((I plan on making this story better than Delicious, I promise you! Anyways, this story takes place halfway between Garrett's introduction to the Warehouse and his gaining of the Element of Kindness, which was a month or so after his 15th birthday. At this point, he's familiar with the Warehouse to an extent and has become friendlier with the others.))
Chapter 1 - Amalgam Edit
A nearly pitch black room with hard and smooth cement floors, rust-adorned walls, and random rubbish strewn about was suddenly illuminated by a pale and dingy yellow light emitting from a flickering and antiquated ceiling fixture. Its dust coated bulb audibly buzzed as it struggled to remain on. The floor, not only covered in trash, was also covered with various tools and objects; rope, blades, a hose, and several buckets were just a few that littered the ground. And despite its grungy atmosphere, it was occupied by "one".
A figure entered the room after flicking a light switch, noisy breaths filling the previously silent room. It walked across the room, bare feet making slapping noises against the cold hard floor. The dark figure bent over, picked up a hose, and turned a rusted faucet on the wall, making the hose gurgle for a few moments before it spat out its promised water.
Snarling could be heard as the dark resident of the room brought the mouth of the hose to rest within a large, round, and deep basin, turning the water's stream up as high as it could go to speed up the filling process. As it waited, more growling and whispering came from the figure, who somehow simultaneously moaned, groaned, hunched over and clasped it's hands over its ears and behind its head.
Finally, the container was full, and the looming presence removed the hose from the nearly overflowing basin, not bothering to turn off the cold water. With a unified sigh and grunt, it lowered itself to the ground on its back, leaned backward, and dunked the back of its head into the cold liquid.
Immediately the person gasped, not just from the cold, but to instinctively hold its breath for as long as it could. From behind its head came great gurgling, bubbling, and thrashing. Water was flooded out of the basin, but the figure seemed determined to keep its head in the water still.
After what seemed like a short eternity, the struggle stopped, and the presence breathed a deep sigh of relief, as if the weight of the world had been lifted from their shoulders. "Thank God.... thank God.... he's gone. Father's gone..."
The voice revealed the figure to be a man, the light showing he was in his mid-40s. Sobbing a little, he lifted his head from the water and let his long and dark hair drip onto his shoulders and form a large puddle around him. He cradled his knees against his chest and prayed in thanks as he continued to sob joyously.
Then, he stopped, and uttered a moan one would only hear from a man who had lost faith in all the world's hope. His breath hitched, and he ceased his shaking.
'You can't even kill me right, boy. You can't do anything right, can you?"
"No, n-no nonononono! No!" The man burst into a hopeless tantrum, banging his fists against the ground in utter despair mixed with pain, as his waist was suddenly immersed in the worst pain he felt since the night three days previous, when this Hell began.
"Now you've made me mad, boy. And you know what happens when you father is mad."
The man screamed as he pulled his hair, trying desperately to pull out the face on the back of his head with it. His screams became ever louder and louder as he cried, and the second face cackled evilly, echoing through the abandoned building in which the two resided.
Chapter 2 - Compound Edit
It was mid-morning at the Warehouse and as usual the Agents were busy with their typical duties, if you could call them that, for noneventful days. Artie had just gone down the stairs to check a minor artifact disturbance outside of his office, leaving Garrett, Claudia, and Trailer to themselves. The red-headed woman sat on her swivel chair in front of the computer desk, as was often seen of her; the boy leaned with his hands on the desk, shifting his gaze between the screen and the window in front of him; and Trailer sat between the two, sometimes resting a calming paw on either of the two's legs or randomly licking their hands when they got too low.
"I wish I could check artifact disturbances more often," Garrett sighed, crossing his arms, "it's a heck of a lot more interesting than being cooped up in the office."
Claudia held up her hand with mock offense. "Hey, woah kid, the office is where the craziest stuff goes down!" she pointed over to the electric keyboard kept beside one of the chairs in the back of the office, "That's where Artie tries to soothe the savage walrus in himself by attempting to recreate the majesty of Moonlight Sonata," she gave a minor tilt of her head as if she wasn't sure what to think, "in G Major key."
The hacker pointed her other hand to the floor above them, where Artie's bed resided. "That's where Artie spends his nights snoring louder than the world's saddest whale song. He's still living in the 50s though, he doesn't think husband and wife should sleep in the same bed."
"Wife?" Garrett tilted his head, confused. "Whadya mean?"
She chuckled and leaned in close to whisper to the young teen, "The Warehouse, obvi. Vanessa is his love, but compared to the Warehouse?" She 'psshed' and waved her hand with a smirk. "I bet Artie practically kisses the walls when he thinks nobody is looking."
Garrett covered his mouth and laughed, pushing his glasses up. "He does love this place a lot, but who wouldn't? Uh, besides the bad guys, of course." As he leaned on the computer desk, Trailer gave a small huff and lay down, resting his head and paws on top of his feet. "D'aww, cutie, you tired?" He smiled wide and bent down to rub the canine's head, earning him another lick that prompted a giggle.
Smirking, the young adult began typing, bringing up a few new windows onto the screen. "You sure love animals, huh kid? You ever wanna be a vet?"
Garrett shook his head, "No, not really. I love animals, but I'm always afraid of hurting them. I couldn't even pick up my own dog back when I lived with my family, and he was a small terrier. Being in charge of potentially saving another living thing's life... not sure what I'd do, or if I could do it."
"Well, you don't have to worry Garrett. The only life you'll be in charge of for a while is your own, 'cuz I just downloaded Typing of the Dead Overkill in this thing, and it's co-op! Get to typing kid!"
Garrett quickly bent over and began hammering at the keyboard, trying to kill as many zombies as he could. His typing speed was just about equal to Claudia's, who was very impressed and tried to outmatch him.
"Geez kid, where'd you learn to type this fast?" Claudia asked, killing off one, two, three zombies swiftly. "I'm pleasantly surprised."
Blushing, Garrett managed to kill off his own three undead monstrosities, plus interest. "I took a typing class in middle school before I came here, and I spent almost all of my free time online at home. I guess I'm a natural, I barely have to look at the keyboard to type anymore."
To their left, the gamers heard a distinct huff and the stomping of feet. "Fixed it! Turns out it was the dress of the Biddenden Maids, got into trouble with James Goodrich's Scalpel." Artie entered the office, cleaning his glasses with a small purple cloth. Lifting his head, he saw what the two were doing and put his bifocals back on. "What are you two doing? That's official Warehouse property, it's for artifact tracking and research! Not... w-w-what are you playing?" he stammered.
"Uh," Claudia began nervously, but Garrett interrupted.
"Typing of the Dead, Overkill! I suggested it!" he said quickly, holding up his hands with a nervous expression. "I, uh, wouldn't stop whining to Claudia until she downloaded it for me."
Artie huffed as Claudia pressed a key and closed the game window. "Garrett, you know this is serious business, you can't do things like play games on the computer when there could be an artifact running amuck. You've got to take this more seriously, understand?"
This made the young agent lower his head. "I'm sorry Artie, it.. it won't happen again, I promise." He turned his head slightly and gave Claudia a somewhat assuring look, "I'm sorry for bugging you Claudia."
Before the hacker could protest on the boy's behalf, the steampunk computer beeped and several new windows appeared, drawing the three's attention immediately.
"See, exactly what I was talking about, an artifact," Artie said pointedly, moving Claudia's chair aside and using the pad to zoom in and select the topmost window. Once it was enlarged it was revealed to be a recent news report, with a headline that he read aloud. "Man Disappears from Hospital After Mysterious Affliction."
Claudia read aloud the main article. "43-year old man Chad Linwell recently disappeared from the Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California after coming in a day previous, with a sudden and severe malformation that seemingly appeared overnight. Currently no sightings have yet to be reported, though people should be on the lookout for a man with large headwear or scarves."
The elder agent scratched his chin in thought, "A malformation that appeared overnight huh? Sounds like a job for the Warehouse. I'll have Steve and Felix check it ou-"
"Can I go?" Garrett said suddenly. "Please Artie? rarely go on missions anymore since that... incident months ago, I'm ready for another one!"
Patting the teen's shoulder, Artie shook his head slightly. "No can do kiddo, you're still a kid, not even 15, and Mrs. Frederic wanted you here, safe. I intend to keep that promise."
