by Jenni

Another runaway.  Another set of desperate parents.  And more dead ends.  It was nights like this that Mick rethought his chosen profession.  He always worked as hard as if he knew he’d find the missing kid.  But the truth was he often didn’t.  Now he could only hope fate would lead him to this latest lost girl.

The P.I. made his way to a nearby park.  He knew a group of homeless teens spent their nights there.  May be he’d find Rebecca there.  He quickened his step as he neared the gazebo where they camped out.  He was several yards off yet when he tripped over an exposed tree root.  A split second later he was sprawled on the ground facedown.

“Cool.  Very cool,” he mumbled to himself as he pushed up off the ground.  He stood up and brushed some dry grass off his hands.  It was then that he looked up.  He jumped back.  Wherever he was, he was no longer in the park.  If he hadn’t known better, Mick would have sworn he was back in Europe but he hadn’t left L.A. for a long time.  The only thing he knew for sure was that there were no castles in downtown Los Angeles and yet he was definitely standing outside a castle. 

Mick began to walk around the perimeter of the building.  He gawked at its enormous size and the strange coloring.  A lavender and blue castle?  May be this was a big practical joke on Josef’s part.  He’d somehow drugged him and brought him to Disneyland.  Any moment now he’d hear the familiar chuckle and Josef would appear, his latest beauty on his arm.  But if that was the case, why was there no image of the ubiquitous mouse? 

At last finding what seemed to be the front door, Mick saw there was a plaque.  “Willowveil.  Built 1998,” he read.

Mick felt fear rising in him.  He didn’t know where he was and he didn’t know who else might be there.  However, his investigative skills wouldn’t let him flee and he wasn‘t even sure he could, anyway.  He’d get to the bottom of this one way or another.


Meanwhile, Andrew and Eliot were exiting Serendipity.  The young man had sought out the angel, hoping to speak about JenniAnn.  However, conversation had proved awkward and Andrew had suggested they go for a walk.  Though it was somewhat cold, Andrew hoped the calm night and starry sky would put the young man at ease. 

“Look at the moon, it’s so bright.”  Andrew smiled up at the heavens.

“It’s beautiful,” Eliot agreed.  “The sky isn’t so beautiful in New York… not that we see it much.”  He paused for a moment.  “She does loves the stars.”  He frowned.

“Not as much as she loves all of you.  Besides, the stars will always be here for JenniAnn and for everyone,” Andrew consoled.

Eliot shrugged.  “There’s a lot more she cares about here.”

Andrew blushed.  He couldn’t mistake Eliot’s meaning.  He kept walking, hoping Eliot would say something further.  The two men silently passed City Hall.  Eliot stopped suddenly, held his arm in front of Andrew, and brought his other hand to his lips. 

“There’s a man.  Near the ballroom window of Willowveil.  Look,” he whispered.  “JenniAnn’s in there!”

Andrew caught sight of the man.  Moving quickly but careful not to make noise, he made his way to a near by tree.  He had been raking and left the rake there.  He grabbed it and handed it to Eliot.  Next he made his way to what he knew to be the loosest fence post, yanked it up, and kept that to himself.  He motioned for Eliot to follow.  They tread softly.  However, they were still about ten yards off when the man spun around. 

“Get away from that window right now,” Andrew commanded.

Only upon seeing the man close up did Eliot realize how angry he felt.  He ran at the intruder. 

Andrew saw the man’s face transform.  His eyes flashed unearthly blue and white fangs stood out in the moonlight.  And there was the unmistakable sound… of a growl.  The angel of death was suddenly between Eliot and the… other, disrupting any potential brawl.

Fists clenched, Eliot stared past Andrew and at the trespasser.  A moment later he felt the anger begin to slip away.  The formerly menacing figure was now crouched on the ground, trying to pull his coat over his face.

“Please, look away.  I didn’t mean any harm.  Please just don’t look at me.”

“What were you doing here?” Andrew demanded.

“I don’t know.  I was in Los Angeles.  I’m a private investigator.  I was working on a case when suddenly I was here.”  He fumbled around and then produced a wallet which he handed to Andrew.

