Rose Madder

 https://2aughlikecrazy.wordpress.com/2016/08/28/rose-madder/

A woman, Rose, is having trouble breathing as she sees her husband, Norman after he gets home. She’s pregnant and not having felt a pain similar to this in her life, she hoping nothing is wrong, but feeling like there might be, since it is hinted of Norman having punched her a few times in the stomach. She’s close to miscarrying and he’s on the phone, she thinking of his status as a cop, and in the process of calling an ambulance. She wants to scream in pain, but Norman didn’t allow such noise, and when he ends the call, he regards the mess around them, she showing her bloody fingers in response as he picks up the shredded paperback she’d been reading and placing blame on his temper to it, she knowing he would’ve done the same with anything she could’ve been doing, he prickly because some woman was hassling him. As he dumps the trashed novel, she starts cramping and having thoughts of loathing of him without truly registering them.

When Norman returns, he has such a look and demeanor, she thinks he means to murder her, but instead, handsome Norman approaches to pick her up, after having told the emergency dispatcher he wouldn’t, but he needing the story he gave to stick, so places her at the foot of the stairs. She begins bleeding more profusely as he checks the spot in the corner for blood, then goes to the kitchen and comes out with a sandwich and rag, cleaning up the spot in the corner. When they hear the ambulance approach, he makes certain she knows the story and then has her say what would happen if she mentioned anything else. Before he walks away to get the door, she stops him to ask why he’d done it, he looking scared for a moment, then claiming it was an accident and she’d be able to have another baby. The EMT give her something to make her sleep and she drifts into a dream where she’s running away from something she knew would catch her (Rose doesn’t seem quite strong, she wanting a baby by this numbskull). It’s told she stays in Norman’s crazy world for nine more years.

Rose spends fourteen years with him, in all, she able to ignore most of it since she usually only received four beatings per year, but the Wendy Yarrow year brought twelve, Rose having to be taken to the hospital after the miscarriage for coughing up blood, learning her lung was being poked by a broken rib, and even though the staff didn’t seem to believe her “falling” story, they only patch her up and let her go, it being 1985. Norman knew he skirted getting in trouble though, so intended to be more tactful. It’s then shared of what Rose had gone through with Norman and what finally gets her attention being a spot of blood. She debates whether to change the sheets, she wanting to save some work by moving the pillow over it, most anything to do with how she kept house being under scrutiny for a physical reprimand, he normally careful not to clock her in the face, but when his temper flared, she still having to be careful not to make a mess or be loud in any way. After one of the unruly temper flares, he gauges the damage done to her nose, gets her an ice-filled wash cloth to minimize swelling and bleeding, she noting the next morning it had done the job for the most part, with the exception of this errant drop on the sheet. Rose didn’t look forward to remaking the entire bed since Norman’s favorite spot to punch her was her back, which after fourteen years had begun to leave noticeable signs of her kidney’s being hit. She considers how if she kept allowing this, Norman could kill her, but the worst thought being he may not.

To Rose’s surprise, she began to feel rage and considered leaving, but at the same time attempting to abate the feeling and talk herself out of it for Norman being a decent provider, regardless of being a smidgen temperamental. Rose couldn’t let it go though, since not being able to stop staring at the blood, considering how her life would be after fourteen more years, the damage she could live through, she then walking out of the bedroom, grabbing her bag and struggling to open the door, then deciding to grab their ATM card even whilst her beaten side begged her not to, but the drop of blood giving her drive, then hesitating no longer, walking outside, she ready to get the hell out of there. As she passes the store, she thought of how Norman claimed to have developed his sixth sense and whether she needed to be more careful in being seen, she then noticing his car coming down the street, she thinking of a believable reason for being out, but not needing to for having scared herself needlessly, she determined to turn onto the next street so as to avoid his driving route. She walks along a residential neighborhood, she desperately needing a bathroom and was lucky to choose a home of someone who had been away for a couple of days already, relieving herself in the backyard, she lightening physically and mentally by her actions.

Rosie, as she prefers to be called, walks for almost two hours before locating a pay phone and calling a cab, she buys sunglasses and a kerchief for her hair before it comes, she requesting an ATM and bus depot, meanwhile deciding she’d return to her maiden name, only when necessary using Norman’s. When getting to the ATM, she then struggles with the amount to withdraw, she ending up going for a few bills since she may as well, she in for trouble either way by now. She makes it to the bus depot, again having to work up her motivation to continue, she entering the building and trashing the card, it being noticed and fished, after she’d moved on, and once getting to the ticket window, contemplates a name to give, she flubbing up and saying the fake name rather than where she wanted to go, feeling quite out of place for not having socialized outdoors for fourteen years. She gets her ticket, though and once on the bus and out of sight of the police station, she relaxing to the point of dozing and seems to enter the Territories, at first sight tranquil, but then sensing wild creatures, and what ends up jerking her awake is the thought of Norman’s fist coming at her, and whilst relieved to be away from him, she knew she couldn’t slip up from covering her tracks, she not certain he wouldn’t still detect her whereabouts, but ready for whatever she found ahead.

Rosie’s first few weeks were tough, but she didn’t have second thoughts, regardless of being fear-stricken. When she’d gotten to the second bus terminal, she didn’t entertain the thought of walking outside so early in the morning, thinking the worst if she did, so heads for a seat as two cops pass, she hoping they’d leave her alone until dawn broke in a few hours. At four, she gets some cereal and coffee at the cafeteria, she then spotting a customer service desk, and debating whether to ask for assistance, she deciding to go for it, and the man attentive enough to ask about her vague plans, nothing coming of it, and she asking for his opinion, he offering her his card where he wrote the address of a battered women’s shelter on the back, then giving her directions so she could go at daylight. When she walks off the bus in the morning, to continue on foot, she loses her way and the people around didn’t look friendly to ask for directions, she walking in the wrong direction for three hours, then regaining some familiarity when recognizing where she’d started. The first person she asks about directions isn’t accommodating, but at least solidifies the truth of the place being known and when seeing a shop, is told how she was sixteen to eighteen blocks away. When she finally gets to the right street, her second encounter with a citizen in regards to whether she was close to the cross street she was looking for again began badly, she learning nothing, but does eventually get there, turning the wrong way, but righting herself, and reaching the house. When buzzing the door, she is instructed to show the business card given, she finally allowed inside.

As Norman contemplates his first move to locating Rosie, she was being led to Anna, the proprietress, when first arriving, given a meal, allowed to sleep, then another meal before seeing her, whom upon getting Rosie’s name, asks for the details of how she’d left. Anna then informs Rosie how long she could stay, if needed and how Providence had led her there like in a Charles Dickens novel, then she asks about Rosie’s skills which makes her break down for not knowing or able to do much, but Anna taking it lightly and offering her a job at a partnering hotel. She assigns her a counselor to shadow, then making clear Rosie is getting the chance to free herself from Norman, officially welcoming her. Three weeks later, Norman gets a lead from the guy, Ramon, whom Rosie passes in the bus station rummaging for the bank card, he now confronting Norman in the park as he relayed how he’d been instructed to meet him out there, the man having been arrested on a drug charge and the ATM card found on him.

The man was now sensing the trouble he was in with Norman, but getting offered being let go for his help, Norman doing a fairly odd thing after noting Ramon being gay, he feeling him up and talking about how he was going to be his good buddy since being laughed about by some cops he knew and then began squeezing Ramon’s boner in a vice grip. Ramon was glad he was able to answer Norman’s questions of what window and time she was in the station, not saving himself much pain. Norman then plans his next move of tracking her on weekends until he was free, he certain he’d detect her whereabouts easily enough and how he was going to teach her a severe lesson when he did. After being away for a month Rosie was noticing her physical changes for the better, working at the Whitestone Hotel. She liked how she knew what would happen throughout her day, she taking a banana break in the room she was finishing turning down, Pam sticking her head in and scaring Rosie, but asking if she wanted to join forces on the last two rooms, she taking her up on it and treating her to coffee and pie after. Rosie is content with her current set up, but expecting soon not having Norman around will be enough, she readying for the time it’ll be her turn to vacate the shelter as she drifts to sleep at night.

The next Wednesday, Pam leaves Rosie after work for not feeling well, she denying Rosie should accompany her in preference of she going to get coffee independently. Rosie then notices her wedding band, having forgotten she could get rid of it if she chose, but after seeing Pam off, walks to the cafe, but passing it as she became distracted by her memory of the pervert whilst she’d been lost her first day in the city. A young man stops her before she mindlessly walked into a busy street, she then aware how far past the cafe she’d gone, but as she approached the coffee shop, she decides to return home instead, then noticing the pawn shop, carefully deciding to see what her ring would fetch since she had no fond memories nor reservations holding her back, instead thinking about paying for her time at Daughters and Sisters hopefully having enough for herself after. When she guesses it actually wasn’t worth much, her thoughts confirmed by the young man behind the counter, she keeps it as a reminder to not be gullible again. As she makes her way out, a picture seems to grab her attention, of a woman on a hill, which she gravitated to for the new place she was going to get.

Rosie walks back with the painting and asks the young man if he’d be willing to trade for the ring as an older man watched, and when he agrees, Rosie is ecstatic, the two men discussing the odd qualities of the painting, she thinking about when she’d be able to hang it. Then, Rosie wished to complete the transaction so she could leave, the young man agreeable and wrapping it up. The older man follows her outside, introducing himself and asking she read a couple passages from a book, she at first guarded, but after the first paragraph, curious. When she had finished, Rob was delighted with her reading, she shocked when he gave her a job offer. Meanwhile, Norman had cleaned his desk of all unnecessary trash, he having specific thoughts on black people’s abilities when it came to work ethic, which he’d learned from his pappy. His home had switched roles, it looking bomb-blasted with trash whilst is desk at work was clean as a whistle. Norman had apparently been promoted, getting a real office, his bust going perfectly, he considering how his desk being this clean would have only come about if he’d been fired.

Norman then recalls how his assumption Rosie wouldn’t go far from her childhood town had set him back, he unable to know for certain which bus she’d taken, and whilst his job had taken a turn for the better, he was obsessed with the idea it canceled out with Rosie still missing, he having been blind by thinking she wouldn’t leave, the amount she took meaning nothing, only concerned with she having taken something of his, and he owing retribution. He also thought back to the women he’d had sex with since Rosie left, one in particular not living through it, he choking her when she resembled Rosie for a moment, but not being concerned after she’d died since he’d taken care of murders committed before. He then considered if Rosie knew of this, but shrugging it off, instead going through the meticulous process of tracking her down. He enlisted help from a neighboring city’s police station on false pretenses, nothing coming of it. As he readied to move his office belongings to his new office, he gets a call from the bus cashier, he remembering the odd way Rosie had asked for a ticket, Norman now feeling the upper hand returning, and easing him.

Rosie saw Pam sitting whilst watching an overweight, but muscle-y Gert with a punk-looking Cynthia, Gert teaching her self-defense, which she did for anyone who wanted to learn, Rosie having been taught some moves she didn’t expect to use, but appreciating Gert’s kindness and interest in her mentoring. As Rosie sat with Pam and relayed her time after Pam had gone home, Gert flipped Cynthia, whom squealed upon the take-down giddily, bouncing back quickly, Pam wanting to hear more about the younger guy than giving her opinion on the painting Rosie tried to focus her on. Gert was encouraging Cynthia to help flip her in return, Cynthia exhilarated once succeeding, Anna then walking in and sobering her victory with how she had only aided Gert’s body to follow it’s own inertia. Rosie then asked her opinion of the picture when she’d shown interest, there now seven ladies staring and not saying a word until Rosie prompts a response, feeling awkward, receiving the similar opinion of it being strange. Soon, Cynthia is relating a story where she’d had a similar experience to Rosie’s in regards to a picture her mother owned, drawing her in, she not knowing what happened to the painting, but guessing her mother had trashed it. Anna then states Rosie needed to come to the office with her after she told them all about her new job offer, she admitting it may regard what Rosie had been waiting for.

Anna describes the studio Rosie would be getting being one of their better ones, Rosie overcome with happiness in moving forward. Anna then asks after how Rosie was feeling in regards to Norman attempting to locate her, Daughters and Sisters policy being to not discuss where anyone relocated to, with outsiders. Anna prompts Rosie to go through how she’d deal with the possibility he did find her, they moving on to her financial stability to maintain the apartment and her new job’s unknown stability as of yet, until she started, she not knowing, but believing it will pan out, she also knowing she had back ups on the off chance it fell through. Anna lets her know she could move in the next day if she chose and hoped she would attend the upcoming picnic, she continuing to study the painting and noting how the painter hadn’t signed it and the printing of ‘Rose Madder’ on the back seemed much newer than the picture, it looking 40 years or older.

Norman leaves by bus, the day before Rosie begins her new position, he ignoring how much her ditching him had affected him, and needing to infiltrate her mind once more, quickly. He allows himself to blind himself to the fact it was about how he hadn’t sensed her movements and less about the card theft. He attempts to track when she could’ve decided her escape and how long she planned it out. Once on the bus though, trying to sense which seat she’d have chosen, he then going over how much effort telepathy took in practice. As he traveled, he attempts to retrace her steps at the rest stops as well, he repeating his new mantra and eager in imagining he was underneath her bed so he could stab her. When arriving at the final stop, he gauges what her next step would’ve been, distracting himself for a moment with the thought some low-life could’ve killed her before he could, but then getting back on track and after doing a step-for-step of Rosie’s movements, learns the information desk man’s name, then goes to a cab where he’s taken to The Whitestone. Meanwhile, Rosie is slowly becoming overwhelmed by the actual doing of her new job, fear setting in when sitting in the recording booth. Thoughts breaking her self-worth returning as she starts talking herself out of succeeding, worse case scenarios in how she’d survive crashing on her, as well. Then, thought’s of her picture motivated her to sit down as asked, gaining courage by thinking of the woman in the picture, and once talking to allow the sound engineer to level the console, everyone looking pleased with Rosie’s speaking voice. She has one more thought of insecurity before action, but begins her lines like a champ.

When finished for the day, Rosie goes to Daughters and Sisters to update them of her day, she still riding the buzz and even agreeing to ask shop owners in her area  to post their fliers to sell tickets for the picnic and concert, also to remember to mention they weren’t gay and didn’t harbor underage runaways, a couple of the reasons sales were low. Rosie knew she wouldn’t be putting it in those terms, but would talk them up as best she could, she again reveling in being on her own.  She then thinks for a moment, in the painting, the woman’s toga’s creases had changed, but deciding she’d tricked herself, now talking aloud to her like she would a good buddy about how she sensed she had needed to prove to the director she could do the work. When she looked outside, the car she saw pull up didn’t bother her like it normally would, she then distracted by seeing more of one of the two “gods'” faces, thinking then the painting had expanded, but realizing it actually seemed more like she’d gotten a widescreen view and this helped her discovery of new statues in the picture. Rose froze when the light, rapid knocking began, she kicking herself for not locking the door and putting off buying a phone for a better deal, but does remember her groceries containing some cans, and after grabbing the largest, announces of coming.

Norman is then shown on his hotel bed smoking, back-story of when he’d started and how Rosie’s family had died, following. Norman not having felt bad for them since Rose’s father in particular had tended to ask probing questions Norman didn’t deem viable as he was no longer in charge of his daughter. Then it’s told of Norman picking up his two pack a day habit after eleven years, he planning on quelling his stress with smoke and control over his style of divorce. Norman then readied to leave, he feeling charmed in his chances of detecting Rosie, he taking the bus for anonymity and once getting out, uses his map to guide himself to Information desk man, Peter’s home. When he gets to the door, he thinks about how his plan involved the man not speaking to anyone after he was finished, so he not bothering with a face mask, and when Peter answers the door, he senses Norman was bad news, but couldn’t shut his door in time, Norman kicking it closed behind him and similarly threatening to assault him the way he had Ramon. He proceeds to locate oven mitts, then leads Peter to his cellar, Norman satisfied with his results, but needing to dispose of his shirt and mitts later.