"C'mon Artie, he won't be a good agent without experience," Claudia turned around in her chair and motioned over herself with her hands, "like moi. Just have the others keep a real close eye on him."
The man looked back and forth between Garrett's and Claudia's faces and sighed, slumping his shoulders in defeat. "Fine, but I'm sending Myka as well to keep those two balanced out, and to have an extra pair of eyes. I trust Myka will keep you," he pointed to the young teen, "away from trouble if something goes up in flames."
Artie was rewarded with a surprise hug from the youngest agent, making him take a step back and huff. "Thank you so so so much Artie, I promise not to get in any trouble! Thank youuu!"
The man somewhat nervously and shortly pat Garrett on the back, rolling his eyes at himself and hoping he didn't make a mistake. "Well, you're welcome. But you better get going quickly, it's a long flight to California and the Warehouse has to get 4 tickets, yesterday."
Chapter 3 - Synchronize Edit
Garrett tightly gripped the armrests of his seat, extremely nervous as the plane descended. His hands were so vice-like that the knuckles were white, and it wasn't until Felix spoke up that he was even conscious of what his hands were doing. "You're kinda crushing my hand, Gare."
"Huh? Oh, s-sorry Felix, didn't mean t-to." He retracted his hands immediately and moved them around, looking for something else in a futile attempt to calm his nerves.
"Not much of a flyer I take it?" Felix asked nonchalantly, raising an eyebrow. This prompted the teen to shake his head and explain how this was his first flight. "Ah, I get it," he smirked, "I don't like flying myself. Not sure I'll ever get used to it. But you learn to distract yourself from the intrusive thoughts."
It was as if Felix knew of his fear of a crash, which he obviously would if he was being truthful of his own fear of flight. The New Zealander reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of gum, handing two sticks to Garrett. "I find one stick is never enough; two sticks are always better together. Much more substantial. Chew it, it helps with the ear pain."
Doing as instructed, he popped the minty gum into his mouth and began chewing, sighing to himself at how the harsh pain in his ears from the pressure change was somewhat alleviated. "You always know what to do Felix," Garrett complimented through chews, "I wish I was as capable as you sometimes."
"Eh, I'm not always prepared," he began, "Like this one time, in Detroit, I was trying to sneak into an old housing complex I thought was abandoned. I was on the run for a while and couldn't find a guy's place to crash at, so I sucked it up and went the cheap way. As it turned out, it was an old druggie hangout and I had just got the attention of a pretty tough group of shooters."
Being distracted from his severe nervousness by the cat man's story, Garrett leaned in closer. "What happened? You use an artifact on 'em or something?"
Felix shook his head, "No, no, nothing like that. I lost my bag of artifacts after being jumped by them and had to go mano-a-mano. They put up a good fight, but I ended up dazing them and got them pinned in a corner." He got a look in his eyes, as if he were telling a particularly vivid yarn, or got lost in remembrance, but he kept going. "Reclaimed my bag and got the poor sods tied up. Then, and this is the part I remember clearest, I took another artifact and either smashed, teleported, or vaporized all their stuff. Bags, bongs, needles, everything. And I told them I had been through sorta what they were going through. But if they didn't get a wake up call, they might never get out of the hole..."
Felix gazed out the airplane window, his own tight grip on the armrests slacking, as if he was barely nervous anymore. "I never wanted to see someone else make the same mistakes I did. I decided to leave them there and find another place to sleep after I gave them a thorough talking to. Later that year, I saw on the news that those guys actually started a local rehabilitation club, and thanked 'an anonymous blessing' for helping them through their challenge. Honestly, until the Warehouse, that was one of the things I was most proud of doing."
He smiled wide as he seemed to relive his story so vividly in his mind. Garrett couldn't help but stare at how happy he seemed, and it wasn't until Myka shook both their shoulders that they knew the plane had landed.
"C'mon you two, we gotta get going. Lancaster's an hour away and time is money." The older agent said, picking the teen's personal bag of helpful equipment and handing it to him. "Let's hope that the hospital can tell us something important."
Chapter 4 - Synthesis Edit
The agents' large black car drove through the streets of Lancaster, with it's passengers busying themselves with various discussion topics and action plans as they awaited for their arrival at the hospital. Steve drove while Felix sat passenger and spoke with Artie on the Farnsworth, discussing various potential artifacts based on location and theorized effects. In the back, Garrett sat somewhat awkwardly, unsure of what to do as he was paired with Myka.
Garrett pulled out a book from his personal pack that he brought along on the plane ride, his favorite edition of The Haunted Mask, and handed it to the woman to read. "I know it's probably not your thing, but it's my absolute favorite line of the entire Goosebumps series. I've read it a bunch, maybe you could try it?"
She thanked him and opened his book to the first chapter, reading the semi-simple book about the girl taken control of by the evil persona of the Haunted Mask, finding the beginning intriguing enough to continue.
"Well, Artie," Felix said, suggesting his third theory about the artifact at work, "There's the Monster of Elizabeth Lake, 14 miles from here. Legends say the Devil himself placed his pet there near a portal along the San Andres fault line. Perhaps this man is deforming into the same creature?"
"The same creature theorized to have either been the subject of the Thunderbird Photograph or killed in Arizona?" Artie asked, typing on the office computer, bringing up various reports of different related or similar paranormal accounts. "Highly doubtful, since we invested the lake back during Warehouse 12's reign after the initial ranch disasters. If there were something, which I'd rather not take the time to look into, we'd have it."
Myka, who was still busy indulging Garrett and reading the book and getting genuinely interested, piped up without looking away from the text. "Well really it depends on the type of malformation. If it were the monster he'd have been reported to act aggressively, kept in quarantine, or have caused a disaster by now."
The three others in the car looked to Myka, half expecting her to say more on what she thought the artifact might be. "What we're looking for is likely," she flipped a page, "something that causes strange physical mutations. Not major enough to cause panic, or at least not immediately. Probably something that belonged to one of Barnum's shows, or anything from fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva to a sudden extra tongue."
Garrett stared in awe of how knowledgeable Myka was, capable of naming an affliction he couldn't even begin to try to pronounce, and being so confident in her theory. "That's... a good guess Myka. You know your stuff."
Steve slowed the car as they neared the parking lot of the hospital, turning the steering wheel around multiple times as he pulled into a spot underneath a tree to keep the vehicle shaded. "You get used to being overshadowed by her brains, kid. And I guess we're about to see whether she's right. You got your badge Gare?"
The teenager fumbled around with his pocket for a bit before proudly pulling out his official badge that showed he was allowed to accompany the adults. "Ready to go!"
Nodding, the four exited the car. Steve locked the vehicle, and they were soon inside the complex. Sighing from the refreshing cool, conditioned air of the building as a strong contrast to the California heat, Myka had Garrett sit in the waiting room up front as she and Steve went to the front desk, declaring their business.
A woman in a colorful blue-purple-white child's nurse uniform slid open the glass window in front of her and smiled. "Hello, how can I help you today?"
The two agents flashed their badges discreetly. "We're here investigating the disappearance of Chad Linwell, official business. We were hoping you could tell us which of the doctors knew most about him while he was admitted?" Steve asked. Looking back momentarily, he saw Felix was busy getting a cup of water from a fountain for himself and Garrett, who meekly placed the cup between his legs and played the Nintendo he had brought along.
Nodding, the woman wrote down the name of a doctor and handed it to the pair, pulling down the glasses on a chain she wore. "Here you are," she said, "but if it's possible, I hope you find him. Mr. Linwell was a very nice man, he used to work as a janitor at the local elementary school."
Myka pocketed the note and tilted her head slightly, "You knew him?"
"Yes, of course. My daughter Rachel goes there," the woman explained, "and during recess she and her friends would go to the cafeteria and talk to him while he cleaned. He was always a great storyteller, from what she tells me. One time, when Rachel was having a tough time with her homework, she wouldn't play with the others because she was so upset.
"Well, one day Chad decided to skip his cleaning and tutor her himself. She passed with the highest grade I'd ever seen her get before! Of course, his pay was docked, but he said he didn't care. He was just happy he could help the kids and keep them happy. It's why he does birthday parties over summer break you know."
