|“||This, Mr. Partridge, is the Graveyard of What Might Be. These are all children who, if I do nothing, will have their childhood stolen by their mothers and fathers. All of them beaten with chains, fed cat food, sold to perverts. Consider this one. Lily Carter. Turned to a life of sin by her father. She never had a chance. Her childhood ended before it even began. If only there had been another to take her off to Christmasland. You could line all these parents up and put a bullet in their brains, for all I care. Or a nail. I wish I could have saved you back then, Bing. Will you help me save the others before it's too late?||”|
Bing responds to a Christmasland ad in a comic book in hopes of being employed. He has worked 19 years for MCS Custodial Services and is trusted with shipping dangerous chemical gasses all over the world. He also works as a janitor at the local school, Bing explains in his letter. Bing hears a loud bang above his head and I’ll Be Home for Christmas playing. He follows the music from his basement to the living room, where he finds his parents, John and June Partridge dancing by the Christmas tree. John has June lifted off the floor, twirling around with her lifeless body. He drops and chases Bing into the basement with a gas mask on. Trapped in his basement, Bing is greeted by Daniel Moore. In his hand, he holds an invitation to Christmasland. He asks Bing if he’s naughty or nice. Bing replies nice. But, when he reaches for the invitation, Daniel grabs his wrist, displaying a great amount of strength. Bing wakes up, breathing heavily from what was apparently a bad dream. He looks outside his window to see the moon looking back at him. It even gives him a wink.
Vic arrives outside her father’s new place with his girlfriend Tiffany. She spots them through the window and knocks on the front door. She accuses her father of leaving her and her mother behind. Chris claims that there’s been a misunderstanding, though he admittedly should’ve talked to Vic before leaving. Chris explains that he and Linda bring out the worst in each other and that they’re better apart. Nevertheless, he claims he’ll always be there for Vic, who doesn’t bother sticking around to hear the rest of his excuse.
Vic returns home. Linda’s smoking a cigarette in the kitchen. Vic informs her that Tiffany Jones is the woman he left her for. Linda asks if they were drinking, which Vic claims they were. Linda questions how Vic knows this, but Vic doesn’t answer.
Bing is approached by his boss Hal Schnell, who informs him that just like the week before, someone has painted a black dick on the loading dock, and it’s Bing’s job to clean it off. Just like in his dream, I’ll Be Home for Christmas starts playing on the radio. Despite unplugging the cord from the wall, the radio continues to play. Just outside the dock, Charlie Manx sits in his Rolls-Royce Wraith. Bing gets a brief glimpse of him before he disappears.
Vic and Craig meet at the clearing near the Shorter Way. She asks him about the doll he used to have in the third grade. The one she lost. Craig explains it was a stuffed rabbit named Leonard. With that in mind, Vic revs up her bike. As she approaches the clearing, the Shorter Way bridge appears just in time for her to ride over it, much to Craig’s amazement. Craig attempts to follow her over, but something goes wrong. Vic returns and finds him knocked out on the ground. She wakes him up, and they discuss the bridge and how she seems to be the only one who can cross it. The first time Vic went over the bridge, it took her to her father’s lost watch. The second time to his girlfriend’s house. And this latest time, it took her to the town landfill, where she recovered Craig’s stuffed rabbit Leonard. Craig warns Vic against crossing the bridge. He’s concerned with what it may be doing it her, making mention of her inflamed left eye.
Here, Iowa,Maggie awaits Sheriff Bly at the police station to further discuss Daniel Moore and the Wraith. There were only 500 made, and the owners aren’t typically known to drive them because parts are hard to come by once the car breaks down. Maggie wants to track down Wraith parts in hopes of finding Daniel. However, Sheriff Bly is dismissive of both Maggie and her Scrabble Bag. However, Maggie has started her own investigation, leading her to a junkyard in Nebraska with spare Wraith parts. She pleads with Sheriff Bly to assist.