Bill Steiner, from the pawn shop waited outside Rose’s door with flowers, she having made such an impression, he was unnerved by attempting to ask her out, and intrigued as well as smitten as he’d been before holding out the flowers as a peace-offering when she opened the door with her raised can of fruit in the air. Rosie ended up agreeing to the date out of relief for not needing to use the fruit-weapon, as he drove, she now paranoid of Norman catching her, but when seeing the warm atmosphere of the restaurant, it receding temporarily, flaring up again when her ‘Norman voice’ begins talking her out of staying, she then visualizing her picture and calming. Rosie confesses of being fine after Bill inquires, adding she was a bit afraid, which once Rosie elaborates of Bill being the second man she’s been out with, he announcing of feeling similarly, they then led to a booth. They first discussed how he’d gotten Rosie’s address, he automatically calling her Rosie to her delight, they then discussing some important topics about Rosie’s marital status and the two vowing to be up front with the other, Bill to Rosie, and the latter to herself in return to Bill. Their chat turns to lighter interests as their night progressed, thoughts of Norman only invading as Bill walked her to her door. She debates asking him in, but when doing so, is declined, he again mentioning how strongly he was affected by her. When he asks for a second date, Rosie is again flattered, but then remembers the picnic, she passing along this revelation, and he offering to drive her back before her t-shirt selling shift, which still made her first instinct to pass up the offer, but the Rose Madder picture making her want to match the imagined bravery of the figure, so instead consents and also has him agree to stay at the concert with her, Bill all for it and suggesting a coat due to chill in the morning, then leaving on a charged excitement.

After she secures the door, she notices another change in the painting, some trees now visible on one side with the statue and a pony with cart and possible other person on the other. As she readied for bed, she thought only of her date, then dreams between sleep and wakefulness about the little girl she doesn’t have and the man, Richie Bender whom had caused all the issues of 1985 in some way, then going deeper into unconsciousness. Norman was also going to sleep, only three miles from Rosie, he also thinking of Richie Bender, the reason being he the one accused of a shooting in Payless. A clerk pointed him out and gave detailed directions to his motel room where Norman and his partner found Wendy Yarrow, they physically and sexually assaulting her and Norman sustaining scratches the two claim she’d made. They close, but not locating Richie Bender’s room, their official reprimand in regards to the excessive force of her broken fingers. Norman then vows to deal with Rose and proceeds to fall asleep. As Rosie was drifting off (one thing I’m getting annoyed with being these overlapped time-frames, also happening in Firestarter), she thinks of the Wendy Yarrow case after she’d found a lawyer, on the course to making more trouble by filing a civil case. She’s discovered murdered in an obvious crime of passion, multiple stab wounds and cut bosom. When Rosie had heard the story, she puts together what had happened, she going deeper into sleep as her thoughts turn to Bill, smelling grass sleepily and thinking it was from the park, but then when thunder and crickets are heard, realizing she’d closed her window and had seen a clear night earlier.

In the late afternoon of a Wednesday, Rosie was on feeling grand as she got a cup of coffee at the cafe, a bit out of her way now, but comfortable with the spot, she reveling in knowing the fact they wanted her for the readings of the other novels in the series. Then she recalls how she’d been told by Rhoda, the director whilst she snuck a smoke in the bathroom, relaying to Rosie of Robbie planning on offering her a contract, but to watch out for herself and not sign only for gratitude, she attempting to make her realize how much talent she had, Rosie halfway believing, but also becoming annoyed by her attempt to instill caution. Rhoda then makes clear what Rosie should ask for, the number shocking her, Rhoda asking how she’d gotten such vocal control without being a singer, Rosie recalling the times she’d had to manager her breathing for pain. Rob calls to set up a lunch meeting with her, afterwards getting similar advice from Curtis, the sound guy, then thinking about her date and bright future as she finished her pastry. Meanwhile, Pam finished her shift and was heading toward the cafe, Norman waiting for the walk sign with her, she feeling an aversion due to his eyes, and Rosie promptly getting a second tea for no particular reason. Norman was looking at Pam’s butt, glancing inside the cafe she’d walked into, seeing Rosie without knowing, she resembling Rose Madder.

Pam doesn’t recognize her at first, either, but yelps when it hits her, and the two take their drinks to their old table, Rosie sharing her good news and accepting another pastry, even though she planned on keeping off the fifteen pounds she’d lost after getting to the city. Pam was still processing Rosie’s new look in shock, her face looking younger and the blonde hair apparently working on her, seeing how Rosie had copied Rose Madder’s style, and deducing Rosie having met someone, she bursting out laughing in reply. When Rosie’d walked home for her energized happiness, she remembered how she’d dreamed she and Bill were riding his bike in the scenery of the painting, she forgetting the magic word which had made them fly, but then undoing the French braid she’d given herself, she hearing a cricket, catching it, and rationalizing how this is the cricket she must’ve heard last night, her inner voice mentioning how it’d sounded like an orchestra of them, then before dumping it out the window, she realized the cricket couldn’t have hitched a ride on Bill, and when the cricket jumps, she discovers two dead ones along with a pink clover, slowly looking at the painting, the pony now seen grazing. It didn’t taker her long to start thinking the evidence she’d collected came from her picture, and whilst she knew it was a mad way to think, she believed it, the idea most likely receding if other people were present, but currently the fantastic supposition sticking.

Rosie examined the picture closely at her kitchen counter, the back where the paper had writing, crinkling more than before when she had touched it. She reached for a knife as her timid conscience urged her to stop, she hesitating a moment longer before carefully cutting it, some dead and one live cricket falling out with a dead leaf, some more clover flowers, and grass. She then continues to trace the outer edge of the backing with her knife, and with removing the paper, detects more dead insects and some gray hairs she deduced was from the pony. Rosie then thinks matter-of-factly to herself of her obvious loss of common sense once more. She decides to separate picture from frame, she probing the naked canvas until her phone’s ring scares the bejesus out of her. She picks up to hear Anna preparing to deliver some news which may or may not involve her. After hearing what she relays, Rosie hangs up before deciding whether she was going to spend her night at Daughters and Sisters, calling Bill to inform him of not being able to see him, not wanting to explain, and after hanging up, revealing her thoughts of belief it was Norman, and he’d murdered Anna’s ex, Peter. Norman was setting himself up with a mild disguise before heading to Daughters and Sisters. He remembered the aches he’d woken up with which stemmed from his fastly regretted time with Peter, it not in the paper yet, but knowing a man like Peter would be looked for soon enough, and then he seeing the paper a day later to note his thoughts  had been realized, the story covered on the front page. Norman also does his research about the Daughters and Sisters organization, learning Anna’s connection to Peter, he sensing the ladies would be quite careful now. Norman reaches the house, walking on the sidewalk across the street from it, getting a good eyeful in small doses, keeping his pace leisurely. He’s briefly noticed by Cynthia, he having to calm himself before returning her wave, he then moving along. He stays deep in thought as he walks away, soon stress-biting his finger until it bled, he then noticing a sign for fresh rolls, and the Daughters and Sisters flier.

Rosie wasn’t having a productive day at work due to her almost sleepless night, Rhoda calling an early lunch and Rosie attempting to make she and Curtis believe she’d do better at noon. When she gets to the lobby, Bill is waiting for her. She’s at first uncertain and scared, but when he confesses of being unable to do as she’d bid, she is overwhelmed with being in unknown territory, but when he gives her an opening for a hug, she takes it automatically. As they walk, she confides how happy she was he’d come to see her, she beginning to share the fear she’d had about Norman being close, but first has him buy them a couple hot dogs before getting down to the grit. After she had a bite, she has a moment to think he’d stop talking to her after this, but decides to dive in, starting with how they’d met. By the end, she’d shared Anna’s information, the police not having released the killer having bitten Peter over thirty six times, she expecting Bill to ask why she’d put up with him for so long, but instead inquiring whether she thought Norman had killed Wendy Yarrow, she thinking it possible, but then having to get back for being five minutes late. As they go, she explains her worry about Anna thinking Norman could be dealt with like any other abusive husband, and why Rosie wouldn’t go to the police like Bill had suggested, she also explaining how another women’s group had gathered intelligence on Norman, and Daughters and Sisters now knew what he looked like. The conversation winds down as they reach her building and are met by Rhoda and Curt outside. Rosie introduces them to Bill and he takes the opportunity to finalize their plans to go out Saturday, Rosie reluctantly agreeing and he walking off, Rhoda remarking on his charming looks.

On Thursday, Rosie calls Anna to make certain she hadn’t heard anything more about Norman, this being so, and relaying the remembrance for Peter happening on the same day as the picnic, then realistically explaining to Rosie about how common it was for battered women to believe their spouse capable of murder, the two moving on to other topics after. Rosie then attempts to sleep, but is distracted by the noise of a baby’s cry, thunder, crickets, and lightning, finally getting to sleep, but being woken by a bright flash and thunder, when looking at her window, seeing a real scene of the painting, her view of the street replaced. Rosie ignored her conscience as she steps into the picture-no-longer-picture. After stepping through and looking back for her bedroom, it wasn’t there, an easel and painting of Rosie in her outfit for the outing with Bill in front of her, she unnerved as she also sees the pony and a woman with it in front of her now, whilst Rose Madder still looked down at the temples. The young woman reassures the pony didn’t mean to startle her when he’d bumped his head into her, she recognizing the lady as Wendy Yarrow, now certain she was dreaming.

When she hears the baby cry for a moment again, Wendy warns Rosie not to look straight at Rose Madder after hearing her call to her, which Rosie then turns to approach, noting something odd about her hairline, Rosie unaware she was meeting her twinner, but getting the gist when she showed Rosie her scar, which she had on the opposite hand. Rose Madder then relates how she would return whatever Rosie did for her, then requesting she bring her baby to her. Rose Madder bids Rosie go to the temple, Wendy accompanying her only so far, since also having what Rose Madder had, only not as bad, yet. Wendy warns her of the bull, Erinyes whom guarded the temple which hurt Rosie’s eyes to look at, Wendy instructing her to rip two strips of her gown, using one to wrap a rock in as the rain began to fall. Wendy cuts herself and soaks a piece of cloth, then instructs Rosie on what she must do with it as she uses the second cloth to cover her wound.

Rosie is urged to walk through the temple and not to stop until through it, it unable to harm her for only containing spirits. She then relates how Rosie would get to the baby and return to Rose Madder, but to be careful of Erinyes. She walks, uncomfortably naked and cold to the temple, the statue’s face is of the perv outside the bar, when she enters, she’s still quite cold, recognizing the details inside to the church she used to attend and against Wendy’s advice, picks up a book, which smelled terrible upon opening. She walks through to the dead garden to the stream where the stepping stones lay, she considering drinking for the thirst and the possibly upside in forgetting all, but thinking of Bill keeping her moving and across, she entering a forest where the trees looked like they had shrieking faces on the trunks, finally seeing the tree in the clearing with the fruit. She collects quite a few as she’s overwhelmed by the wonderful aroma, saving herself in time, she almost licking her fingers. She then walks toward the tunnel with the word “Maze” above it, the baby’s cries now infrequent. After getting down the over 200 steps, she debates which of the four break-offs from the main tunnel she should take, bringing back her extremely loud cry she’d not used since childhood, the baby screaming and the bull hearing, moving as well, but Rosie deciding on which tunnel and starting through.

When Rosie reaches another spot where she must decide which passage to choose, it dawns on her why she had the seeds, she placing one at the next tunnel she tries, but it being a dead end, so replaces it at a different entrance. Rosie had been doing this for some time when she begins to see a heightened brightness, now having only three seeds left. Finally though, she sees the baby, she wondering whom she truly was and whom had left her there, but letting this go as she picks up the child and is readying to leave when Erinyes detects her, it taking Rosie a few moments to figure out what she must do, unwrapping the rock and tossing it away from the tunnel she needed, streaking for it (no pun intended) as Erinyes charged. Rosie makes it a bit away until Erinyes almost catches up, but Rosie continues on with no real trouble, only scaring herself when not seeing a seed she thought she’d put down at first, eventually locating it and going on. She reaches the steps and gets out with only minor aches, retracing her steps to the stones at the stream, what had previously drawn her to drink, not affecting her at all, then seeing what looked like many vultures perched on the temple, moving away as she stared and once out, being urged by Wendy to return the baby, she now hesitating, but reassured by Wendy to follow through, Rose Madder giving Rosie her armlet and stating of she and Norman divorcing, but to be careful outside her realm.

Rosie goes back to her world, sleeping and when awoken by her alarm, unable to remember why she was naked or where her terrible aches came from. She showers, only half remembering the warning of not to taste her red fingers, she thorough in cleaning them and when seeing the painting again, is surprised to see birds in the sky above the temple and the clouds gone, she not willing to pause on what else was missing and storing the painting, at least temporarily in the closet. When she’d met with Robbie, she gets her contract offer which she decides to think over, and as she goes to the studio, she realizes Rose Madder’s armlet had been missing. When she returns home, she discovers the armlet and the piece of her nightie which carried the seeds, with the three seeds still remaining within, under her bed, Rosie then reminded of Rose Madder’s promise. Before she had been transported to the supposed Territories, Norman had been lying in his bed as well, wondering how Rosie had found the balls to run, he then thinking how she was probably whoring herself out for not having experience doing anything else. When he’d woken from an odd dream-filled night, he sees Rosie walking through the temple (Rosie’s feeling of Norman watching her being closer to the truth than she wanted to admit), he thinks about what he’d do if he found her with a guy. After seeing her walk into the maze, he’s visited by Rose Madder and then wakes, thinking of how he’d keep eyes on the park and sensing Rosie wouldn’t be the only one watching out for him. As he’s in the lobby, Pam passes him again with two other maids, talking about the concert, he praising the luck he’d caught when confirming it was Pam whom knew.

Norman’s next move was in hot-wiring a car in the long-term parking of the airport, after getting the car washed, he stops at an army surplus store and purchases a taser, then goes to a barber to get his hair shaved off, afterwards having trouble recognizing himself. He then drives to a secondhand clothing shop, people staring at his head, which didn’t bother him since they wouldn’t remember his face. He buys a motorcycle jacket and plans on immediately returning to his room to sleep, before doing so though, hitting a gift shop at the Women’s Cultural Center and Museum. Once back at the hotel, he has no further motive then to get to his room for the migraine he’d built up. He falls unconscious, his headache following a ways, but then he getting deep enough to ditch the pain, and upon waking refreshed, thinks of Rosie needing to wake up to view the last sunrise she’ll ever witness. Rosie does as she’s told, waking a little after four A.M., scared Norman was in her room, she calming when seeing she was alone, looking at the armlet, not knowing where she’d come to possess it. Eventually, her thoughts turn to getting ready and once seeing Bill parked, goes down to meet him. He gives her his father’s riding jacket since her sweater was estimated not being warm enough, once getting set up with jacket and helmet, the two setting off.

Rosie gradually started with liking to loving the ride, and once getting to the lake, quite impressed with the deserted tranquility. They move the cooler, then Bill leads her to a spot where a vixen and cubs were resting, the two heading back after watching them for a bit. When Bill began setting out their spread, the amount of food brought, made Rosie giggle hysterically, he letting her know he’d wanted to be certain she’d enjoy her meal, he giving some history on his modest love life and how he’d fallen for her, then suggesting they dig in. Afterward, they sit on a rock and fool around for awhile, Bill insisting they walk it off, he not wanting to be interrupted or have it done in such an unromantic way (either a true gentleman or not having a rubber), then returning to the campsite after seeing some flowers and a woodpecker in a meadow. They get to the park on time, foreshadowing of Rosie looking back on her joy-filled moment upon seeing the sign turning into intense fear later, upon reminiscence.

Norman was currently parking the car a good distance away from any traffic which could effect his plans, then preparing the wheelchair he bought with female friendly bumper stickers and his new identity’s back story. He goes over his plan for discovering her and what he’d do when he did (some words not having been caught as the wrong one by a careless editor). Best case scenario, he’d get her after she’d arrived home, he following her, worst, if she spotted him and he ending her on the spot. When he paid his entrance fee and wheeled away, the ticket guy kept calling him back since he’d paid too much, Norman getting on himself for already bringing unwanted attention to himself. He does fairly well after, but gets nervous when not seeing Rosie at noon. Meanwhile, Gert had taken notice of him, but hadn’t placed him, yet. Norman had ridden through the grounds, making himself scarce as the women sat for lunch, his migraine returning with his continual paranoia, his knowledgeable inner voice keeping him calm and supplying a new tactic. Gert was talking herself out of thoughts of whom she’d seen being Norman, but decides to check so she didn’t continue to feel bothered. She attempts to have the ticket guy help her, but he wasn’t feeling particularly welcoming, only getting how the man he’d helped had forgotten what price to pay, she next wanting to locate the ladies she’d seen speaking with him, but none currently within sight.

