Chapter Four: Sylva's Voice

I just could not believe it. It was only just sinking in that Cynthia really had managed to twist her crackpot circuits into an arrangement to bring us back in time, but I totally hadn't anticipated exactly what that meant. That we were loose in our parents' time. Call me slow, but it didn't occur to me that, when Cynthia talked about the Misfits and the Holograms, she meant them back when they were young, like us, and not how I think of Mom and the rest. It was too, too strange for words!
I always knew Mom was pretty when she was younger. I mean, of course she was - she's my mother, right? And I could see right away where it was I got my impeccable dress sense from. So far, the eighties had proven to be a real drag, with the stuff people were wearing and the awful decor, but Mom's outfit had a touch of class about it, and I felt slightly proud.
It was then that I realised that she did not look in the least bit happy. In fact, she looked tired, stressed out and downright miserable, if I'm honest. It isn't a common state of affairs for her to be that way, and immediately I found myself casting my mind back to think whether she knew my father in 1987, and whether he could have upset her. Paranoid, I know, but the only things I have in my memory that equate with her expression are memories of her after my brother was stillborn, and of course, after the divorce.
A flurry of activity from across the table startled my attention and I turned, seeing Cynthia hurriedly trying to hide herself behind a holographic menu. Of course, that was pretty weird in itself, sitting having breakfast with a hologram disguised as the lead singer of the Misfits, but I guessed that it would probably draw even more attention to herself if she was to shift back to how she normally looks in the middle of a busy coffee shop. I also then realised that I'd been staring at my mother like some unbalanced groupie, and I felt a touch silly. Definitely not cool. But then, the Misfits were a big deal, and she probably was used to it. In fact, she hardly seemed to have noticed.
"I thought you said that the Misfits were a thriving rock act in 87?" Nancy murmured under her breath, indicating Mom with her free hand. "That doesn't look like the picture of happiness to me."
"She looks upset about something." Topaz agreed. "I wonder if she's had a fight with someone."
"I admit that my knowledge of the Misfits in the eighties is mainly second hand." Cynthia admitted. "I was not as freely able to observe them in the way I could the Holograms, and my recollections are largely based on what I learnt through them. It is possible that the Misfits fought."
"Possible? With Mom and Aunt Roxy it was practically a life choice." Nancy said acidly. "I know, because Dad's told me enough stories about the two of them. I know that Aunt Roxy almost decked Mom out once, not long after she started seeing Dad. I wouldn't call that wonderful group harmony."
This distracted my attention.
"For real?" I asked. "Aunt Roxy always said she could beat the hell out of Jetta, but I never realised she'd tried it!"
"Yeah, by all accounts, if your Mom hadn't intervened Mom woulda been pulped." Nancy nodded. "All accounts except Mom's, that is. She won't talk about it."
Copper laughed.
"That doesn't surprise me." She remarked. "I can't imagine Jetta liking being bested in anything."
"So you're just going to sit and hide behind your menu from me now?"
A fresh voice interrupted our banter, and glancing up, I did a doubletake. Mom was no longer by the counter, but standing right there by our booth, her hands on her hips and an indignant glare on her face. I have never seen her look so angry. Not even when Annie and I did stupid stuff at school did she look like that, I'm telling you. Not even the day I skipped off classes to catch a bus upstate for some rock concert. This was seriously bad, and instinctively I found myself shrinking back against the seat, half-expecting the mother of all Mom-lectures.
But it wasn't me she was looking at at all. Her attention - and it seemed, anger - was directed at Cynthia, still disguised under the hologram of Phyllis. Personally, I thought that was pretty damn brave to begin with. Phyllis is not someone you tangle with!
Cynthia, now her cover was blown, made to set down the nonexistant menu, casting Mom a confused look.
"I'm not hiding from anyone." She said coolly. "Is something amiss?"
Mom narrowed her eyes.
"How far will you go for Eric Raymond and his stupid schemes, huh?" She demanded in low tones. "Do you know, I actually believed that you guys missed my music for a minute or two, until it dawned on me that by coming back to your sorry little studio I would be letting down a true friend and letting Eric win. I can't believe you would do something like that! So much for wanting me to be a Misfit! It's all about him and his stupid schemes to spite the Holograms! When are you going to get a grip on that? I'm not going to be used or messed about any more, so get it into your head! I'm not just some no-talent lackey - I can write music and I can sell records without you, so don't think that I'll come crawling back!"
Cynthia's eyes about popped out of her head at this tirade, and honestly, mine weren't far behind. But it seemed that Mom was not done. She produced a newspaper article, tossing it down onto the table.
"Read that." She said coolly. "That'll show you what kind of a musician you've driven out, and I hope you're happy about it!"
Before any of us could say anything, she had turned on her heel, leaving the coffee shop, and leaving us all exchanging confused looks.
"Erm, did your mother suffer from fits of schizophrenia when the Misfits were recording?" Nancy was the first to break the silence. "If she did, it might explain a lot, but what in hell was all that about?"
"My mother is not schizophrenic!" I snapped. "She was just upset about something, that's all! Cynthia said that it's possible the Misfits fought. Well, so now we know they did. So?"