A young Charlie Manx pulls up at MCS Custodial Services as Bing cleans the spray painted dick off the wall. He introduces himself as Charles T. Manx. CEO of Christmasland Enterprises, director of Christmasland Entertainment, and president of fun. He was on his way to locate a Strong Creative. Someone with the ability to find the Shorter Way when he got Bing’s letter. Manx needs a new chief of Christmasland Security to protect the children of the world. The Wraith door opens on its own, and Manx and Bing drive off. Given Bing’s employment at SOCHEMPHARM, Manx wonders what gases he has access to. Bing replies nitrogen, helium, sevoflurane, which he calls "gingerbread smoke" given its distinct smell. It’s an anesthetic that makes people susceptible to suggestion. But if too much it taken in, the patient is knocked out. Bing informs Manx that since writing him, he’s had terrifying dreams of Christmasland. Manx claims there’s nothing to fear. Only special people are allowed to access Christmasland. Manx asks if the moon winked at Bing when he dreamed of Christmasland, which it did. Within moments, Bing is sleep from the drink Manx gave him as the road to Christmasland is paved in dreams.
As Vic and Linda clean houses together, they discuss her father and how he may be right about them being better off without him. Linda expects Vic to help her out in the afternoons and on weekends, but Vic has bigger plans. Angela interrupts after learning from Willa that Vic is applying to RISD. She has a sorority sister who works in the registrar’s office and is willing to put in a call if Vic needs help.
Afterward, Vic and Linda stop by a diner to eat. During which time, Vic explains that RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) is a fine arts college. Linda remarks it would’ve been nice to hear that for the first time from Vic rather than Angela Brewster. Furthermore, she sees Vic’s plan to go off to college as nothing more than a pipe dream. Once home, Vic packs her bags as she plans to move in with her father. Linda expresses her pain in watching Vic leave her for her father, who left them both behind. Linda makes Vic promise her to come back home if there’s hard liquor in Tiffany’s house. She proceeds to cry as Vic leaves.
Vic rides her bike over to Haley’s house, where Haley is drawing with chalk on her front porch. She and Vic are similar in many ways. Haley tells Vic how her mother wants her to stop her creative ways and to be more like the other girls her age. Vic had a similar upbringing. She gifts Haley her art set and kisses her on the head before leaving, ensuring her they’ll always be friends.
Vic arrives at Tiffany’s to find her dad in the backyard with a topless Tiffany, spraying her down with a hose. They gather themselves, and Tiffany hesitantly offers to put Vic up in her craft room. While Chris claims to want Vic around, she can’t help but feel he doesn’t want her at Tiffany’s. Chris believes that home is better suited for Vic even though Chris, unlike Linda, believes Vic is capable of succeeding in college. Vic asks if there’s a future where he could ever come home and they could be a family again. Unfortunately, Chris doesn’t see that happening. He and Linda grew up together. They had good times, but things have changed and he can never go back.
Maggie and Sheriff Bly take a drive down to the junkyard in Nebraska. The owner, Mrs. Miller, informs them that someone came in for some bodywork on a '38 Wraith. Bended up left front fender and needed to replace brake drums. This was 32 years ago. It’s the same day her son and grandson disappeared with the car, and the man that owned it. She describes the owner as being sickly with bad teeth, about 80 years old. Her son, Robbie, was the one who fixed it. He was spellbound by the car, even when it did things it shouldn’t, like starting by itself. One day, Mrs. Miller came home and her grandson was yelling "Grandma! The car got Daddy!" She came out to find that the car had Robbie pinned against the garage wall. Robbie claimed it was his fault, that the car rolled off its blocks, but Mrs. Miller was certain that the car had a mind of its own. One day, she came home and the car was gone, along with her son and grandson. Regardless of what anyone else may think, she knows the "rat-faced" owner of the car took them.
Bing awakens on the road to Christmasland, located West. During their ride, they pass several waving snowmen. Once a year, Manx takes someone special with him. All children are welcome, but adults must first prove their worth. Manx needs Bing’s help in saving 10 children from their parents. Bing questions Manx’s intentions given that what he describes sound like child abduction. However, Manx claims it's a matter of rescue and retrieval. Any child would give their teeth to live an eternity in Christmasland.