Norman’s new plan involved staking out the restrooms, he letting himself out of his chair out of view of anyone. He waits for a lady to come to the bathroom by herself, it almost being one of the ladies he’d spoken with earlier, but Gert calling her back, Cynthia now being the target, he catching her before she walked in. Gert’s conversation with Lana shows how she was the first to identify Norman, whilst Cynthia was being sexually assaulted. Gert was then on her way to the restroom when she heard the threat from behind the building. She was readying to knock Norman out when he turned, she catching his face (Grendel being mentioned in regards to Norman’s look). Cynthia doesn’t move for being in shock, Norman now taunting Gert, she estimating her best move was to egg him on, and when she interrupted his constant insults and movement, he goes after her, she gets the upper hand until he is able to wriggle away after she peed on him after having needed to since confronting the ticket guy, Norman charging again, but Cynthia tripping him up. Gert goes after him once he retrieves his taser, she throwing the wheelchair at him to disarm him, Cynthia failing to warn her in time to save her from the taser’s bite, but after, he didn’t have enough time to do much more since security was approaching, he walking toward the rides. Rosie had made her way to the hospital, locating Gert where she updates her of Cynthia being tended to, unaware of the policemen’s presence until Gert introduces her to one. She’s overwhelmed for a moment, then resigns to confiding to the Lieutenant of what she knew.

Norman was struggling to get his head around what Gert had done to him as he walked, remembering his decision to flee having to do with his own pain more than the approach of people, he attempts to quiet his mind as he desperately thought about needing to end her. His mind flitted back and forth between sanity, he noticing the attention he was getting, but after turning between two amusement areas, gets a kid’s mask to cover his face with. After reaching the car again, he begins to hope Gert’s voice won’t be a fixture in his head, now. Once Norman had gotten out of the parking lot, he hears a voice from the mask confide of Rosie’s make out session, he then stating what he planned on doing to her when he found her. He remembers Pam after, and plans on getting the information he wanted this time. Rosie is accompanied by Gert as they are driven by the Lieutenant and his partner to the station, Bill following. Norman has made it back to the parking garage, he deciding on keeping the “lucky” bull mask, the next moment he’s aware, being of getting Pam back into the housekeeping room, but before he can succeed gaining any information, Pam has one helluva nasty accident, Norman finishing her off. After dropping her on a pile of sheets, he notices a key on her bracelet, takes it and looks for her locker, after searching through her purse and detecting her key card and code, he leaves.

Meanwhile, despite the detectives mellow attitudes, Rosie is scared and angry, they repeatedly having Gert go through the events, and once finished, focusing on Rosie. Norman had found himself down the street from Daughters and Sisters, he noticing he’d changed his clothes, still had the mask, but not his gun, then planning what he’d do if coming across residents (which he thinks of handling by shooting with his forgotten revolver…) or police, not thinking about the possibility of all being quiet, which it was. After speaking to Ferdinand the Bull (of whom is shown on the cover), he’s reassured, yet disappointed the ladies hadn’t been more affected by him. Once overcoming his hesitation of it possibly being a set up, he enters, no one bothering him. He looks around and discovers Anna’s office, then seeing a basket of outgoing mail, he sees a letter to Rosie, and whilst he’s reading it, hears the house alarm go off as someone comes in. Anna is then followed before she enters the house, she going over how painstaking the ceremony had been, she having only stayed for knowing her movements would be scrutinized, also not having answered her three pages, deciding to check her answering machine when she got in. She doesn’t notice anything wrong until seeing her door slightly open, and when trying the light and it doesn’t turn on, Norman catches her, biting her after closing the door.

Rosie finishes her interview and the Lieutenant again vows to get Norman, he also informing her of police cars being stationed at and around her home. As Gert was taken back to the park by a police car, Rosie and Bill planned on heading to her place. When they get there and she’s heading for the door, it doesn’t occur to her until she’d unlocked the lobby door, realizing the cop she heard coming up behind them wasn’t the one the Lieutenant had sent. Norman is shown washing off at Daughters and Sisters before his mind jumps ahead again to Rosie’s apartment, he wearing a new coat, and wondering what he’d do about the cops. Once receiving the idea from Ferdinand again, he tricks both cops by getting them to approach after faking a heart attack, taking out the elder one, then the younger, whilst the older cop stumbled off, no one having seen anything, yet. Norman manages to lead the older cop back to the car where he stuffs him in the trunk, then returns to the younger one to strangle him to death before depositing him into the passenger seat. Norman blacks out again and next notes he’d done something to the entrance light, the next time he blacks out, coming to as he’s grasping at Bill, he ready to choke him. As he’s proceeding, Rosie finds courage and strength with the armlet, throwing him off, then attempting to get Bill to her room, Norman stops them with gunshots, which helped him see where they were, then coming at them.

Rosie blocks his way temporarily, getting herself and Bill up the stairs, she even able to kick Norman back down once he’d grabbed her leg. When she gets to her door, Norman catches up and again tries strangling Bill, Rosie turning back to stop him, he biting her hand, but she breaking his jaw. When she gets them both into her apartment, she realizes she hadn’t been wearing the armlet which she thought had lent her strength, but their danger was still close, Norman ramming the door after she’d locked them inside, she pulling Bill to the closet when the painting opened up for them. Norman’s perspective is switched to during his hang up on the stairs with the “coat-tree”, all the way to when Rosie dislocated his jaw, of which he resets. When finally getting into Rosie’s room, he fires twice at the shower before seeing the way they exited. He looks to the other world, he feeling he was seeing through one eye-hole as he wore the mask, and after stepping through, still seeing through a single eye, he realizes he couldn’t remove the mask.

As Bill and she look around, he questions whether what he saw was real, but before being able to answer, Wendy calls to Rosie to bring Bill down to her, informing them how close Norman was and Rosie needing to participate in essential ways. After partially carrying Bill to her, Wendy shares of how much she’d gotten done, which Rosie only half understood, the two then helping Bill move toward the Temple, but around to the back where a similar looking tunic for Rosie hung, she hesitant in dressing, but as Norman closes in, she does as Wendy relays, Rose Madder having made the command for Rosie to fulfill. She knows the part she must play and calls for Norman, Wendy assuring them Rose Madder would handle the rest. Bill is quite confused by their knowing exchange, Rosie leaving him with Wendy as she readied to lure Norman, the two hearing her baiting statements to him, he and Wendy thinking for a moment Norman wouldn’t go through the Temple, but around it, their fears appeased when hearing sounds to prove he was inside. Next, Norman’s perspective shows his terror of being stuck with the mask on his face, but Rosie’s sweater and jacket distracting him from this, especially when hearing her call him. As he follows her voice, it’s shown he’s distracted by the statue outside looking like his father, which Bill and Wendy had been confused by his one-sided statements to, but again, Rosie distracts him, he getting the sensible voice suggesting he go back and await her return at her apartment, Norman ignoring this since anticipating the cops to come and how Rosie was speaking to him with such disrespect; His final decision made once reading the sign above the Temple.

As Norman goes through what looked like Rosie’s hometown church, he kills a bat which comes at him, and Rosie gets his attention by commenting on it, he charging at her as she stood in the dead garden. When Rosie sees him coming, she at first can’t move, but gets herself going by remembering a terrible memory, getting across the stream, but sliding back toward it after she’d made it across. When Norman sees this and her look of panic at getting near the water, he doesn’t think much of it, finding it amusing, but after seeing her make it to the crest of the incline and flip him off, he notes her concern and is careful upon crossing. He sees Rosie watching him and then is caught by the naked boy statue, Norman running to take advantage of his good luck, Rosie becomes angered by the boy’s rude questions and gets him off her by punching him, but now Norman is quite close, he brushing her tunic strap, but Rosie getting a good lead after a short while, and they again meeting at the dead tree, Norman giving her a chance to give in, but she continuing on and when next he hears her, Rosie’s voice sounds slightly different. When she reaches the entrance to the maze, Rose Madder instructs her to go partially down the steps so she didn’t have to witness what would come next, unless she truly wanted.

As Norman neared, he thought he’d heard Rosie speaking, which made him hope Gert were there to be slayed, as well. Rosie currently ached for Norman’s death to come quickly so she could move on with her life, and when Norman sets eyes on Rose Madder, he notices small differences in her body type and attitude, but considers it meant he’d have to refresh her memory of what she needed to act like, her back still turned from him. After he’d commented on the reason she’d dyed her hair and she’d stated of the brown color being the dye job, he is incensed for being opposed, but then wonders where the person she’d spoken to had gone (hopefully, not believing he’d get a rock “chunk”-ed at him). When he demands Rosie turn to him, his gun out, the mask doesn’t feel like a mask anymore and his vision is darkening as Rosie turns and he sees her blackened skin as she states of Erinyes breaking the rule of the bull having exited the maze meaning he’d be put to death. Rosie Madder turns to Norman and what he sees brings terror and shrieking, she biting him (reminding me of American Gods, a bit). Whilst this occurs, Rosie doesn’t watch, but is listening, she not moving until Rose Madder calls for her. She slowly notices the state of Norman’s body lying before her, Rose Madder planting seeds on him and then dumping his body in the maze. Rose Madder then directs her back out where Dorcas/Wendy and Bill waited, she advising Rosie to “Remember the tree”.

Rosie locates them at the top of the hill, Bill meets her to make certain she was okay, the two walking back to Dorcas, Rosie changing her clothes when prompted, then relaying Rose Madder’s message of she having something for her. Dorcas hands her a little corked bottle which Dorcas instructs Rosie to use for Bill when they returned. Afterwards, the three wait silently for Rose Madder, she walks to them in the light of the moon, Dorcas and Rosie instructing Bill to keep his gaze down and not to stop until told, Rosie going along with the idea they were dreaming when he inquires. When Rose Madder stops in front of them, Rosie states of receiving the bottle, Rose Madder then giving her Norman’s police academy ring, she commenting about if she watched Bill’s back, he would do the same for her, Rosie then looking at Rose Madder’s face, it not being the same as what Norman saw, but not wonderful either, she confiding to Rosie she should go back to her natural hair color. Rose Madder then offers her a hug and wishes they’d met sooner, as well as reminding her not to forget the tree, which Rosie asks for clarification to, but not getting an answer. She then inquires whether she was Rose Madder, but not getting confirmation of this either, Rose Madder instead urging them to return home.

Rosie takes Bill’s hands and leads him to the widening view of her apartment. Before they’d gotten through though, Rose Madder starts to lose it, wanting her armlet back, Rosie hastily throwing it near her and getting them both out. When they’d fallen back into reality, Bill noted how it must have all been real, Rosie not attesting this, but apologizing for losing the jacket he’d lent her. They then hear the injured neighbor yelling in pain, Bill off to tend to him, Rosie first calling for an ambulance, then uncorking the tiny bottle, realizing what she’d been given was a few drops of the stream at the Temple of the Bull. She puts one drop in some soda, then calls the police again so she could speak with Detective Hale, whom she informs of Norman having been there and was now gone, Hale planning on meeting her at her place, and she stating she’d wait for him, afterwards Bill coming back, and when coughing, getting him to drink the soda, Bill admitting after a few moments, of having forgotten his own and her name for a second.

As Hale got their stories, he wasn’t sure whether Rosie was withholding some detail, but after he goes over his notes of their confession, Rosie agrees with him. Later, Bill agrees to stay over and passes out quickly, Rosie taking a moment to look at her now, devoid-of-humans painting, this aiding her ability to fall asleep. She awoke them both with her nightmare, but the two moving on to a little fun-time, then much later, when Bill had gone for sustenance, Rosie put away the stream water and discovered Norman’s police academy ring, she ending up placing it with the rediscovered poison seeds, dumping all but one, which she then transfers to her purse. They learn of Anna, and Norman stays in the papers for a week, Rosie deciding to burn the picture in the incinerator and attempting to ignore her memories of Rose Madder’s words.

In October, Bill and she go to the picnic grounds again, and she accepts his proposal, she still wondering about the tree Rose Madder spoke about. After their wedding, Rosie has had to use the ‘forgetful water’ for Bill’s nightmares, the last being used on their honeymoon. In January, Rosie confirms she’s pregnant, she still remembering the tree, but Rose Madder also mentioning to add keeping her temper in check, Rosie unsettled with this thought and demanding Rose Madder leave her alone. When her little girl does arrive, she commemorates her friends instead of the wanted name, Caroline. So, Pamela Gertrude is born, Rosie wanting the middle name to be Anna, but being talked out of it by Bill. When Pamela is two, they move to the suburbs and during their finalizing what house they want, their opinions divert and they begin arguing. When Bill apologizes for raising his voice, Rosie is struggling to suppress her violent anger, which he takes as her not forgiving him, so he withdraws to the other room as she continues preparing dinner. She’s plagued by the disturbing thought of hurting Bill drastically, well into the night as she remembers Rose Madder’s words of, “I repay”.

The next few days bring obsessive awareness to her arms, face, and hands, the latter more so with the unknown idea of whatever she thought would develop would begin there. She takes up going to the batting cages where she develops her skills to the point of impressing all the men and boys with her form: both bodily and technique, who bat there; She even knocks one through the netting due to hitting the ball at such high velocity. A month after, Rosie doesn’t take Rhoda’s suggestion they end early due to Rosie’s voice losing inflection, calmly, she then having a terrible daydream of killing Rhoda, until she’s brought back to reality by Rhoda asking after her. Rosie reminds herself of the tree once more, and agrees to stop for the day, but her rage is masked with difficulty. When she dreams after falling to sleep later at night, she realizes she’d been remembering a different tree, but now knew her next move. She calls out of work the next morning and goes to the picnic grounds alone, to the fallen tree where the fox was, she burying the final seed and Norman’s ring. She dumps everything else out of her purse as well, and on her drive back, chucks the bag out her window. Years pass, Pamela is now a teenager, and Rosie no longer deals with bouts of anger, Bill having sold his bike since he felt he could no longer ride safely. Rosie and he don’t go to the picnic grounds anymore, but Rosie goes alone every year, where a new tree has grown, she believing it has quelled her rage. She worries over the day the tree will start bearing fruit, but doesn’t obsess over the thought, since no signs of people have revealed this spot to be popular, the vixen returns and watches her as she sits and sings Rosie Real.

The ending feels a bit rushed, and whilst I know Gert survived, it seemed odd she decided naming her daughter after those two women, rather than the name she wanted and the middle name to be Anna, it would still sound country, but it seemed like it would have been more true for herself. Otherwise the story moved along nicely, enough, and whilst I have read reviews not interested in the fantasy side of this story, it definitely suits King’s style, and wasn’t clunky compared to the others I’ve read of his, it only not being his strongest and could have done with a bit more fleshing out. Now I’ve read it though, I can continue on to his other Dark Tower-related books.

Black House (The Talisman #2)

I realize this is a sequel, but I’m ignoring my usual way of going in order in preference of the chronology of The Dark Tower, which may not even matter in the long run, since this book contains only the relation to the setting of The Dark Tower series, but I’ve been reading some negative reviews which make it seem this could be “weaker” than The Talisman and I may end up preferring the order I’ve chosen, time will tell.

Wisconsin is our setting on a Friday in mid-July, a few minutes past six a.m., possibly right before the year 2000, this being Coulee County, the freshness of the air bringing to mind a small town near or around the country. Background of the town’s history and how the pleasant environment may have darkened since the town’s conception is described, a motorcycle gang being hinted at, along with their shady appearances. Introduction’s to the Thunder Five, who call themselves the Hegelium Scum (not mentioned again) are lightly touched on, the promise of learning more, later. Suffice it for now they being university undergrads, most majoring in English and Philosophy, and one in residency in the surgery department. An odd sign threatening a fisherman to conclude the town environment. A flood hit the town decades before and is touched on due to the watermarks left on buildings. A map of the town and what surrounds it, fleshes out the location, finally landing on the first person being followed as Bobby Dulac, a police officer whom is fleshed out as being tall, dark, and delicate with his newspaper handling which was delivered moments before (this reading like one is watching a movie).

Following as Bobby walks back into the station, the layout given, Bobby goes to a room with a non-descriptive door, seemingly Bobby’s office space, another door leading to the Chief of Police, Dale Gilbertson’s office, he not in for a half hour or more. Then Tom Lund, Bobby’s partner is shown at the second desk, he noticing how Bobby was holding the paper, then two conversations are followed as Bobby chats with Tom about Wendell, a journalist, and the radio talk show host fielding calls about the game distracting from the first. Then they’re talking about the talk show host, they bagging on each other’s musical taste, Bobby believing Tom was stalling, he acting innocent, and as they listen to the talk radio D.J. calling shots about the game, it’s made known both are procrastinating, then Tom opens the paper and hints at bad news on the headline, Tom bringing up how incremental he was to a case, but Bobby thinking how one piece of information supplied didn’t make him the better cop of the two, he instead voicing his notice of the conversation having been turned to Tom’s heroism.

