“I still don’t get this rock.” Phineas said.
Perry had already fallen asleep in the double-bed and was snoring loudly. Phineas and Ferb were the only ones awake.
“I think someone made it to tell someone something.” Phineas said.
“And how can the picture move? We don’t have that kind of technology nowadays. Even if we wanted to make something like this… I just don’t get it. Is there something outside the door?”
He stared at the rock. The rock made no response. It kept replaying the glowing picture of the door opening for the arrow to point out of it.
“Don’t worry about it.” Ferb said. “It was probably left here by someone else for someone else.”
“But who? Who could have this technology?”
“Aliens.” Ferb said.
“You think it could be a message from Meap?”
“Perhaps. Perhaps not.”
Phineas was silent for a while.
Ferb said nothing. Phineas knew he was waiting for him to talk.
“It looks like the way you draw doors.” Phineas yawned. “You put the knob down really low. Like if it was a door for a chipmunk to open.”
“I didn’t make that.”
“I didn’t say you did, Ferb. I just think it looks like the way you draw doors.” Phineas rolled over and closed his eyes.
“Happy Valentine’s Day.” Perry said.
Phineas and Ferb walked sleepily into the room. Perry pointed at two bags on the kitchen table. “Go on. They’re for you.”
“Should we be out here?” Phineas pointed at Doofenshmirtz, still asleep in his double-bed.
“He could sleep through a marching band.” Perry said. “Trust me, I hired one once. Go on. Open your bags.”
Phineas put the weird rock down on the table and opened his. Ferb did as well.
“Aw, thanks Perry.” Phineas said. The boys started taking out their heart-shaped chocolates, jelly beans and pink hot chocolate.
“Figured you’d like that pink hot chocolate. It’s very Valentine-y.”
“It reminds me of Candace.” Phineas said. “Can you make it for us?”
“Sure.” Perry took the packets and got some mugs out of the cupboards.
“I wonder how they make pink hot chocolate.” Phineas said.
“From pink cocoa beans.” Ferb teased.
“Did you get any for Doofenshmirtz?” Phineas asked.
“Of course.” Perry said. “He’d hold it against me forever if I didn’t.”
“I think he’s a nice guy.” Phineas said. “Underneath all the evil.”
Perry shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. So, what park do you guys want to go to today?”
“That park with the ride that goes fast.” Ferb said.
“You’ll have to be more specific than that.” Perry said.
“I found more!” Devon said, bursting into Pinky’s lair.
Pinky stared at him.
“More on Lowe. And this time it’s REALLY weird.” Devon said.
“Anything on that day off?”
“No, not yet. Well, kind of. I searched files at the O.W.C.A and found this.” Devon waved a paper in the air. “Apparently, on that day that the agency closes, the year Lowe joined the agency, he was found unconscious on the floor of the main room with scratches down his back. All the files that gave extra information on it were all blocked.”
“That’s it. I’m talking to him.” Pinky said. “The day off was strange enough, but now it seems…”
“Stranger.” Devon finished.
“Stranger.” Pinky agreed.
Pinky knocked on Lowe’s door.
“Come in.” Lowe said.
Pinky entered. Darren was right about the fennec fox pictures. They were everywhere.
“Those pictures of your family members?” Pinky asked.
“Some of them.” Lowe said. “My sisters and brothers, mostly. Did you need to talk about something? Or did someone send for me?”
“I just had a few questions.” Pinky said. He sat down on one of the many couches.
“Go ahead.” Lowe said.
“Why do you wear glasses?”
“I need them.” Lowe responded.
“Well, I was… helping sort files in the medical room the other day, and your file said you had perfect vision.”
“I do. For a fennec fox.” Lowe smiled. “I can’t see very well in this moist environment, though.”
“Ah.” Pinky said.
“Is that all you were wondering about?”
“No, actually.” Pinky said. “Why did you quit being an agent to be a psychiatrist?”
“I kept trying to figure out the villains instead of fight them. I also wasn’t very good at hand-to-hand combat. You have no reason to be suspicious of me, Pinky.”
“You’re suspicious of me. You have a right to, of course, but you should know that I don’t think you need to know why I have such a strange record. It won’t ever affect you. It will always only affect me.” He looked tired as he said this.
“Why is it such a big secret?” Pinky asked. “Why do we always have to leave on that one day?”
“I can’t talk about that here.” Lowe said with a sigh. “Just know that it’s for a good reason. And that it’d be best if you didn’t look into it.”
They sat in silence for a while.