Steve thanked the woman and the senior agents returned to Felix and Garrett, gesturing with their heads to follow them through the hallway leading to the rest of the hospital.
"We're looking for Dr. Angelo," Steve repeated the note he was given, "she works in the surgery department. You might be right Myka, could be quite the freak show."
Garrett looked at his surroundings, having rarely visited hospitals before (which he was thankful for), and saw the many families that were there. An elderly man and what he assumed was his son sat on black chairs, a red cloth square taped to his left arm. Down the hallway, a woman and her toddler sat quietly as they seemingly waited for news, as was evident on her nervous face.
"Coming through, coming through!" A woman's voice yelled from behind them, accompanied by the sound of running feet and fast wheels. The four agents quickly jumped out of the way as a two doctors pushed a man on a gurney down the hallway. As they passed, they noticed that something seemed to be wrong with the man's head, which was turned on its side and emitting low groans.
The boy furrowed his eyebrows and felt a mix of negative emotions hit him like a fast wave. Fear, disgust, pain, and what stuck out most of all, harsh anger that left a stinging feeling in his body. "Woah..." he muttered, taking a small step back to balance himself. "Guys, I got a feeling, I think that man's who we should focus on."
The others, trusting his judgement, nodded and ran behind the sprinting doctors, dodging or warning bystanders in the middle of the hallway. "Good thing you got that empathy thing going on," Steve smirked toward Garrett as he ran, "you're a decent replacement for Pete."
"Prep the patient for examination, sanitize the equipment. Tell Dr. Campbell I'll be late for his appointment," the doctor who had shouted earlier explained to a male nurse, "I can't believe this is the second time in as many weeks." She pulled her hair back into a ponytail and huffed. "Honestly, if this is like last time I might have to call in Todd Ray or Rober Ripley."
Felix ran ahead of the others and caught up with the doctor before she entered the double doors next to her. "Excuse me! Are you Dr. Angelo?" he inquired. "We have a few quick questions about Chad Linwell."
Pausing, she looked confusedly at the small cluster of people that caught up with the accented man. ""Yes, I'm Angelo. But my patient is in distress, I need to see him-"
"This won't take long." Myka assured her, "We just want to see if you know anything about whatever's happened with him. We're investigating the matter to see if there's anything we can do."
Dr. Angelo sighed and peaked through the double doors. "Give him a mild sedative to calm him down, I'll be in to see him in a moment." The other doctors in the room nodded and did as instructed, while she turned back to the agents. "10 minutes, tops."
Garrett separated from the group to watch through the small windows in the door to see what was wrong with the patient, who was being attended to by several nurses as he seemed to thrash mildly as if in discomfort or disorientation.
Myka asked the first question, crossing her arms nonchalantly. "What can you tell us about Linwell when he came in? How he acted, whether he said anything like, acquiring some new item or going on vacation?"
Angelo shook her head, "No, he didn't say anything like that. He's been here for several months, can't really afford to go anywhere with a janitor's paycheck. I'd donate to him if he accepted it, but Chad's never been one to take handouts."
"You act like you know him personally." Felix noted.
"Of course I do, he works at my son's elementary school. Just three days ago he performed for his seventh birthday." She smiled a little and shrugged. "It was his first time being a magician, and he did the role very well. Nicholas had so much fun."
The red-haired teen kept moving his head around, trying to get a glimpse of what was inside the room. The nurses had injected something into the man's arm, which soon slowed his movements, and even though his upper body was slightly raised, he couldn't see his face.
"And what can you tell us about the day he got out of the hospital? Why would he run away?" Steve asked, which caused the doctor to sigh with a more depressed inflection and shake her head.
She covered her eyes and shrugged again, then twirled her hands nervously. "That's... just one of the things I can't explain. He was always the nicest guy, wouldn't hurt a fly. Then, out of the blue, he just lunged at me." The doctor rolled up her sleeve and showed a large scratch on her forearm, which made the others grimace slightly. "It was crazy. We got him sedated and strapped down, but I can't explain it. It's like he was possessed, a completely different person. He kept screaming at me, saying such awful things about himself and me. Then later that night, right before he ran away, he wouldn't stop apologizing about it. He muttered something about having to stay away from everyone, I guess to keep them safe?"
This made the agents raise their eyebrows in confusion. "That certainly is strange," Felix commented, "we'll look into that. But we forgot to ask, what happened Mr. Linwell? We don't know why he admitted himself to the hospital."
Dr. Angelo was about to explain, when Garrett gasped loudly and took a large step back from the door. "G-guys, I th-think I know what happened..."
The other four followed his gaze and looked into the doors' windows, where they saw a man turning his head this way and that, looking dazed and confused. But as he turned, they saw that, on the back of his head, was the face of a young woman, with a quite angry expression on her face, glaring daggers at anyone it locked eyes with.
Chapter 5 - Collusion Edit
It had been a good quarter of an hour since the agents discovered the man's affliction. During that time, they contacted Artie and told him of what they knew, and the elder man had gone to look through the Warehouse archives to see what artifacts could be at play. Meanwhile, Garrett was busy trying to distract himself from the extremely disturbing mutation he had witnessed.
Finally, Dr. Angelo returned from the room looking flustered, with her hair slightly frayed, and wiped her brow with her sleeve. "Whew, that took almost longer than last time. We finally have him-her?-Alex Burton calmed down. The sedatives barely worked, and he requested he had his, uh, affliction covered with something. It seems to have helped a little."
Myka nodded to the others and they all stood up. "Thank you Dr. Angelo, we'll just need to question him." She turned to face the youngest agent, "Garrett, are you going to be alright back here?"
He shook his head vehemently. "No, I wanna come in. I wanna hear what he has to say." Putting away his game, he stood up and feigned a semi-brave stance. "Hey, after all, we don't wanna miss a single detail. Four heads are better than three."
"You mean two heads are better than one?" Felix asked, before Steve elbowed him in the ribs.
"Might not wanna say that around this guy."
Angelo nodded to the agents and started walking down the hall to a nearby reception desk. "Come get me if there's an issue, or press the alert button if it's an emergency, I'll be there immediately."
Steve pushed open the doors and they walked in on the man, sitting up and covering his face, shivering slightly. On the back of his head was a long black cloth that seemed to do a decent job at hiding his second face. He looked up and wiped his cheeks with his palms. "A-are you he-ere to help? Please, can you help me g-get her off of me?"
They exchanged nervous looks and shook their heads. "Sorry, Mr. Burton," Felix began, "we're just here to ask you a few question. But if you answer as best you can, we can try and help solve this situation sooner."
He nodded and tuned to face the agents, seemingly apathetic to the fact that there was a child in the room. "What do you guys want to know? How can this even happen? This, this-this is, like, something out of a horror movie or something."
'We should start with recent activities." Felix said. "Have you.. come into contact with anything strange lately? Gone anywhere new, maybe to an antique store or swap meet? Any objects that you haven't seen or touched until the last few days."
Alex shook his head in minor confusion. "No, nothing like that. I like antiques and stuff, my house has a bunch of them, but I haven't bought anything new. Oh, except for a little glass clown figurine. But it was made in India two years ago, I saw the same thing on EBay everywhere."
"Well, do you know a Chad Linwe-" Steve started, before Garrett grabbed his arm and he was simultaneously interrupted by a sudden outburst from Alex.
"STOP IT! STOP TALKING! GET OUT OF ME!" The man screamed, hitting the back of his head fiercely and scratching at the face below the cloth. Felix and Steve quickly restrained the man's arms for a few moments, and they heard another person's voice from beneath the cloth. A woman's voice, cold and harsh.
"You never stayed quiet, Al. You just had to blab on me, didn't you?" rasped the face on the back of Alex's head. "Just shut up."
The agents stared in shock for several seconds until the patient's sobbing broke the silence. "You shut up, you shut up..." He pulled his arms away from Steve and Felix and curled up on the bed, crying and burying his face in the pillow. "P-please... I just w-want to be alone..."
Exchanging very worried looks, Myka, Felix, and Steve left the room, but Garrett stayed put. "Garrett," Felix said, standing in the doorway, "you coming?"
Garrett shook his head and crossed his arms. "I want to... keep an eye on him. In case something happens to him, okay? I'll try to stay out of his way, I promise."