“Mick St. John,” the angel read.  He passed the wallet to Eliot.

“Where am I?” Mick asked.

Eliot folded his arms across his chest and stared at the talking coat.  “Lurking around outside my girlfriend’s house and I want to know why.”

“I’m sorry.  I was just trying to figure out where I was.  I would never harm a woman.”  Mick was beginning to calm.  He could tell that his fangs had receded.  He convinced himself that may be the two men hadn’t noticed anything suspicious about his appearance.  He stood up and faced them.  “Your girlfriend lives in this… house?” he asked, half-amused that anyone would refer to the massive structure as a mere house.  “Where is here?”

Eliot looked at Andrew, unsure about how to answer.  Andrew hadn’t looked away from Mick and didn’t as he spoke.  “Eliot, go check on JenniAnn.  Mr. St. John and I will be at Serendipity.  If she agrees, please bring JenniAnn over.”

Eliot nodded, unlocked Willowveil’s front door and went inside with out hesitation.

Andrew grabbed hold of the arm of Mick’s coat.  “Mr. St. John, my name’s Andrew.  The people who live here are very important to me so until this is resolved, you’ll have to come with me.”

Mick nodded nervously and allowed himself to be led.


“Andrew, we’re here,” Eliot called as he ushered JenniAnn into Serendipity. 

“I’m in the kitchen,” Andrew called back. 

The couple made their way to the warm, cozy room where Andrew handed them mugs of hot cocoa.

“I’m sorry to get you up and outside on a cold night, Laja,” Andrew apologized. 

JenniAnn shrugged.  “I figured it must be important.  It better be.  I’m not into being seen publicly in flannel pjs and robe, ya know.”

Andrew smiled but then grew serious.  “Are you going to tell her or should I?” he asked Eliot.

Eliot shrugged.  “Either way.”

The strained look on Eliot’s face told Andrew the telling was best left to him.  “Laja, Eliot and I were visiting and…”

“Uh oh…”  The woman blushed, pondering what sort of stories they might have had chance to exchange.

“No, oh no.  It’s not…”  Andrew took a deep breath.  “We decided to go for a walk as we talked and when we went past Willowveil, we noticed a man looking into the ballroom window.”

“What?!” JenniAnn practically shrieked. 

“We got him.  He said he wasn’t trying to harm you.  He seemed confused.  He showed us his ID.  Mick St. John, an investigator from L.A.  But this isn’t something to take lightly.  I brought him back here.  He’s in the rec room downstairs.” 

Upon hearing the man’s name, JenniAnn stared at Andrew, shocked, but then drew her own deep breath.  “And what do you plan to do now?”

“I heard him growl,” Eliot burst out.  “A-and I think he has fangs.”

“Wh-what?” JenniAnn grew pale and began to walk towards the entryway leading into the hall where the basement steps were.  “Vincent…” she murmured and took a few more steps. 

Eliot grabbed her hand and kept her from proceeding.  He knew her well enough to know she was already thinking that, at last, the mystery of Vincent’s origins might be revealed.  “No, not like Vincent.  I mean… something different.”

“Andrew?” JenniAnn looked to him for both confirmation and explanation.

“I don’t know what to say.  I saw and heard the same.”

“Well, I want to see him,” JenniAnn declared.

“Absolutely not!  He was lurking outside your castle!  He could be any number of bad things!” Eliot cried.

“Or he could just be someone lost and scared and as former princess of this place… I owe him some hospitality.  We all do.”

“I already offered him food and drink.  He turned me down,” Andrew explained.  “Laja, I know that Dyeland’s reputation is important to you but we don’t know much about this man and we have reason to be concerned.”

“You’re the former president, I’m the former princess.  I have as much right to question and may be welcome this man as you, Andrew,” the lady reminded.  She lowered her head, not used to disagreeing with Andrew.

Andrew wasn’t sure how to respond to that but was saved by an interjection from Eliot.

“If he’s found Dyeland, what’s to stop him from coming back?” Eliot asked.

The angel sighed and shook his head.  “That’s what I’ve been wondering myself.”

