Gabriel zoomed in on the newspaper article the Jessica on Earth was reading on the VSC while her Limbo counterpart looked on in horror.
“ No...no….this can’t...be…” Jessica repeated to herself, trying to deny what she was seeing.
* * * * * * * * *
Man Found Dead In Flat
Tucker Martel, aged 39 was found dead in a rental flat in West Bromwich after one of his neighbours complained of a bad smell coming from his flat.
Neighbour Ronald Wesley had noticed a foul stench but he neglected to do anything about it until it became unbearable.
“ I tried knocking on the door, telling the bloke to clean up the place a few days before I called the landlord. I tried being nice but he never responded. Even got angry and said a few choice words to him but he never said a word. One day I had it and told the landlord to open up as the smell was too much for me and my kids to put up with and lord almighty, we found his body there!”
Ronald said he was distraught at what he saw, he had not expected to find Tucker dead, the man appeared to be perfectly healthy although he had been gone for a month.
“ I knew Mr. Martel, we weren’t close friends but I saw him at pub watching the game with his mates and they seemed to be having a good time. Good man, none of the neighbours had a problem with him, even with all the problems he had. Wife left him, lost his job but he never lashed out at anyone for it.”
Ronald was the only man who seemed to know Tucker with most of the other residents refusing to allow us to interview them.
“ I just want to say that it’s a shame no one ever came to see him after he died, no family or anything. He deserved better, Tucker really did.”
Tucker’s death cause of death has yet to be confirmed although police have so far ruled out foul play, pending an autopsy.
“ Stop...just stop!” Jessica wailed as she cried, her tears in full flow; she covered her face with her hands.
Gabriel looked on, he couldn’t do anything but watch as she sobbed. He sighed and walked over to her.
He gave her a consoling pat on her knee, covered by her summer dress. Jessica peaked through her fingers at Gabriel.
“ On Home, cancer isn’t even a problem anymore. Anyone can just go to the hospital and...get some nanobots to kill for you!”
She cried even more, her hands soaked in her own tears. It would have been easy to cure Tucker if he had just stayed. If she had gotten him to stay. She knew it was her fault; Gabriel had not shown her that final moment she had with Tucker but it was definitely her fault.
“ Can’t I just go back?” Jessica forced out the words, she was barely capable as she was overcome with grief.
Gabriel gently shook his head, “ You can’t leave, not yet. I need to show you what Dawn has done on Home, it is pretty...catastrophic.” There wasn’t any other way to describe it but that.
“ What else is there?” She mewled, each new revelation had been like a punch to the gut for her.
“ The fallout from what you’ve just seen, how it slowly but surely led to you being trapped here. It won’t get better from here but even though I’ve never known you, I feel obligated to give you a little heads up about what will happen..”
Jessica looked up, trembling as she thought about what would follow. Surely it couldn’t be worse than this? Surely this was the lowest she would go?
The screen changed and this time, it showed Dawn trying to fight off Jessica’s fellow agents.
Jessica gasped as she saw Dawn trying to step on Agent Barnes while he cried out for help; the pair were locked in a stalemate but Jessica could see the beads of sweat on his head, how his entire body was shaking as he tried to stop Dawn from turning him into a human pancake. Slowly but surely the momentum was with the giantess, her strength would eventually triumph over his soon.
“ Hey Lane, how about a hand here!” He shouted, grunting as Dawn was able to increase the pressure, her massive leg muscles able to move up a gear.
Jessica saw Chloe, previously out of the screen use her powers to slowly wrap herself around Dawn. Her elastic body was too strong for Dawn to tear through, nor could she just punch through it with her strength.
Dawn tried to fight back but her arms were pinned to her sides and eventually it became too difficult for her to maintain her balance and she fell.
Tucker was being hurried away as Barnes and Chloe knew that as the only person without any powers of his own, Tucker was the most vulnerable person. Dawn saw him getting further and believing she had failed, she said the only thing on her mind.
“ Daddy don’t leave me!”
“ Damn it, I didn’t get to the important part,” Gabriel said to himself as the picture froze before suddenly speeding forward.
“ Sorry about that, my memory is not the most precise at times,” Jessica watched as the images moved at least twice the normal speed before stopping at scene he wanted. This time Jessica saw a yellow rift all around.
“ No, don’t show it to me. I just need to know, what’s that yellow thing?” She saw that everything around Dawn and Tucker was barren, no buildings, no plants. Only the hill Dawn had been sitting on had anything on it.
“ That,” Gabriel pointed at the rift, “ Is a tear in space and time. Time is like a river with space being the river banks and the river bed. We are but mere passengers in this river, only able to go with the flow. Dawn here managed to find a way to go against it,” He pointed at Jessica’s daughter.
He briefly smiled, “ Which is commendable but the force she exerts is too great for the river to remain stable and she is causing the current to turn on itself due to it. The universe tried to balance it out by removing you but the damage she has done is too great.
