Zoom zoom zoom!
Only part of this section was written while listening to ABBA, but I encourage anyone actually reading this to listen along as if I had been writing to ABBA the entire time.
Draft Fueld By ABBA:
“Patrick!” Robin shouted. “Patrick, Patrick, Patrick!”
Robin had abandoned all attempts at appearing human at this point. They were floating through the air, zooming between trees left and right like that one scene in the Incredibles with the speeder bikes, or from any scene in a Star Wars film with speeder bikes or literally any of the inexplicably large number of scenes to choose from containing an individual on a floating transportation vehicle, zooming quickly and dodging between trees and other obstacles.
Patrick’s ears perked up as he heard his name. Patrick had very good hearing. He was also a raging narcissist and often heard his name when nobody had spoken his name. Like, he would hear his name in the ambient sounds of a rustling bush, or crunching leaves. It wasn’t like a diagnosable schizoaffective disorder thing, he just really wanted attention and for people to be thinking about him, so often he hallucinated hearing his own name.
This was no hallucination, however; this was Robin, zooming at the speed of zoom, right for Patrick, and Robin looked worried, or at least as worried Patrick could perceive on his face while zooming at like sixty miles per hour. Perhaps it was just the speed at which Robin zoomed that gave Patrick this impression. Though, back when Patrick owned a car and drove from place to place, he did feel like he could sometimes read the facial expressions of people standing on the side of the road as he zoomed past them on the highway. Perhaps the feelings he got were just projections of his own thoughts, projections of what he wanted others to feel. Hyper sight was not actually one of his magical abilities; regardless, Patrick was correct in his assessment. Robin wasn’t doing so hot.
“You can hate me later, but I’ve definitely screwed up,” Robin said quickly.
Patrick gave a half smile, a quarter for his respect at Robin’s forwardness, and a quarter in amusement at Robin’s mistake. The other half empty in concern.
“I dumped like half this on the Finn boy’s face and he is going through it,” Robin said.
They conjured up the bottle from before. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to both Robin and Patrick that Robin had actually dumped about three quarters of the vial on Finn. It wasn’t like three quarters of a vial versus half a vial was any different in the realm of explored territory, but it was a frightening visual to produce out of thin air.
“You fuck!” Patrick shouted, bopping Robin on the head with the stick he was carrying. “You absolute fuck!”
Patrick’s face went from concern to curiosity in the time it took a single thought to cross through his mind.
“But like, what did it do to him?”
This wasn’t kind curiosity either. Patrick’s experience with microdosing versus max dosing (using other potions) had once resulted in the inflation and explosion of not only the dosed forest animal, but every animal that the shrapnel hit. Patrick feared this had happened to Finn, as that would be hard to explain to his mother, but he was also a little excited a little curious. The curiosity was only at like twenty percent mind occupation though, because Robin didn’t appear to be covered in any mess. Well, Robin was wearing their vest still, which could have been because they were wearing that ludicrous outfit from before when the explosion happened, and they changed before they got here.
“He’s rampaging through the woods looking for that Darian kid,” Robin said. “Do you know where Darian is?”
Patrick closed his eyes and ran a mental scan of the forest. Darian was caught up in a thicket of buckthorn at least two miles from Finn’s location. Finn, however, was nearby, very close nearby. Oh shit, Patrick thought. He is very close to Maria.
“Fuck. Shit. Fuck,” Patrick screamed.
He grabbed Robin by the arm and dragged the two of them in Maria’s direction. They zoomed quickly, but going at the same speed they were still able to converse as one would if not zooming.
“What the hell?” Robin said.
Robin would have shaken loose from Patrick, but their curiosity of potentially being not the only one to fuck up made them hold back.
“I found Maria and put the potion on her,” said Patrick. “Doing your job, I might add. But Finn is close to where I left her sleeping.
“What’s wrong with that?” wasn’t the goal to have her fall for one of the humans.
Patrick shot a death glare at Robin. It was successful in both sending a message and smashing the two of them into a tree. Don’t text and drive, kids.
“She’s his sister!” Patrick shouted, picking himself off the ground and pulling back into speed.
“You’re not married to that woman anymore, Patrick,” Robin jeered. “And even if you were, they’d be step siblings. Nothing more than that. Even if they were more than that, you modern folk have such an issue with familial relations. Like if this was 24AD, you would be singing an entirely different tale. Back when I was hitting it off with Jesus-”
Patrick stopped in his tracks, nearly ripping off Robin’s arm due to the sudden change in speed. That wouldn’t have been a problem though. Robin was a spirit, and—while they did prefer to take a physical form rather than an intangible spirit form—they could easily regrow an arm in an hour or two. Nothing crazy.
