NOTE: The nameless villian now has a name! >:D
Chapter 11: Vulnerare
Though normally one to sleep in long after everyone else had already risen, Isabel was oddly compelled to get out of bed early, the next morning. She shoved some French toast with cinnamon and whipped cream into her mouth and without a word she was out the door.
Gently hiking up and down the lush, green hills was becoming routine for Isabel. Not only was it relaxing, but she was able to think more clearly when the soothing, tranquil breeze blew through her hair.
All of a sudden, the wind became more dynamic and powerful as a chilling voice began moaning sinisterly. Feeling slightly unsettled, Isabel continued walking but at a slower pace. The moaning became louder and harder to ignore.
“It’s me…” the familiar, blood-curdling voice said softly.
“WHO ARE YOU!?” Isabel demanded.
Suddenly, the voice manifested itself into a long, lean, female figure. Her body seemed translucent. It was the same spiritual being that had shown up at the beach party. A menacing smile gradually appeared on her face.
“Hello,” she muttered creepily.
“Leave me alone,” Isabel stated as she stood her ground and blinked disquietly.
The wicked woman snickered, “That’s the last thing I’m going to do,”
Isabel stood and stared in fear.
“I don’t believe I have formally introduced myself,” she continued. “I am Vulnerare.”
Isabel was beginning to get annoyed, “Um…listen, Vulnerare, in the past 10 days, all of my most treasured dreams have come true and all of my worst nightmares have been realized, and I am not about to let some…some evil spirit get in the way of that, okay!?”
She then attempted to walk away but was stopped as soon as Vulnerare caught up to her and blocking her way.
Vulnerare smirked, “I’m afraid I can’t let you go…”
“What do you want from me!?” Isabel asked in flustered desperation.
Vulnerare couldn’t help but snicker once more, “I don’t want anything from you; I am you.”
Isabel’s eyes widened, “Huh!?”
“I am the personification of all of your fears, insecurities, faults and vulnerabilities.” Vulnerare explained.
“…Wow, that’s the scariest, most amazing thing I have ever heard…” Isabel declared in petrified fascination.
Vulnerare chuckled under her breath, “You have no idea…”
“…So, you basically represent all my weaknesses…? You’re an incarnate of all my deepest, darkest flaws and anxieties…?” Isabel clarified.
“That’s right,” Vulnerare confirmed. “Like, for example, you’re scared to grow up. So, you got what you wanted; you’re now stuck in your fantasy world forever, where you’ll never grow up…”
Isabel fell silent.
“Bet you wanted to come here to escape your insecurities instead of confront them, isn’t that right, my dear!?” Vulnerare tittered evilly.
“Get away from me!” Isabel said as she stomped off angrily.
This time, Vulnerare let her leave as she continued to laugh maniacally. Isabel ran all the way to the cottage nearly in tears.
Later that day, a user named Cc71 came walking down the meticulous stairs in the cottage to greet her friends. Surely enough, StraightACarlaay, Latersgee, Samlovesham and PurpleStripedFudgeParole239 were all there waiting for her.
“Hey, girl!” Laters hailed.
“Hey, guys!” Cc beamed. “What’s going on?”
“Not much,” Samlovesham replied. “We were just wondering what to do and then we found this old Monopoly game in the closet and decided to play…care to join us..?”
“We also found this hula hoop!” Fudge added as she gracefully and effortlessly swung the hoop around her waist.
“Yeah, there were tons of weird and quirky toys and trinkets in the closet,” Carlaay avowed.
Cc raised her eyebrow in curiosity and interest and kneeled down with Carlaay and Samlovesham to play the game.
Within an hour, Slappy, Tash, Lucy and Candy came onto the scene.
“Hello, everybody!” Slappy hollered out with a grin.
“Slappy, what are you doing here…?” SLH asked.
“Just setting up our poker game,” Slappy responded.
“You guys play poker..?” Cc asked in intrigue.
“Yeah, you should join us!” Tash said as he smiled at her.
“Well, we were kind of playing a Monopoly game and you guys are invading our space!” Laters irately pointed out.
“Too bad!” Lucy sassed. “You guys have been playing for like an hour; it’s our turn, now!”
“Besides, Monopoly is lame; poker is where it’s at!” Candy added confidently.
“Did I hear you say you’re playing poker!?” Yoshi asked as he popped up excitedly.
“Yes,” Lucy answered him as she raised a disapproving eyebrow.
“Strip poker!?” Yoshi could barely contain himself.
“No…” Tash replied uncomfortably.
“Oh, phooey,” Yoshi slinked away in disappointment.
Abruptly following his exit, Marc, Maryan and Rosalie entered the scene.
“Guys, guess what!? There’s a library here! Who knew!?” Marc announced as he struggled to carry a large stack of books.
“Oh, really…?” Slappy narrowed his eyes skeptically.
“Yes, he’s telling the truth!” Maryan affirmed in pleasant surprise.
“I think it might be every book CP has ever read…” Rosalie inferred.
“Ha-ha, I don’t care what the reasoning behind it is; all I know is that I’m going to have a major reading session, tonight!” Marc happily announced.