A flashback of the night before of Tom and Bobby’s confrontation with the Thunder Five given, they asking about a missing child (which isn’t immediately made clear), Irma Freneau. The Thunder Five leave when realizing the police had no new leads, the morning paper article being referred to, by Wendell whom wrote of the police stumped over a serial psychopath, called the Fisherman, at large. Then a portion of the article is quoted about children missing, some found killed and partially consumed, the reporter playing off on the lives the kids could have lived and how play groups around the county on indefinite hiatus. Irma is the latest, and a rash of men taking the law into their own hands, have left two men, so far, needing medical assistance, it being assumed, the next victim may lose his life. Tom shares the conclusion of the article, Bobby flustered since it calls out the police chief about doing his job properly, he vowing to take the Fisherman down. Tom suggests he speak with a man called Hollywood, since Dale didn’t have luck getting any information from him. Hollywood is a retired cop (again, not made clear), Bobby nixing the idea of going to him since he believed he, Tom, and Dale had the case handled, Tom making a joke about how wet behind the ears Bobby was, they sharing a laugh.

Moving on to Queen street and to a “school” where the same D.J. is heard and a lady putting up a flyer regarding a strawberry festival is followed. It is then made clear this place is a nursing home, the big boss being one William “Chipper” Maxton, he having dreamt of making money at the government’s expense, but once learning useful loopholes, noticed it still wasn’t lucrative at his father’s nursing home, he taking over at his father’s behest. (It’s funny, odd how as I’m planning to edit my previous posts to take out as many ‘we’/’us”s as I can manage, I have thrust into my face how the authors use it a-plenty as a writing technique, hm!) Following Rebecca, the secretary back into the office, her position going far beyond the normal duties required, she being thanked with gifts, one being a ring, Chipper is shown withdrawing some cash from a stuffed safe, the two talking about the strawberry festival and how Chipper despised it because of the families visiting the resident “zombies”. Chipper apparently had Rebecca come in earlier to deposit the stolen money in a bank more than a few miles away, and we (I caved) being told of his wife and two kids he must support (the dog). As Chipper attempts to flirt and get handsy, a new scene is shown of the facilities, only expensive rooms having the luxury of (what I hope I’m understanding correctly) more than a sink, the other wings sharing facilities.

Some general knowledge of a few of the sleeping residents are shared to give contrast to the one being the main draw, Charles ‘Burny’ Burnside, whom doesn’t clean up after himself, has no personal family items lying about, dust accumulating over every surface, and stinks like the dickens. Alice, one of the resident’s visited, is then mentioned to entail further of her family and how she came to the Home, but Burny, whom is lying on his metal bed, isn’t all there, he one of the few still awake, having gone to the bathroom in his bed, his aggressive Alzheimer’s aiding his not minding his current state. Whilst this was an off-day for him, he had lucid moments, but wasn’t a pleasant man to encounter, making some employees question whether he truly had the illness due to his uncommon periodic remissions.

In ’96, he’d been taken from the hospital to the Home due to his incoherence, but relaying a story of having walked a changing amount upon repeating of the story, of miles to get to the hospital, his smell determining the probable truth of this, they caring for him and attempting to learn more about him, he sharing of having an Aunt whom he’d lived with, but nothing else much useful. When looking into the relative’s whereabouts, they found no listings in the surrounding towns, the Social Worker assigned to him also unable to uncover more information about Burny, and was sent to Maxton’s until a place opened at the state hospital, but when Chipper receives a check from the ‘Aunt’, decides to keep Burny on. Then the Summer before the serial killings, Burny snapped back into the world, and now he’d fade in and out in the same day, normally, the man looking worse with time, and sinister in demeanor. Burny’s true identity revealed, as well as the dark secret of his early adulthood of pastimes he still got sick delight from. Burny starts muttering nonsense and getting excited, he staring at the woods, and muttering more weirdness, then Burny is left to it and a neighborhood is shown with children’s playthings in the yards, all asleep, the children dreaming peacefully, and the parents, restless, soon to get worse with the article by Wendell.

A sign off the highway to a concealed dirt road is mentioned, a no trespassing sign giving the impression something is being hidden at great expense. A crumbling house is shown, along with a second sign, adding the sense of being a place to detour, the house all black, but faded, it seeming lifeless, most people not noticing the sign, but the possibility of children exploring near their homes giving the suggestion of if they’d seen it, they would high-tail away from it. This house sticks out unnoticeably in the quiet town, leading into explanation of borderlands, an example given where a bad feeling and scenery seem foreign in a place which was normal a moment before, but then goes back to a feeling of ease when the destination is reached. Slippage being the definition, the main one being the black house. More descriptions of people soon to be heard back from later are related, and then an ancient gas pump is looked at more closely, the comparison between what lay here, to the bad vibes of the black house assuring this was for the win. Before showing what was hidden, a secondary definition of slippage is shared where a feeling of everything has gotten, or will soon be much worse. Then a back story of Dale Gilbertson’s uncle is shared, he long dead, and his most definitely F-grade little restaurant being indiscriminately popular amongst the young people in the town. When the man had finally died of a heart attack (he, a big fella), the shack wasn’t torn down like one would suppose, instead still popular with the young folk for teenage couples or drunken experiments. Unfortunately what’s shown isn’t something so easily witnessed, since behind the counter, a dog was attempting to gnaw out a severed foot from its shoe, then showing Irma’s body, Dale discovering her a bit over a day from this point.

A recap of possible events of the Fisherman’s process in removing Irma’s leg, and how he got her to the shack are detailed, another example of slippage. In an attempt to ‘lighten’ the mood, next stop is in Libertyville, to follow Fred Marshall getting ready for his morning run, reading an article by Wendell which only makes him hope he’ll not have to experience what select parents about town are living through with their missing children being found in pieces. Fred read as far as he could until the article mentions how the child victim was found, Fred preparing to instruct his son, Tyler of abiding the Buddy system until further notice, his wife also showing signs of being affected by these developments, Tyler aware of the odd behavior. Fred begins his jog and thinks about how long his wife had been showing these signs of neuroses, which worried him all the more since she wasn’t prone to such sensitivities and they began before the first victim was found, a flashback of Fred and his wife, Judy, when they’d started dating, of they walking back from a Jazz show and hearing a car accident, Judy going off to defend the man at fault since he was about to get a severe beating, Judy not ruled by fear, only wanting to help settle the situation for the better, Fred in reverie over her unshakeable demeanor. So as he runs, he gets optimistic about Judy regaining herself, and more intent on speaking with Tyler about not roaming around without a friend.

Fred is left, and focus goes to Judy, whom hadn’t slept since three in the morning, and was talking to herself about seeing a crimson “Eye of the King”, she repeating some of the ‘nonsense’ seen of Burny. She also envisions a tower in a field of blood, and then writes some of the thoughts down to enforce denying them, but dreads the possibility of they making sense at some point. She then chews and swallows the note, easing back to sleep, before drifting completely, mentioning Burnside. Tyler’s room is viewed, a poster on the wall of a dark castle in a foggy meadow, to Tyler, “the Kingdom of Entirely Else”, it being a comforting picture of a foreign wonderment, the buildup of Tyler being the fourth victim, repeated. When Tyler awakens to George Rathbun, the popular radio D.J.’s show, he’s kicking himself for having forgotten to enter a contest he was hoping his father had remembered to enter him into, since it was the chance to be a bat boy for the Brewer’s for the Cincinnati series, but mostly because of a baseball celebrity’s bat awarded, as well. His father also didn’t get why Tyler woke up so early due to it being Summer vacation, Tyler not making him get he wanting to take advantage of the pleasant weather as much as he could. One piece of talk pauses Tyler’s getting ready, and it’s of the Fisherman, he not sure whether to believe the gossip of the bigger kids, Rathbun calming Tyler’s unease with playing down the Fisherman’s seriousness, Tyler admiring the commentator.

Then going to Rathbun, himself, he near Nailhouse Row where the radio tower stood, a man exiting the station, in khaki, white button-up, thin, verging on pure-white hair, and stylish straw fedora, this being Rathbun (his real name mentioned later, as well as how many other identities he assumed), the man blind, and when an intern, Morris comes out, the station manager, Tom, is mentioned having loved free workers (the reference to Smaug reinforcing my need to read The Lord of the Rings). Morris gives Rathbun a c.d. he hopes he’ll play a certain track of on his show later, his helpful hint to why being of he knowing Rathbun was moonlighting on another popular station with only two people now apparently, knowing. Rathbun scares Morris a bit with the thought of he potentially being the Fisherman, but when Morris insists he won’t say anything, they move on to what the track was Morris wanted to be played so badly, he then going off to leave the c.d. in Rathbun’s locker, as requested, then a list of Rathbun’s other ‘personalities’, the last to be described further on, Rathbun had a long day ahead, one which included the Strawberry Fest!, which is related like torture when it came to coming in contact with Chipper, he hoping he’d have time for a reading of Bleak House with a buddy.

As Rathbun finishes his cigarette before doing his show, the drift to Dale’s home occurs, where he sits in the kitchen, reeled in by the Fisherman article (no pun intended), and how these killings are similar to another, down to letters written to the parents. The first murders in the late 1920s. The comparison between old and new letters are perused through with Dale, he interrupted by his wife calling to him from the stairs, they having general chat until she shares their son’s worry of Dale losing his job, he agreeing her response being the correct one by denying this possibility, at least unless he didn’t catch the culprit. He had an FBI agent and two state police who weren’t much of a comfort to him due to they taking minor roles in helping, Dale truly wanting Jack ‘Hollywood’ to enlist his instinctive expertise. An example of his police work related when questioning a lead, he getting his collar, and had gone back to L.A., until Dale had hooked him up with knowledge of a place being on the market, Jack didn’t want to accept this case though, regardless of whether he owed Dale, he seemed apprehensive to do so. Dale is readying to water the flowers out front and becoming stubborn about getting Jack to agree to help when a change of scenery is shared, focusing in on the Thunder Five’s hangout and why they first came to town, then refocusing on the ‘hero’ of a previous story.

Some detail about the property Dale offered to Jack was it being a farm owned by his father and he feeling proud to let Jack buy it cheap if he wanted it. Jack overcome with emotion on his first visit, a mention to the first introduction of Jack with The Talisman, then moving in on Jack preparing breakfast and listening to Rathbun. A flashback of Jack settling in is given, as well as Dale’s introduction to his uncle, Henry whom had as an eclectic a taste in music as Jack. Next Dale has a look at his childhood home in mid-transformation when he comes to help Jack hang some pictures. The new look surprises him, but suited the place. On further mentioning of his Uncle, it impresses on being one of Rathbun’s many identities. As the night settles in, Dale learns the bare minimum of Jack’s history. Back to real time, Jack is in thought as he’s preparing an omelette, the detail of his character and charm belying his age, but loneliness permeating his attributes. Then another flashback of a case he became involved with about the death of a black man is related. After which a vague reason why Jack refused to get involved with the Fisherman case going through his mind. He then thinks of Rathbun’s other identity whom knew of obscure Jazz musicians. Jack attempts to ignore the Wendell article, but glances at it a couple times, unable to read it all. Then his impression of Wendell’s integrity is measured, the man portrayed as a class act of scum. (A little snafu of working in a flashback conversation between Jack and Wendell, tsk tsk, editor.)

The encounter described, mentions Jack sharing with Wendell of the Fish case in the 1920s, Jack not having any idea he’d decided to give Wendell anything. (Cripes, then another, pluralizing Jack’s name with no punctuation, and apparently no reason. I suppose harder to catch since it was placed among Jack’s overuse of the word opopanax). Jack then gets a bit sideways with word obsession and questioning the amount of eggs he had left due to ruining his omelette, then thinking of a bald man’s face, unwillingly. He believes the only egg left is a robin’s blue egg, he dumping it, then thinking to call his mother, he forgetting he couldn’t. Fortunately the drive, and seeing his good buddy, Henry helped him move past this rocky start to the morning. As Henry walks to his truck, Jack realizes the “luv” he had for the man, albeit more of a platonic bromance sort. (Then a flashback where a short-style conversation where a “-” precedes each man’s dialogue is stunted with a “Jack said” in the middle of one…confusion as to why if we are already following the one, two, of the conversation…grr.)

Back to the present, as Jack drives, Harry dictates the track from the c.d. given by Morris, Henry agreeing it was the “Wisconsin Rat’s” style, he then mentioning another persona, Symphonic Stan being hired for the Strawberry Fest!, Jack confessing he was glad Rathbun had mentioned the Fisherman on his show, which led to Henry confiding his thoughts on Jack stepping in to help his nephew, Dale. After letting the subject drop, Henry brings up a paranoia, Jack having been debating earlier about whether to confide his weird waking dreams to him, Henry confessing a few times having occurred when he’d thought he’d heard his dead wife walking around downstairs. Jack gives him a comforting and reasonable response and the two part ways, but plans of meeting up later to start their book is made. When he gets home, he’d been hearing a clinking in the ashtray, when checking, an “almond M&Ms-sized” robin egg appears, he taking it, and destroying it again before going inside. (Also, when mentioning authors characters read is always fun. To-reads of authors for Henry and Jack are Chester Himes, Charles Willeford, S.J. Perelman, James Thurber, Ford Maddox Ford, Vladimir Nabokov, and Marcel Proust.)

The janitor, Pete is briefly mentioned once more to detail his sadistic attitude toward the residents. He was currently deciding whether he wanted to be the messenger for Burny’s latest mess or let Butch discover it in his own time, when he’s interrupted by Rebecca whom reminded him he was supposed to be in the common room in preparation for Strawberry Fest! As the two leave, Burny regains clarity and swipes Butch’s pet rock before heading to the bathroom, he recovering his old self, as well as a little dark something extra. Then back to Rebecca and Pete setting up the room, Pete getting a moment to view sweet undies when Rebecca must point out the hook he was to hang the lights from, she on the ladder and once noticing where his gaze was aimed, takes his wandering eyes in stride, apparently used to the behavior (when one’s skirt is so short, one would hope so). Then a switch over to Tyler attempting to keep up with his buddies, all on bikes, he deciding it wasn’t worth it, knowing where they’d end up anyways, viewing the sign for Strawberry Fest! outside the old folks home, then readying to ride on. Burny sees Tyler from the bathroom, he having a salivatory reaction, then goes to a stall after commenting to “Gorg”.

Tyler is then distracted from riding off when a crow appears saying his name, he uncertain of what he heard, but happily curious to see if he heard right, getting closer to the bird as it lured him to a bush. Meanwhile, one of his ‘buddies’, Ebbie, Pete’s son, commands one of the other boys to fetch Tyler, since he usually had cash, but the boy didn’t immediately see Tyler, so goes faster. Then we see Burny still sitting in a stall when all of the toilets and urinals flush, he disappearing and slippage being heard. Tyler is still enthralled by the bird as it enters the bush, he getting grabbed and losing a shoe on his forced entry, it’s alluded he’s hit on the head, but his disappearance, a certainty. The boy whom was sent for Tyler, sees his bike, then his shoe, at first giving the benefit of Tyler messing around, but then senses the seriousness, getting spooked and quickly biking away. Tyler’s mother, Judy meanwhile, is groggily waking from a nightmare, and also defines “Gorg”, she then noticing the creel, a wicker box used by fisherman, on the table, she seeing the note atop it addressed to her with a nickname she hated. She finally opens the note and box, neither being good news. Judy has then jumped off the cliff of sanity.

Butch is then shown coming back from his smoke break to see a shit and red-face smeared Burny with his hand over the pet rock, he knowing Burny had his mind for now, they going back to the bathroom. Ebbie is listening to T.J. relay what he’d seen, Ebbie deciding their plan would remain unchanged, and if asked, would doctor the time and place a bit for when Tyler rode off by himself. Ebbie convinces himself Tyler would show up later, the three going to the park. Fred, whilst at work, receives a call from a neighbor about his Judy. He leaves to be sure she was alright as a flashback of the neighbor’s interaction with Judy is shared. When Fred gets home, he at first doesn’t know where she is until he hears her singing, Rock-a-bye, baby from upstairs, he noting the odd aftermath of pictures taken off the walls and the wallpaper torn behind where the frames had been. He locates her in Tyler’s room, her legs covered in blood, sitting on his bed, with most everything from his closet and drawers dumped on the floor, the oddly comforting scenic picture still hanging on the wall. She explains how after stating of Tyler missing, she thought he’d be behind one of the pictures, especially the Ireland one, then describes how he was taken, Gorg luring him and the Abbalah snatching him, Fred not believing it, yet. He carries her to their room, she having left it alone, then passing out whilst he was searching for her sleeping pills. Fred had a moment to consider how he could contact Tyler or learn where he was. Fred decides since it was close to lunchtime, he’d wait, then changing his mind about calling two of the boys’ mothers, he then remembering their hangout at 7/11, calling the store, but only learning three boys had come in earlier, the number bothering him. He decides to clean up the glass, move Tyler’s dresser to block the scratch marks on the wall, then laid down and surprised himself by sleeping, Judy thinking of the Crimson King, the two other usual’s, and the name Sophie.

Bobby Dulac receives a call from an on-solo cop whom had come across Tyler’s bike and shoe, after hearing all the details, he puts him on hold to inform Dale. One of the missing children’s mothers had exited from Dale’s office, the woman not having received a letter, but it potentially being a matter of time, Bobby then walks in to have him take the call from the officer. Henry is sent for and arrives an hour and a half before showtime, Pete designated to generally set up Henry’s equipment and hang his suit. Henry inquires about the police having been there, surprising Pete on how he could know, but gives the supposition on another child missing, the cops not having said much. Meanwhile Fred is dreaming of he and his wife fishing, the creel between them, he getting a bite as he was going to look inside. The fish he pulls up has Tyler’s face and is choking, he unable to unhook him and throw him back, then waking, he realizing Judy was no longer beside him, but he hearing choking still, she in a corner with paper and what looks like a sausage protruding from her mouth, Fred gets the three papers out, then Heimlich’s two more papers loose, he dropping her on the bed, mad at how she’s broken. He looks at one paper with ‘meaningless’ scribbles, notices the hour, and checks Tyler’s room even whilst knowing he wasn’t there. He goes back to his bedroom, calls 9-1-1, and asks for Dale, Bobby unable to put him through since he was meeting with some officials and an FBI agent, Fred mentions his wife going crazy and his son gone, Bobby not thinking and asking if Tyler owned the bike they found, giving the details, Fred snapping and demanding to speak with Dale, when Dale picks up, Fred having broken down.

Where Henry found his one-of-a-kind suit is debated upon, the most being hinted at was it having been tailored by one of four of the era, and unknown how Henry had gotten his hands on it. Then as the trio are walking to the common room, after a brief mention of Henry’s suit by Rebecca, the conversation gets turned to Pete’s information about the cop he saw picking up the bike, Henry supposing Maxton’s wouldn’t be affected as long as no one there was involved, per Rebecca’s worry. They finish their walk to the common room, Henry familiarizing himself with the setup. Meanwhile, Chipper is outside attempting to corral the old folks in and get handouts from their families on their way out. As the elderly are brought in, Henry wows them with his slick Symphony Stan act and starts the music (Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey “How Am I to Know You“, Artie Shaw “Begin the Beguine“, Woody Herman “Wild Root” and “Lady Magowan’s Dream” (which was only mentioned), Benny Goodman “Moonglow“, Bunny Berigan “I Can’t Get Started“). Most everyone is affected by Henry’s performance, and most of the room is dancing, Rebecca also getting caught up in the fray, her dance partner taking them to the front, where Alice, a resident was in mid-request of a song when Burny interrupts loudly, claiming to have been there first.  In the end, Henry puts on a song they both agree on, Burny seeming to withdraw into his particular sort of dementia once more, Rebecca seeing him in the hall on her way out, Burny speaking some unsettling nonsense to her, and she retreating after suggesting he rest in his room before dinner if he wanted to join later. When she makes a note of a name Burny had mentioned and depositing it in her bag, Chipper calls to her from his office, he reminding her of something else Burny had babbled of, which made it seem like he was referring to Chipper, she also reminded of the Fisherman by one of his other statements during his mysterious gibbering.

Jack is pulled from his slowly receding, forced tranquility for multiple reasons: One – Henry had called to insist he stop being stubborn, due to another missing child, then he receives a call from Dale, confirming this, and of the state of Tyler’s parents, his father, Fred, at the station and persistently asking to see Jack. Fred having taken Judy to the hospital where she was immediately admitted to the psychiatric wing. The second other, minor reason – Jack agreed to get out of his house, so he wouldn’t have to deal with the possibility of robin eggs being found in any more enclosed compartments. Jack is shown into Dale’s office as soon as he arrives, where Fred and Dale wait. Fred starts his story of the day’s events, Dale adding a small bit, and Jack realizing he’d seen all four boys riding their bikes earlier, after sharing this, wanting to speak with the three, who were currently being questioned. Jack notices how he’s going to have to instill some apprehension in them since they’d been questioned together, he doing well by striking at Ebbie first, he taken outside the room. The two boys confess more, and when he has the last boy alone, he learns of the black feathers, one in Tyler’s shoe. After releasing the boys, Jack relates the small amount he’d learned. He then scheduling a time the next day to speak with Judy. He discusses his motives for helping with Henry, later on, as he cooked food in Henry’s home. Jack then confides all he learned at the station, and why he was planning on seeing Judy. After, they begin Bleak House, then upon reaching their fill, part ways and end the night.

Next Jack has an old memory of a theme park during a time with his mother, he unsettled, and they running from Sloat, or Uncle Morgan. Then he has a chat with Speedy as a twelve-year-old, the man stating how Jacky had more traveling to do, and all the signs (robin eggs and feathers) he’d sent as confirmation of this. Speedy goes on to mention of Jack needing to find the latest missing boy, for he being a Breaker, and could be the source the Crimson King needed to gain enough power to become free. Jack had been up since four and was watching the sky turn light, when he gets a call from Fred, he then spotting a note he must have written, but in his mother’s hand, meanwhile Fred sounded near the end of sanity, Jack learning the time would need to be pushed to late afternoon for Judy having had a bad night. Jack confirms the new plans, he offering to drive due to Fred’s loss of composure, the two hanging up.

Jack is readying to take a walk to get the bad dream and uncomfortable phone call with Fred out of his mind, when he notices a package outside his door, the only address being the name, “Jacky”, Jack voicing his apprehension of the odd looking box. When he opens the child’s shoe box, he sees it packed with crow feathers and a shoe with a foot still inside. As he slowly gains speed to a run off his porch and failing to convince himself of having a “calm” mind, he goes and gets on his hands and knees, breaking down since he realizes he’s entered the Territories, again. When Jack hears Richard Sloat’s voice, he finally regains composure. Richard’s voice, which was in Jack’s head, logically explains what had occurred, in place of his conscience, even though Jack knows this new reality was actually around him, Richard’s logic helps him maintain true calm. As he looks around, he remembers the first time he’d “flipped” with Richard to the Territories, then hearing a whistle, and realizing his location was near the Mississippi River (at least the name used in the accepted reality, Jack not knowing what they called it in the Territories).

Jack walks toward a dirt road from the Doppelganger version of where his house and garage was, it replaced by a barn and windmill, he soon realizes a terrible vibration coming from a particular direction, along with smoke. When he continues on, the vibration fades and he sees animals which look like a cross between a rabbit and kangaroo pass him, he closer to a village as the sun sets. Jack then views an out of place baseball cap, upon picking it up, seeing Tyler’s name marked on the inside, Jack supposing the Fisherman had done this on purpose. He unknowingly flips back and almost gets hit by a car. Jack calculates the distance walked in the Territories was an extra three miles to where he currently was, then bringing back memories of when he’d first heard about the Territories hinted at when overhearing his father speaking with Richard’s father. Before entertaining any further chat with his imaginary version of his buddy, Henry’s maid sees and pulls over to see if Jack needed a ride, he accepting and deciding during the drive to investigate the shoe box and all other evidence more closely once arriving home. Once he does so, also using plastic baggies for each item, Jack discovers another message at the bottom of the show box, referencing the child Jack had been. He then calls Henry about where Ed’s Eats was, confiding what he’d found, Henry offering to help him get to the place, and Jack relieved to have him. Then back-story of an officer called Arnold Hrabowski, AKA The Mad Hungarian is detailed, learning he’d taken an emergency call from the Fisherman. He plays it back for Dale, whom wants to call Jack, but knowing his plans, instead pairing officers to go to Ed’s Eats, even agreeing to let Arnold come if he can get someone to cover him at the station. Arnold makes the mistake of sharing with his blabby wife about his phone call, to make himself feel better, his wife immediately confiding in her two best buddies, the word getting out even after getting them to promise to keep the news to themselves, French Landing having a Telephone-style game of information about what the police would discover at Ed’s Eats before they even arrived.

Dale, whilst Tom drove, rifled through his wallet, then calling Jack’s cell number only to realize his uncle was answering. Then from Henry’s view, the rest of the chat is shown as Henry hands the cell back to Jack to speak with Dale, he sharing what he and his officers were doing and wanting Jack to meet them, Jack revealing he was already on his way and how he’d gotten on the trail, not pleased to learn Arnold Hrabowski was going to show. The train of events on whom called whom to pass on the news of the location and how many dead bodies would be found is gone over. as well as one of the Thunder Five being notified. Dale and Jack then plan how to go about blocking off the road to Ed’s, Dale sending two officers to check the telephone for prints, Dale then suggesting Jack plant the foot with the rest of the body, to save Jack trouble being questioned by agents or detectives on why it was sent to him, and to save Tyler’s hat for when the boy was found. Jack goes in and sees the body along with another message, he taken by surprise by Dale, whom followed him in. Two officers were on their way back down the road when a truck nearly hits them, another not far behind, with questions about what had been discovered within. The two manage to get them to back off, but don’t remember the back road needing to be blocked, plenty of civilians becoming aware of it, and ready to utilize their knowledge.

Richie Bumstead is then introduced, speaking with one of the telephone gossipers, he then relating his experience with the Thunder Five (and a better understanding of their work). The men had gone to college (smart), worked at a brewery, one man being a head brew-master of a special division, and drank like they needed beer as much as oxygen. Beezer, one of the Thunder Five, is whom Richie calls about Irma’s body being found. Beezer prepares to go, shouting out to his buddies who lived nearby of the news, all waiting for Beezer’s signal of being off. As they get closer to Ed’s Eats, Beezer notices the unusual traffic the closer they get to their destination, perceiving the cops would be having trouble keeping the rubbernecks at bay by this time. Beezer considers how he’ll keep his cool with all the morons about, but then thinks of the best way to get on Dale’s good side is by helpful cooperation. Wendell is then followed as Beezer and crew close in on him as they both race to Ed’s, Wendell recording what he planned to write as he drove like an asshole.

Once Wendell sees who was behind him, a rush of fear enters him due to the threats he’d received by Beezer when he’d indelicately came to interview him after his daughter had been killed. As he allows the Thunder Five to pass him, and they all get closer to the turn off to Ed’s, Wendell is unbothered by the police turning everyone away since he’d surely be treated differently for being press. Though, his resolve dissolves once seeing who was guarding the entrance, Wendell not having made friends with the two, but then noticing, as Beezer and crew U-turn, sensing they must be going to a back entrance, Wendell trailing them. When they turn off the main road and Wendell reaches Goltz’s driveway, he parks and follows on foot due to the run down road, Wendell dreams of getting a morbid shot of Irma’s body and willing to bribe whoever necessary to get the dirty, ugly mess. When he no longer hears the motorcycles ahead, he catches the noise of an old truck behind him, he deciding he’d stop their attempt of following him there, but as he talks with them, decides a bribe may serve him better, he sharing his idea for them to implement. Wendell’s plan was to join the group in the truck, they catching up to the Thunder Five, Wendell hearing Beezer speaking quietly as he readies his camera, he then noticing as Beezer is talking with Dale, Jack is looking anxious to put a baggie back in his truck, Wendell believing he’s seen Jack tamper with evidence. When the newcomer policemen go into the shack, Wendell takes a shot of Henry, whom he thinks is running the show, but Henry hears him, which makes Wendell give the signal to his truck posse to charge.

The two officers are feeling the pressure as more people come, whilst the last turns around, everyone spoken to as kooky as the last. The two see the Thunder Five coming, and Wendell waits his turn, when Tcheda continues turning people way, those waiting begin honking their horns and pointing, the two seeing nothing and waiting awhile longer after the road had cleared to return to Ed’s. They soon see a new group parking and heading at them with banners. When Dale approaches with the Thunder Five in tow, he informs the two of they now having more backup for crowd control. Two more officers arrive, then the agents Brown and Black, as well as the Arnie, they then hearing a haunting scream. Meanwhile, Jack suggests to Dale to have Henry listen to the emergency call, to see if he hears something they hadn’t. Jack also thinking about the connection with the Territories and the Fisherman, the scream mentioned earlier being heard by those up top. When they chase down the hicks, Beezer’s point of view is given as he follows Wendell, whom was taking pictures, but stops when he sees Beezer coming. Wendell attempts to play like he didn’t know of the hicks making a ruckus, but Beezer deduces the reasoning behind the noise correctly, he then keeping Wendell distracted enough to grab his camera and taking out the film. Jack is then shown partially glad the case would be taken over, but also hoping Dale isn’t too slapped down for the mess the agents had walked into. Jack then realizes Arnie was the loose-lipped reason the town was there, he convincing him to confess to Dale, Jack then joining Beezer and Wendell, the latter threatening, then attempting to bribe Jack, he punching Wendell in the stomach, after he leaves, Beezer and Jack acquaint themselves with each other, Beezer offering his help if Jack ever desired.

Fred and Jack are driving when Fred pulls over to show and tell Jack of the view being a place his wife liked to stop to “smell the roses” before getting back ‘into life”, Jack lets Fred talk since sensing he was working up to confide something deeper. Fred goes on to mention his ability to have some normal conversations with his wife, attempting to confess his theory of how his wife actually was doing, reminding Jack of when she’d foretold of their son’s disappearing, and now she acting much calmer, claiming to know Tyler wasn’t dead and Jack was the only one whom could help, he revealing the names Jack recognized from the Territories, and then suggesting they go see his wife. When inside the hospital, they are escorted part of the way by a large female nurse, Fred leading Jack to the bench where she sat. They speak formally of Judy’s awareness of how she’s changed as a mother and the view Fred showed Jack earlier. She shares of her childhood memory of Faraway and how she had sensed Jack had knowledge of the place, as well. He admits to having his own name for the land, she admitting to feeling her son was being held captive there, and whether Jack believed this were possible, he agreeing he was on the case for this reason, they having to leave her since the warden had arrived. When they go back to Judy’s favorite spot, Jack shows Fred, Tyler’s cap, he revealing where he’d found it, he then promising to do all he could to recover Tyler.

Arnold Hrabowski has been suspended and not looking forward to the obvious truth his wife played in his getting in trouble, and Dale had gone home with the plan of spending the evening with his family, but Agent Black had called, and left Dale with a vibe he needed to go there. He then has a scare his son had disappeared from coloring to swing in the thickening fog. Jack and Fred part ways, the latter keeping Tyler’s cap, eating a microwaveable, and turning off the news for feeling sympathy for the reporters stalking Irma’s grieving mother. He thinks of how impossible Jack’s view was, and feeling ridiculous for hoping it was true. Beezer is struggling with whether to score crank, as he’s had since his daughter’s death, but eventually vengeance on the Fisherman wins preference. Henry’s listening to Warren Vaché, John Bunch, and Phil Flanagan sing, “I Remember April“, whilst smelling the fog and wondering how Jack’s visit had gone, then thinking of his wife. Whilst most of “our friends” are available to check up on, Burny has disappeared for the moment, a yellow bee-style slipper in the bathroom being the only sign he’d been there. Then it’s shown he’s appeared on the third floor of the Nelson Hotel, where he’s been spotted testing doorknobs by a resident, away from the old man’s view. He’s wary of him, sensing possible danger, but then Burny turns the corner and is out of the man’s view, he debating his options, glancing around the corner since he didn’t have a phone in his room to call the front desk. He supposes Burny could currently be inside a fellow resident’s room, and has the thought cross of he possibly being a lost head-case from Maxton’s, but when he checks the ajar room, no one’s there, he investigating the room’s only hiding places, discovering something in the closet which freezes him, and knows the owner would kill to keep secret.

Meanwhile, Burny has reappeared at the home, spotted by the lady at the front desk, stopping him to claim the slippers which belong to another resident, Burny amusing himself by whipping out his ding-dong to consider showering her, but decides against it, put himself away, all before she looked back up from taking the slippers from his feet, he having one more errand to run. When Burny returns to his room, it’s learned he had been searching for the man of the room he’d entered, George Potter, he having messed up a deal for Burny in the 70s. Burny had been exacting his revenge on George, and glad the old fella had followed him, since he was tired of doing all of his mischievous work, knowing a terrified call would be made about what had been seen. Then, before Burny drifts off, a translation of his “nonsense” talk is shown, regarding Irma’s mother. The old man at the Nelson bursting into the manager’s office and convincing him to call the police for seeing horrible pictures of children in Potter’s closet, believing he’s discovered the Fisherman. Tansy, Irma’s mother is currently quite high, staving off her grief and reminiscing of her daughter through scrapbook. She then remembers “The Raven”, quoting the beginning, hearing a tapping at her door after saying it, and when opening the door, seeing a ‘raven’ on her doormat, she thinking she’s imagining it, Gorg entering the trailer and unnerving her, she eventually asking why he’d come, Gorg repeating two key words, then upon her further questioning says her name, and to come. When Tansy falls, Gorg whispers in her ear, it then known Tansy will not be returning to sanity (quite quickly, anyways).

At six in the evening, Chipper is doing overtime by allowing Rebecca to “work” on his boner with her face. The residents are watching The Sound of Music, all except for Burny, whom is quite asleep, the demon which controls him having worked him extra hard this week, but he being a willing host. Meanwhile, Jack has driven to Henry’s for more reading of Bleak House, but will first listen to the track Henry had chosen for the Wisconsin Rat. Fred is distraught and cleaning whilst wearing Tyler’s cap, Tansy’s still listening to Gorg, and Dale is readying to leave when getting another call, this one from the station, and it having to do with the pictures in George Potter’s room, Ernie, a retired cop helping, has Doc, from the Thunder Five with him, and the two are about to enter the station, it switching back to Dale, whom had been connected by the station to the old man at the Nelson, Andy Railsback’s call, Dale reassuring him backup was coming and to wait outside for Potter’s return and report back to him. Dale then requests to speak with Doc, he and Ernie then walking in, Dale instructing him to ask for a cell in evidence and to walk to Lucky’s Tavern to see if he can spot Potter, and if he does, to call back. Dale then starts moving, planning on calling Jack from the car. Doc has made it inside the bar, seeing the man depicted, leaves to make the call, and is told to come back to the station, before doing so, making a final call to Beezer, he relaying the particulars of whom he may have seen, instructing him to get the boys and meet him at the station since going straight to the bar may not be the best decision in Beezer’s case, plus Doc not being certain of the man’s role concerning the Fisherman, yet.

Dale is then shown trying Jack’s number and getting voicemail, then Henry’s, whom answers, Dale making it clear it was urgent he get Jack on the line, upon doing so, Dale feeling Jack’s appreciation is a bit understated, he more interested in whom Andy had followed prowling around his floor (someone forgot a ‘whom’ in their sentence, tsk tsk, bad editor! Only a couple minor missing words so far.), the two hanging up after Jack agreed to meet them there, Dale reaching the station, and upon walking to the door, hears bikes approaching, accusing Doc of letting his crew know, he not denying this, and Dale not blaming him. Henry and Jack are on their way as they discuss the likelihood of Potter being the right man, the two agreeing it was most likely the man Railsback had seen in the hall, the two then sharing favorite record and song, Jack sharing his and getting emotional after Henry confides his own. Everything begins to converge as Dale and two officers set up at Nelson’s Hotel, Jack and Henry arriving to see the Thunder Five and the rest of the force in the parking lot of the station, and Tansy trying to organize the high drunks at the bar to do something drastic since knowing the police were about to make a Fisherman-related arrest. Meanwhile Wendell is also drowning his sorrows in his Inn’s bar when getting a call, it being one of the cops whom picked up the evidence cell Doc had returned, the caller informing Wendell of their collar, letting him know the possibility of he getting first picture before hanging up.

Dale and the two are then shown taking Potter into custody, Jack and Henry hearing the car on its way back from its pick up, Andy and Morty, the manager also being brought, as well as Wendell showing his ugly mug, the Mad Hungarian bringing up the rear. Jack is then shown making conversation with Beezer whom isn’t regarding him other than to state how everyone will see if Potter’s processing goes without a hitch, he showing what he preferred, by blocking Potter’s entrance into the building. He asks a simple question of Potter though, whether he’d killed his daughter, Potter giving the simple, “quiet” answer in return of not having killed anyone, Jack then urging Beezer to move, he doing so, for now being uncertain of the man’s guilt. Wendell is whom gets everyone moving indoors when he shouts for a good shot of Potter, after which, Henry is escorted from the truck and into Dale’s office with Jack. Dale has sobered from his detainment high after Potter had been booked, asking Jack his opinion of whether Potter was the right guy, Jack confessing his thoughts, wanting to speak with Railsback about what he’d seen, and probably needing to question Potter closely after deducing the Fisherman may have set him up in revenge, an officer coming in after Henry reports of the sounds they were hearing being many engines, and a bartender having called with the news of dozens of people heading for the station, at the head being Tansy.

Dale leaves to begin dealing with the approaching situation, whilst Jack handles a call he recognizes as Speedy, he suggesting Jack get to Dale’s private lavatory, Jack about to decline for the urgency of asking Potter about the details he was curious about, what with Brown and Black coming, but Speedy brings clarity about the importance of being able to use what’s there twice, he having to take the first opportunity or Potter being fucked, the call ending. Tansy is then shown leading the bar’s customers out, she having shared Gorg’s poison with them, half a dozen immune, but those who had gone, connected to Tansy like she was a queen bee, one woman fashioning a noose on the ride and giving it to Tansy, whom holds it up in the air and leads the crowd to the station. The Thunder Five are outside, Beezer announcing he wouldn’t move, and wasn’t going to fight for seeing the pointlessness, but Tansy stopping short and instead, yelling for Potter to be brought out in an unnatural volume, the swarm taking up the chant, Beezer advising his crew to stay complacent if approached.

Jack comes out carrying a bouquet of flowers he’d discovered from the Territories, walking toward Tansy and when she smells them, she and the group slowly come around, she mentioning what Gorg had told her, Jack noting the feather in her belt and getting it away from her, sharing of Gorg’s untrustworthiness. Jack then confessing of Potter not being the one they wanted, vowing he’d catch him, this calming her, but still seeing the madness hadn’t left, hoping it would with the Fisherman’s defeat. Jack had gotten someone to volunteer to give Tansy a ride home when another chant starts at the back. Meanwhile inside, the cops are looking on with interest, Bobby relating to Henry what was happening, as requested, Henry then hearing Wendell take up the cry after Jack had diffused the situation and the news trucks coming in. Wendell gets pumped with leading the new charge, when Arnold clocks him and he passes out. This receives a big cheer from the officers, Henry happy, but also apprehensive for them all. Dale meets Jack outside the door and brings him back in, the two discussing how Brown and Black had arrived and Jack hoping Dale could stall them for awhile, Dale sure he could. Jack remembering the flowers he’d given Tansy were still good for a second time after he’d given them to her, but realizing they could still be available to him for whiffing them inside the station.

When Jack sees Potter, he can immediately sense his innocence, he believing the Territories affecting his senses having to do with it, then starting his questioning, Potter speaks of being ill, then of his career and how he ended up in French Landing, Jack building rapport until a phrase hits Potter in the right way, Jack asking about the murder, and once Potter hears how Railsback had instigated the events, Potter rants about him and a couple others before Jack has him refocus on Railsback having followed someone to his room. At first Potter can’t imagine, but as Jack keeps him talking, he gets on the subject of a man sounding like Burny, Potter realizing later this could be whom Jack meant, he speaking of their last encounter in town and how he’d been building his own house, men getting hurt during the construction. After Potter admits to remembering no more, Jack thrusts his hands in his face for a whiff of the flowers, it doing enough to get Potter to remember Burny’s name and what the house was called. Brown and Black then walk in, ending the chat, but Potter asking for Jack to give Burny his hello if he locates him.

When Black handles Potter too roughly, Jack threatens the two men’s careers, it affecting them, and they leaving with Potter. Jack then inquiring of Dale about the two names, Burny ringing a bell, slightly, but Black House not familiar at all. Jack seeing a flutter in his eyes which proved Dale was holding something back, also sensing he didn’t know he knew, Jack planning on extracting the information delicately. He doesn’t succeed in getting more details in this meeting, though, since Dale was unconsciously acting squirrelly and Jack didn’t want Dale going over the edge, the two going back to where everyone was waiting, they giving Jack a round of applause. Jack and Henry leave about an hour later, Beezer and crew still outside, Jack hooking up a time next day for them to meet up and look for Black House. On the ride, Henry is quiet, and when informing Jack of no reading for being beat, Jack agrees for feeling the same, deciding to ask him about Black House tomorrow, giving him time to get back to himself. Jack goes home, attempts to sleep and fails, going outside with a pillow and lying down in his field, flipping to the Territories where his pillow was now filled with goose-down and his undies changing fabric, as well, he going to sleep and waking in his own field, noting his undies were mostly dry for not being on him for most of the night whilst the rest of him was wet from dew, he returning inside for a few more hours unconsciousness time and when waking again, the flipping seeming like a dream, but knowing its reality.

The next day, the news was fairly completely covered with Arnold’s clocking of Wendell, Jack watching the footage and reflecting how this act of Arnold’s will most assuredly frame his grovelling to end his suspension, Dale being too kind to deny him, and Wendell most likely getting leniency for his unprofessional behavior through pure fabrication. He then muses over Railsback’s story of the Fisherman and his outfit, Jack believing the man’s idea of he being at Maxton’s a good spot for hiding in plain sight. Wendell also watches the news, angered and embarrassed by what Arnold had done to him, boosting himself with how he’d had a hand in the naming of the Fisherman and getting the most information, at the earliest point, he already organizing how he’d win his editor over again, and then go see Fred. Arnold’s wife is convinced she’s right in thinking Arnold should call about canceling his suspension after watching the news, even Dale thinks so since it made him happy to watch. Wanda Kinderling is listening to the news, thinking of how Jack had ruined her life caused by his accusations of illegal activity by her husband whom was now in jail, she not believing he could kill hookers for not having a sex drive, and a winky which didn’t grow up (wah-wah-wah). Burny was dreaming, compliments of Mr. Munshun, whom had him see children working on wheels and demon lizards whipping them on. Then Chipper is brainstorming on how he’s going to pay his bookie with six thousand short of paying in full, he knowing it’ll have to be one hell of an explainable skim.

Jack is then shown debating his reasoning for wanting to visit Tansy, he convincing himself, and when she opens the door and ushers him in quickly, he realizing she’s definitely not all there still, she making sure the door is locked before sitting down, Jack asking about whom she was keeping out, his guess of Gorg being correct, she pointing out the flowers he’d given her and he considering how once they died, she would be overcome by madness. Jack asks her about Gorg which she doesn’t wish to get into, but shares of what it looks like, speaking of Poe, the similarities of conversation between she and Judy making him want to see her, knowing she’s special, but Jack also sympathizing with Tansy’s state. She then shares of how Gorg described his world to her and the letter the Fisherman sent her, after deciding it was time for Jack to leave, he still feeling an urge to see Judy. Once on the road though, he remembers the Sand Bar, upon entering, deciding he’d order lunch, the bartender, Tansy’s boyfriend, Stinky Cheese, making Jack feel foolish when not noticing the menu on the wall and when lunch started, he taking his order anyways to be made when his mother was ready. Stinky then switches the TV over to a movie with Jack’s mother, he flashing back to when his mother explained a funny scene involving a fly. As he watches, his food soon arrives and he’s then distracted by tasty burger and figuring where Tansy had meant Gorg’s world was and the location he’d shown her, Jack not knowing the area, but considering how she could’ve been talking about a tower, the description unfamiliar to him, he thinking it had to do with the smoke he’d seen in the Territories.

Jack’s train of thought is interrupted by the Thunder Five’s bikes approaching, Stinky warning Jack about them, but he easing his mind, sort of, by knowing and expecting them, Beezer commanding Stinky to the kitchen, Jack asking them if they’d heard of George Potter before yesterday. Jack goes over the information with them and Burny’s name, Beezer inquiring of Jack’s certainty this is the guy, Jack 99% definite. The boys didn’t know of Black House though, making Jack wonder how people could forget a weird house. As they talk out its history and where it could be, Mouse begins to remember having seen it, talking himself through his day with a girl the couple years back he’d viewed it on acid, he mentioning the no trespassing sign and getting the feeling he shouldn’t go in, seeing things in the darkness and believing he saw another girl the Thunder Five used to hang with before she died, standing in front of him. He rides on though, only stopping when seeing the house and his girl telling him to stop so she can vomit, he hearing what sounds like many dogs growling around them. The house looks intimidating and after seeing the second sign, he heads back with his girl, whom is ill for three days, not quite getting better, and dying a month or so later. After the recounting Beezer is ready for Mouse to try and find it, Jack letting them know his plans of going to see Judy, and if locating the house, not to go in without him, Beezer reluctantly agreeing, calling Stinky to allow him back in the front.

As Jack goes, the Thunder Five is followed, it being told of how they reacted to fear being out of the ordinary, but they also knowing someone always had their backs. Mouse fairly easily senses the road again, he thinking about how proud he had been to have the details resurface, but now heading toward the spot, overcome with more realization of Black House being responsible for his girl’s death, and the repulsion to stay away at the surface, but then the feeling fading. Sonny motions the crew to the side of the road since believing Mouse missed the turnoff, they close to riding back into town, Mouse confirming it may be back the way they came somewhere and hadn’t seen it, the place not keen on being rediscovered. Beezer makes the executive decision on they giving it one more ride through before checking another highway.

This time Mouse leads then at a much slower pace to allow a more thorough view, Sonny then flashing back to a moment he had felt unsettled over a certain environment, the experience leaving one of his buddies dead and the other dazed and losing his mind for not knowing what had occurred overnight, Sonny having slept outside. He comes back to reality, then gets a shine to the face, helping him spot the sign, Doc and Kaiser Bill pulling up, not seeing it, but also not going after Beezer and Mouse to inform them, instead getting caught up attempting to see the sign for themselves, and then where the road led. Kaiser Bill then decides he’ll go get the two, and they all return to Sonny and Doc. Beezer game planning by having all the boys make their weapons readily available and riding in fast, he stating of capturing the Fisherman regardless of his promise to Jack, if he sensed he was in the house. As they ready to take off, Sonny locks eyes with a crow, which hops backward into the forest (as if making the hand sign meaning, “I’m watching you”), he convincing himself the crow must’ve been looking at them all, Beezer then shouting for them to ride.

Mouse is again plagued with his girl’s rotting corpse hanging on his back, making him physically attempt to shake her off, the sensation only getting worse, he not only now feeling like he was going slower, but also seeing his girl as if she were flesh and bone. When he takes the curve into the woods, he overturns his bike, it skidding over his leg, and the girl covering his eyes after seeing the house, Mouse letting out a shriek, hearing the growling dog get closer. Beezer gets affected as well, he having a blossoming headache and also hearing the big dog. As he sees Mouse approach the curve, his headache gets worse, bursting blood vessels in his eyes, his vision darkening and hearing terrible things about his daughter, seeing a figure for a flash then falling, his bike landing on top of him. When he looks over at Mouse, seeing everything in red, he views the large dog coming at him as he screams. Beezer runs at Doc, whom keeps going, he not feeling well either, his head feeling heavy to the point of him wanting to drop it down to his chest, seeing Beezer whipping out his gun, knowing he should follow suit, but overcome with a memory which stops him, it involving the end of his medical career. He then pukes on his shoulder, his pain worsening, seeing Beezer’s crash, but making the curve himself, and deciding what he should shoot, he then hearing and seeing the dog running at Mouse, aiming for it, only making it turn to him for a moment, the shape fuzzy, before it going forward again at Mouse.

