Annie and the Fire is the 53rd chapter of Gunnerkrigg Court. It starts .
The chapter opens showing Antimony exiting her room for her classes, leaving her fire elemental half behind. Now alone, the elemental rages throughout the room and tries to burn anything it can, but it finds that it is unable to touch anything. Suddenly, it spots Anthony's face on a photo sticking out of a bookshelf. Enraged, the Fire rushes over to incinerate it, but stops right before it reaches it.
We are shown a memory, Annie's memory, of her time with Ysengrin sometime during one of her visits to the forest. The two of them are sitting beneath Ysengrin's tree armor. To Annie's surprise, Ysengrin mentions that he actually hates Coyote sometimes. Though he also tells her that his love for his lord runs deeper than his hate. He mentions that anger can be a strength, but it could also consume if it isn't kept under control. When Annie asks how Ysengrin controls it, he replies that he tries to keeps it separate from himself and that he sees it as an adversary, a personal demon.
The flashback shifts to the events of Chapter 51: The Tree, moments after her father cut Annie off from everything . She bursts into her old dorm room, sobbing. As her father's words and Kat's disappointed face rush through her mind, she clutches her head in agony and anger. The fire in her begins to flare as her anger grows, she goes to her vanity. She angrily stares at herself in the mirror for a moment before retrieving some scissors from the drawer. Unable and unwilling to deal with her inner Fire, she summons her blinker stone and cuts off that part of herself in the ether as she cuts her hair.
The memory ends and blinker stone is shown to be floating within the elemental's core. Annie returns from her classes, just as Mr. Donlan knocks on her door. He tells her that he is heading to her father's place and asks for Annie's blinker stone. She gives it to him and tells her to give him ten minutes before looking into it. After a time, Annie sits on her bed and glances into the ether, her elemental side beside her as she does so. From the blinker stone in his trouser pocket, Annie sees Donald arrive at her father's home. Donald offers Anthony wine and Anthony jokingly demands that he "get that in my house".
Donald complements Anthony's place, Tony jokes that took him a week to feng shui the chair alone. He then smiles and offers Donald a seat. He removes his prosthetic arm, revealing a badly scarred stump. Anthony smiles at Donald's shock and jokes that he's "not much of a surgeon anymore". When Donald asks if his injury is why he came back, Anthony replies that it wasn't. Anthony stares at his missing arm, momentarily lost in thought, and tells Anthony that the Court had him out researching their Omega Device.
Knowing that Annie's watching this, Donald coughs. Thinking that his friend is worried about the court hearing their conversation, Anthony mentions that he already took care of all the surveillance in the building. Donald asks if the court knew his whereabouts for the duration of his absence. Anthony replies that they had, as they were the ones who provided him with the means to research the device and Surma's pregnancy. But Donald is still curious to know why they would go into hiding and cut off all contact.
Anthony states that it was Surma's idea and his expression becomes mournful. Surma had not wanted her child to be born in the court, and she didn't want Anja to see her slowly wasting away. Anthony agreed to leave, he was especially glad to go after some sort of confrontation involving James Eglamore. Having to cut off all contact with her friends at the court broke Surma's heart, but she refused to return despite Antony many offers to bring her back. When Surma finally passed on, Anthony regarded as his greatest failure and never wanted to return to the court. It is revealed that he thought that Antimony wouldn't want to live with "the man that killed her mother."
When Donald mentions that Surma knew the risk she faced, Anthony protests that he promised that he would be able to help. A brief flashback is shown of Anthony throwing his research to the floor. Unable to find a medical explanation for what happened, Anthony went out to discover a supernatural explanation in Surma's psychopomps. For the next three years he traveled the world in search of them, unable to find them with his own methods and experience, he journeyed outside of his comfort zone. Overtime he had thought that he had gone beyond the court's eye, but he eventually discovered that they had never stopped watching him. Anthony met many people and creatures through his travels and saw things that he would have never believed had he not seen them for himself.
Anthony takes another sip of wine. He had thought he had found what he was looking for the previous year. He couldn't remember what part of the world he was in, or even if he was on earth at all. He had gone through physical trials, damaging his face in the process, and ended up in somewhere that was like some place found in a dream. Somewhere outside of physical reality. Anthony wears a manic grin as he tells Donald about how the psychopomps told him that he would be able to see Surma again.