“May be we should ask Vincent…  If St. John knows we have such… protection… he may not return,” Eliot suggested.

JenniAnn had moved to stare out a window but whirled around to face her boyfriend.  “I can’t believe you’re suggesting what I think you are.”

“He’d do anything to protect you.  JenniAnn, this guy was outside your home!  Vincent won’t be happy with us if he finds out this happened and we didn’t tell him.  And if this guy does mean you harm and something were to happen and then Vincent found out I kept this from him…”  the young man turned away.

JenniAnn’s face softened when she noticed how badly Eliot was shaking.  She sighed and turned to Andrew.  “Please ask Vincent to come.”

Andrew nodded.  


It was Catherine who was awoken by the tapping on the pipes.  They were seldom heard so urgently at night.  Vincent.  Message from Andrew.  Serendipity.  Urgent.

At that Catherine bolted up and began to shake her husband.  “Vincent, get up, love.  Listen.”

Vincent smiled sleepily at his wife but then zeroed in on her words and troubled face.  He listened to the pipes.  Suddenly alert, he scrambled out of bed and began grabbing clothes out of his and Catherine’s wardrobe.  “Something must be terribly wrong for Andrew to summon me so late at night.  Eliot had said he’d be in Dyeland and Psyche, of course…”  Some of the color went out of his face.

“I’m sure they’re okay, Vincent.  Someone would have come and told us in person if…” Catherine trailed off.  Well she knew neither of them would have any peace until they reached Dyeland and so she quickly prepared to depart.


Back in Dyeland, JenniAnn had left Serendipity and returned to Willowveil long enough to change into proper clothes.  When she returned, with Eliot escorting her, she was wearing what Andrew remembered to be one of her “official” court outfits from years ago.  Queen Elizabeth I might have envied the outfit but Andrew knew that JenniAnn hated its gaudiness.  She had once confided in Andrew that she had only worn such outfits in the early days because she felt they had “a touch of the intimidating to em” and, when Dyeland was in its infancy, this quality was desirable.  That she wore it now was very telling.  The man in the basement must, on some level, be perceived as a threat by her.  Andrew was assured of this when Vincent and Catherine entered and the former had not yet managed to get out a greeting before his godchild had flung herself into his arms.

“Psyche?” the man asked gently.

“What’s going on?” Catherine questioned Eliot.

“Andrew and I found a man snooping around outside Willowveil.  He’s in the basement now.  Andrew plans on questioning him but JenniAnn insists upon being included.”  Eliot glanced at his girlfriend to assure himself she was not shooting him a withering look.  “He must be spoken to, convinced of the importance of protecting this place.  And if he did come here with ill will, he must…”  The young man drifted off.

“Are you harmed?” Vincent asked JenniAnn.

Pulling just enough away from him to meet his eyes, JenniAnn shook her head.  “I’m fine.  I had no idea anything was amiss til Eliot came to tell me.  But…”

“Yes, Psyche?”

The woman bit her lip and glanced quickly at Andrew and Eliot.

“Perhaps we could speak in the hall?” Vincent suggested.

“Of course,” Andrew agreed and indicated for the Wellses and JenniAnn to step out.  Once they did, he turned to Eliot.  “I know she’s concerned for Vincent.  But you know her well enough.  Once her mind’s set, she can’t be dissuaded.”  Andrew smiled but then shook his head sadly.  “If she and I were to go speak to Mick and if Mick were to… you saw what happened when he felt threatened by us.  Because of who I am… I couldn’t protect her.  Not unless I was told I could and if the permission didn’t come…  I wouldn’t know that until it was possibly… too late.  And if you were there…”

Eliot bowed his head.  “I’m no match for him.  There’s something beyond human strength in him, Andrew.”

The angel nodded.  “There is.”


Out in the hallway, JenniAnn had begun pacing.

“I was dreaming before Eliot woke me.  Of Grandpa Connor, actually,” she smiled though with a tinge of sadness.  Catherine embraced her, feeling the same melancholy.

“He’d be happy to know he was so remembered and so loved,” Vincent assured.

JenniAnn nodded.  “I was remembering him telling us… about the War.  Do you remember?”

