one Vivian wore when she died. With the dress and her underwear in her arms, Edna headed for the bathroom, where she got ready for the day.
“Much better”, the Key Master commented when Edna emerged from the bathroom twenty minutes later.
“Now I go to check the mail”, Edna replied while throwing the clothes she wore in bed into her room. “See ya in a bit.”
She grabbed her keys and left the apartment, going down the hallway to the elevator. There was already one of her neighbors inside, one who lived a floor above her. The neighbor, a middle aged woman, greeted her with a “good morning”, which Edna reciprocated. Aside from the little exchange of words of greeting, their ride downstairs with the elevator was silent. Edna did not know her well, having rarely spoken with her; she only knew that she was a single mother of three children and that she divorced her husband two years ago. Other than that, she knew nothing about her. The elevator stopped on the ground floor and both left it. Edna only went as far as the mailboxes while her neighbor left the building. Edna opened her and Tina’s mailbox, finding countless junk mails and, on top of them all, a CD cover with either a CD or a DVD inside. Nothing else was in there, so she closed the mailbox and returned upstairs to her apartment.
“I’m back”, she announced a few minutes later, throwing the junk mail in a waste basket as she walked past it. The Key Master sat at the dinner table, eating scrambled eggs and drinking coffee. A second plate was set in front of an empty chair, probably for Edna.
“Did you find anything?“, he asked while she took a seat and began eating too. She nodded and held the CD or DVD up in the air with her free hand.
“I think this will explain some things, just gotta watch it”, Edna said after swallowing her bite. She continued eating while the Key Master, who already finished breakfast, put the small circular object into the movie player. Both human beings of the living room stared expectantly at the television screen, wondering what they might see when Doctor Marcel’s ugly face came up.
“Yuck! Not something I’d want to see when I’m eating!“, Edna exclaimed with as much disgust in her voice as she could muster and that was an incredible amount. The Key Master hushed her since Doctor Marcel commenced speaking in the video:
“Ah Edna, I’m sure you’ve been wondering about your friend’s abse–“, Doctor Marcel began, only to be interrupted by a familiar voice:
“That’s not a great intro for a ransom note, she knows I wanted to go visit my parents the day your minions kidnapped me.”
The doctor made an annoyed face before turning around to the speaker, who was unseen somewhere in the background.
“I do the talking here!“, he said in tranquil fury. He turned back to the camera and resumed his message:
“As I was saying, you’re probably wondering about your friend’s absence when you hear she never arrived at her parents’ house. Well, I’ve got two surprises for you.”
He rolled away to reveal two blondes on the floor of the cell behind him. Edna immediately recognized the older and chubbier one as Tina but the other one...
“Hey, wait a second! That little girl there!“, Edna exclaimed as her fork fell with a loud clank on the plate.
“What about her?“, the Key Master, who had given a start at the clank, questioned.
“T-that’s my friend Lilli! We were roommates and friends in the convent school”, Edna explained. “But we haven’t seen each other for years. Not since that day...”
The old man reappeared on screen, an evil smirk having taken over his features:
“If you want me to let your dear friends go, you have to return to the asylum and go through a correction of character. Or are you selfish and leave them stuck in here while you roam around freely like a bird?”
At this point, Edna expected an evil, maniacal laugh so much that she was surprised when none came. The video ended after that, leaving her to stare at the now empty screen. So, Doctor Marcel still wanted to change her personality. Somehow, it did not come as a surprise for her; he had been trying to do this for ten years of her life. It seemed unlikely he would ever give up. Still, there were some things worrying her. How did Doctor Marcel know about Tina? And how did he know where to send the DVD to? Edna did not believe her friend revealed her address to him; she would have said either nothing or given a false address. But whatever, Edna knew what she had to do. She knew it would be dangerous and risky but it would be worth it. There was no way she become a prisoner of the asylum again but she also did not want to leave her two friends behind. This was why she took a third option.