Felix raised his eyebrows, but slowly walked away to follow the others to speak with Dr. Angelo. "If you say so, kid. But call us if there's a problem."
With a quiet sigh, Garrett thought about the other reason he had decided to stay. When Alex had shouted, he was hit with a violent sensation that had left him nearly wanting to retch. The fear and anger were expected from such a violent outburst, but he felt something deeper, something that made him empathically feel himself be degraded.
"Um, Mr. Burton?" He asked timidly, taking slow steps toward the bed. "Can I ask you a few questions? I'll try not to bother you too much."
Sobbing once more, the man wiped the tears from his face and sat up, leaning against the wall behind him. "You seem like a nice kid... sure. You're with those other guys, right? What do you want to know?" Alex grabbed the pillow from underneath himself and hugged it against his chest for comfort.
The teen pulled a chair over next to the bed and sat down, folding his hands on his lap as he thought of what to ask. "I, er, well, if it's not too personal, Mr. Burton, what can you tell me about... her?" He made a nervous expression, hoping he hadn't gone too far already. Thankfully, the initial response was a simple tired sigh, that ironically conveyed more emotion than the simplicity of the response itself would imply.
He closed his eyes and hugged the pillow tighter as he explained. "She, it, is called Jennifer. My ex-wife. We were married for three years, if 'marriage' is what you call it. Last year I found out she was cheating on me with our pool guy. Cliché, huh?" Alex covered his face with his hands and rubbed his eyes. "She didn't even apologize. If she had, maybe we might have worked it out. After I fired the guy of course... but no. She ended up leaving me for him. Well, what the bi-uh, what Jen stupidly didn't expect was that I'd tell her family about it, and she ended up losing her family's funding for community college. Karma's a bitch, isn't it?" He chuckled a little before clearing his throat and continuing. "Uh, sorry. Anyway, last I heard she was working as a waitress trying to pay for it herself."
Garrett waved it off and smiled, "No worries, I don't mind. And can you tell me where you've been the past few days? Maybe where you work? Everything you did leading up to this thing."
Burton closed his eyes in thought and tried to remember his routine for the past few days. "I work as a housecleaner, which is decent pay. In the past few days I cleaned up three houses. Oh, yeah, three days ago I cleaned for the guy who disappeared, Chad Linwell. It was after he hosted a birthday party, and he offered to pay extra if I did it myself, which I certainly didn't mind."
"Linwell?" Garrett asked, "do you know him personally?"
He shook his head, "No, other than that I never heard of him except when my neighbors had parties for their kids. But at his house, it was full of all kinds of cool stuff, even a few antiques I'd love to ask about, if he's willing to sell. Old clown shoes, a Spiderman and Batman costume, even a magician's outfit with a top hat I'd say was around since the early 1900s."
"I'll have to tell the others about that," Garrett muttered, "thank you so much for telling me that stuff Mr. Burton. I really hope that the doctors can hel-"
Alex suddenly gripped his shoulder and swore in pain, hissing and contorting his face. This was accompanied by an almost inaudible whisper coming from Jennifer, which Garrett couldn't quite make out.
"Mr. Burton, are you okay?" The ginger asked worriedly. "What's wrong?"
The man shook his head, "I don't know," he said, before he grasped his shoulder tighter and cried out in pain. The whispering became slightly more audible , and he hunched over on the bed, exposing his back. Through the fabric of his hospital shirt, Garrett could see something protruding from his shoulder that left 5 noticeable points underneath his shirt. Then it pushed forward, and up, until through the collar emerged a full, extra hand of a slightly lighter shade of skin than the rest of Alex's body.
Garrett stared in shock and he began to thrash violently on the bed in pain, with the hand now slowly growing into a forearm, then an elbow, then a fully functioning arm that then attempted to strangle Burton.
"Keep quiet... keep quiet... you aren't enough for me... he's more than you could ever be... "
Jennifer's whispering turning into quite audible hissing as the extra appendage tried to locate his throat. The man reached his own hands up to try and pull it off, and continued screaming. "Help me! Get her off me, get her off!" he looked desperately to the teenager beside him and reached a hand out, "Help me, please! PLEASE!"
Garrett was frozen in place from fear and shock, from uncertainty on what to do. He just shifted his eyes back and forth, trying to get himself to move, to grab the hand, to push the alert button, Do something!
Something burst through the door, and Garrett saw it was the other agents and Dr. Angelo, who cried out in shock and took a step back, while the others went into action. Myka rushed forward and grabbed the extra hand, trying to pull it away from the man's throat, when it slashed forward and scratched her face harshly. Felix and Steve then managed to keep the arm down and keep Alex from screaming and thrashing more.
"Get it off, what's happening? What's happening to me!?"
Myka slammed the emergency call button, and almost instantly a group of nurses flooded in to help. In the panic of it all, it wasn't until later that Garrett realized Felix had pulled him out of the room and they had reached the car again. And he was still shaking.
Chapter 6 - Coadunation Edit
After they had left the hospital, Felix called Artie on the Farnsworth to explain what happened, and how they were going to go about modifying the memories of the people who had witnessed Burton's mutation. The others were busy discussing the event itself.
"You sure you're alright, Myka?" Steve asked as he drove down the road, "that scratch looks like it hurts." He reached over into the glove compartment to pull out a napkin to help cover the bleeding cut, and handed it to his partner.
She took it and nodded a thank you, pressing it to her cheek and wincing at the sting. "Ah, it's fine. Nothing I haven't gotten used to, but geez..." Myka shook her head in disbelief, "it felt like it had long nails. And how could a new limb suddenly grow so fast, and on the back of someone's shoulder?"
"I say the artifact's effects progress over time," Artie suggested from within the device, "which means that you have to stop whatever monstrosity is causing this before this parasitic growth ends up killing its host. Now, I've been researching origins," he continued, audibly typing furiously on his computer, "and came up with a few different possibilities. With the fact that the faces appear on the back of the head, and act hostile, my money is on Edward Mordake."
Steve, Myka, and Felix turned their heads in confusion, "Who?"
Garrett finally spoke up after being silent for most of the drive, slightly startling the other passengers. "He was a noble Englishman with a second face that whispered bad things to him," he said, "no doctor he asked would take it off, and he ended up committing suicide."
Felix raised an eyebrow and turned the Farnsworth toward him. "How'd you know that?"
The ginger shrugged in response. "I do a lot of random history reading now. No telling what makes for useful information and what doesn't anymore."
Artie continued after clearing his throat and adjusting his glasses, "Well, we aren't sure what specific object Mordake could have owned, especially one that made it all the way to California. I sent you the address of Linwell's house, search the place top to bottom and don't touch anything until you're sure it's not an artifact." With that, the call was closed, and Steve turned onto the neighborhood road of Linwell's house.
Myka, still holding the napkin to her face, turned back to face the teen. "Are you alright Garrett?" she asked, "you didn't say anything until just now since the hospital."
He shook his head and shrugged, "I don't know, honestly... seeing things like.. that," he touched his hand to his shoulder, "happen, it was terrifying. Like something straight out of a horror movie, and I can usually handle a scare or two. But Mr. Burton looked at me, he was looking to me to help him. I could have stopped the hand, I could have pressed the emergency button. But I just froze. I just completely shut down, that's never even happened before. How can I be expected to be an agent if I freeze in emergencies? I have to be able to make important and quick decisions!"
"Hey," Felix, who sat next to him in the back of the car, put his hand on the other's shoulder to comfort him. "It's not a big deal, we handled it didn't we? He'll be fine as long as the nurses keep an eye on him. And right now, we need your help in finding the artifact, okay?" He pat Garrett on the back supportively, which made him blush and feel a little better.
Steve drove the car into a driveway, which matched the address Artie had given them. "Looks like we're here," he commented as the four exited the car.
"And it looks like we're the only ones who've been here for a while by the looks of it." Myka added, seeing the driveway was empty of any car and the front door had been left open. "Why would the door be open? According to Angelo, Linwell told her he was out shopping for groceries before he got to the hospital, he never came back home between then."
"He could have come back after he left," Garrett suggested, "got into his house in a hurry, maybe left, and didn't bother to close the front door."