‘Going backwards has caused space and time to fall apart, that yellow thing you see is the tear I just mentioned. It is causing everything it touches to age. That emptiness you see is the result of the rift simply wiping it out from existence.”
Jessica was shocked by the apocalyptic events on Home, how had she caused this?
“ Is there anything you can do to help me? Send me back?” She asked in a hopeful voice, there had to be something he could do.
“ I can’t send you back until Dawn returns to her own time. Even that is beyond me, certain things I can’t fight.” He explained grimly.
Jessica looked at the screen, it looked like a video that had been put on pause but it wasn’t, it was something more and infinitely more cataclysmic. She felt deflated, there was no hope for now but to put her faith in her daughter; hoping that she would do the right thing.
Gabriel appeared to remember something, pointing his finger up. “ Ah! I can show you something, something that will help you along. It’s of a very important day. The day Dawn left her time to make that world ending journey.”
“ What?” Jessica asked, a small glimmer of hope begun to form in her.
“ I won’t say anymore just, watch.”
The screen changed once more and Jessica saw Dawn but this time, her hair was black and not the snow white she had been familiar with.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Dawn quietly stepped into Jessica’s room, her head bent at an uncomfortable angle while Lucky did the same, he was intelligent enough to pick up what Dawn wanted him to do, his little green streamline body made no noise against the floorboards. She hated the house she lived in, the ceiling was far too low for a growing girl like her.
“ Mom really needs to raise the ceiling, I am a growing girl and this is a little too much,” Dawn complained to Lucky who just happily wagged his tail and looked up at her. Dawn loved Lucky, she had found him in some abandoned quarry on one of her many alone times after getting into trouble over helping Graham with bullies. She knew she was in the right but then the same bullies would complain to their parents about it and Jessica would have to come down and get her out of it.
Jessica never scolded Dawn for defending someone weaker than her but she did tell Dawn to use less physical methods. Grabbing them and then lifting them two hundred feet was out of the question after her latest scuffle with Graham’s tormentors..
“ Wow, Mom is really neat but I worry for her you know, I heard her crying last night. When I asked her in the morning she said it was nothing and left for her mission.” She looked around the room, Dawn was sure that Jessica was lying, there had to be something. This time every year, Jessica would get extremely moody, Dawn had observed this and she resolved to find out what exactly was causing all this.
Dawn got on her knees, making a clicking sound with her tongue as she scanned the room, hoping to find something out of place; a near impossible task as Jessica was neat to the point where it was almost compulsive.
Then, she saw it. Under Jessica’s bed, barely peaking was an old beaten shoe box.
“ Bingo.” She reached for the box and pulled it towards her.
Jessica had apparently taped a piece of paper to the box cover.
“ Happy Memories?” She said rhetorically.
Dawn carefully removed the car and she saw pictures, many old pictures of Jessica. In most of them she was people Dawn hardly knew.
“ Wow...Mom knew a lot of people,” Dawn was speechless, she knew Jessica was over two centuries old but she had to have met and befriended hundreds of people judging by the amount of pictures inside.
Lucky stayed by the box as she looked through the pictures, most of them were people she didn’t know and had never seen in her life. Judging by the buildings behind, Dawn guessed that they must been from at least a century before she was born.
Then she spotted it, a picture of Jessica with a man she didn’t recognise but felt something familiar about him. She found his eyes strangely familiar, she brushed her hand over his ears, those were very familiar. It was as if she had seen them all her life.
Dawn stared hard at the picture until she saw her own eyes reflected in the glossy photograph and let out a huge gasp.
“ Dad?” She asked herself, was that man her father? They had the same eyes, those ears were something they shared.
“ Why did Mom not tell me about you? Why did she keep us apart?” Her mind was awash with questions.
“ Just what are you doing in my room?” Dawn flinched as she heard Jessica, upset that Dawn had entered her room without permission. Dawn gulped and turned to face her mother who despite barely coming up to her chest still scared her. .
Jessica was standing in the doorway in her yellow and blue jumpsuit, the one she wore on her missions, covered in mud and looking exhausted but also pissed that Dawn had invaded her privacy.
“M-mom, I didn’t expect you to be back so soon.” Lucky whimpered and moved behind Dawn as he sensed the tension in the room escalating.
“ Well your mother happens to be a top notch agent and I got the mission done earlier than everyone else thought? Now answer me young lady, why are you in my room?” Her tone was firm and strict, Dawn knew very well that Jessica was very particular about privacy. She was even more particular when it came to breaking the rules she set.
Dawn was struggling for words so she held up the picture she had in her hand, hoping it would save her.
Jessica’s eyes widened in surprise, “ Were you going through my things?”
“ Mom, who is this? Is it Dad?” Dawn squeaked out the line, she knew how scary Jessica could be when she lost her temper.
“ Don’t go through my things!” She managed to snatch the photo out of Dawns hand and shoved it back in the box before returning to the situation at hand.
“ Mom please, is it Dad? Why haven’t I met him? Did he do something to hurt you?” Dawn pleaded with Jessica to answer her questions.