Doc shoots a second time which he knows connects, his arms heavy. Doc then hears Sonny before a loud noise, then silence. Sonny’s perspective shows he’d been hit with pain and darkness simultaneously, but does see the Kaiser grab his head and start to faint, blood bursting from his nose, Sonny grabbing hold of his handlebars, the man falling off and getting dragged a little ways. Sonny stops for a second before continuing on after another good vomit, he hearing the dog and ready to defend his friends. Sonny sees the aftermath of Beezer and Doc, he getting off his bike to see what Doc was shooting at, then running ahead, shooting at the same target. The bullet connects as it bites Mouse’s leg, but again, only knocking it off-course for a moment, it giving him a look suggesting if he didn’t back off, it would come for him next. This doesn’t put Sonny off though, shooting again at its head, nothing happens other than a clearer view of the thing, he shooting again, the first sign of blood from the creature bursting forth, another shot coming from behind him, he seeing Beezer, whom commands he keep shooting. Finally, whilst all three shot at it, the thing runs into the woods, the three conferring a moment, discussing how many hits the creature took before hearing Mouse yelling for them, they helping him up, and everyone estimating the damage they’d endured. They all return to their bikes before checking on Kaiser Bill. Beezer determines to hear all about this weird shit from Jack when he returned. None of the others admitted to the psychological side of their experiences when asked by Beezer, which was answer enough. They waking Kaiser Bill, and heading out of the forest, Doc noting Mouse’s injury not being a normal dog bite, but he refusing to go to the hospital, allowing Doc to needle him with antibiotics at Beezer’s.

Meanwhile, Jack is driving and contemplating getting off the call of anyone, but Henry’s until speaking with Fred. He relays of Judy having a meltdown over a tape given to her and wanted Jack to go with him to see her, he letting Fred know he was already en-route, having to lie about why, but Fred too distraught to get further into it, and instead sharing of what the doctor said the tape had on it being of the Fisherman and Tyler’s voices, Jack willing to give him any information learned once getting to the hospital, Fred then confessing he’d spoken to Wendell. After getting off the line, Jack speaks with Henry about the new tape, he not having listened to the first, yet and would wait for the second until doing so, he getting prepared for a George Rathbun show, Jack making plans with him for after. When he arrives at the hospital he has a few epiphanies about Judy’s twinner, the Fisherman, and Gorg, after which he gets as far as the proper ward, but is stopped by the attendant whom didn’t know Jack and due to Nurse Bond not being in, was hard-pressed to allow a non-family member or doctor to see Judy. Jack runs into more resistance until insisting the young man call to see if the doctor was in, he getting a shock when learning whom Jack was, and once off the phone, the two speaking of the Kinderling case and how the man’s wife was this schmo’s Sunday school teacher, he sharing how “townspeople” couldn’t believe Kinderling’s guilt and how confessions can be bullied from people, the doctor then coming in, and Wendell tailing him.

Jack and Wendell soon begin debating the circumstances and reasoning behind his being physically abused as of late, the doctor then speaking with Jack about how he wanted to conduct his interview, Wendell being told to wait with the disgruntled attendant. As Jack and the doctor walk away, Wendell makes a deal with the attendant to hook him up with a spot to listen to Jack and Judy’s conversation. The doctor is then explaining to Jack how Judy had heard the Fisherman’s tape, they also discussing the accent of the man on the tape, as well as Jack’s stance on the other world Judy spoke of being a clever interpretation of the truth, the doctor giving in and showing Jack to his office whilst he prepared Judy to meet him. Wendell is currently nestled in the closet, Jack getting an urgent call from Beezer about Mouse, Jack relaying how long his interview would last, having them hang in there, and hanging up. Judy then brought in, Wendell certain they were about to get sordid for how they spoke to each other, the two speaking of what Jack had to do and Judy hearing her twinner, they readying themselves so Jack could flip to where Sophie, her twinner was waiting, Jack unaware of Wendell being sucked in, too.

Jack is breathless as he attempts to say Sophie’s name in a normal tone after flipping. He repeats it a few times, she confirming each utterance, he feeling off and asking whether he was still speaking English, she affirming he wasn’t. He’s totally taken with her beauty, she asking if he was aware of how he arrived and he actually being in the Territories, he confirming this and also notes some of the doctor’s belongings having been brought with him, she then confessing how she needed a minute herself to catch her breath, the two properly overcome by the other. He gauges her features more thoroughly, the same and slightly different from Judy. Sophie shares of how she and Judy used to talk and now it occurring in dreams, she becoming upset with the thought she’d driven Judy crazy because of their more recent conversations, Jack denying this. Sophie relates how Tyler must be returned to her twinner, Sophie unable to have children because of Morgan Sloat’s twinner (a character I’ll obviously run into in The Talisman), Morgan of Orris, this happening when she was twelve and Jacky preoccupied with saving his mother, he visibly furious with her confession, and she allowing him a few more questions involving their past, the two possibly having met when they were younger, Jack then deducing how Judy and she communicated with each other through the picture in Tyler’s room, Sophie confiding how important it was to return Judy’s son, but also other matters riding on this. Sophie wouldn’t divulge much since Jack would be hearing from someone more suited with the information. He then asks where they were, it being an old tent, which apparently was a traveling hospital, it run by the Little Sisters, vampires, Sophie showing him around as they waited for the man whom would inform Jack. Jeez, King and Straub even allude to themselves when mentioning not glossing over Jack’s love story due to this being bad story-telling etiquette. 

The view goes outside the tent where more Earth-debris is found from the office, then settling on Wendell, in robe, and unable to allow himself to move on from the reality of his recorder now being paper. Wendell speaks to himself with effort, attempting to shove batteries into the paper, a man approaches him, and he refuses to acknowledge the presence. The man, Parkus, stops and coaxes Wendell to speak with him though, due to his position of law enforcement, his parrot with two heads intimidating Wendell with their talk, he resuming his thrusting batteries into the paper, Jack and Sophie interrupting Parkus’ conversation, Jack revealing this was Speedy. The three make their way to the top of a hill, inviting Wendell to join them if he wished, Speedy preparing food, Sophie and he making certain to move him before dark (aww, I was looking forward to Wendell getting drained!), they continuing to the spot which was unsettling for both Jack and Sophie, but the place harmless and good for sharing stories, according to Speedy. Upon entering, Jack hears the weird voice of the Fisherman speak of Munshun, he also confirming the Black House being close by, as well by Speedy. The group then begin speaking of Burny and how he wasn’t the main threat, the creature, Mr Munshun/Mr. Monday, by Albert Fish, Speedy confiding how all of this concerned the Dark Tower and Ram Abbalah wishing to stop its work as in-between to the worlds. Abbalah, the Crimson King, having another entity of himself trapped within the tower and if set free, able to wreak havoc everywhere.

The Crimson King has been using precognates, teleports, and telekinetics to aid him in his plan, they called Breakers, and the Beams, holding the Tower in place, crumbling, the gunslingers the ones to protect the Beams, only one left, but Roland having made other gunslingers. Jack then learns how the gunslingers were supposed to be coming to defend the Tower, Jack deducing Tyler must be a Breaker. Speedy continues to explain the sorts who found Breakers and they being rewarded well according to the talent they had. As for Burny’s deal, he’s allowed as many children as he can eat as long as they have no talent, otherwise they are to be turned over. Tyler being similar to a guided missile, Jack then thinking over how he could help, he going over the scenarios and which was best. Jack then figures the two must’ve realized what was coming since Judy knew months before, he then considering Sophie must be his mother’s successor and Sophie knowing of Tyler’s importance, he being the closest to a son she’d ever get. Jack then asks if the Talisman he’d touched would take out the Crimson King, Speedy relaying it wouldn’t, but would be enough for Munshun and to retrieve Tyler. (This also being where the editor didn’t catch ‘Transy’ Freneau.) Speedy then allows of Black House being the key to locating Munshun and Tyler, discovering Burny depending on Jack using his sources, including Henry. Their meeting ends, Jack and Sophie heading back toward the tent, the two departing with hopes of meeting again, he professing his love before flipping with Wendell.

Jack has a flashback and then is slowly brought back to reality after having lost Wendell in the return trip. Once he realizes he’s with Judy and how close to his face she was, he steals a kiss which she returns. The two are getting hot and heavy when they’re interrupted by the attendant, alarms having been ringing during all of this, another door thrust open to reveal Wendell in a worse unkempt state than Jack, his clothing only hanging off of him whilst Wendell’s was ripped. Upon seeing the close proximity and state of Jack and Judy, Wendell still takes the opportunity to shout, “RAPE!”, he not seeming to register the panic already occurring outside the room in the common area, and as he takes preemptive steps to distance himself from Jack, he steps on some glass and his hanging pants trip him up, falling into a chair and giving Jack the chance to approach as he starts his rape claim again, then Jack popping him in the face only hard enough to knock him out. A worker comes in and informs them they needed to leave for what was believed to have been an earthquake. The girl leaves, Jack and Judy catching up on how much time had passed and Tyler’s living status, Jack then noticing the wrapping paper of the note from Burny in the doctor’s desk, as well as a cassette tape, which he takes, telling Judy to stay strong and leaving the hospital. He then sees the attendant shaking an old woman and yelling in her face, Jack knocking him on the side of the head, putting the young man in a daze. Jack vows he’d get worse if ever seen doing anything similar to someone again.

Ten minutes after, a doctor announces of the emergency concluding and all staff required to escort the patients to their floor’s common room, Wendell and the attendant bonding over their bruises and Wendell declaring of needing to out Jack as a rapist, the attendant indifferently agreeing. Meanwhile, Jack is speeding down the highway and passing firetrucks heading in the opposite direction, he then picking up his cell when hearing a call coming in, Beezer desperately conveying Jack needed to get to his place quickly, Mouse asking for him between raving, he stepping on the gas and informing Beezer where he was and an E.T.A., Beezer then giving Mouse the cell, he sharing with Jack how he was the last one to remember what the gang had gone through, but the poison getting at him, Jack going faster still. Soon he’s close to home and Henry, debating whether to drop off the cassette, he then thinking of Abbalah and where his outside self currently was, thinking of how he, Mr. Munshun, or the Fisherman could try to mess with his buddies since they must now know his involvement, which made him want to check on Henry, he deciding to employ the buddy system until things settled. When he arrives though, Elvena, the maid reminds him how Henry had gone to the studio, Jack feeling a fool for having wasted time, but leaves the tape for him and returns to his truck. When he gets to Nailhouse Row, he goes up the walkway, Beezer opening the door and stating of Mouse’s deterioration, Jack not ever planning on sharing how Mouse’s injury could’ve been pointless, Beezer ushering him in.

Henry’s had a drink with the schmuck offering him the deal with ESPN, but he’s had enough and had the bartender call him a cab, the representative attempting to bully him to stay for another drink, Henry giving him his decisive parting words, and leaving, he believing he felt oddly due to not listening to the tape yet, and planned his night around it. Jack is then shown walking into Beezer’s living room, the place darkened with heavy blankets covering the windows. Beezer shares how Mouse couldn’t abide any light, his skin dissolving when hit by it, Jack attempts to ignore the offending smell and steps into the adjoining room Mouse is lying in, he at first not recognizing him, but when hearing Jack’s nickname, grabs his hand, he trying to focus, Mouse still talking nonsense, and Beezer encouraging him to wait for Mouse to resurface, he starting to speak of the King, Jack urging him to say more, but Mouse drifting off the subject, and after vomiting black squigglies in yellow ooze, which eats through the couch like acid, he passes out.

Doc shows Jack what there was to see under Mouse’s blanket, the view making him shriek. Henry, meanwhile has gotten home and feels proud of himself, until smelling his wife’s perfume again, the imagined sigh rattling him. He ignores the feeling and listens to the message left by Elvena informing him of the second tape as he gets a beer, he calling Jack back as requested, but Jack having left his cell in his truck. Henry then decides to wait to hear the tapes until Jack returns his call, he going to the living room and hoping he didn’t feel his wife’s dead face with his outstretched arm as he walked. Jack is currently eyeing the mess of Mouse’s leg, the likes of which he hasn’t seen before. The fact Mouse’s foot was unharmed making the thought of how easy it could come away from his leg sickening Jack. Doc explains how the infection had spread, he hoping Mouse’s sacrifice for the house’s location worth it, Jack then deciding he needed a moment to quench his thirst or he’d “die” (great choice to go by in this situation, eh?), and after doing so, he reminds himself of the reason he’s come, and still bothered by Mouse’s delirious talk of the perfume not being “his dead wife”, not understanding his intuition of dread. Beezer comes in to have him see Mouse, he waking up.

Henry is relating a dream he was having of a man following him with a single eye, he sensing the man was veering him toward his home and Henry’s death. When he realizes it’s a dream, having been worrying how he could get away from the house, he notes how both book and beer weren’t where he’d left them, and the smell of perfume was receding, Henry now wishing it’d return for preferring it over being alone with the tapes and his spooky dream. He begins to wonder about the details of his dream and how it was the first where he could see, but ignores his curiosity to get started on the tapes. Jack is now getting impatient to go since Mouse hadn’t spoken since since waking, Doc trying the last resort of speed, which does the trick, he first noting how he was in trouble and whilst it had worked, the dog’s poison was more powerful, so requested paper to draw a map, his skin becoming more easy to come off, and when he starts speaking of Goltz’s, his body revolts and his face blisters burst, pausing him for pain, Jack realizing the black stuff coming out of Mouse was stopping him and he should try and dispose of it.

Jack gets the stuff off of his face, the bit he throws down trying to slither away, but is caught partially by Doc and some by Beezer, Mouse clear-minded still and no longer in pain for now, finally gets out the specifics and the No Trespassing sign, making certain Jack was listening before switching back to Henry, whom was readying to play the tape when getting the overwhelming feeling he wasn’t alone, (the bee slippers being seen by the readers, as well as hedge clippers from Henry’s garage) he again attempting to get the intruder doused in his wife’s perfume, to speak, but Burny staying quiet, Henry finally listening to the police tape and recognizing the voice, but not remembering from where, he also noting the Fisherman’s dialect origins. When Henry listens to the tape for Judy, Henry figures out where he’d heard the voice, then deduces the old woman’s name whom had requested a song, Burny then knocking on the glass part of the door. Mouse is currently making his last requests regarding how he wanted to go, what they should do when he did, his funeral, and for Jack to postpone looking for the house until noon tomorrow, Speedy relaying information about Munshun to him, as well. He then gives Jack a word to go with whatever was left of the Talisman in him, Doc noting the request for drugs not being necessary, and Jack leaving them.

The magic word’s power effects some of the main players, besides Mouse, Henry, and Tansy, she seeing what her daughter would’ve looked like when she was older, Judy, seeing her son safe, Dale, Mr. Munshun, and Henry, his forming as lucidity, he knowing Burny was waiting for him and deciding to feign pleasant surprise, hoping he was ready, he fortunately having a couple options of weapons for defense. Burny then opens the door and walks toward Henry, the latter waiting for a specific rustle before attacking, his plan working at first, but whilst Henry gives a few wounds, he takes some, as well. Finally, he gets the chance to escape through the door, Burny announcing the damage Henry had done to him, and following him out, whom now has doubts about his survival. Burny walks around looking for Henry for the light of sunset finally leaving enough to shroud him in darkness, Burny chatting of what he was going to do to him and then Munshun calling it off for wasting time. Munshun reminds him of Burny’s desire to go after Chipper and Rebecca, Henry overhearing his madness and trying to stay conscious long enough to leave a message for Jack. Burny finally going after leaving a message of his own,

Henry decides to go to his studio, motivating himself with pain. When he arrives, he records his revealing message for Jack. Meanwhile, Jack was currently being enmeshed in bees, but in a comforting way, he not getting stung. He feels like he could be borne off, the bees leaving him at sunset, and he feeling like he needed to go to sleep with what he’d gone through this day, but decides he could make it long enough to visit Henry, which makes him think how grand it would be if Henry were nationally recognized, and realizing where his fashion sense must have come from, he then deciding from then on, he’d be completely open with Henry about the more unbelievable bits of his life, and ready to share as soon as he saw him as well as making plans after he came out of Black House. He then thinks about the possible terrible fate of Tyler if he failed, he reminiscing about the bees and their message of love for a couple of the people around him, he vowing to confess his story to Henry, looking forward to not being the only one to know.

When he sees Henry’s lights were off, he thinks he’d fallen asleep, but after going inside and still not getting a response, he goes over other possibilities until smelling blood, then decides Henry was either wounded and abducted, or worse. When he turns the living room light on, he sees the Fisherman’s message and returns outside for a moment to consider calling the police, his need to see what the Fisherman had done, more pressing. He follows the blood to Henry’s studio, the door of which was open, and Jack indignant toward the Fisherman for causing the change of order to Henry’s home. Upon hearing the tape continue to run at the end of the reel and viewing Henry made his death real to him. He listens to the last message Henry leaves him, also discovering why the bees must have hugged him, then returns outside, calls the station where Arnie picks up, relays the two pieces of news, and then walks off into a cornfield. He walks along until locating a good spot to stop and lays down, he finding sleep easier than he thought and then flipping.