“Yes,” Catherine responded.  “Our cousin, Teddy, was doing a project.  Unlike my father, his brother, Uncle Connor had never spoken of World War II before but we all knew he’d fought in it.  So when Teddy was writing about the Battle of the Bulge for school… he asked my dad and Uncle Connor about it one Thanksgiving.”

“And Grandpa told us about it.  I’d never seen him cry before but as… as he talked about his lost buddies…  And… and there was one, in particular, he mentioned.  He said the man survived and they exchanged letters after the war.  You see, this man had saved Grandpa by pulling him into a bunker during a battle.  But then at some point in the 50s, the letters just stopped.  There was one last one and it was so full of sadness and grief… it talked about death a lot.  Grandpa tried to track the man down after receiving it.  He called his parents.  They refused to speak of him.  Grandpa always suspected he’d killed himself.  You know it wasn’t spoken much of back then.”

“How troubling for your Grandpa.”  Vincent patted JenniAnn’s shoulder.

Catherine sighed.  “I don’t think he ever stopped wondering.”

“What was the man’s name, do you remember?” Vincent asked, curious.

“Mick St. John,” JenniAnn murmured and then looked to Catherine for confirmation.  Her cousin nodded.  JenniAnn continued.  “And Mick St. John… is in the basement.”

Catherine set a hand on her cousin’s arm.  “You know it’s not the same Mick, right?  He’d have to be well over 80 and I don’t think Andrew and Eliot would have been so brusque with an eighty year old.”

“I know.  But he must be a grandson or something.  May be.  And if he is… even if he’s trouble… his grandpa befriended mine at a time he truly needed a friend.  I owe him the same courtesy now.  I mean… I’ve not dreamed of Grandpa in a long time and never about the mysterious Mick.  Surely it means something that on the one night I dream about Grandpa telling his story, a man with the same name shows up here.  I need to see him!” JenniAnn insisted.

Vincent had been deep in thought but at her exclamation came to attention.  “You will.  I’ll go downstairs with you and Andrew and Eliot if he wants.  I’ll stay to the back in order not to alarm Mr. St. John.  And if there are problems…”

Catherine reached for his hand.  “I’m going, too.”

“Psyche?”  Vincent looked to the young woman tenderly.

JenniAnn brushed at a tear.  “I don’t want to put you in that position.  Really, I feel he’s no great threat and…”

“If you believe he’s no great threat then there can be no harm to me or my conscience.  I’m going with you.”

With Vincent’s final words, JenniAnn knew she couldn’t argue.  She took a deep breath, nodded, and led the way back into the kitchen where the group planned how they would enter the basement.


Mick had begun to pace the basement.  He had checked his cell phone.  It was still receiving a signal.  That was hopeful.  May be he wasn’t too far from L.A.  He heard several people above.  He couldn’t make out words, only an urgent tone.  He took a deep breath and grabbed his cell phone out of his pocket again.  He pressed a few buttons and then waited.

“Pick up, Beth.  Please, pick up…” he murmured.  But there was nothing until a click and the familiar recording.  He waited.  “Hi Beth.  It’s Mick.  I, uh, I don’t know where I am right now.  I was investigating a case and I… I ran into some people that think I was trespassing and, well, they may not be vamp-friendly.”  He chuckled nervously but then felt a sob rise up in his throat.  God, what if this was it?  For fifty years he’d cursed his long life and now he would have given anything for five more minutes just to give Beth a proper good bye and to tell her…  But not over the phone.  “I just want you to know I’m really glad we met and I’m really thankful for all the understanding and kindness and friendship you’ve shown me.  You’re the only person I’ve trusted in… in fifty years and I really care about you.  I hope I see you soon but if not… take care of yourself, Beth.”  Mick heard the doorknob being twisted.  “I have to go, Beth.”  He hung up and shoved the phone back into his pocket.

If Mick hadn’t been so worried, he might have laughed at the motley crew that came down the stairs.  A man in ragged, patched clothing, a girl dressed in Elizabethan finery, a woman in a business-style skirt and jacket, a second man who only hung back, his figure largely obscured by shadows, and Andrew.  He was dressed in jeans and a thick sweater.  Mick’s eyes told him this man was a human but his other senses told him otherwise.  He certainly wasn’t a vampire but what? 

