Sybil Saga V: Witch Hunt
FOR THE UNINITIATED:
tl;dr: The Sybil mythology has grown to become very dense and self-referential, but I will attempt to boil it down here. It began as a one off joke casting The New Yorker as our bitter rival. In the post-truth/fake news era we live in, it found space to expand into a trilogy in which the 3 Sybil founders (Jake, Stephen, and Rudy) take on Donald Trump, The Office of Unspecified Services, and Obadiah Ellihue.
After the Sybil 3 are charged with Upsetting the Status Quo, they are made to face those charges on the new television show "President Judge Trump". They are found guilty and sent to man Trump's Wall. In the Sybilverse, not only has Trump succeeded in building his Wall, but Russia and the United States have invaded and now occupy Canada jointly, and the government has absorbed the entertainment industry and founded the Department of Interior Entertainment in order to bring in revenue.
D.I.E. amusement parks have popped up across the country with a Game of Thrones themed park built into The Wall. Rudy is sent to this post-modern prison/amusement park where he is brainwashed into believing he is a brother of the Night's Watch. By the end of the initial trilogy, Rudy is saved and the Sybil 3 escape The Wall thanks to their mysterious benefactor, Bessie Glass. However, the fourth installment finds them in a rather hopeless situation, living as fugitives in a safe house in San Antonio, being looked after by a group of Bananafish, which is the name that Sybil's supporters have given themselves.
Things begin to turn around when Sad Girl no last name comes into the picture. Rumors of a new SpongeBob-themed D.I.E. park being constructed off the coast of Florida lead to an epic heist in which a magical pencil (or weaponized 3D Printer) very similar to the one in SpongeBob Season 2 Episode 34b, "Frankendoodle", is stolen by the Sybil team. The pencil has almost limitless potential, but can only be wielded by a worthy artist. Alyssa Franks, accompanying Bananafish, succeeds where the Sybil 3 fail, and lifts the pencil, but their plan is almost ruined when a mysterious stranger moving at superhuman speed appears and tries to take it. This is our introduction to K-Swift who we learn escaped from a government testing facility many decades earlier. She is only stopped by Sad Girl's ability to manipulate the sadforce, and in the end she realizes they have a shared enemy and joins forces with Sybil. The crew is able to escape the park with their lives, and the pencil, but find themselves in a situation more precarious than ever. Not only are they still living as fugitives, but their new friends with supernatural powers make them more wanted than ever. How will they ever get out of this one?
Shortly after Sybil's attack on the SpongeBob D.I.E. park, President Trump declared an official Witch Hunt and deployed a special branch of the Office of Unspecified Services.
In his Twitter rant making the news public, he declared that certain members of the Sybil Squad were "ACTUAL WITCHES" with "REAL WITCH POWERS". He again cited that he had been unfairly persecuted in his own witch hunt, and that there had been no collusion. He then changed gears and began to discuss the occupation of Canada as being for the good of the world, citing that Canada could not be trusted. In another sharp turn, it seemed he was about to reveal that one of the new members of Sybil was an escaped government experiment dating back to the Kennedy-era when Twitter went down under mysterious circumstances.
The Witch Hunters took to the Florida peninsula under the command of General Aslan Bolton. Obadiah Ellihue had pursued the Sybil squad through the Caribbean, but lost them in the waters between Cuba and Florida where he was surprised by the remains of Bessie Glass's Rebel Fleet.
Rumors that the Sybil Squad made land and were laying low in a safe house somewhere outside the Everglades made its way through the country, reaching friend and foe alike. After months of stringing together clues, Bolton and his team of ex-SWAT commandos, crashed into a dilapidated house north of Miami, but found it freshly abandoned. The Witch Hunters gathered everything that had been left behind, including a few journals found wedged between a bare mattress and the wall, and headed back to Washington where they handed the two diaries over. The president picked up Rudy's first, but Martinez had duped him again. He'd cut up his entries and rearranged them into poetry that Trump couldn't make head or foot of. The President tossed it aside angrily and turned his attention to Buckholz's diary. Opening to the first page, he puzzled out:
I can’t stand it. I CANNOT be in this house anymore. I mean, a magical pencil that can be used to create anything and what is the first thing she draws? A damn squirrel! It follows her around everywhere. It never sleeps. It makes a mess out of everything, and it tore open my Oreos and ate them all! It was so round and bloated that I thought it might actually die, but it didn’t. Alyssa felt bad. She tried to draw me some more, but they tasted like lead, and of course we couldn’t leave to go get any. Only K-Swift can do that and we haven't heard from her in days. She is supposed to be contacting Bessie, but who knows. We don't know much about her. For all we know, she could be the real enemy, off leading Obadiah to us or these new "Witch Hunters" that I've been reading so much about. I don’t know what to do. We have to get out from under His thumb, so that we can live again. I feel like I am wasting away in here and I know I’m not the only one.
Trump then skimmed through a few more days worth of internal drama, letting the loose pages of the damaged notebook fall where they may as his aides frantically scrambled to comb the pages for any hint of where the Sybil Squad might have fled to. He arrived on something that interested him a bit more which Buckholz recorded about a week after the initial entry.
We had a strange visitor arrive yesterday. Or, the man himself was not so strange, but the fact that he was able to find us. He called himself Eddie and said he was looking for Sad Girl no last name. We dragged him inside and questioned him on how he found us to which he responded that Bessie sent him. He repeated that he had no interest in Sybil or our status as fugitives, but only in Sad Girl’s powers, claiming that he had a similar power, but he didn’t want to prove it because it was a terrible power. He said he had the ability to Echo.
