|“||I never had kids. I always thought I would. There was a time when I thought Charlie would be their father. I knew him. Before. He was handsome, charming, sweet even. But every Strong Creative pays a price. Charlie paid the steepest price of all his soul. Deep down, I knew it. What he was. I didn't want to see it. Because I loved him. That was my excuse. Kill him. For me. For them. For Haley. For the next one. Or this cycle will go on forever.||”|
|— Jolene to Vic|
Saugus, Massachusetts, 1954, a young Jolene July works as a local car hop. She’s also in a relationship with Charlie Manx, who dreams of spending the rest of his life with Jolene. He describes everyday feeling like Christmas morning in hopes that she’ll say yes to joining him as he leaves Saugus and never look back. Manx proposes to Jolene, but she declines him. They get inside the Wraith, where they discuss her refusal to marry him. Jolene wishes to see Christmasland before agreeing to give him her hand in marriage. He’s told of the children and how he wishes for her to be their mother, yet she hasn’t met them. She also knows that he hasn’t been going to work as a driver for months. She pleads with him to tell her what he doing with the children. Manx claims he’s their father and that he saved them. He’s offering Jolene the same as he loves her, but she doesn’t want it. Later that night, as Jolene’s getting off from work, Charlie tries to run her down in his Wraith, but she escapes him on her roller skates that allow her to teleport out of harms way and causes Manx to crash his Wraith into a parked car.
Present day, Vic is administered a physical exam as her left eye remains inflamed. Since arriving at the hospital, she’s experienced low-level pain and the occasional headache. Following her exam, Vic visits the hospital’s therapist, Dr. Nathaniel Janes. He asks Vic about Charlie Manx. Vic assures him that she’s feeling better and is ready to be released. He informs her how people tend to create fiction realities when the pain becomes too much to deal with. So, he asks again who Charlie Manx is. Vic replies that he’s responsible for putting Maggie in the hospital. When Vic tries to leave the session, he informs her that he is authorized by Massachusetts state law to increase her stay up to 90 days. He questions if Vic was pressured into being committed by her father, but she assures him she made the decision of her own will.
Vic is roommates with Jolene. The radio turns to static as Vic enters the room. She whispers to Vic "Charlie Manx." Vic soon realizes that Jolene is the Strong Creative Maggie discovered that Manx was responsible for putting in the hospital. Vic asks Jolene if she can get her to Christmasland. Before she can answer, the nurse brings them their medicine. Vic is reluctant to take her meds, but does so in fear that she might be forced to stay longer. Much like Vic, Jolene is reluctant as well, forcing the nurse to resort to injection rather than pills. Jolene’s a paranoid schizophrenic and will act out without her meds. As the nurse leaves the room, Vic dumps Jolene’s meds down the drain and informs the nurse that she took them.
Vic returns for another session with Dr. Janes the following day. Maggie’s out of surgery and will make a full recovery. They repaired her fractured kneecap and torn ACL. He asks Vic about art school. He has photos of Vic’s paintings and asks who the man is. Art school is Vic’s ticket out of Haverhill, she explains. Art always made the world go quiet when things got noisy at home. Her parents often fought and sometimes it got physical. Her father would hit her mother, and her mother would hit her. However, Vic refuses to see her or her family as victims.
Linda brings Vic an overnight bag to the hospital. When Vic asks about her dad, Linda reveals that he wasn’t at the house and that he was likely at a bar in town.
Vic returns to her room, where Jolene is sitting upright, talking to herself. She tells Vic she needs her skates, or she can’t get to work. Instead, Vic grabs her wheelchair and places Jolene in it, hoping it’ll lead them to Christmasland. Vic pushes Jolene down an empty hall in her wheelchair. The lights flicker and they disappear.
Vic and Jolene reappear in Jolene’s Inscape; The Dark Tunnels. In her Inscape, Jolene is cognitive and can walk. She tells Vic that the wheelchair wasn’t always her Knife, but it is now. Much like Vic, Jolene didn’t know that Creatives could have more than one Knife. She didn’t come into this discovery until after Manx stole her skates and left her bedridden. It was then that the wheelchair found her and got her moving again until she was too weak to get it up to speed. Jolene knows of the Shorter Way, describing Creatives as magicians with different tricks. Vic explains that it allows her to find lost things, but she couldn’t find Haley after Manx took her to Christmasland. She was hoping Jolene could get her inside.