“Mick St. John, this is Eliot, Lady JenniAnn, and Catherine,” Andrew introduced.

Mick pondered why Andrew hadn’t acknowledged the man in the shadows.  “Hello.  Listen, I’m really sorry if I caused you alarm.  I never intended to come here.  I don’t know where here is.”

JenniAnn had been staring intently at Mick and it became obvious to her that he noticed.  She felt she had to say something.  “Why were you peeking into my window?” she blurted out and then wished she’d been more subtle.

Mick blushed and began shuffling his feet.  “Oh…  I… wasn’t.  I mean I was but I didn’t realize it was your window.  I just wanted to know where I was and what type of building I was standing outside.  I’m a private investigator and I guess my instincts kicked in.”

“Instincts, huh?  Is that what Andrew and I got to see when we first came up to you?” Eliot questioned with arms folded defiantly across his chest.

Shame colored Mick’s face.  “I’m sorry.  I couldn’t help…  When I feel threatened…  Listen, if you’ll just let me go, I promise I won’t come back here and I’ll never tell anyone I was here.  I couldn’t if I wanted to.  I don’t know where here is, I promise that.”

Catherine looked sympathetically at Mick.  “How did you come to be here?”

“I was investigating a case.  I was in a park in L.A.  I tripped and when I stood up I was here.  I know that sounds unbelievable but it’s the truth.” 

“Not as unbelievable as you might think, Mick.  Thank you.”  Catherine then turned to JenniAnn who had tugged on her sleeve.  While Andrew and Eliot asked Mick some more questions, the two women receded to the shadows with Vincent.

“That’s him!!!  I know it sounds crazy but that guy is identical to the Mick in Grandpa’s photos!  I know cause my dad has one hanging in his study,” she effused. 

“Psyche, it’s not possible.  Mr. St. John can’t be much past thirty.”  Vincent looked at Catherine who only shrugged.

“I can’t remember the photograph well enough,” she deferred.

JenniAnn sighed and drew back towards Mick.

“I’m sorry but Andrew neglected to introduce me properly,” she began, shooting him a friendly smile.

Andrew looked at JenniAnn, confused, but said nothing. 

Mick welcomed the disruption.  “Did he?”

“Yes.  You gave us your full name so you’re owed ours.  Mine’s Chandler.  My grandfather was Connor Chandler.”  JenniAnn paused to judge Mick’s reaction.  He seemed politely interested but unaffected so she continued.  “He served in the army during World War II.  During the Battle of the Bulge a fellow soldier pulled him into a bunker just before a grenade went off near where he’d been standing.  My Grandpa never forgot that man.  He wrote him regularly.”

Mick began to inch away from JenniAnn and shook his head.

“Grandpa always wondered why the letters stopped.  Because of the tone of this man’s last letter, my grandfather assumed his friend had met an untimely death.  But Mick St. John didn’t, did he?”

Mick turned away from the woman.  “Your grandfather’s friend died in 1952.  He was killed by his wife.”

Andrew put a hand on Mick’s shoulder.  “That’s only partly true.  I know, Mick, because I was there.  You did die.  But that wasn’t it, was it?”

Mick whirled around, his face again transformed and threatening.  “Who are you?  What are you?”

Eliot had pulled JenniAnn away and back near the stairs where Vincent and Catherine remained.  The four humans watched the confrontation in fear.

Mick sniffed the air.  “There are four humans in this room.  And there’s me-- a vampire.  And there’s you.  What are you?”

Andrew began to glow.  “I’m an angel of death.”

Mick stared at him.  His jaw dropped, making his fangs all the more obvious.

“You’re in a place called Dyeland, Mick.  All of us were brought here at the time we most needed this place and the friends here.  I don’t know what God’s plan was in bringing you here but He must have a reason,” Andrew explained.

