"Splinter Species": Since the death of his son Cliff, Buddy Baker's life has been turned upside down. While his wife Ellen has left him, he has also been nominated for Best Actor for his role in the f
- I don't care! I'm looking for Cliff, and if they don't like it, too bad!
- -- Maxine Baker
Appearing in "Splinter Species"
Synopsis for "Splinter Species"
Since the death of his son Cliff, Buddy Baker's life has been turned upside down. While his wife Ellen has left him, he has also been nominated for Best Actor for his role in the film Tights. Buddy has since been holed up in his cheap apartment, drinking away his depression, and unable to enjoy his success. Meanwhile, pet abductions are plaguing L.A.
Buddy receives a call from his manager and friend Roger, who is rightly concerned about him. He encourages Buddy to get back to work, to take his mind off of his problems, noting that going to the awards show might be just the thing. Buddy, however, snaps that the awards show could never take his mind off of the loss of his son, and his wife taking his daughter away from him. As he listens to Roger's futile arguments, Buddy notices the newspaper's reports on the pet abductions, and decides that maybe it is time to go back to work - just not how Roger expects.
Meanwhile, Ellen has moved herself and Maxine to her mother's farm in Sacramento. After Maxine has gone to sleep, Ellen confides in her mother Mary that the girl doesn't seem to have accepted the fact that her brother is really gone. Mary reminds that losing Cliff would be a lot to handle for anyone - including Buddy. Ellen brushes off her mother's hinting by explaining that looking at Buddy reminds her of Cliff too much. She can't be with him. Mary explains that even if separating was the right decision, Maxine needs her father, too.
Maxine is not asleep, despite what her mother thinks. In fact, she is up talking to her cat Socks. Maxine is convinced that she can simply enter The Red and retrieve Cliff. Socks reasons that Ellen is just trying to protect her daughter, given that she doesn't fully understand the Red, and that past experience with The Rot could only make it worse. Regardless of her mother's wishes, Maxine has already decided, and she and Socks prepare to meet with the Totems in the Red.
There, they encounter Shepherd who admits that the Totems seem to have softened their resolve regarding their opposition to her plan to seek out Cliff, noting that they had been quite angry with her father. Socks suggests that she be careful when she speaks to them, because they are sensitive. Maxine is determined, in any case, to find Cliff whether they consent or not.
Buddy, meanwhile, seeks out the last victim of a pet abduction, and is made uncomfortable by just how starstruck she seems to be that the Animal Man has come to her house. When she calms down, Buddy explains his intention to help her find her cats, suggesting that if he had access to one of the cats' possessions, he might be able to establish a kind of connection and track it. Gladly, she gives him one of Mr. Whiskerface's toys, and snaps a photo of Buddy as he flies off, promising to keep her apprised. While the internet explodes with news of Buddy's actions, he tracks the cats down to a seemingly abandoned warehouse, where he can't see any evidence, but he can feel the pain of all of the animals who suffered there.
The Totems are glad to see Maxine, though she is grumpy that they prevented her from seeing them until now. She insists that whatever they think, she intends to find Cliff. They confirm that Cliff's life essence is still in the Red, but that she still has much to learn before she can fully understand what that means. That in mind, they ask her whether she is as angry as her father seems to be, or if she is still eager to be their avatar. She responds that she does still want to be the avatar, but only on the condition that they do it while she's supposed to be asleep, that they let her look for Cliff, and that Shepherd and Socks be allowed to help. The Totems respond affirmatively, and Maxine happily hopes to get started.
Attempting to disconnect himself from the animals' pain, Buddy forces himself down into the basement of the warehouse, and is horrified to discover that they are all dead; the victims of cruel and inhuman experiments. Unfortunately, the internet chatter following his every move alerts those responsible to his presence, and he soon comes face to face with a horrifying sight. Whomever was responsible for the torture downstairs had grafted the animals' body parts onto his own body. Disgusted, Buddy attacks him, but the creature escapes his sight. Chasing after, Buddy rushes straight into a media scrum, where the paparazzi are eager to hear from him.
- This book was first published on June 19, 2013.
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