"So I wonder how much deeper this runs." Cynthia glanced at the newspaper, running a holographic finger down the columns of the article. "It would appear that I have made a serious miscalculation after all. I have brought us back far earlier than I anticipated."
"Far earlier? But we know this is 1987." Topaz looked apprehensive. "Don't we?"
"It is 1987." Cynthia nodded her head. "But the flaw in my system is that I can only go back in years, I cannot adjust dates. It is January...and unfortunately, in January of 1987, the Misfits and the Holograms were involved in events that threatened the future of both their groups. I should have aimed for 1988 instead, but it cannot be helped now." She sighed. "We are here. I just fear that I will not be able to show you the musical performances that I anticipated. My apologies."
"So what? We're here for no reason? Great!" Topaz had an edge to her voice, and I knew she was thinking about Hollie. I frowned.
"So what's the deal?" I asked. "I don't like seeing Mom upset, Cyn, even if all of this is stuff that has already happened where we come from. Mom didn't know Dad in 1987, so I know it's not him that upset her."
"It sounded like a musical difference of opinion." Sadie said wisely. "Some kind of band spat."
"Indeed." Cynthia sighed, looking troubled. "And my disguise here may well have exacerbated it. I am sure this confrontation will be well talked about in the local tabloid rags now."
"But what is it all about?" I persisted. "Cynthia, you were in Los Angeles in 1987. You must know what's caused this! Even if you were with the Holograms..."
"Yes, I know." Cynthia indicated that I should take the paper, tapping it with a shimmery finger that went straight through it's pages. "And so do you, though perhaps you do not realise all of the implications. You are aware, I believe, that your mother recorded a disk with Kimber of the Holograms in the eighties?"
"Yes. She did two or three." I nodded. "Why?"
"Do you know the circumstances of their first record together?"
"The circumstances?" I frowned. "You mean Back2Back? I know it was a smash hit and that Annie and I always used to try and be Mom and Kimber when I'm Okay came on...what do you mean, circumstances? Mom and Kimber have always been friends, and so they recorded an album together. So?"
"It is not quite that simple." Cynthia shook her head. "Back2Back was a smash hit indeed, but in the very first instance it was fighting between Stormer and the Misfits, and Kimber and the Holograms that led the two girls to team up. I believe it was by chance, but they are both talented musicians, and realised that they had something to offer each other musically. The result was a severance of ties with their respective groups. I remember Jerrica was very concerned about Kimber and her behaviour during this time, and that the Holograms suffered very much from Kimber's absence. Eventually it transpired that the contract Kimber and Stormer had signed was tied up with Eric Raymond and one of his schemes to relieve Jerrica of Starlight Music should the record be a flop. Kimber asked Jerrica for help, and she and Stormer recorded their album with the backing of Starlight Music, preventing Eric from achieving his goal. The album was number one in the charts for some time. Kimber returned to the Holograms afterwards and Stormer, of course, returned to the Misfits."
"So we've landed in the middle of a warzone?" Nancy demanded. "Great."
"Something like that." Cynthia nodded. "I know little about the Misfit side of events, except what Kimber herself confided in me. I never spoke to Stormer - she did not know of me, and even on the few nights she stayed at the Starlight Mansion during recording, I did not encounter her in any direct way. It was not until much later that she stumbled on my existance, and that was after all of the negative energy had died down."
"Well, so we've hit a bad time to be visiting, but everything works out fine in the end, right?" Sadie asked. "I mean, we know Mary was a Misfit till the band broke up...which was when you were born, wasn't it, Syl?"
"Something like that." I agreed slowly. I don't really like being reminded that it was my sister and I being born that had put an end to one of America's biggest rock acts, but at least I knew that Sadie wouldn't have said it as a jibe. It's usually Nancy who pulls that one out of the bag when we're having a spat, and I don't love her any the more for it!
"So that means that she and the Misfits will make friends again." Sadie said matter of factly. "Meanwhile, whilst we're stuck here in 1987, and since we can't watch the Holograms or the Misfits perform, what are we going to do?"
"I have not thought that far ahead." Cynthia admitted. "Give me a few moments. I must consider."
I scooped up the newspaper article, reading it properly for the first time. I couldn't explain it, but something about this whole situation had unnerved me. I don't like seeing Mom unhappy - well, who does like seeing their Mom upset? - and somehow it seemed a lot bigger a deal than Sadie had assumed it would be.
'A one hit wonder or are Kimber and Stormer tipped for the big time?' I read. 'Sales of Back2Back, the debut album from two girls as different as chalk and cheese has been selling up a storm all week, and looks set to go platinum within hours. Is this the start of a dazzling new career? Kimber herself has admitted that working with Stormer has been a truly outrageous experience and that she wholeheartedly hopes that they will do work together in the future, though when pressed she spoke fondly of Jem and the Holograms and gave no indication as to what her future plans might be. Stormer refused to comment on the rising speculation that she has quit the Misfits for good, and that a potential position songwriting and playing with the Holograms could be just around the corner. Is Back2Back the start of something new and dynamic for these girls? Or is this just the end of the line for one rock act in the wake of a new partnership's emergence?'
