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Chapter 28: Spring Heeled, Part 2

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Spring Heeled, Part 2 is the twenty-eighth chapter in Gunnerkrigg Court. It starts here.

Summary

The Court personnel demand an explanation. One of them begins to speak to Annie, and she begs him to help Reynardine. The man she's talking to says that the binding program looks like one made by Anja Donlan, and asks if they should call her. Annie tells him no. He suggests Eglamore, which she also refuses. Annie begins to ask if they could call Jones, but she is already there, and she destroys one of the devices, breaking the program and freeing Reynardine.

Reynardine says that his head hurts. Jones thanks Annie for her assistance in locating Jack, and Shell and his fellow pursuer assume that Jones planned the events of last chapter with Annie's help. Annie plays along. The pursuers ask her where Jack is, and she suggests trying the building by the lake. She says that he can fly. Shell says that it's a crazy idea, but Jones says bluntly that if Annie says it, then it's true. Jones tells the staff that they need to go back to the boat. A robot and a woman called Juliette both say they can man the station, and ask Jones if they should shut it down. Jones says no, since she wants to find out why Jack started it.

Back in the boat, Reynardine says that he's fine and makes a joke about feeling better if Jones clutches him to her chest. Jones asks Annie if she thinks that Jack was badly affected by the power station incident, and Annie says that it's like he's a different person. Jones says that Jack believes that the station will draw Zimmy out of hiding. Annie asks if they're going to shut it down, but Jones says that it will be more interesting to see what will happen if they don't. She calls Juliette and tells her to allow the station to enter the collection stage.
Jones explains that the Court has ways of extracting etheric energies from the earth, and that this station does so by using a form of evaporation to get it out of the water. The energy is used in experiments, but these are not things Jones is allowed to know about. Jones explains that Zimmy's brain is in tune with the ether, but it causes a lot of strain on her psyche- strain that Gamma relieves. More stress on Zimmy's brain or even distance from Gamma will cause distortions.

Annie asks if Zimmy is human. Jones says that she is, and that Zimmy is 'an interesting anomaly' brought to the Court for research. In return, she can do what she likes. Annie asks if it's safe, as Zimmy isn't very stable, but Jones says that she normally keeps to herself- the Court doesn't track her, because surveillance puts her on edge. Annie asks how the Court tracks people, and is told that it's through their food.
The boat pulls up at a pier. Annie gets off and says that while the pier seems old, it feels stable. Jones jumps off the edge of the boat, rather than trusting the pier. Reynardine says that she's always been touchy about her weight.
Annie starts to tell her about the rope used to get over the wall, but Jones simply breaks a hole in it with her hand.

Annie asks as they walk if Jones is uncomfortable. Jones says no. Annie asks if it's because she's a robot. Jones says that she isn't a robot. Annie begins to ask what Jones is, but Jones stops her. Annie thanks her for not getting her into trouble. Jones says that since she seems to be able to handle the situation by herself, she and Reynardine will stay and watch while Annie sorts things out. Reynardine begins to object, but Annie agrees.

Outside, Annie calls out to Zimmy to wait as Zimmy runs off. Annie rounds a corner and finds Gamma, who asks her psychically if they should go. Annie frantically tells her that they need to find Zimmy. Gamma asks 'Zimmy' if she forgot who she was again.
Annie tells Gamma that she is actually Annie, which Gamma shrugs off. Annie gives Gamma a description of Jack and asks her if she's seen him. Gamma says yes. Annie says that they need to find Jack before he finds Zimmy.
Gamma looks upset and says that she misses Zimmy when she's 'like this', and hopes that she remembers herself soon. Cheerfully, she leads Annie off to find Jack.

As they walk, we see static in Annie's head, which looks like an endless conversation. A tired Annie asks Gamma if she ever gets tired looking after Zimmy all the time. A smiling Gamma takes Annie's hand and thinks 'I do it because I love you, Zimmy.' Exhausted, Annie's head falls to Gamma's shoulder.
Outside a strange building sits Zimmy and Jack. Zimmy tells the pair not to come closer. A less-tired, more relaxed-looking Jack asks Zimmy if the pair are real. Gamma asks Annie if Jack is the one she's looking for. She touches his arm and says that he's not real, just a memory.

Annie moves so that she is between Gamma and memory!Jack. Memory!Jack says that he'd like to go back, but Spider!Jack pulls him through a doorway. Annie, Zimmy and Gamma run after them.
They see dozens of Jacks looking out of higher windows and ethereal spiders climbing everywhere. Spider!Jack tells memory!Jack to come inside, and if he does, he'll see things differently- not just here, but in the real world. Gamma realises that they're all in one of Zimmy's illusions.
Annie tries to drag Gamma inside, but Gamma refuses, saying that inside is the spider's nest. Annie argues that they need to help Jack, but Zimmy tells her to stop it. Annie runs after Jack, and distraught, Zimmy and Gamma follow her.

They emerge in a room where Spider!Jack is confronting memory!Jack. Spider!Jack says that memory!Jack is 'the last one we need'. Annie tells memory!Jack not to listen to him. She sees Gamma clutch at Zimmy's arm.
Furious, Annie screams at Zimmy to get away from Gamma. Her eyes turn red, her teeth turn to fangs and her hair begins to turn black. Rain falls onto spider!Jack's head and he cries out. As rain falls, spider!Jack clutches at memory!Jack, but he vanishes. The illusion melts away, revealing that Annie is Zimmy and Zimmy is Annie- they got switched around in the illusion. The gunk over Zimmy's eyes is gone. Jack begins to ask Zimmy out, but almost casually she leans out, pulls the spider off his head, crushes it and tosses it to the ground. Jack passes out and falls into her arms.

Zimmy walks away with Gamma. They stop and converse mentally. Zimmy tells Annie that Jack will be fine, he's just sleep deprived, and that when he wakes up, Annie should tell him that Zimmy is sorry for not helping him sooner. Annie says that she was going to say the same thing. Annie asks if Zimmy will be OK with the spiders, but Zimmy tells her not to worry, and that the spiders, which she calls 'whitelegs', are always trying to escape from her head. She says that Jack (who she calls 'your boyfriend') was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he put up a fight. She says that Gamma thinks that Jack has etheric powers, but she doesn't understand them herself. Annie thanks them and says that Jack is not her boyfriend. Zimmy doesn't sound too convinced.

On the way out, Zimmy says that Jones looks like a 'drowned rat'. Jones greets them cordially. Zimmy startles Reynardine and laughs. Annie tells Jones that Jack will hopefully be OK, and that he's just sleeping. Jones says that if Jack was not in control of his actions, there's no reason to punish him. Annie asks if Jones made it rain. Jones says yes, because rain has been proven to ease Zimmy's mind- probably because there is ether in the water.
Annie says that she feels like it's all her fault. Jones says she should have told someone about Jack, and while she doesn't want Annie to lose her initiative, she doesn't have to deal with everything herself. However, Zimmy keeps everyone at arms length because she knows she's a danger to those around her, and that she can't be blamed for what she is. Reynardine calls her a demon, but Jones says that 'demon' is just a label for things feared and misunderstood, and that he himself is known as 'the demon Renard'. Reynardine shuts up. Jones then mentions Annie's punishment, and the chapter ends.

Characters introduced in this chapter

Navigation

ve Gunnerkrigg Court Chapters
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5
Volume 6
Current Chapters
Extra Comics Bonus PagesCity Face (comic)Annie In The ForestTraveller

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