The two stopped just at the edge of the puddle that Patrick had left Maria laying in, and sure enough, Maria was still there, taking a power nap for the ages. It was probably just a trick of the moonlight, but Patrick thought he could still see the drops of potion sitting on Maria’s eyelids.
The bushes rustled, and on queue, Finn came storming into the clearing, chest puffed, ready to fight Darian. He did not find Darian. Instead he found Maria floating unconscious in a puddle, his former step-dad standing next to the puddle, and some festival security guard that, looked like they had just jumped from a tree or something and landed.
“Patrick?” Finn asked.
His surprise to see Patrick and Maria and this stranger briefly counteracted his incessant rage against Darian and primal need to dominate him to win the heart of Francine. Patrick moved towards Finn swiftly and pulled him by the arm away from the puddle, taking great care to be silent in his movements.
“Finn! We’re so glad to see you again!” Patrick said. “Let’s go this way.”
“Again?” Finn said. “This is the first I’m seeing you.”
“Shit, right,” Patrick said.
He had forgotten about their catch and release stint earlier. Patrick and Robin both clapped their hands at the same time with the intent to clear Finn’s memory of what Patrick had just said. Unfortunately, being on the same wavelength doubled up this attempt which both knocked Finn to the ground. Patrick laughed. Finn opened his eyes.
“Beautiful,” Finn said, getting onto his knees.
Finn made to put a hand in the puddle Maria was floating in, but was stopped by Patrick’s hand. Finn did not react, but kept staring at Maria with a deep fascination.
“Gorgeous. Truly the most lovely woman I’ve ever known. And to think It took me until to realize,” he said.
“Shit,” Robin said.
“Fuck,” Patrick said.
In their attempt to clear Finn’s memory, they cleared a little too much. They cleared far enough where he no longer had memory of seeing Francine when he awoke after the potion fiasco. It was like he had woken up for the first time all over again. This was exactly what Patrick didn’t want to happen, but in reverse.
“Ummm, I can fix this,” Patrick said, thinking back to his past experiences. “I can fix this. I can definitely fix this.”
Clearing memory was fairly easy. Take something, destroy it. Returning memory was a little bit more difficult. The process was eerily similar to how a similar ask is performed on computer hard drives. The memory, while deleted, still leaves an imprint on the mind, and with the right tools and technique, one can color in the lines and resubstantiate what had been cleared away.
Patrick muttered a few choice words under his breath, some swearing, others related to the magic he was attempting to perform. He gestured violently at Finn and he fell to the ground. He gestured again and Finn rose back up, still unconscious, but suspended like a marionette. This up and down continued for a few repetitions until Patrick clapped his hands once more and Finn crumpled to the ground. All through this process, Maria did not wake. This wasn’t because Maria was pretending to be asleep or anything—Maria had faked sleep in the past, and quite frequently in her childhood—but right now Maria was genuinely, completely, asleep. Had she just been sleeping in the grass or something she might have awakened, but there was something about having your ears half submerged in magical water that made it incredibly difficult to hear.
Patrick dragged Finn a few yards away from the puddle. He and Robin waited anxiously for Finn to awake. When he did, he did slowly, like a computer rebooting. First he wiggled his toes. Then he wiggled his nose. Then he shimmied his shoulders, stretched his neck, moved his mouth a bit, and opened his eyes. The sky above Finn was beautiful. But it wasn’t the most beautiful thing. He jumped to his feet and looked around, finding Patrick first.
“Patrick! I finally found you!” Finn said. “And great timing!”
“Why’s that?” Patrick asked, pulling Finn in for an awkward hug.
“I’m looking for Maria, have you seen her?” Finn asked. “I am madly in love and I must confess this.”
Patrick clapped his hands once more and Finn was out like a light.
While it was true that Nicky was an avid camper, she was in no way a navigator. Nicky was the kind to rent a plot of land in a camping grounds, set up a tent, and have a good ole time. She was no means a glamper to the degree that Al was a glamper, but she also wasn’t the kind to go into the wilderness. She knew how to set up a tent; she could build a fire; she was able to identify several different kinds of wild mushrooms, but her general sense of direction was poor to say the least.
Stephanie, Caleb, and the alcohol didn’t help either, so the three of them were nowhere closer to finding anyone in the forest than they would have been if they had just stayed in the cabin. They had mostly just tromped around in a very large circle, finding no one, but having a great time. A cold time, but a great time.