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Evina appeared on his hands and knees, staring at the floor. He was back in the real world. The circle of ash was gone. He was weak but, after a moment, he stood up carefully. Then he looked up at the old man in front of him.
Fred's eyes flew open. They were no longer gray, they were blue. He struggled with all his might to say something. "Thank you," he uttered. A tear rolled down his cheek. "I'm free!" And with that, his eyes closed once more, never to open again. The machines around him stopped their humming and fell silent.
Evina stood there for a moment, not moving. He was stunned. It had all happened so fast. He had seen things he felt he shouldn't have seen. They were far too intimate, horrifying, and revealing for anyone to know. Now he had no more questions. He had learned the whole, ugly truth. This poor soul was ravaged and destroyed by The Shadow. He had lost his friends, family, and career to The Shadow. Everything in both their lives had happened because of The Shadow.
He couldn't help but tear up by the thought of it. "Rest in peace, Fred." He wondered how he could empathize with someone like this, someone who had the hatred to create the Dooms. But how could he not when their lives were parallel? How could anyone bear the full brunt of that evil and not be transformed into a monster?
Evina turned around and took a step to the door. He felt sick. He didn't know if he had the strength to walk. He looked down at his body and saw that it was completely gray. The process was nearly complete. He was going to be gone within hours, if not sooner. Nevertheless, he collected his strength and hobbled outside.
The sky was still black. No time had passed. Nothing had changed. The car was still waiting for him at the bottom of the hill. It was like nothing had happened at all, and yet, so much had happened. The outside world would never know what was done back there. Now he began thinking about what he should do with his remaining time. He didn't want to stay here, and he had no way of escaping Earth now, so where could he go?
Then he felt something in his pocket. He reached in and pulled it out. It was a clump of wooden fragments, the pencil's remains. He had no idea how they got there, but there was no point in speculating. Nothing surprised him anymore. There was only one more thing he could do, and it felt like the most important errand of his life. He just had to cling to life for a little bit longer.
Evina made the slow, arduous journey down the hill, his body in pain with every step. He opened the car door, dropped into the driver's seat, and slammed the door shut. He wasn't sure if he would be able to stand again, but that didn't matter now. He started the ignition and rolled away from the mansion, determined to never look back. Somehow, he knew where he was going and how to get there.
Evina didn't want to think about it, but he couldn't stop piecing together the horrible reality of what he saw. He wondered what the Shadow's plans for him were, should he have had the chance to live longer.
The Shadow twisted Gyro's desire to help Toontown by making him build the cogs. He twisted Mr. Johnson's creative talent by making him create the Dooms. If I can't stop him, what kind of evil will it use others for?
And, son of a weasel, does it know that I'm thinking about it right now? Does it know how much I hate it? Does it know what that memory showed me? It's in my head! It has to know! It knows everything!
It knew where to send me to find the monks' book because it put the book in my path. It sent me to that cursed space station. And I'm pretty sure that the creatures enslaving the toons there were another one of The Shadow's experiments. Is there anything it hasn't interfered with?
And yet, the monster lied to me. It told me that nothing could stop it. Even the book said there was no cure, but I saw it with my own eyes! I cured Johnson, even if it was just for a moment. There's still hope! At least, there is hope for others. I know it's too late for me.
He drove for a couple of hours with these thoughts in his head. It was a longer drive than he anticipated, and he was struggling to stay conscious. The car weaved in and out of the hills, and the lights of Los Angeles were shining in the valley below. He hoped he would have enough strength to make it to his destination. Time was quickly running out. He was feeling worse with each moment.
If toons are supposed to represent a human, then I suppose Mickey Mouse represented Walt Disney, to some extent. He was his toon persona. But that makes me wonder... who do I represent? What did mom mean when she said I should remember who I am?
But there was no more time for thinking. At last, he reached his final destination. The clock said it was about three in the morning. He abandoned the car and carefully walked into the cemetery. His head felt like it was spinning. He had to rely on his instincts to take him where he needed to go.
The lush gardens were faintly illuminated by moonlight. It was so calm, so quiet. He was alone among hundreds of headstones, statues, and crypts. Something about this place felt satisfying. It was a place of repose among the remains of countless departed souls. He knew it was the right place to be. It was his final resting place.
Then, after a few minutes of searching, he finally spotted it. On the wall up ahead was a plaque with Walt Disney's name on it. Maybe it was his imagination, but the words looked like they were glowing. He stopped in front of it, bent down, and placed the pencil's fragments on the ground. He thought it was strange to do this, but it had to be done.
"I think this belongs to you," Evina whispered. "I think you deserve to know where it went to. Somehow, it came to Toontown. It helped us a lot. But I'm sorry I couldn't get it back to you in one piece."
There was silence again. He struggled to stand up but couldn't, so he sat down on the sidewalk and looked up at the sky with a sigh. The light pollution made it difficult to see much of anything, but something caught his attention.
Up there, something began to glimmer. It wasn't the moon, it wasn't an airplane, and it wasn't a reflection. It could only be one thing: a star. He stared at it and watched as it grew brighter and brighter. His vision was so blurry now that he could see nothing else, but the star was still there, brilliant, wholesome, and beautiful. He no longer felt worried; a warmth washed over him. It was shining only for him.
Here, lying under the memorial of Walt Disney, Evina knew what he had to do. This was the last hope, not for him but for Gyro and Toontown. It was ridiculous, but he found himself saying the words aloud.
"Oh, star, please grant me a wish. I wish Gyro can be healed. Oh, if there is anybody listening up there, please save him. He's the only one who can fix Toontown. I don't know what he'll do, but I'm sure he'll think of something."
The star sparkled majestically, but there was no answer.
"Hmm, well it was worth a try," Evina whispered. He felt his life fading. "I did all I could do." Then he closed his eyes and consigned himself to the darkness. It was over.
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