Warning: This chapter contains extremely minor spoilers considering the Rise of the Guardians movie!
The world seems so much less colorful.
Nowhere do you hear the sounds of children’s laughter, the pitter patter of small feet against pavement gone away on holiday.
What few voices you do catch are sad and dejected.
Unable to stay in your prison of a house, drowning in sorrow, you had decided that you needed a walk.
Your hands shoved in your pockets, you rarely look up, your gaze focused down on the ground as you walk down the quiet street.
You soon come upon little Jamie’s home. He and his friends are lounging around in the front yard, passing away the Saturday morning.
Jamie is babbling away about how he saw the Guardians last night, excitedly relaying the details of each of them to his friends, who seem to be either ignoring or only halfheartedly listening to him. He seems to be especially caught on Bunny’s characteristics.
As you pass by, you’re able to briefly see a couple of the kids through a hole in the fence. You can just barely perceive a deep fear underlying their blank expressions.
Nightmares. Sandy’s absence has really allowed Pitch to reign freely over the dreams of children, instilling fear upon fear in them as they innocently sleep, showing on their faces the next morning.
You walk on, Jamie’s bubbly voice growing fainter and fainter the farther you go, eventually no longer audible to your ears.
The dark, ominous clouds remained through the night and dominate the sky even now, blocking out the sun, holding back hope as their captive.
You finally look up to see that your feet have taken you to the edge of the woods that contains the familiar frozen lake.
You figure that a visit won’t hurt. He’s probably up at the Pole, anyway. Or someplace else, helping the Guardians in their struggle against Pitch.
So, you step into the woods.
You eventually make it to the lake. The snow has melted a bit, the tips of green grass and faces of grey rocks beginning to pop through the white blanket. The ice still looks fairly thick, though, as if Jack Frost has just skated along and refreshed its surface.
You stand at the lake’s edge and look out at it, letting its serenity flow into your turbulent soul.
There’s the spot where you landed a perfect 360. There’s where you had made the most flawless snow angel capable of a mortal human being. And there, that branch…there is where you had watched the sunset and moonrise, seen snow come to life, and sat with Jack, his arm wrapped around you for a few last, precious moments before…
You feel tears begin to roll down your cheeks, falling into the snow, melting it where they drop.
You feel a chill run down your spine. As if someone is watching you.
You survey the area closely, your senses on-guard.
Then, from behind a tree, a Nightmare emerges, its dark figure deeply contrasting the pure white of the snow that it stands on.
Another one reveals itself a few feet from the first.
Soon, you’re completely surrounded by Nightmares.
“Oh, how beautifully sentimental,” a silky voice mocks from behind you. You slowly turn to face its owner, your back now to the lake.
Pitch stands a few feet from you, just slightly forward from the closest Nightmare. His hands are folded patiently behind his back, his lips curled into an evil grin.
“What do you want, Pitch? Haven’t you done enough?” you snap, referring to the death of Sandy. You also don’t appreciate him invading the space that you hold so dear to your heart. This place is for you and Jack, and you and Jack only. How dare he come here.
“There’s a little something I need your help with,” he says, his smile not fading in the least.
“And what makes you think I’m going to help you?” He’s really starting to get on your nerves. You just want to be left alone. There’s nothing he can use you for now that Jack has forgotten you, anyway.
He chuckles. “I suppose we’re going to have to do this the hard way, then.”
His smile vanishes, replaced suddenly by a grim, stern look that catches you off-guard.
Then, you feel yourself fall into nothingness, your sense of direction thrown completely off as you tumble through a black void.
You know from past experience that screaming through the horrific ride is pointless, but a few silent yelps make their way out of you nevertheless. You shut your eyes tightly in hopes of preventing excess dizziness and to make the dark seem less…dark.
You smack into cold, hard stone as the journey ends.
Groaning a little from the hard impact and blinking as your eyes adjust to the dim light, you slowly get up, regaining your balance, your senses on high alert.
You’ve been transported right into Pitch’s lair, the skeleton bronze globe standing quietly beside you. There are far less blips of light shining on it than the last time you remember.
Above you, you hear the rattling of cages, thousands of small wings beating and excited chirps ringing in your ears.
Looking up, you see cage upon cage dangling from the roof of the cavern, just like the last time you were here and found yourself trapped in one. Except, this time, they aren’t empty.
This time, each one is filled with Baby Teeth.
You feel a knot form in your throat at the sight of all of them, wishing you had a way to fly up and free them from their confinement.
You smile weakly up at them. “Don’t worry,” you hoarsely say, “everything will be all right.”
You hear a chorus of agreeing chirps echo through the dark, damp cave.
Unable to look up at the cages any longer, your attention turns to something else.
Mounds upon mounds of small, golden boxes rise up from the cave floor. There must me thousands of them, millions, even. You can just make out the pictures of faces on the sides of the semicircular containers. They’re faces of children.
Your eyes widen.
These are the teeth of all of the children of the world. All people, for that matter, remembering that Tooth collects and keeps everyone’s in case they ever need to remember something important.
Jack’s memories! Your heart begins to race. If you can just find them, then maybe you can somehow get them to one of the Guardians to give to Jack so he can remember his past…so he can know why he’s here and become the Guardian you know he can be.
You already know what picture you’d be looking for thanks to the dreams and nightmares you’ve had about Jack’s past self.
Just as you’re about to leap into your search, Pitch manifests before you, making you stop in your tracks.
The Baby Teeth grow louder, shouting down at him in their small voices. A wicked, menacing look from him quickly quiets them.
A Nightmare comes up behind you, telling you without words that escape is futile. Even if you were to jump off either side of the elevated walkway, it would surely catch you and just bring you right back to your current spot.
You’re stuck right where you are.
Pitch holds one hand behind his back, the other held out slightly in front of him as he opens and closes it along with his speech.
“Now,” he begins, “I just want to ask a small…favor of you. Not like you have much of a choice, really,” he adds in an undertone.
You fold your arms, leaning the majority of your weight on one leg in a confident stance, hiding the fact that you’re shaking oh so slightly.
“Go ahead then. Talk,” you say, trying your hardest to hide the fear that is slowly eating away at you. You refuse to be afraid. At least...You refuse to show that you’re afraid.
“Now that,” he says as he smirks, his one hand rejoining the other behind his back.
“…is more like it.”
Behind you, the Nightmare huffs and clops its hooves anxiously against the stone, the isolated sound reverberating throughout the cavern.