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Scene Title Consequences
Synopsis After seven years, Nicole is confronted with the impact of a monumental choice.
Date September 13, 2018

Safe Zone

A scream breaks the silence of the night.

Nicole Varlane’s eyes open in her bed, the soft whirr of a fan on the nightstand making the swelteringly hot room bearable. The city outside is pitch black, no moon to shed its light, no electricity in the house at all. At first, Nicole lays there uncertain she'd really heard anything other than the nightmares that live behind her eyes when she sleeps.

But then, she hears it again. Clearly.

Her daughter, screaming for help.

At first, all she does is sigh, assuming her nightmares have gotten the better of her, and starts to turn in toward her pillow. Then, her daughter screams.

Nicole is out of her bed so fast the sheet is still tangled around one ankle. “No! Let go!” she shouts at the fabric as she tears it away from her leg. “Phillipa?!” Once she’s free of the bed sheet, she goes racing down the hall to her daughter’s room, one hand out in front of her. Sparks jump between her fingers, casting Pippa’s room in an eerie electric blue glow.

Glowing eyes frantically search for her baby, and for signs of intrusion.

The window is open, but it was when Nicole put her to bed. A warm breeze blows in from outside. Pippa lays on her bed, tangled in her blankets, thrashing and screaming at the top of her lungs. Only now can Nicole understand what it is she's saying. “Stop! Stop! Stop!” Tears are tracking down the sides of her cheeks, her tiny voice a pleading squeal. She's having a nightmare.

“Dad, stop!

A nightmare.

Tears immediately spring to Nicole’s eyes. It’s horrible to see her child like this. Her own nightmares are bad enough. How many times has she woken with Pippa standing in the room with big eyes, asking her mother if she’s okay?

Closing her fist and dousing the light from her ability, she moves to Pippa’s bedside and reaches out to place her hand on her cheek. “Pippa. Pip! Wake up, sweetie. Mommy’s here.” Children are supposed to have nightmares about monsters, not their parents.

Even once she's shaken awake from the night terror, Pippa is screaming incoherently. She buries her face into Nicole's chest, fingers wound into the fabric of her shirt, exhaling ragged sobs and incomprehensible mumbling. Her tiny shoulders heave, tears and snot clinging to where she presses her face.

Daddy hurt meeee,” Pippa whines in the most pitiful of tones, and the words coming from a girl her age sends a spike of anxiety and panic through Nicole. Were it any other man. Were it any other man, that decades old anxiety might become incoherent rage. But if nothing else, Ben Ryans is a good man.

He's not Richard Nichols.

Nicole clutches her little girl tightly to her chest, shushing softly into her blonde curls as the tears pour down her own cheeks and terror grips in her chest. Daddy hurt me, her baby said. Her blood runs cold. How many times did she say those words to her own mother?

She doesn’t repeat the words her mother said to her.

“How did Daddy hurt you, baby?” Reaching for the bedside table, Nicole grabs a tissue from the box there and lifts Pippa’s face toward her so she can begin to wipe away her tears. She holds it gently against her nose and instructs in a soft voice, “Blow.”

Blowing her nose, Pippa’s sobs turn less desperate, though her grip remains adamant. “He cut me with a knife,” is the most horrifying thing Nicole has ever heard her daughter say, “he put metal inside me and shocked me.”

Until she says that.

Nicole crumples the tissue in her hand and drops it calmly into the trash before retrieving a second one to dry her own face with. She’s trying to process the things her daughter is saying. Those aren’t the sorts of nightmares little girls her age have. That’s the kind of terror that comes with age and too many scary movies. Or the kind of life people like her have led.

Her stomach drops as she has a jolt of memory of her own.

No, not her own.

Staring down at Pippa’s little face in disbelief, the horror of the implication threatens to bring her own tears back. Nicole wants to tell her that no one will ever harm her little girl, but the world is a terrifying place, and that’s a promise she may not be able to keep. It’s a promise someone couldn’t keep for…


There's a look of recognition in Pippa’s eyes, and she looks right up at Nicole when Howard's name is invoked. She blinks, big, expressive eyes, and then just nods slowly. “I heard that name in my dream. Who— who is that mumma?”

After all this time, after all these years, perhaps there were consequences to saving Howard’s life. The human brain is just electrical impulses moving in a liquid suspension, and what was Howard — Robert Bishop Jr. — if he wasn't electricity incarnate?

Perhaps the answer is staring at Nicole now.

Nicole takes a deep breath. How does she begin to explain this to her daughter? That a good deed she tried to accomplish before she was even born is now having terrible consequences for her? That she - her mother who loves her more than anything and promised to protect her - is the reason for her horrible nightmares?

“Howard was a friend of mine and your sister Iggy.” She smooths a strand of blonde hair away from Pippa’s forehead and tucks it behind the girl’s ear. “He died before you were born, but he was a hero. His chosen last name was Phillips, and that’s why I named you Phillipa.”

Luminescent eyes blink heavily, but Nicole manages not to shed more tears. “He was a bit like me, but more like Aunt Lynette. You know how Mommy can store electricity like a battery? Howard could turn into electricity.” Her thumb brushes over Pippa’s cheek now and she tries to make things a little lighter with a smile. “That’s pretty cool, right?”

Pippa’s stare is a wide eyed one, and it's hard for Nicole to know whether or not she really gets it all, but she seems to get enough. Eyes still glassy with tears, Pippa doesn't have good answers for tonight, and worse neither does Nicole. Whatever happened with Howard has bled into Pippa, and the girl may yet have more nights like this.

It really only leaves one solution.

Nicole needs a psychic.

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