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Chapter 22: A Land Without Magic

At the hospital, Hilary was being wheeled in on a gurney as Jack followed. Dr. Whale and several nurses attended to Hilary.

Jack tried to shake her awake. "Hilary, can you hear me? Come on, Hilary. Wake up, please." He begged, almost shouting. "Come on, Hilary. Come on. You can do it."

A nurse tried to pull Jack away. "Sir, let me take you to--"

"No! I'm not going anywhere! Hilary."

Dr. Whale examined Hilary's eyes with a flashlight. "There's no pupil response. What happened? Did she fall, hit her head?"

Jack showed Dr. Whale the cake in a plastic bag. "She ate this. I think it's poisoned."

He shined the flashlight in her mouth. "Her airway's clear. Did she vomit? Any convulsions or disorientation?"

"She took a bite of this, and then she just collapsed, so run the test for arsenic or bleach or Drano or whatever could have done this to her!"

"The girl is showing no symptoms that would suggest neurotoxins, so whatever's going on" He grabbed the cake from Jack. "This is not the culprit!"

"Well, what else could it be?"

"I don't know. That's what I'm trying to find out."

"She's gonna be okay, though, right?"

"Right now we just need to stabilize her, 'cause she's slipping away. Is there anything else that you can remember, any little detail?"

"I already told you everything. Do something!" Jack dumped out Hilary's backpack onto a table.

"Look, I understand you're frustrated, Jack. I do, but I need something to treat, and right now there is no explanation. It's like..."

Jack caught sight of the storybook. "Like magic." He picked up the book. The title on the cover glowed, and his mind flashed with memories from the Pixarverse, particularly the time when Mr. Incredible placed him through the door as a baby.

"Every story in this book actually happened." He heard Hilary's voice saying. "You should know more than anyone because you're in this book."

Derek soon arrived at the hospital, out of breath. "Where's my daughter?"

"You did this." Jack grabbed Derek by the arm and dragged him into a supply room. There, Jack threw him against a storage rack. The two then began to fight. "You did this!"

"What are you doing!? Stop it! My daughter--"

"Is sick because of you!" Jack pinned Derek against a locker. "That cake you gave me—she ate it!"

"What? It was meant for you!"

"It's true, isn't it?"

"What are you talking about?"

"It's true, isn't it!? All of it."

"Yes."

"I was leaving town. Why couldn't you just leave things alone?"

"Because as long as you're alive, Hilary will never be mine!"

"She'll never be anyone's unless you fix this. You wake her up!"

"I can't!"

"Don't you have power?"

Derek shook his head. "That was the last of it. It was supposed to put you to sleep!"

Jack released him grip on Derek. "What's it gonna do to her?"

"I don't know. Magic here is unpredictable."

"So... so she could..."

"Yes."

"So what do we do?"

"We need help. There's one person in town who knows about this... knows about magic."

"Ms. Wood..."

"Actually, she goes by the Witch."

---------

Laura Reed left the Diner and was walking to her car when Clark approached her.

"Hey."

"Clark."

"I was wrong... about you, about me, about... everything. I didn't believe in you, and I wish I had a good reason why... But it's like I keep making these wrong decisions, and I don't understand why they keep happening. You know, ever since I was released, my life hasn't made any sense, except for you, and what I'm feeling... it's love, Laura Reed."

"Clark, why are you here?"

"Because Evelyn put a down payment on an apartment in Boston. She's not gonna use it, but I am. Unless you give me a reason to stay."

"Clark. I can't." She sadly got into her car. He walked away, hurt.

---------

Jack and Derek entered Ms. Wood's shop.

"Do my eyes deceive me, or is that the look of a believer?"

"We need your help." Jack demanded.

"Indeed, you do. It seems quite the tragic ailment has befallen our young friend." She looked at Derek. "I told you magic has a price."

"Hilary shouldn't have to pay it."

"No, you should, but alas, we are where we are."

"Can you help us?" Jack asked.

"Of course. True love, Jack — the only power strong enough to transcend realms and break any curse. Luckily for you, I happen to have bottled some."