Jolene takes Vic further into the tunnels, where she has missing children posters plastered all over the walls. She’s been tracking Manx since the 50s, and not one of the kids have been seen since. The only way there is in his Wraith. There isn’t a single Creative in the entire World of Thought who has seen Christmasland besides Manx. She urges Vic to accept that Haley is gone forever. She then takes Vic to what appears to be a tunnel filled with static and white noise and offers to show Vic her "magic trick."
Vic and Jolene’s bodies drop to the ground, and the two of them astral project to Manx, who sleeps inside his Wraith, parked in a barn. Vic watches as Jolene haunts him, disrupting the radio and blowing in his ear. He comes to realize that she is the culprit. Jolene doesn’t stop there. She dismantles the Wraith, causing the engine to smoke. Manx struggles to exit the vehicle. He manages to get the door open and stumbles out the barn, morphing from his more youthful appearance into a shriveled up, feeble old man. He grabs the water hose and sprays down the Wraith. Vic watches as this unfolds. Manx yells out to Jolene, certain that she's the cause of this.
Vic and Jolene return to their bodies in the Dark Tunnels. Vic recalls Manx growing old right before her eyes after Jolene destroyed the engine to his car. If Vic wants to stop Manx, she has to destroy the Wraith. Vic hopes that Jolene will join her and Maggie in the fight to stop Manx, but Jolene’s days of fighting are long over. He won. And she’s tired. But, she couldn’t rest until she knew someone could pick up the fight. While Vic couldn’t save Haley, Jolene’s counting on her to save the next kid. Manx visited Jolene after 50 years because he fears Vic. Jolene isn’t going back, but she advises Vic to tell the doctors what they need to hear so that they’ll release her. Lastly, she warns Vic against taking their meds. It’ll only dull her mind and Knife, and she’ll need to be full strength to take on Manx. Jolene never had kids. She always thought she would. There’s a time when she thought Manx would be there father. She knew him before he became what he is. He was handsome, charming, and sweet. But every Strong Creative pays a price. Manx paid with his soul. Jolene knew what he was deep down, but she didn’t want to see it because she loved him. Now, it’s up to Vic to stop Manx. Jolene then lays down on the ground, her eyes filled with static.
Vic rolls Jolene’s lifeless body back into her room and turns the radio on before pulling the alarm. Next, she attends another session with Dr. Janes and just as Jolene advised her, she tells him exactly what he wants to hear. How Manx isn’t a real man and that he's a figment of imagination. Like her Bridge. When Vic felt lost, she would imagine it and it would appear. And when she went over it, she felt different than she’d ever felt in her life. She also reveals that it was Manx’s face in her paintings. She believed she was the only one with the power to kill him and save the kids. That was Vic’s reality, but the truth is that she was trying to escape her reality. Where Haley is gone, Maggie was run over, and Vic doesn’t have the power to save anyone. Vic continues, thanking him for helping her see the truth and confront her reality. And with that, he signs her release under two conditions — she fill a prescription for lorazepam and remove herself from her current living situation. Lastly, he tells Vic that just like with Haley and Maggie, there’s nothing Vic can do to save her father.
Vic helps Maggie get dressed as they both prepare to get discharged. Vic insists that she’s going to kill Manx. She tells Maggie that she was roomed with Jolene. From her, Vic learned how to stop Manx by destroying the Wraith. Maggie urges Vic to stop hunting Manx as its become too dangerous. She now regrets coming to Vic. When she was ran over and was on the ground bleeding, Maggie saw Daniel. He was looking down at her smiling. His teeth were like razors and blood was pouring out his mouth. When the Wraith hit Maggie, it showed Daniel to her. Vic’s had the same visions of Haley. Maggie’s done hunting Manx, and she hopes Vic will follow suit.
Linda picks Vic up from the hospital and brings her home with her. There, Vic contemplates taking her meds and moving on with her life as both Maggie and Dr. Janes advised. However, she dumps her prescription down the drain instead.
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