"Only one way to be sure," Steve shrugged. He pulled out his Tesla, as did Myka, and they walked up the cement walkway to his front door, and entered the house. Felix kept Garrett behind him, just in case Linwell was still inside and dangerous.
When the four entered, they immediately noticed how ransacked the place looked. When they entered, they were immediately in a moderately spacious room with a couch on the far wall beneath many drawings and posters; to the right a computer on sleep mode; and next to the couch was an archway leading to the rest of the house.
Myka pointed her Tesla forward and slightly down, keeping careful, as she observed her surroundings. "Mr. Linwell? Hello? Are you still here?"
Felix walked to the right of the room and wiggled the mouse, stopping the screensaver on the computer monitor and making the console whirr to life. The screen flashed on, and several internet windows immediately showed up. He read them as the others kept looking around. "These look like Linwell was research his symptoms. 'Sudden onset of schizophrenia', 'pain in the back of head'. Smart guy, doing his research first."
Steve and Myka each took different rooms of the house, with Myka investigating the bedrooms down the hallway while Steve took the living room. Garrett, wanting to be helpful in some manner, went to the kitchen.
Walking down the hall, Myka opened the first door she came across, which happened to be the bathroom. She clicked on the lights, and saw on the counter several different medication bottles. "Antidepressants, antipsychotics, pain pills, sleep aids," she listed aloud as she picked up each bottle. "This guy either had a lot of demons, or he tried to subdue the symptoms." She kept looking around the bathroom, and on a whim decided to open the toilet lid. Upon doing so, she noticed large wads of toiler paper and cotton balls dumped into the commode and the small trashcan next to it, covered in dark red smears. "Hello horror scene." she muttered to herself.
In the living room, Steven flipped up couch cushions and rifled through book cases, having put on his purple gloves for safety. "Plan Your Own Party Kit?" he said in bewilderment, pulling out a colorful box decorated with images of balloons and confetti. "Huh, he really did like parties." He continued to look through the bookcase, pulling out several books including A Child Called It, and Outgrowing the Pain. "Odd variety, doesn't sound like this guy was all happy all the time..."
Felix kept rifling through the many, many tabs and bookmarks Chad had open on his computer, noticing how as the history got more recent, the searches became more urgent or worrying.
Garrett, in the kitchen, had put on his own gloves. Not necessarily to protect him from artifacts, but to help cover up the burnt smell that permeated the small room with white floral-decorated tiles. Looking around the room, he opened every cupboard and either put the various plates, cups, utensils, or cleaning equipment into his silver bag, or sprayed it with a can of Neutralizer, just in case. When he was sure he was finished with everything in the kitchen, he decided to take a can of air freshener from underneath the sink, and do himself a favor by drowning whatever was the source of that disgusting odor with it. Starting with the most obvious source, the oven.
"Guys?" Myka called as she left the hallway, "I just checked the bathroom, it's full of bloody bandages." Felix held up a hand from the computer and got her attention, as well as Steve's, who had come to the hallway intersection as well.
"And I just found out what they're for," Felix said, "according to his search history one of the last things he Googled before he ran off was how to safely self-amput-"
His sentence was cut off by a loud scream followed by a crash and the sound of something hitting the floor. Realizing it was from Garrett, they rushed to the kitchen and found him crouched in the corner of the kitchen as far away from the oven as possible. The agents followed his gaze and saw, inside the oven, a charred human foot. At the sight of this, they all covered their eyes, and Myka managed to pull the ginger out of the kitchen and into the living room.
Felix and Steve turned away from each other and retched into their arms, closing their eyes and trying to forget the horrid sight. "What. The HELL?!"
Garrett sat on the couch, covered his eyes, and groaned. "I-I always thought it would look worse than in the movies..." he sighed, "I didn't expect to see it for real though."
"Okay, okay, so, so so Linwell," Myka stammered in thought, trying to take her mind off the severed body part, "he obviously cut off his own foot when he got here."
"Or an evil foot." Felix offered. "It's more likely he cut off a foot that had grown on his body, maybe before it grew into a leg. Otherwise he wouldn't have got far easily." The others nodded in agreement.
"So since the bathroom was filled with bloody bandages, he obviously couldn't have covered the wound that well before they got too soaked and he had to replace them." Myka walked bac to the kitchen and closed the oven, audibly gagging at the smell until it was shit with a clang, and she returned as if nothing happened. "And I didn't see any leftover gauze in his bathroom, which means he could have needed to stop somewhere and get more, right?"
The others nodded in agreement, and Steven opened up his Farnsworth to call Claudia.
"Whassup?" she asked. Behind her were the catalogue shelves, a staple of Artie's Office. "you guys find anything yet?"
Steve shook his head in a 'maybe' way. "Not unless you count a cooked foot," he replied, which made Claudia wrinkle her nose. "We think Chad Linwell may have stopped by somewhere to buy medical equipment. Gauze, painkillers, stuff like that. Any chance you could find surveillance footage or transactions in his name from local convenience stores, gas stations, or pharmacies?"
The redheaded woman smiled sweetly and put her hand on her chest. "Jinsky, you gotta stop asking like you don't think I can do everything. I'm on it, give me half an hour, minimum." With that, she closed her Farnsworth, and Steve closed his, ending the call.
Steve walked over to Garrett at the couch and pat his shoulder. "Hey, Gare, think you could do me a favor and check out the master bedroom? Myka thinks there might be something in there that we can use."
The young teen nodded and stood up, quickly walking past Myka, who had a confused look on her face. "I never said-"
"Look," Steve said firmly, holding up his hand, "with what's been going on I don't think this case is safe for Garrett to be on. He froze, and that hand could have hurt him as badly as it hurt you Mykes. If this artifact only gets worse over time, its victims could become monsters that are only out to harm everything in their paths."
Meanwhile, inside Chad's bedroom, Garrett looked high and low form anything he thought could help. A spare wallet, a credit card, even a phone he left behind. Inside were various trinkets, including more child's drawings that adorned his walls. Walking to one wall, he saw one of a girl holding hands with Chad, wearing what looked to be a flower crown on his head. 'Thanks for the help Mister Linwell, I love you!' it said in bright purple crayon below the touching picture. 'I hope you feel better, I do no like being sick.' read another, with a young boy holding a glass of orange juice for Linwell immediately next to the previous image. The walls were covered in hand-drawn Crayola images from the various children at the school. He smiled wide, remembering when he used to draw crayon pictures of the teachers he thought were the prettiest in long, fancy dresses. They always looked identical, but the teachers always seemed happy when he showed them his art. It made him proud of his young self.
"I think we might need to send Garrett back to the Warehouse, or better yet... home." Steve said solemnly.
Myka interjected almost immediately, "Wait, Steve, you can't be serious? His home is the reason he's at the Warehouse in the first place. Before us, he didn't have a real home."
Steve sighed and rubbed his eyes in exhaustion. "I know, I know, he can't go back there. But the Warehouse can't be safe for a kid. It's not safe for us for crying out loud! We could have him sent to foster care, under the watch of the Regents or something."
"You really expect the Regents to watch after him?" Felix asked. "They might wipe his memory of the past several months. That's a huge gap of time! And if they don't wipe his brain then he's gonna live the rest of his life thinking the only other family he's had rejected him like the first. Do you want to do that?"
The ex-ATF agent shook his head again. "No, I'm the last person who'd want him to feel like that... alright, after this case, we'll decide what to do with the kid. But I just want a closer eye on him, he needs to be kept safe. That's our number two priority on this case after the artifact."
Garrett moved on around the room, opened the closet to the left of the bed, and found it full of stuff. Balloons, more drawings, a stress ball, cassette tapes. It was almost like a condensed version of the Warehouse. A very, very, very, very condensed version. Looking around the surprisingly large space, he found a hat rack with funny headwear. There was one that looked like a shark with an open mouth, one that looked like a unicorn horn, and even an old black top hat. When he saw this, something nagged at the back of his mind, almost as if he should remember something, but he couldn't quite think of what it was exactly. With a shrug, he reached up and pulled down the top hat and brushed some dust off before putting it on. He always wanted to try on a genuine top hat since he saw Alice in Wonderland.
When he put it on, he walked quickly over to the attacked bathroom and turned on the light, goofily modelling in the mirror to check himself out. "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" he asked himself in a fake English accent, snickering at himself until he felt a strong itch in his scalp. Thinking the hat might have lice, he immediately tore it off and tossed it onto the bed so he could scratch himself.