"You did?" Derek looked surprised.

"Oh, yes. From strands of your parents' hair, I made the most powerful potion in all the realm, so powerful that when I created the Dark Curse, I placed a single drop on the parchment. Just a little safety valve."

It all suddenly made sense in Jack's mind. "That's why I'm the savior. That's why I can break the curse."

"Now you're getting it."

"I don't care about breaking the curse. All I care about is saving Hilary."

"Which is why it's your lucky day. I didn't use all the potion. I saved some for a rainy day."

"Well, it's storming. Where is it?"

"Where it is isn't the problem. Getting it is what should worry you."

"Enough riddles. What do we do?" Derek interjected.

"You do nothing. It has to be Jack."

"She's my daughter. It should be me."

"All due respect, but it's his daughter, and it has to be him. He's a superhero. He must be the one to find it."

"I can do it." Jack said, confident.

"Don't trust her." Derek shook his head.

"What choice do we have?"

"That's right, dearie, What choice do you have?" Ms. Wood agreed.

"Where is this magic?" Jack asked again.

"Tell me, Syndrome, is our friend still in the basement?"

"Oh, you wicked witch. You hid it with him?"

"Oh, no, not with him. In him. I knew you couldn't resist bringing him over."

"Who's 'him"? Jack asked.

"Someone you should be prepared for. Where you're going, you're gonna need this." Ms. Wood opened a case, revealing a sword.

"What is that?"

"Merida's sword."

---------

At the hospital, Jack stood over Hilary's bedside, holding the book. He lightly stroked her hair.

"Hilary... you were right about the curse. I should have believed you. I'm sorry." He placed her book under her pillow. "For when you wake up." He kisses Hilary on the forehead and exited as Derek entered. "Say what you gotta say. You got ten minutes."

"You know where to meet?"

"Yeah. Don't be late." Jack left Derek and Hilary alone.

Derek crossed to Hilary's bedside and sadly looked at her. "I'm sorry."

"Pity, isn't it?" Randy, who was lurking in the shadows, spoke up. "There's nothing harder than not knowing whether you'll ever see a child you want again."

"Randy, now's not a good time."

"For you. Well, for me, it's the perfect time. I'm here to collect. Where is the kid?"

"Jack was supposed to eat that cake, and he didn't. As far as I'm concerned, that makes our deal null and void."

"I did what you asked, and you're gonna screw me over again?"

"Look at it however you want, Randy. The fact is, I'm done with you."

"But I'm not done with you."

"What are you going to do? Kill me? I know you want to, but I also know you can't."

"Do you?"

Derek scoffed. "Yes. You don't have it in you. Now if you excuse me... I have to save my daughter." He turned and left the room.

---------

Jack frantically knocked on the door of a room at the inn. "Kelly? Please open up. I know you're in there. Open the door."

"I can't." She answered from the other side.

Jack phased through the door. He was shocked to find Kelly laying on the bed, almost completely turned into a bird. "No. What's happening to you?"

"You can see it now. You believe."

"Yeah. I do, but... h-how do I stop this?"

"Break the curse."

"I'll try. I promise, but I gotta save Hilary first, and I need your help."

"No, you don't."

"Yeah, I do. This is all too much. I-I just... talked to Syndrome and the Witch about a quest to find magic. I can't do it, Kelly. I can't. No normal person can."

"Luckily for us, you're not normal. You can save Hilary. You can save all of... Squawk!" Her words were cut off as her transformation into a bird was completed.

"Kelly?"

---------

Outside the boarded up clock tower, Jack briefly paced as Derek arrived and unlocked the door.

"What is this place?" Jack asked.

"You want a tour, or should we just get to it?"

"Lead the way." Derek pressed a button on the wall, revealing an elevator. "Whoa."

Derek pushed down a lever that opened the door. "Get in."

"After you."

"It's a two-man job. The elevator's hand-operated. I have to stay up here and lower you down."

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"I don't think you have much choice in the matter, Jack."

"This battle I'm supposed to fight—who is it? What's down there?"

"An old friend."

"Then why don't you go talk to them?"

"Because his punishment here was different than everyone else's. I trapped him... in a different form. He doesn't wanna hear from me. You have to trust me on that."

"Okay, I'll go down there. But let's be clear about something... 'Syndrome'. The only reason you're not dead is because I need your help to save Hilary. If she dies... so do you."

"Well, then let's get on with it. Now, this is what you're going to have to do."

Jack entered the elevator and was lowered down a shaft. The elevator arrived at the bottom of the shaft. Jack found himself in a mining tunnel and started to walk through, when he briefly looked at a broken Omnidroid. Suddenly, a glowing yellow eye and one red eye appeared behind him, and Mor'du roared as Jack faced him.

Jack was poised to fight the bear. He looked at the sword. "The heck with this." He dropped it and shot at the bear with his laser vision. Mor'du swiped his claws at Jack as he ran and hid behind a rock formation.

---------

At the hospital. Laura Reed sat at Hilary's bedside, reading an excerpt from the book. She put it down and touched her hand.

"Hilary... when I gave you this book, it was because I knew... I know life doesn't always have a happy end." Her voice began to break. "But I thought..." The machines started beeping rapidly. "What is it? Dr. Whale!?" Dr. Whale and several nurses rushed in. "Dr. Whale, what is that?! What—What's wrong?"

He put his hand on the side of Hilary's neck. "Nurse, get her out of here now!"

"What is it, please? What is it?"

A nurse escorted Laura Reed out, and another tried performing CPR on Hilary.

"Her heart rate's falling. Come on, Hilary."

"Nurse to ICU, STAT." A voice announced on the PA system. "Nurse to ICU, STAT. Defibrillator team to ICU, defibrillator team to ICU."

---

Elsewhere in the hospital, dressed in scrubs, Randy grabbed a jacket and snuck behind one of the curtains in the ICU, over to the comatose patient's bedside. He selected the song 'La Llorona' on his music player and pressed play. The man slowly began to wake up.

"Come with me." Randy extended his hand to him.

The man took his hand and stood up. "Who are you? What's going on?"

"My name is Randy, and I need your help to do something that I can't. There's a woman. Her name is Ms. Cordwain. Find her. All you have to do is tell her where you've been and that Derek kept you in a coma."

"Wait a minute, what?" The man looked at him, confused.

"It's very important. Ms. Cordwain's gonna protect you, but you have to tell her Derek kept you in a coma. She's gonna know what to do. You understand?"

The man nodded in agreement. "Yes, I-I have to find Ms. Cordwain."

---------

Jack kept shooting his laser vision at Mor'du, but realized it wasn't working. He spied the sword on the ground near him and rushed over to pick it up. "Hey!" When the bear turned to him, Jack threw the sword towards the bear's belly. Mor'du disintegrated into ash, leaving the egg container that contained the True Love Potion on top of the pile. Jack walked over to it and picked it up.

---------

On the main street, Clark was packing up his truck. He took one more look at the clock tower, then drove off.

---------

Jack was riding the elevator back up when it suddenly stopped. "Derek! What was that? Derek!" Jack looked up, and saw Ms. Wood leaning over the edge of the shaft.

"Jack? You've got it?"

"Ms. Wood. What are you doing here?"

"I've come to check on you. I'm glad I did. Derek abandoned you and sabotaged the elevator."

"What? I'm coming up."

"No. There's no time for this. You can't possibly scale the wall and carry that."

"Yeah? Well, I can teleport up."

"Just toss it up. Your girl's gonna be fine. I promise. We're running out of time. Toss it up."

"Okay. You hold on to it, I'll be right up." Jack tossed the egg up to Ms. Wood. Once she had it, she left. "Ms. Wood? Wood!" Jack teleported out of the shaft to find Derek gagged and tied to a chair. "Derek." Jack ripped the tape off of Derek's mouth and begins to untie him.

"She tricked you! How could you give her that?"

"Where is she?"

"Gone. Wood." Derek snarled. "She manipulated all of this."