“I have to save them”, she said in a strong, determined voice.
“What!?“, the Key Master exclaimed in both shock and disbelief. “Are you really going to do what that... that man demands!?”
“I never said I was going to have my personality rewritten”, Edna pointed out. She saw comprehension dawning on the Key Master’s face. He knew what she was planning, what her intentions were. “But I think I would need your help. It’ll be too difficult for me to do this alone.”
“You can count on me”, he consented. He turned the movie player and television set off after taking the DVD out. He walked back to the dinner table, sitting down on the chair he sat on earlier. “Are you going to ask your other friends to help you out?”
Edna did not answer his question immediately. Instead she thought about this while eating the rest of her – already cold – scrambled eggs. Would it be a good idea to let her other friends come along too? Or would she just lead them to danger? None of them, except for Amy, knew anything about the asylum and would probably not even know how to handle the guards. And, if Edna was honest with herself, she could not bring herself to drag any more of her friends into this.
“No”, she replied, shaking her head. “They’ve got nothing to do with Doctor Marcel and I don’t want to force them into something that could be hazardous for them.”
“Even though it’s your common friend who is being held captive?“, the Key Master inquired.
“Because I don’t wanna drag more of my friends into this whole mess! Tina was dragged into this because Doctor Marcel is one sick, twisted man! Lilli was in this since Mother Superior called him to the convent school! You’re in this because you’ve been in a solitary cell in his asylum for over a decade! And I’ve been in this for my whole life! I don’t want anyone else I care about to be dragged into this whole ordeal!“, Edna ranted, rising to her feet and her voice becoming increasingly louder. She breathed heavily and let herself fall back onto her chair. She put her arms on the table and supported her head with her hands. Why did Doctor Marcel have to move into the house next to her parents’ humble abode? Why did he have to enter their lives? Of all the people who had to move into the neighboring house, why did it have to be a guy who was the head of an asylum? And even if it had to be the head of a mental institution, why not a kind and caring person instead off this insane man? Too many questions and no answers for any of them.
She felt a hand on her shoulder and when she glanced to her side, she saw the Key Master giving her a comforting smile. Edna reciprocated with a small smile of her own, putting one of her hands on his. For a moment, she found herself wishing he would embrace her but she was also quite content with this little gesture.
“We can save your two friends, no matter if it’s just the two of us or an army”, the Key Master assured her. The corners of Edna’s mouth moved farther upwards.
“Thanks”, she said, taking his hand off her shoulder but not letting it go. She rose to her feet and walked closer to the Key Master. “Come on; let’s think up of a plan.”
She took his other hand and helped him up to his feet. She led him to her room, where she noticed Harvey smiling at her and glaring at the Key Master in greeting. Something told her the lagomorph would never like the Key Master or that it would be really hard. But she opted not to dwell onto this for too long, it was more important to conduct a plan to save Tina and Lilli.
“What exactly are you doing?“, the Key Master questioned while Edna turned her laptop on.
“One moment...“, Edna replied. Once her laptop was booted up, she double-clicked on the icon of a graphic program. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed her green-skinned friend supporting his arms on the table.
“Are we going to come up with a plan or are you going to draw a picture?“, he asked, somewhat annoyed. Edna turned her head to see his less than pleased face.
“We are conducting a plan but I think it would be a good idea to draw a rough layout of the asylum and its premises”, Edna explained. “Gregor – Anika’s boyfriend – taught me how to use this program.”
“Didn’t think you would want to be this prepared”, the Key Master commented while she used the line tool to draw up a large square.
“Me neither”, Harvey chimed in, even if only Edna could hear him.
“Well, this time we’re breaking in to break two people out, one of who was never there before and the other who most likely saw only little of this place”, she said, her eyes flickering from the Key Master to Harvey and back again. “I don’t want any of us to end up being stuck in a cell again, that’s why I’m drawing up a layout.”