But we didn’t trust him. Especially Stephen. He thought Eddie was from the Office of Unspecified Services, maybe one of Ellihue’s spies.
“Do it to me,” he told him. “Prove it.”
Eddie’s color drained and he shook his head.
“You couldn’t handle it,” he told him. “I don’t know you. I don’t know what you may have done, but I know that you couldn’t handle it. Nobody can. I am telling you, it is a terrible thing.”
"What is it?" Sad Girl asked, "and if it is so terrible, why would I want to learn it?"
"I don't know that you could learn it. I only know that we are similar, and, if you come with me, I know someone who can help you reach your full potential. We have been watching you."
"I said what is it?" Sad Girl repeated, and a faint but menacing glow appeared in her hands. Eddie backed down and explained that he could make people feel all the suffering, physical as well as psychological, that they have caused other people. Stephen looked a bit uneasy, he glanced around the room.
“I could take it away,” Sad Girl assured him. “I mean, if he can really do it, then I can take the pain away.”
“And put it where?” I asked.
We looked around, my eyes locked on the squirrel’s. "I know somewhere we could put it," I started to say, but Eddie interrupted me.
“We don’t have to do this. Come with me and train. I can teach you how to harness your powers. Sadness can be compressed. You don’t have to swallow it or give it to someone else. Come with me and I can show you how.”
“It’s a sort of school in New York City, for special people, people like us.”
“What the fuck is this, X-Men or something? She’s not going anywhere. We are wanted fugitives! Haven't you heard, there is a Witch Hunt on," Rudy broke in.
“Trust me, we know a thing or two about hiding,” Eddie said.
“Bullshit," Stephen cut in. "This whole thing is ridiculous. It, it—"
“I know how this sounds—”
“It sounds like bullshit,” Stephen repeated. He'd positioned himself between Sad Girl and Eddie, as if the stranger was going to grab her and run. I moved that way myself even though we were in the minority, not having powers like the others, unworthy, as I was, of even lifting that damn pencil.
“I am not the enemy here," Eddie continued calmly. "She will be free to leave whenever she wants, but she has a gift, and I can help her hone it.”
“Prove it,” Rudy said again. Now the Sybil 3 stood together between the stranger and Sad Girl.
“You don’t want me to do that.”
"Prove it on me," Squirrel said, stepping forward to cool the situation. No one spoke up, so Eddie sighed and faced the squirrel. His hands began to glow with a bright white light, but Alyssa stepped forward before anything could happen.
"Squirrel, you have never done anything to harm anyone. You are perfect," she assured him.
"Aw drats," Squirrel said. I stared in disbelief, remembering my Oreos. And so I am no one, I thought to myself. Can't lift a pencil, don't have any super powers, what good am I?
"Do it to me," I said, suddenly sick with frustration.
"I am telling you—”
It feels strange to remember this, but I actually shoved the man. He nearly toppled. We’d been cooped up for too long and I was still upset about my failure in Bikini Bottom. I pushed him and was about to push him again when Eddie lost his patience. He raised one hand and it glowed silently. Then I dropped heavily to the ground and began to moan. Quickly, Sad Girl jumped into action and drew the sadness out of me, but the weight of it was heavy even for her and she looked desperately for somewhere to send it.
Stephen stepped forward and accepted some and Rudy followed his lead, then Alyssa and even Squirrel, and several of the Bananafish who we'd been able to reach via The People's Fiber. I blacked out and slept for a full day, dreaming horrible dreams.
"Another witch," the Witch Hunter said after reading the entry. "A whole school of them training somewhere and they are joining forces with Sybil. Sir, I am going to need more men to carry out my mission. I have to request the K-Team."
"How the hell do you know about them? That is information of the highest degree of classification. If word were to get out to the public that they existed—" Vice President Pence shouted.
"With all due respect, sir, the President Tweeted about them."
Trump's pale lips flickered into a grin.
"Yes," he said. "It is time to release the K-Team."
When I returned to myself, K-Swift had returned with news from Bessie. We were to move forward with a new initiative.
"Doesn't she understand our situation?" Stephen asked.
"She understands it better than anyone. She knows we are folk heroes and wants us to take advantage of it. We are strong enough now to protect ourselves," K-Swift urged.
"What does she say about me?" Sad Girl asked.
"She wants you to go to New York and sharpen your powers."
Sad Girl nodded weakly, looking unsure.
"But she doesn't want you to go alone. Alyssa, Squirrel, you are to go, too. And you Rudy. You must all go and look out for each other. As for me, I am to return to San Marcos. There is much work to be done there. Stephen, Jake, she wants us all to go back and start a leaflet series."
"Back to San Marcos?" Stephen asked. "How is that safe? Surely Obadiah and the Witch Hunters are crawling all over that town."
"Bessie says we will be safe. I am to go in first with the pencil and create our headquarters . We have people there who will help us. The more we grow, the more people who join our side, the more danger we will be in, but the safer we will be."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"You know how Bessie likes to speak in riddles."
So I guess it is decided. Sad Girl, Alyssa, Squirrel, and Rudy will go with Eddie back to his school, and the rest of us will return to San Marcos for the first time since we were arrested and begin growing our numbers.