"Come on. She can't be that far." Both their cell phones started ringing and they checked them. "It's the hospital."

---------

Jack and Derek arrived at the hospital and rushed to Hilary's room. They arrived in time to see Dr. Whale and Sister Julia leaving the room.

"We did everything we could."

"I'm sorry. You're too late."

Jack entered the room, where a nurse turned off the machine and removed a breathing mask from Hilary's face. Both Jack and Derek looked at the girl, heartbroken.

---------

In the backroom of the shoe store, Ms. Cordwain was stocking the shelves when the bell rang, indicating someone entering.

"Um, excuse me? Are you Ms. Cordwain?" A man's voice asked.

"Yes, I am, but I'm afraid the shop's closed--" She turned around and froze in shock. Standing before her was her husband.

"I was, uh, I was told to--to find and tell you that Derek had me in a coma." He explained. "Does--does that mean anything to you?"

Ms. Cordwain stared at him, completely speechless, and made her way towards him. Last time she saw him, they were in the Land of the Dead. He was a disheveled skeleton on the brink of Final Death. Now here he was, looking just as he did in life. She reached out and touched his shoulder. "You're here. You're alive. He did this to you?"

"I was told you'd protect me."

She tightly wrapped her arms around him, sobbing. "Oh, si. Si, I'll protect you."

"Um, I'm sorry." He pulled away, looking at her, confused. "Do--do I know you?"

---------

In the hospital ICU, Jack, Derek, Dr. Whale, and Sister Julia were gathered around Hilary's bed.

"No. No." Derek broke down.

Jack knelt down beside Hilary, tears running down his face. "I love you, Hilary." He kissed her forehead and a pulse of magic spread throughout the room.

Hilary gasped and woke up. "I love you, too. You saved me." They smiled at each other.

"You did it." Derek said in disbelief.

The pulse of magic spread throughout the town. Laura Reed, Michelle, and Ellen, Felix, and Clark were each affected by the blast. They looked slightly confused. Clark, nearing the 'Leaving Pixfare' sign, stopped his truck and looked back.

"Hilary... what's going on?" Jack wondered, looking around.

"No." Derek realized, horrified.

"The curse. I think you broke it."

"That was true love's kiss." Sister Julia added.

"No. No!" Derek snarled.

"If I were you, Syndrome, I'd find a place to hide."

Derek kneeled by Hilary's bedside. "Hilary... no matter what you think, no matter what anyone tells you, I do love you." He rushed out of the room.

---------

Clark was walking along the sidewalk when he spotted Laura Reed across the street. "Helen!" He called out to her.

She looked up at the sound of his voice. "Bob." The two ran over to each other and kissed.

---------

A dejected Derek sat in Hilary's room at their house. He grabbed one of her pillows off the bed and screamed into it.

---------

The man was watching Ms. Cordwain work on a pair of shoes when he suddenly stopped. "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait..." He turned to face her. "Imelda! You're alive?" He looked at his hands, shocked to see that he also had skin. "So am I. We're back in the Land of the Living?!" He stood up and belted out a grito.

"Could you keep it down? I'm trying--"

He picked her up and swung her around, laughing. "Lo recuerdo todo. I'm the love of your life."

"Yes, yes, you are." She rolled her eyes and smiled. "And you haven't changed a bit."

---------

Ms. Wood was walking through the woods. She reached a well at the edge of the forest and dropped the potion into it. A thick purple smoke started to emerge from the well and began to spread.

---------

"Hilary, what's going on here? If the curse is broken, why didn't they go back?" Jack wondered.

"I... I don't know."

A nurse suddenly dropped the tray she was holding and stared out the window.

Jack approached her. "You okay?" He and Hilary looked out the window at the approaching smoke. "What is that?"

"Something bad." Hilary said.

----

Still in Hilary's room at home, Derek looked out the window at the smoke engulfing the town. He smiled.

----

Clark and Laura Reed held onto each other as the smoke continues to engulf Pixfare, including them. The smoke wrapped around the clock tower, as the clock struck 1:13.


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