Edna realized while she was still talking how much of an influence her friends had on her over the years. It was usually Bianca who advised her to take care of important details in her plans, no matter how small. A few years ago, Edna would have never thought about the details of her plan, much less draw a map. She would just think of the main stages and execute them with Harvey as she saw it fit. Sometimes it worked, other times it did not. However, her friends and her maturing had changed her. She could not be so reckless anymore; well, at least not as often.
She did not need long to finish a rough layout of the asylum and its premises. Fortunately, she could still remember every room she came across and its location, even if she wished it was not the case. Although she had to admit that it proved to be quite helpful in this case.
“Hm, first we have to get onto the propriety and inside the building. But the question is how? I know Lilli somehow managed to get inside but I don’t know how she did that...“, Edna mumbled. She racked her brain for any ideas on how to get over the wall, ranging from simply climbing over it to tearing it down. However, she knew it would not work; the barb wire would prevent them from getting over the wall and destroying it would alert everyone to their presence.
“I know there’s a backdoor, though it was rarely used to get on the propriety”, the Key Master told her. “I walked around the premises after we met in the garage but before you sent Hoti and Moti, and the Aluman over”, he added at Edna’s surprised look. “I found it hidden behind an overgrown bush.”
“Well, I guess the door can help us getting onto the propriety but if it’s locked, we’re not any closer to getting inside the asylum”, Edna pointed out.
“Don’t you still have the master key?”
“No, I had to melt it again to create a copy of the front door key to my house. The original one got broken when I tried to use it...”
“And I assume you couldn’t find another way inside your house?”
“Oh yes, I could, through the basement. But the front door key is also the key to my room and that one was locked with no alternative way to get in.”
“I see...“, the Key Master mumbled. Edna watched how he straightened himself and glanced around the room, probably trying to come up with an alternative plan.
“Hm, do you happen to own hairpins or something similar?“, he asked a second later, looking questioningly at her. Edna opened her mouth, about to deny it, when she recalled a small, forgotten box of hairpins in her drawers.
“Actually yes, one moment please”, she replied and got up, walking over her drawers. She could not remember where exactly she had stored the box, having never needed the pins. The only reason she owned them was that Tina had given them to her on her birthday along with the newest CD from God Sucks, Inc. However, Edna had never used them, which was why she found them in the lowest drawer, hidden among other jewelries she got but never wore. She did not see the point of wearing them; she was not interested in looking attractive for the opposite sex, at least until now. Edna took the box of hairpins and returned to her desk.
“Would these suffice?“, she questioned. The Key Master briefly examined them before he gave Edna a funny look:
“Yes, they will. And now I’m trying to imagine you with a pinned-up hairstyle...”
“Well, that’s what you get if your housemate’s into fashion shows”, Edna commented with a fond smile. It once annoyed her that Tina would buy her accessories or other stuff just so she would wear more fashionable outfits but she soon realized that her housemate never forced her into wearing them and that she meant it well. Thus, Edna started to see it in a different way – as a chance to dress herself up should she ever need to. Besides, it was not like Tina continually bought her dresses, shoes or accessories; only when she found something of which she thought Edna would like it.
“Really? Wouldn’t have thought that... But what’s that they say? Never judge a book by its cover”, the Key Master commented. “Anyway, let’s get back to the plan.”
“Right”, Edna agreed. “Well, we don’t know whether Tina and Lilli are with the other inmates or in solitary. So, when we’re inside the building with the help of the hairpins, we both or at least one of us should check with the other patients.”
Their planning continued on and on. As far as Edna could tell, she and the Key Master covered about every tiny detail. If this was all worth it or if this was all for naught, she could not tell; but she hoped it was worth it.