Mick scoffed.  “God abandoned me over fifty years ago and now He decides to make up for it by bringing me to this place?  I’d never be accepted here.”  Mick waved his hand over his face.  “Tell me, angel, what kind of a God allows this to happen?  I’m a monster!”

Andrew bowed his head.  No words came and he was left speechless.  He felt foolish, standing there in an orb of golden light and clueless.

Mick was breathing heavily, his eyes flittering about, looking for an escape.  There was no longer anything menacing in his blue eyes, only deep anguish.

There was movement near the staircase.  Vincent was moving towards Andrew and Mick, his face hidden by his hood.  When only a foot away from Mick and half-bathed in the soft light that surrounded Andrew, Vincent withdrew the hood.

“There are no monsters here,” he said calmly and with compassion. 

Mick stared, unflinching, at the figure before him.  He took in the sharp claws, the cleft lip, and the pointed fangs.  He noticed, too, as the two women drew near Vincent; Catherine taking his left hand and JenniAnn his right.

“Mr. St. John, this is my cousin and godfather, Vincent.  Catherine’s husband, also,” JenniAnn introduced.

Dazed, Mick held a hand out which Vincent took and shook. 

“We’re pleased to have you with us.  You will not be judged here.”  Vincent smiled and was relieved when it seemed to put the man at ease.  Indeed, his fangs again receded and his eye returned to their normal color.

“I think you’re probly owed more of an explanation, sir,” JenniAnn began.  “And apologies.  We didn’t wanna scare you but we seldom have people simply show up and we panicked, I spose.”

“There’s no need to apologize.  I believe strongly in protecting those we love.”  Mick looked wistful for a moment but recovered. “And call me Mick, please.  I may be 85 but there’s no need to ‘sir’ me,” he requested with a grin.

JenniAnn giggled.  “Okay then, Mick.  I’m just going to go change.  I’ve had enough of this,” she swatted at her crinoline.  “Andrew, could you show Mick to the parlor?  May be we could get some coffee started?  When I come back from Willowveil I’ll grab some cookies I made last night.”

Andrew nodded.  “Sounds like a great idea.  Mick, this way, please.”

Mick watched in amazement as JenniAnn walked through a door he hadn’t noticed before and headed into some tunnels.  Then he followed the rest of the crowd upstairs.


When JenniAnn rejoined the group, Andrew was just pouring coffee.  She located a platter in his kitchen and spread the cookies out on it.  Everyone quickly grabbed one or two except for Mick.

“You’re welcome to as many as you like, Mick,” she invited.  “Freshly baked!”

Mick reddened.  “I, uh, can’t eat or drink.  I mean I can but I don’t taste it so I’d feel better leaving them for people who can really enjoy them.  But thank you, JenniAnn.”

“That’s terrible!” Catherine exclaimed and then blushed upon realizing she’d said it out loud.

“You’re telling me,” Mick responded with a wink.  His easygoing sense of humor removed whatever lingering awkwardness there was.

More at ease in each other’s presence, the group took turns telling Mick about Dyeland’s history and people.  Of the Tunnels they said nothing, after some time they would tell him of that beloved place if it was warranted.

Mick sat and listened in amazement.  Very little shocked him anymore.  When the majority of society believes you’re a mythical creature, it’s hard to be skeptical of much.  But never would he have guessed that such an enchanted place would exist.  When it came time for parting, he was told how to return if he ever needed to.  He took leave of Vincent, Catherine, Eliot and JenniAnn inside the parlor.  Andrew walked him outside to what he referred to as “the nearest portal.” 

“This is probably the safest way to go.  Just think about where it is you most want to be, may be your apartment, and that’s where you’ll end up,” Andrew explained. 

“When you want to come back, if you do, go to one of the two portals in L.A. we told you about.”

Mick nodded.  “Great, thanks Andrew.”  He grew silent for a moment then looked into the angel’s eyes.  “You were really there?  When Coraline turned me?”

“Not the whole time.”

Mick exhaled and smiled.  “Good.”

“I don’t make a habit of crashing people’s honeymoons.”  Andrew chuckled but then grew serious.  “But I was there in the brief time right before she turned you.  In case…”

“In case her plans didn’t work?”

