Chapter 21: Her Childhood Home
Joey was currently in Bishop, CA, with no idea of the events that were going on in Serenity Hill. She sat in her car outside an old abandoned house with dark brown wood that split in places. She took a deep breath and then got out of the car.
She had not been to her childhood home in years, and it was weird to see it again. The people in town were very superstitious, so no one had even touched the house. Slowly, Joey creaked open the door.
It was all just as she remembered it, with the wall that she had painted as a child with her brother, to the little gear pieces strewn across counter tops and tables that her father used to fix watches and clocks. Joey ran her hand across the mural of fairies and mushrooms mixed with talking cars and robots, and felt a wave of sadness and guilt come over her.
“Hello Joey. Long time no see.” a familiar voice snickered. Joey closed her eyes, trying to keep her patience.
“Go away Dulagar.” she seethed as the spirit sapper that had followed her around for so many years appeared before her with his floating dark purple face.
“Oh… You aren’t very composed as you usually are…” he said with his Irish accent. “What happened?”
Joey ignored him and walked into the kitchen, her eyes following over things she hadn’t seen in fifteen years.
“Woah-is this the first time you’ve been back since it happened?” Dulagar exclaimed, floating over her shoulder. “You must have been busy while you were gone.”
At this, the woman smirked.
That was a bit of an understatement.
Silently, she walked into the living room, which was black and charred from the fire that had enveloped it so many years ago.
There was the black remains of the armchair her father used to sit in.
There was the rubble of what used to be their coffee table.
And there were the marks on the wall-burned into the plaster.
The marks that had changed her life forever.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been in here before…” Dulagar said in awe, his mustache twitching. “I’ve heard so many stories about it though. You really messed up.”
“Yes, but I did something good as well.” Joey said quietly, feeling emotional.
“You know, I’ve heard some rumors through the grapevine that you were just dealing with some other spirits with those… acquaintances you have. I guess you don’t care about them as much as I thought you did-otherwise-.”
“I do care about them.” she snapped, glaring at the sap sipper. “And they aren’t just acquaintances-I-I consider them friends! They’ll be fine without me anyways…”
“That’s not what I heard.”
Joey paused, and then narrowed her eyes.
“What did you hear?”
“You didn’t hear anything from me.” he said innocently, bouncing up and down through the air. “I’m just saying that since you abandoned them, it’s your fault if anything happens to them right?”
The woman’s eyes grew wide, and she quickly whipped out her phone to see that she had a few missed calls and voicemails.
“Hey Joey- it’s Ian…”
As she listened, she felt her chest start to tighten.
The house had burned down?
Jordyn and Brian were missing?
The voicemail had mentioned that this had come through a few hours ago… Maybe they were ok now?
The next voicemail told her otherwise.
“J-Joey-please-we-we need your help-.”
Joey bit her lip, closed her eyes and clenched the phone as the message ended. This was her fault… If she hadn’t been so damn scared…
“Yes Joey… It’s all your fault…” Dulagar soothed, circling around her. “Just like what happened all those years ago… The only people who could have possibly cared about you… The ones who trusted you… You not worth anything to them now… You should just KILL YOURSELF.”
Immediately, Joey savagely started to sign Dulagar’s name, circling her other hand around it in the process. With a cry of rage, the spirit of depression was sucked out of the house.
“That’s better.” she said in the silence. Now she could think.
Slowly, she took out the picture of the five of them in Serenity Hill and stared at it.
Why was she so scared? Was it her own insecurities? Was it fear of her past? Was it because she thought she couldn’t do it?
Resolutely, she put the picture back in its pouch and took one last look around the room.
She didn’t know everything, but she did know this:
She had been able to beat those before when she was only thirteen.
And if she could beat something like that, then she could beat this Imaginary Friend.
It was time to go back to Serenity Hill, for she refused to let them take away someone she cared about ever again...