At that, Fudge discontinued hula-hooping as her eyes sparkled with an idea, “You guys, you know what we should do!? Throw an all-nighter!”
The occupied users glanced at one another in confusion.
Fudge giggled, “It will be fun! We can all play poker and Monopoly in unity and harmony! Meanwhile, we can also read all the books and I can finally break my hoop record! Cc, Carlaay, will you guys keep count…?”
“Sure!” they both said.
“I can bake cookies!” SLH timidly suggested.
"I could play my music," Tash supplemented.
“Awesome! Looks like we’ve got our night planned!” Fudge declared with a toothy smile.
While the young, eager internet friends began buzzing with enthusiasm, things were considerably more serious on the other side of the cottage. Alica and Becky were both walking towards each other from opposite directions. Stares of guilt pierced and punctured into the other’s eyes. Finally, they both stopped right in front of each other.
After a moment or two of awkward silence, Alica opened her mouth to say something.
“…I’m so sorry about everything; I’ve just been going nuts, lately. I swear it’s like I only have partial control over what I say these days…”
Becky briefly pondered what she wanted to say in response, “…I feel that way too, actually…” her voice cracked slightly.
“I’m just so sick of fighting over pointless stuff…” Alica continued. “I hate how different things are between us, now…”
Becky blinked sympathetically, “I know, but…” she heaved a sad sigh. “Everything is different, now…”
Quietly observing in the background was none other than Ar0n, who couldn’t help but feel a tad responsible for all the trouble. He wanted to say something, but his sweaty palms and trembling voice prevented him from approaching them.
In the intervening time, Jon, SFG and Churchpants were thoroughly enjoying themselves on the bounce house.
“99 monkeys jumping on the bed! One fell of and broke his head!” SFG chanted happily as she bounced.
All of a sudden, Jon tripped and fell off the bounce house.
“Ow! I broke my head!” Jon groaned.
Churchpants rolled her eyes, “Ugh, quit being dramatic Jon; you did not break your head!”
Just then, PurpleJerk ran over to them.
“Jon, Spencie, Echoo! We’re throwing an all-nighter tonight and you’re all invited! Tell everyone you know!” She screamed and ran away.
The three users were left glancing thoughtfully at each other.
Never was the nightfall more highly anticipated than that night. As soon as the sun went down, everyone began to partake in the many activities.
Dejectedly walking down the stairs after a long day of moping in her canopy bed was Isabel. Immediately noticing all the hustle and bustle as she came down, she walked through a sea of her acquaintances having fun. Loud music was blaring.
At last she made it to the kitchen where Samlovesham, TaraBridgette and Otherworldly Poptart were busy at work making cookies.
“Um, hey guys…” Isabel greeted anxiously.
Samlovesham who was parading around the island counter throwing flour with her two friends trailing behind her, stopped hastily at the sight of Isabel.
Pop and Tara glimpsed awkwardly at one another.
“…What are you guys doing…?” Isabel asked hesitantly.
“We’re baking cookies!” Pop answered cheerfully.
“Do you want to help us…?” SLH timorously offered.
“…Nah, you guys look like you’re already on a roll without me…” Isabel gloomily responded.
SLH blinked apologetically, “…Um, okay, suit yourself…”
Isabel then walked away, attempting to hide her misery. She hated feeling left out.
As she walked out of the cottage, her mind began to fill with negative thoughts, which was nothing new for her.
All this time they were having fun without me.
They didn’t even bother to come looking for me and when they did see me, they didn’t automatically ask me to join.
They barely even acknowledged my existence.
Eventually, she made it to the end of the boardwalk at the beach and slumped onto the fence.
Isabel sighed. Even in my own fantasy world, I can never be freaking happy…
The full moon had risen and the stars were twinkling.
Tears began to stream down her cheeks.
“You really are better off alone, aren’t you…?” Vulnerare’s voice overpowered the region.
Isabel looked around, trying to place her emotional embodiment.
“When you’re online, you expect everyone to bow down to you as if you were a real princess; you enjoy the feeling of having power over their every whim….but it’s different in real life, isn’t it? Now, everyone can see you for who you truly are…a loser!”
With that, Isabel broke into sobs. The truth always hurt the most.
"I'll leave you here to drown in your own self-pity, now..." Vulnerare hissed.
A few hours later, Isabel trudged back inside. Most of the energy had died down but a few were still awake and lurking around.
It was dark, but as soon as she turned on the lights, she spotted Slappy sneaking pie from the fridge.
“Ugh, really Slappy!?” Isabel scorned.
Then, without warning, Yoshi ran across the room naked.
Isabel’s eyes widened as he looked at Slappy and absorbed what had just happened.
“He sleep-streaks,” Slappy enlightened her.
“Ah,” Isabel nodded.
On that note, she groaned and was back up to bed after a hard day.
Sitting quietly on the opposite side of the cottage was Alica. Staring intently into space, she didn’t notice Ar0n coming towards her. Once she looked up, her face softened.
Ar0n smiled bashfully and sat down with her. He took her hand and leaned on her shoulder.