The sketch of the asylum and its perimeters was covered in colorful lines, purple and green, and short notes for Edna and the Key Master to know what they were supposed to do. It was quite easy, actually; they were going to break on the premises and inside the building through the backdoor, Edna would go see the other patients to ask them if they knew anything while the Key Master checked the archives for anything. They would meet there and, depending on what they found out, they would either flee with Tina and Lilli – if they were with the other patients – or stay a little longer to cause some mayhem in an attempt to distract the guards. Edna hoped she would be able to steal the master key or create another copy of it; she did not feel confident in using the hairpins.
“So, all we need to do is to save this file and print it... in Tina’s room”, the young woman said while doing the former. “Oh, we only got one printer and that one happens to be connected to Tina’s computer”, she added in explanation at the Key Master’s confused face. She looked around for a USB flash drive, spotting one next to a CD cover. She plugged it into the laptop while simultaneously closing the graphic program. The file of their plan was copied onto the flash drive immediately after it was plugged in and was unplugged the moment the plan was on it.
“Now, all that’s left is to print it”, Edna announced with a satisfied smile. “That way, we also have a map of the place.” She noticed her companion staring at her. “What? I got lost a few times at first before I remembered which door led to which room.”
She got no verbal answer from the Key Master but he did shrug his shoulders when she looked away. They left this room to get into the other bedroom, where Edna turned the computer on. While she waited, she took a look around her friend’s room, noting its brighter colors and thinking how it reflected Tina’s life so far. She had a normal childhood with her family, including a brother, went to school like any normal person, graduated and found a job – all of which was quite the opposite of Edna’s own life. At least she was aiming towards a proper graduation, even if this was not the conventional way. How many other adults in their twenties had adolescents as their classmates? But given her situation, it was decided it would be the best. Well, she had actually the decision between private lessons until graduation or going to a normal school with other people who were several years her junior. Remembering her and Alfred’s private lessons with Mister Hornbush quite well, Edna had opted for the second option. She never let the age differences bother her; it made no sense for her to act like she was better than them because she was older nor that she should isolate herself for the same reason.
“Uh Princess”, the Key Master said, pulling her out of her reverie. Edna turned her attention to him and followed his eyes to the computer screen, noticing a password was needed. She clicked on the hint button, though the single word ‘actor’ was of much of a help. She pondered how this single word could help Tina should she ever forget her password. Fortunately, Edna managed to guess it after three attempts. The desktop appeared soon, showing a picture of Audrey Hepburn in her dress for the ascot scene in My Fair Lady. Edna plugged the flash drive in before also turning the printer on. Several minutes later, she held two sheets of the printed plan in her hands. She gave one to the Key Master and turned the electronic devices off.
“Now that we got that behind us, how about we eat lunch?“, she suggested, looking up at the Key Master. It was already afternoon and the scrambled seemed to be from weeks ago, not hours ago. Perhaps it would be a good idea to fill their stomachs with scrumptious food before they traveled to her old home village later and go on a daring rescue mission. It was more or less like the last meal preceding a person’s execution but no one was supposed to die, not even Doctor Marcel and his minions. If anything, they should end up behind bars.
“I wouldn’t mind it”, the Key Master replied. “Better than to stay in here and wait until we go to save your friends. How are you planning to get there, if I might ask?”
“Public transportation?“, the young woman replied with a sheepish grin and a shrug. She got up from the chair and left the room with her flash drive and the plan, being followed by her friend and guest. She put both sheets of paper on the dinner table before going to her room to put the flash drive on her desk while the Key Master went to the kitchen to find something to prepare for late lunch or early dinner. Edna joined him a minute later and soon, they decided to make spaghetti Bolognese, seeing everything needed was readily available in the refrigerator and cupboards.
“Are you sure we’ll be able to make it without wreaking any kind of havoc?“, Edna questioned, having never made spaghetti Bolognese before. It was usually only her housemate who made this.
“I’m sure we can do this, just like how I’m certain we will be able to save your friends from Doctor Marcel’s clutches”, the Key Master responded while starting to prepare lunch. Edna smirked.
“Good enough for me. Just tell me what to do”, she replied, soon receiving and following instructions.