I set the paper down, a frown touching my face.
"I don't like this." I said aloud, idly folding the sheet between my hands. "This article pretty much says that Mom's leaving the Misfits to join the Holograms, which is insane. Mom was never a Hologram!"
"The press don't always report the truth, Syl." Copper said softly. "You know that as well as any of us. Just because Starlight Music backed their record, I suppose it's a logical press conclusion that Stormer will leave the Misfits for dead and join up with Kimber's band. We know it didn't happen that way, so don't worry about press reports saying it will. We know better, remember? It's already happened."
My frown deepened.
"What if it hasn't?" I asked quietly. "What if we're wrong and it's not a sure thing that Mom and the Misfits make up their fight? She was pretty cold to Cynthia just now, thinking she was Phyllis. And we all know that noone launches a tirade at someone they think is Phyllis Gabor unless they have a deathwish. Mom's told me time and time again that when they were Misfits she was often scared of Phyllis when she was in a temper. This just doesn't fit so good with the stories I know and with the spat we just witnessed. Something is wrong here. Something big."
"It was a violent quarrel." Cynthia said. "But it was one which the Misfits did indeed settle peacefully. I believe Copper is correct, Syl. Time is static...the future is already panned out."
"But that means that Mom and the others aren't choosing what they do freely. That they're predetermined to do what's set out for them to do because it leads to our future." I protested. Okay, I admit it, I didn't really have much of a clue what I was talking about, but it sounded good and I had to get the others to see that I wasn't just fussing, but that I felt there was something majorly wrong.
"Oh gawd, who gave her the Physics lesson." Nancy rolled her eyes, finishing her toast and taking a sip of her coffee. "Look, Syl. Time works like this. Things happen...to make other things happen. WE know that in 2015 the Misfits are on friendly terms - that your Mom has two kids, has been divorced and writes songs for the music company, like for Sirena, for example. We know that Mom and Aunt Phyl wind up running the company together because that Raymond guy swindled the business out of a lot of money and we know that the Misfits split up not long before you were born because your Mom was sick. We know those things. But noone in 1987 knows those things. They are choosing what to do. Just their choices made our world what it is. That's all."
"But what if they're the wrong choices?" I wasn't giving up yet. Nancy might think she's smart, with her grade A high school diploma and whatever else, but she doesn't know my Mom the way I do and I knew something was up. "What if the choices they make aren't as sure as we think they are? I mean, what if there are several...several possible futures and ours is just one? And...and what if we've come back to find that Mom's made a different choice? What then?"
"Give me strength." Nancy rubbed her temples. "We exist, Syl. Things have to work out the way they do because we exist!"
"I'm officially confused." Topaz held up her hands. "Why are we talking about this, anyway? I thought it was settled that we'd come back to the worst possible time but that it was a spat that was resolved and that all ended happily ever after. Did someone turn over two pages at once?"
I sighed, frustrated.
"You guys just don't get it." I said at length. "I know my Mom, and I know that she doesn't get upset like that over little band spats. This is important to her. It's hurt her pretty bad. You think that because in our time nothing bad came of Back2Back that it's a sure thing nothing will now. But we're not in our time. We're in 1987. These things haven't happened yet. And what if they don't happen the way we think they will?"
"Cyn?" Sadie cast Cynthia a questioning look. Cynthia pursed her lips.
"My calculations would indicate that time is static." She repeated. "And logically something which has happened in 2015 must also be correct along the same timeline. Therefore our connitations of events in 1987 must follow the specific pattern we expect them to, because we come from the world that was generated by those actions."
"See." Nancy grimaced at me. "You're talking nonsense, as usual."
"I'm not talking nonsense." I took offence at this. "Just because Cyn thinks it's right doesn't mean it is. She doesn't know Mom any better than you do. She said as much! But I know that there's something wrong and I'm going to do something about it!"
"Like what?" Nancy raised an eyebrow.
"Something." Well, I hadn't thought about what yet, but I knew I had to intervene somewhere. "It's none of your business what."
"Syl, we shouldn't mess with the past." Copper looked anxious, and she put a hand on my arm, but I shook it off.
"Cynthia says that we can't mess with the past." I told her firmly. "So if she's right, I won't do any harm. And if I'm right, well, I'm going to save the Misfits, even if you lot don't care about it!"
I got to my feet. "I'm done with breakfast, anyway."
"Where are you going?" Sadie sounded alarmed. "We have to stick together!"
"I know Los Angeles." I retorted. "Okay, so the paint is different and the cars are old and ugly, but I know the city. I'm not going to get lost. Besides, this is important. I'm going to go find my Mom and see if I can't settle things up one way or another!"
Before any of the others could stop me I was gone out of the coffee shop door, glancing around for a moment to work out where Mom might have gone. The street was busy with people, and in the end I had to make a calculated decision. Mom had mentioned the Holograms, so maybe it would be the best idea if I went home - well, to the Starlight Mansion, even though it isn't home right at the moment.
"And that's somewhere I can definitely find." I murmured. "Maybe someone there can help me!"

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen