In the middle of the night, Clark ran through the woods. He briefly stopped at a tree to catch his breath, and then continued running.
Hilary was seated in a chair outside the Sheriff's station, reading from her book. Jack and Ms. Wood soon came down the hallway.
"Hilary? What are you doing here?"
"I came to congratulate you."
"Your genius plan."
"And what plan's that, Hilary? Hilary looked down awkwardly. "Right." Taking the hint, Ms. Wood walked away, leaving them alone.
"Sorry. I thought Ms. Wood was in on it now that she's Clark's lawyer."
"In on what?"
"The escape plan."
"Sheriff, could you join me, please?" Ms. Wood called. Jack and Hilary joined her in front of the open, empty cell. "He's gone."
"Hilary, what did you do?"
"Nothing. He was gone when I got here."
"His arraignment's tomorrow. If he's not there--"
"He's a fugitive. Doesn't matter if he's convicted for Evelyn or not, he's screwed. I have to go find him before someone notices he's missing."
"Oh, you mean Derek."
"Thee arraignment's at 8:00 A.M. I'm sure he'll be here bright and early to celebrate his victory."
"Well, you have until 8:00 A.M. then."
"What about me, how can I help?" Hilary asked.
"Jack. If he leaves Pixfare--"
"Not now, Hilary. Come on." He ushered her toward the door.
"Jack, I know that time is of the essence," Ms. Wood chimed in. "but if Mr. Grimm doesn't return, his future's in jeopardy, and if you're caught helping him, so is yours."
"I don't care. I'd rather lose my job than my friend." Jack walked out the door.
Jack got into his car and was driving down the foggy road into the woods. Distracted, he narrowly avoided hitting a wandering man.
He stopped and got out of the car, running to him and helping him up. "I'm so sorry! Are you okay? I didn't see you there."
"Uh, I-I think so."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm fine. I'm not used to sharing the road with cars so late. You're the Sheriff, aren't you?"
"What brings you out here in the middle of the night?"
"Oh, nothing to worry about. I'm just looking for a lost dog."
"Well, I hope you find it."
"Thank you." The man started to walk away, visibly limping. "Oh, you are hurt!"
"No, I just twisted my ankle, I think. I live just a mile down the road. I can make it."
"No, let me drive you. I insist."
The man shrugged. "Thank you. I'm Randy."
"Jack." They shook hands and got into his car.
The car pulled up outside Randy's house. He and Jack got out of her car.
"Wow. This is your house? It looks more like a hotel. You must have a huge family."
"No. It's just me."
"Here. Wait." Jack turned off the car and the two headed inside.
In the living room, Jack stood by the fireplace as Randy entered, carrying a plate of sushi. He set it on the coffee table.
"Here we go. Thought you might be hungry from your search."
"That's nice of you, but I think I should get back to it."
"I know. That's why I brought this." Randy picked up a map and unrolled it. "I'm a bit of an amateur cartographer. Mapping the area is a hobby. Maybe this will help you track down your dog."
Jack looked over the map. "Wow."
"What's his name?"
Jack hesitated for a moment. "Spot."
"Well, Route 6 runs the boundary of the forest, so..." Jack took a bite of one of the sushi rolls. "So if I just follow that, I should... be able to..."
"I'm just, uh, feeling a little..." Jack began to feel faint.
"Oh. Let me help you."
"Let's just lie you down here." Randy laid him on the couch. "There you go. Let me get you some air." He started walking away.
Jack noticed the way his legs moved. "Your limp..."
"Oh. That." Randy walked back over to Jack. "I guess you caught me."
"Who are you?" Jack's head dropped onto the pillow. Randy looked at him, smiling.
Later, Jack began to wake up and found himself tied up on the couch. Noticing the utensils on the table, he used a knife to cut the tape around his wrists and free himself. He checked the windows, finding them sealed, and noticed a telescope. He looked through it, finding it was pointed at the Sheriff's Station. He used the telescope to look at the holding cell, which was still empty. He heard a strange scraping sound. Quietly opening a door, he saw Randy in the room, sharpening a chisel.
Jack closed the door quietly and teleported into another room.
"Jack." A muffled voice spoke. He turned to see Clark gagged and tied to a chair. "Help me."
"What's going on?" Jack whispered, taking the gag from his mouth and untying the ropes.
"Jack, thank goodness."
"What are you doing here?"
"I was in the woods, trying to get away. This man appeared out of nowhere and grabbed me. Why are you here?"
"I've been trying to find you. You escaped, remember? How did you get out?"