The psychopomps had told him that the dead continued to exist in a world beyond their own, that he construct some sort of antenna to reach into the ether if he had the right tools. Donald realises that this was the phone call from last year, and Anthony is amused to learn that his message got through something so mundane. Anthony continues his story, saying that Antimony was the first pearson he thought to contact, but he was unable to reply when he heard her voice.
Anthony apologises to Donny, saying that he never wanted to get Antimony involved in what he was about to do. He tells him that the medical supplies from last year were so he could perform surgery on himself, because the antenna required blood and bone from his hand. The device worked, warping reality and pulling "Surma" from the ether, to Tony's delight. Or at least, he thought it was Surma.
Shocked, Donald tells Anthony that Annie had taken ill not long after they sent the supplies. Anthony confirms Donald's fears, the "psychopomps" hadn't given him the full truth. They only told Anthony that the procedure would bring Surma back, but neglected to tell him that it would be at Antimony's expense! Anthony hadn't a clue of what he'd done until something (Zimmy, unbeknownst to him.) intercepted the vision, announcing that it was a "message from his little girl" leaving a small scar on his upper lip in its attack.
Anthony is thankful that the thing interfered and let's out a rueful laugh. Horrified that he almost killed his daughter, he believed that he never should have returned because he didn't deserve to see her. He tells Donald that Antimony's father died in those caves, that he wished that his body had rotted away after those creatures left him alone in the wilderness.
But the court found him anyway.
Months later, he woke up in some sort of hospital ward. His wounds had been cleaned and he'd grown a beard. Representatives of the gunnerkrigg court are there, asking him to come back or "reining them in after he's had his fun" as Anthony put it. Anthony initially declined, but then they told him about Antimony and all she had done. They were not pleased with her involvement with the forest and threatened to expel her after she graduated, removing her from the court and "the program" completely. Anthony made a bargain with them, he'd return to work at the court again and his daughter would repeat the previous year to make up. And when he finally returned, he nearly had a breakdown over how much she looked like Surma.
Finished with his drink and devastated over his actions, Anthony leans back on his chair, covers his face and cries.
He then falls asleep and Donald leaves.
Mr. Donlan looks at Annie's blinker Stone, he tells her that what she just saw does not excuse what he did. He just wanted her to see this side of her father, because he wasn't sure how else she would. The blinker stone disappears, Donald takes one last look at Anthony's doorway and walks away.
Back inside Annie's room, she and her fire elemental stare at her stone. All Annie say for the experience is "You see? He had his reasons." The elemental's face is blank for a moment before it flares up in anger. It flies up to ceiling, looks down at Annie for a moment in fury before settling in its corner, still seething. Antimony, meanwhile, is perfectly calm. She has closed her eyes.
The chapter ends.
- Feng Shui is a philosophical system developed thousands of years ago in China. It is a complex body of knowledge that reveals how to harmonize the energies of any given space to assure health and good fortune for people inhabiting it.
- In its earliest form, fengshui was utilized to orient the homes of the dead rather than the homes of the living.
- The symbols featured on alchemical symbols for arsenic. Additionally, they also resemble the devanagari letter "ka". of this chapter strongly resembles one of the
|Gunnerkrigg Court Chapters|
The Shadow and the Robot • Schoolyard Myths • Reynardine • Not Very Scary • Two Strange Girls • A Handful of Dirt • Of New and Old • Broken Glass and Other Things • Questions and Answers • Doctor Disaster Versus the Creepy Space Aliens from Outer Space • Dobranoc, Gamma• Mainly Involves Robots • A Week for Kat • The Fangs of Summertime
Loup's Trick • Dealing With HER • New Contract • Perspective • The Goose Bone • Moving • She Gave Us An Ocean • Down That Road • The Thousand Eyes
Behind It All • Find Yourself • The Mind Cage
|Extra Comics||Bonus Pages • City Face (comic) • Annie in the Forest • Traveller • Coyote! • Zim Grim|