by CSyphrett and Martin Maenza
The week had whizzed by for Abby Cable, each day a blur of activity that had allowed her to gradually discard her cane as her strength grew. It astonished her how quickly her body had rebounded, a testament to her resilience and determination. But even as a newfound vigor coursed through her veins, she couldn’t shake the weight that rested on her shoulders, a burden shared by both the teachers and students of the school she had come to call home.
The place, once a sanctuary, now held a dark secret that she had recently discovered — it was either a fragment of or a bridge to the very same infernal realm she had once narrowly escaped with the help of Alec. (*) Abby knew that lurking beneath the surface of the picturesque campus were secrets that threatened to unravel everything she held dear. It was a difficult reality to face, to work in a place that carried the echoes of a haunting past.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Brimstone Ballet,” Saga of the Swamp Thing #31 (December, 1984) and “Down Amongst the Dead Men,” Swamp Thing v2 Annual #2 (1985).]
Lost in her thoughts, Abby took one last stroll around the campus grounds, retracing the steps she had taken on her very first day. Nostalgia tugged at her heartstrings as memories flooded her mind, tugging at her emotions with every familiar sight. Her feet carried her to Memorial Park, where silent statues stood sentinel, their expressions seeming to have transformed since that fateful day. Did they look upon her with disappointment? Could they possibly grasp the labyrinthine complexity of her emotions? She scoffed at the notion, reminding herself that they were mere statues, incapable of true understanding.
“Hello, Mrs. Cable,” a voice called out, breaking through the serenity of the park. Mr. Gallowglass strode toward her, his presence commanding attention. “Have you made your decision yet?”
Abby met his gaze, her mind made up. “I’m going to leave, Mr. Gallowglass,” she admitted, her voice laced with regret. “I’ve come to realize that I’ve been running away from my problems. I haven’t even been able to see Matt in the hospital, not even when I took that short furlough.”
Gallowglass nodded, understanding etched in his features. “I can see why you’ve come to that conclusion,” he said gently. “When would you like to leave?”
“As soon as you can arrange it,” Abby replied, her voice tinged with urgency. Her inner turmoil urged her to take action, to face the challenges that awaited her head-on.
Gallowglass gestured toward the imposing Clock Tower, a symbol of the school’s rich history and mystical power. “Let’s go over to the Clock Room,” he suggested, his words carrying a sense of intrigue. “I believe Mr. Belmont can transport you right to your doorstep.”
Abby’s brows furrowed with curiosity. “But what about my clothes and belongings?” she asked, concerned about leaving everything behind.
“They should already be there,” Gallowglass assured her, a glimmer of a smile playing on his lips. With that, they made their way to the tower, Gallowglass leading the way while Belmont’s grumblings about the state of his precious Clock Room, irresponsible women, and unruly children running amok, could be heard from the top of the building.
Abby found amusement in the old man’s cantankerous rantings as they ascended the stairs. Reaching the top floor, they saw Mr. Belmont awaiting them, surrounded by an array of timepieces. The wrinkles etched on his face seemed to tell the stories of a thousand lifetimes. With a hopeful smile, Abby approached the old man and told him she wanted to return to the home she had shared with her husband and await his return.
Abigail Arcane Cable felt a surge of anticipation mingled with apprehension. She was about to embark on a journey that would take her far from the familiar halls of Grimoire Academy, but she knew in her heart it was a journey she had to make. Little did she know that this would be but the first chapter of a tale that would rewrite her destiny.