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
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
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
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
to be the front door, Mick saw there was a
plaque. “Willowveil. Built 1998,” he read.
Mick felt fear rising
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,
bright.” Andrew smiled up at the
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
all of you. Besides, the stars will
always be here for JenniAnn and for everyone,” Andrew consoled.
“There’s a lot more she cares about here.”
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.
the ballroom window of Willowveil.
Look,” he whispered. “JenniAnn’s in there!”
Andrew caught sight
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
right now,” Andrew commanded.
Only upon seeing the
close up did Eliot realize how angry he felt. He ran at the
Andrew saw the man’s
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
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.
didn’t mean any harm. Please just
don’t look at me.”
“What were you doing
“I don’t know.
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
read. He passed the wallet to Eliot.
“Where am I?” Mick
Eliot folded his arms
his chest and stared at the talking
coat. “Lurking around outside my girlfriend’s house and I want to
“I’m sorry. I
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
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.”
Willowveil’s front door and went inside with out
Andrew grabbed hold
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
allowed himself to be led.
“Andrew, we’re here,” Eliot
called as he ushered JenniAnn into
“I’m in the kitchen,”
The couple made their
the warm, cozy room where Andrew handed
them mugs of hot cocoa.
“I’m sorry to get you
outside on a cold night, Laja,” Andrew
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
serious. “Are you going to tell her
or should I?” he asked Eliot.
The strained look on
face told Andrew the telling was best left
to him. “Laja, Eliot and I were visiting and…”
“Uh oh…” The
blushed, pondering what sort of stories they
might have had chance to exchange.
“No, oh no.
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.”
“We got him. He
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
Upon hearing the
JenniAnn stared at Andrew, shocked, but
then drew her own deep breath. “And what do you plan to do now?”
“I heard him growl,”
burst out. “A-and I think he has
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
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.”
him for both confirmation and explanation.
“I don’t know what to
say. I saw and heard the same.”
“Well, I want to see
was lurking outside your castle! He
could be any number of bad things!” Eliot cried.
“Or he could just be
lost and scared and as former princess of
this place… I owe him some hospitality. We all do.”
“I already offered
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
“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 wasn’t sure
respond to that but was saved by an
interjection from Eliot.
“If he’s found
what’s to stop him from coming back?” Eliot
The angel sighed and
his head. “That’s what I’ve been
“May be we should ask
Vincent… If St. John knows we have such…
protection… he may not return,” Eliot suggested.
JenniAnn had moved to
out a window but whirled around to face her
boyfriend. “I can’t believe you’re suggesting what I think you
“He’d do anything to
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.
when she noticed how badly Eliot was
shaking. She sighed and turned to Andrew. “Please ask
Vincent to come.”
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
and began to shake her husband.
“Vincent, get up, love. Listen.”
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
“I’m sure they’re
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
“What’s going on?”
“Andrew and I found a
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?”
Pulling just enough
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…”
The woman bit her lip
glanced quickly at Andrew and Eliot.
“Perhaps we could
the hall?” Vincent suggested.
“Of course,” Andrew
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
“I’m no match for him. There’s
something beyond human strength in him, Andrew.”
Out in the hallway, JenniAnn
had begun pacing.
“I was dreaming
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
was so remembered and so loved,” Vincent
was remembering him telling us… about the
War. Do you remember?”
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
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
Grandpa.” Vincent patted JenniAnn’s
don’t think he ever stopped wondering.”
“What was the man’s
you remember?” Vincent asked, curious.
“Mick St. John,”
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
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
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
Vincent had been deep
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
hand. “I’m going, too.”
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
great threat then there can be no harm to me or
my conscience. I’m going with you.”
With Vincent’s final
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
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
Eliot, Lady JenniAnn, and Catherine,” Andrew
Mick pondered why
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
JenniAnn had been
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
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.”
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.”
sympathetically at Mick. “How did you come to be
“I was investigating
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
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.
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
back towards Mick.
“I’m sorry but Andrew
neglected to introduce me properly,” she began,
shooting him a friendly smile.
Andrew looked at
confused, but said nothing.
Mick welcomed the
disruption. “Did he?”
“Yes. You gave
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
JenniAnn and shook his head.
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
woman. “Your grandfather’s friend died
in 1952. He was killed by his wife.”
Andrew put a hand on
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,
face again transformed and threatening.
“Who are you? What are you?”
Eliot had pulled
away and back near the stairs where Vincent
and Catherine remained. The four humans watched the confrontation
Mick sniffed the
“There are four humans in this room.
And there’s me-- a vampire. And there’s you. What are you?”
Andrew began to
“I’m an angel of death.”
Mick stared at
His jaw dropped, making his fangs all the
“You’re in a place
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.
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
Andrew bowed his
No words came and he was left
speechless. He felt foolish, standing there in an orb of golden
light and clueless.
Mick was breathing
his eyes flittering about, looking for an
escape. There was no longer anything menacing in his blue eyes,
only deep anguish.
There was movement
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
here,” he said calmly and with compassion.
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
cousin and godfather, Vincent.
Catherine’s husband, also,” JenniAnn introduced.
Dazed, Mick held a
which Vincent took and shook.
“We’re pleased to
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
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.
“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.”
like a great idea. Mick, this way,
Mick watched in
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
as you like, Mick,” she invited.
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.”
exclaimed and then blushed upon realizing
she’d said it out loud.
“You’re telling me,”
responded with a wink. His easygoing
sense of humor removed whatever lingering awkwardness there was.
More at ease in each
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
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
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
if you do, go to one of the two portals in
L.A. we told you about.”
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
“I don’t make a habit
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
“Sometimes I really
they hadn’t. There’s only one reason I’m
glad I didn’t die that night.”
Mick looked at him,
“You’re not the only
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.
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
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?”
Mick returned the
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
but before he could the door was thrown
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?”
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
“No, Beth! It
real, I swear. I know. I felt…
God. There was an angel and for the first time in a long time… I
Beth took a good look
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
I’d like to hear more about it if you’re
willing to share.” She again took his hand and smiled
“I want to tell you
need to get back to searching for a runaway
girl I was looking for before… everything. Can you drive to the
go.” Beth grabbed her keys, locked the
apartment and led Mick to her car.
As Beth drove, Mick
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
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
I think just in time. She needs a
hospital,” the man explained, his tone urgent. “You’ll take her?”
he asked, looking to Mick.
began to scoop Rebecca up. She only
moaned softly but turned her head into his chest. “You’re…” Mick
looked closely at the man.
Adam. I’m a
friend of Andrew’s.”
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
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
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
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
Dream-- that's the thing to
Just watch the smoke rings
rise in the air;
You'll find your share of
So dream when the day is
Dream and they might come
Things never are as bad as
So dream, dream, dream.”
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?”
mother laughed. “Even then
although God does want you to be nice to your cousin.”
‘bout when I won’t eat my green
too, even though you should
eat them. They’ll help you grow up big and strong.”
thought long and hard.
“What if I say a bad word?”
know bad words?” This time
it was his mother’s turn to raise an eye brow questioningly.
says em sometimes at the ball
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.
boy.” She kissed his
forehead and then handed him a cookie fresh off the tray. “Let it
cool just a bit.”
little boy grinned, proud to have
the first cookie. “Thank you, mommy.”
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,”
said softly and smiled in remembrance of the
woman that had first taught him about God and love.