"There was a key... in my cell, under my pillow. Someone put it there."
"I don't know, I'd like to know just as much as you."
Jack opened the door, checking if the coast was clear. They slowly exited the room into the hallway. Suddenly, they heard the sound of a gun cocking.
"I see you found 'Spot.'" Randy appeared in front of them.
"I've already called for backup, they'll be here any second." Jack warned.
"You haven't called anybody... for the same reason you didn't tell me about him. You don't want anybody to know you're here, which means nobody does. So now tie him back up."
Back in the room, Clark was back in the chair, and Jack replaced the gag around his mouth. Randy stood in the doorway.
"It's gonna be okay." He stood up and faced Randy. "Your telescope. You've been watching me. Why?"
"I need you to do something" Randy took Jack by the arm and led him out of the room, closing the door.
Randy shoved Jack into another room.
"I don't know what you think you're doing, but if you hurt my friend, I swear I'll make you regret it." Jack threatened.
"Hurt him? I'm saving his life." Randy closed in on Jack, making him back away.
"Don't play stupid. We both know what happens when people try to leave Pixfare."
"What are you talking about?"
Jack looked at him for a moment. "What curse?"
"The one keeping us all trapped. All except you."
"Have you been reading Hilary's book?"
"The Mayor's adopted kid."
"Oh, right. Your Hilary. And her book of stories, the ones that you choose to ignore. Maybe if you knew what I know, you wouldn't."
"Why have you been spying on me?"
Randy moved about the room, pointing his gun at Jack's head from behind briefly, then lowered it. "Because for the last 28 years, I've been invisible in this town. No one's ever noticed me. Until one night, you, in your little yellow Bug, roll into town, and the clock ticks and things start to change. You see... I know what you refuse to acknowledge, Jack. You're special. You brought something precious to Pixfare-- magic."
"Because I speak the truth?"
"Because you're talking about magic."
"I'm talking about what I've seen. Perhaps you're the one that's crazy."
"What's crazier than seeing and not believing? Because that's exactly what you've been doing since you got to our little hamlet." He stood in front of Jack, inches from his face. "Open your eyes. Look around. Wake up. Isn't it about time?"
"What do you want?"
"I want you to get it to work." He shoved him down into a chair.
"You want me to get what to work?"
Randy looked at a wooden door leaning against the wall. "You're the only one that can do this. You're gonna get it to work." Randy dropped some wood on the table in front of Jack and pointed at the door against the wall. "Make one like that."
"You want me to make a door? You don't have enough?"
"Well, none of them work, do they? Or else you wouldn't be here." He sat down. "Now make a door and get it to work."
"You have magic, you can do it."
Jack briefly looked around. "The doors, the sushi, invisible... your squinty eyes... You think you're Randall."
"Okay. You've clearly glommed onto my kid Hilary's thing. They're just stories. Randall is in 'Monsters Inc.', a book. A book I actually read."
"Stories... stories? What's a story? When you were in high school, did you learn about the Civil War?"
"Yeah, of course."
"How? Did you read about it, perchance, in a book? How is that any less than any other book?"
"History books are based on history."
"And storybooks are based on what, imagination? Where does that come from? It has to come from somewhere." Randy scoffed. "You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants some magical solution to their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic." He gestured with his gun. "Now get it to work."
"Here's the thing, Randy. This is it. This is the real world."
"A real world." Randy leaned toward Jack. "How arrogant are you to think yours is the only one? There are infinite more. You have to open your mind. They touch one another, pressing up in a long line of lands, each just as real as the last. All have their own rules. Some have magic, some don't. And some need magic... Like this one." He handed Jack a hammer and chisel. "And that's where you come in. You and your friend aren't leaving here until you make a door. Until you get it to work."
"And then what?"
"Then I go home."
Soon, Jack has finished carving the door. He slammed the tools down on the table.
"I can't make it work. What you're asking me is impossible."
"No! It has to be. If it's not, I'm never going home. I'll be cursed to be invisible forever."
"What is so cursed about your life? Look at this place, it's beautiful. It doesn't seem cursed to me."
"It's cursed because, like everyone else here, what I want has been ripped from me. Take a look." Jack looked through the telescope and saw a little girl with her family. "That's the kid that came into the monster world."
"You think she's Boo?"
"I don't think. I know. I remember. That's my curse."
"What good is this house, these things, if I'm invisible to everyone?"
"Why do you want her so much?"
"Once I'm back with the kid, I will revolutionize the scaring industry. And when I do, even the great James P. Sullivan is gonna be working for me."