Pinky looked up at the big portrait of a fennec fox on the wall. It smiled warmly down at him.
“That looks like you. Is it?”
Lowe shook his head.
Lowe didn’t respond.
Pinky watched the portrait. Somehow the smile didn’t seem as warm anymore. The eyes had more of a hungry expression.
“It looks like it’s…”
“Changed expressions? It does that.” Lowe said. “If you’re feeling sad, it may seem to be taunting you. Or scared, it may seem scary. When you feel all right, he smiles at you.”
“So it plays on your emotions?”
“In a way.” Lowe said.
“Ferb, hurry up and choose what ice cream you want. You always take forever when we get to the front of the line.”
“There are so many flavors.” Ferb said.
“Do they have garlic?” Doofenshmirtz asked.
“Where’s Phineas?” Perry asked. “PHINNY!”
“He went off to the water fountain, I think.” Ferb said.
“Who?” Doofenshmirtz asked.
“Phineas.” Ferb said.
“There he is. Hold my spot.” Perry crawled out of the line. “PHINEAS! What the heck are you doing in the hot dog line? We’re getting ice cream!”
Phineas turned. Perry took a step back. It wasn’t Phineas. It was just some random human who looked a lot like him.
“Sorry.” Perry said. “Thought you were someone else.”
He realized the person wouldn’t be able to understand him. He sighed and went back to Ferb and Doofenshmirtz.
“You’d think there wouldn’t be so many people with triangle heads around.” Perry muttered.
“What?” Phineas asked, coming up to them.
“Where were you?” Perry demanded.
“I told Ferb I was going to the water fountain. Didn’t he tell you?”
“Perry thought you were in the hot dog line.” Ferb said.
“Why would you think that? We’re getting ice cream, right?” Phineas asked.
“You’ve got a doppleganger.” Perry said. “Some man who looks a lot like you is in the hot dog line.”
Phineas looked toward the hot dog line. “Huh. What are the odds?”
“You can see why I mistook him for you, right?”
“He’s staring at us now. Kind of creepy.” Phineas grabbed Perry’s hand.
Perry looked. Sure enough, the man was gazing at Phineas as though he had never seen a more fascinating child.
“Probably sees the resemblance.” Perry said. “All the same, I don’t like him staring at you.”
“Well, in all fairness, we stared at him first.” Ferb said.
The man finally looked away. Perry felt Phineas’s grip relax.
“You don’t know him, do you?” Perry asked.
Phineas bit his lip. “No… I don’t think so… but… yes… I do… I feel like I’ve seen him before… like I know him… my head hurts.”
“Here. Ferb, you order for the three of us. I’ll take Phinny outside for a few minutes.” Perry guided Phineas out of the line and into the fresh air. Phineas rubbed his head with his free hand.
“Do you know where you’ve seen him before?” Perry asked.
“I… no. I just know him. And I have no idea how.”
“Do you want to sit down?”
Perry led him over to a bench. “All right. Just stay sitting for a while, okay?”
Perry woke up to a loud crack of thunder.
He sat up and looked toward the boys, who were rubbing their eyes.
“Dang.” Perry said. “I was having a dream about Doofenshmirtz giving me doughnuts. Stupid thunder…”
The thunder sounded again. A loud wind blew against the wall.
“Much worse than most storms.” Ferb said.
A glowing light was coming from Phineas’s bed. Phineas reached under the sheets and pulled out the rock.
It was blinking urgently. The green glow became brighter and brighter.
“Get out. Why didn’t I see it before?” Perry whispered.
“Huh?” Phineas asked.
“The rock with the door. It’s telling us to get out. Hurry, grab your stuff.”
Perry shook Doofenshmirtz awake and they ran out the front door. The wind nearly knocked them over.
“Open up the truck!” Phineas yelled at Doofenshmirtz.
Doofenshmirtz yanked open the truck door and helped the boys inside. Perry clambered in last and slammed the door. He started to back out of the driveway.
“What are those?” Ferb asked.
Off in the distance, gigantic cloaked robots were slowly making their way toward their cabin.
Phineas started shaking next to Perry. Perry put a hand on his arm. “It’ll be okay, Phinny. I promise.”
He drove on.
“There are people shooting at the robots.” Ferb said.
Three people were standing out in the wind. The robots were trying to smash them.
“No… it couldn’t be…” Perry said.
“What? What is it?” Ferb asked.
“Where are we gonna go?” Phineas asked.
“To another Disney hotel.” Perry said. “Far from here.”
“Perry, who WERE those people?” Ferb asked.
“…Us.” Perry said.