"Gare! C'mon, we're leaving! Claudia tracked Linwell's last activity." Felix's voice came from across the house, and Garrett immediately ran out to meet them. Before he reached the doorway however, he paused and took a look around.
He could have sworn he heard somebody whispering.
Chapter 7 - Polymerization Edit
The black car pulled up to a gas station near the edge of Lancaster a little while later. Steve, who had taken the wheel, unbuckled and looked into Myka's Farnsworth. "You sure this is the place Claud? Seems pretty seedy."
In the monochrome fisheye lens, she nodded. "Yup, he used his credit card here the morning after left the hospital, around 3 in the morning. Good luck." With that, the call ended and the four left the vehicle to rush into the building. Inside, they saw a bored man reading a magazine at the front counter, smoking a cigarette. Timidly, they walked up to the counter.
Upon reaching it, Myka covered Garrett's eyes when they got close enough to see the cover of the man's magazine, which made him sigh in annoyance. "Trust me, Myka, I don't care about the magazine. Less than you'd believe, actually."
"We interrupt your daily Playboy," Felix said, plucking the magazine from the man's hands and putting it facedown on the countertop, "to bring you your regularly scheduled program of 'customers'."
The smoking man held up his hands in aggravated annoyance at the interruption to his peace, and grumbled a response. "Whatcha want? Cantcha see I'm busy readin' quality stuff?" He gestured to Steve and Felix with his hairy arm, "You two understand, right?"
"The moment we like the girls in that magazine is the moment I think a rainbow was a great choice as my community's symbol," Felix countered with a flat look, to which the man rolled his eyes.
Myka and Steve flashed their badges to the man, whose nametag read 'Elijah'. "We're here investigating a man who went missing recently, and the last place he was active was here, yesterday morning. Care to tell us anything about it?"
Elijah held his cigarette between his fingers and took a long drag from it before puffing out a dark gray cloud, which caused the others to cough and cover their faces. "Do I look like I give a crap about whoever comes in here? Homeless schmucks and random kids come in here all the time, I don't barely get any regulars, so I don't bother rememberin' their faces."
"Yes, well, this man specifically came in here for medical supplies. Bandages, pills, the works." Myka began, "he would have been acting strangely. surely you'd remember that?"
He scratched his arms and took another smoke, blowing the cloud aimlessly at the agents again, which made Felix snatch it out of his hand and throw it to the ground to stomp on it. "Didn't your mother ever tell you smoking in front of me is bad for your health?"
"Okay, okay, God." Elijah turned the monitor of the screen next to him around and typed a bit on they keyboard, bringing up the closed circuit security footage from the past few days. "He was actin' weird, like someone was followin' him or something. Got the stuff and paid. At first I thought he was gonna steal stuff, since he was wearin' a big dark hoodie, but he didn't cause any trouble."
He pointed to the parking lot camera, where they saw a car that matched the description of Chad's, pull up. True to his word, Chad emerged wearing a dark hoodie, clutching his chest. "That," he said, pointing to the counter cam after he fast-forwarded to when Linwell purchased his items and ran to the bathroom, "is when I thought somethin' was up. He kept whisperin' to himself, turnin' around like he was bein' talked to. Then he just ran to the stalls and came out a few minutes later with a big wet spot on his hoodie. I didn't ask questions though, and he left real quick."
Myka memorized the direction Chad's car had taken in the parking lot footage as he drove off and nodded. "He took the East route. Thanks." The four ran out to the car, and Myka got back in the front seat, Felix in the passenger, and Steve and Garrett took the back seats.
"Let's hope we don't have to come back here again," Garrett said, scratching his head again, "the floors were sticky in there, eugh."
"You can say that again," Steve said, nudging the teen with his elbow and chuckling.
Furrowing his brow, Garrett turned to Steve, "Huh?" He shook his head ad blinked a few times, "Sorry, I didn't hear you."
Myka looked down at her phone in hand, and handed it to Felix to hold. "GPS says nothing but an abandoned garage storage house is about 20 miles away, that could be where Linwell is."
"We still need to find the artifact and neutralize it," Felix pointed out, "and if we find him, but not the artifact, we're in trouble. How can we help him if he's hostile?"
Steve shrugged, "We'll cross that bridge when we get there."
Chapter 8 - CollaborationEdit
Myka slowed the car to a halt as they reached a road in front of what seemed to be an abandoned graveyard for garages. Rectangular buildings with a few scattered metal doors were trapped behind a wall of chain-link, and headed by a main building long since too faded to present its title. The agents, once again, gout out of the car and looked at the place before them.
"This place is huge," Garrett said dismayed, "It could take all day to find him, if he's still here. How will we find him?"
Myka was already putting on her purple gloves and taking off her sunglasses. She looked back to the teen, "We split up to cover more ground. You go with me, and Steve and Felix go together. Between the four of us we have three Teslas, so we hould be safe f things get dicey."
The four jogged to the entrance building and kicked open the doors, immediately greeted by an old waiting room filled with dust thick enough to make them all cough.
"Eugh," Felix fanned his hand in front of his face to ward off the pesky particles, "this place is dustier than the Warehouse, if that's even possible. Where's Noah Brannen's Desk Fan when you need it?"
As they continued through the room, noting the papers littering the floor, an overturned chair, and walls painted in graffiti, Steve got behnd the main desk and rifled through the thankfully unlocked drawers. "Aha!" he exclaimed, producing a pair of keychains and tossing one to Garrett, who fumbled but caught it, "Now we can go through this place proper. Felix and I'll take the first three rows. Myka, you and Garrett take the next three. We'll switch until we find Linwell."
With that, they separated, the two men splitting off as soon as they transitioned from the entrance building to the garage complex. Garrett and Myka checked each storage shed, putting objects in bags or spraying them down if they found anything that they suspected of being an artifact, even if it wasn't the one they were looking for. Fnding nothing in the first row, they moved on to the next. With boredom encroaching, the ginger decided to strike up a conversation.
"Hey, Myka?" Garrett asked as they opened up the first garage of the row, finding it empty. "Uh, what did you think of the book? Haunted Mask I mean?"
Myka put the keys in the slot and pulled up the door of the next garage and walked inside as soon as they saw it was half full of junk. "It was decent," she commented, putting a discarded Dora the Explorer doll in her silver bag and back on a dust-caked desk when it produced no spark. "To be honest I never really read anything by Stine, but I can see the appeal. Plus it doesn't hurt to kow about the artifacts of his we have."
The teen smiled and helped with the search, spraying down a pink and purple tricycle with glittery tassels on its handlebars. "I'm glad you liked it! I don't know why, it's just one of my favorite stories."
"Poor Carly Beth though," Myka sighed, "Next shed." They exited the oversied container and opened up the next few, finding them all empty. "I mean, a worm in her sandwich? That's disgusting."
He nodded and frowned. "Yeah, I almost forgot about that part. Sorry. But don't worry, she later gets to be one of the kids who helped destory-"
"Shh, spoilers!" Mka smirked, putting a finger to her lips, "I might want to read more later."
They walked down to the end of the second row and contnued on to the third. Halfway down the row, the two stopped, and Garrett turned around. "Yeah Steve?" he asked, looking confused when nobody else was around.
Myka herself gave a look of confusion when he turned back aroud. "What? Steve's not here, Garrett."
He scratched the back of his scalp and shook his head, blinking his eyes a few times. "Weird, I could have sworn I heard a guy say something. Sorry My-" This time, he was interrupted by a sound he was absolutely sure Myka heard too. It was like a low, but loud moan, accompanied by banging against something large and metal.
Myka quickly pulled out her Farnsworth and called Steve. "Did you hear that?" she asked, to which Steve shook his head. "I think we're close to Linwell, we just heard something. You keep searching for the artifact in the next rows, Garrett and I will check it out." She closed the vaudio device, nodded to her partner, and they quickly ran to the next aisles.
As they ran, they heard the punding and moaning grow progressively louder, until they reached the final row of garages. At the very end of the row, they saw one of the metal dorrs rattle violently as it was hit harder and harder. Myka pulled out her Tesla and held out her arm in front of Garrett.