Vic, Chris, and Tiffany discuss Vic’s future and her plans to attend RISD. Linda unexpectedly pulls up and demands that Vic come home with her, though Vic refuses. Chris and Tiffany’s involvement only escalates Linda’s rage. Linda warns Vic that in staying with her father and Tiffany, the closest she’ll come to college is tending bar while pregnant next to Tiffany. Linda then confronts Tiffany, demanding to know how long she and Chris have been together. With Linda shoving Chris and him threatening to call the cops, Vic jumps on her bike and rides off.
Vic rides over the Shorter Way, skidding out in Here, Iowa, where she is greeted by Maggie Leigh, who addresses her at "the Brat." She refers to Vic’s motorbike as her "Knife" and the bridge as her "Inscape". Maggie realizes that her words confuse Vic as she looks about the age that one’s abilities tend to manifest. She tells Vic that she’s a "Strong Creative". Vic starts to hear the high-pitched ringing in her head again. She asks Maggie if she has something for her. Something someone left or lost. Maggie does. She’s been expecting Vic.
Maggie takes Vic to the library where she works and also lives, as she’s an orphan. The library looks familiar to Vic. Maggie explains that her Scrabble Tiles told her Vic was coming. They can tell her just about anything, if she listens. They can’t give her proper nouns though, much like in scrabble. But nicknames are okay, hence Maggie calling her the Brat. She then starts to hear the high-pitched ringing again. Maggie explains to Vic that her bridge, the Shorter Way, is an Inscape; a world dreamed up in her imagination. Everybody has them, but only Strong Creatives can pull theirs into the real world with the help of a knife, such as Vic’s bike. It cuts the fabric of the real world and the world of thought, allowing her to access her bridge. Vic explains that when she crosses the bridge, she gets this sharp pain in her head. Her left eye feels as if it’s got a needle in it. Maggie explains that’s the cost of her gift. Maggie didn’t always stutter. It wasn’t until her bag found her. She was close to Vic’s age she then. Maybe younger, but it varies, similar to puberty.
Maggie’s a medium. She helps interpret the static. Her Tiles have been chatting about Vic for days. Maggie grabs her purple Scrabble Bag and asks it what is Vic there to find. She shoves her hand inside the bottomless bag as the lights flicker. She pulls out several tiles that come to spell the phrase "The Wraith". Maggie explains that it is a serial child abductor that she’s been tracking. He too is a Strong Creative, and he took someone that Maggie knew. Vic is freaked out by the entire experience and leaves, though not before Maggie tells her that she was supposed to help find the Wraith and Daniel, the 8 year old boy that was taken. Vic is the only person that can stop him. Maggie believes Vic was chosen, but Vic doesn’t want to be chosen, telling Maggie her tiles are wrong.
Vic returns to Haverhill over her bridge. The sharp pain momentarily returns. Haley catches Vic as she returns. Vic warns her against telling anyone what she saw as it’s dangerous. Haley promises that she won’t tell anyone. As for why she's in the woods in the middle of the night, she’s out there in search of her cat, Mittens. Vic assures Haley that he’ll come back and gives Haley a ride home.
Manx and Bing take a detour from Christmasland. They arrive at the Graveyard of What Might Be. Bing finds a dead girl under the ice. Manx explains that she's not dead, not yet anyways. Maybe not for many years. It’s a cemetery filled with children, who if Manx does nothing, will have their childhood stolen from them by their parents. All of them beaten with chains, fed cat food, sold to perverts, and so on. Manx points out the grave of Lily Carter. Turned to a life of sin by her father. She never had a chance. Her childhood ended before it began. Manx tells Bing that he could line all the parents up and put a bullet in their head for all he cares. Or a nail. He wishes he could’ve saved Bing when he was a child in need of rescuing, but now it's Bing's turn to do the saving. Bing agrees to help Manx save the children before it’s too late. He does warn Bing that there is someone who threatens the magic and wonder of Christmasland, someone in Haverhill. Manx asks what Bing knows about the Shorter Way.
Vic returns to Tiffany’s and fills a rag up with ice, which she places over her throbbing eye. She goes to her room, unpacks, and lies down in bed, forced to hear her father and Tiffany having sex in the next room over.
- The Graveyard of What Might Be is a reference to a graveyard filled with suffering and mistreated children, according to Charlie Manx.
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