Jessica was furious at Dawn but she saw the look in Dawn, the need to know about it.
“ Okay,” she exhaled sharply as she tried to calm herself. She didn’t want to yell at Dawn, her daughter deserved to know the truth about her father.
“ That man is your father, his name is Tucker Martel,” she stepped inside and moved next to Dawn, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“ I met him after he stowed away in my hand while I was on a mission to Earth. We spent a month together and you were conceived on our last night together. He was the love of my life but company policy dictated that I had to send him back. I never argued for keeping him here. Maybe if I had told them why he should stay, how we loved each other then it would have worked. Then I wouldn’t have gone back to find him...dead.”
“ What! When was that?” Dawn pressed Jessica for answers, she needed to know. Within a few minutes of learning about her father, he was dead?
“ When you were five, the company reversed that policy. They said with Tucker being a father to a citizen of Home, he could stay. The other way was if the two of us got married then it would also have allowed him to remain on Home. I didn’t know that until recently and it hurt me.”
Jessica paused, looking down at the floor as she felt that she was on the verge of crying but she managed to keep it in.
She looked up at Dawn again before managing a gentle reassuring smile to her shell shocked daughter.
“ I went back and found him dead. Alone. He had a family and I kept him away!” She collapsed to the floor.
If Jessica expected sympathy from Dawn, she didn’t expect what would follow.
“ No! How could you!” Dawn rose to her full height, forgetting about the low ceiling. This caused her head to break through the layers of plaster and wood. Lucky ran around frantically to dodge the pieces that fell from the ceiling, hiding between Dawn’s legs.
Dawn rubbed her head as she bent down to look at Jessica, furious with her mother.
“ You kept our family apart! Do you know how I got teased on Parent Day in grade school when the other kids would ask me about my dad and how freakish that I don’t have one? I couldn’t even get back at them for any of that because they’d just run and cry to the nearest teacher!”
Jessica didn’t answer, she began to break down, crying while Dawn glared at her.
“ I-I had to go through life as a freak! I’m already too tall to fit in this house, too big to even be in the school I go to, having my father with me would have helped a lot! Don’t cry, I should be the one in tears! Not you! You ruined my life! Thanks you I am a giant freak who is only going to get bigger and bigger until you’re all too small to notice! Thanks for everything MOM!”
Dawn ran out, tears in her eyes while Lucky followed her, moving as fast as his legs could carry him.
Jessica looked up at the hole Dawn had made, “ I-I am so sorry Dawn. I really am.”
She curled up into a foetus position and began to cry. First Tucker, now she had lost Dawn as well.
- - - - - - - - - - -
“ I-I messed up,” Jessica stated, she didn’t cry, there were no tears left to be shed.
“ Eh...technically you haven’t done it but yes you did mess up that one. However…” Gabriel paused, a big grin on his face as a yellow portal opened up in Limbo.
Jessica began to back away in fear, having seen what it could do on Home.
“ No, this is not the same thing you saw on Home. This means Dawn went back. Which you means you get a second chance.”
Jessica laughed, tears of joy coming out. She would be going back, she finally got to go back.
She quickly got up and began to head towards it when Gabriel called out to her.
“ No, don’t go. Not yet.”
Jessica turned around, surprised Gabriel still had something left for her.
“ What is it?” She asked him.
Gabriel beckoned her with his hand, “ Don’t so be so hasty to leave, you’ll have all the time in the world to fix it. Trust me. I just want to tell you a few last words before you go.”
Jessica walked over and got on her knees, “ Sorry, I shouldn’t have got up so quickly but you understand don’t you?”
Gabriel shook his head, rolling his eyes which got a giggle out of Jessica.
“ Just remember this, we don’t always get second chances. You’re pretty lucky to get one. You can stop all of the pain and misery you saw from happening by being honest with Tucker. I have a feeling both of you never opened up about how you feel. How you really feel. Have the courage to tell Tucker about this and perhaps...find a way around that stupid little rule.”
Gabriel emphasised his point, dragging it out as he spoke the words.
“ Got it Jessica?”
Jessica nodded, “ I-I get it. Be brave and I’ll definitely find a way to get Tucker to stay with me. He means a lot to me.”
She stood up, “ Thanks for the advice. You’ve been a great help. I won’t forget this.”
Jessica turned but was stopped by Gabriel again, “ Ah about that. You will actually. Not completely, you’ll have this nagging feeling in your subconscious when you return but you won’t actually remember it in detail.”
“ Okay, that’s a bummer. How will I remember to do all of this?” She slapped her hands against her thighs in frustration.
“ Don’t worry, like I said, it won’t be completely forgotten. Now run along, I’m done and you have important things to do.”
“ Ok...I just hope you’re right. Goodbye Gabriel, it was nice knowing you.” She rose to her full height and stepped through the portal.
“ Goodbye Jessica, been nice knowing you too,” replied Gabriel as it closed, leaving him alone in Limbo.