"Stay behind me," she ordered Garrett, "if things go bad, run and get the others."
Nervously, he nodded, and they slowly made their way forward. From a distance, the pair heard Steve and Felix's voices as they investigated more storage sheds. "Myka, what will you do if the Tesla doesn't work?"
She remained silent, which did not ease Garrett's tension. He felt the itch on the back of hs head grow stronger, and winced as he had to scratch harder and faster. He also kept having to turn around each time he swore he heard a whisper, and they seemed to be slowly growing in noticeability. They slowl walked toward the door, and upon reaching it, the banging ceased instantly.
"That's not creepy at all..." Garrett muttered.
"Oh, sorry," he apologized, letting go of Myka's arm, which he had previously been holding on to in fear. She paid him no mnd, and readied her Tesla with a menacing charge.
Bending down to turn the key and pull up on the door, she found it was oddly more doffocult to open than the last ones. Grunting as she put down her Tesla to grip the handle wth both hands, she nodded to Garrett. "Little help here." He got down to help pull the obstructed door up, and after several seconds on straining so hard his fringers got cramps, they eahc let out cries of surprise and fell onto their backs then they managed to pry it open, making it fly up and hit the top of its frame with a loud clang.
Garrett brushed himself off and grabbed the keys and Tesla lying on the ground, and helped Myka up. He was about to hand the items to her, when two things happened that caght him completely off guard.
The furst was a voice. A voice that he headn't heard in months, not since he joined the Warehouse.
'Stop pretending you're a man when you're a little kid who needs to do as he's told.'
His father's voice.
The next thing that happened was almost as crazy; two large hands, each with too many fingers, grabbed him by the waist and pulled him into the dark storage garage, and a third hand grabbed the door handle and slammed it down, automatically locking it.
Chapter 9 - Hybrid Edit
"GARRETT! GARRETT!!" Myka pounded furiously on the door, trying desperately to pull it back up again. "Garrett, are you okay?!"
Hearing the commotion, Felix and Steve ran as fast as they could to the final row of garages. Before they could ask, Myka turned her head and explained. "Something grabbed Garrett and pulled him in, now the door's locked!"
Steve quickly pulled out his own pair of keys and bent down to put it in the lock, but whatever had grabbed the door had a strong enough grip to crush it, rendering it useless. "Dammit, the keys won't fit," Steve cursed.
"What're we gonna do?" Felix asked. In his worry, his eyes were beginning to show signs of cat-like characteristics, turning slightly yellow and the pupils taking on a more slit-like shape. "We have to get in there, and we still need the artifact!"
As soon as the door was slammed closed, Garrett was thrown against a wall, leaving him dazed and slumped on the floor. He rubbed his head, trying to ease the pounding, and looked with blurry eyes at his surroundings. It was one of the deluxe storage sheds, much larger than most of the normal ones they had investigated.
"GARRETT! GARRETT!! Garrett, are you okay?!" came Myka's voice from the other side of the metal door. Still dazed, he couldn't reply. He shook his head and tried to crawl toward the door, but winced when he felt a stonging pain along his side. The teen pulled up his shirt, and found three long scratches down his side, very similar to the ones that Myka bore on her face.
"We have to get in there, and we still need the artifact!" Felix's voice said from across the door now. This time, Garrett managed to respond.
"Guys?" he croaked, "I'm okay, sorta. I'm a little hurt."
He heard the three sigh in relief together, and one of them gripped the bottom of the door again. "Gare, the door is broken, we can't open it from this side. You need to see if the artifact is in there. Are you safe?"
He instinctively nodded, despite knowing he couldn't be seen, and looked around. "Y-yeah, I think... this shed is large, and really dark. I don't see the thing that grabbed me." Garrett grunted as he pulled himself up, swaying when he felt lightheaded and bracing himself against the wall. "I hear someone whispering though..." he muttered to himself, swearing he heard multiple faint voices.
"We're gonna find a way to open the door," Steve called to him, "a crowbar or something. Use the Tesla if you have to! You have a bag, right?"
The ginger searched his pockets and found his silver bag, unfurling it with a flick of his wrist. "Got one. Don't worry, I'll be fine. You guys just focus on getting the door opened." He turned around, and walked toward the end of the storage shed. He took careful and slow steps, not wanting to bump into anything unpleasant, and stopped when his foot nudged something. In response, he heard something gasp, as if it had difficulty breathing. Garrett leapt back in surprise, his back against the door.
"You... please... can you.... help me...?" came the deep, raspy voice. "I heard you.... can stop this...."
"G-guys?" Garrett said nervously, "I found Linwell." He raised his eyebrows in fear, trying to flatten himself against the door.
"Does he have the artifact?" Myka asked. "Tell him we need whatever object he has to help him."
He gulped and nervously took a few steps forward. "M-Mr. Linwell?"
"Chad... call me Chad..." the voice said, its voice in obvious pain.
"U-um, Chad? We need something, to help you. A-an obj-ject that you recently found, something old. Do you have that with you?" Garrett's hands shook, and he nearly dropped his Tesla. Not wanting to lose it, he put it and the bag in his pockets.
"You mean.... oh, I know... it was from my magic show." the voice said, "a black... top hat... so that's what did this..."
Garrett's eyes widened in shock, and he immediately ran back to the door and called out to the others. "Guys! The artifact, it's the top hat! It's on his bed, you have to get it quickly!"
Myka answered, "Are you okay Garrett? You sound scared. What's wrong?"
He shook his head and pounded the door urgently. "I wore the hat when we were at his house, you have to get it now!"
Outside, the three agents gave each other looks of fear. Steve quickly gave his Tesla to Felix. "In case you need two. Myka," he looked to the female agent, "you and I are the ones that can drive. We need to get to the house and bag the hat."
"Wait, what about me?" Felix objected, "why do I have to stay?"
"To try and keep Garrett and Linwell calm. And you're the strongest out of the three of us. Keep trying to open the door while we're gone." With that, they ran off, leaving Felix, holding two Teslas, at the door.
He looked to the door and glowered at it with now completely feline eyes. He bent down, putting the Teslas on the floor, and began trying to pull the mangled door up again.
It wasn't until now that Garrett became fully aware of the intense emotions coming from the opposite end of the shed. Fear, pain, and hatred all rolled into one. "Chad?" he asked, "Are you alright? I... long story short, I can feel your emotions, and you're in a lot of pain. Is there some way I can help you?"
He heard the sound of bare skin slapping slowly against the cold cement ground, the gasping becoming deeper and more pained. With the gasping now came low snarling, animalistic yet still somewhat human. His eyes began to adjust to the low light in the storage shed, so he could finally begin to see what was in front of him. He took a few slow steps forward, and gasped, becoming frozen in fear.
In front of him was Linwell, or at least, kind of him. It was a large mass of limbs that lied on the floor, nearly immobile if it weren't for the multitude of arms and legs that covered the giant, twisted flesh that he could assume was his torso. Some arms were too long to be on a human, while others looked infantile and small. Most of them were of normal size, and they helped drag the body across the floor. On his back were two legs, their knees bent in the wrong ways. They seemed vestigial, not doing anything but standing up in the air and bobbing around limply as the mass of flesh moved.
Garrett could do nothing, not even move, as the arms grabbed onto his body, pulling itself up. As it reared up, he saw its face; it looked as if two different heads had been fused together at the forehead, one face upsidedown above Linwell's, and one shared pair of eyes containing two pupils on top of each other. Between them was a long, thin, vertical mouth that replaced the noses and mouths, lined with teeth of varying sharpness, and from it, came two voices.
"Please.... please... help me...."
'Let him die... it's what I want... kill the bastard!'
The teen took a small step back in fear as the multiple arms held onto his legs and arms, pulling him closer. "I-I, I d-don't-"
"It hurts, it hurts... pleeeeaaasseee..." Chad groaned in pain as a part of his back began to twitch, a third leg slowly sprouting upwards, having a foot with too many toes. Two of his hands grabbed Garrett's and lifted them upwards to his neck, his eyes both filled with hatred and pity. "It's too late... for me..." he gasped, "do it..."
'RAARGH!' the second face snarled. One of the arms with longer nails reared back and hit Garrett in the face, scratching his cheek and throwing his glasses to the ground.
