Ness watched as the monster turned to a powdery dust and fell to the ground.
"Ness! Ness! Oh my God-" Paula threw her arms around him. Ness was in such a shock from what he had just done that she almost weighed him down.
"That..." Jeff said, coming up behind Ness, "Was a Skullspirit." he ran a hand through his blonde hair, "Thankfully, a very weak monster."
"Most impressive, Ness." Poo clapped a hand on the shoulder that didn't have a woman's face pressed against it.
Ness seemed to be slowly coming back to his senses, "Mo- mon- mon- MONSTER?!" he exclaimed, pulling away from all three of them and slamming backwards into the gate. "WOAH! Wait a minute!" he was holding onto the gate with one hand, almost to steady himself. He gestured wildly with the other. "Monster? "
"Ness-" Paula started, venturing forward.
"Wait!" Ness shouted. He started laughing nervously, "You... You're telling me... Wait a second, let me just get this straight..." he used both hands to support himself now. He was still laughing, "That- thing - was a monster ?!"
Oh great, Paula thought, Now he's really gone crazy. She walked forward again, "Ness, please. Listen to me-"
"What kind of monster, exactly?" Ness asked, still sounding hysterical, "Was- ha ha ha- Was that the kind of monster that- that hides under your bed? Or- or in your closet? Y'know, there are so many different types, and you know everyone's seen at least one-"
"NESS, SNAP OUT OF IT!" Paula slapped him across the face. She felt her own face fall, "Oh, Ness, I'm so sorry-"
"No, no." Ness said. He had stopped laughing, "Actually, thank you. I needed that..." He let go of the fence and stood up.
"I should say you did," Jeff said, "A bit of a shock you got there, I suppose..."
"I do not mean to interrupt," said Poo suddenly, "But it is getting quite late, and no doubt more monsters are on their way. We should get what we came for and leave."
"Right." Paula nodded, "Jeff and Poo, you wait out here and keep on the lookout. Ness, you come with me. Let's go." She opened the gate to the house.
Ness looked up at it. Somehow his feet felt rooted to the ground.
"Ness, c'mon," said Paula. Ness willed his feet to move, and followed her in.
The house was dark. Wait, scratch that. Everything in the house was black. With glowing neon outlines. It nearly made Ness' eyes hurt just to look around.
Paula walked in, silently. There didn't seem to be anyone there. She turned, and Ness was hesitating in the doorway. She felt a feeling of pity settle on her shoulders. Here he was, back in this own home- No matter how different it was now, it was still his home- and he didn't recognize it a bit.
Save it for later, she told herself, turned, and walked further into the house. She passed the small table where the phone used to rest; in place of the phone was what looked like a Picasso painting brought to life and gone wrong. It was so twisted and weird that Paula could barely stand to look at it. She kept going till she reached the bookcase.
It was at this point that Ness decided to venture forth into the house. He looked around, then looked down at his hands to make sure he himself wasn't glowing. He wasn't.
A sudden thought crossed his mind, one that had been lingering on the side for a while, but had finally decided to show itself. He opened his mouth to tell Paula, "Paula-" he started.
"Shh." she said. She was searching the shelves of the bookcase.
Ness frowned. It seemed she wasn't going to let him say anything, much less ask what she was looking for and could he help, so he looked around until the strange sculpture on the small table caught his eye. It was black like everything else in the room, but slowly pulsating with white light. He walked towards it half-hypnotized, trying to make out the strange curves and corners. But suddenly something lying beside it caught his attention.
It was a thick, binder-like book, and the edges glowed brown. Ness picked it up and opened it.
A hot white light burned across his face. He shut the book quickly.
"What was that?" Paula asked, turning.
"Uh-" Ness said.
"You found it!" Paula ran up to him, looking at the book. "Now, let's get out of here."
And so they went... Teleport Alpha back to the tunnel, then through it- They didn't need a key this time, they only had to set foot in the tunnel and back they were at the car. Ness looked up. The stars were normal.
Paula and Jeff got back into the car. Ness stood looking into the depths of the tunnel, wondering what would happen if he set foot in it without the key-
He felt a hand on his shoulder. Poo.
"All will be explained in time, my friend." Poo said.
"Poo, right?" Ness asked, acting as though that name, along with the other two, wasn't burned deeply into his mind, "You seem like a real spiritual guy. Lemme ask you something."
Poo held up a hand to silence him. "All in time." Then he closed his eyes and vanished.
A dream... It was all a dream... It can't have been real... Paula, Jeff, Poo.... That weird monster-skull-thing... That can't have been real. I must have been dreaming.
Then why is this bed so soft?
Ness opened his eyes, and saw that he was still in the hotel. It hadn't been a dream after all.
Great, he thought bitterly, sitting up.
"Ness?" the door to the adjoining room opened a crack, and Paula's voice filtered in, "You up?"
"Depends on your definition of 'up'," Ness called back.
"Good," said Paula, "Get dressed, okay? Then we'll see if we can get you to remember anything."
Ness' eyes glanced at the digital clock beside the hotel bed. It was nine-thirty in the morning.
"Why not?" he asked, more to himself than anyone else, and got out of bed. His jeans were lying right beside the bed; he pulled them on and walked to the dresser, where all the different shirts he and Paula had bought yesterday were put. He opened the drawer, when he felt a presence in the room. He turned and gave a small shout of surprise. Poo was lying on the other bed.
"God, will you please knock before you teleport?" Ness asked, picking out a red sweater with a yellow stripe through the middle.
"Impossible." Poo said quite simply, "For you see, there is no door-"
"Spare me the explanations, Public Transportation Boy." Ness said, putting the sweater on, "It's early."
"I understand this concept of earliness," said Poo, "Not something I practice myself. However, Paula and Jeff need me. And I seem to recall that you needed me as well for something last night." he added as Ness sat down on his own bed.
"Hmm?" Ness asked, yawning, "Oh. Right. Later, okay?" He began pulling on a pair of socks.
"Ness? Are you dressed?" Paula asked.
"Yeah, I'm decent." Ness answered. Paula entered with Jeff and the book, which was still black and still glowing, and no doubt had that same searing light within it. Ness didn't see what help it would be to him, but he didn't say anything.
"All right." Paula sighed, placing the book on the bed where Poo lay, "Everyone place a hand on it." She, Jeff, and Poo did. Ness did, too, but only after a glance from Paula.
There was a rushing noise, as if a strong wind was blowing towards them. The black coloring of the book faded as did the glowing edges, revealing a brown leather binder. Ness didn't bat an eye. After all the weird stuff that had happened recently, seeing a book change color was rather a trivial matter.
"And now," said Poo, "I must be off. I apologize, Ness, perhaps we can talk some other time." He teleported out.
"That guy is extremely weird." said Ness.
"You'll get used to him," Jeff said, "Well, it seems that I must depart as well. I was up rather early, so by now I think it's time for breakfast. You don't mind, Paula?"
"Of course not."
"Good. See you." Jeff was gone.
"Well," Paula said, turning to Ness, "I've got some stuff to do in the other room. You-" she said, handing him the book, "Look at this."
Ness watched her go. He looked at the book in his hands. Could it possibly hold every single secret of his past?
Well, time to find out, he thought. He sat on his bed and opened to page one.