Warning: This chapter contains spoilers regarding the Rise of the Guardians movie!
You slam into cold, hard metal, sharp decorative points on the boxes painfully digging into multiple parts of your flesh.
You aren’t given any time to recover whatsoever.
You quickly begin to slide down the pile, the slick boxes unable to stay in place with the extra weight and force of your impact.
You struggle to stay as close to the top as possible, not wanting to sink into the dark depths below. You grab onto the moving boxes as if they were rocks on a climbing wall, your feet constantly giving out from underneath you in your effort.
Thinking quickly, you scoop a few boxes aside, forming a makeshift ledge for you to perch on. With something of an empowering grunt, you leap up to the step that you have created for yourself, jamming the tops of your feet into the pile and standing securely on the boxes, the very things that were once causing your fall now preventing it. You lean your hands on the side of the mound for further stability.
A few rogue boxes tumble down past you. Then, all is still.
You brave a look back up at Pitch.
He’s standing at the edge of the walkway, looking down upon you, a wide grin plastered on his long face. The Nightmare stands beside him, peering over his shoulder at the scene, ready to carry out a command at a moment’s notice.
You glare at him, making it quite apparent that you are not happy with being pushed off the walkway and into a heap of not-so-soft boxes of teeth.
He chuckles lightly in response.
You try not to think about it, about finding Jack’s teeth. You want to extinguish that wish that you’ve managed to push to the very back of your mind. You think about anything else in the world—ice cream, pencils, reciting poems from memory, the most random things from all corners of your brain—to prevent that subconscious desire from calling out to Jack’s box of teeth.
But, as is known all too well, the more you don’t want to think about something, the more you actually do.
So, needless to say, that subconscious want never successfully leaves you, often coming to the front of your mind despite your valiant efforts.
It calls out to the innumerable piles of golden boxes, searching for its target.
And you can’t stop it.
Because, no matter how hard you want to think and make yourself believe that you don’t, you still want to find Jack’s lost memories.
You hear someone giggle.
It wasn’t Pitch. Though his eyes begin to sparkle with delight.
Shortly following the light laugh comes a voice.
That of a small girl.
“Ja-ack!” she playfully calls from somewhere amongst the mountains of gold. Her voice echoes loudly throughout the entire cavern, bouncing off of the walls.
It makes it nearly impossible to find exactly where it is coming from.
Pitch’s confident smile turns into a frown.
This sparks a slight hope in you.
Even if you can’t stop your wish to find Jack’s teeth, maybe the volume of the voice will prevent Pitch from actually locating the box.
“Jaaack!” comes the musical voice again.
Pitch looks in every direction, trying to place the voice’s source.
“Where is it?” he asks no one, his own voice strained. “It needs to be found before he arrives!”
Your heart begins to beat even faster than it has been.
Pitch just basically told you that Jack can also hear this mysterious voice. Probably something to do with the deep connection between a person and their lost teeth. He is undoubtedly on his way, curious as to who is calling him.
You need to make an escape before he gets here. He can’t see you. Not without too many questions arising. It’s far too dangerous.
Pitch’s distraction is giving you the perfect opportunity for a getaway.
But…just how will you get away?
You figure that hiding is probably your best and only option. You can find a way out of here later. Pitch’s plan will fall apart, so long as he doesn’t find the teeth in time. Or Jack finds them first. Just so long as Jack doesn’t stay too long and returns to the Guardians in time to save Easter…
“Ja~ack!” calls out the distant voice from the past.
You look around for any possible hiding spots. Reluctantly, you look down.
Nothing but pitch black darkness lies below.
You’d never be seen down there.
With a final glance at Pitch, who is waving off the Nightmare to go begin the assault on Easter and the Guardians, you take a deep breath and release yourself from your perch.
You slowly slide down the hill, a bit more gracefully than you initially did, the darkness enveloping you like a cold blanket.
The boxes level out, creating a blanket on the cave floor.
As you stand up, the girl’s voice rings through the entire place once again.
“Jack?” she asks.
She sounds so young. You wonder who she was, what role she played in Jack’s past.
A childhood friend? One of the neighborhood kids whom he was close to? A sister, perhaps…?
You fumble your way through the darkness, eyes opened wider than usual as they seek out light. You should be safe from view here.
Then, a couple of feet from you, a faint golden beam of light breaks through the layer of boxes, stretching upwards and faintly illuminating a spot on the underbelly of the walkway above.
Your heart skips a beat.
It can’t be, you think, frozen where you are.
But, the moment you laid eyes on it, it seemed to shine even brighter, resonating with your proximity and the seeking radar wave given off by your unintentional desire to find that particular box.
“Jack?” the little girl says again. She sounds afraid this time.
The box glows brighter along with the voice.
There’s no doubt about it. You’ve found them.
His lost memories.
You have a feeling that, if you can get your hands on them before Pitch does, they’ll not only stop calling out, but you’ll also have taken a very vital tool away from him.
Trying not to make a lot of noise, you clamber over to the box, nearly tripping a few times as your feet get caught on the semicircular boxes.
Just as your fingertips reach into the golden light, the shadows before you thicken into a tall, slim shape, taking with them a single box.
“No!” you scream, reaching up to take the glowing container from Pitch.
His grey-golden eyes pierce through the darkness, locking on you. You can just see the smug look that must be on his face in them.
“Thank you for finding these,” he says smoothly, victoriously.
Frantic chirps of a single Baby Tooth become audible.
“Baby Too—Baby Tooth, come on! I have to find out what that is!” Jack's voice echoes from somewhere distant, someplace up above.
“Ah, he’s here,” Pitch comments, his gaze shifting upwards. He then returns to you. “You’re no longer needed.”
A large chorus of chirps begins to ring throughout the cave as the Baby Teeth notice the new guests.
“Happy Easter,” he says, chuckling slightly.
Jack’s teeth begin to stop glowing. You feel the dark begin to consume you, wrapping around you, pulling down into the earth. You continue to stretch out your hand, straining to somehow take the precious teeth from Pitch’s grasp.
“Jack? Jaaack!” the girl calls. Then, she too falls to darkness, becoming silent, the box losing its glow.
Pitch turns from you. He has more pressing matters to take care of than you.
The dark completely consumes you, your heart beating wildly, frantic in every sense of the word.
“JACK!” you shriek to the spirit of winter.
But the shadows steal away your voice, sending you hurling through a portal of nightmares.
Your body meets your porch.
Not even noticing the pain from the harsh landing, you sit back on your feet, your hands curled into tight fists, head bowed as tears stream down your face.
Pitch has Jack’s teeth. His entire plan will work out as-intended.
And there was nothing you could do to stop it.
You helped it, in fact. Not willingly, but you still hate yourself for doing such a thing.
Fatigue and soreness from multiple injuries beginning to take over and no more tears left to cry, you slowly get up and stumble over to your door, barely having the strength and will to open it.
You manage to, though, and shut it halfheartedly behind you.
The sun begins to peek over the horizon, casting a haunting red light that spans through the haze lurking in the sky, brushing the bottoms of the several dark, looming clouds that accompany the fog.
Easter has arrived.