"T-They'll get the hat," Garrett stammered, "I don't want t-to hurt you!" He tried to take another step back, only for the grips on his body to become tighter. Chad began to writhe sporadically, screeching almost inhumanly. His grips weakened, and he fell to the ground, rolling across the floor in pain. "F-FELIX!!"
Felix immediately pounded on the metal door and shouted to the young agent inside, "What's going on? Are you okay? I just got a call, the others are stuck in traffic, they won't get to the hat for another twenty minutes!"
He looked to the door, then back to the wailing mound of flesh at his feet. His vision began to blur, and his breathing became faster, more sporadic, as he started to hyperventilate. The back of his head was suddenly enveloped in a searing pain that made him collapse to his knees, and the whispering he heard became much more distinct.
'For once, won't you to what you're told, idiot?' His father's voice, much more twisted than what he remembered, but probably just as sinister.
'It's what he wants, right? Just do it.' That voice sounded... much more familiar. His own internal voice, as if he had thought it himself.
The evil face of Linwell spoke again, it's deep voice becoming mangled by pained gurgles and groans from the long, fanged orifice that ran up the length of their faces.
'Do it! Do it! Do it! DO IT!' The voices of the evil side of Linwell and Garrett's thoughts mingled together, drowing out his own thoughts of protest. He couldn't, he wouldn't. He would wait, twenty minutes isn't that lo-
"KILL ME! PLEASE!" Chad's voice screamed above the rest, his arms desperately clawing and tearing through Garrett's jeans and scratching his legs.
The redhead screamed in frustration and lunged at the man, wrapping his hands around what he assumed was the mass's throat, and constricted his grip tighter, and tighter. The man/men instantly began to thrash even more violently than before, their arms scratching up almost his entire body, making him bleed and the back of his head burn even more.
Linwell began gasping silently, his four eyes bugging out, his arms pounding against Garrett's arms... until his eyes rolled back, his arms fell limply to the floor, and he remained still.
It wasn't until Garrett was done that he realized he was crying heavily, his tears falling onto Chad's chest. In shock, he pushed himself away from the body and desperately crawled on his back toward the door. Across it, he heard Felix pounding the door repeatedly until he managed to claw a gash in the metal, then grunt with all his might until he finally managed to pop the door open and slam it into the ceiling.
His eyes burning a blazing yellow, his shirt drenched in sweat, and his chest heaving with breath, Felix took a look at the room in front of him, and saw the motionless body of Chad Linwell, and the crying, curled up body of Garrett. He instantly bent down to the younger one and tried to sit him up.
"Garrett? Garrett, what's wrong, what the hell happened?!" Felix asked rapidly, trying to assess the damage.
Garrett's only response was intense sobbing and pained grunting as he gripped the back of his head and jerked on the floor. "My head-it hurts! Please stop, make it stop, pleeeease!" he cried loudly.
Felix pulled the teen to his knees and bent his head over, trying to see what was wrong. In horror, he watched the back of his head shift and morph, the hair falling out as a face took form.
It took the form of a man appearing to be in his early 40's, with a slight goatee and wrinkled eyes the same color as Garrett's. It opened it's mouth, scowling, and began to speak.
'Stop crying, you sound like a damn baby. How old are you, fourteen or four?'
Then, the face changed again, as Garrett howled in agony, until it took the appearance of a young girl, slightly similar in appearance to the previous face.
'The next time you mess with my stuff, you'll be crying more than that.'
And once again, the face began to morph. This time, the features took on a more masculine appearance. And a much more familiar one at that. Garrett's face appeared, blinking a few times before looking around, setting his eyes on Felix, and speaking in a deeper tone than Garrett's normal speech.
'You shouldn't have saved him you know, he didn't deserve it. After what he just did, why not leave him here now, save yourself the trouble?'
At this, Garrett cried the loudest, sputtering through his sobs and looking up at Felix. He reached a hand up, trying to hold Felix's hand. "P-p-please Fe-elix... help m-me-e.... please...." he hunched over as something under his shirt bulged and twisted, until a hand poked itself out from under the hem, clawing at it tightly.
Felix recoiled slightly in shock. As he did, he noticed the 'other' Garrett smirk in triumph.
'See, he doesn't care. Get rid of him, too. Let me run things. I can actually get it right'
"No, no..." Garrett's voice became weaker and softer as the face on his head, shifting between him, the older man and the woman, began to grow louder.
"Garrett?" Felix moved back in to place a hand on the boy's shoulder. He was intercepted by the more muscled arm that proprtuded from his chest. Felix watched in horror as the shifting face writher across Garrett's head until it took the center spot, and the original face of the scared young boy began to receed to the side. It took mere seconds for the change to happen, and the effect was dramatic.
"The boy's used to being beaten down. Why should he stop that now?" The older face morphed in and mocked Felix as a powerful arm grabbed him and lifted him off the ground.
"Little brat can keep his hands off my things" said the female voice.
Felix tried to pry himself loose, but was unsuccesful as the amalgamation of faces flung him from the garage, slamming him into the door of the one opposite and knocking him out cold.
Chapter 10 - CohabitationEdit
Felix woke to the sound of buzzing. Groggy and dazed, he wrenched himself from the crater he'd made in the garage door and flipped open his Farsworth.
"Felix, we've been trying to call for ages! What happened?" Myka's voice came fast and frantic. "We got the hat and gooed it. It lit up like crazy. Are Garrett and Linwell ok?"
"I don't know," Felix answered slowly. "Garrett turned feral on me. Some faces took over him and he threw me through a wall." He paused to wipe some blood from his cheek as Myka mouth dropped open in shock.
"The kid beat you up?" Steve's voice came from offscreen. "Is he there? Are you both ok?"
"I'll be fine. Linwell is dead, it looks self-inflicted. Garrett, or whatever is in charge now, he must have taken off."
Myka's face showed a mix of fear on concern, a look she usually reserved for Pete and Artie. 'Well we have the artifact, and we're nearly there. Hopefully he's not far and the effects have worn off."
Felix looked over to the opposite building, where the body of Linwell lay. Rather, had lain. A thin trail of blood stained the ground, dissapearing into the maze of storage units. "Somehow I doubt we're that lucky..." he said bitterly, and he flipped the Farnsworth closed.
Not ten minutes later the rental car pulled up. Felix managed to pull himself to his feet as Myka and Steve ran up carrying a large and mis-shapen silver bag.
"Where is he?" Steve asked, looking at the wreckage of the two sheds. "Linwell, you said he was dead."
Felix grimaced. "He was. I saw that much myself. It looks like something dragged him off. I really hope that's the case"
Steve looked uncertainly from him to the trail of now dried blood. "That sounds bad enough, why do you hope that's what happened?"
Myka answered before him. "Because if something didn't drag him away, then the only other possibility is that he dragged himself, which would mean..."
"Bagging the hat didn't fix him." Steve finished, his eyes widening in horror as he figured out the possibility. "Which would also mean that whatever was growing out of him was still alive."
"And kicking!" A voice to their side made the trio of agents spin around. Garrett, rather the face controlling Garrett that resembled his own, stood only a few pages away, a pair of Teslas, glowing and pointed directly at the team, in his hands. Felix suddenly realized they were his own, and cursed quietly for forgetting to check after waking.
"If you don't mind, I'd like the hat back now." He said, grinning at them. His face spasmed and reformed into the female, which caused Myka to take a sharp breath of surprise and Steve to let out a short swear. "Actually, I want it even if you do! It's mine!" He, or currently she, unleashed both weapons at the group. They flung back several feet, but were out cold before they landed.
Claudia was sulking. Technically she was doing inventory as punishment for "misuse of Warehouse databse computers", be she made sure she did in in a way so that Artie knew she was sulking. A few artifacts there, some tags and papers here, a mocking "we are proffessionals" in between, directed at the looming office above.
She felt the buzz of her personalized Farnsworth and braced herself for another set of tedious jobs from the Taskmaster, only to find herself staring at the roughed-up face of Felix. She opened her mouth, about to ask why he looked like he'd been hit by a truck, when she was cut off.
"No time for questions." He snapped, and she promptly shut her mouth in surprise at his tone. "You need to find Artie of Nick, we need everything the Warehouse has on Edward Mordrake. Garrett might be in serious danger."