Burny is then followed to the bathroom stall in Maxton’s and goes down the list of wounds he sustained, hedge clippers still in hand. He walks out to where the sinks are, removes his shirt, and leaves a trail of blood to the bandages cabinet. He cleans himself up to a reasonable degree, but when seeing his mirrored self, is unsatisfied with the state of his face, which hadn’t bothered him before, but Munshun reminding him of the time, he wanting to get to Black House, Burny also desiring to go for a few reasons, one of them, Tyler. Burny then notes Butch on duty, asleep, he glad he had the hedge clippers, Henry’s fingers getting cut, purely by happenstance. Burny hides the clippers under his shirt as he passes the nurses’ station, he feeling like he was getting rightful retribution for Chipper stealing from him. The nurse at the station was given a chance to be left unscathed until she mentioned him tracking something on the floor, Burny taking her out. He goes to Chipper’s office and sneaks in without Chipper noticing, he kicking the door shut to get his attention from fixing the books, Chippy being pleasant and stating how he’d been wanting to speak with him, then realizing his shirt was wet and going around to find a fresh one, but when none of the workers are to be found, he confides how he wasn’t fooled by Burny’s Alzheimer’s act when Burny had insulted him like he does.

Burny thinks Chipper was about to con him and relishing the idea before he set his own plans in motion, but Chipper apparently was focused on Burny’s real name being Carl, Burny unphased, but hoping Butch didn’t wake, knowing he’d be difficult to cut down. Chipper goes on to reveal a detective calling and confiding how Carl Bierstone may be a resident, Burny not replying and Chipper bringing out a letter from his Aunt stopping payments, Chipper attempting to see if he’d remedy the payment situation, Burny now losing momentum (and apparently grammar, what with ‘devise’ seeming to work better with an [-ing] at the end, cripes) and wanting to go to Black House for revitalization, even though two of the rooms didn’t comfort him, his conquests not making him feel proud, nor his childhood, each getting a room of their own, courtesy of Munshun.

Burny then hears the coming sirens and gets to work on Chipper by noting how he was fixing the books before letting him have a taste of clippers, he barely making it back to the toilet stall as cops came through the front door. Meanwhile, Jack is still away and having a dream, a reminder being given about Henry knowing “Darn that Dream” being the last song on an album called Daddy Plays the Horn by Dexter Gordon. Jack then greets Sophie, whom it’s assumed gets opportunity to fool around with Jack (the authors respecting their privacy). When Jack wakes in reality, he sees his truck, noticing the lack of police activity meaning they left, and he deciding to confess to Dale so he would accompany him to Black House. When he gets to his truck and sees the voicemails from Dale, he doesn’t bother listening to them and upon getting home, listens to the one’s left on his landline, he then realizing the early hour, falling back to sleep, and having a disturbing dream about fighting to approach Black House, an unnaturally large face looking like many scary men from his past and present morphing in the face, looking for Jack, he finally screaming the magic word as the face finds him. He then gets ready, calling Dale so they could meet at the Sand Bar where Beezer and Doc would be waiting.

The houses of French Landing are mentioned to be barriers of slippage, Black House being the opposite, the space within much larger than the outside (Hello, Doctor, fancy seeing your time-ship copied.) Going within tells of some of the people becoming trapped inside or lost, and whilst Black House was built in the ’70s, parts of it are older. Burny is currently resting on a sofa, it being revealed his ownership of the home purely in his mind and being supported by Munshun, whom attempts to get Burny up so he could move Tyler, but Burny is insisting on needing to rest, Munshun knowing Jack would locate him if Burny didn’t get him to the great furnace, Din-tah. Munshun continues to prod his wound and bribe Burny into action with dreams of being turned young again, but goes to death threat and more pain when Munshun explains Burny’s options, which get him ready to obey. Tyler currently was having a grand ole time at a baseball game with George Rathbun, he recovering from a concussion.

Before being rudely awakened, Rathbun takes on Henry’s consciousness and placates Tyler’s situation with the news of help coming, Tyler thrown back into reality with Burny. He urges Tyler to stand whilst the latter feels his head where Burny had beaned him with the rock, it still painful. Burny shows the taser he carried to give the gravity of what Tyler would get if he ran off, but after Burny grabs the bit of Tyler he planned on cooking, Tyler is in mid-smart-aleck mode and Burny gives him a taste of the taser to the shoulder, commanding he begin walking and stop talking. They reach a staircase, where Tyler thinks of escape or safety, Burny remarking how futile those options were, and when reaching the bottom, Burny stopping Tyler and having him put on a cap which vibrates in his hand, Tyler soon realizing the cap’s mind-dulling power as they continue to walk, Burny instructing Tyler to drive the golf cart awaiting them, Tyler jerking the cart forward and recieving threats from Burny. Tyler drives them down the curved road, Burny pointing out the Crimson King’s power plant and how he’d soon take his 10% from Tyler for working so diligently. Then when Burny points out the wall of skulls, Tyler can’t wish hard enough for Burny’s forthcoming death, his mother, and help to come quickly.

Jack and Dale enter to see Beezer and Doc drinking soda, Stinky nestled in back near the kitchen, one of Jack’s mother’s movies playing, Jack confiding whom she was to Dale after he’d been speaking her lines from the movie, the four then talking about the weapons they had, Jack deciding they should wait until exactly noon to leave, giving Beezer and Doc a chance to change their minds, but the former staying for his daughter, and the latter due to the possibility they were already infected some way already. Jack also learns Mouse had been correct in assuming what would happen to his body by morning, Beezer not wanting to dwell on the thought, he and Doc then sharing their physical reactions to getting near Black House and Doc deciding he’d go for Mouse. Doc then warns how serious Black House could affect them all, regardless of what Jack may think he knows, Jack debating whether the two remembered the magic word, and whilst realizing he shouldn’t use it frivolously, he needing to be sure they understood the importance of their belief. He requests honey from Stinky and had it placed at the end of the bar, he then using the word to summon the bees and have them deliver the honey to his hand, the wanted reaction given by the three, Jack then instructs how they’d go and the honey to be used under their noses (not like Vicks, but Jack not explaining the difference).

Fred then bursts on to the scene with a long package which makes most of them react oddly, no one deciphering what it was. Meanwhile, Burny is currently ordering Tyler to stay near a wall as the bees are moving the honey bottle to Jack. They are now nearer the Big Combination, Tyler able to hear screams and whips cracking at the working children. As they waited, Burny mentions the place he was to take Tyler, the two others, Patricia and Blaine no longer there due to killing themselves caused by madness, Tyler not understanding how the two could be monorails. Burny then directs Tyler to their next destination being on the way to Station House Road where he was supposed to deliver Tyler, but planning on taking his commission first. Burny is ordering Tyler to put his hands through shackles on a wall, the boy’s cap helping him to manage his rising hysteria, knowing he must choose his moment wisely, but because of his second smart remark, gets tased, he seeming to acquiesce after, but readying to make his move, his hands now through the shackles as he hears Burny going through his pack where Tyler sensed Burny’s plan included handcuffs, correct in his presumption when Burny attaches one to his wrist, Tyler getting his moment to fight back when Burny takes the taser off Tyler, distracted when the other cuff falls slack. Tyler debates his next move as Burny is overcome with pain and denial the little boy could hurt him in such an intimate area. Tyler then goes for the same pressure spot as Munshun, but taking it a step further, and succeeding in his goal (gruesome), but now having to get someone to free him.

Fred is hysterical when he confirms he had heard his son, the package addressed to Tyler and concerning the Brewer’s Bash, Beezer ready to get going since he knew Tyler was stuck in a shed, Jack having seen through Tyler’s eyes, focusing on Fred, he learning whom had given Fred the package and why he’d been sent to show Jack, he then instructing Fred to go home and ready the place for Tyler and Judy’s return. As Dale drives, Jack begins to open the package, also answering Dale’s questions about what they’d felt earlier and how Jack knew the details, he seeing the gift of a baseball bat inside the box, reminded of The Natural by Bernard Malamud. Dale admires the bat as well, when Jack sees Beezer and Doc ride past the sign to Black House, he having Dale pull over, Beezer and Doc insisting they didn’t have the right spot. Jack instructs Dale to apply more honey (which is a placebo in helping with the buzzing in the brain), Jack seeing in his periphery something flying and deciding not to catch it so whatever it was could believe it hadn’t been seen, yet. Jack then offers the honey to Beezer and Doc, once applying, realizing the mistake they’d made, Jack slowly drawing his weapon as the fluttering shadows gathered in the distance. Jack shoots before getting a good view, afterward realizing he’d popped Gorg, he urging everyone into the car before they got Munshun’s attention. As they approach the shape-changing house, Jack advises all to be ready for anything.

The trees were noticed to be changing, Dale hearing discouraging whispers among them, a loud, odd growl getting everyone’s attention as Dale is first to lose his breakfast. Jack gets to the porch, but notices the door looking painted on, and as strange noises continued to distract, it is soon overwhelmed by a swarm of bees. Jack then saying the right words necessary to have the door become movable (similar to Beetlejuice: draw a door in case of an emergency), but before they can enter, Doc lets out a shriek. Tyler is currently being yanked back into consciousness by the buzzing in his head, he then noting sounds of a monorail which must mark the return of Munshun, which also meant he would soon be searching for him, he trying to think of alternatives to get himself loose, his chances dwindling. Meanwhile Jack brings Doc out of his horrified reverie to state of its illusion and everyone should be prepared for similar haunts, but Dale brings their attention to the inside of Black House looking like a maze of stairways and doors which kept multiplying on every blink.

Tyler soon imagines Munshun’s characteristics and is back to figuring a way to get Burny’s bag. Jack then calls again for assistance, a queen bee resting on his finger. He first wonders whom had sent her, but decides it is unimportant, he getting the others to follow the bee as she chose a door. No one could say how long they walked through the house, seeing unsettling sights and forgetting them quickly, but they stayed with the queen bee, and were as protected as possible by the swarm. They end up seeing the cell Burny had left Tyler in, then following their wet footsteps out. Tyler is still working on getting the bag closer as he senses Munshun coming nearer, as well as trying to stay motivated as he repeatedly fails in capturing the bag. Jack and crew are walking quickly on the road when a green-tinted man with a whip gets in their way, but when Jack raises the bat, the man runs off, Jack remembering this place wasn’t the Territories and so they, nor their weapons would morph. They take stock as to where they must go as they hear the machinery, whips, and children, getting distracted by particularly loud screams whilst Tyler is still struggling with the bag, the mind-dulling cap forgotten, and the droning bees believed to be buzzing in his head.

Tyler succeeds to catch the bag by stubborn strength of will, attempting to move carefully as he finally gets hold of the key and releases himself. Now he’s thinking he must be dreaming still in his cell, but upon seeing the sky again, believes the reality he stood in, Munshun then grabbing him. He quiets Tyler with a magic word, informing him of his visit with the King before meeting the Chief Breaker, Brautigan, stowing Tyler under his arm and thinking of the young man in New York whom had potential in replacing Burny. He walks back to the road and meets Jack and crew, Munshun recognizing Jack as the annoying boy he once was, and the bat containing some of the light of the Talisman, then seeing the bees blocking his way back onto Station House Road, he knowing his life’s happiness depended on the boy reaching the King, Munshun acting pleasant toward them until the bat gathered more light, Jack stating of Tyler’s mother wanting her son returned, Munshun getting scared and angry, using his magic word to quiet the normal men, but succeeding in only having the three step closer, Munshun then resorting to threats of killing Tyler. He gets a surprise when Jack fires a shot, Beezer’s ring having the same effect when the dying Munshun still attempts to bite Tyler, Dale stepping forward and grabbing the boy so Jack could finish the job. Tyler then shares how he’d dreamt of the bat, and as they discussed returning, Jack informs them all Tyler had one more task in front of him.

Jack has to be callous to get Tyler back to reality, the trio not approving, and when smacking Tyler, the cap comes off, Tyler pushing him without touching him, everyone surprised, and when Tyler shouts angrily about why Jack had hit him, Jack answers truthfully of it being to wake him, he then requesting again for Tyler to break the Big Combination, able now to do as bid, once seeing the start, they then being led back to the Black House by the queen bee. Evil people fall in worlds affected by the Crimson King, soon he as well feeling the change. The children who had been working were now running to exits back into their own worlds. When they walk out of Black House four hours later, the house now looking normal and unkempt, they are readying to leave when Tyler points out the kids walking out the door, Jack suggesting Dale call the agents to handle them whilst he got the credit, Jack placating Tyler in knowing the kids would be fine, they driving Tyler to his father. Jack and Beezer planning on returning at midnight to close the entrance between worlds after all the children had gotten through. The authors again reference themselves when mentioning how normally minor characters wouldn’t make it through these situations: Doc being named. (but I believe Mouse being a suitable substitute in this case) they giving the option of this being a good place to stop for a happy ending, but beyond would bring the opposite. A report of the missing children is supplied and Dale is preparing to hold a press conference.

Dale inquires if the boys were ready for the press storm they were about to step into, courtesy of Jack’s fine ideas, Dale being reassured by Jack of their simplified story being the right way to handle the attention, they giving most of the credit to Henry when identifying Burny, deservedly. They walk to the platform where the many press and townspeople wait, Kaiser Bill and Sonny among them, Speedy attempting to warn Jack of the danger approaching, but remains unheard because of the cheering crowd. Jack only notices when Dale begins speaking to the group to quiet them, being misunderstood when shouting ‘gun’, but Doc realizing first, no one able to do anything about it. Wendell makes use of his spot in the front, getting the second picture to throw him into celebrity and money. Wanda Kinderling being body-slammed by Doc, Speedy finally reaching the platform, speaking with Dale, then he and Jack disappearing inside the motor home, Dale wanting to speak with Beezer and Doc to share the news which could help with their guilt. When leading them away, he repeats what Speedy told him, it helping the two as hoped (Our Mutual Friend being used in reference to Jack) and the three able to wait to see if Jack would come back recovered. A tale from the past of Jack as a small boy being led by a Captain Farren through the Queen’s Pavilion is described, Jack opening a panel which he first saw his mother’s twinner through, he now lying in the same bed, as Sophie and Speedy gazed at him through the same opening. They spoke of the Talisman saving Jack and the likelihood of he being able to return home, Speedy sensing he’d have to reside in the Territories from now on, Jack having plenty to do there when able, and may even be involved in the business of the Tower. Jack comes back to consciousness ten days later, greeted by Sophie.

Enjoyable, but can understand why people called this dull. Despite the amusing references, if one catches them, this definitely feels like a stepping stone to the future stories, and I don’t regret the ride, even if it did read like one of the half entertaining King movies. Onward!

Squee’s Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors

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This one begins with Squee awkwardly praying on his father’s behalf. Wanting only he getting whatever he wishes and offers God all his money in payment or thanks, whichever is cuter. Later in the night Shmee goes missing, and when Squee goes to investigate his whereabouts he discovers him outside his bedroom where he meets some scary looking aliens. They don’t wish him harm, but once the aliens learn the child’s parent’s may “have been damaged” whilst trying to “restrain” them, they start fighting over who’s allowed to do their human experiment on him. Eventually, one group tricks the other into believing a stuffed masked-avenger changed form from little Squee and unfortunately isn’t even missed when he comes back after what seems is an extended period of time.

I’m so happy to report Squee is given a little evil friend called Pepito! By his mother anyway, otherwise he is known by many names of evil (reminds me of some people I know. I am so much happier with the reading of this comic so far and I’m still fairly near the beginning, it’s still dark, but so much more tolerable for the cute little rounded-headed boys struggling with terribly adult scenarios.) Squee has some extremely disturbing nightmares for one so young as well. Once he talks to a dream version of Shmee where we learn he’s been absorbing poor Squee’s anxieties and extreme terrors; I definitely agree with the last panel ending, since he does make the simplest of observations which are also quite true: Squee has gotten used to his constant terrors. This is sad, but now he’ll be able to cope with all the crazy nonsense which will what sometimes, seemingly gets worse with age. At least he’ll be prepared, or forget, as do many children. Also Vasquez periodically puts little blurbs on the sides of panels to either explain or commiserate on the horrendous scenes he puts little Squee through. (I skimmed over the Wobbly Headed Bob and True Tales of Human Drama, etc. comics. Some are amusing, but I’m in it for Squee.) He’s too apple-faced adorable. (So once reaching the second Prologue-like thing, I read a few and quit it.) Squee all the way! For my review of, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.