"I know what it's like to be separated from a kid that you want."
"Yeah, you do, don't you?"
"It can make you feel like you're losing your mind."
"I'm not losing my mind. I'm not crazy. This is real."
"Maybe. Maybe it is."
"If what you say is true, that man in the other room is my father. And I want to believe that more than anything in the world. So maybe you're right. Maybe I need to open myself up more. Maybe if I want magic, I have to start believing."
"So you're gonna help me? You can get it to work?"
"I can try." As Randy turned and picked up the door from the table, Jack turned into monster form and punched him, knocking him out. He turned back to normal, took the gun from him, and ran down the hall to the room where Clark was. He opened the door and began to free him. "Hey, it's all right. I'm gonna get you out of here. You're gonna be okay. He can't hurt you anymore--"
"Jack, look out!" Randy ran into the room and tackled Jack, knocking him into Clark, still in the chair, and all three landed on the floor. Jack tried to get to the gun, and Randy moved to stop him as Clark freed himself. Randy stood up, took the gun, cocking it, and pointed it at Jack. He put the door against the wall and smiled. "Look at the savior now! You stupid, pathetic waste! Now your time is up! And don't worry! I'll take good care of the kid!" Clark picked up a baseball bat and struck Randy with it, and then threw him out the window. He turned to Jack. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." The two looked out the window, down to the ground. Among the shards of glass was the broken door, but no sign of Randy.
Outside the house, Jack and Clark examined the wood pieces on the ground.
"There's no sign of him anywhere."
"Who was he?"
"A very lonely man. By the way, where'd you learn to fight like that?"
Clark shook his head, stunned. "I have no idea where that came from." They approached Jack's car, covered, in the driveway. "Oh. Jack, look." Jack uncovered the car and opened the door, discovering the keys on the driver's seat. He showed them to Clark and both men sighed in relief. "So, Sheriff, I guess you'll be taking me back now."
"Here. Go." He tossed Clark the keys.
"You want me to run?"
"No, but it's your choice. Just know something—Running isn't easy, I've done my share of it. And once you go, there's no stopping."
"Jack, everyone thinks I killed Evelyn."
"Clark, you have to believe me. You have to trust me. I know it seems impossible, but I can get you out of this."
"Why is it so important to you what happens to me?"
"Because I realized, all my life, I've been alone. Walls up. Nobody's ever been there for me, except for you and Laura Reed. And I'm not sure why, but you guys feel like family."
"Friends. Whatever. You know what I mean. Wouldn't you rather face this together than alone?" Clark handed him back the keys. The two exchanged a look as the clock begin to chime. "The arraignment. Derek."
Outside the Sheriff's Department, the parking space marked 'Sheriff' was still empty. Derek arrived and got out of his car. He smirked as he headed inside. As Derek walked into the main room, he stopped, shocked to see Clark, in his cell, reading the newspaper.
"Excuse me, but my client is not having any visitors." Ms. Wood chimed in.
"Of course not."
"I'll see you out." She and Derek exited into the hall.
"What is he doing here?"
"He came back."
"You said this was going to work. That he'd take the key, that he'd go."
"And he did. But it seems that Jack is rather more resourceful than we thought. Fear not, Syndrome. Mr. Grimm is still guilty of murder. You may yet get what you want."
"Oh, I better. The only reason I made a deal with you, Wood, is because I wanted results."
"And results you shall have. See you at the arraignment."
Outside the elementary school, Hilary sat on a bench and Jack joined her.
"Hilary. Well... I found Clark."
"How is he?"
"He's okay. Other than being on trial for murder, he's fine." A group of girls walked past them.
"Hi, Hilary." One of the girls greeted her.
"Who is that?"
"Her name's Mary. She goes to school with me."
"Hilary, do you have your storybook with you? Can I see it?"
"Yeah, why?" She opened her backpack.
"I'm just curious about something." Hilary took out the book and handed it to him. Jack opened it and looked at a few pages.
"What? What is it?"
"Jack? Jack?" The school bell rang. "I gotta go."
"Right. Can I hold on to this?"
"Absolutely." Hilary smiled. Jack flipped through the pages of the book, finding everything Randy was talking about in there. "What is it?"
Jack stared at a picture of Randall chasing Mike and Sully through the door vault. "Nothing."
More Privileged Chapters
Download the app and become a privileged reader today! Come take a sneak peek at our author's stockpiled chapters!Download
This's an experimental test for reading assistance in case.
We highly recommend you to enjoy the beauty of the original words.