Andrew nodded. 

“Sometimes I really wish they hadn’t.  There’s only one reason I’m glad I didn’t die that night.” 

Andrew smiled knowingly.  “Beth.”

Mick looked at him, alarmed. 

“You’re not the only one that occasionally checks in on his past assignments.  I was sent back to you that day in the motel.”
Mick cringed.  “You didn’t see…”  He was terrified to ask.  He was still ashamed that he’d taken Beth’s blood, even though she had offered it.

“No.   Beth was your 'angel' that day.  Because of her choice, I was no longer needed.  She’d made up her mind what she was going to do the second she saw you.  So I left as soon as she came.”  Andrew put a hand on Mick’s shoulder.  “You should go.  I think Beth’s probably waiting for your call.”

Mick gasped.  In the eventual comfort and companionship of talking with the group, he’d forgotten about the desperate call he’d made to her.  “I better.  Thanks again, Andrew.  And please tell everyone else thanks.  May be I’ll see you around?”

Andrew beamed.  “I hope so, Mick.”

Mick returned the smile and then disappeared.


Mick expected to turn up in his apartment.  But clearly where he thought best to reappear and where he truly wanted to reappear on Earth were two different things.  And so he found himself standing outside Beth’s apartment.  He checked his cell phone.  5:47 AM.  She would probably be awake.

He raised his hand to knock but before he could the door was thrown open.

“Mick!  Oh God!  I was so worried!  I was doing a report when you called.  I didn’t get the message until ten minutes ago and I couldn’t decide whether to call you or wait.”  Beth pulled him through the door and kept hold of his hand as she led him to the couch.  “Where were you?”

Mick smiled.  “In a fairy tale but it was real.”

Beth raised an eyebrow.  “Have you been playing ‘World of Warcraft’ again?  Are you feeling alright?”  She reached up to his forehead. 

Mick shook his head vigorously.  “No, it wasn’t a game, Beth.  It was real.  As real as this room and this couch and you and me.  I was investigating a case and then I tripped and when I stood up I was outside a castle.”

“Head trauma,” Beth concluded in a murmur and wondered if she should call Josef. 

“No, Beth!  It was real, I swear.  I know.  I felt… God.  There was an angel and for the first time in a long time… I felt God.”

Beth took a good look at Mick.  His eyes were shining and a smile unlike any she’d seen before lit his face.  He’d never struck her as a religious or spiritual man.  In the time she’d known him he’d only mentioned church twice and both times as something belonging to his past.  But she also knew Mick wasn’t the type to tease or lie about spiritual matters.  He’d seemed particularly indignant when a corrupt vampire priest had misused the last rites.  Looking at Mick again, Beth knew that whatever he’d experienced was real. 

“Okay, I believe you.  I’d like to hear more about it if you’re willing to share.”  She again took his hand and smiled encouragingly.

“I want to tell you but I need to get back to searching for a runaway girl I was looking for before… everything.  Can you drive to the park?”

“Sure.  Let’s go.”  Beth grabbed her keys, locked the apartment and led Mick to her car.

As Beth drove, Mick told her all about finding Dyeland and what he’d been told there.  Beth struggled to keep from tearing up lest she lose sight of the road but she noted a few tears slide down Mick’s cheeks.  There was so much she wanted to say but they arrived at the park before she could formulate her thoughts.  Mick bolted from the car and began searching.

It didn’t take long before they found Rebecca, strung out and starving, in an alley across from the park.  A grimy, disheveled man with limp gray hair seemed to be keeping watch over her.  Beth looked at him, her gaze accusatory, and pushed past.  Mick only stared, his eyes softening beneath the baseball cap he wore to protect himself from the rising sun.

“I’m so glad you came.  I think just in time.  She needs a hospital,” the man explained, his tone urgent.  “You’ll take her?” he asked, looking to Mick.

“Yes, of course.”  He began to scoop Rebecca up.  She only moaned softly but turned her head into his chest.  “You’re…” Mick looked closely at the man.

“My name’s Adam.  I’m a friend of Andrew’s.”

Mick nodded.

Beth gasped, recognizing the name Andrew from Mick’s account.  She felt embarrassed for thinking the worst of his friend.  “Do you need help?  We can take you to a shelter,” she offered.  “Or a place of worship?  Is that where you go?”  She trailed off, reddening.  Did she expect him to hop onto a pedestal or step into a stained glass window?

Adam chuckled and shook his head.  “No, I have a Home.  But now it’s time for you to get Rebecca on the way back to hers.”  He stepped towards the girl and stroked her hair.  “Remember what I told you, Rebecca.  God loves you.”  He focused on Beth and Mick then.  “She’ll be okay.  Just get her to the hospital and then make that call her parents have been praying for.”

Needing no further prompting, Mick and Beth hurried to the latter’s car.  After unlocking the door for Mick and Rebecca, Beth looked back to the alley but Adam had disappeared.


After Mick’s departure, the Tunnel-dwellers returned to their chambers for much-needed rest.  JenniAnn remained with Andrew for a few minutes, discussing how Mick would be introduced if he returned.  But soon she was yawning and returned to her room in Willowveil. 

Before she could turn in she had to do one thing.  She pulled a few boxes out of her closet before coming to the one she needed.  Inside were the contents of a scrapbook she’d been working on for her grandpa.  He had passed on before she completed it.  Brushing back tears she dug through the half-finished pages before coming to a camouflage-printed one.  She pulled it out and stared at the photo pasted onto it.  There stood Connor Chandler-- young, strong, smiling.  His arm was slung around a fellow soldier.  The two men smiled into the camera.  JenniAnn stared back into her grandfather’s eyes and into the eyes of the man beside him.  The same eyes that had earlier searched hers for answers stared out of the black and white photo.

JenniAnn began to sob, suddenly overwhelmed by the reality of Mick’s situation.  Of knowing that, more than likely, everyone you know will die before you.  Family, friends, pets…  She’d often thought the same when considering the angels but comforted herself that they could always see their mortal friends again whenever they were Home.  But not Mick…  She was nearly to the point of hysterics when a song her grandpa used to sing came back to her.  She stumbled into bed and drifted to sleep recalling it:

“Dream--  when you're feelin' blue,
Dream-- that's the thing to do.
Just watch the smoke rings rise in the air;
You'll find your share of memories there.
So dream when the day is through;
Dream and they might come true.
Things never are as bad as they seem,
So dream, dream, dream.”


The little boy peered up at his mother as she removed a tray of cookies from the oven.  His eyebrow was arched in puzzlement.  “Even when I pull Mary’s hair?”

His mother laughed.  “Even then although God does want you to be nice to your cousin.”

“How ‘bout when I won’t eat my green beans?”

“Then, too, even though you should eat them.  They’ll help you grow up big and strong.”

The boy thought long and hard.  “What if I say a bad word?”

“You know bad words?”  This time it was his mother’s turn to raise an eye brow  questioningly.

“Dad says em sometimes at the ball games.”

“I see.  I’ll have to talk to your daddy about that.  But, yes, God loves you even if you say a bad word.”  The woman knelt down to be eye-level with her boy.  “Mickey, God loves us all no matter what.  And mommy and daddy love you no matter what, too.  You’ll always remember that, won’t you?”  She gently stroked the soft little-boy curls she was so proud of.

Mickey nodded.  “Yup.”

“Good boy.”  She kissed his forehead and then handed him a cookie fresh off the tray.  “Let it cool just a bit.” 

The little boy grinned, proud to have the first cookie.  “Thank you, mommy.”

“You’re welcome.”  She then watched, smiling proudly, as he scampered off after the family dog.  “Remember, Mick,” she whispered.  “Always remember.”


Mick opened his eyes.  Despite the cold inside the freezer, he felt warm.  He wished he could go back to the dream, to his memories, and to his mother.  Though the dream reminded him of what he had lost, it also reminded him of what he still had and Mick was glad for it.

“I do remember, Mom,” he said softly and smiled in remembrance of the woman that had first taught him about God and love.

The End

Note: Lyrics and music for "Dream" were written by Johnny Mercer in 1944.

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